Well, I picked up my first polymer pistol in over 10 years last week. I previously had a Glock 22 that I avoided shooting because I hated it so much, and finally got rid of a few years ago. My nightstand gun has been a Para P14 SuperHawg (prior to that it was my Springfield TRP, and prior to that there was a seemingly endless rotation of various revolvers) but I have come to the grudging realization that my nightstand/SHTF/bug-out gun needs the following:
1) Rail for laser/light/bayonet ( )
2) Coated stainless for the utmost in corrosion protection
3) High capacity (10+)
4) 1911-ish manual of arms for familiarity, with ambi-friendly controls
5) General indestructibility
6) Dead-nuts reliability
7) Cost less than $1000
8) Good accuracy
9) .45 ACP
I have several 1911s that fit SOME of those parameters but none fulfill them all. The Para misses on 1, 2, 6, and 7. The rest of my 1911s miss on 3, at a minimum. I came to the realization that as much as I love the 1911, and as much as the idea of a polymer gun offends my sensibilities, my life and my family are worth more than keeping my prejudices abated. Iím sure at this point a number of you are thinking ďJust buy an H&K USP and youíll never look back.Ē Well, some folks refer to them as ďHates KustomersĒ for a reason. After reading up on FN Herstalís FNP-45 USG, I decided to fondle one at my friendly neighborhood gun shop. I say ďfriendly neighborhoodĒ because itís owned by my neighbor and weíre friendsóheís teaching me to reload on his Dillon 550 and we go shooting together fairly often. He also lets me shoot his class III toys. Shortly after handling the gun I handed him a wad of cash. While still in his store I swapped backstraps on the grip and put the curved one on. I have big hands and it improved grip comfort significantly. Then I went home to clean/strip my new toy.
The first thing I noticed is that field stripping is so ridiculously easy on this thing that itís almost frightening. Drop the mag, clear the chamber, lock the slide back, rotate the takedown lever 90 degrees, and the slide comes off as a unit. Those of you used to 1911 field stripping will be equal parts shocked and insulted that a gun should be so simple to disassemble. The second thing I noticed was that detail stripping this thing would be a nightmare. The fire control group contains numerous doohickeys and thingamabobs that fit together in a metallic Gordian knot. See, Iím used to the simplicity of the single-action 1911. Itís got a sear, disconnector, trigger, and hammer. A few pins and spring later (plus some safety levers) and you have a complete FCG. This DA/SA/firing pin safety thing has me somewhat flummoxed. Yeah, so Iím a Luddite. Chicks dig Luddites.
Playing with it I noticed a few things:
1) Decock seems to happen pretty easily. I don't ride the safety lever on my 1911s so I'm not worrying about decocking at inopportune times, but I am worried about over-zealously going "off safe" and decocking by accident.
2) Those mags are real thumb-busters. Maybe I'm spoiled by my single-stack 1911s--Iíll be getting an UPLULA ASAP. Iím no girly-man (I have guitar and sword calluses that frighten small children) but I canít think of a good reason to have numb thumbs by the end of a range session.
3) The all-ambi controls (I don't consider the take-down lever a control) are a stroke of genius.
4) Some have expressed concern about potential flex in the plastic trigger. I haven't noted any.
5) A LOT lighter than my Para
After some unnecessary cleaning and application of my favorite lubricant (Mil-comm), the pistol went into the safe until I had a chance to go to the range. My chance came yesterday during an extended lunch break.
I packed up a bag with my last remaining Remington UMC .45 ACP FMJs, some CLP, and the FNP-45. My ďlunchtimeĒ range has a whopping 6 lanes that are pistol-only and has a max distance of 15 yards. Thatís the bad news; the good news is that itís the cleanest, best-lit indoor place Iíve ever been to, and itís never crowded.
So I bought a couple shoot-n-see type targets and ran one out to 7 yards. Put 5 rounds in the mag, and engaged the target in unsupported two-handed slow fire from a Weaver stance. The sights are very visible and recoil was quite soft. The gun is really a big pussycat in that respect. The trigger isnít what Iíd call ďcrispĒ but itís predictable enough that Iím happy with it in slow fire. Certainly better than the CZ75b I used to own. Ejection was mostly back and slightly to the right. I felt/heard more than a few cases go past my right ear. Loaded 10 more rounds into the mag and the end result made me fairly happy considering Iíd never shot the gun before.
I do have a tendency to aim a bit high when thereís a large ďopenĒ space on the target to aim at like the red bull on the one above.
Next up, I loaded up the mag to a full 15 rounds and ran a new target out to 15 yards. Anyone who knows me will vouch for my poor vision and subsequent poor distance shooting with a pistol. Normally I can barely see what Iím doing at that range and minute-of-badguy is more than acceptable. However, the sights on this gun really seemed to work for me so I figured Iíd give Ďem a go at long range. Again, two handed unsupported slow fire from a Weaver stance. The end result was more than a surprise, I was downright thrilled with how well I did.
I donít think Iíve ever in my life shot a group like that from further than 6 yards!
After putting those two targets away (didnít want to muss them up before picture time) I ran out another target at 7 yards and changed to doing some drills. Iíll admit that this is where the differences between the FNP-45 and a 1911 started to really cause problems for me. The difference in trigger action, recoil impulse, gun mass, and gun balance tended to screw me up, so itís going to take some practice to be where I want to be. All things considered I did acceptablyóthe bad guy died every timeóbut Iíll need more training with this gun to get really comfortable. Also, the ejection ďpatternĒ started to become problematic. When practicing one-handed weak side (Iím a lefty, FYI) I started catching brass in the face. Not good. Iím going to talk to FNH and see if they have any suggestions. Could be as simple as an extractor adjustment, or even just a little more break-in time needed. The trigger in single action is plenty fine, but double-action is pretty heavy. Not a big deal for me as I would carry cocked and locked anyway.
All told Iím pretty damned happy with this pistol. Happy enough that I suspect it will, indeed, become my bedside/SHTF/bugout gun after a few more range sessions and if I get that ejection issue resolved. After all, itís certainly color-coordinated with the rest of my bugout bag gear: