For the past several months, I have spent a lot of time testing and evaluating a number of small pistols intended for concealed carry and have done the worst thing possible– fallen in love with one.
My typical go-to EDC for the past 15 years has either been a Glock G19 (3rd Gen, or G19X) or an S&W M&P M2.0 Compact, augmented by or substituted with a J-frame or G43. However, after going 1K rounds with the new FN 503, I am increasingly substituting the snubby/tiny Glock for this thin little 9mm.
The FN 503, left, is just a hair smaller than the Glock 43, right, while having the same magazine capacity, steel sights, and a better trigger.
More on my journey with the FN 503 in my column at Guns.com.
The original pocket Browning (FN) was a slim, six-shot .25ACP blowback-operated handgun that weighed about 13-ounces and used a rear grip safety much like the one later seen on his M1911. This early Browning grew into the Colt 1908 Vest Pocket and a slightly modified variant was sold by FN in Belgium as the Model 1905 for decades.
That’s where Belgian small arms guru Dieudonné Saive (who later finished the Browning Hi-Power and designed the FN-49 and FAL) came in.
Working with the original Model 1905 as a baseline, Saive dropped the grip safety in favor of a manual thumb-operated safety lock that doubled as a hold-open. Lighter, weighing just over 9-ounces while still being an all-steel pistol, the gun was sold from 1931 onward as the Baby Browning.
The Browning Baby was a half-inch shorter than the FN M1905 or Colt Vest Pocket and 4-ounces lighter, while still being a 6+1 shot .25ACP. (Photo: Richard Taylor/Guns.com)
Out of production since 1983, FN has since moved on to polymer-framed double-stack 9mm pistols that were a good bit larger. However, their new FN 503, the company’s smallest and slimmest gun since the Baby line ended, came out in March and I have been burning one up as of late.
The new FN 503 pistol is a 6+1 9mm that has a 3.1-inch barrel with recessed target crown which contributes to a 5.9-inch overall length. Some 4.6-inches high, the gun is slim– with a width of 1.1-inches overall.
A big baby, but a more mighty one for sure.
More in my column at Guns.com.
Once upon a time, Fabrique Nationale was known for making the smallest, most compact handguns on the market. These included John Browning’s Mle 1900, Mle 1906 Vest Pocket (which predated his Vest Pocket for Colt by two years), Mle 1910, and the Browning Baby.
Fast forward to the 1980s and all of those classic designs were put to bed.
To fill this hole in their catalog in recent years, full-size polymer-framed double-stacks like the FNS and FN 509 have been chopped down to more compact designs, but they were still pretty chonky compared to Mr. Browning’s early guns.
Well, earlier this year FN launched the FN 503, a slim, 6+1 shot single-stack 9mm that is the company’s smallest handgun in generations.
Well hello there…
Separated by 110 years, today’s FN 503 compares well in size to Mr. Browning’s FN 1910 but comes in 9mm rather than .380 and has much better ergonomics and sights.
I’ve been playing around with it for the past couple of months, and have the details in my column at Guns.com.