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FN 503 Review: Top Tier CCW? [Hands-on + Video]

Looking for a super slim sub-compact.? FN enters the ring with its tiny 503 based off the 509. But how does it compare against the P365 and G43?

Johnny B got one in hand from GunPrime to test out! Make sure to take a look at the full video review and subscribe to Pew Pew Tactical!


In a post-Sig P365 world, just about everyone is coming out with a slim, streamlined, 9mm sub-compact CCW gun.

Well, now it’s FN’s turn with their FN 503!

FN503 range ready
FN503 ready for a day at the range!

Since before World War I, FN has been one of the top names in firearms, but past performance can’t guarantee future results — so does the FN 503 really stack up against the competition?

And if it does…is it the right one for you?

Table of Contents

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FN 503 Review at a Glance

Pros

  • Great factory sub-compact trigger
  • Very compact and concealable
  • Good ergonomics even with large hands with the extended mag

Cons

  • Needs some “breaking-in” of about 100 rounds for the gun to shoot reliably
  • Lower capacity mags – 6 rounds for standard, 8 rounds for extended

The Bottom Line

Overall this is a great compact gun. After a break-in period, this gun ran without any issues. Compared to other sub-compact guns, the FN 503 is a great choice given the crisp factory trigger, reliability, and price point.

Facts And Specs

The latest and greatest thing in compact firearms is basically the Sig Sauer P365, with how incredibly popular it has become — everyone is now trying to come out with their version of the lean and mean sub-compact CCW.

FN America, the USA arm of FN Herstal, released their FN 503 just this month and so far it lives up to what we would expect!

FN 503 has some nice marks and branding on it

Looking at the spec sheet it seems simple, but the attention to detail can be found in almost every manner from the outstanding trigger (for a sub-compact) to the great ergonomics.

While ours needed a break-in period of about 100 rounds, outside of that the FN 503 has been reliable and super accurate.

Specs

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Operation: Striker fired
  • Capacity: 6 or 8 round magazines
  • Barrel Length: 3.1″
  • Overall length: 5.9″
  • Height: 4.6″
  • Width: 1.1″
  • Trigger Pull: 5-7lb
  • Sight Radius: 5.1
  • Unloaded weight: 21 oz
  • MSRP: $579.00

Features

  • Striker-fired autoloader
  • Metal trigger
  • Slim profile
  • 3 dot sights
  • Comes with 6 round and 8 round extended mag

Source: FN America

How Does It Shoot?

Out on the range, Johnny has put the FN 503 through its paces and has come away very impressed with the gun.

While everything on the FN 503 seems familiar and almost standard, it is the execution and quality that allows it to stand apart from the herd. The top of the list — this awesome trigger.

FN503 side view

Most sub-compact guns have mushy and fairly unimpressive triggers. Between trying to make the gun extra safe and keeping the price reasonable, it’s hard to stick a great trigger in such a small package.

FN has worked some magic though and produced probably the best factory sub-compact trigger on the market. The pull is smooth, reset crisp, and the break is like glass.

Sights on this is a standard 3-dot set up, while some night sights would have been nice right out of the box the standard white 3-dots are acceptable.

Best 9mm Range Ammo
20
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Fit & Feel

Comparable Size

Spec sheets are nice, but they can’t really tell the whole story. So we put the FN 503 against some of the other giants in the category for you to get a better idea of just how small this sub-compact is.

FN503 lined up L to R, Sig P365, FN 503, Glock G43
L to R, Sig Sauer P365, FN 503, Glock G43

Slightly larger than the Sig Sauer P365 and slightly smaller than a Glock G43 the FN 503 strikes a nice balance between the two.

FN503 and covid killer
FN503 and covid killer

Ergonomics

One of the best things about this little shooter is the ergonomics! The grip is a bit longer than most sub-compacts and allows even shooters with large hands to get a full and proper grip with the extended magazine.

FN503 laying on a dead tree
Extended magazine on the FN 503 is nicely sized

If you’re worried about keeping the FN 503 as small and concealable as possible, you can opt for the standard capacity magazines.

The magazine release is marketed as being “oversized” but it feels fairly normal-sized to us, however that is saying something since this is a sub-compact CCW.

That slide release really is T H I C C

What is definitely oversized is the slide release, lots of meat on it for you to get ahold of with ease.

FN503 oversized control
FN 503 oversized controls

Who Is It For

Everyone.

If you need a top tier CCW, the FN 503 needs to be in the consideration.

With an outstanding trigger, great ergonomics, and coming in at a very reasonable price point — this is a gun that simply delivers.

495
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Issues?

As nice as the FN 503 is, it does have some shortcomings.

First off there were two malfunctions during the first 100 rounds.

