Conflict between Glock lovers and those who worship 1911, especially in USA, goes long way back and every side of the dispute is using better or worse arguments to back up their truth. What if someone try to build a handgun that will allow to reconcile them together? Maybe this very Hudson H9 is the answer?
American market is filled to the top with mutations and variations of the legendary .45. Hundreds of caliber, sizes, match and combat, gold, silver or platinum plated, for those looking for guns out of this worlds (yeah, there were some made from meteorites) and for those plain ordinary steel, classic and tactical ones. Sky is the limit. Probably in every US state there is smaller or bigger weapon manufacturer that builds more or less successful clone of 1911. American fondness to that construction cause that almost every version will be that one someone is trying to find and purchase. But to figure something new that is only based on that trusted product, that only relates to J.M. Browning masterpiece and successfully sell it, is not an easy thing.
Hudson H9 was introduced during SHOT Show 2017 and instantly became breaking news. Looking like 1911, but striker-fired and drawing attention by unusual design that for some people brings back strong association with Auto 9 that was used by no one else than RoboCop. (PS Yes, we are aware that they used mocked-up Beretta 93R in the movie). At first glance, H9 looks like gun with weapon light, laser pointer or some kind of counter weight attached under the barrel to reduce recoil and muzzle flip, or maybe some fancy suppressor (think SilencerCo Maxim 9). This part determines the unusualness of how H9 looks like.
Manufacturer of H9 is Hudson Manufacturing from Temple, TX founded in 2015 by Cy and Lauren Hudson. The idea of new pistol was born already in 2013 and first prototype was build one year later. It is related to classical American Dream history: Hudsons invested all the money into development, hired engineer that forged their idea of striker-fire 1911 into first prototype that was named The Brick. To give you an idea how it looked like here is what owners said: “Analytics was killing hard. We read all there was: printed magazines, positive and negative reviews, statistics of sales, helpful and dumb comments on the blogs. We bought different handguns – new and old. We took them apart, we shoot them, we gave it to the other people and asked what they like and what they hate and here is how original concept was created: reliable stiker-fire handgun with 1911 trigger”.
Luckily, they found a way to get more funding and put together small engineering team. In late 2015 they created the “Boat Anchor”, another prototype, but Hudsons were still not satisfied with an outcome. Key moment for development of the H9 was 2016 when different team of engineers was hired. It was also time of growth for the company itself – team of experts consisting of professional specialists of firearm and experienced employees from firearm industry was created.
During SHOT Show 2017 Hudson H9 was shown to the world – new project draw a lot of attention, especially being the striker-fire 1911. In the country where M1911A1 in every version is weapon of cult, it had to raise a lot of strong emotions.
History of Hudson Mfg shows that making of good product requires willingness and great persistence in a way to success and even small manufacturers, true enthusiast, can create revolutionary firearm, without enormous funding from government side. Kudos.
Hudson H9 is 9 mm x 19 Parabellum chambered semi-automatic striker fire pistol with steel slide and frame. It is short recoil operated and has locked breech. While the envelope pushing new design elements: the forward barrel cams in front of the trigger-guard, the sear design marrying the straight pull trigger with a striker-fired system while remaining drop safe, the placement of the recoil spring, and the pairing of a insert chassis with a steel frame., Hudson Mfg. does not try to hide out that this handgun is a combination of classic solutions from John Moses Browning’ Colt M1911 (shape of the frame and trigger) with solutions from striker fired handguns like Glock. Unique for H9 is recoil spring placement which together with the steel rod was placed directly in front of the trigger guard. This system is in mysterious „gnarl” under the barrel mistakenly taken for integrated weapon light or some kind of counter weight. Such a solution, together with low bore axis allows easier control of the recoil and muzzle flip. The vector of the force of the recoil is pointed directly into the hands on the grip. What’s interesting is that there is nothing more except that recoil spring in that compartment, maybe someday it will be used for some purpose. Because of the lack of hammer spring, firearm is narrow (31 mm or 1.24”) and allows shooters to get higher grip and better stabilization and control of the recoil.
