FN introduced its first double stack micro compact 9mm handgun series-- the Reflex-- earlier this year and we've been beating up on a pair of them for the past couple of months. 

Table of Contents

What is the Reflex?
Specs
Features
Trigger
Reliability
Accuracy
Pros & Cons
Conclusion

What is the Reflex?


The Reflex was introduced in April just ahead of the NRA's Annual Meeting. It is clearly meant as a competitor to a growing series of similarly sized carry guns on the market such as the SIG Sauer P365, Springfield Armory Hellcat, and Kimber R7 Mako. As such, it is slightly bigger than palm-sized, with a 3.3-inch barrel that gives it a 6.2-inch overall length. 
 

FN Reflex pistol
The FN Reflex, here the FDE MRD (Flat Dark Earth, Micro Red Dot) variant. For those who live in states without restrictions, the Reflex ships with two magazines: a 15+1 round extended mag and a flush-fit 11+1 round mag with a pinky extension for better grip support. For those in restricted states, 10-round-only models are available. (All photos: Chris Eger/Guns.com)
FN Reflex pistol
The Reflex is marketed in two primary versions, the $599 MSRP'd standard model (seen to the right with the flush mag inserted) and the $659 MRD, seen left with the extended mag. Both ship with both mags. FN offers them in both black and FDE. We tested both models shown here. 
FN Reflex pistol
When compared to FN's past offerings, the Reflex is gently larger in the palm than the company's recently discontinued FN 503 subcompact (top right) while allowing for double the magazine capacity. It is about the same length but much thinner in the hand and less "chunky" than the FN 509 Compact, being a full half-pound lighter in its 15+1 format than the FN 509C with the same capacity. Note the similarity in layout between the Reflex and the 509 series.
FN Reflex pistol
The Reflex, in terms of dimensions, also compares nicely with popular carry handguns such as a Kimber Mako, S&W snub-nose, SIG P365 XMacro, and Taurus GX4.

 

Specs

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Capacity: 11+1 and 15+1 (10 rounders available in restricted states)
  • Trigger Pull: 3.9 pounds (10-pull average across two pistols after 1K rounds)
  • Weight: 18.4 ounces with an empty 11-round mag
  • Barrel Length: 3.3 inches, 1:10 twist
  • Overall Length: 6.2 inches
  • Sight Radius: 5.05 inches
  • Height: 4.27 inches
  • Width: 1 inch
  • MRD Optic Footprint: Shield RMSc/Holosun 507k/407k

 

Features


The Reflex may look like other micro compact 9mm double stacks on the outside, but it hides something special when you dive further into the pistol. Rather than being a striker-fired pistol, the new FN 9mm utilizes an internal single-action-only hammer. The big takeaway is that this allows for a better trigger and easier-to-rack slide due to its ability to use a lighter recoil spring. Plus, it gives it a safe takedown procedure that doesn't require pulling the trigger to accomplish.
 

FN Reflex pistol
A safely unloaded FN Reflex takes down easily via a frame-mounted takedown lever that rotates 90 degrees. There is no need to dry fire for disassembly. 

 

About the only other similarly sized pistol on the market with the same feature set to include an internal hammer-fired action is the Ruger Security 9 Compact Pro (with night sights, as the FN Reflex in all models has night sights) which isn't optics-ready, uses 10-round mags instead of the 12/15 option for the Reflex, and is (marginally) larger in length, height and unloaded weight.  

All models of the Reflex have three-dot iron (not plastic) sights that include a front night sight with a tritium insert and high visibility orange circle. The MRD variant allows for a wide range of red dot footprints. Don't plan to mount a dot? Get the standard model and save $50. 
 

FN Reflex pistol
On MRD models, the slide is cut for Shield RMSc and Holosun 507k/407k micro red/green dot optics. FN's Reflex mounting system includes two different screw sizes that utilize self-locking nylon patches on the screw threads, eliminating the need for a thread locker to remain tight. We installed a 407K after the first 100 rounds and left it on for the remainder of the test, experiencing no loss of zero or wiggle after 1,000 rounds. 
FN Reflex pistol
The Reflex series borrows from the hard work that FN has already done making the 509 one of the most ergonomically pleasing handguns on the market, having the same style of aggressive in-mold stippled texture that sort of just reaches out and shakes hands with your palm. Going further, controlling the recoil in small guns has always been a problem to solve and the Reflex bests the 509 in this respect via a combination of the slim grip with a high backstrap, which I feel enables a better purchase on the pistol. 

 

For those looking to add a micro compact light like the Streamlight TLR-7 sub and Surefire XSC, the Reflex has a short accessory rail on the bottom of the dustcover. 

