Bears ARE scary. I don't want to run into one. I don't want to face a ticked off Griz with a 9mm. I'm not advocating that, so let's get that out of the way. What I have settled on is that, for me, most any place I am going to go hiking a 9mm will be enough. Well, I guess it will be until it's not. However, you have my full permission to give the big pile animal scat that was formally me a giant I-told-you-so. Anyway, back to how i settled on this particular gun for the hiking role and a bit about the gun itself. The FN 509M is the new version of the FN 509 that was released to the public back in 2017 after FN lost the military trials that the 320 ended up snagging. Fine gun. FN quality, stainless throughout, protected crown, steel sights, grippy with a couple of back strap options. However, I just don't dig a gun with a 4" barrel and full size grip. So I passed on the 509. Well the M model dropped this spring. "M" stands for Midsize, btw What you are left with is a full on Glock 19 sized gun. 4" barrel, 15 round grip, and a very packable 25-26oz. As a big fan of FN, I knew I needed to add it to my collection. It basically kicked my beloved and very trusted P320 out of rotation. A few months back I asked about what hangdun I should take on a hiking trip up in the forests of Michigan. I wasn't expecting much in the way of large animals, but I wondered about the handiness of a 5 shot .45 acp revolver or the firepower of a compact 9mm. Most of you fine folks suggested the 9mm, and I took it with me. Unfortunately it rained the entire time I was there, so the 509m stayed in my pack and a S&W BG380 rode around in my pocket since we didn't go hiking. Flashforward to October. The family and I are getting ready to take a hiking trip to the Great Smokey Mountains, and I needed to settle on a pistol to take with me. The hiking is going to be nothing more than established foot trails and will last no more than 3 or 4 hours round trip. Still, I wanted something that would be potent yet easy to pack. I'm not really worried about bears. The black bears there are pretty easy to spook, pretty small, and shouldn't require calling in ordinance to take out. I'm more worried about people we meet than the critters. The 509M seemed more than up for the task. However, I never was able to squeeze as much accuracy out of it as I would have liked. I had second thoughts. I had purchased a bare bones 1911. Did 8+1 of .45 out of a heavier gun make more sense than 15+1 of 9mm? Is the 1911 a more natural shooter or more accurate in my hands? I had never shot them side by side, so a trip to the range was in order. On my way to the range I decided to pick up a couple of boxes of ammo from Academy. My 1911 in question is SA "Defender" series. Your basic Milspec 1911 with white dots. It runs jhp fine, but I was thinking that for critter control I would stick with hardball. I also had the idea that I would stoke the 509m with 124gr ball. A bit heavier with a bit more punch maybe? So I bought some Blazer .45 and some Federal 9mm. When I got to the range, I decided to run a couple of magazines through each gun to warm up from a standing two handed firing stance. I loaded the 509m with a pre-loaded magazine I had brought from home containing White Box 115gr FMJ. The target I was using had a top and bottom bullseye. I took my aim and emptied my gun at the target at 10 yards. As feared, great group that shot about 2" low. OK, I guess. I loaded up the 1911 with 230gr ball and shot at the other bullseye. Certainly not the most accurate 1911 I have ever owned but serviceable. A bit better grouping maybe. Still, heavy gun for that kind of accuracy. Good enough for war-accuracy but I was a bit let down. Still, a group is a group. I then colored out two small blue dots about an inch across to shoot each gun at to see what kind of accuracy I could expect now that I was a bit more warmed up. I had a 1911 mag ready to go, so it went first. Once again, not great but certainly "dead" enough, I guess. It was combat accurate again. Next I loaded up the 509 with the 124gr fmj. I aimed at the blue dot, lined up my sights and squeezed off my shot. I didn't see a hole under the dot 2" like I expected. I didn't see a hole at all. What he heck!? How did I miss a 2' piece of paper at 10 yards? I looked a little closer and noticed my blue dot was basically gone. A fluke for sure. I fired two more times and was rewarded with a cloverleaf. A steady fire 15 round magazine neatly shot out a baby's fist sized grouping. The heavens opened up, and I had figured what my problem was. The 509M likes a chunkier bullet, it seemed. However, as Reagan said, trust but verify. I ran a magazine of 115 through the gun...low 2". I could certainly hold the gun high and get the same grouping, but the accuracy I was getting just lining up the sights with the 124gr just made more sense. In short, it seems that I have settled on the FN for my hiking sidearm next week. The combination of weight, dependability, rugged build, and accuracy simply won out over the 1911 I just don't shoot as well. The heavy weight of that gun, lower round count in a mag, and the fact that I did have one random stoppage (I'm sure due to the mag being a cheapie...but still) just didn't make me feel warm and fuzzy. So, good job FN USA. You've retained fan...I'm just happy I figured out your guns like heavy bullets OK, so a few random range thoughts: The NAA Black Widow is a pocket monster. I love this little demon. I put some smaller grips on it so that it would be more pocket friendly, and it just disappears in a little soft holster I made for it. I spent time shooting it left handed with both the .22 mag and .22 lr cylinders. The .22 lr felt like a cap gun out of the more substantial (for an NAA) gun. .22 mag didn't really have much more recoil and just had a good deal more bark, as expected. This is my second NAA revolver and won't be my last. At the ranges I expect to shoot this gun, sub 7 yards, I was keeping SD groupings on the target. With a bit of luck and holding my mouth just right, the decent sights on the gun allowed me to hit slow aimed shots well enough that you could most likely use this gun to bag small game if you could get close enough to it. I bought it to keep in my vest pocket on the trail. The 509 rides back on my hip under my vest. I like the idea that as we come across other folks my hand can rest on the BW in my left vest pocket without looking threatening. The little Black Widow next to the 509M. Trail buddies. For those who carry .38 special Charter Arms revolvers, check out the Ruger ARX ammo. Mine LOVES it. I brought my Undercover DAO with me to range on a whim. I brought a box of semi jacketed hollowpoints to run through a couple cylinders. I knew the gun was loaded when I brought it to shoot, but I didn't remember what I had in it. So I just decided to try hitting a quarter-size marker dot on the paper at 7-ish yard. 5 shots, low recoil, and we under an inch in spread The lightweight Ruger stuff is no joke. I'm NOT a good shot. Not at all. Something about THAT gun with THAT ammo, and it turns into a laser beam. I tried some of the heavy 158gr stuff with expected minute of barn accuracy. Only ARX for my Charter from here on out. I was impressed enough that the Undercover is coming stashed away in my bag while on our trip. That light of a gun with that much accuracy and a good bit of power simply deserves to be brought...just in case.