Slide is stainless steel with matte black nitride finish. In front and rear part of the slide there are diagonal serrations that improve grip while reloading, especially with wet hands or wearing gloves. Top surface of the slide has longitudinal serrations on the whole length. Ejection port was placed on the right. Hudson H9 has 108 mm long (4.28”) steel non-threaded barrel as a standard. Optionally, there is a threaded barrel available. Because of the way the gun is designed, and location of recoil spring in the front of the trigger guard, we should not expect compact versions (it would require making the spring substantially shorter). There is also a patented firing pin and its retaining system/
„Frame” of the Hudson is made completely from stainless steel with black nitride finish. Why “frame”? Well, it is basically some form of shell, as a concept like something that is known from SIG P320. Real frame is steel insert placed inside that stainless-steel shell. Angle of the grip is identical to M1911A1 what is to enhance stability of the grip (many are certain that this is the ideal angle for handgun), there were placed G10 grips with very aggressive texture, made exclusively by VZ Grips, screwed down with two screws. We can fell that we are dealing here with premium class firearm. Front and rear face of the grip are also textured. The profile of beavertail is typical for 1911 but H9 was has no grip safety, which was present in the prototype. Hudson H9 currently has only trigger safety and internal safety systems, but external safety switch can be ordered as option. Ambidextrous slide release lever and changeable round magazine release button are located on the frame. Right above recoil spring compartment, on the right side of the weapon there is button for stripping the weapon down.
Hudson H9 is fed from double stack 15 rounds magazines with steel box and flat but thickened base plate. There are six holes on the sides of the magazine for ammunition control. The H9 comes with three magazines. It is worth to mention that despite double stack magazine, grip is not thick and magazine well is flared for faster reloads.
Very similar when it comes to appearance to classic M1911A1 is straight-pull SAO trigger with 19-22N trigger pull and small prep-travel, lack of idle movement, tactile but very delicate and predicable brake and short reset. In the front of the trigger there is trigger safety that works without disrupting the shooter and provides high level of safety and prevent against discharge during “drop test” safety procedure.
Hudson H9 comes with factory-mounted steel rear sight and Trijicon HD front sight with tritium point and fiber optics circle and Picatinny rail placed under the recoil spring compartment. The H_RD Slide is a variant for mounting of red dot optics. The H_RD Slide mounting plate system allows a single slide to use multiple optics. Initially, Hudson Mfg is offering a choice of three hardened steel mounting plates for the Trijicon RMR, Shield RMS, and Leupold DeltaPoint Pro, and every H_RD slide will ship with an aluminum block-off plate to use when an optic is not mounted. The H_RD features a suppressor height front sight to use with the integrated back-up rear sight on the RMS, the optional rear sight on the DeltaPoint Pro, or the integrated suppressor height rear sight on the RMR mounting plate.
In the second half of 2018, the Hudson C1 compensator was unveiled. C1 is made from bead blasted and Type II anodized 7075 aluminum alloy in smooth matte black finish. It has a 1/2×28 TPI thread pitch, and it is compatible with the Hudson H9 threaded barrel. There is no need for a gunsmith to install the C1.
Hudson Mfg. H9 is delivered in premium black cardboard box, inside of which are: pistol, three magazines, lock with cable, user’s manual and warranty card.
During SHOT Show 2018 a H9A version was unveiled. Essential difference is aircraft grade aluminum frame instead of legacy steel one for significant weight saving. Slide rails are still made from steel. Additionally, the polymer grips were used. Producer declares that exchangeability of parts between H9 and H9a is around 90%. Total weight of the Hudson H9A is 737 g.
This operation is almost identical to the most of handguns with take down lever (see P226). There are two differences. Firstl, to have to ability to rotate the lever vertically (position that allows to take the slide of the frame) it has to be pushed all the way down the round end of button (on the right side of the slide) inside the axle socket. That will cause the lever to come out and then it can be rotated 90 degrees. In that position slide can be removed from the frame with pressed trigger. Second thing is that after taking the slide off the frame, only the barrel can be removed. Recoil mechanism (spring and its rod) stays in the frame and manufacturer does not recommends its disassembly without armorer’s qualifications. So after taking down the weapon we have one piece less than in case of most guns.
