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[Review] FN Five-SeveN: High Speed & Low Recoil

The FN Five-seveN - a source of memes, legend, and lore. Using a cartridge straight out of the Cold War in a pistol that looks like it came out of the future, we'll take a look at the real thing and see if it lives up to the hype!

Putting a pistol caliber cartridge in a rifle is easy…but a rifle round in a pistol?  Now that takes a bit more effort…

In a world of 9mm AR-15s and 10mm carbines, ammo is no longer confined to it’s standard “handgun” or “rifle” designation.

(L to R) 22LR, 9mm, Five-Seven, 5_56
(L to R) .22LR, 9mm, Five-Seven, 5.56

While rifles chambered in classic handgun rounds seem to be all the craze right now, we seem to forget that the opposite exists…kind of.  Although not exactly a rifle round, the FN 5.7x28mm cartridge is also not quite a pistol round either.

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Prices accurate at time of writing

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Clearly, the Five-seveN is truly a unicorn of the gun world.  It is a lightweight polymer pistol that shoots FN’s own 5.7x28mm round.

Five-SeveN Glammar Shot
Five-SeveN Sure is a Nice Looking Gun!


When NATO requested an alternative to the 9x19mm round, FN Herstal was the first to respond, presenting the 5.7x28mm cartridge.  The 5.7 round was originally developed for the P90 until the Five-SeveN pistol went into production in 1998.

FN P90
FN P90

In the early 2000s, NATO conducted a series of tests with the goal of standardizing a personal defense weapon round and replacing the iconic 9mm.

The 5.7x28mm surely impressed—it was highly effective, performed at extreme temperatures, and could even be manufactured on the same production lines as the loved 5.56x45mm NATO round.

Ballistic Details

  • Effective range when shot from a Five-SeveN: 55 yards (maximum range of 1651 yards!)
  • Total Weight: 6.0 grams=93 grains (half the weight of a 9mm)
  • Projectile Mass: 28-40 gains
  • Velocity: 2,350 ft/s (FN 28gn, JHP)

The Design

The Five-SeveN is a full-sized pistol and a compact-sized weight.  It has a nearly completely polymer frame, with some small steel internal components.

While the grip is considerably thinner than most full-sized pistols and a bit long, which could be a bit uncomfortable for some hand sizes, it features ambidextrous controls that are conveniently placed for thumb or trigger finger manipulation.

Although the grip can feel a bit odd at first because it is so untraditional, it grew on me as I manipulated the gun and actually shot it.

Adjustable rear sights for both windage and elevation, which is important because of the round’s uncommon ballistics.

Since the 5.7×28 cartridge is so small it is easy to fit a lot of ammo into a single magazine, especially when using a double stack-double feed design.

Five-SeveN Mag
Five-SeveN 20 Round Magazine

The design of the magazines is equally brilliant and lightweight.  They hold 20 rounds and load in a similar fashion to standard AR magazines–you simply push the round straight down instead of maneuvering it in and under like in most pistol magazines.

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The Five-SeveN is also easy to disassemble with a simple takedown lever. 

Range Time

Shooting the Five-SeveN is an absolute BLAST.

Imagine the almost non-existent recoil of a .22 LR juxtaposed with the noise of an AR.  The first few shots fascinated me yet confused me.

I had never shot anything like it and could easily tell it is one-of-a-kind.  

Five-SeveN in hand
Five-SeveN in hand

The lightweight frame makes for a comfortable range session while magazines are a breeze to load.

Sadly the rigger is not the greatest but features a pretty crisp break and moderate pull weight, my groups were pretty consistent with how I would normally shoot a handgun; maybe slightly better at longer ranges – likely due to the high velocity of the 5.7 ammo.

I could see this gun being liked across the spectrum, from novice shooters to seasoned vets.

Looks and Accessories

The Five-SeveN has a sleek and almost futuristic look to it.  It comes in either an all-black finish or a tan frame and black slide (my personal favorite).

The rail can be outfitted with a flashlight and aftermarket night sights are available for purchase as well.

