Small Package – Good Thing? (with Colonel Smoothbore)
By angelamontana

Posted: March 15, 2020

The 5.7×28 mm cartridge was developed by Fabrique Nationale Herstal® in 1990. The impetus for the cartridge development involved NATO’s wanting a new round for alliance’s troops. The expectation was the venerable 9mm Lugar would be replaced as the standard cartridge for NATO handguns. Universal NATO acceptance didn’t happen.

FN® developed two guns for the little cartridge, a pistol and a really interesting rifle that was similar to a bullpup design. Civilians were offered variations of both, but sales have been spotty over the years.

The 5.7×28 is an interesting cartridge. It has great velocity and produces little felt recoil, but ammunition offerings have been limited and the cost is somewhat high. In addition, there were no reloading components and recipes available, even now, it is difficult if not impossible to find data for the little cartridge.

With limited firearm offerings, expensive and limited quantities of ammunition, and no way to reload, the cartridge has barely remained a viable option for handgunners. I know a couple of shooters that own FN® pistols and love them. Shooting the guns is really a lot of fun, kind of like a .22 WMR on steroids.

Now Ruger® has come to market with a slick new semi-auto pistol, the Ruger-57™. This new pistol just might make the 5.7×28 a mainstream cartridge. The Ruger-57™ is a hammer-fired pistol that comes with either a 20 or a 10-round magazine; the 10 rounder for states that restrict magazine capacity. The gun is a full size pistol with a 4.94 inch barrel, ambi safety, a Picatinny accessory rail, polymer frame, and an adjustable rear and fiber optic front sight. The slide has lightening cuts and is drilled and tapped for an optic. The gun comes with 2 magazines. MSRP is $ 799. 

For years ammunition for the 5.7×28 was limited to offerings from FN®, hard to find, and as I stated, kind of expensive. Now one can find ammo from not only FN®, but also Federal® and Speer®. The Speer® Gold Dot® round is a jacketed hollow point 40 grain bullet personal protection round. Ballistic data on this round, like the ammo itself, is hard to find. I found one recent test with the new Ruger-57™ that showed an average velocity of 1790 ft/s with and average energy of 285 ft/lb. Quite good numbers for a 40 grain bullet.

Time will tell whether the Ruger-57™ becomes a commercial success. The 5.7×28 is a good option for those folks who are recoil-shy or cannot handle a more powerful cartridge. There is an old saw that goes somewhat like, “…good things come in small packages.” In the case of the 5.7×28 in the new Ruger-57™ pistol, I guess we’ll see.

Be safe and good shooting.

Colonel Smoothbore