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[Hands On Review] FN 502 Tactical FDE: Best Modern .22 LR?

What happens when you take the look and feel of the FN 509 but make it .22 capable? The FN 502 Tactical of course! Come see what we thought of this plinker!

Not too long ago the handgun world experienced a relatively new concept from Glock in the G44. For all intents and purposes, it was a G19 but in .22 caliber.

Glock G44

I really liked the pistol and thought it was well done, though I believed there were a few things that could have been added. It was a cool idea…a tactical plinker.

FN 502 Tactical - With Ammo
Whole lotta fun.

Recently FN took this same approach but punched it up a bit — adding some features to maximize the utility. As a result, the 502 Tactical was born.

We tested the 502 Tactical out and think you’ll agree it’s a great buy, but why?

Lucky you, we’re going to talk about just that today! We’re going to walk you through the specs, features, pros/cons, and even get it out to the range. By the end, you’ll know why we think this is a pretty cool plinker.

Table of Contents

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Specs & Features

The 502 Tactical is similar in many ways to the 509, at least, from the outside. The obvious main difference is the 502 is a .22 caliber, hammer-fired, pistol whereas the 509 is a striker-fired 9mm.

FN 502 Tactical - With Suppressor
Bolt on all the goodies!

Aggressive texturing on the polymer grip, an accessory rail, and serrations on the slide (fore and aft) all serve as hallmarks to the tactical nature of the gun. However, FN did not stop there.

Despite the .22 caliber serving, FN added an extended capacity magazine (15 rounds), threaded barrel, red dot capability, and suppressor height sights.

499
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Bare bones…the 502 Tactical is a single-action only, semi-auto pistol that weighs 23.7 ounces. It has a 4.6-inch barrel (1:16 twist) and measures 7.6 inches overall.

FN 502 Tactical - Sean Sul
Full on .22 operator.

The gun has ambidextrous controls (including a safety), and loaded chamber indicator.

Wrangling Rimfire

Mastering the .22 is not the easiest task for a semi-auto pistol. Slide weight, mass, recoil spring and magazine springs all have to be reconfigured from centerfire.

The 502 Tactical uses a largely aluminum slide with some steel components and a small spring to deal with the much lighter recoil of rimfire. FN used roughly 509-sized magazines reconfigured to run .22 rounds.

FN 502 Tactical - Trigger
The trigger was really good.

These single-stacked affairs come with a compression button on the side which greatly aids in loading. Pulling down on the button relieves spring tension and allows shooters to load rounds with ease.

All these changes led me to one of my first observations of the gun.

Just like when you spot that nearly empty container of milk in the refrigerator and you think it’s full, the 502 Tactical looks like it should be heavy, but it’s deceptively light.

To the Range

I knew working with .22 in a semi-auto pistol could be a challenge so I took several brands of ammo out to the range to see what would happen.

FN 502 Tactical - Various Ammo
I ran Aguila, Remington, and SK.

For a red dot, I mounted up the ARO from AT3 Tactical. Finally, I wanted to test the threaded barrel and overall function suppressed so I included a Banish 22 suppressor.

159
at AT3 Tactical

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

At first, I zeroed the ARO and found it to be a solid red dot, giving me good daylight performance. The combination of the red dot on a .22 caliber gun made for a lot of fun.

FN 502 Tactical - ARO Front
The ARO ran well despite the onslaught of .22 love.

The pairing of nearly no recoil and repeated sight picture from the ARO had me zinging round downrange quickly. In fact, I felt like I was spending as much time reloading magazines as I was shooting.

The fire was accurate, the trigger was a predictable and light, just under 3 pounds on my Lyman Digital Gauge. It broke quickly and reset after releasing a few millimeters.

The ergonomics of the grip accommodated my large hands nicely. I was having a grand time but this is a .22 caliber gun so it wasn’t all perfect.

Running Aguila Super Extra 40 grains, Remington Thunderbolts, and SK Pistol Match, I had occasional problems with feeding and ejecting. I was not surprised in the least.

FN 502 Tactical - Grip Texture
Great grip texture and ergos.

