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FN - FNS "Shift Change" Pistol Review

By: Troy Fullbright

Today I had the pleasure of evaluating the new FN FNS "Shift Change" pistol. In my occupation, it is possible for me to acquire firearms for test and evaluation. When I heard that a certain big time USPSA guy may be shooting this pistol, I thought a review would be appropriate for Boomer Shooter. I used my connections in LE and got the pistol today.

Let me say this, I really like this pistol!

I brought the pistol out to SWAT training today and went out on a limb and used it as my teaching gun all day. Approximately 500 rounds were fired through the gun, with zero malfunctions experienced. The gun was fresh from the box, and still had factory oil on the pistol. I applied more lubrication at lunch.

The pistol with its 4" barrel seems to be in between the Glock 17 and 19 in size. Big enough for duty or competition, but small enough to conceal easily. A nice compromise of size. The trigger guard is large and rounded. There are rails, for attachment of lighting devices.
The polymer frame was checkered and came with both an arched and flat backstrap. Backstraps were changed by pushing a paperclip through a hole in the rear of the backstrap. This depresses a spring and allows the backstrap to slide off. Although the arched backstrap was comfortable, I really liked the flat. The checkering is sorta raised pyramid thing (similar to the Glock RTF) on the side panels, more traditional checkering on the backstraps, and horizontal lines on the front strap. The front strap seemed to these hands to be very extreme, almost uncomfortable. The gun definitely grips you back. There is a slight beavertail, reminiscent of the M&P, so no slide bite.

Sights were Trijicon 3 dots, fixed and adjustable by drift. They are dovetailed in place, so I suspect other manufacturers will soon be producing replacements. Ahem.......Dawson?

The Magazine release buttons are large. They are also ambidextrous. No need to flip the release around, it works from either side. I found that my shooting hand grip covered the magazine release, but this did not cause any problems during shooting.

The pistol has a nicely beveled magwell, more so than an other polymer framed pistol I've seen. The magazines are steel and have a small lip about halfway up the front of the mag body. This lip is what the mag catch latches onto. While making magazine changes, I didn't notice the lip. Hitting the mag release, the magazines shoot out of the grip like they are being chased! Magazine basepads have a large front lip, which reminds me of the stock M&P magazine basepads. I think if comp is to be shot with this gun, basepads that are a tad smaller would be in order. When snatching a mag from a mag carrier, you could dislodge the mag behind the target mag. But...nothing a Dremel or smaller replacement pads won't cure.

The slide release lever was positive and easy to manipulate. It is protected by the frame so as to not lock up during firing. This has been a problem for me in the past. I grip really high, and have had Glocks lock back prematurely, so I usually file off the outside of the Glock levers. This wasn't an issue today. Ambi, here too.

The gun sits low in the hand and points very well. I found that when tracking the sights, I got more of a back and forth track, as opposed to a vertical track. The gun wasn't as snappy as some other 40 caliber pistols. I attribute this to a low bore axis, aggressive grip texturing, and a proper firing grip.

Now to the trigger..... Take up was a bit gritty, but seemed to be smoothing out over the course of the day. Take up wasn't "airy" like a Glock, it felt positive the entire length of travel. Once the trigger is taken to the "wall", things got crisp! There was a slight hint of over-travel, but not much. Reset was very short and positive. I didn't measure trigger pull weight, to me those numbers don't mean anything. FN publishes the pull weight at 5.5lbs. Ok, whatever. All I know is the trigger felt better than any other factory striker fired pistol I've shot. The trigger is meant to go fast!

Accuracy was boring. Tiny groups were shot all day long. Pepper poppers at 100 yards fell all day.

Now for the important part, shoot-ability. The gun pointed well, recoiled mildly, and the trigger felt great. Mag changes were a breeze, mags flew out of the gun, and inserted with ease. When reloading from lock back, the slide release was easy to hit, and their a ample cocking serrations both front and rear if you are so inclined. I'm sure the Lefties will appreciate the ambi slide releases.

In my opinion, this is a viable gun from competition, carry, and duty. For comp, I would change the magazine basepads to something smaller and I would install some sights of the fiber optic variety. It comes with 3 magazines, so buy two more and you're ready to rock. I don't know of any competition holster options, but it can't be long before the major players tool up. For duty or carry, she's ready to go.
I think FN has a winner. I know of one major Oklahoma police department (the biggest one) that is taking a very hard look at this pistol.

Operation: Double action - Manual Safety levers
Frame Color: Black
Slide Finish: Matte black
Barrel Length: 4.0" long
Caliber: .40 S&W
Magazine Capacity: 14 round
Sights: Fixed thre-dot
Weight: 27.5 oz.
5.5 -7.7 lbs. trigger pull

All stainless steel construction
Front/rear cocking serrations
Three-dot fixed Tritium sights

Four interchangeable backstrap inserts with lanyard eyelets
1913 accessory mounting rail

ambidextrous safety levers
ambidextrous slide stop levers
ambidextrous magazine release

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Excellent review, thank you.
Great to read a review by someone who has actually shot one.
At SHOT I was checking it out at the FN booth when Chris Cerino from top shot came over to tell me all about it. I commented that it needed to be a 5" gun. He said a 5" version was on the way. He also said that all the slides would interchange so you could slap on the 5" for competition (not legal to do that in Production) and replace the 4" for concealed carry. You can also swap calibers just as easily.
I liked the checkering too and even though the grip is kinda 'square' it fit me ok.
I expect that warren tactical will have the Sevigny signature sights for it soon.
It 'felt' like a real gun unlike that other gun that got a lot of press at the show.

With Sevigny (and Di) shooting this gun...
It'll be interesting to see how quickly aftermarket support ramps up (holster, mag holders, sights, trigger work, basepads, etc)
I am so glad to see someone (especially FNH) make a new handgun with a low bore axis. I wonder if they'll offer a model without the safety lever. Or perhaps it could be reliably removed/disabled?
Thank you for the review! I have been looking at these online for weeks. I appreciate your no-nonsense "real" review!
Just ordered one in 9mm.
Very nice! Thank you for the review. I have not paid much attention to FN in the past but I think I'll start. Thanks again!
Great review. I have the FNS-9 and love it also. FN makes great firearms and this one is no exception.
I had a chance to shoot the FNS-9 and FNS-40 at a range in Missouri last fall. The first thing I notice was when I put the magazine in the magwell, I thought I had the 9 magazine instead of the 40. This was not the case. The magwell was just that open. Pointed the front sight at the target 10 yards down range and had an extremely tight grouping. I was impessed with both handguns. While at SHOT, I also heard that the 5" model will be comig out. I spoke with one of the FNH team shooters a couple weeks ago and he confirmed that the 5" gun is going to be out this fall and hey might offer it in a double caliber kit that comes with both the 40 and 9 slides and magazines. Major and Minor in one box. Awesome.