Threaded barrels do exist for this gun and I can only imagine what a great time it would be shoot suppressed.

FN 5.7 Suppressed, source: IMFDB.com


The 5.7x28mm cartridge was designed to meet a goal and in that role it is unequaled – but the Cold War is over and the need for armor penetration in an EDC is limited at best.

There is quite a bit of debate surrounding the topic of whether the Five-SeveN can be used as an effective carry gun:

Five-SeveN with Ammo and Mag 2
Five-SeveN with 5.7x28mm Ammo and 20 Round Magazine

On the pro side, it is extremely lightweight, has a decently heavy trigger pull and safety, very high magazine capacity, and effective stopping power.

Looking at the cons we have expensive to shoot ammo that is only available in FMJ, and the high possibility of over penetration due to such a fast round.

As with most things, it is a personal choice as to whether this is a viable carry gun or just a fun range toy to make your friends jealous.  However, we tend to be on the side of the fence that says there are Better Options for Full-Size EDC.

By the Numbers

Ergonomics 4/5

Nice grip texture, super lightweight, but an oddly shaped grip could be uncomfortable for some.

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at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

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Accuracy 4.5/5

Better than most handguns, especially at longer ranges.

Reliability 5/5

I had no issues with it jamming, ever.  After doing some research I did not conclude that there were any known reliability issues and NATO testing definitely backs up the effectiveness of the round.

Customization 3/5

This category is lacking a bit because the gun is not very common and the design is unique.  It might just be better to leave it as it comes from the factory and trust FN’s creative design.

It does have a rail though, so you can at the very least put a light on the Five-seveN — remember, you can’t hit what you can’t see! Since this is a full-sized gun, I like a full-sized light like the StreamLight TLR-1 HL.

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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Looks 4/5

I like the almost futuristic and very sleek look, but it does not necessarily look special, especially for the price.

Price 2/5

This is the real kicker.  The actual gun is expensive and the ammo also expensive.  While it could make a great splurge purchase, it is not exactly a cheap plinker.

Scrooge McDuck
If This Is You, The Five-seveN Might Be For You…

Overall 4/5

Really the only downside to this gun is the price, not only out the door of your FFL but also in trying to keep it fed. 

at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

There is also the fact that although 5.7x28mm was a perfect solution the problem it was designed for – there just isn’t much of a need for it currently.

But, if you have the money and the desire, it will always turn heads at the range.


The FN Five-SeveN is a fantastic, highly underrated pistol. It has beautiful accuracy, sleek styling, and bomb-proof reliability. The downside? Both the gun and the exotic ammo are on the pricey side. However, we feel that the Five-SeveN is well worth it.

If you have the chance to shoot a Five-SeveN, you should.  It is unlike any gun I have ever shot and is truly a remarkable weapon.

The unicorn of the polymer pistol world is definitely not for everyone but has surely caught the attention of many.  An amazing combination of a lightweight frame, high-speed but low recoil round, and loud bang come together to make the FN Five-SeveN noteworthy and intriguing.

Do you have a Five-SeveN? Plan on getting one?  Let us know in the comments!  Check out more of our favorite guns & gear in Editor’s Picks.

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38 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Clint Easywood

    Drinking and internet. Trying to swear off pocket knives, thought this would help do the trick. Bought 2 boxes of SS195LF on the spot, next day went to the local tactical shop. They were out, but put me on the call list. Called me back a couple weeks ago, background cleared this week and I brought her home. I have pocket knives that cost more than this with the ammo. Can't afford to even think about a watch collection. The biggest advance in ammunition in my life. .308, .223, 9mm, .45 have been around forever. All but one of those existed before there was a jet engine on an airplane. Goes well with P210 10mm. Finished cleaning the bore from preservative oil, heading out now to squeeze off a few 5.7x28's for the first time. From the onset I bought just one pocket knife, a Grimsmo Rask. They drew my name after 2 years and it wasn't the black acid washed blade, thank heaven! Apparently not stopping pocket knives cold turkey! Enjoy your passions gents and Lexi.

