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FN 503: The Slim New 9mm Pistol

FN 503 Review

Concealable pistols continue to drive much of the firearms market, and the new FN 503 is an example of that trend.

FN America just announced the new 9mm handgun that will be direct competition for other single-stack, subcompact pistols like the Glock 43, Smith & Wesson Shield, Walther PPS M2 and the Springfield Armory XD-S Mod.2.

But, how does it compare? Will it build enough of a following to be a viable product long-term?

Let’s take a look at the pistol and what it may offer you.

FN 503 Features

Put simply, the FN503 is a striker-fired subcompact 9mm pistol that was designed for concealed carry.

FN states it took design cues from the FN 509 pistol, which was its entry in the US military’s handgun replacement program. But this gun is clearly built for concealment.

The company claims that the feel of the striker-fired system is “arguably the best in its class” with a crisp trigger break at an average of 5 pounds.

As with other striker-fired handguns, the FN 503 trigger has a safety built into the face of the trigger. Unlike many similar pistols, FN uses an all-metal trigger.

FN503 9mm Handgun

The gun is relatively small. It has a 3.1″ barrel with a maximum width of 1.1″. However, FN built the gun with large controls to make it easy to run – even under stress.

On top, the company uses metal 3-dot sights. They are dovetailed into the slide with a cut that matches that of the FN 509 pistol. That means the sights are large enough to be useable and can be replaced with fiber optics or night sights if you prefer.

FN developed a new grip texture that it likens to skateboard tape. That should provide adequate traction for controlling the pistol when shooting – even when your palms are sweaty.

Specifications

caliber9mm
magazine capacity6 rounds (flush fitting), 8 rounds (extended)
barrel length3.1"
weight21 oz unloaded
sights3-dot
finishmatte black
MSRP$549

How Does it Compare?

With a variety of other pistols on the market in this niche, is there a compelling reason to purchase it instead of the competition?

Until I’ve had this gun on the range for a full testing and review, I can’t say for sure. However, here is how the gun’s numbers stack up against the competition:

FN 503

Glock 43

Kahr CM9

S&W Shield

SA XD-S M.2

Walther PPS M2

caliber

9mm

9mm

9mm

9mm

9mm

9mm

capacity (flush fitting magazine)

6+1

6+1

6+1

7+1

7+1

6+1

barrel length

3.1"

3.4"

3.0"

3.1"

3.3"

3.2"

weight (unloaded)

21.0 oz

18.0 oz

15.9 oz

19.0 oz

21.5 oz

19.4 oz

width (thickest portion)

1.1"

1.1"

not given

1.0"

1.0"

1.0"

MSRP

$549

$589

$460

$374

$586

$449

Note: All measurements rounded to the nearest tenth.

You should not buy a defensive firearm solely on specifications. However, specs can help you narrow down your choices. All of the guns in the table above – save the new FN 503 – are currently in my possession. The Walther is my favorite with the Shield and G43 being close runner ups. It will be interesting to see how the new FN pistol will compare once I have one in hand.

Final Thoughts

FN 503 9mm Pistol

While the gun might be a little late to the party, it has the styling and features to put it on par with its contemporaries.

Assuming the gun is reliable, I think it will carve out a place for itself with many gun owners. How large of a market share it can pull remains to be seen.

Market share is important as it will be a key factor for obtaining third party support such as FN 503 holsters.

By Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson is a gun writer, amateur historian and - most importantly - a dad. He's done a lot of silly things in his life, but quitting police work to follow his passion of writing about guns was one of the smartest things he ever did. He founded this site and continues to manage its operation.

7 replies on “FN 503: The Slim New 9mm Pistol”

FN well known accurate reliable pistols. Very concealable, low snag sights, & price point friendly. Will wait for reviews before buying..

Hi Chris,

Sorry for the slow response – I’ve been enjoying the weekend with my family. I hope you’ve had a good Independence Day weekend.

According to FN, the 503 shares the same size dovetail as the 509. That means any FN509 sights should work for the 503.

My recommendation is the Trijicon HD XR. It uses a front sight with a tritium vial surrounded by either a yellow or orange photoluminescent circle for great sighting in all lighting conditions. The rear sight uses two tritium vials but deletes the photoluminescent paint to draw the eye to the front sight. I really like them.

Good luck!

-Richard

i just purchase 0ne FM 305 with a striker flashlt ware I can buy a holster
any recommendation thanks

Hi Larry,

I’m not aware of anyone that is offering a standard holster for the FN503 with the LaserMax STRKR flashlight. You’re best bet is going to find someone who is willing to do a custom rig for you.

-Richard

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