In my experiences with .22 pistols in the past, I have run into situations where guns seem to run better on certain types or even weights of ammo. All the brands I used struggled in the 502 Tactical at first.

I was determined though, because I had experienced the absolute joy of plinking steel targets like a madman, no fear of recoil or missing in my mind!

FN 502 - Slide
After a couple cleans and lubes, the 502 Tactical ran flawlessly.

I cleaned, lubed, and shot some more. After a couple of times of doing this, I lubed the barrel where it passes through the slide.

I’m not saying this was a magic fix, but the issues simply stopped. Odds are, it was a combination of the 500-round break-in and cleaning/lubing that won the day.

Almost comically, I couldn’t induce a failure after that point. I ran the suppressor and my enjoyment of this little pistol soared to even greater heights.

FN 502 Tactical - ARO Rear
I cleaned the optic after every couple magazines.

Ridin’ Dirty

One observation here: shooting .22 pistols is dirty work. They get filthy after a short period, it’s just the nature of the round. It’s even worse with a suppressor.

This had a direct effect on the ARO I was running on top of the gun. At first, I thought my ageing eyes were slipping because I noticed flaring of the dot.

FN 502 Tactical - Threaded Barrel
The threaded barrel is cut at 1/2 x 28 and comes with a protector.

After wiping the front of the optic off with my t-shirt, the clarity returned. This is just part of running a red dot on a .22.

535
at Silencer Central

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

By the Numbers

Reliability: 3/5

This is tough to rate because once I slogged through the issues, the gun ran great, and continued to run without fail. Much is owed to proper cleaning and maintenance to keep the pistol in tip-top shape.

Ergonomics: 4/5

The ergos were very good on the 502 Tactical and I appreciated the deep well on the backstrap (preventing slide bite). There were more controls than I’m used to, but they were very well placed and I didn’t have to alter my grip to reach the magazine release, safety, or slide stop.

FN 502 - Shooting
Quiet like a staple gun.

Accuracy: 4/5

Once I dialed in the ARO I experienced repeated, accurate fire from the 502 Tactical. For the most part, I ran steel targets and plate racks but I also spent a bit of time shooting small groups on a paper target.

Customization: 4/5

This category is a bit of a catch for this gun. You won’t be placing any custom slabs on the 502 Tactical but you can mount tactical accessories to your heart’s content! Red dot? Yep. Lights? Yep. Laser? Uh huh. Suppressor? Oh boy!

Value: 4.5/5

FN lists the MSRP of the 502 Tactical at $519.00 and most reasonable retailors I’ve seen now sell it for $499.00. If you are looking for a tactically feature-rich .22 plinker, look no further.

499
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Overall: 4.5/5

For those seeking a similar feel to the 509 but also wanting to save money by shooting rimfire, this is a great option. The gun also has a place in introducing new students to the platform.

Also check out our field-strip video:

Conclusion

Although the 502 Tactical I tested took a while to hit its stride, it finished very strong in the reliability factor. Accuracy was great and the ergonomics, lightweight, and cheap ammo meant I could shoot all day long.

FN 502 Tactical - Temple
C’mon, this just looks cool…

There are a few justifications for the 502 Tactical, but one of the best for me was the fun factor. I truly enjoyed all the modern features I’m used to (shooting suppressed, red dot, accessories) in a rimfire gun.

How would you use the FN 502 Tactical? Let us know in the comments below and check out our 6 Best .22LR Pistols/Handguns for more plinking!

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20 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    TX22

    I have an FN 502 with over 1000 rounds through it, I also joined a couple of FN owners groups. The break in period is real, most of us say 300 to 500 before it starts running as one of the most reliable .22lr there is. It's also the 1st semiautomatic optics ready slide.

    As an owner who is active in groups with other 502 owners it really bothers me how many people are giving negative feedback. It's a .22 it's going be dirty, there will be FTF, FTE, and similar that's the nature of going with .22. The point is they are a masterful design and once broken in and well lubed are great, if your looking for clean and trouble free rounds stick with Centerfire, your asking to much from rimfire.

