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The Five-seveN is a semi-automatic pistol manufactured by Fabrique Nationale de Herstal (FN).
FN created the new 5.7 x 28 mm cartridge for its FN P90 personal defense weapon to meet NATO requirements released in 2000. Subsequent to this, FN created the Five-seveN pistol around the cartridge to offer agencies who adopt the P90 the option of a corresponding sidearm.
Conventional sidearms usually use the 9 x 19 mm, .45 ACP and similar cartridges that are effective for stopping a hostile individual in ordinary circumstances. However, FN argues that if that individual is wearing a light Kevlar vest, these bullets will be stopped without causing lethal damage. Such body armor is currently in use with over 50% of the world’s armed forces. Law enforcement officers also need the ability to pierce body armor, as it is worn by an increasing number of criminals. FN claims that thanks to the use of their newly designed 5.7 x 28 mm cartridge, the Five-seveN is capable of piercing the older U.S. Army PASGT vest at 300 meters range, and a U.S. Army PASGT helmet at a range of 240 meters. However, these penetration statistics are for the military SS190 cartridge. Other available cartridge variants are not armor-piercing, according to the BATFE. These cartridges are loaded with heavier, expanding projectiles driven at lower velocities.
After penetration, the 5.7 mm round is marketed as being able to effectively incapacitate an enemy, but there has been controversy over these claims. Conventional hollow point bullets rely on expansion to create a large wound channel, but the Five-seveN's ammunition is designed to hit the enemy, travel a few inches, then tumble end over end and continue traveling in this manner without deforming. This means that the wound it creates would be as tall as the length of the projectile (more than 21 mm), supposedly creating a more grievous wound channel, but without the expansion of a hollow point or the fragmentation of a frangible bullet. As a result, FN claims the round—and the Five-seveN—are suitable for military use.
The advantages of the pistol itself include its weight (the 5.7 mm round weighs half as much as a standard 9 mm round), its recoil (FN claims the 5.7 mm round produces roughly half the felt recoil of a 9 mm round), and its 20-round magazine, which holds significantly more ammunition than other pistols. Despite its magazine capacity, the Five-seveN is a light pistol, weighing 1.6 pounds loaded. It is also reasonably compact.
Though an effective weapon, the Five-seveN has not been adopted by everyone, due mostly to the unconventional concept and ammunition. Current users include several international special forces/counter-terrorist groups (including the French GIGN) and a large number of local police department SWAT teams (including some in the United States).
The original Five-seveN, now discontinued. It has a double action (DA) trigger and no safety. This makes shooting slower and less accurate than with the newer single action variants of the Five-seveN. It features a shaped trigger guard, designed to facilitate gloved use.
This model is identical to the original version, with the exception of the single action (SA) trigger and a safety device. The Five-seveN Tactical is also increasingly hard to find.
The IOM model (for Individual Officer's Model) was the first publicly available variant, debuting commercially in 2004. The IOM is similar in its basic design to the original versions, but differs in that it has a different accessory rail, lined trigger guard outside edge, and adjustable sights. It also incorporates a magazine disconnect—this safety mechanism prevents the weapon from being fired without the magazine inserted.
The second most recent version of the Five-seveN, the USG. (United States Government) variant debuted in 2005 and replaced the IOM. The USG keeps the differences incorporated in the IOM, such as the magazine disconnect and adjustable sights, but has further modifications, including: conventionally-shaped (square) trigger guard, checkered grip pattern, and a larger, reversible magazine release.
Five-seveN USG Mk. 2
The most recent version of the Five-seveN released in 2013. Desgin changes include a one piece top slide instead of two halves that were welded together in earlier versions. Also included is texturing on the front portion of the slide to facilite takedown.