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Submachine gun

FN P - 90

Caliber 5.7
Cartridge type 5.7 x 28 mm (SS190)
Dimensions and weight 
Total weight (with loaded magazine)  3 700 g
Total weight (with empty magazine) 2 800 g
Overall length  400 mm 
Barrels length 260 mm 
Fire characteristics
Bullets initial speed 850 m/s
Rate of fire 1 000 rpm
Practical rate of fire 50 - 150 rpm
Magazine capacity 50 rounds
Sighting range 150 m
   In 1990 Belgian "Fabrique Nationale" (FN) presented new product - compact submachine gun P-90. It was intended as a main weapon for armored personnel carrier and infantry combat vehicle drivers, artillery crews, staff personnel, communication forces and other secondary purpose units. Weapon is used by Belgium, Saudi Arabian and some NATO countries.

   P-90 submachine gun is a new generation weapon. It was designed using Personal Defense Weapon (PDW) conception. Furthermore it was presented with totally new SS190 cartridge, fitting PDW conception.

   In development process designers decided that it should be automatic weapon with small recoil power and easy to use. Such weapon had to change earlier used submachine-guns, carbines and would be suitable for special forces. Belgian company had to develop totally new cartridge which had assault rifles cartridges combat abilities within pistol cartridges barrels pressure. Such cartridge became SS190 (5.7 x 28 mm) with 2.2 g sharp nose bullet. Cartridges recoil power is threefold smaller than standard NATO 5.56 x 45 mm cartridge furthermore it has good armor-piercing abilities: in 200 m range it proofs 48 layers of kevlar, in 150 m range - standard US army helmet and defeats target covered by it. Such high bullet penetration abilities are provided by extremely fast initial bullet speed.

   Small cartridge dimensions allowed to increase ammunition  in 60%. P-90 submachine gun uses ordinary, tracer bullets, or bullets with subsonic speed, intended to use with suppressor.

   A bit later there was built FN "Five-seveN" self-loading pistol chambered for the same SS190 cartridge. "Fabrique Nationale" developers have shown, that it is able to create PDW requirements fitting weapon with ordinary pistol size. Furthermore it's bullet armor-piercing and penetration abilities are almost equal to P-90 submachine gun's abilities.

    P-90 design is based on "bullpup" constructional principle. It  provides weapon a number of advantages. Firstly it has smaller dimensions comparing with traditional design ones. Weapons built on this principle has about 25% shorter length. Secondly it is ability to fire using only one hand. Thirdly submachine gun's tossing after every shot is decreased, cause barrel and butt-stock are placed in one line, so recoil power is pushing weapon directly backward, but not upward.

   It's automatics works on free lock recoil principle. Submachine gun executes single, automatic and 3 shots burst fire. Reloading handles are placed from both sides what is convenient for left-handed soldiers. It has two pistol handles: one main and one additional for better weapons stability.

   Barrels box, sight and it's connection bracket are made from black plastic, magazine - from transparent, what allows to control number of ammunition left. Plastic barrel box became a feature for new generation weapons. It allows to decrease weapons weight and price. Magazine is the most unordinary submachine gun's part. It is placed on the barrel box, while cartridges are positioned criss-cross to the barrel. In the magazines inclined ramp Cartridges rotate in 90 degrees before lock drives them into the barrels channel. Cartridges are placed in two horizontal lines. Such positioning allowed to increase magazine capacity to 50 rounds. This feature allows to keep good fire density in short distances.

   Cartridge-cases are thrown off down forward by a special tube. This tube lowers their speed and increase submachine gun stability. Furthermore it makes P-90 comfortable for left-handed soldiers, as ordinary submachine guns used to throw them cartridge-cases into their faces.

     P-90 cleaning and oiling is done without dismantling. Solider just takes off magazine and gets full access to submachine gun's mechanisms.

   Submachine gun has built-in collimator sight calibered on 150 m range. P-90 has active flash-hider which partly compensates weapons toss energy after every shot. In special operations it is used with suppressor and lower subsonic speed bullets. Laser sight can be additionally placed in the front side.

   Insufficient recoil power, "bullpup" scheme, compensator, collimator sight, and ability to fire in burst mode provide good fire accuracy in close combat. Great magazines capacity is also advantage for this weapon. To sum it up P-90 developers created successful new generation weapon, surpassing traditional submachine guns. It's bullet penetration abilities in a short range distances are equal to assault or automatic rifle abilities, with twofold greater magazine capacity and smaller dimaesions.


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