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Review: Freedom Ordnance FX-9

Let Freedom Ring with this Packable Protector

Preparation is the survivalist’s primary survival tool. Prepping for the most likely dangerous scenarios goes a long way in ensuring their safety and that of their loved ones. With the civil unrest, terrorist activity, and violent individuals looking for their 15 minutes of fame, the odds of encountering a deadly scenario may be higher than we’d like to think. Clint Smith, director of Thunder Ranch, says, “The only reason to use a handgun is to fight your way back to the rifle you never should have left behind in the first place.” In recent years, an old player has re-entered the scene: the Pistol Caliber Carbine, and for personal protection, we're looking at the Freedom Ordnance FX-9.

Unless you live in Israel, carrying a full-size rifle or carbine around all the time doesn’t quite conform to the social norms of typical society. Even where legal, it’ll likely draw a lot of unwanted attention; however, the sentiment behind Smith’s advice has a lot of merit.

Without detailing the obvious advantages and disadvantages of a long-gun versus a handgun, perhaps a more plausible solution lies somewhere in the middle. A large-format pistol has some of the same advantages as a long-gun, but in a compact package able to be discreetly carried inside a small pack or a bag.

The Freedom Ordnance FX-9 is large-format, 9mm pistol that claims to pack accuracy, control, and extra ammunition capacity into a go-bag-sized package. We got our hands on the 4-inch and 8-inch versions of this little gem to see if the FX-9 would pass muster.

BACKGROUND

That the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, as guaranteed by the Second Amendment, is at the heart of the Freedom Ordnance mission. Michael Winge, the president of the company, grew up in the country and spent his entire life around firearms. He got his first rifle and learned the fine art of marksmanship at the age of 10. His love for his country motivated him to join the Marine Corps as an infantryman, where his marksmanship skills got him a security forces occupation as a designated marksman. It also gave him the chance be cross-trained as a fill-in for the company armorer, during which time he began developing a passion for maintaining and eventually manufacturing firearms.

Winge bears a curious interest for Word War II history, leading him to discover, contrary to popular opinion, that the 9mm submachine guns of that era were surprisingly effective on the battlefield. The sheer volume and simplicity of those pistol-caliber weapons and the impact they had on the war prompted Winge to base the entire Freedom Ordnance product line on the 9x19mm cartridge.

The Freedom Ordnance FX-9

The Freedom Ordnance FX-9 is American-made and machined from aluminum billet. Rather than start with a 5.56mm AR lower and reconfigure it for the 9mm cartridge, Freedom Ordnance built the FX-9 from the ground up around the Glock 9mm magazine. It does have similar controls that the AR user will find familiar, and even a few AR interchangeable parts, but it’s nothing like a typical, retrofitted 9mm AR.

The lower receiver is roughly an inch shorter in overall length compared to a standard AR. The magazine well is much smaller to accommodate the Glock 9mm magazine and is neatly beveled for smooth magazine insertion. The magazine release uses a lever release, rather than the push-button that’s native to the AR platform.
freedom ordnance fx-9 broken
Unlike the AR, which runs off a direct-impingement gas system, the Freedom Ordnance FX-9 incorporates a straight blowback design. This operating system relies on the weight of the bolt assembly and the tension of the buffer spring to seal the breach. The gas pressure created within the chamber when fired forces the bolt rearward to eject the spent casing and feed the next round. The FX-9 uses a normal buffer tube assembly and comes fitted with the fully adjustable KAK Stabilizing Pistol Brace.

The Freedom Ordnance FX-9 comes with a standard A2 pistol grip and flip-down trigger guard, as well as a Mil-spec safety lever and slightly modified trigger. The factory trigger is stiff and gritty, partly because it has more disconnector engagement built into it than a normal Mil-spec or aftermarket trigger group. Blowback designs are a lot harder on triggers and, even though any AR-type trigger can be installed in the FX-9, most won’t work very well or for very long.

QUIRKS

Field maintenance for the Freedom Ordnance FX-9 is similar to that of an AR. Disassembling the upper and lower is accomplished by drifting out the rear and front takedown pins; however, the angled foregrip of the 4-inch upper is so close to the magazine well that it prevents the upper receiver from pivoting away from the lower receiver. As creatures of habit, this was puzzling at first until we realized we just had to push out the front pivot pin while the upper was in place.

Although the charging handle and bolt assembly are noticeably different than those of an AR, the same principles apply when removing them. The buffer tube, buffer, and buffer spring are standard parts, so no explanation is needed if you know your AR.
freedom ordnance fx-9 charging handle
The bolt assembly, on the other hand, looks completely foreign with fewer moving parts than an AR bolt assembly. A retaining pin holds the firing pin and firing pin spring in place. Holding the back of the firing pin while removing the retaining pin will let you remove the firing pin and spring without launching them across the living room. That’s all the disassembly that’s needed for routine maintenance.

