There’s no denying the 5.7×28 is cool. In fact it is so cool it has even gained magical properties, penetrating armor better than 5.56×45 and causing larger wound channels while weighing half what a 9mm does. It’s all been proven too by infallible ballistics gel tests that somebody’s uncle who used to know someone who worked at FN Herstal once saw. All this has caused all the world’s militaries and law enforcement to cower in fear from this heat seeking 40 grain rocket of death. How does it do all this you ask? The simple answer is it doesn’t.
The round made a lot of sense for its original application, the P90. A bottlenecked cartridge the size of a .22 firing at 900 rounds per minute at well over 2000 fps is devastating, and there wasn’t much like it at the time and there still isn’t. But you, civilian, are never going to have a select fire p90 with its intended barrel length, which leaves the PS90 and the FiveseveN for armchair operators, and they surely have (especially the latter) been embraced by the community. I have heard many different justifications as to why these people “need” one, but let’s look at their applications one by one.
The first application, also the one nearly all guns are and should be used for the majority of the time for is target shooting. I’ll take the FiveseveN and P90 into account separately as they have vastly different applications at the range. The FiveseveN is beautiful as is most stuff that FN makes, and ergonomics, quality, etc. are all high up there. It’s a fine range pistol, but what separates it from the rest? Nothing really. The ammo is fairly expensive and the cost of the gun is higher than an equal quality version of a 9mm. It’s hard to really take advantage of the calibers flat trajectory in a pistol format, especially at the distances you will be shooting it at 99% of the time. It’s certainly a nice gun to shoot, but it doesn’t stand out enough to justify the cost. Personally I would hold out for the Kel-Tec PMR30, a gun that has all the “cool” aspects of the FiveseveN at a drastically reduced price with slightly cheaper ammo.
The PS90 to me is an atrocity as two of the biggest things that make the P90 what it is, the extremely high rate of fire and maneuverability, are taken away with semi-auto only and a ridiculous looking 16” barrel. One good thing about it is some indoor pistol only ranges MAY allow you to shoot them there , but I can’t think of too much beyond that. For short range plinking a .22 caliber GSG-5 will serve you better for a fraction of the price, and if you need a higher capacity get a semi-auto calico, twice the capacity of the p90 in .22LR or 9mm. I haven’t shot a civ version personally but I haven’t heard of anyone that shoots one that seriously, it’s a gun designed for short range and if you want to go long get a carbine in a rifle cartridge. Both the FiveseveN and PS90 are the kind of guns you have just to have, absolutely nothing wrong with that, but let’s not exaggerate their practicality on the range.
The other application is defense. We’ll start with concealed carry and the FiveseveN (not too many people CC’ing a PS90, at least I hope not). It’s a pretty large pistol for this application but people manage to do it with all sorts of double stack full size guns so it’s certainly viable. For defense the main argument I hear is the 5.7s excellent penetration, which is a horrible argument for a few reasons. First of all with the ammo you can buy as Joe Operator, its penetration is going to be equal to if not worse than your everyday 9mm, .40 or .45. Second of all, if you are firing a gun in public it’s probably best it NOT penetrate any more than it has to, added with its high capacity, 25 tiny bullets flying past that guy who just pulled his Hi Point on you into the crowded Popeye’s behind may not be as good as a few good ol’ 230 grain .45s lobbed towards the offender. Thirdly, what position has anyone been in where they have to defend themselves from someone wearing body armor? It would likely either be a cop (tip: it’s bad to shoot cops) or some crazed militia member, either way they will also be well armed and if you are paranoid to this degree you should probably be carrying a .44mag or a .600 nitro revolver in case an armored bear attacks. All in all it gets the job done but I fail to see its advantage over any CZ, Sig or even another FN in a “normal caliber” for a lower price.
As far as home defense goes pistols and small caliber semi-auto smgs are bad choices no matter what, but once again extra penetration is the last thing you want in your own home. Just do yourself a favor and get a cheap
shotgun CARBINE, it’s better than any handgun for every situation you may encounter in your home, and if you are considering one of the 5.7 guns you can buy a nice Mossberg BCM for the price of a week’s worth of ammo for your PS90.
For every application it basically comes down to the same thing, it’s not a practical caliber for the civilian market. If having these guns makes you feel like James Bond more power to you, the “fun to own” aspect is big in guns, especially if you already have a nice collection of all the basics. But no amount of gel tests or video game cameos will make them a truly practical gun that no one should go without, they will remain cool range toys and conversation pieces. Next week: AK47 vs AR15 settled once and for all, until then, stay frosty.