FNH USA Five-seveN Pistol 5.7x28mm

When the original version of the FNH USA Five-seveN first…

When the original version of the FNH USA Five-seveN first appeared in the mid-to-late 1990s, it was not sold to civilians. Its marvelous little high-speed cartridge (the SS-190 load) had a steel core. Moving at 2050 feet per second (fps), it easily penetrated auto bodies and body armor. It was, of course, available only to law enforcement agencies.

The Five-seveN (it’s neat, the way the put ‘FN’ into the model name) has also been called the IOM (Individual Officer Model) and USG (for US Government). It is presently in use by several agencies, which at this time, I cannot specify. Finally, in October of 2005, with a few slight design changes and different ammo, the pistol was offered on the commercial market.

The 5.7x28mm is a marvelous little cartridge. In case you were wondering, 5.7mm translates to .224 in US measurement. The previously mentioned steel-core bullet version is identified by a black-painted tip. The two loads hat I used in test-firing the Five-seveN included the SS197SR “Sporting” load with a 40-grain Hornady V-Max bullet, velocity 1700 fps.

The other load was the SS195LF, the letters stand for Lead-Free, in reference to the primer. The bullet in this one has an aluminum core, and velocity is listed at 2030 fps. Another load, not tested, is the SS193 Subsonic, moving at 980 fps, for use with an attached suppressor.

004Gun Details
Now, let’s look at the pistol. The dimensions are fully “duty-size”, definitely not a compact. Even so, it is not bulky. Given the 1.592-inch overall length of the cartridge, you might think the front-to-back grip frame measurement would make the trigger reach excessive. This is not so because trigger backstrap distance is only 2.75 inches, exactly the same as an issue M9 Beretta.

The Five-seveN’s construction follows the modern trend with a polymer frame and magazine, and the rest fine steel. Magazines have a steel insert at the feed lips. The magazine holds 20 rounds and the alternate feed delivery makes it easy to load. The release button is in the usual location and is reversible.

The slide latch is at the top of the grip on the left side. The manual safety, located above the trigger, has levers on both sides. The left one is easily operated by the thumb of the supporting hand, and the one on the right by the trigger finger, the off-safe movement is downward and a red dot is exposed.

The grip frame has good molded checkering and cross-grooving, and the hold is excellent. On the frontstrap just below the guard there is a single slight swell, not quite a finger-groove that aids control. The front of the guard is not hooked, but there s cross-grooving. For those who want to hang a light or a laser, the front extension of the frame has a full Picatinny rail.

I tried the excellent M3 Tactical Illuminator, and it stayed firmly in place. The dual switches were in easy reach of the rigger finger. The two switch positions give you a choice, instant on/off or fully on. I have never been a fan of hanging on lights, but this does make a marvelously useful rig. I also examined an even smaller light unit from Insight Technology, the SSL-1 with a rubber-sealed (thus waterproof) battery compartment.

The sights on the Five-seveN are the familiar three-white dots type, and the picture is square post and notch. The dot on the front sight is slightly larger than the ones flanking the rear notch, and this helps in quick acquisition. The rear sight is fully adjustable.

005The pistol is not striker-fire, it has a pivoting internal hammer. This contributes to a nice trigger pull. There is about 0.13 of an inch take-up, a crisp 4.5-pound pull, and absolutely no over-travel. For an “on-duty” type non-target pistol, this is remarkable. The wide trigger has vertical ridges, but they’re not deep, so not annoying.

The locking system is very unusual. The barrel movement is level, and the locking piece in the frame rolls over to the rear. It’s a smooth system, and a good one. There is an automatic internal firing pin block. When the chamber is loaded a small bright pin protrudes on the left side of the slide where it can be seen, or felt in the dark.

Shots Fired
With the two factory loads mentioned earlier, I tried the Five-seveN at 25 yards from a casual rest. The smallest group measured 2.25 inches, and the largest 3 inches. All were well-centered and without any malfunctions. Aside from the FN quality, bottle-necked cartridges rarely misfeed.

003The felt recoil was very light, giving quick recovery for the next shot. Remember, we are launching a very small projectile, and in this universe Mr. Newton’s laws of motion apply. Having established that the pistol is accurate, I wanted to see what the little bullets did on impact, so I lined up several water-filled milk jugs. Four of them. Alas, I miscalculated. With the first shot, the first and second jugs were completely destroyed, the third and fourth had large entry and exit holes, and the bullet disappeared into the downrange backstop. I never got to examine it, and I had no more jugs. We can, I think, agree that the 5.7x28mm is powerful.

With that performance in mind, the Five-seveN might not be the best choice for an inside-the-house gun. For farm or ranch, though, it would be fine. Obviously, it’s perfect for law enforcement. In fact, it is the primary sidearm for quite a number of SWAT units. A final assessment, yes, it’s a little weird…but it’s a nice weird. I like it.

Specifications: FNH USA FIVE-SEVEN
Caliber: 5.7x28mm
Barrel: 4.8 inches
OA Length: 8.2 inches
Weight: 23.3 ounces (empty)
Grips: Polymer
Sights: Fixed 3-dot combat sights with optional self-luminous tritium elements
Action: SA, delayed blowback
Finish: Black
Capacity: Two 20-shot mags
Price: $1180

Load Comments
  • palehorse58

    Nice gun but not able to purchase in the communist state of Connecticut. Magazine holds too many rounds. The powers to be in all their infinite wisdom said that 10 rounds are plenty. Unless you are a body guard for one of the elites.

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  • NICK





  • Alex E

    In order to calm the crowd. I own a FNH 5.7 and a AR 57. I have blue tips and Hollow points. There is very little recoil so fallow up shot are sweet and easy. As of penetrating body armor is a myth. 9mm carry more punch that this round, however the speed is a factor and the accuracy is another factor. That is where the damage can be done. Is a light soft recoiling pistol and very accurate, flat flying bullet. Just Peace out ! Is a good weapon not the monster they want it to be.

  • Brad

    I wouldn’t say the guy in body armor is a coward but I also wouldn’t say Law Enforcement is always right. You enter my house without a warrant you better have more then Kevlar!!

  • Rolando Velez

    Can I buy this gun in somewhere with my Concealed firearm license?

  • Aj

    the lot 192 was the ap ammo thats why they had to stop making it it could go through 2 level 3a body vest front and back and 11.9 inches of bllistic gellatin..they have a new round out now called the T-6 triten made for selfdefence that explodes inside the victim

  • gz

    SS you are an idiot. the regular rounds are known to penetrate Kevlar armor. AP rounds just make it more… official. do to the small skinny size and velocity of which the bullets are shot they do penetrate a lot of armors quite often and in fact that is why it was not commercialized for quite some time do to it being deadly even without AP rounds.

  • William


  • cj

    You can get AP ammo BTW… the ATF does not allow this ammo to be made commercially available, but you might look around beyond main stream commercial ~ and i dont mean ‘black market’ either. Besides that the ss197sr is a perfect round to “customize.” Though i dont recommend doing this because it is illegal.

  • SS

    Repp: You’re an idiot. I’m guessing your mother brings you milk and cookies everytime you cry because you died playing Call of Duty 4. Leave the smart comments to grown ups. The “coward” behind body armor is basically every person in the modern world that is military or law enforcement (the people keeping your butt safe). Also, you aren’t penetrating s**t without AP ammo which you are not allowed to buy s**t for brains.

  • Repp

    this pistol is perfect for killing a coward behind body armor. if u need a small, light, strong, accurate pistol in a flash to whip out and take out a few targets this is the weapon you need. i would recommend this weapon to buy.

  • robert

    excellant fire arm i carry this alot