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History of 5.7x28mm Ammunition
In 1991 the Belgian company of FN Herstal introduced the FN 5.7x28mm cartridge. The cartridge was created in response to a NATO request to replace the 9X19mm cartridge. With the increase in the use of kevlar body armor, the need for a cartridge that would defeat this armor was a priority. The 5.7x28mm met this need without a problem being able to penetrate a level IIIA vest at 200 meters. Along with its armor piercing capability and high velocity, the cartridge also has a lower risk of collateral damage as the bullet shape decreases the likelihood of ricochet. Another advantage is that most of the bullets’ kinetic energy has been expended after 400 meters, this is beneficial in that this cartridge was intended to be used in pistols and submachine guns where the effective ranges would not need to exceed 200 meters.
There are several advantages of the reduced size of the 5.7x28mm cartridge. Not only does the overall small size allow a solider to carry twice as many rounds of ammo when compared to 9mm, but the decreased size also gives the 5.7x28mm only half the weight of the 9mm. Also there is a substantially increased magazine capacity with the firearms designed to use the cartridge, the FN Five-Seven has a capacity of 20 rounds with a flush fit magazine, and the FN P90 submachine gun has a detachable 50 round magazine.
Most of the 5.7x28mm ammo is produced by FN Herstal and is earmarked for Military and Law Enforcement only. The two types of ammo currently offered by FN are theSS195LF, which has a lead free bullet, and the SS197R that has a 40 grain Hornady V-Max bullet. This cartridge is manufactured by Fiocchi which is under contract with FN Herstal to make this cartridge for the US market. Federal produces a 40 grain Total Metal Jacket topped cartridge that is found under the American Eagle brand. There are other smaller manufacturers that produce the 5.7x28mm but none have made a large impact on the civilian market as of yet.
The velocities that can be achieved by the 5.7x28mm vary widely with the bullet type. The SS190, with its 30 grain bullet will reach 2350 feet per second while the SB193 that has a 55 grain bullet comes in at 1000 feet per second. The civilian and military loads that use 40 grain bullets come in right at 1900 feet per second. Muzzle energies range from 394 foot pounds of energy to 120 foot pounds of energy.
Although not a heavy hitting round, the 5.7x28mm is compact, accurate and has very mild recoil. With the extended magazine capacity , this cartridge is well suited for the personal defense weapon role. It is currently in service with over forty countries in the P90 PDW. This weapon is also popular among American law enforcement agencies; it is also used by the US Secret Service. With this kind of acceptance, it is likely that many other firearms chambered for the 5.7x28 will be coming to the marketplace and this unique little round will continue to keep its place in the firearms world.
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