Excellence in Self-Defense: FN’s Five-seveN Pistol

Which pistol—ideal for concealed carry, home defense, or just shooting enjoyment—has low recoil, features a 20-round magazine capacity, and is lightweight, effective, totally reliable, and nearly impervious to elements? Answer: the FNH-USA’s 5.7x28mm Five-seveN—a pistol that hasn’t gotten all the recognition it deserves.

Originally developed as a military PDW (Personal Defense Weapon) cartridge for the P90 bullpup series of shoulder arms, the 5.7×28 is compact enough to fit in the standard size handgun envelope. Its pressure level is low enough so that both the P90s and the Five-seveN pistols are blowback operated. Neither gun has ever jammed or otherwise failed to function—ever.

Ballistics are impressive. I used a product called “The Bullet Test Tube” (www.thebullettesttube.com) to determine ballistic capability. Using the Federal 40-grain blue tip VMAX bullet, which cleared the Five-seveN’s muzzle at 1717 FPS, the 5.7 round produced a permanent wound channel that was nearly identical to that produced by a Winchester Ranger 127-gr. +P+ 9mm load. The 5.7 penetrated a half inch deeper than the 9mm. The testing took away any of my hesitation concerning the capability of the 5.7×28 round.

Federal, under its American Eagle banner, is also producing an affordable 40-grain FMJ for practice and plinking. It produced a bit more sedate 1615 fps from my current test pistol, but is priced lower than the 5.7 defensive load. Firing either round is, for lack of a better word, cool. One gets the recoil of the .22 LR combined with the blast and oomph of a centerfire load. It is an easy cartridge for beginners to handle.

Five-seveN Pistol Specs

As far as the Five-seveN pistol itself is concerned, it is a modern marvel of design and engineering. While the entire pistol appears to be constructed entirely of polymer, only the frame is. The slide is steel—but has a polymer cover—which gives the Five-seveN a continuity of appearance and protection not found on any other polymer-frame combat pistol. Despite the length of the 5.7×28 cartridge, the grip is comfortable and fits most hands. Pushing straight in activates the squared magazine release button, and the polymer magazine falls free easily. There is a magazine safety that prevents the pistol from firing without the magazine in place. The slide release is low profile, but allows easy control.

The Five-seveN is a true striker-fired single-action design. There is no safety built in to the trigger itself; instead there is an ambidextrous finger-activated safety located on the frame above the trigger. Lever up for safe, and lever down to fire. The takedown button is located above the front of the trigger guard. There is a Picatinny rail at the front of the frame. On the slide to the left and rear of the ejection port is a silver, loaded chamber indicator button. The sights are three dot affairs, and the rear is fully adjustable.

What distinguishes the Five-seveN from any other sidearm is its long-range capability. It thrives at extended ranges—100 yards and further. Its high velocity, low recoil and excellent trigger (about 4 pounds weight or less) keep the flat shooting round right on target.

The Five-seveN really deserves consideration and a more prominent place in shooters’ holsters. It is currently residing in a BLACKHAWK! Omega VI Ultra holster as my primary duty weapon, where it replaces both my standard duty pistol and carbine for most occasions. MSRP is $1200.

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