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FN 503 review

The FN 503 Reviewed

The FN 503 is FN's bid to join the single-stack subcompact segment, as the bite-size variant of the 509 akin to the Shield 9mm and Glock 43 pistols and so on. Is it a worthy competitor?


It sure has some good points!

There are a few things that are...a little different about this gun compared to others, so make sure you get your hands on one to form your own opinion. If you pick one up, make sure you get yourself an FN 503 holster to go with it.

FN 503 Specifications

FN 503

But first, the FN 503 specifications. They are as follows:

Barrel length 3.1 inches
Overall length 5.9 inches
Height 4.6 inches
Width 1.1 inches
Unloaded weight 21 oz
Capacity 6+1 or 8+1 of 9mm
MSRP $549

The FN 503 has knurling on the front and back of the grips, with texturing on the side panels of the grip housing. Whereas the rest of their striker-fired pistol offerings have a Smith and Wesson-like hinged trigger, the 503 has a bifurcated trigger a la Springfield Armory.

There's a flush-fit magazine and an extended magazine that ships with the gun; pretty standard stuff for a pistol of this size.

The sights are dovetailed white dot sights, but are big enough to be easily acquired. Perhaps you'll change them, perhaps you won't. In any case, the sight dovetails appear to be the same as the 509, so it's conceivable that you'll be able to get aftermarket sights for them. We could be wrong, but that looks to be the case.

Overall, it's fairly simple. While it comes with few adornments, a gun of this kind doesn't really need many, which is likely the idea. Everything you need, nothing you don't, easy to conceal and carry.

The FN 503 Review

FN 503 pistol

So, now the actual FN 503 review.

Ultimately, it's a single-stack subcompact striker-fired pistol, so by now everyone knows what that's like. We all get what it's for (CCW) and we all get that it's not a target pistol.

What makes this one different from all the other ones, of course, is the question. We aren't going to tell you it's a game-changer, because it's not, but it does have some merits worth knowing about.

First is the grip housing. The grip housing of the FN 503 is wider from front-to-back than the Shield, the Glock 43 and other guns of that type, with a slightly longer trigger reach as a result. Not by much; it's like an extra ¼" compared to other guns of this class.

Those with the smallest hands might find it slightly more awkward than the aforementioned competitors, but those with medium to large hands (such as the guy writing this) will find it a bit more to their liking.

For me, I have to consciously move my trigger finger back a bit to get to the trigger face when I shoot a G43, a Shield, or a P365 or Springfield Hellcat. Not much, but enough for me to notice. With the 503, it isn't as pronounced, so I have an easier time getting to the go-pedal.

Others here in the AGH offices thought much the same; at first the grip seems weird because of the longitudinal width, but you start to appreciate it pretty quickly.

It has a very decent trigger, with smooth takeup and travel, a crisp, clean break and a positive, audible reset. However, the travel is a bit long and the reset travel a bit longer as well compared to other subcompact triggers.

At this point, there are so many subcompact and compact poly striker pistols to choose from. If you're looking for a gun in that class, the onus is really on you to get out to a rental range and determine which one is best for you. Maybe that's the FN 503, maybe it's the S&W Shield, maybe it's the Sig P938.

Overall, it's a very decent pistol, though it's about 5 years late to the game. Kudos to FN for getting on board.


About The Author

Writer sam hoober