 

Trigger


As we mentioned earlier, the FN Relfex uses what the company bills as a "best in class" trigger, which is an easy boast as just about everything else out there in the micro compact double-stack 9mm class is striker fired and the Reflex is hammer-fired. The thing is the proof is in the pudding. I've extensively shot and carried a P365, Hellcat, GX4, and Kimber R7 Mako in the past couple of years, and the Reflex does have a better trigger than all the above. The hinged trigger of the Reflex has most of its take-up in the bottom of the bow and meets the wall quickly, breaking almost flat.

With the two test guns on hand, at the conclusion of the 1,000 rounds through each, the Reflex triggers averaged 3.6 and 4.2 pounds, respectively. In short, it is a really good stock trigger, especially for such a small gun.

An example of the trigger pull and reset on an unloaded Reflex. Also, note the ease of racking:
 

 

Reliability


After a disassembly and function check, we evaluated the two Reflex pistols we had on hand with 2,000 rounds of ammo – 1,000 per gun – across a series of range sessions without applying any additional lube than what was included on the guns right out of the box. Nothing exotic was done in the form of a "torture test" – in other words, no mud, sand baths, tossing out of helicopters, or running over by tank treads. Just loaded, shot, reloaded, and shot some more. 

The ammo used in testing were all factory fresh loads, with the bulk being Federal American Eagle Syntech red box 115-grain SJFN and CCI's Blazer Brass 115-grain FMJ. We also used a couple of boxes of Tula BrassMaxx 9mm and Winchester white box FMJs. When it came to self-defense loads, we used primarily Federal's excellent Punch 124-grain JHP with a couple boxes of Speer Gold Dot 124 grain loads and some Browning X-Point Defense 147-grainers thrown in. 

The good news is that we found the Reflex to be dependable. 

One of the guns had a single malfunction towards the end of the test with lots of carbon build-up. The malfunction was on the FDE MRD, which had a stovepipe on a spent Winchester 115-grain case ejection, a factor that may have been aggravated by the Holosun. It was cleared after an immediate action drill and the gun put back in service. While the barrel's chamber and ramp are polished for reliability, if it gets dirty enough you can get some problems – so make sure you clean the thing every now and then. 

We had no issues with self-defense ammo, which made up about one-quarter of the test ammo. 

While the slides did occasionally fail to lock back on an empty magazine, it should be noted that this was typically after the guns were really dirty. Also, it should be noted that, after firing 200-250 rounds in a short period, the guns got almost uncomfortably hot to shoot until they were allowed to cool down. This is common with smaller pistols, and I've noticed the same thing on P365s and Hellcats as well. 

 

Accuracy


The Reflex is set up for accuracy even though it is a very short micro-compact pistol. The barrel is cold hammer-forged and target-crowned, and FN is renowned when it comes to making high-quality barrels. This, coupled with the excellent sights, hammer-fired action, and good factory trigger make it easy to make your point of aim your point of impact. Of course, it runs best in the 7-15 yard range, which is primarily where it is designed to live, but we could step it back to the 25 in practical shooting without issue.
 

FN Reflex pistol
Typical groups on the Reflex in the 10-yard range, offhand, with FMJ ammo. 
FN Reflex pistol
The Reflex gives the EDC user 27 rounds at the fingertips if they carry the 11+1 round mag at the ready and the 15-rounder as a backup.

 

Pros & Cons

 

Pros

  • Reliable.
  • Accurate.
  • Great trigger.
  • Compact.
  • Ease of maintenance with a safe takedown process.
  • Direct mounted optic system with no plates to fail and common footprint.
  • High viz steel sights.
  • Lots of variants including two colors and with/without optics cut.
  • Two magazine options are included.
  • Lighter slide-racking impulse which is a bonus for those with lower hand strength.

Cons

  • The accessory rail is noticeably short, limiting its usefulness to microlights.
  • Holsters and spare mags are tough to find, at least for now.


Conclusion


FN has't made a lot of really small carry guns in recent years. The FN 503, which was introduced a few years ago, was top-notch and made a great competitor to something like the single-stack Glock 43. Likewise, the FN 509 Compact was a good reply to the Glock 43X and, I felt, had better ergos. While I am sad to see the 503 fade away – you may want to pick up one while you can – it is clear that the Reflex is a much better option, being almost the same size but with an 11+1 capacity with its smaller magazine. 
 

FN Reflex pistol
In fact, my go-to holster for the FN 503, a DeSantis Inside Heat, fits the Reflex like a glove. DeSantis also just introduced a model of the Slim-Tuk Kydex IWB holster to fit the Reflex either with or without optics. 


Muddy River also now has some holsters. That's good, because it doesn't seem like there are a ton of holster fits on the market for the Reflex. It should be noted that FN has one in their eStore, which means hopefully more holsters will be inbound. 

Because people are going to be looking for them. A gun like this, folks are going to want to carry.

revolver barrel loading graphic

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