The Hudson H9 sounds like a real POS.
U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)- I want to be upfront before we dive into the Hudson H9 review. The Hudson H9 captured my attention to the point that I overlooked the fact that it wasn’t ideal for any practical, competition, or even defensive use. Normally my purchases are reasonably pragmatic, but I ignored logic and bought one of these 9mm disappointments like many others.
Disclaimer: I never received a gun from Hudson for testing but purchased the pistol for roughly $950 in the summer of 2018 from a local dealer. I did call Hudson around June 2018 to tell them that like many others, my pistol would shoot low consistently. Hudson sent out a fiber optic front sight, a few spare mags, and a hat that I gave away to one of my Patreon supporters.
After meeting with Hudson at SHOT 2017, I spoke with Cy Hudson regularly and a professional friendship was quickly formed. I feel this is important to point out because I really wanted to see the H9 do well and was truly saddened when they no-showed at SHOT 2019. Hudson did release a statement following their no-show at SHOT, which I published on RECOIL Web.
Hudson Wows Media At SHOT Range Day
If you have been around firearms for a bit, you might recall the storm of media coverage of the Hudson H9 at SHOT 2017. It was given several awards, they threw a cool party, and generally made an impressive splash at the show.
Those that shot the pistol were impressed with how it handled, the trigger, and the extremely limited muzzle flip. I was in love with the direction that Hudson was going and had high hopes for the company as well as the design.
I don’t think that anyone saw the train wreck that was on the horizon. I was told by a source who has asked to remain anonymous that the pistols we saw at SHOT Show were effectively prototypes. Had that fact been known, what was coming might have been less of a surprise.
Hudson H9 Problems
The issues that plagued the Hudson H9 are well documented, just a Google search nets a ton of results. If I were to touch on every issue that H9 owners experienced, this would be a 3,000-word post about nothing but that.
Since I imagine that you likely care about the overall experience, I am going to mention a couple of the main issues and move onto the rest of the review for the sake of brevity.
Broken MIM Parts
I never got a solid answer as to what the issue was with the MIM parts breaking from anyone, but the fact remains that many owners experienced issues. It could have been an issue with the MIM process or some design related stress that was pushing the MIM parts beyond their breaking point.
Reports of broken strikers, slide releases, extractors, and ejectors are some of the more common MIM failure reports. Since Hudson never had spare parts for sale, anyone who saw a failure with their H9 was forced to send it into the factory.
Barrels With Oversized Bores
More than one example of Hudson H9 has shown to have an oversized bore, which explains the poor accuracy I saw with mine. The bore should measure out to .355″ but my example measured .358″. While that isn’t a huge difference, you are relying on a tight fit between the bullet and the inside of the barrel to make the bullet go where it should that .003″ difference isn’t so trivial.
The other example of the Hudson H9 that I know was properly measured came in right about the same at .3575″. Huge thank you to Joe Chambers of Chambers Custom for pointing me to the bore diameter as the potential culprit and measuring his example to a degree that I wasn’t able.
All of the information that I have been able to gather suggests that all Hudson H9 barrels were oversized.
Hudson’s Boom Turns To Bust
All these problems along with some poor business decisions like revealing the Hudson H9A (The aluminum frame version) before the steel-framed H9 was even available in stores led to Hudson’s demise.
While we should have seen the signs that Hudson was a paper tiger when they downgraded their SHOT booth from the larger main floor booth to the basement the following year or the fact that the pistols took nearly 10 months to hit retailer shelves. In fact, Hudson was so cash strapped at this point they sent out the very first one to come off the line, serial number 1,000.
The largest surprise was when I asked Paul W, one of the writers for my own website Primer Peak, to stop by the Hudson booth at SHOT 2019 to see what was new with the brand and he found an empty space on the floor.
Hudson had flat out no-showed to SHOT as well as pulled out of Industry Day at the Range without telling anyone, nothing short of a shock. Hudson was sued, closed their doors, and declared bankruptcy shortly after the show leaving owners of the H9 in a bind. More on this in a bit.
The Hudson H9 Features
The Hudson H9 was a large departure from the traditional designs on the market. Hudson took characteristics of the well-loved 1911 design and melded it with a striker-fired design in hopes of appealing to the traditional 1911 customer as well as those looking for a more modern striker-fired design.
By all accounts, had the pistol been reliable and Hudson hadn’t shot themself in the foot, it should have been a hit.
While the takedown lever looks great, it was a pain in the butt to use on my example. In order to pop it out, you were forced to stab at it with the corner of a magazine or something else non-marring. Once the lever was protruding from the frame enough to rotate 90-degrees the slide would come off the front once the sear releases the striker similar to most striker-fired pistols.
While it sounds straightforward, I had significant issues getting the takedown lever to reliably pop out enough to rotate. Frankly, I would have welcomed a more traditional non-recessed takedown lever like a Smith & Wesson M&P, SIG P320, or even the FN 509.
1911 Style Trigger & Controls
One of the more notable features of the pistol is the straight to the rear 1911-style trigger. It did have an OK trigger, but it wasn’t amazing. My particular example came in at 5 pounds 6 ounces, well in line with most defensive pistols on the market.
While that would have been fine, the H9 didn’t really fit the defensive role due to its hefty 34-ounce unloaded weight and wasn’t ideal for competition thanks to a multitude of reasons like the trigger weight and lack of competitive sights.
Is The Low Bore Axis Really That Low?
There was a ton of focus paid to give the Hudson H9 the lowest possible bore axis in an effort to remove as much muzzle flip as possible. I have some very controversial opinions about bore axis and how most misunderstand why it helps combat muzzle flip, but that is a topic for another day.
