FN Five-Seven – Home Defense For Women?

I saw this ad in the March 2010 issue of GUNS Magazine:

Two things immediately struck me as odd:

  1. It is being marketed as a good gun for home defense
  2. The ad is targeting women

Maybe FN Herstal re-thought this advertisement after it was printed, because  http://www.fnhusa.com/FIVESEVENhomedefense6 does not go to any sort of relevant product page.

I don’t consider myself a ballistics expert by any means, but just like every other cartridge, I believe 5.7x28mm has its purpose.  In my opinion, close range home defense is not one of them.  I’d much rather have a bigger and slower round (9mm, .45 etc..) for that purpose, over a tiny fast one any day.   The way I look at it, is the bigger the wound(s) you create, the faster the fight is going to be over.

There is a common misconception that all 5.7x28mm rounds will penetrate body armor.  Although there are variants of the cartridge that will, they are not available to anyone outside of law enforcement.  In January of 2005 the ATF released a letter to the public outlining the capabilities of commercially available 5.76x28mm ammo.

The only relevant reason I can see for targeting women in this ad campaign is the fact that the 5.7x28mm round has less recoil than other popular home defense rounds.  The manageable recoil would allow for more accurate follow up shots.

The FN Five-Seven MSRP is $1317.19 (ouch!)

What do you guys think?



Skip February 16, 2010 at 05:33 pm

She likes her Glock 19 and her .38spl.
I’m not wild about a 9mm at 1200fps inside of the house as the .38 wadcutters should stay inside the perp.


col November 17, 2010 at 04:02 pm

I can’t site the study off hand (you could just Google it), but ballistic tests showed the 5.7x28mm to tear 4 inch wide wounds after two inches of penetration. In edition to these devastating wounds, this bullet is less likely to travel through as many walls as an average handgun round. This in my opinion makes it a perfect tool for self defense.


col November 17, 2010 at 04:12 pm

I can’t site the study off hand (you could just Google it), but ballistic tests showed the 5.7x28mm to tear 4 inch wide wounds after two inches of penetration. In edition to these devastating wounds, this bullet is less likely to travel through as many walls as an average handgun round. This in my opinion makes it a perfect tool for self defense. This do to the keyhole effect.


Philippe Orlando February 2, 2011 at 08:26 pm

You are correct. After 2 inches traveling in ballistic gelatin the bullet tumbles.


Antibubba February 16, 2010 at 05:59 pm

That 20 round double stack magazine isn’t exactly designed for small hands, either.


Admin (Mike) February 16, 2010 at 06:04 pm

Yea it must feel really big in the hands considering it’s quite a bit wider than a Glock21.

FN Five-Seven width = 36mm(1.4in)
Glock 21 width = 32.5mm(1.27in)

The G21 is pretty much as wide as I think I would comfortably want to go, and I don’t have girl hands at all. I’d have to try out the five-seven to know forsure though because maybe the ergonomics are different and don’t make it seem as big as it does on paper.


rich February 16, 2010 at 09:05 pm

I agree to a certain extent. In any situation with an average women yeah this gun would probualy be a bad disicion expecially in a panic state. On the other hand this gun with the proper training and shot placement man or women can be very acurate and deadley weapon. High mag capacity and low reciol almost equel out poor balistic preformance and stopping power. Almost. I would much rather give my woman a forty five and sacrifice reciol for one shot devistation.
Sorry i am a horrible speeler.


Admin (Mike) February 17, 2010 at 01:02 am

I agree, good shot placement will make all the difference.

20 rounds isn’t that high of a capacity considering a Glock 17 has a standard magazine capacity of 17 rounds.


Philippe Orlando February 2, 2011 at 08:34 pm

You want a gun that’s light and that you can shoot with one hand.
If you look at the video below you’ll realize that highly trained police officers were not really able to shoot aiming with two hands. When the treat will come, you won’t have time to aim with two hands and for too long. A gun that doesn’t shake too much will allow you to place 2-3 quick shot in central body mass shooting with one hand. As mentioned above the bullet tumbles and creates a wound channels as big as 9mm.
Detroit police station shooting: http://www.youtube.com/verify_age?next_url=http://www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DUD1nV4CiTmo

Now if the guys has a 44 layer kevlar vest only the 5.7 will go through it. Check this
CORRECT, 10mm didn’t go through!


Eric October 4, 2021 at 03:50 am

Philippe, I want the treat to come!!