    I have a Burris FF3 red dot on it and the cowitness is perfect, at the range I always start with just "irons" while I do dot drills. Also have a green laser 800 lumen combo on it, plan to add a Tandemkross Game Changer Pro at some point, adding some more wieght to the front seem to help with 15 yards shots in the forums, it pretty light but not ridiculous.

    I don't usually comment but dam do I like shooting my 502...

    March 20, 2022 5:06 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jeff

    Ok, what’s the rear sight hiding behind the ATN?

    February 7, 2022 3:08 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      TX22

      It has optics mounting plates that co witness through the glass, you can turn your dot off and still shoot irons

      March 20, 2022 5:08 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jim

    If FN was smart, they would make the 509 model in a hammer fired version as well. I think they would be a great addition to the FNX 45 family.

    February 7, 2022 4:19 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Craig Barry

    Sean, I also get hiccups from not enough lube, so it may not be FN. But that's a private matter that sorta takes my PewPew to EwEw.
    We love your content, even though my wife now calls me Mr. 22 Short, and I call my son Negligent Discharge. But we're all fans and students of the site. And naturally, the humor that goes with your team's smarts. Neither of which I've ever been accused of. :)

    February 6, 2022 8:31 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Ha, thanks for your support Craig! You've described the only instance where a "negligent discharge" can be a wonderful thing!

      February 7, 2022 8:33 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Mo AZ

    My TX22 just runs... I can't make that thing fail. Awesome gun.

    February 6, 2022 7:03 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      JH

      Good to know. And I see the TX22 is offered with a threaded barrel. I have a browning that is very, very finicky. It's currently for sale.

      February 7, 2022 6:36 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Charles

    Save a lot of money, get one extra round. Buy a Taurus TX22. FN's gotten too proud of their stuff. I own a FN509c and really like it but I wouldn't buy it today.

    February 6, 2022 4:59 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    silverlining

    I’ve had good luck with CCi mini mags in my 22lr semiauto pistols and rifles. I’ve noticed they run a little cleaner than the brands you tried, but it’s good to see a variety of ammo eventually worked. With that FDE finish, any issues getting it back to looking like new once it was time to clean it?

    February 2, 2022 4:11 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      That's a good point, I tried to hit a range but also wanted to run dirty to check function. Great question too, no, I didn't have any issues getting it cleaned up. It took a while, especially shooting suppressed, but came back to the varied shades of FDE each time.

      February 3, 2022 9:02 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Steve

    Been looking for one of these to grab. Can’t find them for under $650-$700. I want one, but not bad enough to pay $200 over msrp

    February 2, 2022 12:00 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Steve,

      Thanks for the read and good luck in finding one. I'm hoping things will calm down enough for production to catch up.

      February 3, 2022 9:03 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        Steve

        You and me both. Thanks for all the great content! Keep it coming. Selfishly, I’d love to see more suppressed 9mm PCC reviews if you guys can.

        February 3, 2022 10:05 am
        • Commenter Avatar
          Sean Curtis

          Duly noted!

          February 3, 2022 12:58 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Phil

    Every new gun I’ve ever bought came with a manual. Every manual that I got all said the same thing; Clean and lubricate the gun BEFORE you shoot it the first time.
    Try this and you might not have so many problems with the first few hundred rounds.

    February 2, 2022 4:28 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Bless your heart Phil,

      That's my standard procedure, and one I adhered to with this particular gun, but I still had some issues. I appreciate your suggestion though!

      February 2, 2022 8:24 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        Name

        HAHAHAHAHHAHAAHHAHAHA !!!!!! LOL

        February 2, 2022 10:43 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        Phil

        Sorry. I should have added the “tongue-in-cheek” emoji. I should also have added that I like your review and I think you are definitely on to something with a tactical.22 that the whole family can train with for using bigger pew-pews down the road. At least that’s what I’m telling her as to why we should get one…

        February 2, 2022 5:33 pm
        • Commenter Avatar
          Sean Curtis

          Gotcha Phil,

          Thanks for the read! This may be an "ask for forgiveness" type situation where you buy it, take her to the range, and have her shoot it. Smiles for miles.

          Good luck!

          February 3, 2022 9:00 am
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