If you take a look at the earlier prototypes of the Hudson, you should thank them for spending a ton of time trying to get the strong hand as high as possible. Even with all of Hudson’s efforts to get a super low bore axis, the result wasn’t as mind-blowing as Hudson likely hoped.
You have to set a pistol with a low bore axis next to the Hudson H9 to really get a sense of how the H9 stacks up to one of the most popular pistols in America, the Glock double stack pistols.
The photo below isn’t perfect, but the scale of the Glock 17 to the Hudson H9 should be close enough to really get an idea of how the bore axis stacks up. The red line was placed inline with where the pistol would pivot against the web of your hand and the blue line is roughly in line with the bore.
So why was the Hudson H9 so flat-shooting? Weight. The pistol weighs in at 34-ounces unloaded where something like the Glock 17 comes in at 22-ounces. That 12-ounces makes a large difference in mitigating recoil and is exactly why in competition a heavier gun generally has a bit of an edge over lighter pistols.
From the factory, the Hudson H9 features a Trijicon HD front sight with a Smith & Wesson M&P dovetail. I mentioned earlier that I switched to a Hudson provided HiViz front sight to address the low point of impact at all distances. Frankly, I prefer a fiber optic front sight over a night sight since I generally run a weapon light on any pistol I might use for defensive reasons because positively identifying a potential target is cool.
Interestingly, Hudson did away with the Trijicon HD front sight and moved to a fiber optic front sight on the H9A they showed at SHOT 2018. Sadly the H9A never even made it to market.
Keeping with what was popular at the time the Hudson H9 was released, the rear sight features an all-black u notch with only horizontal serrations. While this was something that was popular at the time, there was a financial upside as well. Because the rear site had no tritium, that makes it substantially cheaper and removes some challenges that come with meeting regulatory requirements for Tritium.
Shooting The Hudson H9
The limited-time I had with the Hudson H9 at SHOT Range Day impressed me, I was infatuated with the pistol. It wasn’t until I got my own copy of the gun that I became disappointed in my purchase almost immediately.
Does It Shoot Flat?
I mentioned it earlier, but yes the Hudson H9 does shoot flat. I suspect the reason for that isn’t the claimed low bore axis, but rather the hefty 34-ounce unloaded weight of the pistol.
There are some things that Hudson could have done to allow more positive control of the pistol in recoil like more aggressive texturing on the grip panels, a place to use as a “gas pedal” on the frame, or even removing as much mass from the slide as they could.
They did try an aluminum frame model of the Hudson H9 called the H9A that removed roughly a half a pound still came in at 26-ounces. Predictably the H9A had more muzzle flip than the H9, but most coverage of the H9A overlooked this. After all, it is kinda hard to really get a feel for a pistol with only 5-rounds to get a feel for it at SHOT Industry Day At The Range.
Is The Hudson H9 Accurate?
The first chance I got, I headed out to Triple C Range in Cresson, TX with some other pistols I was reviewing at the time and loaded 10-rounds into the mag. Taking aim with a “combat hold” sight picture (front sight over the intended point of impact) at a steel target 15-yards away, all but 2 of the 10 shots taken hit dirt just under the 10″ bottom plate on the spinner target.
Chalking it up to fatigue, I packed it up for the day with only the 10-rounds fired.
The next time I got the Hudson H9 on the range, I can say for sure that my example of the Hudson H9 isn’t a pistol that I could call remotely accurate. Depending on the ammunition that I put in the gun, I might not even be able to hit a 10.5″ x 10.5″ NRA B8 repair center reliably when shooting from a supported position at 25-yards.
Like I mentioned, group sizes carried widely depending on ammunition and distance. The best 10-yard target was a 10-shot group measuring at about 2.6″ shot supported with 124-grain American Eagle. That might sound acceptable until you take into account that the FN 509 Compact MRD (A Glock 26 size gun) shot groups under 2″ at more than double that distance out of the box. The second best I managed with the Hudson H9 was a 5.345″ 10-shot group using Blaser Brass 115-grain ammo, an abysmal result.
At 25-yards, the Hudson H9 continues to disappoint in the accuracy department. The best 10-shot group that I could manage to get out of the Hudson H9 with the 124-grain American Eagle FMJ it seemed to prefer was 7.16″ on the NRA B8 repair center I prefer to shoot.
Every other attempt to shoot the Hudson at 25-yards resulted in some shots missing the paper entirely even though I was shooting slow fire from a supported position. I couldn’t even measure these groups if I tried since they didn’t even all land on paper.
During the 250 rounds I fired through my Hudon H9, I didn’t experience any malfunctions or part failures. That said, 250 rounds isn’t enough to determine if a gun is reliable or not in my personal opinion.
We can make a determination of how reliable the Hudson H9 is based on reports from other owners though. You don’t need to look far to find owners of Hudson H9s reporting interesting internal parts breakages at uncomfortably low round counts. Based on my research, broken strikers, slide stops, and ejectors seemed to be the most common issues like I previously mentioned.
Should You Buy One?
Simply put, no. But, if you are a collector it might not be the worst idea in the world. Currently, it will cost you somewhere around $1,000 up to $1,599.99 depending on who you buy it from on Gunbroker.
When the Hudson H9 hit the market, it carried an MSRP of $1,147 and had a street price of just under $1,000. Prices got as low as $599 when the last remaining pistols were being cleared out by distributors.
If you do buy one make sure that you pick up a ton of spare parts from KE Arms and Hudson Gun Parts even if you don’t plan on shooting the pistol. As is the case with most out of production guns, the spare parts will dry up sooner rather than later. Nothing sucks more than having a broken gun that you can’t find a part for.