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I’m originally from New York City, but spent 12 years of my adulthood in Colorado where I amassed a significant gun collection. Northern Colorado, though, was no great haven for gun owners, and in the county where I lived, residents weren’t going to come by a CCW permit or any NFA goodies with any ease. To make matters worse, in 2001 I had to move back to very gun unfriendly NYC. I was forced to leave my gun collection behind to be retrieved at a later date when I could plot my next move. When the time came, I chose a state that was not only warm year round, but had friendly gun laws — Florida . . .

When I moved down to South Florida, the first three things I did when I got here were, 1) apply for my CCW permit, 2) buy a SBR, and buy a 22LR suppressor. No joke, within the first three days in my newly adopted state of Florida, I accomplished these three things. I was so excited to finally live in a free state I couldn’t retrain myself.

My first carry gun was a super lightweight .357 Magnum titanium J-Frame, a S&W 360PD. Turns out the lightweight 357 J-Frames are not very pleasant to train with, even with 38+P ammo. Plus I felt a little undergunned with only five rounds on tap and a slow reload to follow if necessary. It didn’t last very long as my primary CCW.

From there I moved on to a S&W Shield. It’s an excellent, super-reliable and very accurate slim nine. But after seeing horror story after horror story in the media, I again felt a little undergunned with it. “What if…” well, you get the point.

Around the time I started questioning the Shield, I acquired a new FN Five-seveN MKII in FDE and fell in love. There is so much to like about this gun. It’s a full sized duty gun and weighs a mere 28 ozs … fully loaded with 21 rounds! The trigger pull is about 4.4 lbs. and breaks like glass. The short and crisp trigger reset an absolute marvel, too.

The accuracy of the Five-seveN is absolutely unreal. It’s simply the most accurate handgun I have ever owned, and I have owned hundreds over the last 27 years. At 10 yards I can put 20 rounds in a 2”x3” oval quite consistently. Recoil is about 60% of a GLOCK 17, making fast and accurate follow-up shots a breeze.

The rounds churned out by my Five-seveN are usually the FN Belgium-made LEO SS198LF 5.7x28mm ammo that’s readily available to civilians online. It travels at 2100 FPS from the gun’s 4.8” barrel. The alloy construction of the 27gr projectile may make the bullet light, but it’s not small. The bullet itself is almost an inch long, and is designed to tumble and yaw in a soft target. Research of actual shootings shows it does this quite effectively and yields the same stopping power as any major service caliber. The size of the 27gr projectile compares favorably to a 115gr 9mm bullet. What it lacks in width, it makes up for in length.

Those light projectiles also make carrying spare magazines a pleasure. A fully loaded mag with 20 rounds weighs just over seven ozs. That’s about half the weight of a fully loaded GLOCK 17 mag. Carrying the Five-seveN with an extra mag means I have 41 rounds on hand. I definitely no longer feel undergunned with the Five-seveN riding comfortably on my hip in a Tucker Gunleather Cover Up Plus.

I wear shorts and a t-shirt seven days a week. At 6’1 and 180 lbs I’m not a huge guy, my shape is long and lean. With a good belt and IWB holster, I have absolutely no problem carrying the full-sized Five-seveN. It probably has something to do with the fact that, though it’s about the same size as a 1911, it’s about half the weight.

I put 100 rounds a week through my Five-seveN and it’s proven to be 100% reliable and dead-on target. I currently have about 30 handguns. While I enjoy shooting all of them, and many make excellent carry candidates (like my GLOCK 19, my tuned S&W 586 L Comp, or my slim S&W 3953 or Shield), I have no interest in carrying anything but my FN Five-seveN.

73 Responses to TTAG Reader: What I Carry and Why – Harrishmasher’s FN Five-seveN

    • Why? Because it has a larger grip for more control, larger barrel for more velocity (ie power), and holds more ammunition.

      The only reason why most of us don’t carry a full sized service weapon is because we can’t effectively conceal it, or find it too heavy to carry around during the day.

      • And all that steel absorbs more recoil. That is, for those of us who’s guns aren’t made of tupperware of course.

