Both brands said they were unaware the other was working on new products for the 5.7x28mm cartridge. It was just happenstance then that the Ruger 57 and Federal’s expansion of its commercial line of 5.7x28 ammunition were introduced at SHOT Show 2020. Both are now trending.
The 5.7x28 cartridge was patented in 1989 and the trademarked “Five-seveN” pistol was patented in 1993. Ruger discovered this after working on the idea of a 5.7 pistol and then looked into patents. They had prototypes ready for the expiration of FN’s patent in 2018.
In March 2019, I was allowed to fire one of those prototypes. I once owned an FN Five-seveN pistol in FDE (serial number XX0000018) around 2004 and FN’s semiautomatic PS90. Around that time, I came into possessing a 1,000-round case of SS190 armor piercing (AP) cartridges before FN halted distribution. To protect law enforcement, FN slowed the velocity of their commercial loads to avoid rounds penetrating body armor. Today, collectors pay more than $200 for a single 50-round box of SS190.
The guns were a lot of fun for low recoil and for the attention they garnered at the range, but I viewed the weakened FN SS195 lead-free and SS197SR sporting rounds as ballistic compromises to terminal effectiveness, so I never relied on the pistol for self-defense. To add, something about the grip wasn’t comfortable and the sights were not adjustable to center the 4-inch high-right groups I shot with it. Annoyed, I sold the pistol and ammo to my dad.
It’s not SAAMI spec’d, so there have only been a few products to chamber the 5.7 cartridge including AR Five Seven’s upper-receiver conversion kit that uses PS90 magazines. In 2018, CMMG launched its Banshee AR pistol and SBR in 5.7x28, which accepted the Five-seveN’s 20-round pistol magazine.
When I was handed Ruger’s prototype early last year, I didn’t think much of it. I figured Ruger would sell a few because it’s a Ruger, but history has never gotten behind the 5.7. Though it lacked texturing and markings, the Ruger then looked like FN’s pistol. I asked, “What are you going to call it?”
“We’re kicking around using the caliber and calling it the ‘Ruger 57,’” Product Management Director Mark Gurney said. Months later, I received a production sample of the Ruger 57 with a press release that read “Fun to shoot. Cool to own.” The production pistol has been so refined, it doesn’t hardly resemble the prototypes. It’s better!
Whether you call it the Ruger “five-seven” or “fifty-seven,” it doesn’t matter. This new 5.7x28 pistol features 20-plus-one capacity and offers an adjustable, no-dot rear sight paired with a fiber-optic front. It’s blowback operated using an internal hammer that can be manually put on safe by the long, ambidextrous thumb-safety lever. On the topic of safety, Ruger also added a safety lever to the trigger shoe, which was never a part of FN’s design.
To handle the Ruger 57, tactile serrations at the front and rear of the slide provide better purchase. And the slimmer grip feels so good in the hand. It is a sculpted work of art. At the range, I compared the Ruger 57 to the FN’s original. Any person honest with themselves would agree with these observations: The Five-seveN has bite in its texture, and the grip is larger. For me, the Ruger 57 is easier to shoot accurately. I can’t help but to predict a market adjustment given that the Five-seveN retails for $1,435 and the Ruger 57 is priced at $799.
What about ammo? FN’s small-caliber, high-velocity bottlenecked centerfire typically retails $30 for a 50-round box of sporting ammunition loaded with a Hornady 40-grain V-Max bullet. Federal sells direct online its American Eagle-brand 40-grain FMJ load at federalpremium.com, and Speer will soon offer a 40-grain Gold Dot defensive round. The new Gold Dot could make the 5.7x28mm a viable tool for everyday carry.