Gun Review: FN PS90

PS90 Left

(This is a reader gun review contest entry, click here for more details.)

By Ed Rogers

For most of my life, I only discharged a rifle when I qualified during M-16 training. That was once every three years. Since I lived on base, I would have had to store any guns I owned in the base armory. It just wasn’t worth the hassle. It was after I retired from the USAF that I considered buying a gun for home protection (I’m too lazy to hunt). We bought an M15, since we were already familiar with the maintenance. Well, then we started looking at other guns…which leads me to today. There aren’t too many firearms that immediately scream ‘futuristic’ than the FN PS90 . . .

Although it’s been around since 1990 (hence its name) it continues to evoke a science fiction mojo. It’s been used as a prop in numerous television shows, movies and video games. Stargate: SG1, Person of Interest, The World is not Enough, Far Cry and Rainbow Six:Vegas all have seen cameo appearances by the PS90.

Its main purpose is home defense, primarily in close quarters. Its seemingly ungainly appearance may put you off at first, until you’ve had a chance to get the delightful feel of the platform. Mostly polymer, it has a quality fit and finish that inspires confidence. There are no rough edges on this weapon.

PS90 Right

Firing is easy: charge the rather small, ambidextrous charging handle and you’re in semi-automatic bliss. My crew chief trigometer (finger) guesstimates the pull at about eight pounds. I’ve had one member of my family criticize the trigger, but I have no issue with it. The ammunition — the same 5.7 x 28 that runs the FN FiveseveN, is readily available from FN. I’ve read reports in a forum that the 40 grain Federal American Eagle ammo is unreliable, although I have yet to put it to the test.

PS90 Magazines

Loading the 30- or 50-round magazines is easy…and expensive. You will use an entire box of SS195, SS197 or SS198 to fill up one 50-rounder. The unique way FNH designed the magazines takes a little getting used to but is a breeze. When you load your ammo, the rounds turn perpendicular into the magazine. They are somewhat ungainly to carry around, however. Recoil is negligible, making follow up shots very easy.

PS90 Magazine count indicator

Two of the aspects that drew me to the PS90 are the bullpup design and the versatility of the ammunition available.
As a camp host, I live in a travel trailer a significant part of the year where I can expect a deputy in about 45 minutes if I have trouble. If I have to fire at an aggressor, I have a significant chance of missing regardless of the platform I employ. With guests in the immediate vicinity, I won’t risk injuring or killing an innocent bystander. This is one area that the 5.7X 28mm cartridge excels.

The bullpup design allows me to maneuver in close quarters, such as my RV or hallway. If I miss, the kinetic energy will quickly dissipate from the 27 or 40 grain bullets. This will be especially critical with the thin walls of RVs.

PS90 Scope and laser

The ammunition is readily available, primarily from FN. SS195 is a hollow point 27 grain projectile. They, and their SS198 counterparts are not meant to expand but tumble. The wound channels they create are NASTY! hollow points (SS198) had about a 60-70% rate of non deformation, while the remainder basically fragmented away. SS197 is a blue-tipped “sporting” round. Federal produces their American Eagle 40 grain TMJ rounds. I haven’t tested them but have heard complaints they don’t always work too well in the PS90.

You may have seen videos on YouTube, of armor piercing rounds. They’re primarily either restricted SS190 FN bullets or reloaded ammunition from a vendor that seems to have fallen into disrepute. Either way, these offerings are ridiculously expensive – as in $6.00 per round. Check out gunbroker.com if you’re interested. Regardless, the FNH ammo creates wound channels that will give any attacker an immediate incentive to retreat.

SS198 wound track measurement

Maintaining the PS90 is easy, as it come apart into its five major components in about 20 seconds.

I do have a couple of issues with the PS90. First, there is no documentation that tells you how to hold the bolt back. For some reason, FNH discontinued the instruction that came with each new unit.

p1

Next, the factory iron sights that are incorporated into the included rail assembly take a little getting used to.

PS90 site picture

They work, as long as you have enough light. I like to keep things simple, not depending upon something that relies on batteries or may shake loose with movement. That said, you may choose to dress up you “dolly” with any number of lights/lasers/scopes. Last, if you are female or have substantial girth, like myself, the downward ejecting brass may hit your body. After market brass catchers are available.

MSRP: $1300.00 and up, depending upon the configuration you purchase.

Ratings (out of five stars):

Accuracy: * * *
It gets the job done.

Ergonomics: * * * * *
Once you get past the bullpup style, it naturally molds itself to your body. Minimal recoil makes follow up shots accurate as well.

Reliability: * * * * *
No issues with over 500 rounds fired.

Customize this: * * * *
One rail with a sling option – how much more do you need?

Overall: * * * *
While it won’t “blow someone’s head off” it shouldn’t over penetrate either. The wound channels I’ve examined should make any intruder reconsider their actions. This is my go-to firearm of choice.

