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