The FN FS2000: A Complete Review *several updates*
Hi, I am new to the site, but thought I might be able to contribute this writeup that I put together. The FS2000 is a rifle that doesnt get a lot of in depth attention on the gun boards, so I wrote this to (hopefully) put some rumors to rest about the gun, as well as to bring to light some of its issues.
For a while I have been searching for a combat rifle that could replace my 5.56mm AK. I did a lot of research on a lot of different weapons, and ended up choosing the FN FS2000. I have since put tons of rounds through it, put it to use in everything from competition to small game hunting, and made a few modifications along the way. I'll try and be as thorough as I can without being too long winded, but here are my thoughts and experiences regarding the weapon. Consider this a review, as well as a 'beginners guide' to all things FS2000.
PRICEI paid $1550 for a very lightly used FS2000. The previous owner put 20 rounds through the weapon to sight it in, and put it in the safe. Which, while I'm at it, brings me to my first point: price. Lots of people complain about the high price of the FS2000. MSRP is over $2000, but they can easily be found in the $15-1800 range. Thats substantially cheaper than the SCAR and ACR, and in roughly the same league as a loaded SIG 556 or entry level AUG A3. Not a bad deal. The FS2000 is not a 'heavy wear' gun. The design makes for a very clean-shooting and wear-free weapon, even after several thousand rounds. Even a decently used FS2000 should remain in great shape internally.
ERGONOMICSI couldnt shoot the rifle as soon as I got it, so I had plenty of time to get a feel for the guns ergonomics, balance, and overall feel. Its a thick, squatty gun. Its as bulky as the pictures make it seem, but its far more ergonomic than I ever guessed it would be. Even being almost twice as "fat" in the receiver/body area as an AR, it shoulders up nicely, points quickly, and balances almost perfectly. With the weight of the weapon centered nicely over your strong hand, you could hold the gun at the ready with one hand comfortably if need be, its that balanced.
SIGHTING/OPTICSFirst thing I noticed, it really needs an optic. The backup iron sights are just that, backups. The rear sight is a simple flip up post with a small hole in it. Much like the SIG 556 sight. The sights sit low, and the hole in the rear sight is very small, so these sights are not useful for quick target acquisition. The sight radius is short, so the small peep sight helps to offset this, I'm sure. I installed an optic right away. Much better. I can still cowitness the irons if need be, using an aimpoint low-mount ring. Although the irons are a little slow for quick-targeting, they are very accurate. I was routinely hitting a torso sized steel plate at 200 yards while standing up.
LOADINGThe charging handle is alot like an HK G3 handle, it pivots, then slides backward to be locked in the upright position. One of the issues I read about with this rifle is breakage of the charging handle. Apparently, if you "HK slap" the polymer handle with a strong downward force, it may snap off. However, from reports that I have heard/read, most of these issues result from abuse or misuse. Its a tough charging handle, but if you smack it around like a ten cent hooker it might break. Thats a big "might" though.... I have racked/released/bumped the charging handle hundreds and hundreds of times with no issues, and I dont expect any either. I dont plan on slapping it around, though. This is not to say that locking the bolt backward and inserting a mag, then releasing the charging handle is out of the question. Simply 'bump' the handle downward rather than slapping it.
Mounting of accessories: I planned on using this weapon as both a home defense weapon and a varmint rifle. In order to do this, I wanted a flashlight of some sort that could be mounted on the gun. The problem is, out of the box, there is no easy way to do this. The top rail has plenty of space for optics, but you cant really use it for a light, because even with an offset mount, the charging handle gets in the way. Your options are to either buy the FN tri-rail, which is an expensive but worthwhile choice, or to modify the factory handguard to accept a light. This requires dremel work and installation of a pressure switch onto your light. I chose the tri rail, even though it is relatively expensive ($150-65). I like the tri rail for several reasons. Its (in my opinion) more visually appealing than the funky handguard, it allows for easy, versatile placement of a light, and it also allows for use of a vertical grip. I found that with a vertical grip installed, pointability of the weapon improved. Keep in mind that the tri-rail, while helpful in mounting accessories, adds almost 2lbs to the front of the gun and does a great job killing the inherent balance of the weapon.
