First Look: Hudson H9 9mm Pistol
A year and a half since first shooting a Hudson H9 at SHOT 2017, I’ve been sent one of these rather unique pistols for a full evaluation. What follows are my initial thoughts after several range trips and a few hundred rounds. I expect to go more in depth in a later article and video.
First, I’m not quite sure what to think of the way it looks. I know it’s not cool to care about form when function is what matters – in essence, that we should buy ugly, reliable guns. However, if that were truly the case, no one would buy anything but Glock.
The people at Hudson have clearly made an effort to make the pistol attractive. Grips from VZ, smooth lines most of the time, attractive slide serrations, and a cool logo start to come together in a good way – but then there’s the whole front end of the pistol. Yes, I know, the whole point of this gun was to move the recoil spring down to keep the muzzle as flat as possible. In theory, such a change could almost lend a space-gun flair to the pistol. However, the execution just isn’t pulled off quite right.
There’s also a practical downside to this arrangement. Attach a weaponlight to the frame via the accessory rail and you’ll have some major adjustments to do if you’re used to activating a weaponlight on a normal pistol. Even if you aren’t used to frame mounted lights, you’ll probably find it rather awkward.
This could all be worthwhile if the result was a pistol offering very low recoil which was extremely flat shooting in the hands of any shooter.
I don’t think the H9 is quite there.
Yes, it does do well in this regard. You can take rapid follow-up shots with the Hudson H9 – relative to most polymer frame 9mm pistols, that is. You can’t do so without some effort, or you’ll have more muzzle rise and recoil than you’d expect, given the marketing. Even so, the H9 weighs more unloaded than a Glock 17 does loaded, and when you load the H9 magazine, you’re two rounds short of what a G17 can carry. As Robert Heinlein once wrote, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. In this case, the lower capacity magazine comes from the Hudson’s low bore axis, my gunsmith friend said.
I’m not convinced, however, that there is any significant difference in recoil or follow-up shots between a Hudson H9 and a Beretta M9 or 92FS. The M9 weighs almost exactly the same amount as an H9 and although stock magazine capacity is also 15 rounds for the M9, flush fit 17 round M9 mags are easily found.
Moreover, a box-stock M9, retailing for little more than half the cost of an H9, gives the impression of a better built pistol. I don’t think it’s just the one H9 I have that exhibits a lot of slop in the slide, barrel, and trigger. It’s not a handgun that you pick up and poke and come away with the impression that having things fit together neatly was a priority for the manufacturer.
Again, this would all be worthwhile if the pistol shot better than competing, if more affordable, pistols.
So far, that’s not what I’ve seen from the H9. I’ve noticed several malfunctions with the pistol. The first was when I loaded a magazine with five rounds and dropped the slide using the slide stop. The slide stopped about 3/8” out of battery with the cartridge out of the magazine and the rim of the case having begun to engage with the extractor. I cleared the pistol and inspected that area for debris as well as any damage to the case rim but noticed nothing untoward.
On the next range trip, while a friend was shooting the pistol, we encountered an additional malfunction of the same type, though this occurred during shooting. My friend also accidentally dropped a loaded H9 magazine on the ground, causing the cartridges inside to dislodge from their normal positions. After the range trip, during which we all fired about a dozen handguns over the course of a few hours, we couldn’t recall if that dropped magazine had been related to the malfunction or not. However, a Slickguns Review of time-stamped photos from the trip told us that the malfunction came before the dropped mag.
The pistol shot roughly to point of aim. However, I was not capable of shooting groups as small as those I could make with several other handguns fired on the same days, even at closer distances. I’m not sure if this was because of a problem with me or something to do with the pistol or a little of both. I could switch between the Hudson and, say, a Springfield EMP4 and watch my groups fluctuate from larger to smaller and back again like clockwork. It’s worth noting that the EMP4, when fired with the same Speer frangible ammunition, did not malfunction.
I like the way the Hudson H9 feels in my hand. I like that they’re trying to do something different. I like that it’s not another me-too polymer pistol. So far, though, I can’t say I love the pistol as a complete package.
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