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Preview – Hudson 9

Photos by Kenda Lenseigne

American Innovation

We first became aware of the Hudson 9 way back in August 2015, when its designer contacted us out of the blue. We get at least one “Nevah been done before” email a week, so being of a cynical nature, this one almost got consigned to the folder labeled “Stuff to do once my clone arrives.”

The story behind the pistol was intriguing, however, and the early prototypes looked goofy enough to suggest that there might actually be some solid logic and reasoning behind its design. If the production gun fulfills the promises made by the one we shot, it might just change our expectations when it comes to handguns.

First impressions
The Hudson 9 is a curious blend of the familiar and the novel. Pick it up and it’s instantly reminiscent of the 1911 that sits in every good American’s safe. That grip angle and feel are so very familiar, and the linear trigger is unmistakable. Its bore axis is lower than any JMB design could hope to be, though, and there’s no hammer. Whoa! A striker-fired 1911? What sorcery is this? And what’s with that lump in front of the trigger guard? An all-steel frame means it sits heavy in the hand, though field stripping reveals a removable chassis much like that found in the most recent polymer guns; clearly, this is not supposed to be the final version, merely a way station en route to a full line of models based on a common platform.

Let’s deal with the more familiar aspects of the Hudson 9’s makeup before we delve deeper into what makes it tick. Up top, a set of Trijicon HD sights provides a means of getting rounds on target and while the front sight on our supplied test gun was a fat .144-inch wide, Hudson staff tell us the ones on dealer shelves will be a little thinner for a more precise hold. The rear sight features a U-shaped notch and serrated rear surface that blends well with the back of the slide. A square front surface provides plenty of real estate to snag a belt or boot heel for one-handed operation, and there’s a serrated sighting plane that runs continuously along the top end, breaking only for the ejection port. So far, so good.

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Front and rear racking grooves are present on the slide and they follow the grip angle while tapering to the rear, and a serrated striker retaining plate completes the aesthetic. The muzzle end is rounded and beveled, and attention has been paid to ensure the pistol is as snag-free as possible. All steel surfaces are treated with a QPQ black nitride process. It appeared that considerable care had been lavished on them prior to hitting the salt bath as tool marks were almost completely absent and a deep, matte finish was in evidence.


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Controls follow the conventional U.S. pattern, with a push-button magazine release (reversible for lefties) and ambi slide-release levers. Above the beavertail lies a small plug which allows the user to add a manual thumb safety should they wish to augment the one present in the trigger’s face. Unlike most, this one is hinged at the bottom of the blade and runs the full height and width of its surface, so there’s no separate nubbin to rub the pad of your trigger finger. A 1911-sized trigger guard runs interference on the bang switch and while it’s no smaller than the pistol that’s served the U.S. military for over a century, it appears petite compared to others. It does, however, feature a generous undercut which positions the hand a little higher on the frame than might otherwise be the case.

Like a 1911, the Hudson 9’s backstrap is comprised of two major sub assemblies. Unlike the 1911, these don’t play any role in the gun’s safety system, nor do they power the firing mechanism. The faux beavertail safety simply provides protection from slide bite (more of which later), and what looks like a mainspring housing gives the shooter an opportunity to make the pistol more closely fit their hand. While the initial production versions will be flat and milled from G-10 like the grip panels, there are plans to make replacements in different profiles.

Innovation
Most semi-automatic handguns in serious calibers employ some version of a short recoil operating system. In it, the barrel and slide are locked together at the moment of firing in order to contain the enormous pressures developed by the chemical conversion of propellant powder into expanding gas. The law of conservation of momentum dictates that there’s a force equal to that generated by the bullet and gases applied in the opposite direction, and it’s this force that causes the slide and barrel to move rearward against the recoil spring.

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