Which is the Best Choice for Me: Glock 19 or FNX9?
I am surprised by the huge number of emails I’ve received asking this very question!
The honest answer is, “I really don’t know.” Each of us has uniquely personal “life filters” and experiences influencing what we find important in a given handgun design, either as a “must have” or to avoid at all cost! Some believe that the lack of an external thumb safety on striker-fired pistols renders them inherently unsafe; others applaud them for their instant readiness should “the elephant” suddenly trumpet a surprise appearance! Many complain about the Glock’s “excessive” grip angle, but more than a few suggest that this makes it a more natural pointer. Whether the DA/SA autopistol’s two distinct trigger-pulls serve any purpose compared to the solitary one on SA autoloaders or most striker-fired pistols stokes more than a few heated debates…and it goes on and on and on and on…
Let me simply present my personal observations for your consideration. I much prefer to provide what information I can and leave decision-making to the individual. It does not hurt my feelings to acknowledge that my views are not “be-all/end-all” proclamations of universal truth. I have little use and less patience for people acting as though their opinions are the only relevant ones in the solar system and I will not take part in such. I find it offensive and suspect that many reading these words do, too.
First, for those interested in more on the Glock and the FNX9, here are some links:
If you are considering one of these, do you envision it primarily as a self-defense weapon or a “range gun” that could be used to defend you and your family? While handguns in either category should see at least sufficient range-time to develop and maintain proficiency, understanding our true preferances might make a difference in which action-type we would find most satisfactory over the long-term.
Are you truly comfortable with the Glock’s “safe action”? Are you concerned that its safety on the trigger really isn’t? What about all of the negligent discharges and the infamous “Glock leg” reports all over the Internet? Glock proponents adamantly report that the pistol is absolutely safe if the user has enough discipline to keep his finger off of the trigger until ready to shoot…and that is absolutely true, but do you trust yourself to be capable of this in a panic-laden life-or-death situation?
Hopefully, you see why I cannot (unerringly) give you the “right” advice. The best I can even hope to do is to clearly articulate what I think and then you use it or not. In short, you decide what’s best in your individual situation.
Here we go…
On the left is the world famous Glock 19 and on the right, the FNX9. I am stunned by the large number of requests for an article comparing these two designs. Both are shown “ready to go” by simply pressing the trigger. Might one of these serve some shooters better than the other?
Feel or Ergonomics: My preference is for the FNX9 simply because I find it extremely comfortable. I rate it right along side of the Hi Power, CZ-75 and 1911 designs I’ve been shooting for decades. (At the same time, I definitely do not find the Glock’s more rakish grip-angle the monster some apparently do, in either slow or rapid-fire drills against a timer. I find it interesting that many applaud the similar grip-angles of the P-08 Luger, Benelli 9mm automatics, Colt Woodsman and Hi-Standard .22 rimfires, but find it a negative on the Glock.) “Feel” is a subjective quantity as is beauty, which we all know to “be in the eye (or hand) of the beholder”. Not all will find it comfortable. I recently read one report in which the shooter found the FNX9 distinctly unpleasant due to the location of the thumb safety levers.
Reliability: Both have proven themselves reliable as death in my experiences with them. Over the years, I’ve worked with a lot of Glocks on both police and other firing lines and the VAST majority have been flawless in this respect right out of the box. I’ve only shot a couple of FNX9 pistols as well as one FNP9, but none have hiccupped, not even once. I think that they will prove reliable in the extreme, but I do not have the money to buy and shoot enough for a “statistically valid” statement of fact.
I have found but one area in which I believe the FNX9 (or any hammer-fired pistol) beats the Glock and possibly other striker-fired designs: detonating unusually “hard” or insensitive primers. I still have quite a bit of ‘90’s-vintage Speer Lawman “Cleanfire” 124-gr. TMJ ball ammunition. This stuff came in a plain brown box and has proven itself extremely accurate in a fair number of 9mm pistols. Problem is that it regularly fails to go off in my Glock 17, 19 or 26, ditto a friend’s S&W M&P, and another’s Kahr. I recall the same problem rearing its head years ago with one specific brand of imported surplus 9mm ammo. Apparently, the issue was wide-spread enough that distributors of this surplus ammo, had warnings that it was not for use in Glocks.
