FN FiveSeveN Pistol and PS90 Carbine

American shooters and law enforcement officers have a history of being a very conventional, traditional, and at times, stodgy lot.  History is replete with examples.
How History Bucks Innovation
Famous gunfighter and lawman Wild Bill Hickock continued to use a brace of .36 caliber Colt Navy cap-and-ball revolvers as his primary armament until his untimely death in 1883, long after cartridge revolvers were in widespread use.
Colt introduced the double-action revolver, in a form that has remained nearly unchanged, in 1892.  Yet lawmen in Western states still continued the use of single-action Colt revolvers until WWII, and probably, even today, you can find a local lawman somewhere in a remote corner of the west (or Alaska) still packing a single-action revolver as primary armament.

And speaking of double-action revolvers, the NYPD, the largest police agency in the world, didn’t drop its double-action .38 revolvers as the primary duty weapon until the 1990s. The 1911 single-action pistol has been around since well, 1911.
Yet it is only in the last 15 years or so, and particularly in the last five that we have seen a veritable explosion in its popularity and the number of manufacturers making and modifying and providing accessories for this previously “specialist only” pistol-putting this pistol in the hand of seemingly every serious/semi-serious pistol shooter. But it took almost 100 years to get to this point!
Another example is stainless steel and synthetic stocks.  These have been available since the 1960s for hunting rifles, but they had been ignored in favor of traditional walnut and blued steel for 30 years or so until the majority of shooters figured out the advantages of these materials in bad weather situations.
Lets give some credit where credit is due.  We aren’t always THIS stodgy.  For example the Glock pistol took off like a rocket after initial (and fraudulent) media reports provoked concerns about its polymer construction slowed its acceptance.
After the truth came out, the rise to prominence was nearly meteoric and Glock now holds the majority share of the law enforcement market– a remarkable and unparalleled achievement.
In doing my review of the FiveseveN pistol and the PS90 carbine, I wanted to keep this history in mind.  As this duo is still relatively new to the civilian shooter (or privately purchased LE market) I felt that the guns should be viewed in terms of three factors, or portions of these factors, in order to determine shooter acceptability.
These factors all directly affect the end user, the shooter.  Are these guns, or parts of them innovative, unconventional or odd?  Why?  If the guns are innovative, they will be accepted in rather short order.  Glock’s design is innovative.
The polymer frames, high reliability and user-friendly simplicity made them a market success.  If guns are unconventional, there will be some acceptance issues.  While an entire weapon may be innovative overall, parts of it may be unconventional.  Glock’s Safe-Action™ trigger system, was at the time of introduction, unconventional — there was no other manual safety on the weapon that had to be engaged or disengaged for use.  There wasn’t even a de-cocker.
While today this system is mostly viewed as innovative (and actually normal), there are still a number of police administrators that view Glocks as unsafe and unconventional and will not permit their issue or use.
Finally, if a gun or parts of it are viewed as odd, then we have a serious acceptance problem.  There are two examples that come to mind, both developed in the 1960s, of odd guns that never made it.  The first was the Gyrojet pistol.  This odd weapon fired rocket-powered cartridges in both pistol and rifle form.  It was neither accurate nor particularly powerful.
Its rocket projectiles could be stopped by the human hand at the end of the barrel without damage since they hadn’t gained sufficient velocity.  It took several feet of travel to gain appropriate speed. The second was the Dardick pistol, a very strange pistol that was a combination of revolver and semi-automatic pistol that fired a .38 caliber plastic cased “tround” cartridge that contained bullet and powder.  Both guns looked toy-like and are now collector’s items.
So with these parameters in mind let’s look at a pair of new weapons systems, and the cartridge they fire.  From Fabrique Nationale come the FiveseveN pistol and the PS90 carbine. First lets examine the PS90 carbine.


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