Do You Remmeber the FN Forty Nine

Do you remember the FN Forty Nine? No, probably not. Fn has a pretty distinguished record for their long guns and quite a few of their handguns. Admittedly up until the FN 509 series, the FN pistols were often fairly underrated. The FNS and FNX didn’t get the love they deserved outside of one of the first factory optic-ready handguns, the FNX-45 Tactical. Most people at least know the FNS and FNX, but if I said FN Forty Nine, I’d likely get some odd stares. 

The early 2000s were an interesting time for handguns. Glock had really hit a great stride with the gen three guns, and it became readily apparent that the polymer frame double stack was here to stay. Anyone without one would be short-sighted. In 2002 FN opened FNH USA, and this opened up the American police and military markets. When they came into the states, they brought the Hi-Power with them as well as the very new FN Model Forty Nine. 

The Forgotten FN Forty Nine 

The Forty Nine was a Belgian design, and it predated the opening of FNH USA. The original design came to be in 2000. While the polymer frame pistol dominates this day and age, the concept hadn’t reached peak popularity just yet. 

Glock was the name in the polymer frame world. S&W tried to jump in with the S&W Sigma, but that didn’t end well. Glock sued, and in 1997 they settled out of court with S&W paying some money to Glock and then altering the Sigma design. This lawsuit had to be fresh in the mind of FN engineers when the FN Forty Nine was designed. 

No one wants to spend the money to produce a pistol just to get sued. However, no one wants to be left behind when there is a cash cow to milk. I think this lawsuit was a big part of why the FN Forty Nine was designed the way it was. 

The FN Forty Nine’s name kind fo hints as to the gun’s design. It came in both 40 S&W and 9mm. The gun features a familiar polymer frame, and used a double stack magazine. The 9mm variant held 16 rounds, and the 40 S&W held 14 rounds. 

Pretty standard so far. The Forty Nine uses a steel slide that comes in both stainless a and semi-gloss black finish. The weapon had a 4.25 inch barrel, with an overall length of 7.75 inches, and the gun weighed about 26 ounces. It’s all fairly standard until you pull the trigger. 

The Trigger 

The weapon lacked any form of manual safety. FN relied on a true double action only, striker fired trigger system. FN called it the RSS Firing system, which stands for Repeatable Secure Striker. This double-action-only trigger system offered an 8 to 10-pound pull. FN used this trigger system extensively to advertise the weapon. 

They even stated that it “takes striker-fired systems to a new level.” The core of their advertising was stating that most striker-fired guns were essentially single-action pistols. They proclaimed that their gun offered shooters the ability to restrike a round that misfires. 

Besides the restrike capability, the Forty Nine was super safe according to FN, and honestly, it’s just as safe as any other modern semi-auto pistol. However, they said that the “at-rest position greatly reduces the risk of accidental discharge.”

Keeping your finger off the trigger eliminates the risk of a negligent discharge, to be fair. 

So What Happened

This is America. We like short and light triggers. Over 110 years later, we are still using the 1911 with its SAO design. Historically DAO automatic pistols aren’t favorites of American shooters. A DA/SA, SAO, or partially cocked striker is how we like our handguns! 

The FN Forty Nine wasn’t a bad gun. It was reliable, modern, and offered all the modern touches pistol shotoers wanted. However, it had a double action only trigger that clearly turned some shooters away. FN produced the pistol from 2000 to 2005 before discontinuing it. 

In 2006 FN still wanted to produce a modern, polymer frame handgun. What we got was the FNP. The FNP used a DA/SA handgun design and is hamemr fired. It still skates around any likely Glock lawsuit and provided a platform much more accepted by American shooters. 

The FN Forty Nine has since faded away and become a gun you only hear about from weirdos like me. 

Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.