    April 1, 2023 3:37 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    James Hande

    I'm an old fart with disabilities especially my shooting wrist. I've never owned a hand gun before but now considering one for self defense. I'm afraid of the recoil and over penetration of a 9mm. A 22 to weak, so I started looking into a .380, a lot of mixed reviews. I'm now leaning heavily towards the 5.7 for self and home defense. I'm not so worried regarding cost, I'm not planning on spending months at a range or on my friends farm constantly shooting at targets. Yes I will practice and get consistent with it just like I had to with my M16A1.

    January 27, 2023 11:58 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Doug Jordan

    Found one at my LGS. Intrigued by the piece and the ammo. Typically a Sig guy but this had me doing my homework. Went in today for some hands on. Fell in love with it!!. Put a down payment on it basically incase I have buyers remorse which is not happening So........ back to the gunshop in a few days to pick it up. Super excited to get this piece to the range

    November 16, 2022 5:15 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Dennis Leighton

    If price is an issue for buying something your life might depend on, you’re not serious enough, and any el-cheapo will do.
    If you’re serious and still think it’s too expensive, take out a mortgage on your house. Then buy a Five seveN!

    April 17, 2022 1:22 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    The round was literally designed not to overpenetrate. it's how it was designed. That's what the ballistics were centered around ( aside from soft armor penetration). The bullet is meant to tumble on impact which reduces the likelihood of overpenetration far more than something like an incredibly unreliable hollow point. That was one of the reasons why the secret service chose the P90.

    January 11, 2022 9:20 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Specs and tech reviews about range, power, penetration and so on exist on the FN Five-seveN, so what I can render are some details of my own experience with the pistol. About the gun itself: yes, as the Pew Pew review says, the FN Five-seveN is very light as a full-size pistol thanks to the mostly polymer build, has very low recoil, and a rather loud report however. Fits very comfortably in hand: while I need a glove size XL, people with smaller hands told me after handling this pistol that it feels very comfortable for them. Finish and manufacturing are very good quality, do not let the apparently rough plastic appearance mislead you - if this gun somehow showed up in a sci-fi setting, it would look right at home, in my opinion it looks very nice.
    Pricey? Maybe, however for such a nice piece of engineering the price is not out of proportion, especially when compared with things such as 1911s, but in my opinion this is one item that stands on its own in terms of form and features, and such comparisons might be tenuous at best.
    A reviewer on this page commented on the weight of the ammo compared to 9x19 or .45, and indeed a full 5.7x28 magazine barely adds to the weight of the gun, proportionately speaking.
    Speaking of ammo - yes, it is expensive when compared to 9x19. These days, fall 2020, if you can find it, two labels are offered to the public in my experience, apparently the armor-piercing rounds are not available commercially: one is 40 grain Federal American Eagle AE5728A, the other is 40 grain FN-labeled SS197SR; listed muzzle velocity at 2250 fps, and 2050 fps, respectively - however, these numbers might be listed as varying by a few percentage points. Regardless, the ammo makers promise a muzzle velocity at slightly over 2000 fps, according to what you can see on the web today. Ammo, so far, I have seen it in boxes of 50.
    Accuracy is in the hands of the beholder, of course, but the gun itself seems to help a bit in this direction: a relatively long sight radius allows for more consistent aiming, the light recoil doesn't hurt, and fairly tight groups at 25 yards are not unusual even for casual shooters.
    Overall, the FN Five-seveN pistol is a lot of fun to shoot, as its ease of handling and accuracy make for a rewarding range session. Cannot speak for suitability for concealed carry, as this would be a personal decision - however, being that a loaded pistol is so light, the frame and construction overall are so smooth, probably the pistol can serve for carry.

    October 21, 2020 12:28 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    I just ordered my first FN 57 through the military base exchange never shot one always wanted one tried getting a PS 90 they cost too much on auction Gun websites and the Ruger is selling for almost as much as the FN the rigorous new FN take down is like a lot of semi autos that people have been trained With and all the videos I’ve seen make the FN 57 look a lot easier to deal with then something else that is brand new and selling for 2 to 3 times as much as it’s worth.

