Some people who have shot the FMK 9c1 Gen 2 have deemed it the ‘American Made Glock' and the company itself has made some pretty bold statements about how well it performs. I wanted to see for myself just how this 9mm pistol stacks up to the many others I have fired over the years.
You may have never heard of them before because while they are by no means a new firearms manufacturer, they don't have the same exposure as the big names in the industry. FMK Firearms is a company based in California that basically only produces two models, their 9C1 G2 semi-automatic handgun and a 9mm AR Carbine named the JRC.
They are proudly 100% American and brazenly show their unapologetic patriotism throughout their website's branding, as well as on their guns with inspiring phrases etched into them, like: “Proudly American” and “Thank you Armed Forces.”
FMK 9C1 Gen2 Overview:
This FMK 9mm Pistol is their take on the Glock 19, and when you compare the dimensions of the two guns, it gives you an idea of just how similar they are. They are both made from polymer, are semi-automatic compact firearms, and chambered for 9mm. They have a similar capacity at 14 and 15 rounds, respectively. While the barrel lengths are very similar, the 9C1 comes in with a slightly smaller footprint than the Glock 19 and is a bit lighter.
The similarities between the two pistols do not end at the dimensions. The procedure of disassembly for the 9C1 is exactly the same as that of a Glock.
If you're a lefty you are out of luck, because just as with the G19, the magazine release on the 9C1 is not ambidextrous and is only set up for right-handed shooters. The FMK 9C1 Gen 2, like the Glock 19, comes with a rail so you can mount that pistol light or if you want to take your training to the next level and analyze your shooting fundamentals, you can use the rail to mount your Mantis X. The overall ergonomics of the gun are similar to a Glock, and if you like the grip angle and slide height of Glock's pistols, you won't have any trouble transitioning.
While there are plenty of similarities, there are also some major differences, like the shape of the slide. Glock slides are utilitarian and boxy. While they are not pretty, they serve their purpose well. The 9C1's slide has a much different shape and profile. It has a tapered angle on top, making it slightly more narrow along the top surface.
There are also adequate serrations on the rear of the slide behind the ejection port. The 9C1 has a loaded chamber indicator on the back plate, which is very easily seen as well as tactile for low-light chamber checks. Finally, the slide stop is very long and serrated, making it easy to engage and disengage.
That black colored section of the backstrap is a rubber insert that is not removable and was added to help with felt recoil and grip comfort. It also has shallow finger grooves on the front of the grip, which some folks love, and others hate.
The FMK 9mm Pistol is unique in that it ships with a different trigger depending on what state you live in. For those of us living in freedom, the 9C1 ships with what is called their Fast Action Trigger (FAT). The FAT is your typical striker fired 5 lb trigger with a trigger safety built into the trigger shoe.
For those living behind enemy lines, i.e. California and Massachusetts, the 9C1 will come with a double action only trigger. And of course, for those states where carrying more than 10 rounds causes politicians to lose their minds, FMK will ship neutered magazines that make sure you are in compliance with the local law.
A final, important difference is the price. The FMK 9C1 Gen 2 comes with an MSRP around $400.00 while the Glock 19 gen 4 is around $550.00 dollars. For some, $150.00 dollars may not seem like a huge difference, but when comparing them, it is important to understand they do fall into different price categories.
That leads us to these questions: Does a lower price mean cheap and unreliable? Does that saying, “you get what you pay for” mean anything here? If I spend more will I get a better product?
Let's dive head first into the FMK 9C1 review …
First, and this is probably quite trivial, the box the gun comes in is cool. Not only does it have a ton of padding, but as you can see, the box has a spot that will easily accommodate cleaning gear and a box of ammo. Something that I think is great, is that the gun comes with two sets of sights, which, to my knowledge, is unique and a nice addition. This FMK 9mm pistol also comes with a bottle of CLP and the required cable lock.
I was actually blown away by the quality of the owners manual. The 54 pages of color instruction describe everything you could possibly want to know about the firearm as well as the company. Finally, they also provide two 14 round steel, flush magazines with the gun.
The gun I was sent came with a Flat Dark Earth (FDE) frame, but they are available in five different colors. I liked its look and shape, and it was pleasant on my eyes. The dull, parkerized-like coating on the slide seemed to provide an exceptionally good grip. The angles of the slide were subtle and I found that the serrations were deep enough that they did their job.
The frame felt like any typical polymer gun does, and was ergonomically correct. The area where the trigger guard meets the frame is cut higher than what I am used to on a Glock which allows for a higher and more comfortable grip. There are finger grooves on the front of the grip, but they are relatively shallow, especially when comparing them to a Glock. I found the texture on the grip to be perfectly acceptable, not too rough or too slick.
