What’s up with the 5.7 Resurgence?

The 5.7x28mm has seen a remarkable resurgence in the past few years, but why?

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Jul 2023

The FN 5.7x28mm cartridge first hit the market over 30 years ago and almost died out but, in the past few years, has seen a remarkable jump in popularity. Why? 

NATO origins

Stemming from a new handgun and personal defense weapon (PDW) program that NATO countries looked to in the late 1980s to replace 9mm pistols and submachine guns with something that was both easier to shoot in terms of felt recoil and more ballistically effective against new generations of Soviet and Warsaw Pact body armor and protective helmets, the 5.7×28 was small, with a tiny 23-to-40 grain bullet on a casing that was shorter than a 5.56 NATO round.

However, it had such a high velocity that the initial SS190 AP round was able to penetrate Kevlar vests and helmets out to 200 yards. When fired from the 20+1 capacity Five-seveN pistol or 50+1 capacity select-fire P90 SMG, the platforms and the cartridge they shot were seen as modern in the extreme when they debuted in 1990 and saw some– limited– military and LE adoption.

The FN five seven
The FN five seven

Coming to America

While some federal LE agencies (the Secret Service and Federal Protective Service for example) adopted the full-flavor P90/SS190 combo for counter-ambush contingencies, the American commercial market was left with the “civilian legal” 16-inch barreled semi-auto only USG (U.S. Government) models of the PS90 sporting carbine and the Five-seveN pistol with the downloaded commercial SS192 JHP load. As the guns were common in a variety of sci-fi and game franchises including Stargate, Battlestar Galactica, Call of Duty and Far Cry, they had enough built-in demand with gun nerds to keep FN selling a few pallets of the guns every year.

The company even introduced a Mark 2 update to the Five-seveN and PS90 RD, TR, and Mark 2 updates to the PS90 along with moderately improved SS195LF, SS196SR, SS197SR, and AE5728A ammo loads marketed by FN (although produced by Fiocchi and distributed by Federal).

However, by 2019, even this was getting old and the round– as well as the two guns chambered for it– was waning into just becoming a curio.

That’s when FN’s hold on the 5.7 was smashed.

Then came Ruger...

While a few companies were making small batches of guns in 5.7 other than FN (for example, Excel Arms’ MP-57 series, which debuted in 2012) the caliber was staked out by FN and FN alone. That was until SHOT Show 2020 when Ruger popped up with the new Ruger 57 pistol chambered in, well, you know.

The big deal there was that Ruger had the manufacturing chops to make tens of thousands of new guns whereas FN only sprinkled a few of their own (much more expensive) pistols on the market.

The Ruger 57
The Ruger 57

Nobody saw it coming and the Ruger 57 soon became a hit with the public, flying off the shelves. So much so that Ruger introduced the 57 PC Carbine soon after, a direct competitor for the PS90 (again, at a much lower cost).

Speaking of a PS90 competitor, Diamondback Firearms then debuted their innovative DBX platform that really should get more attention, while CMMG developed 5.7 compatible variants of their Banshee, the MK57.

The Diamondback DBX
The Diamondback DBX

Now, you’ve got companies like Smith & Wesson jumping on the bus with the M&P57 and Palmetto State Armory’s new Rock pistol in the caliber (be sure to check out our upcoming review on that bad boy) which keep trimming the cost even further.

The M&P 5.7
The M&P 5.7

Plus, you have Fiocchi now marketing 5.7 ammo under their own banner– in both bulk packs and subsonic loads– as Federal and Speer are also bringing loads to the market as well.

As the once hard-to-find round gets more market penetration and more people get a chance to shoot it in more platforms, its light recoil, hyper accuracy out to 100 yards, and decent terminal performance (much better than .22 WMR which it is often incorrectly compared to), folks are warming up to it.

The days of FN having a stranglehold on the 5.7 have come and gone — and now, with the gloves off, the round is fast becoming one of the most popular out there.

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