FNP-357--Don'™t Knock It Till You'™ve Tried It

FNP-357--Don'™t Knock It Till You'™ve Tried It

Our reloading editor's fondness for "oddball" cartridges is well known, and possibly the .357 SIG could fit that category for some people. But FNH's FNP-357 pistol surely isn't an oddity. In fact, it's a darn good number.

The FNP disassembles into five major parts for easy maintenance.

I've always been attracted to things (fill in the blank) that were "different." While many kids my age in the 1960s experimented with cigarettes (even some made with "Don't worry — be happy" weed), I tried a pipe packed with Cherry Blend tobacco. When my college annual was published each year, photos of classmates I knew demonstrating against the war or involving in a Woodstock-style festival off campus came as a complete surprise. My usual don't-follow-the-herd personality trait has also influenced my choices in firearms/cartridges.

Years ago, most shooters preferred rifles chambered for the popular .243 Winchester, 7mm Remington Magnum, or .30-30 cartridges. To me, the 6mm Remington, 7x61 Sharpe & Hart, and .32 Winchester Special were more interesting. When everyone else lusted after a Dirty Harry double-action revolver, I was more intrigued by Ruger single actions or Thompson/Center single shots. I didn't own a 1911 .45 ACP semiauto until 20 years after I'd started shooting and reloading. For my first foray into custom rifles, I wasn't satisfied with the "standard" .338-06 wildcat; I opted for Fred Huntington's .338/.280 RCBS Improved.

With that glimpse into my background, you shouldn't be surprised that when the SIG P239 was introduced, I wasn't interested in the first ones chambered in 9mm Luger. I waited for the promised .357 SIG model to come out. Since then, I've acquired several .357 SIGs, including a Beretta Cougar, Glock 32, S&W Sigma, and, most recently, the FNP-357 from FNH USA.

Manufacturer:FNH USA
Operation:DA/SA autoloader
Caliber:.357 SIG
Barrel Length:4 inches
Overall Length:7.4 inches
Weight, empty24.9 ounces
Safety:Ambidextrous, frame-mounted decocker/manual safety, internal firing pin block
Sights:Fixed three-dot system (front and read dovetailed into slide)
Stock:Integral to polymer frame, checkered black, flat and arched interchangeable backstraps
Magazine Capacity:14 rounds
Finish:Satin stainless slide, matte black frame

The FNP Up Close
FNP is the abbreviation for Fabrique Nationale Pistole. If the name rings a bell, that's the outfit that first built John Browning's autoloading shotguns and pistols more than a century ago. Today, FNH owns Browning (and other famous brands) and continues to design/develop new and improved firearms.

The FNP model, introduced just a few years ago, was initially chambered in 9mm Luger. Naturally, I didn't buy one then. The .40 S&W and .45 ACP versions followed, but I still didn't buy the model. Finally, FNH made a run of .357 SIGs last year, and I ordered one immediately.

The FNP-357 shares many of the design features of other recently introduced auto pistols. The polymer frame is lightweight and has integral gripping surfaces, an accessory rail, and an oversized trigger guard. It also has two interchangeable backstraps that allow the shooter to choose a flat or arched grip.

The slide stop and takedown lever are located on the left side for the prevalent right-handed shooters, but the primary control (safety/decocker) is located conveniently aft and is also ambidextrous to accommodate the left-hander. The highly visible but low-profile three-dot sights are securely dovetailed into the slide. The bobbed, skeletonized hammer is adequately serrated to ensure positive purchase even with cold hands or gloves.

Functionally, the FNP provides DA/SA operation and a staggered, 14-round magazine. (Unless, of course, your local laws limit them to 10 rounds.) In fact, the kit includes not the usual two, but three magazines. The magazine release is also factory installed to accommodate a right-handed shooter, but it's reversible. The large, external extractor serves double duty as a loaded-chamber indicator. When a round is in the chamber, it will protrude from the slide and display a red marking.

The FNH FNP-357 demonstrated excellent accuracy with selected ammo.

Disassembly is accomplished as follows: Remove the magazine, then retract the slide and inspect the chamber to ensure the pistol is unloaded. Holding the slide fully to the rear, push the slide stop up and lock the slide in position. Rotate the takedown lever clockwise 90 degrees downward and then, holding the slide firmly, release it by pushing the slide stop down. Push the slide assem

bly forward to remove it from the frame.

You can also eject the magazine and check the loaded-chamber indicator to verify the pistol is unloaded. Then reinstall an empty magazine and retract the slide until the slide stop locks it back to the rear. Rotate the takedown lever and remove the magazine. Then firmly grip the slide and push it rearward, and the side stop will disengage so the slide assembly can be removed from the frame.

