Monday, August 30, 2021

Guns: Freedom Ordnance FX-9 review - Brace for Impact


So I will start this review off with a big disclaimer - while AR-style pistols with stabilizing braces have been sold for years now to millions of law-abiding people, the BATFE is currently taking comments on a proposed rule change that would effectively turn most of these firearms into short-barreled rifles, and their owners into felons

I do not own the Freedom Ordnance FX-9 being reviewed here (no, seriously, I don't), and I think the proposed rule is a Bad Idea™. However, if the rule goes into effect, the FX-9, even as benignly configured for this review, will be illegal in the eyes of the BATFE. Now, whether the Bureau's rule passes muster under the Second Amendment is in the hands of the judiciary (who invalidated a similar rule against "bump stocks" earlier this year), but you can spend a lot of time rotting in federal prison waiting for an appellate decision.

With that unhappy caveat in mind, let's look at the gun...

Design and Features

The FX-9 is a 9mm blowback pistol in an AR-ish configuration (the receivers are shorter than a regular AR, and many other parts differ) that takes GLOCK 9mm magazines. The gun comes with a top Picatinny rail and M-LOK compatible slots all around the handguard. For this review, I slapped on a Holosun reflex sight (you'll need a riser) and a SureFire M600DF scout light, which both worked perfectly.

The FX-9 comes with a Shockwave Blade brace. Since it's just a flat plastic plate, it's not good for stabilizing the gun against your arm, nor is it good for shouldering the gun (more on that below). To be honest, it feels like the brace is there just because having a naked buffer tube would look weird.

Another cosmetic-type item I could do without is the faux suppressor on the FX-9's barrel. It's not offensive, per se, but it serves no purpose and just adds weight and expense. I would've been happy with just a thread protector.

Range Report

The big advantage of a carbine-patterned pistol like the FX-9 is that it's much easier to hit with than a regular pistol. Very few shooters, myself included, can manage a 1.5" group at 25 yards without some sort of mechanical rest, but getting that kind of accuracy from the FX-9 was pretty easy:

Shooting the gun was interesting in a couple of other ways. While the FX-9 was very reliable in my testing, the blowback system generated more recoil than you might expect from a five pound 9mm.  I wonder about the long-term durability of the piece with all that punishment.  

More importantly, the FX-9 is one of the most uncomfortable guns you will ever use if you shoulder it, because the thin plastic "fin" of the Shockwave brace digs in with every shot and will eventually leave you bruised and sore. After a few rounds, I switched to either shooting the gun one-handed, or cheeking it without actually pressing it against my shoulder. Ironically, the Shockwave actually prevents you from using the FX-9 as an end-around of the SBR provisions of the National Firearms Act, even though the BATFE might not see it that way.


The FX-9, before the pandemic, cost about $600, making it one of the best "bang for your buck" carbine-patterned pistols out there. The gun has some quirks and flaws, sure, and the CMMG pistols are still probably the king of the hill, but I would have no qualms about using the FX-9 for home or vehicle defense.


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