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?

Truly ambidextrous means the controls aren't movable to the other side - they're already present.
The FNX-45 Tactical is truly ambidextrous.

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.

Basic features

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.

You can carry the FNX 45 Tactical in double-action mode with safety on, or cocked and locked. Your choice.
You can carry the FNX-45 Tactical in double-action mode with the safety on, or cocked and locked. Your choice.

Controls

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.

Triple action

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.

With 15+1 rounds of .45 ACP, it sounds big, but it really isn't. Four backstrap inserts let you choose your grip size.
With 15+1 rounds of .45 ACP, it sounds big, but it really isn’t. Four backstrap inserts let you choose your grip size.

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.

The included carrying case is a bona-fide range bag.
The included carrying case is a bona-fide range bag.

Silence!

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.

It'll shoot. This group was shot using Doubletap's 450 SMC ammo.
It’ll shoot. This group was shot using DoubleTap’s 450 SMC ammo.

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.

Optics

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.

The FNX 45 Tactical in its natural habitat - with suppressor and high-powered ammo. The only thing missing is an optical sight.
The FNX-45 Tactical in its natural habitat—with suppressor and high-powered ammo. The only thing missing is an optical sight.

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

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6 thoughts on “The FNX-45 Tactical: Hogzilla Slayer and Home-defense Utensil

  1. The only problem that I’ve had – and that no one brings up in their discussions on this joy – is the magazine ejection. They stick, even the fully loaded ones. You’d expect out of the box that at least a full magazine would want to jump out and try to beat you to the floor, but mine and others that I have read on several blogs seem to have trouble getting out of the gun without help. Several have discussed filing the inside of the magazine well (since it’s all plastic) while others have sent it back to FNH USA for repairs. All good and well as it seems it can be corrected, but no one who writes these articles seems to either have the same trouble as the general public or they are overlooking it because it “just wouldn’t look good at press time”.
    As for myself, I went with carefully filing the contact strips inside the well until empty mags (room temp 74 F and humidity at 40%) will eject most of the time without squeezing and flexing the plastic grip too much. I’m hoping that with continued use they may continue to loosen up more during the summer, but if not then I will be back to filing a bit more until they eject more like all my other semi-autos. Until that time I will not trust my FNX-45 to perform under something more dangerous than the target range. My carry will continue to be something more reliable.

    1. That’s a shame about the ejection. Heard the same thing from others.
      Had my heart set on it until I heard about the ejection problem.

    2. I bought one about 2 months ago – mags drop free with our without ammo. The only way I can make it stick is if I try to squish the grip really hard with my left hand, otherwise it works even if I try gripping the gun really hard with my right hand (being the dominant hand).

  2. I have actually not had a single issue with magazine ejection on mine. Not a single issue at all with the gun. I absolutely love it.

  3. I have had my plain Jane FNX .45 for two years now. No magazine problems with any of the the magazines. No problems of any kind. Mine is my EDC. The grip does abrade the skin at first, but with use one adapts. I even have the two mag holder from onyx on the other side. I am only 160 lbs, and I have no problem with the weight . Something about 46 rounds of PDX-1 is comforting.
    I have an elevated risk for my family from kidnappers (after they get out of prison) so I have a greater problem with a 16 yo daughter to protect. That’s what is my motivation to carry a powerful weapon.

  4. Most accurate pistol I’ve owned. No jams, eats everything. NO issues with mag release. I read that very old 1st Gen models had soft grip that made mag stick, but anything in recent years shouldn’t have any issue. Got rid of all my 1911’s after buying this pistol.

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