 

comments

  1. avatar MIKE CROGNALE says:

    I have had one for about 7 years now. I love it. it’s a great gun.

    1. avatar Andy Evans says:

      Check out my tri-rail mount

  2. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    These are terrific home defense guns.
    Love the bottom eject. Wish dillon would make the parts for reloading them on a 650.

    1. avatar CJ Minnesota says:

      Bottom eject eh? I’m liking the left handed friendly feature there.

  3. avatar John L. says:

    Sounds good but … I’d be much more interested if they came in a more readily available / less expensive caliber.

    1. avatar Accur81 says:

      Well, there 40-55 grain bullets for .223 and 5.56 that are everywhere. More power, less expensive, and much easier to find. I like bullpups, and the concept, but the caliber doesn’t do a whole lot for me.

      1. avatar The Original Brad says:

        Neither does the price of the actual weapon that shoots 5×7 or the actual ammo itself.

        Kudos to the author and his review but he can keep his PS90. It’s for guys in gated communities who shoot at private ranges.

  4. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    I’ve held one and thought how cool this was…alas I would probably go for a run of the mill AR for home defense(if I lived in the wild).

  5. avatar Spectre_USA says:

    I’ve always wanted to fire a bull-pup, and this looks like a fine one.

    There are Lee dies available on MidwayUSA, but are currently back-order. Brass? Fuhgetaboutit.

    Probably not my next firearms purchase, but now on the RADAR, thanks for the info…

  6. avatar SteveInCO says:

    There aren’t too many firearms that immediately scream ‘futuristic’ than the FN PS90

    Mileage clearly varies. I think it’s the fugliest thing out there.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Kinda looks like a snail with a hard on.

      1. avatar Gene says:

        I’m wondering about the Adam’s apple-weld for sighting. That looks much higher than FAMAS.

      2. avatar Ed Rogers says:

        You guys almost made me spew Gatorade all over a window! Yes, it does look…different.

    2. avatar Hannibal says:

      The future is ugly.

    3. avatar bontai Joe says:

      I am so glad that I am not the only one that thinks this weapon is uglier than sin. It may great ergonomically to shoot, but I still wouldn’t want one unless it was free.

  7. avatar pod says:

    I’ve gotten a chance to manipulate one of these at several gun shows, but haven’t had a chance to fire one as of yet. From my basic impressions, it’s very comfortable to hold, aim, and manipulate. My only real concern here is the ammunition.

  8. avatar gbo says:

    Because the cartridge is coated, reloading them is not for the novice. The bullets are readily available (.224), but look around and see if you can find someone selling reloads… You’ll find vendors selling boutique ammo, but you won’t find many (if ANY) bulk reloaders undertaking this round. If you’re willing to sling one of these, you’ve got to be ready to pony up for the factory ammo.

    Truth in advertising, I have a PS90, SBR’d and it’s one of my favorite guns. I looked for a LONG time trying to find someone who loaded subsonic rounds for suppressed shooting. I gave up, because it was like hunting unicorns….

    1. avatar MIKE CROGNALE says:

      Glad to see that someone else did the SBR conversion on theirs also. I have the can for it as well. Need the subsonic rounds as well. I will just reload my own though. I have all the components so it’s just a matter of forcing my self to get on my bench.

    2. avatar Kevin says:

      I found ammo online for about 50 cents a pop which I thought was pretty good. It was on bulk ammo.com

  9. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Ammo is easy to find and relatively cheap. 20 bucks for a 50 round box. Not bad really.
    The gun, in SBR configuration, fits in a small bag. Add a silencer and its back to PS90 length. they are sweet shooters.

    1. avatar Pedro says:

      That’s some can if it will quiet a sonic boom!

  10. avatar Pwrserge says:

    Honestly, this thing was cool up until the point someone figured out how to make a reliable 10.5″ AR. I’ll take my MK18 clone over a PS90 SBR every day and twice on Sunday.

  11. avatar Paul J. says:

    Nice write-up. I’ve always been a fan of the P90/PS90 design, though my only trigger time behind one has been in video games.

    1. avatar B says:

      Loved the P90 in the first advanced warfighter. 51 shots and the barrel didn’t move. Pop around the corner, drill 10 rounds into their unsuspecting face, then pop back. I’m surprised you can’t use the lighter .223 bullets for reloading.

