Offering a 15+1 capacity in a frame just slightly smaller than a Glock 19, the FN 509 Compact is good to go when it comes to reliable carry pistols.
With a manufacturer's asking price of $679, it runs about $120 on average cheaper than the same-sized FN 509 Compact MRD, which is optics ready and about $370 less than the FN 509 Compact Tactical with a threaded barrel, an optics cut, and suppressor-height night sights. This makes the FN 509C a good choice for fans of the 509 platform that don't anticipate adding an optic or can to their carry gun.
Overall length is 6.8 inches with a 3.7-inch barrel. Shipping complete with low-profile iron (not plastic) sights, the FN 509 Compact tips the scales at 25.5 ounces with its standard flush-fitting 12-shot mag inserted while standing 4.6 inches high. With the longer 15-round mag inserted, we found the loaded FN 509 Compact to weigh 32 ounces and come in at a height of 5 inches flat over the top of the rear sight. By comparison, a loaded G19 with 16 rounds ready is 7.36 inches long, 5.04 inches high, and a weight of 30.2 ounces.
The Compact has a MIL-STD-1913 accessory mounting rail with three grooves for lights, lasers, bayonets, or whatever other pistol accessories you want to hang off it. Other features include a fully ambidextrous slide stop lever and magazine release as well as a modular grip frame that ships with a second rear insert.
FN bills the trigger, which has a flatter face than previous designs used by the South Carolina-based company, as having a cleaner break than previous 509s and a 5.5-to-7.5-pound pull. We found that our test gun broke at about 6-pounds and felt nice for a stock trigger on a striker-fired handgun with a firm wall and super clean break. There are worse out there.
Across four range trips, we fed the FN 509 Compact a diverse variety of factory 9mm ammo running the gamut from 115- to 147-grain loads in FMJ, TMJ, JHP flavors to include both brass and steel cases. The results after 1,000 rounds were exactly zero malfunctions that were attributed to the gun.
The mix of at least four different surface textures on the front, rear and sides of the grip frame couple with the ergonomics to make the gun easy to control while shooting, with recoil staying manageable even with the shorter barrel.
About the worst thing you can say is that the holster selection for the 509 Compact is not as wide as other models, so the hunt for a good carry rig that really fits well may involve reaching out to custom makers.
As already stated, the gun does not have the provision right out of the box for miniature red dots, but for that you can get an FN 509 Compact MRD. On the upside, you get an ultra-dependable 9mm with a 12+1 or 15+1 capacity that is reverse-compatible with its larger brother's mags and brings snag-free iron sights and ambi controls along for the ride. In addition, the 12-shot mag, just long enough to comfortably get your pinky firmly on the grip, is ideal for carry with the longer 15 being a reload mag.
FN runs the motto of "The World's Most Battle-Proven Firearms" and, although the 509 Compact isn't direct from the battlefield, it runs like it is ready for one while wearing like it is ready to tag along, unseen, as they say, in the best places.