        • My G20 10mm will soak up recoil way better than same caliber metal pistols. I shot many metal 10s, the Tupperware has better follow up shots. Use true 10 power rounds as well.

      • I want to get this straight. You say you can’t effectively conceal a full sized handgun right after someone tells you they effectively conceal a full sized handgun in summer clothing. Do you not see the illogic of your statement?

        • Perhaps there’s concern about printing – illegal in some states – or CCW otherwise being discovered. Concealed means different things to different people.

        • I was in my local gun store just this afternoon looking at full sized pistols. Still the same problem, while I could usually conceal a full size, I can 100% conceal my single stack all the time and that allows me to carry it all the time.

        • If this “What I Carry and Why” segment has shown us anything, you are actually quite wrong. Lots of Glock 19’s, 1911’s, Fullsize M&P9’s, XD’s, and the like. I haven’t been keeping track but it feels like well over half of these articles have been people CC’ing fullsize/duty size guns.

        • Citation please.

          ‘Just about everyone’ is a weasel word/phrase anyway. What does that mean. 90%? 95%? 51%?

          I’m choosing to completely disregard your completely unsubstantiated claim that of the population of “full frame gun carriers,” some high percentage has uttered those words.

      • Exactly. I am big enough to conceal them comfortably and completely. Why would I choose something smaller that is more difficult to control, less accurate (site radius wise), and holds less of potentially smaller less effective ammunition? Sure I could carry a smaller gun but I can’t figure out any reason why I should.

    • I’m 5’3″ and haven’t really felt a difference carrying smaller pistols over larger ones. With the right holster and clothing choices, they’ll all conceal just fine – I’ve noticed the carry location is a far bigger factor in my inclination to carry on a daily basis. I’ve carried:

      Ruger LCR .357mag loaded w/.38spl – Pocket holster carry; sold, but will probably re-buy w/different holster.
      H&K P7 – IWB carry; too nice of a gun to carry after having it refinished… and probably need to lose 10 lbs to wear the holster now.
      Makarov – Shoulder carry; usually only carry this one when I backpack or camp.
      H&K 45CT – OWB carry; basically a full-size gun with the extended muzzle and the most comfortable to carry. If someone sees the muzzle, they’re probably too ignorant to realize what they’re looking at anyhow.

    • “I just dont get why anyone conceals a full size gun. “

      So what. It’s not for you to “get” why someone else does anything.

      Nice double-speak way of saying you don’t agree with it, by the way. Saying you don’t “get” it implies you don’t understand the pros and cons. Adding “just my opinion” extends that to mean you HAVE made a judgment and disagree with the choice.

      If YOU don’t want to conceal a full size gun, that’s your choice. Do you see us saying “I don’t “get” why people carry undersized guns”?

      (Note that I did not justify why I carry a full size gun. If you are wondering why, it’s because I don’t owe you a justification. My carry choice(s) are mine and mine alone. As are yours).

      • You’re forgetting Internet’s Law of Finite Happiness…

        You see, happiness is a zero sum game on the Internet. In order to feel happy, or pleased, about a choice one has made, one must first get on the web and bash, or put down, someone else’s differing choice.

        You cannot be happy on the Internet without first stealing it from someone else.

        So, don’t blame him. Blame the inventor of the Internet and Law of Finite Happiness.

        Thanks, Al Gore.

    • I conceal a full-sized revolver (4″ Ruger GP-100). I’m a little taller than Dan @ 6’3″ 220#, but I have very wide shoulders, and I don’t have an imprinting problem, but finding the right holster was a pill. I like being able to fire .357 combat-loads and not feel like I’m catching fast-balls with my bare hand. Maybe it’s because I’ve never carried a smaller lighter gun, but I don’t mind the weight and size of it.

      • “finding the right holster”

        That’s the key to carrying a full frame gun. True always, but even more important for larger weapons.

        And, it’s very “personal” for fit and comfort. I get a bit aggravated at the “just buy X holster” comments that come up from time to time. What works for one person does not work for everyone.

        I’m smaller than both of you, and I have no problem carrying my 42 ounce full frame pistol concealed.

        And I don’t “get” why so many people find it necessary to rag on others’ carry choices. It’s as bad as caliber wars. Just carry.

