January 30, 2012

FNH USA FNP45 USG No. 47938 45 ACP, $780

Not all 45 ACP pistols are built to feed from a single-column magazine or be ignited by a full-time single-action trigger. Gun Tests magazine evaluated a pistol that feeds from a double-column magazine and a trigger system that can alternate between offering a double-action first shot and single-action-only operation — FNH USA’s $780 FNP USG pistol.

In the case of guns that feature both double- and single-action operation the task of charting accuracy is more complex. GT’s accuracy data reflects firing from support single-action only, but they also wanted to know how quickly and accurately the gun could be fired from the hammer-down position. Were they limited to cocked-and-locked carry? In addition they asked how safe and secure was the decocking process, and how safe and secure was the manual safety? Would hammer-down first-shot double action prove to be a realistic carry option? Or would such condition be relegated to "off duty" administrative handling, such as when placing the gun in a night stand or desk drawer?

With rain in the forecast they chose to test indoors at the famous Top Gun Handgun Training Center in Houston (www.TopGunRange.com). With a corporate event scheduled for late afternoon they were able to set up their shooting bench for the balance of the day.

The test ammunition consisted of 230-grain Hornady TAP hollowpoints, Black Hills remanufactured 185-grain jacketed hollowpoints and handloaded rounds featuring Sierra’s 230-grain FMJ bullet number 8815. They drove the Sierra bullet with a moderate load of Winchester 231 powder and Winchester primers. Accuracy data was collected firing single action only from a distance of 15 yards. Support was supplied by a Caldwell Rock Jr. pistol rest, and they aimed at Caldwell’s 3-inch Orange Peel circles (www.BattenfeldTechnologies.com).

The next test was to determine how quickly and easily each gun could be fired beginning with the first shot double action. Standing 7 yards from a Hoffners ABC16 Action Target (www.Hoffners.com), they began with hammer down. Upon an audible start signal they engaged the center mass A-zone with a first shot double action followed by a second shot to this same point of aim fired single action. The third shot of continuous fire was fired single action at the cranial pocket, or B-zone. This test was repeated for a total of 10 separate strings of fire. They recorded elapsed time, accuracy and took careful note of each gun’s handling and response. They experienced no malfunctions during the tests, so when it came to grading the pistol on the Report Card, the job was that much more difficult. Here is what they learned.

Gun Tests April 2009

Its 15+1 round capacity rivaled the highest-capacity 9mm pistols, and we liked the way it handled cocked and locked.

The FNP45 USG was the highest-capacity gun in the test. Two 14-round magazines with flat basepads arrived with the USG plus an additional magazine with rounded basepad set to hold 15 rounds. Each magazine body was buffed for fast handling and added resistance to collecting grime. Despite its 4.5-inch barrel and full-size stature, the USG made 15+1 rounds of 45 disappear. Unloaded weight was 29 ounces, and they really liked the military green frame that FNH refers to as Flat Dark Earth. The slide was black as were complements of the trigger, the ambidextrous magazine release buttons, and the ambidextrous safeties, which doubled as decocking levers. So were the slide latch on the left side and the slide release latches available from either side.

The frame offered a four-slot accessory rail on the dust cover, and beveled edges were molded into the magazine well. They found molded checkering on each side of the grip to be effective, as were the horizontal lines in the front strap. The backstrap was interchangeable with one alternate panel. Both panels offered horizontal lines. One panel was flat in profile, while the other provided a mild palm swell. The staff was unanimous in choosing the flatter profile for their tests.

The gun was beefy and wide, but in the hand the USG felt smaller than its square profile and 1.56-inch maximum width. The slide was topped with snagfree sights that carried three white dots. The dots were boldly countersunk to keep them clean, but the excess depth made them appear as though they were night sights, but that was not the case. The rear unit had no sharp edges and a narrow taper. Its rear face was lined to reduce glare.

Gun Tests April 2009

Ambidextrous controls included the magazine release, slide release and safety/decocker levers. The black lever on the frame far left was the takedown latch. The magazine with the rounded base pad held 15 rounds. We chose the alternate back strap with flat profile. The molded checkering proved helpful.

Removing the top end required the least work of tested pistols. Lock back the slide, rotate the slide latch and slide the top end from the frame. Changing out the backstrap was even less demanding. A 1/16-inch punch was supplied to press into a small hole in the backstrap and release the locking tab. The panel slid off without effort.