I have fired both of these specific loads without incident in hammer-equipped pistols such as Hi Powers, CZ-75’s, STARs, and 9mm 1911’s on repeated occasions.
So am I ragging on the Glocks? Nope! That is not my intention at all. At the same time, I have personally witnessed what I just described enough to know that it is not a fluke. My belief is that striker-fired firearms simply don’t smack the primer as soundly as a firing pin struck by a hammer. Firing military-loaded 5.56mm ammunition in my hammer-fired AR15 has resulted in no failures-to-fire over the years, but put the very same ammunition in my striker-fired Mauser-type bolt-gun and misfires repeatedly occur. I am not sure of the actual physics involved, but I am personally convinced that in this one area, hammer-equipped pistols deliver a more substantial blow to the primer via the firing pin than do striker-fired models, assuming that mainspring power has not been excessively reduced.
How important is this in the real world? I don’t think it makes a rat’s backside with the vast majority of ammunition, be it manufactured for military or civilian markets. More than a few nations’ armed forces are using Glocks, aren’t they? In this country, NYPD issues Glocks and Speer 124-gr. Gold Dots to their personnel. This would not be happening if the Glocks were routinely unable to reliably pop primers or if Speer factory ammunition’s primers were constructed too robustly for reliable detonation.
Perhaps my older Speer “Cleanfire” 9mm ammunition debuted with harder primers than are now used? I don’t know, but wouldn’t be surprised.
In my experience, this area of concern has been very, very minute, but did feel it should be mentioned. With any quality ammunition, I wouldn’t worry that my Glock wouldn’t reliably fire it.
Accuracy: Mechanically, I am not sure that there is a clear winner. Both pistols’ barrels lockup in the same manner and both are intended to be service pistols. Practically, for the same amount of concentration, I find myself repeatedly getting (slightly) tighter groups with the FNX9 than the G19. At speed or when shooting at targets with larger scoring rings (IPSC option, etc), differences are too minute for me to call a clear winner. For strictly a range gun, I’d go with the FNX9.
Out of the box, I prefer the FNX9 sights to the Glock’s, but with the Glock this is not an issue; sight-selection is huge and installation is extremely easy.
Felt-Recoil: The Glock’s bore-axis is slightly lower than the FNX9’s, but in the real world using both standard-pressure and +P 9mm loads, I do not feel any difference in either “kick” or muzzle flip. It hasn’t shown up against the timer, either. Faster, more-skilled shooters might be able to detect some difference, but I do not. I found the FNX9’s checkered rear grip strap too sharp for comfort when shooting (a real surprise) and changed it to the arched one with the lateral ridges. The Generation 3 G19 was fine as it was. (Perhaps differences would be noticed in 40-caliber, but I’ve not tried it.)
Loading Magazines: I’ve only owned 6 FNX9 magazines in my life, but all were difficult to load to capacity initially. After repeated use, this improved. The Glock 19 magazines were easier from the start for me. I didn’t find them the least bit difficult until loading the final round.
Magazine Capacity: The FNX9 holds 17 and the Glock 19, 15. With an extended floor plate or even a Glock 17 magazine being used, the G19 can “catch up”, but out of the box, the FNX9 holds more shots per magazine, though I doubt that this matters much.
Safety: Both pistols have internal firing pin blocks and both are bereft of magazine “safeties”. Both have external safeties IF we count the Glock’s “Safe Action” trigger design as such. The FNX9 safety can be engaged regardless of hammer-position. Since my preference with semiautomatics remains the older single-action designs, I am partial to the idea of being able to engage the thumb safety on this pistol with the hammer down. Not only does it (perhaps) provide a bit more safety in the event of a gun grab during a struggle, but it keeps me “current” in faithfully disengaging the thumb safety before pressing the trigger. (Over the years, I’ve shot so much with the single-action automatic that I automatically disengage non-existent thumb safeties on DA-revolvers and automatics when under the least amount of pressure … like a timer.)