I have small hands, and I found the magazine release to be quite easy to operate. I could easily reach it without having to adjust my grip or reach for it, and while I have seen people complain about the magazines not dropping free from the gun, both of mine dropped free whether they were loaded or empty.
What's kind of funny is that I loved the slide stop so much that I mentioned to a fellow instructor that I wished I could put it on my Glock. It's longer and serrated so you can easily engage it, but at the same time it is very streamlined and does not stick out far.
Maybe I'm old-school, but I prefer to do a brass check to confirm that I have a round in the chamber rather than rely on a device. However, the loaded chamber indicator works well, and some folks love them. I read somewhere that the tabs used to take the gun apart have caused people problems because they are more recessed than those on a Glock. I honestly found no difference between them and was able to disassemble the gun without an issue.
I found the trigger to be pretty soft and have quite a lot up uptake. There is no crisp ‘wall' that you will feel before the trigger breaks and the shot is fired, but the reset was actually pretty short and sweet. If I were to compare a stock Glock trigger versus the FMK's Fast Action Trigger, I would say that the Glock's trigger feels better out of the box.
To what degree is it better? To me, the stock Glock trigger isn't much better than FMK's is. Then again, trigger feel is definitely subjective in many ways. I have pulled the trigger on many different manufacturer's guns, and have felt far worse triggers than this one.
Fit & Finish:
It may look like the 9C1 has interchangeable backstraps like the gen 4 but it does not. The black part of the backstrap is a dense, rubber insert that was added to reduce felt recoil and give the shooter some comfort. I'll let you know about this unique feature in my conclusions.
Now, where the Glock does have a leg up on the FMK is the fit and finish of the frame. The slide was pristine and like I said I liked the finish. The frame, however, had some finish details that were not as refined. There were a couple tiny marks from what I would say are seams from the injection molding process, and the base of the grip (under the mag well) is not as smooth as the Glock. All of this is purely cosmetic and has no bearing at all on the function of the gun, however, I like to dig with a fine tooth comb for pros and cons.
Lastly, and I wasn't entirely sure where to stick this part, but it bears mentioning, the Glock has a thick, metal guide rod, whereas the FMK 9C1 has a guide rod that is thinner and made of polymer.
How Does it Shoot?
A co-instructor, Mark and I put close to 400 rounds through the gun (as you can see by the dirty gun in the pictures). I found the reliability to be outstanding. Early on, I had one failure to eject (stovepipe). Not exactly sure what caused it, or if it was somehow shooter induced, but that was the only stoppage of the entire day. I was waiting for the gun to have some hiccups here and there but it ate the FMJ ammo like a champ.
The ergonomics felt incredible and we were both amazed at how natural it felt in our hands. I think it is important to note that Mark has hands that are quite large, and mine are rather small. I say this is important because the gun felt fantastic in both sets of hands. The rubberized backstrap insert gave the grip a nice ‘soft feel' and didn't cause any fatigue on the hand. This can sometimes happen after shooting hundreds of rounds with guns that have aggressive grips.
The sights were just your standard, factory sights. Nothing out of the ordinary there, however even at around 25 yards plus, I was easily able to consistently hit a 6-inch steel plate. Again, several looks back and forth between Mark and I trying to figure out how it was possible this budget gun was running so well out of the box. You can see some of the shooting in the accompanying video.
I have shot many different guns over my time instructing. One thing they all have in common is that none are flawless. All guns, regardless of price or manufacturer, have some things that are good and some that are bad. The FMK 9C1 Gen 2 is no different. Is it perfect? No, I found some finish issues that would really make the gun look more refined. Was it 100% reliable? Well no, I did have one failure, which is well within acceptable standards considering the gun had never been fired before.
One thing I needed to get an answer to was how the rubberized backstrap would hold up with wet, sweaty hands. The fear was that the rubbery material would become very slick when wet. I found that the rubber did not at all become any slicker than the rest of the gun when my hands were wet. In fact, I would say it retained grip better than the bare polymer with wet hands.
I have read some reviews saying they have had reliability issues with this 9mm pistol and that their magazines did not drop freely. I did not experience any of these issues and perhaps the users who experienced these issues had older models or just got a lemon (it does happen). What I can tell you for sure is that for a $400.00 gun, this exceeded every expectation I had. It functioned, felt great in the hand, ate different types of ammo, was accurate and in my opinion, looked darn cool.
By the way, if you're still wondering how patriotic FMK really is, the 9C1 comes with this super motivating back plate!
Need help deciding on a gun for self-defense? Check out this article, and learn about some of the factors to look for.