Eric October 4, 2021 at 03:42 am

Well, if “your woman” (eyes roll) is as dumb as a brick, honestly she shouldn’t have a firearm, period. If the two of you don’t go to the range and practice at least monthly, you shouldn’t have access to a firearm because it will end up doing the opposite of what you intended it to. No training & practice, no access to guns.


p1choco February 16, 2010 at 09:07 pm

I have a female friend that works for popular firearms distributor. The has shot the 5.7 and states that it’s woman friendly due to the lack of recoil but it also feels like a toy. She has small hands much like my wife does and wasn’t too happy with the grip. After shooting it at an FN sponsored range day at Gunsite, she’s not a fan of it. Personally, the ballistics don’t rub me the right way and as a California resident with a 10 rd limitation, the cool factor of the high cap mag is gone. Booo! I think my wife and I will stick with the shotty and side arm. We make a good team. How do they even justify the price tag? Is there some high precision plastic molding going on here or what?


Admin (Mike) February 17, 2010 at 12:48 am

I assume they justify the price tag by simply being FN Herstal :P Like they are the new HK or something.


Eric October 4, 2021 at 03:46 am

Wow! That was hard to read. Good thing an IQ test isn’t required for a firearm purchase, huh?


p1choco February 16, 2010 at 09:09 pm

When I say side arm, I mean one with a caliber that starts with 4 just to clear things up.


snoopycomputer February 16, 2010 at 11:08 pm

I would suggest the KelTec PMR30. Same mild recoil in a round more readily available and cheaper. Then, train to ALWAYS fire a three round string.


Admin (Mike) February 17, 2010 at 12:58 am

Wow at an MSRP of $415 you could 3 of them and still have change, compared to one five-seven.

You’re right, the 22mag is a quick round as well, and has very comparable ballistics to the 5.7x28mm

I don’t know about using rimfire for self defense though. Is the quality of 22mag ammo dependable? A person would be able to bet their life on it it?


Fred February 17, 2010 at 02:57 am

Quality rimfire ammo us usually a lot more reliable, and I’ve never seen bulk packs of .22mag. The CCI stuff in the plastic boxes is probably plenty reliable.


CinSC February 17, 2010 at 07:20 am

The idea that it penetrates body armor would also mean that it penetrates walls quite easily – not good in a home defence scenario.


Admin (Mike) February 18, 2010 at 01:38 pm

The ammo available to civilians does not penetrate body armor. The velocity is VERY high anyway though around 2000 ft/s, compared to the .45 for instance which is around 1000 ft/s !


Bryan S February 17, 2010 at 04:06 pm

A good defense firearm is one that does not cost a ton to buy or practice with. Buy something less expensive, and drop the rest of the cash on good training.

Then you can go and start buying more guns, nothing wrong with that.


Admin (Mike) February 18, 2010 at 01:41 pm

Good idea Brian. something most gun buyers likely overlook. I imagine a lot of guns are purchased with one box of ammunition and then just stuck in a drawer after ZERO practice what so ever. A lot of people probably think they will be able to figure out what to do if need be.


Kevin B December 22, 2010 at 06:35 pm

I have had an FN Five seveN for over a year now. I have been loading ammunition for it for about that long. You can load exactly 1000 rounds of ammo for it with one $19 dollar pound of powder. The bullets I use are 40 grain varment hunting type for around $12 per hundred.


wb March 29, 2010 at 01:34 am

If I’m not mistaken Didn’t Major Hasan use this gun to kill all those soldiers at Ft. Hood? Sounds like it worked well as a close range killing machine. Too bad with greater than 10 round magazines it can’t be sold in the People’s Republic of California.


Admin (Mike) March 29, 2010 at 02:56 pm

You’re right Hasan did use the FN 5.7 in his shooting spree at Ft. Hood. I was not questioning its effectiveness to kill a person. The reason I don’t think the 5.7×28mm cartridge its a good home defense round is because it is incredibly fast and if you have kids (or neighbours etc..) and you miss your target, that bullet isn’t slowing down as quickly as a a 9mm, or 45 for instance. In my opinion, as far as stopping power goes, you are always better off with a larger round to created the biggest possible wound channel.


col November 17, 2010 at 04:18 pm

This isn’t true, due to the shape of the bullet, it has been shown to penetrate fewer walls than a standard handgun bullet. It keyholes and distributes its energy more quickly, which consequently causes massive internal wounds. People in other rooms are actually safer with this one.


