Wednesday, January 25, 2012


In 1990, FN introduced the FN P90 personal defense weapon and in 1998, the FN Five-seven, trademarked as the Five-seveN. I'm gonna call it the 57, just so I don't have to type so many characters for this post.

So the 57 pistol has been around for roughly 13 years. As far as I am aware, there is no other handgun (save for the proposed but as yet unseen in retail stores or even advance reviews, the humongous Excel MP-5.7) chambered in this caliber. As I've mentioned in a previous post about the 57, unfortunately, all questions regarding it's effectiveness and lethality as a weapon were answered with the heinous acts of terrorism at Fort Hood.

Still, I'd like to have a handgun shooting a rifle cartridge that's not a single shot (such as the Thompson Contenders) or a revolver (such as a Ruger Blackhawk chambered in .30 caliber). Specifically, a normal sized handgun (Not a cut down AK-47, AK-74 or AR-15) that is a mixture of polymer and steel and that is capable of shooting several hundred yards or through barricades at attackers.

And it got me to thinking, two companies that would be totally capable of doing justice to the 5.7 x 28mm round are Glock and Kel-Tec. Witness Kel-Tex's PMC-30, which has at or near the size handgrip needed to hold the 5.7 round. It would require some reworking of the size of the Glock handgrip, and I'm sure all of this R&D is expensive,  but in my circle of shooting friends, it would be much more likely any of us would purchase a pistol chambered for this round if it ran between $500 and $600.

Kel-Tec's PMC-30 is often mentioned as sort of a poor man''s or a junior 57 pistol. While the Kel-Tec and the 57 both share the ability to carry 30 rounds in a magazine, the 5.7 x 28mm round so dwarfs the .22 WMR in performance that  one need only view the evidence of the tumbling effect of the 5.7 x 28mm bullet upon target impact  to see just how powerful this particular round is. 

As an aside, my personal experience with the PMC-30 has been nothing short of excellent. One failure to feed on the second round of the first magazine fired has been the only issue, and that was many magazines ago.

Of course, for a round like the 5.7 x 28mm, you want some sights that do the gun justice, as the PMC-30 features,  and other updates to the design, but it seems to a novice like me that you're halfway there with your frame design for the elongated 22 WMR cartridge, Kel-Tec.

Kel-Tec is building some mighty interesting guns. A new hot rod bull pup hi-cap shotgun, a dandy 5.56 rifle that not only takes standard AR mags but also folds in half for transport and features an integral foregrip/bipod a'la the Steyr Scout rifle. I'd like to have one of each, please. I've seen and held the rifle at a LGS, but the shotgun has yet to appear on the scene. I'd like to give the rifle a shot, noting that it's chambered for an easy shooting 5.56 round.

Glock, on the other hand, has messed just a wee bit with the basic design from "Generation One" to the current Generation Four guns. The new Glocks haven't grabbed me yet, and I've tried the different grips and such. I'm still liking the Third Generation design and feel. Not to mention function, fit and even now, the form. 

Glock has built guns to shoot high pressure cartridges like the 10mm, and I am perfectly confident that the designers at Glock could build an excellent pistol in this caliber, using the same Glock firing mechanism that people either love or hate. Perhaps build a Glock in 5.7 x 28mm on a longslide frame, or even just a standard frame. One thing though...make a rail optional, or better yet, removeable by allen head bolts to the frame.

Other than the high price of $1100 in my neck of the woods for the FN 57, I'm interested in the pistol. I don't care much for the rail, which seems like it would make uncomfortable what has been called here in Texas for many years as the "Mexican Carry" method, which involves simply sticking the gun in your pants waist sans holster.

I know that this method of carry is not recommended, nor do I recommend it to you. But there have been moments and times in my life when it has been necessary to carry a handgun  in this manner for a short period of time. And for the same reasons I don't want rails on my 1911's, Browning Hi Power, revolvers or any other pistol.

