The Belgian company FN Herstal is selling a new pistol in this country: the "Five-Seven" is a lightweight (1.7 lb) easily concealable single action pistol that can fire 20 rounds in seconds and easily penetrates bullet-proof vests according to an NBC report out of New York.
Police departments around the country are starting to take serious notice of this weapon. Because, the gun is being marketed to the public, and it's completely legal.
"Dealing with a gun like this -- it's a whole new ballgame," said Chief Robert Troy, of the Jersey City Police Department.
The FN Herstal website says this about the Five-seven pistol:
Stopping power for close combat
Five-seveN® pistols and SS190 round team up to defeat the enemy in all close combat situations in urban areas, jungle conditions, night missions and any self defense action.
Enemy personnel, even wearing body armor can be effectively engaged up to 200 meters.
Kevlar® helmets and vests as well as the CRISAT protection will be penetrated.
Global-defence.com adds some more technical info about the weapon and its special vest-penetrating ammunition:
The 5.7 x 28mm round also produces less recoil so the weapon can be handled and aimed more comfortably, especially when firing bursts. But this is less important than penetration and energy transfer. Small arms projectiles rely on kinetic energy for their effectiveness and it is here that the 5.7 x 28mm scores heavily over conventional pistol ammunition. Part of this is because of the make-up of the projectile for the standard 5.7 x 28mm ball round, the SS190.
The bullet has a steel jacket containing a steel core just behind the tip. The bulk of the content behind this is aluminium. The nose is pointed and together with the steel core enables the SS190 bullet to penetrate 48 layers of Kevlar-type protection at 200m at a muzzle velocity of 715m/s. It also can penetrate a standard Kevlar-type combat helmet at the same range.
The 5.7 x 28mm round is highly effective against body armour at ranges up to 200m but the ammunition also has a high incapacitation effect. As the bulk of the bullet mass is located in the front of the bullet, once it strikes it tends to tumble, in the process giving up most of its momentum and striking power immediately. This produces a large wound cavity and high-energy transfer; the latter is not dedicated, as is usual, to purely driving a hole through the target. Against most targets the SS190 bullet will remain in the target, even at ranges as low as 10m.
Police Worried About New Vest-Penetrating Gun [wnbc.com]
A leap in evolution (the five-seven) [global-defence.com]
FN Herstal - Five-Seven USG, 5.7x28mm IOM [price $869.99 at SniperCountryPX.com]
FN's Five Seven pistol [Bastards Inc.]
UPDATE - The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) web site says:
In response to numerous questions that ATF has received regarding the capabilities of the 5.7 X 28mm cartridge, the following technical information is provided.
FTB (Firearms Technology Branch) classified SS196 ammunition as not armor piercing.
FTB has also examined a 5.7 X 28 mm projectile that FN Herstal has designated the "SS196." The SS196 is loaded with a Hornady 40 grain, jacketed lead bullet. FTB classified SS196 ammunition as not armor piercing ammunition under Federal firearms statutes.
So it looks like this was just a mainstream media scare story.
FN 5.7 (Fabrique Nationale) pistol [ATF.gov, Jan. 20, 2005]