Kevin B December 22, 2010 at 06:40 pm

Common law of physics. Double the bullet weight; Double the kinetic energy. Double the velocity; Quadruple the kinetic energy.
1911 Colts are still OK though, if you are a Pork-Chop Hill re-enactor.


col December 23, 2010 at 03:18 pm



Jameson April 11, 2010 at 08:37 pm

Perhaps someone could shed some light on the SS190 ammunition for me. The ATF statement regarding the SS190 is outdated.


Jay April 27, 2010 at 06:30 pm

I have the FN 5.7 and Glock 23, 19 and XD-9 subcompact and XD45 tactical. They are all good guns if you learn/know how to use them. The reality is this: the best gun is the gun you can fire under stress for self defense while still placing CVS and/or CNS shot with a follow-upreasonably well within a 1 to 7 yard range . So what Irecommend is that before anybody purchases a gun is to go to a range and try out different ones, different length, calibers etc… and find the one you feel you can use the most intuitively and naturally. Then by one and practice. Dry friring with most modern guns is ok to also learn how to control flinching so that you learn how to squeeze and not pull the trigger… just my opinion


Admin (Mike) April 28, 2010 at 03:42 pm

So what Irecommend is that before anybody purchases a gun is to go to a range and try out different ones, different length, calibers etc… and find the one you feel you can use the most intuitively and naturally. Then by one and practice.

Damn good advice. Too many people just buy what they like the look of, and then can’t shoot it worth a crap, and don’t even bother to practice.


Jay April 27, 2010 at 06:40 pm

As for ammunition use quality factory ammunition, forget reloads and other exotic alternatives. Use a load you can handle comfortably any good JHP or Polymer tip (like the 5.7x28mm) round will provide good enough performance if you have adequate shot placement. Anything else is theory by people who mostly have never had to fire a weapon when actually being fired upon. As for AP ammo etc… leave to the pros… if two shots of quality factory ammon to the boddy mass don’t work then go for the head. This will solve 99.9% of any situation within the that 1 to 7 yard range.

Also remember when the BG has a gun take cover first don’t try to be a hero….


DJ January 2, 2011 at 03:25 am

An article in the American Riflemen discussed the FBI’s decison to abandon the 9mm in favor of the 40 SW. In 1988, they revisited a study from 1986 and concluded the 1986 study, ranking the 9mm equal to the 45 ACP, was flawed. The FBI repeated the study when a drug dealer killed two agents after they fatally wounded him with a 9mm.

The comment that stands out the most in my mind: “You can have any caliber you want, as long as it starts with a four.” Sorry I do not recall the date of the article. The long and short-


An article in the American Riflemen discussed the FBI’s decison to abandon the 9mm in favor of the 40 SW. In 1988, they revisited a study from 1986 and concluded the 1986 study, ranking the 9mm equal to the 45 ACP, was flawed. The comment that stands out the most in my mind: “You can have any caliber you want, as long as it starts with a four.” Sorry I do not recall the date of the article.



Jack April 9, 2012 at 10:15 pm

I never did understand why the 1986 FBI study rated 9mm’s equal to .45’s! Perhaps the person writing the study didn’t know their history.
About 1900 or so, there was a famous battle between drug-crazed filipinos and the US Army (equipped with .38’s) that turned out poorly for the army. The hopped-up filipinos hardly noticed the .38 slugs that hit them, kept on coming, and killed a lot of U.S. G.I.’s.
Wasn’t STOPPING POWER the main reason why the Army adopted the 1911 .45 pistol?

I shoot a pair of Ruger New Blackhawks in .45 Long Colt (255 grain flat-nosed lead bullets). This round is a lot nastier than the .38 special, 9mm or the .45 ACP because it carries a really big punch and mushes out to well over 1/2 inch when it hits. The revolver that shoots these weighs about 40 ounces, so the recoil is no problem. For home defense, a heavy gun is no problem either – you don’t have to carry it around all day. Just like with hot-rods, there’s no substitute for foot-pounds.


Robertf January 5, 2011 at 09:03 am

For one of the most enlightening articles explaining ballistics, especially how a bullet’s weight is vital in determining momentum in foot-pounds of energy, read the article at:http://www.angelfire.com/art/enchanter/terminal.html

This is perhaps the best article I have ever read concerning the actual “stopping power” of a bullet. The writer determines stopping power is based on bullet weight and physical dimensions. That is, for defensive purposes BIGGER is better!
His conclusion is that-all things being equal-that kinetic energy hitting a target is not the determining factor in killing or incapacitating; it is rather the largest diameter bullet combined with the greater weight bullet that creates, not only the larger wound channel, but also transfers the most energy to the target based on its inherent greater momentum. His belief is that a large slow bullet will transfer more energy to a target, and thus more momentum, which results to greater killing or incapacitating bullets. Excellent article, and well worth reading.