Operating the FNH USA USG pistol brought them quickly to several conclusions. First, whenever the slide was locked back, it was more efficient to pull the slide to the rear and let it forward than it was to try to press down on the tiny release levers. Second, there was no fear whatsoever of accidentally decocking this pistol. The thumb of the strong hand, be it the left or right hand, had immediate access to the safety/decocker lever. The USG sat deeply into the grip, so the edge of the hand outside of the first knuckle fit neatly beneath the safety-decocker lever on the opposite side of the pistol. There was plenty of room to move the lever to the down off-safe position, but there was no danger that it would be moved further downward and decock the pistol accidentally.

Next, they found that the slide could be worked with the thumb safeties activated and held in the upward position. This meant that mechanically, the safeties were deactivating the trigger but not locking the action of the slide as it did in the CZ pistol. The HK 45C also allowed the slide to move freely with the safety on, but the trigger was locked. The FN pistol not only left the slide free to move but also the trigger was able to swing freely all the way back to the frame. Advantages to this design may be the ability to load the chamber or perform a press check more safely.

Gun Tests April 2009

The takedown procedure of our USG pistol was simplest of all. But, with an empty magazine in place and the barrel seated into the locking block we can see the complexity of the FNP design.

Firing the pistol in transition from double to single action was smooth but sluggish, in their view. The circumference of the grip limited the ability of most of the staff from getting a really strong purchase of the trigger when it was resting in its double-action mode. This was reflected in several 3-second elapsed times during the transition drill. Larger hands would have little trouble, in their view, but they found the safety to be so accessible and efficient they thought this gun will most likely be carried cocked and locked, hammer back ready for single-action only fire.

From the bench the USG delivered 2.2-inch-wide groups with whatever ammunition they tried. This was not as tight as the other pistols but the gun seemed to thrive best on heavy ammunition. It soaked up recoil, and they enjoyed shooting the Hornady 230-grain TAP +P high-pressure loads in the FN more than they did from other pistols.

They found the FNH FNP45 USG to be a formidable high-capacity weapon. They said it did a great job of hiding a big pile of ammunition, delivered it comfortably and offered a true mechanical safety. Simplified field-stripping and low maintenance add currency to their recommendation.

Gun Tests Report Card: They found the thumb safeties and the single-action trigger to be so efficient that they said they would prefer to carry this gun cocked and locked. They said the USG soaked up the recoil of their heaviest loaded ammunition better than other pistols. And they said it’s 15+1 round capacity rivaled the highest capacity 9mm pistols they’ve tested.

Comments (15)

I am buying an FNP45 by tomorrow. Couldn't find a better pistol for home defense in the market. Particularly, for the price FNs are going for. Not interested in saving a few dollars and sacrificing reliability and effectiviness in the process though. Limited knowledge on the subject. Can somebody tell me if I'm making a mistake and what is a better option? Also, what is the best ammo. to load it with and maximize stopping power?

Posted by: Albert M | July 30, 2012 11:17 PM    Report this comment

I don't mean to sound like a mother hen, but if I had a pistol that was supposed to decock, and the mechanism didn't work, I'd be concerned about what else might not work, especially at a very inopportune moment. That half-cock notch isn't supposed to be used for anything, since the hammer can slip out of that notch if the pistol is dropped. As for carrying cocked and locked, I know a lot of people do it, and some big names have endorsed it, but it gives me the willies to have that hammer at full cock, even with the safety on. My reasons are simply that all mechanical devices CAN fail, and if they do, it is up to the person who is in control of the situation (read that as in control of the gun) to make certain that everything is as safe as it can be. It is that reason that has convinced me that my best option for concealed carry is a gun with a decocker and the hammer is down.....or a DAO that can only be carried with the hammer down or the striker under no tension. I am particularly delighted with the SIG Sauer DAK trigger system that operates similar to a DAO, but when the hammer is at rest, it is actually in a partially cocked mode. However, the firing pin is locked until the hammer is in full back position and the trigger is pulled fully to the rear. The SIG Sauer DAK trigger provides a very smooth let-off, and it is consistent from shot to shot.

