FN Reflex Review: Small Package, Big Performance

Jan. 25, 2024
The FN Reflex looks like an FN 509, but is a palm-sized version. Find out how it fares as we run the weapon through its paces.

I got to test the FN Reflex, a micro-sized 9mm with compact gun capacity. Of the dozens of guns I test per year, this was one of the best off duty/backup guns I have ever tested.

If you’re the kind of person that wants to know the “bottom line” of this firearm review, you should know that I am recommending the FN Reflex as the best compact firearm for 2024. If my duty assignment called for wearing a tie, but occasionally required kicking in doors, this is the gun. You should, however, read to the end of this article. There is a surprise at the end.

This article appeared in the November/December issue of OFFICER Magazine. Click Here to subscribe to OFFICER Magazine.

When I first unboxed the FN Reflex, it seemed smaller than I anticipated. It is only slightly longer (6.02” compared to 6.0”), slightly taller (4.27” compared to 4.0”), and slightly heavier (18.4 oz compared to 17.9 oz), than my Hellcat. The FN Reflex was designed to carry plenty of rounds for concealed carry. I have several pocket-sized 9mm handguns, but I found I could shoot the FN Reflex faster and more accurately than some of my full-sized guns.

Yes, I said pocket-sized. It only weighs 18.4 oz unloaded. It is heavy enough to allow it to smoothly transition from target to target on a good shooting course, and light enough to discreetly carry anywhere, all day long.

The FN Reflex, released in April 2023, was designed to give the user 27 rounds of carry capacity, match accuracy, and superior ergonomics, in a single package. I found the Reflex to be the off-duty gun to have in an unfriendly environment.

FN America, the US subsidiary of FN Herstal, S.A., enjoys a long history of providing quality firearms for military, Law Enforcement, and civilian users worldwide. With the exception of the FN Five-seveN series, all of their handguns are manufactured in Columbia, S.C.


The FN Reflex looks like an FN 509, but it is a palm-sized version. It is only 6.2” overall, and 4.2” tall. It has a form factor like the FN 509, except it can fit into my front pocket. The front strap and back strap both have raised strips of angled rectangles, giving it a purchase that keeps the hand firmly planted. The grip flats have raised molded checkering, which includes the traditional FN logo, while the area behind the trigger is slightly recessed and stippled. The gun is completely symmetrical, and right and left-handed shooters will have exactly the same experience, including the user swappable magazine release.

The FN Reflex comes with one 15 round and one 11 round magazine, making it a 27 round kit that can fit in the front pocket of my cargo pants.

Because FN guns have similar builds and quality. An agency who equips their officers with FN 509s will also enjoy platform stability, insuring they won’t need to re-equip their officers after only a few years, because they discontinued the platform.


The FN Reflex comes in two versions: Standard and MRD. The MRD has a slide cut for Shield RMSc and Holosun K-series. I tested the MRD model, but did not add an optic for this test. The MRD model with an optic doesn’t make it much bigger, but it does take away from a pocket draw. Both models come with dovetailed 3-dot sights. The MRD model has a MSRP of $659. The standard sight version is $599. There are less expensive compact guns, but not with these kinds of features.

Considering how short this gun is, it has a front rail that can take a full-sized light. This isn’t really a consideration for me as an EDC gun, but, given its other qualities, it is definitely a good home defense gun. The ability to attach a light to the gun in the nightstand safe is a must. I recommend a Streamlight TLR-7 for this task.


The stippled texturing on the Reflex is molded, and it includes enough palm swell for a consistent Master Grip. It’s still only 1” wide, which adds to its ability to conceal underclothing. Using a good pocket holster, this gun has enough rounded corners to be a snag-free draw from the pocket.

The 11-round magazine has a little finger ledge that fit larger hands. Everyone on our team who tried it commented on the “pointability” of this gun.

I believe that FN has mastered the feel of the grip angle, which appears to be in-between the M1911 style and modern polymer pistol. The Reflex pointed quickly, allowing the shooter to arrive at natural point of aim quickly.

The Reflex does have front and rear slide cuts. It does use a captive dual coil recoil spring, and it only requires moderate effort to retract the slide. For shooters who have trouble racking the slide on a gun that fires an effective cartridge, this is your gun.


We loaded up the Reflex’s two magazines and began putting rounds downrange. The first thing I did after insuring the gun was fully lubricated and function checked was shoot it at 20 yards. If this is going to be an EDC gun, one never knows if one will have to deliver a well-aimed headshot from a little distance.

The FN Reflex printed perfect groups into the sinus cavity of my target with my 124 grain FMJ loads. By the time I emptied my first magazine, we were all standing around saying, “This gun can shoot” and similar statements. With zero warm up, and no prior experience with this model, the FN Reflex shot groups better than some match quality guns.

As everyone knows, I won’t carry a gun unless it can’t fire a headshot at around 7 yards, without warm up. At this distance, this gun can shoot one hole groups. FN uses a 3.3 inch hammer forged barrel and tight lockup to accomplish this. The barrel has a 1/10” twist, polished feed ramp, and a target crown.

We did some “one and one” drills, where the shooter uses a chambered round and an empty magazine to practice speed loading and malfunction, and some failure drills. I shot these drills smoothly, without a hitch.

FN uses metal magazines and tilt free followers. They fall freely from the gun and find the mag well without fuss. Not only is the mag release reversible, no one who picked the gun up had to change their grip to press it.

What we liked best

When I first picked up the FN Reflex, I noticed immediately that the back of the slide was closed. That is, there isn’t a cover for the user to access the striker. There isn’t one, because there isn’t a striker. This is a hammer fired gun with an internal hammer. Instead of the striker apparatus, there is a pocket in the rear of the slide that allows the hammer to swing inside the slide, completely enclosed and protected. Most hammer-fired guns have an external hammer. This one’s inside.

What’s the advantage to this system? Most striker fired guns require the initial pull of the trigger to slightly retract the striker. At the very least, striker fired guns have a trigger engagement with the striker that is somewhat ramped, until it reaches its apogee, before it is released. With a hammer fired gun, the hammer is released by the sear engagement.

Whatever the engineering, the trigger action of the hammer fired system does only one thing. It fires the gun. There isn’t an additional takeup of the trigger. Because of this, the hammer fired gun has a cleaner trigger stroke, and the shooter is much less likely to have the stroke of the trigger to disrupt the shot.

Additionally, the sear reset and quickness of the action aids in quick trigger action for follow up shots. Many shooters won’t be as sensitive to the cleanness of the action, but I noticed it immediately. My resulting groups did too.

Although the FN Reflex shares the natural ergonomics, and the superior external extractor system of the FN 509, it is the hidden gem of EDC guns with a very refined trigger feel.

The bottom line

If you are reading this review, you probably know that, in this business, one tries to get the best equipment that money can buy, just to add the additional edge when survival is measured in time, distance, and perception. Of the many guns I test on a regular basis, this has been one of the best tests ever. I recommend the FN Reflex for duty, off duty and your home defense kit.

About the Author

Lindsey Bertomen, a retired police officer and military small arms trainer, has taught shooting techniques for over a decade, in addition to teaching criminal justice at Hartnell College in Salinas, California. Off the clock he enjoys competing in shooting sports, running and cycle events. He welcomes comments at [email protected].

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