Sling- The design of the gun basically requires that you use a complex sling system. You cant readily snap hooks on either end of the gun and call it a day. If youre inventive, Im sure something could be rigged up to work, but the best option is the Urban Sentry Sling from Urban ERT. Its relatively expensive ($70ish) but its really the only ‘professional grade’ sling out there for this gun.
Flash hider/Suppression – The stock FN unit is pinned in place, and must be removed before any other muzzle devices can be installed. Reportedly, suppressors with AR adaptors may fit over the stock muzzle device, but can work loose due to the slant of the flash hider.
Magazines. It takes any GI style 30 round AR mag. No PMags, no Emags, no Lancers or other polymer mags. The FN mag that the weapon comes with is junk, the follower sticks and the mag is worthless. I ordered 10 C-Products mags and have had flawless performance with all of them. They are by and large considered to be the best quality metal AR mag available, and they come equipped with Magpul antitilt followers. I'd reccomend loading to 28 rounds, as they are easier to insert on a closed bolt.
MAG WELL GASKETThis brings me to the next point. The mag well has a rubber seal inside that keeps debris out of the action and makes it nearly dust/sand proof. The trade off is that mags do not drop freely. Bullpup mags usually do not drop free anyway, and being a civilian, not in combat, I see this as a non issue. You have to give the mag a firm push to be sure it is seated past the rubber seal. The mag may FEEL seated, but it might not be. This results in a double feed when you chamber the weapon. This is the root cause of many many reports of "jamming" with this gun. Simple user error.
MANUAL OF ARMS / AVOIDING JAMSAnd with that, I'll say that this gun is NOT an AR. The manual of arms is different, very different. Expect it to behave like an AR, and you will be disappointed, and the weapon will probably malfunction. There is no last round bolt hold open. The design of the gun doesnt allow it, and I dont believe it is necessary anyway. If you insert a mag but dont seat it all the way, the gun will jam. If you insert a mag on an open bolt and ride the bolt forward instead of pulling and letting it fly forward, the gun will jam. If you experience a jam and yank back and forth on the charging handle, you will compound your problem and add more jammed rounds into the mix. You MUST remove the mag, THEN rack the charging handle, then reinsert mag. I would guess that 90% of the malfunctions with this weapon are user induced.
AMMOThe other 10%? Well, its a 5.56 NATO weapon, and youre supposed to feed it milspec 5.56 ammunition. The gun is VERY tolerant of other types of ammo, however. About the only ammo it doesnt like is steel cased black-box WOLF ammo. This stuff is too underpowered, and the rifle will short-stroke regularly. Even still, just flip the gas switch over to the ADVERSE setting, and it will digest WOLF in a hurry. I have shot many many different types of ammo through the rifle, and the only ones I had any feeding issues with were Wolf black box. Everything else worked flawlessly. Just remember that if Wolf is all you have access to, you may need to flip the gas switch over to 'adverse'.
Accuracy. Using an Aimpoint, it grouped just as good as my buddies SIG 556 (with EOTECH) at 75 yards. The barrel is 17.25 inches long, with a 1/7 twist. There is no reason not to expect great accuracy from the weapon, and I have been impressed so far. I have used the FS2000 out to 300 yards, offhand, and it had no problem pinging steel.
Shooting impressions- the recoil is negligible, as the recoil axis is a straight line into the users shoulder. I.E. no downward angled stock like with an AK or G3 series rifle. The gun does seem abnormally loud, partially due to the proximity of the barrel to the users ears. It’s a good 6-10 inches closer than a normal rifle, due to the bullpup design. The trigger is heavy, just like with most any bullpup. Its kind of mushy, Glock-like would be a good descriptor. It does, however, have a noticeable ‘second stage’. Once you get the hang of the trigger, its easy to shoot accurately.
POTENTIAL ISSUEHeres the BIGGEST ISSUE I have run into so far........You MAY have light primer strikes with some types of ammo. The FS2000 underwent a number of factory modifications (for 'our safety') that, to make a long story short, ended up making the firing pin hit too softly on some hard military primers. It all depends on the generation of your rifle, but if you end up with light hits, this is why. There are two solutions: you can either remove the firing pin buffer spring (or a few coils from it) as long as you plan on using mostly hard-primered ammo. Or, you can send the gun in to FN and have them install a stronger hammer spring, which supposedly alleviates the issue.
