Call it the black sheep of modern sidearms. Call it obscene. And after going toe-to-toe with a Kevlar-clad enemy assailant and coming out rattled but nonetheless unscathed, feel free to call it your best friend.

The FN Five-seveN, or FN57 for short, was designed by Fabrique-Nationale Herstal while attempting to come up with a new submachine gun and projectile for engagements in the 21st century. It possesses characteristics that set it far apart from most other handguns, and is regarded by most as a bit ahead of its time. To date, it is one of only two small arms designed around the progressive 5.7x28 mm round.

Weighing in at only 1.64 lbs with 20 rounds in the magazine, the gun is nearly a full pound lighter than the 9mm Beretta 92F sporting 15 rounds of 9mm. The gun's light heft can be attributed to its mostly polymer frame. The slide and barrel are both chrome-moly steel. The barrel is two-piece, and moves rearward up to a tenth of an inch upon firing, in a delayed blowback design. Extremely ergonomic, it features nary a hard edge, and the grip is textured for your comfort.

Despite its minimal mass, the gun experiences insignificant muzzle climb. The 5.7x28 mm round is to thank here, as the force required to propel the bullet out of the barrel is one-third less than that of a 9mm round. This, combined with the 20-round magazine, allows faster and more accurate weapon discharge, greatly increasing the odds of hitting the target.

The FN57 features a shrouded hammer, decreasing the chance of it snagging. Two models are available, the only difference being the onboard safety mechanisms. The standard model, intended for military use as a secondary weapon, is Double Action Only, and therefore lacks an external safety selector. The Tactical model sports an ambidextrous external safety directly above the trigger. Its trigger is Single Action, and has a lighter and shorter pull than the standard model. The Tactical is intended for Law Enforcement or Special Operations where the weapon will function as a primary means of threat neutralization.

An accessory rail below the muzzle allows attachment of laser sight or flashlights, and the barrel can be equipped with an optional snap-on silencer, manufactured by Gemtech. Such customization no doubt makes it a nice candidate for Special Forces utilization. Its fixed iron sights can be modified for night use, with luminescent targeting dots.

Though the barrel is shorter than the FN P90's, the gun is nonetheless still rated to penetrate PASGT, CRISTAT, and up to 48 layers of Kevlar body armor. Only 10% of the muzzle velocity of the round is compromised by the shorter acceleration distance. It is somewhat sad to realize that if the standard police issue handgun was the FN57, the 1997 North Hollywood bank robbery would have lasted about 4.4 minutes.

As noted in my node on 5.7x28 mm, the terminal ballistics of the round, despite being smaller than the popular 9mm caliber, are theoretically greater. This is on top of its far superior penetrating capabilities, low recoil, and low burden on the person carrying it.

Adoption of the weapon is moving even slower than that of its big brother, but the gun has been tested out by numerous police and military organizations. Due to the fact it is unavailable to civilians for hunting, target shooting, self-defense, or any reason, it is unlikely to see any real world testing for a while.

The standard edition of the FN57 is currently priced under $600 to military and law enforcement agencies.


Technical Overview

Caliber                  5.7x28mm
Ammunition               SS190, L191, SB193, T194 5.7x28 mm
Operating mechanism      Delayed blowback
Trigger mechanism        Double action only (Standard Model), Single Action (Tactical Model)
Safety Type              None (Standard Model), Ambidextrous (Tactical Model)
Magazine capacity        20 rounds 
Overall length           208mm (8.2 in) 
Barrel length            122.5mm (4.82 in) 
Weight, unloaded         618g (1.36 lb) 
Weight, loaded           744g (1.64 lb) 
Pierce PASGT vest:       300 meters
Pierce PASGT helmet:     240 meters
Pierce CRISAT vest:      100 meters
Pierce 48 kevlar layers: 50 meters

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.