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

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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.

Most Innovative Handgun
FN Five-seveN

FN Five-seveN

Prices accurate at time of writing

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!

History

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.

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

Practicality

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.

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.

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.  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.

Final Thoughts

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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Trey
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Trey

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

Byron
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Byron

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!

2A III%
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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!

Terry
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Terry

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.

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

Andy Gold
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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… Read more »

Buffman-Range
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Buffman-Range

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.