    July 3, 2020 2:24 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I currently own no less than three Five-seven handguns, and why not! As for how much the gun costs, I don't see any of the gun-rags carping about squandering $1,200 on an overpriced, all-steel 1911 "pattern" pistol with a fancy name! Not to put down the old "slab-sides" but time marches on and it most definitely has for combat handguns as well! The Five-seven is super-light which is the single most important factor in concealment. Size is much easier to conceal than weight which tends to drag the clothing down, or make the gun sag away from the body. Also, the smooth exterior of the Five-seven - save only for the front sight blade, combined with its all-polymer surfaces, makes it easy to carry close to the body or inside clothing. While much is made of the gun's physical dimensions it should be pointed out it's only marginally larger than a Glock 17, while being lighter. Of course no gun is of any use without being loaded and here the Five-seven leaps far ahead! A single round of 5.7x28 weighs less than just one 115 grain 9mm bullet, and two rounds for every .45 auto bullet! The 21 ounce Five-seven barely gains any weight with the addition of 20 rounds of 5.7 compared to how hefty becomes the G17 with a full complement of 9x19, and forget about the .45!
    When it comes to effectiveness, one need only examine the Ft. Hood event to know without any doubt whatsoever how lethal is the 5.7x28 cartridge fired from the Five-seven handgun. The goal of all modern antipersonnel handguns is to inflict a wound and "stop" an aggressor, and the 5.7 can do that equally as well as the 9mm or .45, or .40 and any other common-use handgun caliber. What else it brings to the table is the ability to carry hundreds of rounds in spare mags for very little weight, and to fire virtually flat out to 100 meters with little recoil. The number of shots it takes to break a concrete block into pieces has nothing at all to do with what it takes to inflict a rapidly incapacitating, or lethal wound.
    Owning a Five-seven isn't limited to those interested in penetrating body armor, it's also an ideal handgun for women and even kids due to the low recoil, light weight, and reliability!
    The Five-seven is truly the "next step" in antipersonnel handgun rounds - validated just recently by Ruger introducing their own version. Granted it's not going to cover all needs, I still carry some version of all the other calibers when I want something small, but for home defense, the Five-seven makes an outstanding choice, even over a rifle and certainly better than a shotgun!

    April 18, 2020 1:55 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    John Jesme

    BTW, it does make a great home defense weapon with it's bullpup design AND 50 round mag!

    February 13, 2020 5:22 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    John Jesme

    I have both the 57 and the ps 90, love them both. If memory serves correctly, didn't the secret service use the p 90 in the 80's and 90's? Must be a reason. Course they were probably using the 197 ammo. Question, would the p 90 benefit from an 18 or 20" barrel? If so, where would you suggest?

    February 13, 2020 5:11 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Just picked up my new FN 57 today. I was on sale for a great price and my IRS refund made it here before the last on sale date. On top of all that I discovered that FN is offering a $75 rebate for purchases between Feb 1 and March 31. The build quality, fit, and finish are exceptional. I haven’t fired this yet, but i did disassemble for cleaning which was very simple. I am hoping that LULA loaders will offer a mag loader for this that will speed up the process. At last I have one of these after wanting one for more than 10 years.

    February 12, 2020 12:25 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Heya, just picked up my FN 57 today and wanted to thank you for posting about the rebate. I had no idea and am happy to get an extra $75 in my pocket!

      April 10, 2020 2:36 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I personally love the 5.7 pistol and the round as I have owned one since 2004. I have two FN FiveSeven pistols, a PS90, an MPA in 5.7, an AR FiveSeven, and a CMMG Banshee chambered in that round as well. It is certainly one of my favorite rounds and my kids love to shoot them as well.
    I think all of the FN products are worth their price, even though they are expensive. The CMMG is dynamite in a small package as well. Although it’s on the upper end as far as price goes, it’s a superb weapon and I feel it’s worth the price, too.
    I love the velocity and penetration of this caliber as well as the fact that it’s one of the only pistol rounds that can literally fragment and damn near shatter in a soft target. It’s accurate, reliable, and very damaging. I think they are great carry guns if you don’t mind a little bit of bulk although it’s very light for its size. I would love to see a version of this weapon in a package that was designed specifically for civilian concealed carry.