Posted by: canovack | March 30, 2012 8:31 PM    Report this comment

I had to send my FNP-9 back to Missouri because the trigger pull was terrible and the slide wasn't locking back after the last round. The folks at FNH-USA did a great job on my gun and did so quickly. The trigger pull is seriously improved although I seem to have lost the decocking function. I don't really miss it since there is a half cock notch and I carry mostly cocked and locked anyway.

Posted by: sivispace | March 30, 2012 6:18 PM    Report this comment

have a friend that bought one, he loves it. honestly, i looks like another M&P, glock XD clone.

Posted by: daniel boone | March 30, 2012 5:13 PM    Report this comment

Iam enjoying my FN USG 45 cal , intially it really enjoyed nothing but heavy rounds, having trouble loading 185 grain Tap ammo, But after getting a couple hundred rounds through, i would load damn near anything through the pistol, and i will put it directly against the HK USP 45, with a slight edge to the HK for ramp size ability to load any roud you would like to run through her.......

Posted by: Randall | February 16, 2012 8:33 PM    Report this comment

Hey, bear1.....'Nice to hear from you. So far my wife is pretty satisfied with the eight handguns I have given her. The most recent one is the S&W BG38 with the integral Insight laser. She's pretty happy for now.....

Posted by: canovack | February 4, 2012 7:43 PM    Report this comment

Hey canovack, my friend, you better be careful about tose torrid afairs, ya know, that pretty little Mrs. of yours might start one or two of her own of differant cals. and that could get kind a hard on the pocket book. LOL just kidding old friend. But again she might like some of them .40's or 38's.
I have found out my Mrs. sure likes the same ones I like so far, so it is pretty much just buy 2 of a kind , LOL. As far as this one goes I might like it in totally black if I can afford it.
God Bless America and Our Troops Past Present and Future.
Keeping to My Oath Locked Loaded and Keeping My Powder Dry.
Get the US Out of the UN and the UN Out of the US.

Posted by: bear1 | February 4, 2012 7:24 PM    Report this comment

Wild Romanian you nailed it. That's how I was trying to describe the trigger pull. It's almost like the trigger rebounds as you are pressing it.

Posted by: sivispace | February 3, 2012 12:20 PM    Report this comment

I tried the trigger pull on several FN plasticky pistols at the gun show last week. I could not believe HOW BAD THE TRIGGER PULL WAS IN SINGLE ACTION. Creepy, spongy, just awful. But its not really made in Belgium but in the U.S. so it did not surprise me.

Posted by: wild romanian | February 3, 2012 10:49 AM    Report this comment

This ain't anything close to the Springfield XD or XDm series of pistols. This is a hammer fired pistol, while the XD/XDm is striker fired.

Posted by: canovack | February 2, 2012 6:41 PM    Report this comment

I have the tactical version of this pistol and I couldn't be more pleased. It is very accurate and extremely reliable.

Posted by: jly | February 2, 2012 5:07 PM    Report this comment

I have the same pistol in 9mm and I couldn't write such a glowing review. The double action trigger is heavy. In single action mode, the trigger tends to load and stack instead of breaking crisply. It is reasonably accurate and fun to shoot but my SHTF pistol is a Sig 226 Navy. In my opinion there is no better trigger than the sig with the possible exception of the 1911.

Posted by: sivispace | February 2, 2012 1:36 PM    Report this comment

Is this just a copy of the springfield .45;the one that comes with a safety?

Posted by: mariano | February 2, 2012 1:18 PM    Report this comment

I'm thinking that the colors may have been improperly processed. My son's FNP45 is all black, and I have seen them in the so-called "dark earth" coloration. I haven't seen any yellow ones.

Posted by: canovack | February 2, 2012 12:27 PM    Report this comment

While I am still enjoying my torrid affair with pistols chambered for .357 SIG, as I sit here, my right hip is adorned with a Mauser M2 pistol chambered .45 ACP. The old war/work horse .45 ACP will always be a viable caliber for pistols and carbines. One of my six sons recently purchased one of these FNP 45s, and while it is a full sized pistol, it feels fine in the hand, and with a pancake holster it conceals just as easily as anything that I am given to carry on any given day. A pistol that comes with three.....Yes, that's THREE.....fifteen round magazines provides a lot of effective firepower.

Posted by: canovack | February 2, 2012 11:29 AM    Report this comment

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