Turn the slide assembly upside down and compress the recoil/return spring slightly so it can be disengaged from the barrel lug. Note the proper orientation and interface between the spring and the slide and barrel before you remove it. The barrel can then be lifted up and out of the slide.

FNH FNP-357 Accuracy
LoadMuzzle Velocity (fps)Extreme Spread (fps)Standard Deviation (fps)25-yard Accuracy (inches)
Hornady 124-gr. HP/XTP, 10.8 grs. AA No. 7 1344 10 9 3.30
Hornady 124-gr. HP/XTP, 9.1 grs. Power Pistol 1417 34 10 4.00
Sierra 125-gr. JHC, 8.2 grs. True Blue 1262 60 17 4.50
Speer 125-gr. TMJ, 10.7 grs. VV N105 1418 68 16 3.50
Hornady 147-gr. HP/XTP, 7.4 grs. Power Pistol 1196 27 9 3.30
CorBon 115-gr. JHP Factory load 1509 39 11 3.40
Federal Classic 125-gr. FMJ Factory load 1396 60 17 3.40
Federal Premium 125-gr. JHP Factory load 1421 40 11 4.00
Remington 125-gr. Golden Saber, Factory load 1340 54 11 3.90
Speer 125-gr. Gold Dot, Factory load 1442 46 11 3.10
Speer Lawman 125-gr. TMJ, Factory load 1387 44 10 3.60
Sellier & Bellot 140-gr. FMJ-FN, Factory load 1275 57 16 3.60
WARNING: The loads shown here are safe only in the guns for which they were developed. Neither the author nor InterMedia Outdoors Inc. assumes any liability for accidents or injury resulting from the use or misuse of this data.
NOTES: Accuracy is the average of two 10-shot groups fired from a sandbag benchrest. Velocity is the average of 20 rounds measured 6 feet from the gun's muzzle.

The .357 SIG is one of the few bottlenecked pistol cartridges ever developed. It essentially duplicates the .357 Magnum's ballistics for comparable bullet weights in the semiautomatic FNP-357 pistol.

Reassemble in reverse order and make sure the return spring is installed properly before you attempt to remount the slide assembly to the frame. Also be sure the takedown lever is returned to the 3 o'clock position before disengaging the slide stop. After you're done, cycle the slide and manipulate the controls to assure everything is functional.

I dry-fired the pistol several times to get familiar with the grip and trigger pull. Double-action pull was smooth and, in spite of the recommendation to not "stage" the trigger, I found that I could trip the hammer without disturbing the sight picture almost every time. Whatever'¦I intended to always fire the pistol single action anyway.

Coincidentally, Insight sent me one of the firm's excellent LED pistol lights while I was preparing this review. I'd never thought much about using a light before because only a few of my most recent acquisitions are designed to accommodate one. The FNP's rail looked to be compatible, so I tried it out. The M1913 Picatinny latch bar snapped right into place and securely positioned the unit so that I could easily turn it on and off. I'm not even a novice yet when it comes to tactical training, so I removed it before continuing my evaluation.

That's enough about design features and options and such. Let's see how my new .357 SIG performed at the range.

The front sight's low profile precludes the possibility of snagging the holster.

At Home On The Range
I test-fired the pistol with several brands of factory ammo and a few handloads I had on hand. Factory specs for most 125-grain bullets indicate muzzle velocities should be about 1,350 fps. The FNP's 4-inch barrel delivered up to 100 fps higher velocities. I fired nearly 250 rounds during two sessions and encountered only two failure-to-feed events. The bullets were apparently seated too short in one of my handloads. And for some reason, the pistol simply did not like Sellier & Bellot's 140-grain FMJ factory load. The flat tip jammed into the feedramp about every third round.

Accuracy results were quite adequate for any personal defense or LE situation. I had to relearn the pistol's single-action trigger pull during each session. The trigger is injection molded plastic and retained a slight vertical ridge in the center of the trigger face. I don't usually wear a shooting glove, so after firing several strings, it irritated my finger and occasionally distracted my attention. I'm old-fashioned. I suppose polymer frames on semiautomatic pistols are okay, but plastic triggers can't be much of an improvement over metal ones'¦can they?

In today's market, the FNP-357 is competitively priced. That's especially true considering the lockable storage case and extra magazines. But who wants a pistol chambered for such an oddball cartridge? If you're just a herd animal, don't even bother checking it out.

But don't knock it until you've tried it!

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