Hello and welcome back to another edition of The Rimfire Report! This ongoing series is all about the rimfire firearm world and its many guns, accessories, and ammunition. For a long time, rimfire enthusiasts like myself have been looking for affordable alternatives to our favorite centerfire pistols and rifles. While the AR-15 side of the market seems to have that covered, the pistol world seems to have been left behind with only a few options that really fit into the “tactical rimfire” pistol niche. One such pistol that comes to mind is the Smith & Wesson M&P 22 which has proven to be one of the most reliable scaled-down versions of a full-sized centerfire pistol (be sure to check out Austin R’s overview of his M&P 22 which has well over 15,000 rounds through it). However, frequent readers of The Firearm Blog will know that FN recently released their FN 502 Tactical 22LR rimfire pistol to the market, and today on the Rimfire Report we will be putting it through its paces to see how it performs.
More Rimfire Report Articles @ TFB:
- The Rimfire Report: Field Review of the Savage A22 Precision Rifle
- The Rimfire Report: H&K .22LR MP5 Pistol and Rifle Review
- The Rimfire Report: The Space Age Whitney Wolverine 22LR Pistol
The Rimfire Report: Reviewing the FN 502 Tactical Rimfire Pistol
FN 502 Specifications and Features
- CALIBER: 22. LR
- OPERATION: Single Action Only (SAO)
- MAG CAPACITY: 10 or 15 Rd.
- WEIGHT: 23.7 oz.
- BARREL LENGTH: 4.6″
- OVERALL LENGTH: 7.6″
- TWIST RATE: 1:16″ RH
- HEIGHT: 5.8”
- WIDTH: 1.4”
- TRIGGER PULL: ≈ 5 lbs
- SIGHT RADIUS: 5.5”
- Industry’s first slide-mounted optics-ready .22 LR pistol
- 15-round high capacity magazine
- Single-action hammer
- Fits most FN 509 Tactical holsters
- Fully Ambidextrous Controls
The FN 502 Tactical arrived in factory new condition and shipped in a plastic carrying case. FN has a great reputation for shipping their guns in decent plastic boxes/cases rather than simple cardboard ones and although it is a small and often almost ignorable feature, I do appreciate it when companies at least put in the effort to ship your gun in something that won’t disintegrate when exposed to solvents, gun oil, or water.
One of the first things you’ll notice about the FN 502 is its intentional likeness to the FN 509 pistol, but with an added single-action trigger instead of striker-fired. FN purpose built the 502 to have the same form factor, ergonomics, and manual of arms as the FN 509 and I think they accomplished that. The gun is nice and light due to its alloy slide construction as well as its polymer frame. Despite the change in materials and internals, the 502 remains well balanced and feels great in the hand.
Since he coined the term and the practice, I haven’t been able to stop myself from conducting an inaugural James J. Reeves II Pistol Maraca Test™© on all of the new review pistols I receive. The pistol passed with flying colors and this to me is an indicator that FN/Umarex is making a decently manufactured product rather than something that was just slapped together to make a buck off of rimfire enthusiasts like myself.
Since the FN 502 is indeed the industry’s first slide-mounted optics-ready .22 LR pistol, I took the opportunity to run my Trijicon SRO on it. FN 502 is compatible with a variety of other red dots and comes with mounting plates for each style which includes an integrated plastic suppressor-height fixed rear sight.
While many micro-compact 9mm pistols have moved over to the super aggressive skateboard tape texturing for their pistol grips, FN brought over the same type of grip texturing that the FN 509 has which features 3 different textures, reserving the skateboard texture for the web of your palm in between the index finger and thumb. The final thing I noted before I headed off to my range session with it was that the pistol has an advertised trigger pull weight of roughly 5-pounds. However, in my testing, I found that the trigger pull was closer to about 3-pounds (2 lbs 13.8 oz over a 5 pull average).
While ammunition remains quite expensive, rimfire ammunition is thankfully less expensive and I was able to put more rounds through the FN 502 than with most centerfire pistols. For my first range trip, I wanted to see if I could get away with using subsonic .22LR ammunition and in total, I attempted to run about 50-rounds of both Federal 45 grain subsonic, 60-grain Aguila Sniper Subsonic, as well as some CCI Quiet. Unfortunately, none of them were quite reliable even with the addition of a suppressor and this actually comes as no surprise since the manual explicitly states that high or standard velocity ammunition should be used in tandem with the FN 502. All other ammunitions ran the 502 just fine for about 350-400 rounds before malfunctions started to pop up.
After about the first 350 rounds or so I started to notice the pistol choking a bit with the standard velocity ammunition. The problem I ran into the most was the slide not wanting to return to full battery after firing. I think the combination of lower velocity ammunition and the increased fouling caused by both the constant use of both a Silencer Co Switchback, my own homebrew Form 1 suppressor, and all of the subsonic ammunition mentioned above, had accelerated the fouling of the pistol. Luckily I keep a small bottle of CLP in my bag and after a quick wipe down of the pistol’s internal surfaces, it was back to running without issue with the standard velocity ammunition.
Across all of my range sessions, I found the FN 502 that I was sent to be accurate, reliable, and fun to shoot if not a bit of a princess when it comes to fouling. Although shooting rimfire is often dirty business (especially with a suppressor), I found that the FN 502 needed a bit of TLC much earlier than other rimfire pistols like my Ruger Mk IV, Taurus TX22 Comp, and even my tiny Ruger LCP II Lite Rack. This isn’t a dealbreaker but it is something to take into account if you plan on using a lot of bulk ammunition or a suppressor with yours.
The FN 502’s purpose seems to be a dedicated trainer for those that field an FN 509 on a frequent basis. The 22LR pistol market is somewhat saturated at the moment, despite this I have to applaud FN for attempting to break into the market in a way that will draw both existing customers and perhaps new customers into buying the product.
The 502 would be a perfectly serviceable and more affordable stand-in for the FN 509 as they share holster compatibility. Outside of that, I am somewhat hard-pressed to find a niche that it fits into other than a “training plinker.” Other 22LR pistols fit more squarely into rigidly defined boxes like the Ruger MK IV, SW 22 Victory, or TX 22 Comp which all lend themselves perfectly into the competition scene while still retaining the ability to mount red dot optics and suppressors like the FN 502 can.
If nothing else, I feel like the FN 502 is further proof that it is indeed possible to make a 22 LR pistol that features more than 10-rounds to a magazine and to have it be reliable. I hope this is something that more 22 LR pistol manufacturers latch onto and start adding into both new and existing products down the road. All in all, I like the FN 502, I’m just not exactly sure what to do with it other than plink. In any case, that’s it for this week’s Rimfire Report. Let us know your thoughts and comments down below and thanks as always for reading TFB.
I’d like to extend a personal thanks to Silencer Co for providing a T&E Switchback Suppressor
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