Crimson Trace

August 10, 2018

FN 509 Tactical First Look

When the release for the FN 509 Tactical arrived, I was immediately interested. Here’s the deal: yes, it’s suppressor-ready with the threaded muzzle and the ‘suppressor height’ sights, it does have magazines as long as the slide – allegedly done to attract those who carry concealed and it’s also truly optics-ready. And you can hang too much junk on a gun, any gun, wrecking its utility.

I’m taking a bit of a longer view. First, the FN 509 is just about the perfect 9mm envelope. The GLOCK 19X is in the same ballpark, albeit with fewer features. Both guns feature a “compact” slide and barrel over a full-size frame; think Colt Commander as it relates to the Government Model.

The ‘suppressor height’ sights are good to co-witness a red dot sight – do we really need that?

If you were raised on non-optics enabled pistols, yes. To find the “dot,” look for the front sight – if the gun allows you to find the red dot by finding the front sight, older users will more quickly acclimate to the optic. That means something.

While we’re about it, the optic mounting area is covered by a “slide cap” that forms a protective environment for the rear sight, preventing it from getting bashed about. The FN Low-Profile Optics Mounting System is able to fit at least ten currently-available miniature red dot optics that co-witness with the suppressor-height night sights. The factory says the system is adaptable to future optics releases with no requirement to directly mill the slide. The slide cap, while protective, also features a textured ramp for racking the slide one handed.

The FN 509 Tactical is based on the company’s submission to the US Army Modular Handgun trials. I had considerable success with the original FN 509. This gun has the 4.5” stainless steel barrel, cold hammer forged, with the muzzle threaded at ½” x 28 to fit commonly available sound suppressors. The protective thread cap has an integrated O-ring to prevent loosening – and loss.

That is a very smart move.

The gun is provided in the zippered carry bag with a 17 round magazine plus a pair of 24 round magazines.

Why 24 rounds? That makes the magazine the length of the slide – meaning that it won’t be any tougher to conceal than the pistol. Some would say “that means you can miss a lot,” but you’re accountable for every round you fire.

I’d have been okay with three 17-round magazines, but I have no problem with the longer mags.

I’ve had a few range trips with the gun so far – don’t have an optic to mount yet and have used the iron sights.

The first trip was consumed in the “Dot Torture” drill from The course is somewhat holster-intensive, as well as being a premier drill for practice of trigger control and focus.  I used the Safariland Model 576 GLS Pro-Fit Holster. The Compact size fits many autos with 4-inch-or-so barrels. The FN 509 Tactical barrel, specifically the muzzle cap, protrudes. The holster uses the Grip Locking and features an adjustable holster body -- made to fit a wide variety of guns with a single holster.  It’s cut low enough that the gun with a red dot sight will fit just fine.

With Federal “Aluminum,” a very light 115 grain FMJ load, I was able to “clean” dot torture with 50 hits for 50 rounds fired. I did not go quickly; the aim was to ‘learn’ the trigger and sights. Dot 1 – five shots slowfire – resulted in a single ragged hole, no real surprise as I was only 9 feet away from the paper. All rounds fired hit well inside the (appropriate) circles, with no bullet touching a line.

Some people count “line cut” as a hit – I count it as a miss.

In loading a 24 round magazine to twenty rounds, I found it’d be smart to use a magazine loader.

I didn’t change recoil springs - - the gun ships with two – and I got one failure to eject, but I don’t believe that was the gun. It was around 35-40 rounds into the process and I think it was a loose grip on the gun. Subsequent shooting hasn’t given any other malfunctions – so I think that was me.

FN includes an extra recoil spring, marked with yellow paint and meant for low-powered “range ammo.” The recoil spring in the gun is duty and self-defense loads. A flat backstrap is also included – along with a plastic pack of optics mounting hardware and additional instructional material for mounting optics.

The next part of the evaluation is a handling drill comparing it to a “known” sample.

- - Rich Grassi