    • Higher capacity, easier to shoot well, longer sight radius, higher intimidation factor meaning you are less likely to actually have to fire in SD… And only marginally larger. BUT you have to have a combination of body shape, holster choice & wardrobe in order to make it viable year round. To each their own. The 22 you have with you is 100% more valuable than the 10mm at home unloaded in your safe. Carry on.

    • I normally carry a j-frame iwb with a spare speed strip but with things how they are right now, I switched to my M&P9. Frankly feel more comfortable with those 17 rounds.

  1. Nice set up and rationale.

    Can’t imagine how expensive 100 rounds of 5.7 a week is though, but if you can afford it it’s awesome you practice so much

    • Can’t imagine how expensive 100 rounds of 5.7 a week is though

      SS197SR ammo has been cheap this year. You could buy it on sale for $15/50 often. That’s pretty cheap. Every times it went on sale I bought another case. I’ve got over 5,000 rds. And if you were willing to buy Federal 5.7, it’s even cheaper. I shoot FN ammo for practice, but carry Elite Ammo for SD.

      I, too, carry a 5.7 in a Safariland SLS holster. Wonderful gun.

  2. From the tests I have seen the aluminum projectiles make a nice splash but have very shallow penetration. What are you thoughts on this? Do you have a link to the studies that indicate that it has the same incapacitation rates as major service calibers. Don’t get my motives wrong here, I too carry a Five Seven but with 45gr bullets or Elite T6B (which if I remember correctly also have shallow penetration). I have never been confident that it has the same incapacitation capability of the better 9mm rounds.

    • I’ve seen what the 40gr V-Max (197SR) round will do to pigs out of the P90 and it is pretty impressive. Ugly wounds. I haven’t seen what they do from the pistol or what the other rounds will do.

    • I was likely mistaken about the T6B. Elite’s tests had it penetrating 12 and 13″ from a Five SeveN. Mr. Guns N Gear tested the 198LF and got 9″ of penetration. I may give too much weight to gel tests, but I like them a lot because they simplify things a lot (probably too much). BrassFetcher reported the SS195 as penetrating around 9″. I have only shot gel once so far with my hand loads. Those 45gr non expanding rounds had very consistent two lobe wound channels but all exited the block between 12 and 17″. My sight had come loose that day so my shot placement was terrible. I think they all went fairly strait for at least 10″ and then began to veer a little. I didn’t get any hits straight on or close to the center of the block to tell for sure.

  3. This gun was never meant to be carried concealed, its way too big and it was not invented to use with expanding bullets either. It was invented to be used with military armor piercing ammo because the smaller the projectile and the higher the velocity the more penetration you get. P.O. Ackely the great gunsmith proved that way back in the 1950’s with the .220 Swift when he shot through 1/2 inch armored plate with nothing more than a 48 grain soft point bullet while the 30-06 military armor piercing round with a steel penetrator insert failed in the same test.

    W.D.M. Bell in a way also proved the same thing in the very early 1900’s when he killed elephants with full metal jacketed ammo in the 6.5 mm cartridge which he proved was the only cartridge he ever used that could always be counted on to shoot right through an elephant while the big bore elephant cartridges he used often failed. This is exactly why so many old time elephant hunters got themselves killed because they were using big bore calibers that did not penetrate sufficiently to kill. Bill Judd was killed in just such an incident while using the .600 Nitro Express. The bull was hit 6 times before it died. It only took 1 shot when W.D.M. Bell used the 6.5mm.

    Still the myth of the big bore over the small bore continues to live in the fantasy world of the big bore boys who have been beating the big bore drums for years without ever having actually tested anything themselves. Pistolero magazine in the 1980’s found out what Bell had said decades earlier when they tested the 9mm v/s the .45acp. The 9mm made the pigs jump higher and squeal louder when they were shot as compared to shooting them with the .45acp. Ditto for the .38 special and .357 mag. None was inferior to the .45acp.

  4. I was just thinking the other day that you never hear of this gun anymore. It seems to have been a passing fad and niche cartridge. While I know of 1 person who has one as a range toy, this is the first I have ever heard of one as a CCW.