Philippe Orlando February 2, 2011 at 08:37 pm

That article is bull
What kills INSTANTLY people when they’re shot are two things
1-central nervous system is destroyed (brain, spinal cord, etc)
2-Heart is destroyed and can’t circulate blood, then brain shuts off in seconds
The amount of kinetic energy in a bullet is ridiculous. Momentum doesn’t kill


Jack April 9, 2012 at 10:35 pm


You forgot to mention shock, which if intense enough, can render a person unconscious immediately. What you’re talking about are also valid points, but require expert shot placement – something that’s hard to accomplish in dim or low lighting conditions. The BG in your home won’t be turning on any lights so you can see well enough to place a shot in his brain-pan or his heart. (Points: Add a light to your home defense weapon and practice, practice, practice!).
It’s essentially a matter of choice for each individual: For a good shooter, it won’t matter if you’re just using a .22 LR. For everyone else, they would want something in their hands that has real “authority”. Even if a bad shot with a huge weapon misses the BG, the fire-balloon and big BAM! might just scare the bejeezus out of him, and convince him to rapidly depart. End of problem.


Kat Girl February 23, 2011 at 08:36 pm

Hi guys,
My two cents. I’ve found the FNH FiveseveN to be a wonderfully designed firearm. I have rather small hands, but the length of its grip doesn’t bother me much (the Browning HP is still the handgun my hands feel the best on). The trigger has a similar feel to a Glock, the sear reset is just great so accurate and fast followup shots (besides its light recoil as well) are easy. The magazine release is what Glock should have had in the first place (my G27 has the Vickers extended mag release). I fully intend to make use of the Fiveseven in training women and as someone mentioned, it’s in the perfect place to facilitate teaching good trigger guard habits. It will be great to hear reports on its effectiveness for defense since the caliber concerns me somewhat. The fact that the max diameter of the 5.7×28 bottleneck allows such large magazine capacities is comforting. Either you get more accurate rounds on target or it’s one of the first handguns which could be employed for fire suppression! My P229 and my G-27 seem to either take up a lot of room in the purse or in the case of my Sig, more weight than the 5.7. It will be interesting as well to see how it does in an IWB holster since it is flatter than my two favorite defense sidearms.


Philippe Orlando February 23, 2011 at 08:58 pm

I do mainly target shooting. I’m amazed at the number of people who believe that carrying a gun will actually protect them. Your gun will protect them ONLY if it’s in your hand and already pointing at the criminal. That never happens. NEVER. Criminals always surprise you. Your gun is in your purse, when they want to highjack yoour car or else, your hands are on the steering wheel, or the guy is behind you, whatever. Keep in mind that during the shooting in Arizona in January, a guy had a weapon, he didn’t have time to use it. Also, watch that video, cops, more trained than you are didn’t really fared well in my opinion in that shooting.
They killed their attacker because he was alone and they were many! Look at how long it takes for many cops to kill only one guy, at very short range, watch how they miss each other at very short range. I have no idea why you think you’re going to make it with a gun against three gunmen. Dreamers!


Jack April 9, 2012 at 10:54 pm


Thank you for the other scenarios you mentioned. Shock works both ways – either when a big slug hits the BG, or when the BG catches you by surprise. I’m reminded of a feature shown on TV, starring Willie Nelson as an old Texas Ranger engaged in a gunfight with young drug runners using the best available weaponry, and WINNING! Why did he win? He remained COOL UNDER INTENSE EMOTIONAL PRESSURE. Willie just stood his ground and popped them all with his old .45 Peacemaker, deliberately aimed, while the BG’s wildly sprayed the area with ineffective lead. This speaks to your point about shot placement.

What worked for the Russians at Stalingrad (volume fire) won’t necessarily work when a sniper is called for. The Germans found that out the hard way. Willie was the sniper.

The issue you bring up applies to most people – no calm under intense pressure. Hysteria is usually the norm. But the person who can cultivate this kind of cool detachment will always have the ultimate advantage in a firefight (think: Sergeant York). Most of the time, it’s not the gun, – it’s the shooter.



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