Suppress everything – That’s my motto. Even though the popularity of the .45ACP round is waining somewhat, due in large part to the performance of modern 9mm rounds, no one in their right mind would pass up the chance to launch 230 grain bullets quietly. So, with the arrival of my FNX 45 Tactical, I raced to order up a new piston for my SilencerCo Octane 45HD.
Ok, so I threw in that line about .45ACP to see how many of you I could ‘trigger’ at light-speed. What I really mean is that I don’t shoot .45 caliber handguns on a regular basis. #9mm_4_life.
FN America really has produced an amazing pistol in the FNX Tactical 45 – and it’s a complete package to boot. The whole deal starts with a well made, color matched ballistic nylon carrying case. The FN embroidered logo comes standard.
Inside, the FNX pistol has a hook-and-loop minimalist attachment point alongside two magazine pouches, space for a cable lock and a tool pouch. In the top flap is a clear pouch for user manuals and other paperwork. The case is a really nice touch as opposed to the standard flimsy plastic pistol cases that we all have collecting dust in a closet somewhere.
Honestly, I felt like Vincent Vega when he opened the briefcase in Pulp Fiction.
Jules: “Vincent! We happy?”
Vincent: “Oh yeah, we happy.”
II. Specifications/Build Quality:
An alert for you purists out there: yes the FNX Tactical is a polymer framed pistol. So if you have pledged your allegiance to the blued steel of a 1911 and are looking for a new .45 caliber home, be forewarned, you’re going to be holding Tupperware.
Really, really nice Tupperware. The edges and seams are buffed and polished, the texture panels are refined and the cuts and groves are precise. I have yet to hear about someone sending their FNX out for a custom stipple job; a testament to a quality design. (Please don’t be the first – I’ll be forced to write a story about you).
Speaking of grip textures, FN has included three additional back strap inserts with the FNX in case the standard option doesn’t meet your needs. Honestly, they all felt the same to me, although it’s a nice touch.
Also included in the package are the mounting plates and hardware for attaching different manufacturers micro red dot sights. Alas, I have yet to cross over into the RMR world, so mounting and using and optic on the FNX will not be a part of this review.
My test gun wasn’t new by any means, but the excellent FN build quality carried the normal wear-and-tear nicely. Every piece of metal was refined, without any noticeable machining marks.
The FNX definitely has that intrinsic feel of a quality handgun that’s hard to put your finger on. And although it also comes in black, I chose FDE because it’s well known to have better stopping power than other colors. Sorry, that’s just science.
If you are used to the steep grip angle of a Glock pistol, you may have a bit of retraining to do. I felt that the FNX always wanted to point a little high for me. And while we are on the topic, the suppressor-height sights are a welcome addition to this setup; they clear the SiCo Octane with room to spare.
Speaking of the Octane, the one accessory I needed to make this whole setup run was a 5/8″ x 24 booster. I bought mine from one of my go-to SOTs – Hansohn Brothers in Culpeper, Virginia.
The FNX is fully ambidextrous, meaning that controls like the magazine release, slide stop and safety/decocker are replicated on both sides of the gun. This is a feature set that should be standard on all modern handguns. And not necessarily to appease the lefty’s of the world. If you practice disabled drills (and you should) where you simulate your strong hand being incapacitated, ambidextrous controls are a welcome addition.
Internet reviews on the FNX’s safety/decocker seem to be positive, and I agree, the lever is intuitive. Pressing the decocker with the hammer down disengages the safety. Pressing the safety with the hammer back decocks the action. Press it once more to once again to disengage the safety. As a former long time carrier of a DA/SA Sig P229, the old ‘decock and holster’ routine came back to me fairly easily.
A moment on safeties if you will. A few months ago I penned a tongue-and-cheek piece on how a manual safety has no place on a modern defensive handgun. Since then, I have had a lot of time to think about it, talk to a few experts in new field and dive into some deep self reflection. Well, today I’d like to make an announcement: Safeties still have no place on a carry gun.
IV. Fielding THE FNX:
There no point in denying it, this is a big pistol. Unless you are a linebacker-sized shooter, you should have no illusions about making this gun a concealed carry piece. However, as big as it is, the FNX carries, points and shoots like a manageable handgun should. The magazine release, slide release and of course the safety are all in easy reach with someone with normal sized hands. If you wear extra small gloves, you may want to try before you buy.
Between it’s size and adding 15+1 rounds of .45ACP, this pistol definitely has some heft. Which could be why that the recoil impulse was surprisingly light, even with full powered loads. Add in a full-size suppressor, and it is almost like you are toting around a howitzer. Like I said, for it’s size, the FNX handles really well.
