FN Five-seveN USG 5.7x28mm Semi-Auto Pistol

 

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

August 15th, 2009

 

 

 

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FNs 5.7x28mm cartridge has been around for over fifteen years now, and the cartridge has proven to have merit as to the task for which it was originally developed, that being a lightweight, low recoil projectile designed to penetrate soft and hard personal body armor. Made for up close and personal military applications from a compact fully-automatic weapon, the five-seven delivers. However, the cartridge is offered in a modern semi-automatic pistol also, and that is the subject of this piece. I reviewed the PS-90 carbine a few months ago, and Frank James also reviewed the carbine on Gunblast.com a couple of years back., but now we are looking at the 5.7 cartridge and the handgun which fires it; the Five-seveN USG pistol.

As a handgun cartridge, the 5.7 round is an interesting concept. I have often recommended the .22 Winchester Magnum handgun to folks who write to me asking advice on a defensive handgun, when there are physical problems which do not allow the user to handle a cartridge with even moderate recoil, such as a .38 Special revolver or a 9mm pistol. The .22 Magnum penetrates better than a .38 Special in flesh, and the light recoil makes hitting the target repeatedly a lot easier than with a heavier-recoiling cartridge, for people who have weak hands or crippling arthritis. Even for those of us with normal strength in our hands and wrists, the .22 Magnum cartridge, fired from a hand gun, is a pretty good choice for many applications. The 5.7x28mm cartridge is very similar to the .22 Magnum cartridge in application, but offers even better performance.

The Five-seveN is not a small handgun at all. It is a full-sized pistol, but could be concealed with a proper holster. Still, it is better suited to fit a duty holster, and is an ideal size for a house gun. The Five-seveN is not heavy, weighing in at 23.1 ounces with an empty magazine in place. Speaking of magazines, the Five-seveN comes with three of them. Thanks FN. Every new auto pistol should come with at least two, and supplying this pistol with three is a good practice. Carrying the Five-seveN fully loaded with the two spares gives the owner sixty-one cartridges at his disposal. Each magazine holds twenty cartridges. The weapon is easy to hold, the controls are easy to operate, and the recoil is relatively mild. The safety is in an unusual, but very handy, location on the frame just above the trigger, and it is ambidextrous for easy operation with either hand. The safety is easily reached by the trigger finger, or with the thumb of the support hand. In addition to this manual safety, there is also a magazine safety that renders the pistol inoperable with the magazine removed. The slide release is on the left side, and pushes downward to close the slide. The magazine release is large, easy to operate, and is reversible. There is a special tool provided with the pistol to reverse the mag release, if desired. The sights are easy to see, and drift adjustable on the test gun, but fully adjustable sights and also night sights are offered as well.

Shooting the Five-seveN was a pleasure, as recoil is pretty light. It is a loud pistol, but no more so than other centerfire defensive cartridges. I would like to see this pistol offered with a threaded barrel to easily attach a sound suppressor. That would greatly lower the sound signature of the weapon, and would be welcome when fired indoors. Still, the muzzle blast is no louder than most pistols, and again, the recoil is light. The trigger pull measured a very smooth four and one-quarter pounds on the test pistol, and hitting human silhouette targets in the kill zone in rapid fire at twenty-five yards was easy. The test gun proved to be very reliable. I encountered one failure-to-feed early on, but after that, the pistol performed flawlessly. I tried several different commercial loads from the Five-seveN from both FNH and Elite Ammunition. FNH currently offers only one load to the general public, but it is a good one, using a 40 grain polymer-tipped jacketed bullet. That load also proved to be the most accurate tested, grouping into one and five-eighths inches at twenty-five yards using a hand-held rested position. Elite offers a wide variety of loaded ammunition to fit various needs. Chronograph and accuracy testing was done at a temperature of around ninety degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of eighty-five percent; typical muggy Tennessee Valley Summertime. Velocity readings were taken ten feet from the muzzle. Velocity readings are listed in feet-per-second (fps). Bullet weights are listed in grains. Accuracy is the average of five-shot groups at twenty-five yards, measured from center to center of the farthest two bullet holes in each group.

AMMUNITION BULLET WEIGHT VELOCITY ACCURACY
Elite PenetraTOR 55 1464 3.375"
Elite ProtecTOR  40 2009 3.000"
Elite VarminTOR 36 2104 2.500"
Elite Ultra RapTOR 28 2518 2.875"
Elite IlluminaTOR 53.5 1470 3.125"
FNH SS195 LF 27.5 2040 3.250"
FNH SS197 SR 40 1749 1.625"

As can be seen from the information in the chart, accuracy varies greatly depending upon the ammo chosen, but this accuracy applies to the one test gun only, and accuracy can vary from weapon to weapon, so experimenting with various loads is recommended, as one gun might shoot a particular load well, while a like gun might prefer another. Anyway, ammo for the Five-seveN is readily available, and is pretty easy to find online. It is also less expensive than most centerfire defensive ammo. I paid $21 per box for the FN ammo, purchasing it online from www.grafs.com, and they had plenty in stock the last time that I checked.

The Five-seveN pistol fills a unique niche, and within that niche it has no competition. It holds three times as many cartridges as does the AMT Automag II, which is a semi-auto .22 magnum pistol. The Five-seveN also packs a bigger punch, yet is still easily controllable. For anyone that needs a defensive pistol that offers light recoil but good penetration and explosive expansion, depending upon the ammo fed it, the Five-seveN is a good choice.

Check out this and other FN products online at www.fnhusa.com.

For the location of an FN dealer near you, click on the DEALER LOCATOR at www.lipseys.com.

To order the Five-seveN online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.

To order the Elite Ammunition online, go to www.eliteammunition.com.

To order the high quality handgun rest, go to www.targetshooting.com.

Jeff Quinn

 

For a list of dealers where you can buy this gun, go to: To buy this gun online, go to:

 

Accuracy testing was done using a Target Shooting, Inc. handgun rest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pistol comes with sturdy hard plastic case, cable lock, instructions, three magazines, and magazine release tool.

 

 

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

FN Five-seveN USG 5.7x28mm semi-auto pistol.

 

 

 

 

Disassembly is quick and easy.

 

 

 

 

Recoil spring surrounds barrel.

 

 

 

 

Safety is ambidextrous and easy to use.

 

 

Slide lock release lever.

 

 

Sights are snag-free, high-visibility "three-dot" configuration.

 

 

Picatinny accessory rail.

 

 

Magazine release is reversible.

 

 

Loaded chamber indicator.