Corrosion-Resistance: In my opinion, it’s pretty much a draw here. Both have polymer frames. Glock’s finish has proven itself exceptionally durable and corrosion-resistant. With its stainless steel components, be they coated or not, the FNX-series should prove very much the same.
Concealability: Both pistols are similar in size, but the Glock is a bit more compact and weighs approximately an ounce less.
Both pistols are similar in size and in my opinion, concealing one is going to be about as easy (or difficult) with the other. In my opinion, the greatest difference is in the increased (0.45”) height of the FNX and that’s not much. I believe that holster design and outer garment choice will play more significant roles in determining concealability with these than their slight dimensional differences.
Disassembly & Maintenance: Both are simple to field-strip for routine cleaning. I rate them equivalent, but find the FNX9 magazines easier to disassemble than the Glock’s, though the latter is by no means difficult. Beyond field-stripping, the Glock clearly “wins” in my opinion. The FNX9 cannot be detail-stripped for replacing even a fifty-cent spring without sending it to the factory! The reason is that the polymer thumb safety levers must be destroyed in order to be removed and allow the disassembly process to progress. Though I appreciate FN’s concern for unauthorized and possibly unsafe modifications to these pistols potentially (and unfairly) engulfing them in frivolous, malicious and expensive lawsuits, the feature is still a major negative for me and usually a deal-breaker. When I discovered this, I strongly considered selling my FNX9, but held off for three reasons:
1. FN’s reputation for supporting its customers (including private citizens) is positive.
2. FN is well-known as a manufacturer of quality firearms.
3. I really like the size, weight and “feel” of this pistol.
Internally, the FNX9 contains more parts than the Glock and is therefore more complex and possibly prone to breakage, but my concern may be more theoretical than real. Regardless, considering Glock’s extreme internal simplicity, ease of disassembly, the company’s positive history of taking care of customers as well as the availability of both OEM and aftermarket parts, Glock obviously bests FN in this regard. Having said that, I also believe that IF the FNX9 (and 40) catch on, some aftermarket parts may become reality, but increased holster-selection and sight choices are likely to follow pretty quickly.
Which do I prefer? For traditional bullseye shooting, something I’m partial to, my preference is clearly for the FNX. Other than firing the pistol (or dry-firing), there is no need to touch the trigger on this pistol. Like the SIG-SAUER, hammer-dropping is safely accomplished via the safety, which doubles as a decocker when pressed past “OFF” and fully downward. For me, the downside to this feature is that about half the time, I inadvertently decock the hammer instead of only disengaging the thumb safety when attempting to quickly shoot from Condition One. Others report no such problems, possibly due to hand size or grip, but for me, it just is not reliable enough to be considered. If carrying in Condition One, I’ll use a single-action semiauto.
If secreting a handgun within my house or car, I’ll go with the FNX9 over the Glock 19. I am hesitant to leave any loaded firearm unattended and feel better with one with which I can at least apply an external safety. Even though I completely agree that neither will just “go off” without a human being causing it, I believe that the FNX’s engaged thumb safety offers (slightly) greater protection from a negligent discharge. In other words, with a longer, heavier DA-trigger-pull and engaged thumb safety, it suffers fools more readily than the quick-as-a-snake Glock.
When answering (but not necessarily opening) the door to unexpected callers, I feel easier about shoving the double-action FNX9 in my hip pocket than the Glock, but if using properly-designed holster that will not allow any retaining device to contact the Glock’s trigger, either is fine.
The Glock has been used by the multitudes long enough to have established a history of dependability and ruggedness. The FNX9 has not. Though not a fault to be sure, only wide-usage over time can reveal the design’s long-term characteristics, whether positive or negative.
My guess is for the former rather than the latter, but the truth can only be known after considerable use of the design under myriad conditions by people from all walks of the armed spectrum.