I opted to simply remove the buffer spring myself. I did that very early on, and have since put thousands of rounds through the FS2000 without a SINGLE JAM. NONE. I have used Barnaul Steel Cased, Winchester, Federal, old MilSurp, Wolf, Monarch, Remington, and several other types of ammo and had ZERO issues after removing the buffer spring.
Edited to Add:
One thing I didnt include in the writeup was the ambidextrous element of the gun. Empty casings are ejected forward through a tube that runs underneath the top rail. The end of this tube has a trapdoor, kind of like the dust cover on an AR. If you leave this door closed, the empties will open it automatically after five rounds have been fired. If left open, the empties will eject one by one.
Contrary to rumors seen online, the ejection tube will NOT plug up with empty casings, even if fired straight upward. The forceful action of the bolt moving forward is what propels the casings out. This is also why a bolt-hold open is not possible with this design. Without the bolt going forward, there is no way to eject the last casing that was fired. Obviously, not a desireable feature.
Even if debris gets into the ejection tube, the force generated by the ejection mechanism will simply propel the dirt out along with the casing. According to a durability/function test that was done when considering the gun for military adoption in some European nations, the tube was plugged with various types of debris and it still ejected. Snow, ice, small sticks, small rocks, etc. The only way they were able to jam the action was to cram a dowel rod into the tube and fix it in place with some sort of adhesive. What are the odds of that happening in the field?
Another omission from the initial review- the "tactical" version is the one seen in the photo, it comes equipped with a flat-top rail and iron sights, and is available in black or OD green. The "standard" version comes equipped with a 1.5x optical sight that is essentially a part of the weapon. It is removable, but there are no back up sights after the optic has been removed. The rail that is left behind after the optical pod has been removed sits lower than the rail on the 'tactical' model, though iron sights can still be installed on it. The 'standard' model, in my opinion, is rather unattractive and is much more limiting in terms of optics.
Also, the safety is totally ambidextrous and works just like the one found on the P90/Ps90 (the rotating drum type)
Heres the cliff notes for those of you who dont care to read everything. The FS2000 is an extremely compact and ergonomic weapon, with a 17.25 inch barrel in a bullpup platform thats still shorter than most SBRs. Use quality GI mags with antitilt followers. Dont treat it like an AR, the manual of arms is more like an AK. FN installed a buffer spring in the firing pin that causes light strikes in milspec ammo. As long as you dont plan on using soft-primered hunting rounds, remove this spring (a thirty second affair) and restore the weapon to its original configuration. It will fire all sorts of ammo reliably, even the steel cased stuff. I havent had a jam in thousands of rounds. The FS2000 is an incredibly reliable, compact, manuverable weapon. Its not cheap, but its a solid and unique platform that will keep paces with the finest rifles out there.
-uses the ubiquitous AR15 magazine
-despite its odd looks and bulk, it IS ergonomic
-very well balanced
-accuracy is on par with the average AR
-forward eject means its completely lefty-friendly
-extremely compact and light – its shorter than an SBR AR even with the stock collapsed
-its a big time attention getter at the range
-its very reliable
-the trigger. Its mushy, Glock-like, but at least lighter than an AUG
-its thick, and the foregrip is quite fat. Ergonomic, but I don’t care for the look or feel of the foregrip.
-needs the expensive ($160) tri-rail to be able to effectively mount a light/vertical grip
-The firing pin buffer spring may need to be removed before it will reliably ignite milsurp ammo
-chamber access is limited.