    November 17, 2019 9:32 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    I have 2 FiveseveNs, one black and one earth with black slide. Excellent and reliable, never had an issue with either, and super fun to shoot. I have 2 30 round magazines and 2 10 round magazines for each pistol. Fortunately I got them as payment for a job when he couldn't pay me so they have just been fun things to take out shooting. If you can acquire one in some fashion by all means do not deny it but I'm not sure I would pay the asking price for one let alone two although the guys at the range and store are always happy to see them, excited really, so that's gotta tell you something. As it stands, I'm happy to have them and enjoy shooting them. Once you fire one for yourself you just might think the price is trivial, they are that exciting to shoot, sound and all. They are not what I would use for basic carry yet are wonderful additions to my handgun collection inherited from my LE and military family.

    July 3, 2019 3:40 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Mortimer Snerd

    I agree with Michael. I also have 2 pistols and the PS-90 and I love them. I haven't fired as many rounds, but can confirm no failures so far. It is one of the easiest pistols to shoot. It is almost as easy as the PMR-30. I would like to see a good hollow point version that is the biggest reason I don't always carry this pistol. That said I like the option to have 60+ rounds available when I do carry it.

    June 11, 2019 2:52 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    I would go so far as to say the FiveSeveN is ULTRA reliable. I currently own 2 MKII versions - and after over 4k rounds down the pipes, they have never - you read that right - never had a misfire or malfunction of any kind. Being an FFL I did not pay retail for them, but I would work overtime to save up for one for sure. Also - there are now plenty of ammo options out there - from American Eagle 40gr FMJ to the FN Blue-tipped SS197SR, to Elite Ammunition's very effective S4M for personal defense. The blue tip runs $21/box of 50, and occasionally on PSA's site are on sale for $14.99/50 . Not expensive at all to shoot. Not everyone's cup of tea, but a very accurate, reliable pistol that weighs so little carrying it all day is a breeze. That said - 10mm is still my favorite to shoot!!!

    June 1, 2019 4:35 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I'm looking forward to a FiveSeven purchase . Coming in as a new shooter I'm unbiased to it's innovations . I've seen a water bottle explode from 5.7 and only get punched through with .45

    Light recoil , massive stopping power . I'm in

    March 23, 2019 9:39 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    I own one and I love it very cool it replaced my 1911 as my carry weapon love the light weight and the capacity and yes it does turn heads at the range very cool pistol

    October 29, 2018 6:52 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Just had 300 rounds come in. Waiting on my M11-A1 to sell then I'll be adding the 5.7 to my ever growing collection!

    July 31, 2018 5:08 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    2A III%

    Got my 5.7 6 weeks ago, been "looking" since I saw a friend who had one a year ago. Been intrigued ever since. Fired about 80 rounds at the range, 4 days later qualified for my CC permit with it. Great pistol! Looking forward to more range time!

    April 29, 2018 3:51 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    The local range I shoot at had both the five-seven pistol and the P90s for rent. I tried them both. They were only fun to shoot while they actually worked. Both guns constantly jammed on me, and the P90s jammed so bad that they had to take it out of service for their gunsmith to look at. So they both get an F in the reliability department from me.

    April 26, 2018 12:15 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Rented guns are like that, there are several military level tests though showing that both the Five-Seven and the P90 are highly reliable.

