I can’t decide if the FNX-45 Tactical pistol is more suited for door kickers, home defense, or battling Hogzilla.
It’s a huge .45 ACP, but I mean that more in terms of capability than size. In fact, holding it up to my Beretta 92FS, which is full-size (but certainly not physically obese), it’s about the same overall size. When I say huge, I mean that it makes those bigger caliber versus higher capacity arguments a moot point. You know what I’m talking about. 1911 Fan Club founders insist that the .45 ACP is so powerful that a single projectile will knock out at least four determined attackers, disable their car, and collapse their front porch. The Wonder Nine team opts for modern 9x19mm ammunition in a gun that will hold 15 or more rounds, as opposed to the seven or eight that most .45s house.
Don’t get me wrong, the FNX-45 Tactical is a full-size handgun, but it’s no Desert Eagle in size. You can carry it in a holster, and if you have a few extra pounds like I do, you can carry it concealed. But it still manages to pack 15+1 rounds of .45 ACP ammo. That’s more destructive power than carried by a B-29 Superfortress, right?
So, back to the use-case scenarios. It was developed by FN as a potential submission to the US Joint Combat Pistol Program. So that implies service pistol use. But, as we all know, we civvies tend to put great weight in what our law enforcement and military teams choose. If it’s good enough for their tough-use requirements, it’s good enough for concealed carry or home defense.
The FNX-45 Tactical is a double-action/single-action hammer-fired pistol. As the name implies, it’s a .45, and a high-capacity one at that. The sturdy nylon carrying case comes with three 15-round magazines. The case itself is a pretty cool feature. It’s no throwaway like the ones most handguns travel in. It’s got secure storage for the pistol, three magazines, and accessories. It makes a great range bag for this gun.
The FNX-45 Tactical has a polymer frame and a stainless steel barrel and slide. The barrel is hammer forged and 5.3 inches in length, so you’ll get max velocity out of your .45 ACP ammo of choice.
The FNX-45 Tactical comes with four interchangeable backstraps to adjust size and texture to your preference, and all have an eye for lanyard attachment. The lanyard eye is inset and out of the way if you have no need to use a lanyard. A MIL-STD 1913 mounting rail on the underside accepts tactical lights and lasers.
Overall length is 7.9 inches, and I measure the height at just under 6.5 inches from the top of the rear sight to the bottom of the inserted magazine. The pistol weighs in at 33.3 ounces unloaded.
In an obvious homage to its service pistol roots, the FNX-45 Tactical is purely ambidextrous. By “purely” I mean it’s not an afterthought or half-baked feature set just good enough for advertising gurus to be able to write “ambidextrous” in the brochure. The controls are already there on both sides, and there is no “righty” favoritism. There are slide lock/release levers already present on both sides. The magazine buttons are already present on both sides, and of equal size. The safety/decocking lever is on both sides, and again, identical in size. The only “righty” favoritism is the takedown lever, and it doesn’t matter a hill of beans which side that’s on anyway. Like most pistols, the ejection port is on the right. Hey, that’s hard to change on a pistol, so I won’t hold any grudges there.
FN doesn’t use the term “triple action” when describing the gun, but I will because I’m irresponsible and irreverent. What I mean by “triple action” is that it manages to combine all the benefits of a single-action design like the 1911 and the double-action/single-action pistols like the Sig P226 and Beretta 92.
The safety/decocking lever is multi-purpose. In the upper position, it disables the trigger. You can carry this gun cocked and locked. Lower it to expose the red dot, and the gun is ready to fire in single-action mode. Push it farther down and the gun will safely decock. At first I was worried about the multiple-position safety and decocking lever. But once I shot the gun, I realized that it’s not an issue. It’s unlikely that you will decock the gun inadvertently when going from safe to fire. In the worst-case scenario, if you do inadvertently decock when going from safe to fire, you can still shoot—it just requires a little extra trigger pressure. No big deal.
I measured the trigger and double-action came in at a hair less than 10 pounds. Single-action presses were right at four pounds.
This handgun was made for a silencer. After shooting it with two different models, I’ve decided it’s criminal to use it without one. Sure, it shoots great unsuppressed, but that’s kind of like driving your new Ferrari 488 GTB in first gear only.
The barrel extends one inch past the muzzle end of the slide, so there’s ample room for threading. But good news, FN takes care of that for you as the barrel comes pre-threaded in 0.578×28 threads per inch, so it’s ready right off the bat for a suppressor. If you don’t yet have one, or want to carry it in a holster, a thread protector is included.
The tritium night sights are also silencer-ready. They’re tall enough to easily clear any suppressor I have in my collection. I shot the FNX-45 Tactical with a SilencerCo Osprey 45 and an SWR Octane 45, and both cans were well below the iron sight picture. Nice.
Function was a non-issue when shooting suppressed. Both models include boosters in the mount to aid reliable function, and I’ve had no malfunctions to date when shooting the FNX suppressed.
Ah, for want of a Trijicon RMR. The top of the slide has a cutout section ready for holographic sites. FN includes two mounting plates in the box which allow you to attach either a Trijicon RMR or Docter optic. Other sights may or may not work without a mounting plate, but you might need to round up the right size screws. If you’re not using an optic, there is a cover plate that maintains the profile of the slide so you won’t gouge your hand on a gaping hole.
Hogzilla hunting or home defense?
So this is .45 ACP, and shooting .45 ACP is fun. It works, has not yet malfunctioned, and that’s good and nice. But this gun just screams for more. So I fed it a diet of DoubleTap Ammo’s 450 SMC loads. If you’re not familiar, 450 SMC is a cartridge with the same exterior specs as .45 ACP, but it’s made from stronger cut-down rifle cases and loaded about 6,000 psi higher in pressure. If you have a .45 rated for +P ammo, you can use 450 SMC. If you’re going to be shooting the SMC loads frequently, you may want to drop in a heavier recoil spring to save some wear and tear on your gun. Doubletap offers a variety of 450 SMC loads ranging from a 160-grain Barnes TAC-XP bullet moving at 1,350 feet per second to a 255-grain hardcast bullet moving at 1,030 fps. That’s aggressive.
I didn’t conduct benchrest accuracy testing with the FNX-45, but my range time with it revealed that it’s perfectly capable of putting holes in targets where they need to be out to 25 and 50 yards. I noticed little variation between suppressed and unsuppressed shot groups.
This sure seems like a good hog combination to me. Optical sight, backup iron sights, 15 rounds of 255-grain hardcast bullets, and a suppressor. Add a light and laser to the rail and you’re ready to go.
But those are exactly the same attributes that make this a formidable home-defense gun. While hearing protection may be low on your list of concerns for a home-defense tool, it certainly will help not to be deafened by the volume of an indoor gun blast. The silencer’s ability to virtually eliminate muzzle flash will help you keep your vision as well.
Let’s see: fast optical sight, the ability to add lights and lasers, a suppressor-ready barrel, 15-round magazines, .45 ACP, and a reasonable price point (typically $1,000 to $1,100). Works for me.
Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon.
Images by Tom McHale