-most malfunctions can be cleared by stripping the mag and racking the bolt, but more severe ones require disassembly
-the charging handle cant take (IMO) battlefield levels of abuse
-parts, while available, are expensive and a pain to get
-Sling (Urban ERT highly reccomended)
-Optic (Aimpoint can cowitness with low mount, EOTECH works well too, sits high though)
-quality GI mags (with anti tilt followers)
"Optional" accessories (but highly reccomended):
-FN Tri Rail (you need this to mount a light, unless you want to modify the factory grip)
The verdict? The FS2000 is a great gun, but dont pay the MSRP, I dont think its worth that. Its an awesome weapon, especially for CQB, but strictly in terms of price, the advantages aren’t necessarily worth the premium you pay. Find one for $1600 used, it isn’t hard to do. For that kind of money, the benefits of the weapon package start to even out with the cost difference.
The charging handle limits its overall durability. Don’t smack the handle around, and you should be fine. However, a gun is only as durable as its weakest part, and the charging handle is kind of important….. I see the FS2000 as a great carbine for law enforcement or civilian personal defense, i.e. for someone who wont necessarily subject it to battlefield-levels of abuse. Its compact, accurate, reliable, attractive, and ergonomic. It has its flaws however. Its simply up to the buyer to decide if its worth it or not.
I certainly believe it is.
I will continue to add pertinent FS2000 information to this review, members please feel free to contribute anything else that might be beneficial to people interested in this weapon
MORE PICS - some include the flashlight/handguard modification
500 rounds down the pipe since last update, still no reliability issues.
A metal charging handle is in the works, should remedy any issues with CH durability, even though I have never had a problem.
I'm selling the Tri-Rail, because I have found that the extra width, added weight, and high cost arent really worth it. I prefer the ergonomics of the flashlight-modified factory handguard, and I think that is probably the best setup for the rifle. Some guys like the vertical grip, and it does add a little bit of stability, but I dont feel it is worth the trade offs.
NEW EDIT: HK Sights and Metal Charging Handle
I was able to pick up a set of authentic HK 416 sights with a universal HK rear sight drum. I paid 125 out the door, they normally cost about 350.
I have seen pics of guys running Magpul, Troy, etc backup sights that sit even higher than these sights, so I figure if those work alright, why shouldnt these?
I have the factory FN iron sights perfectly zeroed, so Im not going to mess with those until Im sure the HK sights will work to my satisfaction. The extreme change in sight radius on top of the FS2000 might throw things off, but I dont know yet.
I left the standard FN front sight on the gun for height comparison. Here are some pictures of what HK416 sights look like on the FS2000.
I will update once I am able to get to the range and put them to the test. If they work well I will remove the FN front sight and move the 416 sight up to the front of the rail, and re-install the Aimpoint using a higher mount.
ETA: these pics also give a look at the metal charging handle for those of you who havent seen it.
Took a few more pictures and included some info about an ergonomic modification that I forgot to include in the original review. "Decal Grips" brand of, well, decal grips make a nice addition to the otherwise slick/smooth front handguard of the FS. These decal grips were originally intended for a Glock 17, but I noticed they had the right curvature to look correct on the FS handguard. The factory grip is shapely, but could use some extra 'grab'. Grips are offered in a sandpaper-like texture or a rubberized texture. I opted for the latter. Cost: $8
FS2000 with factory handguard, with Surefire G2 installed. You can see the decal grips.
Closer look at the decal grips
FS2000 equipped with the FN brand tri-rail. Added weight appx 2lbs. Added width appx. .75inch total
Factory handguard side by side with tri-rail for width comparison
Gratuitous gun/chick pic
Last edited by lloydkristmas; 02-22-11 at 19:51.
I have found three big issues with the FS2000:
1. As you said, the firing pin and firing pin captive spring is too weak to reliably detonate milsurp ammo like XM193. This was done in response to the gun sometimes doubling with light commercial primers. However it was overkill, as either adding a captive spring or lightening the weight of the firing pin would have been sufficient. I removed the captive spring from mine and have since fired thousands of trouble free rounds. I have also used commercial .223 ammo without any issues of doubling. When I first got the gun I experienced an occasional issue of doubling with certain brands of commercial .223 ammo.
2. You really, really must be sure to tug hard on the magazine after seating it to make sure it is seated--way more so than an AR or just about any gun that I can think of. The magazine often feels as though it is seated when it really isn't. Thus when you try to chamber a round it will not do so, leaving you with a gun that you think is loaded but is not.