      April 26, 2018 1:08 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Andy Gold

      The feds (don't remember if it was Imigration/Customs/Border Patrol) used the P90 a while back and they had issues as well, and ended up getting rid of them. Turns out the failures were due to officers not knowing how to load the magazines. You need to push a cartridge downward while its only half way into the feed lips, and then push it further into the magazine until it stops. What they were doing was loading them like you would an AR magazine. They'd place it squarely over the lips and push it straight down, damaging the feed lips over time. Totally user error, and not an issue with the equipment itself. They also had Steyr AUGs, but they switched from them as well, and they are the epitome of reliability.
      Mine has been 100% reliable. In the almost 10 years I've owned mine, its gone "click" only 3 times, and that's because 3 rounds had no primers or powder in them (AE ammo, and all 3 were in the same box, and subsequently caught in my catch bag mounted below the ejection port). I've never had any issues whatsoever with properly manufactured rounds.

      April 26, 2018 3:45 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Plenty of ammo choices for this. Cheaper to buy the plinking ammo online. for Self Defense SS198 is the best for factory if one can't source or legally own SS190. Also to note, the velocity figures given above are true from the P90 with 10" barrel and is conservative. SS198LF will usually hit a max of 2,2-2275 fps max in the pistol.

    April 24, 2018 5:11 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    J Harris

    I have owned this fantastic weapon for over three years and it is arguably the best shooting experience in the realm of automatic pistols. Pricey yes but deals on ammo can be had.

    April 23, 2018 11:07 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    R Jordan

    This is my favorite carry gun light weight flat shooting and super cool to shoot and be seen with love mine!

    April 23, 2018 3:52 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I enjoy my Fn five seven and I found a case of 500 by Federal American eagle for $160.

    April 23, 2018 2:51 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      $16 a box of 50 is a great price. Care to share where this can be obtained? Thanks!

      April 25, 2018 10:46 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Absolutely love the five seven, it shoots remarkably well and with virtually no recoil, follow up shots are a breeze.
    Now to the topic of ammo, American eagle makes affordable plinking rounds and company's like elite ammunition, R&R weapons, desert ammo supply and many more make top notch defensive ammo that out performs the ss190 that FNH restricts for law enforcement and military use only. If you want to realize the true potential of this firearm pick up some EA T6-B rounds @ over 2200 fps they are impressive to say the least.

    April 23, 2018 9:57 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    I plan to eventually add this firearm to my inventory.

    April 23, 2018 9:04 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Notlaw Nod

    I have absolutely no complaints about ownership of this fire arm as a concealed carry weapon w/high capacity rounds. I just had to go further and put it into a pistol/carbine. This made the hand gun Oprah Winfrey Awesome.

    April 23, 2018 6:33 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    I love my Five-seveN. Mine is strictly a range toy, and I've run Federal in it the entire time and through about 300 rounds haven't had any misfire or misfeeds with it. Anyone I've let shoot it has loved it. Yes, they are pricey, but if you can afford it, I highly recommend it.

    April 23, 2018 6:20 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jay Wolf

    There are plenty of customizing options by Elite Ammunition.

    April 23, 2018 5:21 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Looks very nice and hopefully well made but the price and ammo is out of hand. When someone else make it, and eventually, they will, the price will go down. Then I will buy one. Been looking at it for a while, just waiting

    April 23, 2018 12:28 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Samuel Johnston

    Me and my brother saw this gun for the first time late 2017. He fell in love with it while I felt the grip was too wide. Fast forward to March 2018 with my brother's birthday near, I bought this gun for his birthday present. Along with 4 boxes of FN rounds it was a little more than I wanted to spend.

    After giving him the firearm early, and after shooting it, I too, fell in love. I have looked for this firearm to add to my collection for a month solid and have yet to find one.... If you have the money, enjoy handguns in general, don't pass it up. Its definitely a unique have handgun that will surely spark conversation at the range. Don't forget the cost of the rounds though. Here in the DFW they run about $1 a round or close to it.

    April 22, 2018 10:42 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      daniel passmore

      Buy them online. I have one and am in DFW. I have been buying ammo for about 40 cents a round.

      April 4, 2019 9:05 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    The ammo is also available from FNH w/ a ballistic tip. It's a bit more expensive than the American Eagle FMJ but it does help w/ overpenetration. The ammo is never going to be as cheap as 9mm but online deals can be found.

    April 22, 2018 6:47 pm
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