FN503 malf 1, stovepipe
The first of two malfunctions, a stovepipe

It’s always nice to have a gun work perfectly out of the box, but a short break-in period isn’t uncommon either.

After the first hundred rounds though the FN 503 has been flawless across a range of ammo.

The second malfunction, failure to extract

The second issue is the magazines only holding 6 rounds standard or 8 rounds in the extended mags.

Being slightly larger than the Sig P365, it’s disappointing to see such a limited magazine compared to the P365 with its 10 round standard and 12 or 15 round extended magazine options.

FN503 stacked up with p365 and g43
A sub-compact sandwich!

Other entries into this category of post-P365 sub-compacts include the Springfield Hellcat with its 11 round standard mag and the Mossberg MC2c featuring a 13 round standard magazine.

P365 Upgrades Great Big Magazine!
Sig Sauer P365 with a 15 round magazine and a Streamlight TLR-6

However, it does do better than the Glock G43’s 6 round standard while keeping the size smaller — but even the Glock has magazine extensions that can bring the magazine up to 10 rounds.

The FN 503 is very new to the market right now so we might see better aftermarket options for larger magazines soon.

By The Numbers

Reliability: 5/5

Other than some breaking in over the first 100 rounds, zero issues. It runs. 

Ergonomics: 4/5

With the extended mag in, this one ain’t half bad. Extra points for that oversized slide release. 

Accuracy: 4/5

You won’t win any marksmanship awards with a 3″ barrel, but for a CCW you’ll be on target. 

Customization: 1/5

Uh, you could paint it? 

Value: 4/5

Excellent sights, great accuracy & reliability for $450ish? Yeah that’ll work. 

Overall: 4/5

One of the slimmest 9s on the market, FN has a winner with the new 503. Just buy extra mags. 

40
at FN Store

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Final Verdict

FN never really makes a bad gun and the FN 503 is no exception. Outside of a short break-in period, it has been reliable and great to shoot. The truly amazing trigger makes this a much nicer gun to shoot out of the box than many other options on the market right now.

FN503 on some moss
Looking comfy after a long day shooting

But the magazine capacity does hold it back, we hope to see that change soon but for right now at least if more rounds on your person is important to you — the FN 503 does fall short.

495
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

If you still haven’t checked out the full review video…

What do you think of the FN 503? Looking to pick one up soon? What about the other post-P365 options like the Springfield Hellcat or Mossberg MC2? For more awesome CCW reviews, take a look at the Definitive Concealed Carry Guide!

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10 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Yogi

    So, two failures and it gets 5 out of 5? Like to have you guys counting money to give me!

    April 6, 2020 11:30 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Lonny

    How do you feel Kahr's pistols stack up against the rest of the field of ccw pistols?

    April 1, 2020 1:45 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    THOMAS BLONGIEWICZ

    I like to see videos of it or other guns being field stripped for cleaning.

    April 1, 2020 9:38 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Johnathan A Berry Jr

    Where can I get that 2A hat...awesome

    March 31, 2020 9:55 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    John

    Not impressed at all. The 365 and 365 XL along with the Hellcat have set the bar. Better sights, more capacity, front serrations and the ability to put a micro red dot on the XL and Hellcat. Sorry FN, too late to the party with nothing new to bring.

    March 31, 2020 8:34 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    mike

    I love the FN brand - but, I feel off the bat that my 43X is a much better choice for an EDC.

    March 31, 2020 7:37 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Joshua Barker

    Just like cz's new single stack gun. The ones that nobody wanted. As far as design, this one does look very grade schooleresque.

    March 31, 2020 6:19 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    ARMED CITIZEN

    I would take a Taurus G2C over the FN any time! Less than half the price and double the rounds. GO TAURUS!!!!!!!!!

    March 31, 2020 4:57 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Travis Cena.

    Looks like a beautifully made, quality firearm. Doesn’t surprise me a bit from FN. I guess the capacity is just a hang up for me. It’s 4 less than the 365 with the extended mag, and 2 less than the 43x (7 less with the Shield Arms magazine). I guess that just seems like a curious choice in such a quality firearm - and at a great price. You are of course giving up grip length with the 43x, but for capacity and shootability, it’s kind of amazing - at least for me.

    I personally don’t see the practicality of an extra magazine for personal defense. The average encounter is over before you’d have a chance to even access a second mag - even with well rehearsed reloading. I guess the round count just seems like a curious choice on a stellar firearm.

    March 31, 2020 4:37 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Travis

    Looks like a great gun. Seems pretty hard to justify 8rd max, with the 43x, Hellcat, and 365xl out there, though. Maybe I’m willing to endure a longer grip than many, but I just don’t see the practicality in having to carry two magazines to have enough bullets. The average encounter is likely to be over before you can get to that second magazine, even if it is in a good place to access.

    March 31, 2020 3:15 pm
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