3. If you put a new mag in when the bolt is locked back, the bolt will sometimes be jarred loose and close halfway, stripping a round. If you try to pull the bolt back to let it go forward, you will now give yourself a doublefeed. This solution to this is to not put a magazine in with the bolt locked back. This is not going to happen after the gun runs dry because it does not have a bolt holdopen. It typically happens after the bolt is locked back for a range ceasefire and you try to put a magazine in.
I've played with the idea of selling my FS2000 and putting the money toward a SCAR-17, but I still like the gun. One thing I ahve to say is that it is the easiest gun for me to fire weakhanded. I don't know is this is an issue with the balance or what.
Last edited by Ed L.; 08-06-10 at 01:43.
Originally Posted by Ed L.
I know what you mean about the magwell requiring more force to insert than the AR15, but at the same time, mine feels as though its more "worn in" and doesnt take much effort at all. I use the teflon coated mags from CProducts and they slide right in. I handled an FS2000 at my local dealer, and it was WAY harder to get the mag in and out. Maybe because it was brand new, maybe because of the crappy FN mag, I dont know. I've put several thousand rounds through mine and had a couple "user induced" malfunctions, but I dont believe any of them were related to mag seating issues. More likely because of riding the bolt forward, which basically causes the same problem as when the bolt is jarred loose.
I've found C products mags not to work very well. I had some new ones where the followers got stuck when I was loading rounds.
The issue with the magazines not locking in is annoying because it feels like the magazine locked in and even makes a click sound. You have to pull hard on the magazine to make sure that it is seated. You can pull lightly and have it not move and think that it is seated when it isn't.
When I first got the gun I noticed that I was getting some double feeds. Only when I paid careful attention to the events that preceeded it did I notice that it happened when I inserted a magazine with the bolt locked back. I detailed this in an article that Appeared in SWAT Magazine in the November 2006 issue.
I load all of my magazines with only 28 rounds to make them easier to seat in an AR or FS2000 with the bolt forward. When I was shooting the gun regularly I did not notice the mags being a pain to seat. However when I stopped shooting it for a while and went back to it the issue became more noticable.
I have somewhere between 4000 and 5000 rounds through my FS2000. This includes a Pat Rogers 3 day carbine course in which I had 2 malfunctions. One was my fault for riding the charging handle forward when chambering the first round from a magazine. Another occurred when an empty case got stuck on the extractor and the gun tried to chamber a fresh round. For that I had to pop the halfs of the gun apart to get the empty case off the extractor.
Thanks for the write up, I was looking at this rifle and saw it at the SHOT. Have you gone to any carbine class to see how this runs at high speed? How's the maintenance on it, available parts- replacement parts and service if needed ( from FN or ? ).
I havent used it in a carbine course. Im a grad student so I dont have the time (or the money) right now for one. One of these days....
Originally Posted by BSHNT2015
However, some of my buddies and I were doing some 'informal' practice out in the desert a couple weeks ago, and I ran about 600 rounds through it in the span of a couple hours. My observations are as follows: My gun was the only FS2000 among several AR's, a MSAR STG556, and a Sig Arms 556. At the end of the day, the FS and the SIG 556 are the only ones that didnt suffer any malfunctions. The Microtech AUG clone was a jammomatic, the AR's suffered 1 and 2 jams each. The FS is completely enclosed inside that big polymer shell, so it remains very clean and dust-free.
As far as parts, Im pretty sure you have to go through FN/Browning to get them, and they arent cheap. From what I understand, the "switch" is the most common part that needs replacement, and this is only due to gross mishandling of the weapon during re-assembly. I have an extra switch, and Bob the FN service guy gave it to me free of charge. I dont plan on ever needing it, but its there just in case.
In case it matters, all 600 rounds I fired that day were steel cased Barnaul junk ammo. Cheap plinking stuff. Worked without a hitch.
Last edited by lloydkristmas; 08-09-10 at 00:16.
Thanks, a buddy just suggested going to the local range and doing a 3 gun shoot or IDPA stuff, my guest is to get the tac reload down and emergency reload when FTF or FTE happens. Whne you get a chance post some range pics. It would be interesting to see this toy run. Be safe.