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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Modern Firearm : FN P90 Submachine gun ( Belgium )

FN P90 Specification:

Caliber                                   : 5.7 x 28 mm
Weight (empty)                     : 2.54 kg
Length                                    : 500 mm
Length (with folded stock)   : –
Barrel length                          :263 mm                     
Muzzle velocity                      : 850 m/s                     
Cyclic rate of fire                  : 900 rpm
Practical rate of fire              : 50 - 150 rpm
Magazine capacity               : 50 rounds
Sighting range                       : 150 m
Range of effective fire          : 200 m

The P90 submachine gun was developed in the late 1980s by the Belgian Fabrique Nationale (FN) of Herstal. It was intended as a personal defense weapon for non-frontline troops, vehicle drivers, tank and artillery crews. The FN P90 appeared in the early 1990s. At the time of it's introduction it was considered as a new generation weapon. It was the first personal defense weapon and took intermediate position between SMGs and assault rifles. About 20 000 of these submachine guns were sold for military operators and law enforcement forces worldwide. Currently it is in service with Belgium and about 25 export operators.

The FN P90 SMG is a clean sheet design. It is a blowback operated, selective fire weapon with bullpup layout, which fires from closed bolt. This PDW is chambered for a newly-developed 5.7 x 28 mm low-impulse and high-velocity ammunition with sharp nose bullets. This round has enhanced penetration comparing with 9 x 19 mm pistol round and is effective against body armor at ranges of 100 m and beyond. It resembles a scaled-down standard NATO 5.56 x 45 mm round. This weapon penetrates a standard US Army helmet at a range of 150 m.

It is worth mentioning, that many operators use this weapon for the role, directly opposite to it's original role. The FN P90 personal defense weapon is often used for offensive roles. Sometimes it is used as a primary weapon of assault teams.

The FN P90 has minimal size and weight. It's lightweight stock is made of impact-resistant polymer. This submachine gun is easy to use and maintain. It is claimed that this weapon is accurate at close ranges. It has low recoil and can be easily controlled with one hand. The FN P90 is fully ambidextrous. It has charging handles from both sides and bottom ejection. A safety switch is located below the trigger.

The FN P90 has an unusual magazine, which holds 50 rounds. This high-capacity magazine is made from semi-translucent polymer and holds rounds in two rows. Cartridges are stored in horizontal position. Magazine is located above the barrel. This feature allowed to make weapon as compact as possible. Each cartridge is rotated for 90 degrees, prior to placing it into feed lips. Spent cases are ejected straight down through the ejection port, located behind the pistol grip.

This submachine gun comes with integral non-magnifying red dot type sight. Backup iron sights are provided. The P90 can contain an integral laser aiming module in it's forward handgrip. It sends either visible or infra red laser beam.

   The FN P90 SMG is compatible with silencer, which is used in conjunction with special subsonic ammunition.Later the Fabrique Nationale introduced the Five-seveN pistol, chambered for the same 5.7 x 28 mm ammunition. FN P90 TR fitted with triple Picatinny-type accessory rails. This model comes with no standard sighting equipment, however it is compatible with various sights, flashlights and other accessories. FN PS90 a civilian semi-automatic carbine, fitted with a longer barrel.

FN P90 personal defense weapon / submachine gun in basic configuration, left side

FN P90 personal defense weapon / submachine gun in basic configuration, right side

FN P90 TR ( triple rail version ) personal defense weapon / submachine gun with installed accessories including optical sight on top rail, and silencer on the barrel 
FN PS90 - a civilian semi-automatic only version of P90 with long barrel

Bottom view on the filed FN P90 magazine, showing position of the stored cartridges and cartridge in feed position

FN P90 partially disassembled

Overall, the PS90 is a very good weapons system that offers some unique potential. It is so small and compact that it rivals the best of the small submachine guns, and it offers the range and power of a rifle. While both the weapon itself and especially the ammunition it fires are on the high end of the price point spectrum, both remain at a level where the cost may be offset by the capabilities of the weapon. 

The future for this weapons system is bright. It has only just begun its lifecycle with many improvements and variants sure to come about as a result of operational experiences. Once domestic ammunition is available in quantity and at a price consistent with other common duty or self-defense rounds, all concerns about the price of ongoing training and operations will be resolved, leaving law enforcement and civilians with a very capable weapon.


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