When FN created the latest generation of Five-seveN pistol, they didn’t just add an optic cut to the slide and call it good. The FN Five-seveN MRD (Micro Red Dot) is an evolved update to a unique handgun that many love and others can’t seem to figure out. The new Mk3 (actually Mk3T for tactical) version, however, eliminates more (but not quite all) of the objections that some have had to what’s always been incredibly fun, accurate, light-shooting handgun.
At its core, the new Five-seveN MRD is largely the same pistol FN’s been making since the late 90’s. It holds 20+1 rounds of light, fast 5.7×28 ammo in about the same size as a 17+1 GLOCK 17 or SIG P320 full size. And those smaller, lighter bullets travel faster and penetrate better than anything that shoots parabellum bullets…and with three more rounds on board than its 9mm brethren.
As you can see from the A/B photo above, with the Mk3 MRD update, FN has also improved the looks and the ergonomics of the Five-seveN. And they’ve added that slide cut for a micro red dot, an accessory that’s now become a must-have for so many pistol shooters.
FN has given the Mk3 MRD a multi-textured grip, more along the lines of what’s on their 509 series handguns.
As for the slide, the Mk3 MRD has greatly updated things with a more modern, angular contour and deep, grippy slide serrations fore and aft. It’s a big step up from the Mk2 slide in both looks and ergonomics and answers the criticisms of some who said the earlier versions looked too much like an airsoft gun.
Like earlier versions, the Mk3 slide is still polymer-jacketed steel. But with the upgraded angularity and deep serrations on the outside, no one will be mistaking this for an airsoft pistol.
The Five-seveN Mk3 is still fully ambidextrous, with a reversible magazine release and a truly ambi frame safety.
Ah yes…that safety. It’s right where it’s always been since the first Five-seveN rolled off the Belgian production line back in ’98. It’s not in the usual thumb-flippable position at the rear of the frame. Instead, the Five-seveN’s safety switch is located in the middle, just above the trigger.
Yes, that horrifies some…until they shoot the pistol. Then they usually stop their bitching and appreciate the thought process that went into that. You can easily manipulate the switch with either your trigger finger or your weak side thumb.
Granted, if you’re used to flipping your safety on and off with your thumb — and you probably are — that’s going to take some training. But it’s not nearly as big a deal as you’d think and you may very well come to prefer that positioning.
If you’re old school and will be shooting your Five-seveN with irons, you won’t be disappointed. The suppressor-height sights are excellent, with a photo-luminescent front post and an adjustable rear sight. It’s a shame FN isn’t offering a threaded barrel version, but there are rumblings of one coming down the road.
That brings us to the Five-seveN MRD’s optic cut. No other pistol maker today does as good a job on red dot compatibility as FN.
You won’t buy a Five-seveN Mk3 and then have to figure out what mount your red dot of choice uses, then spend another $30 to $50 for the right plate. As FN describes it . . .
The FN Five-seveN MRD’s proprietary optics-mounting system consists of a series of plates that match your optic to the slide for a quick and seamless setup – simply remove the cover plate, select the compatible optic plate and screw set that match your MRD and mount using the provided hardware. The system is compatible with most common optic footprints, offering an unmatched variety of options.
Exactly. It’s all right there in the box with your pistol. That’s a huge plus that prevents a lot of aggravation when mounting your MRD.
As for the trigger, the Five-seveN has come a long way since it first hit American shores almost 25 years ago. FN now gives the trigger mechanism a new coating that they say makes the Mk3 trigger feel like a well broken-in Mk2 trigger from the very first pull.
While I’ve never been a trigger snob, the Mk3 MRD’s trigger is more than serviceable with a smoother pull as well as tactile and audible reset. That means it won’t slow you down on follow-up shots or hinder the Five-seveN’s inherent accuracy which, after all, is one of the big reasons so many people buy the pistol.
As for that accuracy…it’s excellent. Not only is 5.7×28 an exceptionally flat-shooting, low recoiling round from the Five-seveN’s 4.8-inch cold hammer-forged barrel, it lets you reach out and touch targets at greater distances than standard handgun ammo.
The 5.7×28 cartridge is like a mini-5.56 round with more effective range and less felt recoil. You’ll get tight, accurate groups at distances 9mm just can’t match.
Those longer rounds mean longer magazines and therefore a longer grip. There’s no getting around that. For most shooters, that won’t be a problem at all. If you’re like me and have unnaturally small hands, you’ll want to get your mitts on one before buying.
That said, I’ve had no trouble shooting it and shooting it accurately. The biggest issue small-mitted folks will have is the reach to the magazine release. You will have to adjust your grip. Physics (and genetics) is a harsh mistress.
And then there’s the issue of cost. Unlike the olden days (of about three years ago), there are now other 5.7 handgun options out there. Those competitors do what the Five-seveN does and do it a lower price point. But they do it in more bare-bones, less elegant packages (and without the Mk3’s optic-readiness).
A side benefit to those competitors is more people shooting 5.7×28. That will mean more ammo produced which will translate into increased availability (yes, it’s out there) and, one would hope, lower prices.
FN is still making and selling the Mk2 version of the Five-seveN, though you’d have to wonder how long that will last. In terms of MSRP, the Mk3 is $130 more…that’s an easy buying decision given the upgrades FN has made to the new MRD version. As for real world street prices, you can find the MK2 pistols for between $1000 and $1100. The new Mk3 can be had for around $1275.
The Five-seveN MRD is clearly the 5.7x28mm Mercedes E-Class to its competitors’ VW Jettas. They’ll all get you there, one just does it with far more refinement and panache. And if you’re a red dot shooter, FN’s MRD mounting system is simply the best there is.
If those differences are worth it to you, you definitely won’t be disappointed by this latest iteration of Five-seveN. It’s one hell of a fun, accurate handgun.
Specifications: FN Five-seveN MRD
OPERATION: Delayed blowback, Single-action only
MAGAZINE CAPACITY: 10 or 20 rounds
WEIGHT: 25.2 oz. (without magazine)
BARREL LENGTH: 4.8″
OVERALL LENGTH: 8.2″
TWIST RATE: 1:9″ RH
TRIGGER PULL: 4.4 – 7.87 lb.
SIGHT RADIUS: 7.0″
MSRP: $1449 (retail price about $1275)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style: * * * *
The Mk3 is a huge improvement in looks over earlier versions of the Five-seveN. No one will mistake this one for a toy pistol. And it’s available in black or tactical peanut butter, depending on your color preference.
Egonomics * * * * 1/2
Again, FN made all the right moves here. The recontoured slide with its deep serrations and the multi-texturing on the grip put the Mk3 head and shoulders above predecessors. Yes, it’s still a thick grip, but that’s part of the price of admission to running 5.7×28 in a handgun.
Accuracy * * * * *
This is where the flat-shooting Five-seveN has always really shined. You’ll get tight, repeatable groups out to 100 yards and beyond.
Reliability * * * * *
Customize This * * * * 1/2
With the addition of FN’s excellent MRD system, you can now add a micro red dot. There’s rail space, of course. Half a star off for no threaded barrel option, though aftermarket solutions are out there and we hear FN may have something in the works for the future.
Overall * * * * 1/2
If you’re someone who just doesn’t get the whole 5.7×28 thing, you probably still won’t be down with the updated Five-seveN. But for the significant number of folks who know and love the round, the updated Five-seveN is now the best-in-class 5.7 pistol. If you’re OK with its cost, the Five-seveN MRD is head and shoulders above anything else that’s chambered for the round.