CUSTOM CONFIGURATION

Our test gun came with both the 4-inch and 8-inch uppers. The 4-inch upper has a faux suppressor, free-float M-LOK rail, and a textured angled foregrip with a built-in hand stop. The 8-inch upper was similarly outfitted with a faux suppressor and a free-float M-LOK rail with a bit more real estate.

Before putting the Freedom Ordnance FX-9 to the test, we made a few customizations of our own. Obviously, we needed some type of sighting system on each upper, so we mounted a Riton RT-R MOD 3 RMD micro dot on the 8-inch upper and an EOTech Mini Red Dot Sight (MRDS) on the 4-incher. We also fitted both uppers with Magpul MBUS Pro offset sights.

Freedom Ordnance sent us a Hiperfire Hipertouch Competition trigger with our test gun. It’s a straight trigger that uses Hiperfire’s unique mechanism and has an adjustable pull weight. The sear mechanics and hard-hitting hammer of the Hipertouch works well with the blowback design of the FX-9, making it Freedom Ordnance’s aftermarket trigger upgrade of choice. We installed the Hipertouch right away using the red 3.5-pound springs.

We also ditched the factory trigger guard and installed a Guntec AR-15 enhanced trigger guard. This gave us a lot more freedom when shooting with gloves and eliminated the finger-slicing, hard edges that come with the Mil-spec part.

For added control and ergonomics, we installed a custom Vector 2 pistol grip from Future Forged on the lower receiver and their Halex foregrip on the 8-inch upper. Future Forged specializes in customized lightweight AR grips; this grip set was tailored to accommodate the smaller size and contour of the FX-9 pistol. The deep red trim added a little flare to an already sexy setup

Freedom Ordnance FX-9 AT THE RANGE

With our FX-9 test gun personalized and ready to go, we headed out to put some lead through the barrel to see how well this little gun could run.

Freedom Ordnance let us know upfront that the FX-9 was originally designed to run ball ammo and included a list of recommended ammunition, which included 115-grain FMJ Tulammo, 115-grain FMJ Magtech, 115-grain FMJ Wolf, 124-grain JHP SIG Sauer Elite Performance, PMC Bronze, 115-grain American Eagle, 115-grain Federal, and 115-grain Remington. We always like to push the envelope, so we packed a variety of hollow point and ball ammunition into our range bag to see what we could feed the Freedom Ordnance FX-9.
freedom ordnance fx-9 logo
Our test gun shipped with an ETS 30-round Glock 9mm magazine, which we used as our main feeding source along with a few other ETS and Glock OEM mags we had lying around. After firing several hundred rounds, we determined the manufacturer’s ammo recommendations were accurate. All the ammo we tested from the recommended list ran flawlessly through the FX-9. We also discovered that certain hollow points ran exceptionally well through our test gun, despite the steep feed ramp.

The 124-grain Federal Hydra-Shok and the Federal Train + Protect, which both ran consistently without any malfunctions, proved to be the most reliable hollow points we tested with the Freedom Ordnance FX-9. Unfortunately, the FX-9 hated the Hornady Critical Defense FTX and absolutely refused to feed it. This confirmed our initial suspicions that a hollow point with a more rounded nose is more likely to function through the FX-9 than one with a steeper nose.

The Hipertouch trigger proved to be a smart upgrade. Having that smooth, crisp trigger with a short pull and definitive reset let us spit out fast follow-up shots to keep the steel ringing like a church organ.

When coupled with the right ammunition, the FX-9 is reliable, accurate, and fun to shoot. Notwithstanding its modern design, there’s something about the Freedom Ordnance FX-9 pistol that really takes you back to a bygone era. It’s as if Winge infused the soul of the WWII weapons that inspired its creation into the FX-9.

Nostalgia aside, this large-format pistol might be perfect to stash in your go-bag. The 4-inch upper is small enough to fit inside a laptop case and can be carried around discreetly. The 8-inch allows you to reach out a little farther but can still be stashed in a larger go-bag and kept at the ready.

LOOSE ROUNDS

The self-defense value of a large-format pistol can’t be overstated. The extended range and accuracy that comes with a longer barrel and sight radius, as well as the added stability and control gained with multiple points of contact on the weapon, make a large format pistol an excellent go-to gun when time and distance permit. Factor in the ability of the Freedom Ordnance FX-9 to be customized, carried discreetly, and share magazines with your Glock pistol, and you have a versatile weapon at the ready.

[You can visit Freedom Ordnance online here]
freedom ordnance fx-9 data sheet

[Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in CONCEALMENT #18]

To find out more about Freedom Ordnance: https://freedomordnance.com/


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One response to “Review: Freedom Ordnance FX-9”

  1. DaveTX says:

    Would the Rarebreed FRT-15 work in this? Or does this require a specific trigger for the blowback design?

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