    • David,

      Problem is price, by me these guns are still hard to find so prices are high, plus ammo cost. If i had a FN SBR P90 I’d pick one of these up 5 7s up as well since i like to have more than one gun to use a caliber of ammo in.

    • It was never popular enough to be a fad. Full sized are easy to conceal under a loose garment. Mine has a 6″ barrel and a reflex sight and family took months to notice it.

  5. Is that front sight really that big?

    That’s the first thing that caught my eye about that pistol. I prefer a lower profile on top of the slide, but that’s just me.

  6. “What it lacks in width, it makes up for in length.”

    Compensating for something?

    Sorry, couldn’t help myself. Carry on.

  7. lightweight 357 J-Frames are not very pleasant to train with

    That right there might be the understatement of the year.

    Nice write-up.

    • Just bought some “Critical Defense” +P rounds for my recently purchased 38 Special LCR (15 oz.) I’m not looking forward to shooting them.

      • If the recoil feels too snappy, try wearing a fingerless bicycle glove on your strong hand. You’ll be able to train with a lot of really hot .38s with no problems.

  8. FN is missing an opportunity by not having a compact version of the Five SeveN. Using the same design with a shorter mag and barrel would make for something highly concealable, that would weigh less than most single-stacks and have a nice 14 or so round capacity.

    • I think that would lower velocity too much. And a high muzzle velocity is the only way this gun can be effective.

      • “I think that would lower velocity too much.”

        You can work up short-barrel loads.

        Shooting the Bull 410 has done videos on derringer loads for the NAA mini, and that’s a 1 inch barrel. They had a punch well above their weight, so to speak.

        Fast burn powder *is* out there..

  9. I carry a fnx.45 and two spare mags just fine…i live in florida….wear shorts and t shirts.
    No problem with my gear so far?
    Crossbreed holster.
    Works for me. Mind over matter.
    If you don’t mind…it don’t matter.

    • Which FNX.45? I have tried every combination I can think of, including a crossbreed style holder to concealed carry an FNX-Tactical and I can’t get it done. I’d appreciate any advice. I’m 6’1″ 200lbs and fairly lean. I can carry a government 1911 just fine but I can’t seem to pull off that FNX Tactical.

  10. I’ve only shoot a few FN 5.7’s and one was a jam-o-matic. Maybe I’m the only one, or was shooting an off-spec gun or ammo. The trigger pull was decent and follow up shots – other than the jams – were quite fast. I’d be willing to give the gun more chances though, because I like to shoot different calibers and designs.

    • If you were using either FN SS197 (Blue Tip) or Federal American Eagle….
      FN SS197 & Federal American Eagle.

      It’s damn good training ammo……..for MALFUNCTION DRILLS!

      Both rounds are loaded by Fiocchi in Ozark, MO using brass supplied by FN. To say that their QA/QC is crap is being KIND!

      For serious use, ONLY use FN SS198 (loaded in Belgium by FN) or Elite Ammunition.

      My 5.7 has been 100% reliable with SS198. I’ve carried it both on and off Duty.

      • My 5.7 has been flawless with FN 197 ammo (and 198). I’ve never tried the Federal stuff. But, with the FN stuff, it is truly flawless.

  11. All this angst about a boutique cartridge. I know I’m staying away from uncommon calibers that are hard to find and expensive. I know I’ll never have one but it looks pretty cool. I’d love to shoot it…

    • Not even in the same league as the 5.7, plus the PMR 30 has a much less than stellar reputation on reliability.

      The Elite S4M round I’m carrying is rated at 2,600 fps out of the 5.7.

  12. And not one mention of the Microtech Combat Troodon. Guess I’m more Truth about knives than guns today,lol. Definitely get points for style. I have heard as someone mentioned of them carrying the kel tec pmr so it is not beyond the realm of possibilities.

    • It’s not every day you hear of a FiveSeven as a CCW, but combining it with a knife like that is seriously unique. At $400-500 for the knife, it’s a bit spendy… but wow, it’s sure nice to look at.

  13. I carry a Desert Eagle, .50 AE with 10″ barrel. Works for me, might not work for others. To each his own. Thanks for the article.

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