It has been 30 years since the inception of the 5.7x28mm round and its pistol the FN FiveseveN in 1998. The pistol and the round have gained and lost popularity over that time, however, has seen a recent resurgence with the release of the Ruger 57, which many see as a viable cheaper option. This unique round has been touted as a rifle in a pistol, or as a glorified oddball cartridge. Let’s discuss the Pro’s and Con’s.
The Pro’s for the cartridge and the two available handguns are many.
First is that the round is fast and carries a .22 caliber bullet into rifle velocities (1700-2200 ft./sec) out of a handgun.
Second is that the firearm and the cartridges are lighter than some of the most common alternatives, meaning you can carry more.
Third is magazine capacity. A Glock 19 carries a standard 15 rounds per magazine of 9x19. Both the FN and the Ruger boast 20 round capacities, and the FN even has 30 round after market magazines that are minimally intrusive.
Fourth is performance. This round moves, and with the right ammunition has been reported to go through Level III body armor but is also capable of hunting up to medium game, like whitetail deer.
Finally, is the recoil. This pistol round shoots very fast but without the significant recoil of other rounds, so it is good for follow-up shots, or the novice shooter.
For the Cons:
First is expense. The FN model handgun is not cheap, sitting right around $1100 to get you into it. It is about $700 for the Ruger. For the entry model Glock it is around $600 so there is a difference.
Second is availability of ammunition. There are a ton of 9mm manufactures, however there are only two readily available manufacturers at the time of this article. Due to this ammunition can be hard to find when there isn’t a panic/pandemic going on, and it tends to run about $0.80 to $1.50 a round.
Third is accessories, which are limited to non-existent. There are hundreds of manufacturers making aftermarket triggers, lights, sights, magazines for Glocks, 1911s, or Sig Sauer pistols. Not so for the 5.7x28mm fans who while passionate are smaller.
Fourth is performance, which is both a pro and a con. While the .22 caliber projectile can penetrate deeper in most circumstances, it is making a smaller wound channel compared to most common self-defense rounds. Additionally, it may fall under restrictions for hunting like other .22 sized ammunition.
Finally is economics, specifically for reloading. While there are a few articles about reloading for the round, it is generally regarded as very difficult, or not to be done. There are inconsistent sources on if there is a special lacquer on the round from the factory that is necessary for feeding, and thus would be unable to replicate while reloading.
Bottom line, the round is unique and has some excellent capabilities for self-defense and hunting applications but being a niche caliber does come with some drawbacks.
Author: Ian Bolser