You can get a 57 with either fixed or adjustable sights, and it would seem like someone interested in distance shooting might want the adjustable sights due to the incredible range the 57 is capable of, which with the proper ammunition is stated by FN to be about 200 yards maximum effective distance,  fired by a handheld shooter I asssume.
Which brings me to the point. I wonder why Glock or Kel-Tec or another gun maker with some vision has not entered into the fray by designing their own pistol in this caliber?  If anyone from their camps stumbles across this post, I'll say it again: Amongst my friends and fellow shooters who have discussed the 57, it's just the price keeping most of us away from the FN 57.

H&K was competing against FN with a caliber of their own, very similar in size but not performance to the 5.7 x 28mm, and both were vying to be the universal NATO replacement for the 9mm being used today. But I know H&K is capable of uniquely designing guns, and I know they could do this cartridge justice with a great handgun design.

As with other unanswered marketing questions regarding guns, such as why Glock has never made a subcompact single stack 9mm or a hi-cap 22 caliber factory pistol (not a conversion), it's a mystery to me why other gun makers have not decided to compete with the 57.

Even though Glock could sell as many single stack 9mm pistols as they could make for the first couple of years if the grip and slide were just a bit slimmer, they haven't seen fit to market a pistol of this nature.

Wiki says that Excel Firearms has 4 firearms in development in the 5.7 x 28mm caliber, and that Savage has two bolt action rifles in the works. So that's encouraging news that other gun makers have recognized the viability of this round after several decades. A quick look at the Excel new products page shows the MP 5.7, a bohemouth of a handgun that reminds more of a Desert Eagle or an AutoMag than the FN 57. Whereas the 57 comes in at just over 20 oz. unloaded, the Excel handgun weighs in at a whopping 54 oz, more than twice the weight.

Given that the 57 allegedly has 30% less recoil than the standard 9mm cartridge, such a heavyweight pistol might not be necessary as with stronger calibers like the .357 or .44 WMR varieties. Or at least it's been my experience that with the more stout calibers, more weight to the gun equals less felt recoil. Although I have yet to shoot the 5.7 x 28mm caliber, from all reports, it has recoil more like a .22 Hornet than anything else.

The videos I've seen of it being shot remind more of the Kel-Tec PMC-30 in .22 WMR than other centerfire handguns and their recoil.

I've rarely seen used 57's for sale, despite the fact they've been available to USA civilians since 2004. One review said they were selling about 23k of them per year, so you'd think you'd see some on the used side of the gun store every now and then. When I first got to handle one, it felt a bit odd, about like the first time I handled the Model 21 Glock in .45 ACP. It was, of course, different than any other handgun I'd felt, and I've owned and shot some of what are considered unusual firearms in my time.

After having shot the Kel-Tec PMC-30 now for some time, I can honestly say that the grip of the 57 doesn't seem that unusual now. Unfortunately, the price of the 57 has remained out of my practical reach, barring a trade in of some sort, and I'm not sure I have any firearms I'd like to trade.

I've only seen one used 57 that was reasonably priced , and it was last August and was priced at $800 in a pawn shop in a bad part of town. A quick bore light inspection and look inside showed a gun that had been shot quite a bit that appeared to have never been cleaned. The bore was pitted and looked as if someone had done some scraping with a screwdriver or similar object inside the barrel. In short, it wasn't in a condition I wanted to buy at any price.

For new 57's, Cabela's sells them for $1100, except this month they have $50 off that price. I've seen them priced in the high $900's in some of the more reasonable gun stores here in Texas, but basically it's a thousand dollar pistol.  I'm not seriously in the market enough for one to look on GB or any of the other gun auction sites, but I might be soon.

I like the idea of having a semi-automatic pistol that can shoot 31 rounds of rifle velocity ammo that is designed to tumble upon impact. I could even tolerate the high cost of ammo for these guns. I'd just like to be able to justify affording the gun.

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