Review of Hudson H9, sn: H043xx
The Hudson H9 appears to be very well made, with the kind of niceties of high-end firearms: an absence of sharp edges, and excellent fit and finish. It’s not as ugly as it looked in some of the photos.
Of course its claim to fame is that the recoil mechanism is in front of the trigger guard, rather than above it. This, in theory, should reduce muzzle flip by getting the bore lower to axis of rotation (the shooter’s wrist).
The integral trigger safety is noticeable, more so than those of the Glock or M&P, but not too distracting. The trigger pull initially impressed me, but less so after use. The reset is pleasantly short. The trigger does feel a bit spongy in overtravel – we’ll see if that matters at all.
The mag release is nicely balanced, light enough for competition, without being overly light. The grips are a bit thin for me, and my first gripe is that they’re not compatible with the 1911.
My second gripe is that the trigger guard area is wide and I have trouble putting a finger on the trigger without dragging it on part of the frame as well – this will undoubtedly vary with the shooter, but the trigger guard cavity is notably wider than on most pistols.
I dislike the front sight. I’ve never been a fan of night sights and the huge orange annulus around it is obnoxious. This is something I may change, but we’ll see how I like it when shooting. Apparently an M&P front sight will fit.
Because the pistol is so heavy, it will be hard to discern how much recoil reduction is affected by the low boreline and how much is just due to weight. In any case, I’m sure it will be quite pleasant to shoot.
I have seen in a few reviews that the magazines are hard to load, at least initially, and that is true. I figured these guys must have sissy thumbs until I tried loading the mags. Even with the help of an UPLula magazine loader, they were hard, though the Lula did get the job done.
First 619 rounds:
So, in one long range outing, I put 619 rounds through the H9, and 50 through my M&P Pro for some comparison. (669 total fired.)
First, problems I did not have. I have seen a few negative reviews of the H9 complaining that the magazines fell out under recoil or just dropping the slide. I have also seen multiple comments that the sights were off and the pistol would hit low. Neither of these were problems at all for this pistol. (I’ve mentioned the serial number for comparison to perhaps earlier models.)
I began testing by checking the sights and they were dead on at 15 yards. Shooting off the bench (I’m not much of a group shooter) also dispelled any concerns about accuracy, with three of five shots touching and the group measuring about 2″, largely due to shooter error. (Did I mention I’m not much of a group shooter?)
On shot #5, or after shot #4, I had my first malfunction: a failure to feed.
Since the gun is not broken in, I don’t pay much attention to these sorts of things unless they are severe. At about round number 40, I had another malfunction- a failure to go into battery. The slide was only very slightly out of battery so my first indication of a problem was a seemingly dead trigger. A slight nudge and it was back in action. I guess the disconnector works!
After firing about 100 rounds, my hand was somewhat sore from contact with the slide. I grab a pistol as high as possible, and in this case that was high enough to put about a skin’s thickness in the path of the slide.
A less agressive rounding of the “beavertail” would probably fix this. I’m hoping fatter grips (I have some on order from VZ) will do the trick. I should mention that the majority of shooters will find the reduced grip circumference pleasing, but for folks with big hands some changes will be required to make the fit optimal.
As I shot, I continued trying to load the magazines by hand to see if the process was getting easier. It was, but even after 600+ rounds through three magazines, it was not yet comfortable to load a magazine to full capacity (15 rounds) comfortably. In fact, that last round takes substantial effort even with the mag loader. Two other things are noteworthy about the magazines. First is the back corners of the mag bases are sharp. With all the care apparently taken to eliminate sharp edges from the pistol, this is a bit of a surprise, but one that will be easy to fix with a little sanding.
The other is the large “button” for disassembly. No tools necessary! The magazines easily disassemble by hand.
Around 150 rounds I had two more failures to go into battery. I guess at this point I should confess that I had not lubed the pistol prior to firing. I ran a patch through the bore, and seeing that there was visible lube in the gun, went with that. At 180 rounds I disassembled and generously lubed with Lucas Gun Oil. I had one more failure to go into battery at around 400 rounds, that being the only malfunction experienced after re-lubricating the gun.
After testing the sights and shooting the plate rack a few times to acclimate, I set up a mini “stage” consisting of two steel and two paper targets from one box and three steel and two paper targets from another. I kept the target sequence the same and rehearsed this stage many times with the Hudson. The idea was to make some comparative runs with the H9 and my S&W M&P Pro. I wanted to get enough runs under my belt that I would be familiar enough with the H9 to give it a fair shake. As it turned out, this may have been a bit unfair to the M&P as I found transitioning between the two to be somewhat difficult. My M&P has a worked-over trigger which is much lighter than the trigger on the Hudson – more on that later. Prior to doing comparison runs, my best run with the H9 was 12.20 seconds. I was able to marginally beat that in the comparison run with 12.09, in spite of having a make-up shot. (If you aren’t accustomed to timing your runs, it’s very unusual to have a make-up shot in a ‘best’ run.) I had a makeup shot on my ‘best’ run with the M&P as well, but I only made two runs with the M&P. The M&P narrowly beat the H9, but I think the gap may have been wider if I hadn’t become acclimated to the H9 trigger. Here are videos of my best run with each.
The biggest difference really jumped out in shooting a “Bill Drill” (six rounds as fast as possible, keeping them in the A-zone of a USPSA target). I was astonished at how noticeably faster my splits were with the M&P. Results: M&P 2.16 seconds, H9 2.65 seconds – almost 20% slower.
I should explain the reasoning behind these tests. The H9 does tame muzzle flip pretty effectively, but the real goal is to get that faster follow-up shot. If the reduction in muzzle flip doesn’t result in the ability to shoot faster, who cares? In this case it did not, but I think it could. I think the real reason that I shot slower with the H9 was not muzzle flip, but the trigger which is heavy, with even more ‘squish’ after the trigger breaks. Contrasted with a Glock trigger, which is spongy, but then breaks to nothing, the H9 trigger is spongy, but breaks to heavier sponginess. I found this actually fatiguing. I think if the trigger could be improved to that of a well-tuned striker-fired gun, this could be a winner.
Note on the M&P: I’m a fan of the ergonomics of the M&P pistol, but not the general design. I don’t intend its favorable comparison here to be an endorsement, it was just what I had on hand. The factory trigger on my M&P was also awful and it would have been interesting to compare stock vs. stock, but I’ve gotta make due with what I have.
Today, I learned something I wasn’t expecting: trigger quality is secondary to controlling recoil, at least in non-extreme cases.
At this point, the I consider the H9 an interesting design, but not one that I would recommend except for the novelty of owning such a piece.
Total shooting of the Hudson H9 for the day:
350 rounds of Blaser Brass 115gr. FMJ
219 rounds of Remington UMC 115gr. FMJ
50 rounds of Moly-coated 147gr. LRN
I had intended to shoot 750, but I was getting tired and sloppy, so stopped early.