PEW! PEW! PEW!
Hudson H9 is almost one kilogram weight, what in polymer guns era or even aluminum framed ones is heavy (50% more than Glock17!), but that should be no surprise, in the end those are two chunks of stainless steel.
Despite that weapon sits in the hand firmly thanks to grip profiled after M1911A1, but slimmer and with very comfortable G10 grips. Thanks to them and the serrations on the frame weapon stays in hand, wherein we are talking about medium and large palms. H9 allows to get very high grip what causes that bore axis is right above gripping hand what has direct impact on the reduction of the recoil influence on the shooter. This combined with an unique location of recoil spring and overall weight of the firearm, gives us a pistol with minimal and greatly controllable muzzle flip
Are switches and levers are places ergonomically and there are no problems with the access to them. This is basically standard in today’s world when it’s hard to mess up. Trigger works well – short travel, small resistance and very distinct brake, and besides that it has a minimal, easy to feel reset. Those features allow for fast shooting from H9 (for example double taps) which is pure fun and nice groupings are easy to achieve. Few guys that played with H9 together with us has noticed, however, that there is small problem with the trigger guard. This element is huge, has very thick lower part and because of that, it seems that there is not much space inside. Some guys were complaining about this part. We have checked compared H9 with some random 1911 and turns out that dimensions of the trigger guard are practically the same. So maybe this massive lower bar causes that belief? Anyway, people with very big and fat fingers will probably have a problem, like those who want to shoot with the gloves, especially winter weight ones. All other, should not have any problems.
Loading the magazines into the magwell does not cause any problems. Also loading magazines does not require fingers that are able to tie a knot on the rebar.
The deep serrations on the slide and not much force on the recoil spring are allow for quick and easy reloads.
Sights. Well, here we have ambivalent feelings, because for sure they are from the top shelf and they are clear, but we had this feeling inside that for precision shooting they are bit too clear. Rear sight is quite wide and half rounded (made from steel and shaped in a way that it is easy to use in case of emergency reload using the belt for example), but the front sight with fiber optics is just huge. It helps in close range shooting (and getting nice groupings when shooting very fast), but if we want to shoot Olympics it will not be so easy because that big front sight with red circle fills up all rear sight (and glows) so it’s hard to see gap at the sides and its positions against bottom edge of rear sight. If for someone that would be a problem, he can always change the sights for set that fits M&P 2.0.
Our gun, straight from factory box, on 25 meters range hits low and little too the left. Significant vertical (approx.. 20 cm up) and horizontal (approx. 10 cm to the right) adjustments are necessary. We have discussed this with other shooters who shot from other H9’s and they had the same problems. What’s interesting, the Hikock 45 also has noticed that his H9 hits too high on even shorter distance.
Hudson H9 comes with very specific and unique features. First is the design. Some of us very much like this handgun (you know, like, futuristic one) and other state, that it’s just simply ugly. De gustibis non disputandum est, but Hudson H9 for sure stands out of the crowd and you can either love it or hate it. Second thing is the rail. Attaching anything to it makes the gun looking like some kind of space blaster. It just adds bulk and completely rules it out from concealed carry. Yeah, we know, it should me considered more like a duty gun not the CCW, but there will be always someone who carries Glock 34 concealed…
To sum up, it seems that unique design combined with weight of H9 directly converts to its great stability during shooting, minimum recoil and muzzle flip. In straight out of the box configuration it can be a great every day carry gun, maybe little too heavy, but on the other hand very smooth and flat. For sport shooting, the change of sights would be recommended.
The price point is kind on the more expensive side. The US MSRP was declared as $1147. But you pay for what you get, full stainless steel design combining best of Glock and 1911. Hudson H9 is an Interesting and for sure original and unique gun for great fun during shooting, but for sure not for everyone.