  12. avatar fiun dagner says:

    American Eagle is most of what i have fired out of mine. I have had no problems with it. It is a tack driver out to about 50 yards, with X ring accuracy out to 100. I have trouble using the built in sites over 100 yards, but since this was designed as a PDW its not really made for long shots. Also hard to find a range over 100 yards where I live. The magazines are the easiest to load I have ever dealt with. Mag changes take some practice to get used to, but its hard to argue with 49 rounds of follow up. Ammo (admittedly it is hard to find where I am, at least more than one or two boxes at a time) is on par with pistol ammo in my area – 20$-30$/ box depending on retailer. I got my reload sets for it about 6 months after I got the rifle. Its not that difficult to reload the cases, just don’t tumble them or you will eat the coating off. Recoil may as well be nonexistent, and as for the sonic boom the rifle, at least mine, isn’t much worse than a 10/22. With a silencer it would probably be as close to Hollywood quite as you can get. I would be happier if I could get standard length barrel on it, but without a tax stamp the mandated extra length is what you get. FN offers, or did at the time I bought mine, a significant LE/Emergency Responder discount on their rifles & pistols. With that (and this was 3 years ago so the program may have been discontinued) I got mine for just a hair over 1000, including tax. Magazines can be hard to come by, but check out your local gun shows. The AR5.7 mags work just as well as the official FN mags in my experience, so you can save a few dollars that way too

    1. avatar vb says:

      I found the ammo easy to acquire.
      It’s all over the web. AmmoSeek, Gunbot and Slickguns to name a few.
      The price for American Eagle is coming down. Palmetto has it for $15.99. That’s 32 cents a rd.
      I’ve been using it with absoluely no problems.
      I’ve also been able to find 50rd FN mags for $15…..I bought a dozen.
      They fit inside a “Pop Flare” pouch perfectly and because they have a molle vest strap,
      you can carry 4+4 on either side of your molle vest, pus one mag in the gun.
      That’s 450 rds folks. They’re twice as fast as a 9mm and weigh half as much, meaning more lead down range for you.

  13. avatar Rambeast says:

    I had a chance to run a few mags through a PS90. The recoil is almost nonexistent. The ergos are atrocious to anyone that is used to the standard rifle feel. The irons are a huge pita in any light, and if you are firing at a target beyond 15yds or so, the picture is almost completely obscured. I loved the bottom eject (lefty here). The ammo price was a real let down. Mag swaps are a task until you train for quite some time, luckily you have 50 rounds available.

    On a side note, I fired a 5.7 uppered AR, and it was pure bliss. The magwell was your ejection port. The ergos, irons, and mag swaps were much better, but you lose the shorter form factor.

  14. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

    I’ve always liked the look and feel of these, but have never handled one beyond the LGS counter.

    What always keeps me from ever buying one is the special ammo. I don’t like expensive, exotic, practically proprietary ammunition, or magazines, for that matter.

    That’s why I chose the KRISS Vector over this FN. It’s chambered in .45ACP and takes Glock magazines.

  15. avatar Sixpack70 says:

    I had no interest in these guns, and then my friend brought his to the range with an Eotech. I now have one in my safe and it is my HD guns. I put an Aimpoint on mine and it is accurate and easy to shoot. I got mine new for $900 but in trades for the Mil/Le special FN had. I had three guns I wasnt happy with. I have the same gripes the author does on this gun, but it works flawlessly. The round out of the 16″ barrel is moving around 2600fps with the FN ammo. It will get the job done.

    The bottom eject means you can collect your brass in a small pile. With the brass catcher you can run around without leaving any brass. Good if you decide to do some run and gun with it.

  16. avatar James says:

    I love my PS90 so much I had to get a second one and SBR it. The are great as PDW weapons, excellent for women, youth or small stature shooters and flawlessly reliable. Mine is very accurate out to about 50 yards with my Burris Fastfire III red dot, and I have occasionally gone to the 100 yard range with it and gotten decent 5″ groups.

    As for ammo, it is cheaper to shoot than brass case .45 or .357 and cheaper than about any brass case rifle cartridge I can think of. Also there are a number of boutique ammo makers out there like Elite that make modern defense ammo rounds that I would not hesitate to bet my life on.

  17. avatar Jay Wolf says:

    ” reloaded ammunition from a vendor that seems to have fallen into disrepute.”

    Whom would this be?

    1. avatar Ed Rogers says:

      While I won’t mention a name, I’ll direct you to the FN forum. Look in the 5.7/ammo section. It probably won’t take too long to find out.

  18. avatar Don Rary says:

    Where is the least expensive reputable place to buy the P 90 and the P 90 S and the magazines, as well as the ammo. I am a multiple state Certified Hunter Safety Instructor, with 54 years of active participation. Is a federal Automatic Fire permit needed for these two guns?

    1. avatar Ed Rogers says:

      Don, I don’t believe you can purchase theP90. The PS90 is available from many retailers, without any special permit. I recommend visiting your favorite gun store and see if they will order one.

  19. avatar walter says:

    From a design standpoint, I wish they based the weapon on the .30 carbine round instead. Same PDW role, ammo everyplace, better range and no lack of power.

    1. avatar Ed Rogers says:

      I think they were looking to replace the 9mm cartridge. FNH made the FS2000, which is 5.56. There’s also the IWI Tavor as well.

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