The double action trigger pull is smooth, however I’d classify it as it being a bit on the long side. The single action pull is short, sweet and to the point. And the reset between DA and SA is defined and repeatable. Being a fan of the stock Glock trigger (gasp), I’d rate the FNX’s mechanism as a solid 8/10.
Chambering, racking the slide, ejecting live rounds, dropping the magazine and locking the slide to the rear were all boringly reliable. As the shooter, I got the feeling that this gun was meant to be a workhorse, focusing on function and reliability over all else. As it should be.
With a threaded barrel and suppressor height sights, the FNX was born ready for a silencer. So we now come to the crux of the review. How well does it suppress?
First, ‘how well does it suppress’ is a very subjective statement – what may sound great to me, may seem loud and harsh to you. Yes, we can factor in baseline decibel numbers into the testing (if we had the right testing equipment). But in the end, each shooter, and their environment are going to be different, so numbers are only a small part of the picture.
Second, I have one .45 caliber pistol silencer, and while I think the Octane is a solid performer, a sample size of one make for a poor scientific test.
Lastly, ammo choice is going to play a major factor in perceived suppression levels. Although almost all factory .45ACP ammunition is going to be subsonic, different types of powders burn at different rates, changing the way the discharge sounds. I had two types of ammo to play with for this review.
My first run was two magazines with the Octane dry (no ablative media). Although the report was unscientifically ‘hearing safe’ it was not as quiet as my 9mm setups. I’d classify it as being on the edge of painful. The good news is that thwack of 230 grains of lead hitting steel was impressive, to say the least. That’s raw power right there.
A major downside for me was the amount of blowback hitting me in the face. Using the full-power defensive loads, the blowback particles were actually painful with every trigger pull. Again, there are a combination of factors at play here, but using the same suppressor on my Glock 19 I never felt any blowback what so ever. And although the calibers were different, I used the same brand and type of ammo as I did here with the FNX – Winchester Ranger SXT.
Using 2cc’s of wire pulling gel to run the Octane wet, the sound levels noticeably decreased compared to running the setup dry. However, blowback increased, and after two mags, both myself and the FNX were filthy. Particulate matter to the face, arms and hands increased – this combination was not fun to shoot.
Switching ammo made the blowback issue slightly better, but not by much.
Remember, it could be that the Octane/FNX combination just isn’t a good match. But since I don’t see myself buying another .45 caliber can, this is where my beautiful new friend and I part ways.
Make no mistake, the FNX Tactical 45 is a superb pistol in every way except for one – adding a silencer to the system created heaps of unwanted blowback with every shot.
But, it would be unfair of me to place the blame solely on the gun without further testing, specifically using five to six other .45 caliber suppressors to see if the issue is inherent to the gun, the silencer or a combination of the two.
Having said all that, just because I wouldn’t buy this gun, doesn’t mean I’m willing to dissuade others from making that decision. It is well built, functions flawlessly and very accurate.
VI. Final Thoughts ON THE FNX TACTICAL:
- Superior quality
- Great ergonomics
The Not So Good:
- Blowback. Lot’s of blowback.
I wanted to love the FNX Tactical – I really did. I even thought that this might be the gun that would push me to buy a .45ACP as a host for my Octane. But it just wasn’t meant to be.
Maybe it’s like George Costanza says when trying to end a bad relationship: “It’s not you, it’s me.”
FNX™- 45 Tactical – MSRP $1,349.00
- Caliber: .45 ACP
- Operation: Double-action/Single-action
- Magazine: 10 or 15 rds.
- Weight: 33.3 oz. (empty)
- Barrel Length: 5.3″ (with .578×28 RH barrel end thread pattern)
- Overall Length: 8.6″
- Sights: Fixed 3-dot night
- Made in the USA
- Stainless steel construction
- External extractor with loaded chamber indicator
- Front and rear cocking serrations
- Slide cut and threaded for optional electronic red-dot sight (not included)
- Raised night sights for suppressor use
- Cold hammer-forged, stainless steel
- Polished chamber and feed ramp
- Threaded 0.578×28 tpi with thread protector
- Polymer construction with replaceable steel frame/slide rails
- Two interchangeable backstraps with lanyard eyelets
- MIL-STD 1913 accessory mounting rail
- Serrated trigger guard
- Fully-ambidextrous decocking/safety levers, slide stop lever and magazine release
- Polished body
- Low-friction follower
- Polymer base
- Fixed 3-dot night
- Includes two mounting bases for optional red-dot electronic sights
PO Box 9424
McLean, VA 22102