Raise your hand if you saw this one coming. No? Nobody? Me either. From straight out of left field, Ruger has surprised us all with the new Ruger-57, a polymer-framed, full-size pistol chambered in the high velocity 5.7x28mm cartridge. And it’s awesome.
If you aren’t familiar with the 5.7×28, it’s basically a .224-inch (exact same diameter as 5.56x45mm / .223 Rem), pointy projectile loaded into a scaled-down 5.56 case. It was designed by FN for use in both the P90 bullpup carbine and Fiven-seveN pistol as a high-capacity, flat-shooting, light-recoiling replacement for 9x19mm for military type use.
While the merits of using commercially-available 5.7x28mm for defensive purposes is the subject of much internet debate, the cartridge has a large following of loyal fans. What it doesn’t have is many firearms to shoot it through.
In fact, the market of commercially-available, traditional-format handguns includes only the FN Five-seveN and . . . well that’s it. Until now.
One thing to know is that the 5.7×28 is a long round. With an overall loaded cartridge length of 1.584 inches it’s in a whole ‘nother category from, say, a .45 ACP at 1.275 inches. Fitting the round into a magazine and then fitting that magazine into a grip means making a large grip (at least front-to-back) and a longer trigger reach.
There’s just no getting around this, and, for anyone with smaller than men’s size large hands, it has always made the FN Five-seveN a difficult pistol to wrap your hand around.
Ruger did the best they could at minimizing the grip dimensions of the new pistol. They’ve sucked in the polymer and kept the wall thickness at the bare minimum everywhere they could, adding just a teeny bit along the edges to create a rounded profile.
The end result is a gun that feels more comfortable in the hand than the Five-seveN and much less brick-like. When most people grip a Five-seveN they think, “oh man, this grip is too long and fat for me to really get my hand around and I’m not sure I can control this gun well.” That ends up not being the case, because the 5.7x28mm is so dang soft shooting, but the Ruger-57 will definitely put you on the range with more confidence. It feels and looks more like a “normal” pistol, whereas the Five-seveN is more futuristic and unique in various ways.
That said, the magazine release is still a stretch. It’s located in the traditional spot, but thanks to the longer (front-to-rear) grip it’s a full extension of my thumb just to land on top of it. And at that point I can’t depress it without ever so slightly shifting my grip to give my thumb a little more slack.
While out on the range this happened naturally without having to think about it. It’s right on that cusp for me where I barely have to tweak my normal process, and rotating the gun to the left slightly at the wrist took care of it. But, as I end up saying in a surprising number of my reviews, I wear men’s size large gloves so your mileage may vary. On this pistol, it definitely will if your hands are smaller than that.
But don’t fret if that grip feels slightly larger than you’d prefer. Not only is the Ruger-57’s grip texture great and in all the right places, but while the 5.7x28mm sounds like a lion it shoots like a pussycat. It’s soft shooting like a .22 WMR, and thanks to the lightweight projectiles it shoots so dang flat — muzzle flip, that is — it’s ridiculous.
This is a particularly wonderful pistol choice for the recoil averse shooter who has huge hands.
The Ruger-57 pistol shoots so darn flat that I never lose sight of the front sight. I can track it with my eye the entire time I’m shooting, as it more twitches than jumps. Heck, it barely leaves its spot in the notch of the rear sight. This makes the Ruger-57 an extremely fast-shooting pistol.
And speaking of the front sight, it’s a bright green fiber optic job . . .
While the rear is all black and mostly serrated. This all pleases me much, as my pistol sight preference is an eye-catching front and a blacked out rear. The Ruger-57’s sights are steel and they’re nice.
The rear sight is easily adjustable for both windage and elevation, too.
Don’t like iron sights? Those two threaded holes on the top of the slide with placeholder set screws in ’em are there for mounting an accessory optic plate.
Zooming out a little and we see a nice, long sight radius thanks to a 4.94-inch barrel. At the front of the slide, Ruger has milled a good looking lightening cut through the steel.
At the front of the Ruger-57’s polymer frame is a five-slot Picatinny rail for mounting lights, lasers, bayonets, etc. Lots of space.
A metal trigger shoe with safety blade, part of what Ruger calls its Secure Action fire control system, graces the Ruger-57’s trigger well. It’s a good trigger — a bit of squidgy travel ahead of a crisp break with minimal overtravel, and a pull weight between 4.5 and 5 pounds.
The Ruger-57’s trigger has a pronounced and positive reset, though it happens farther forwards than I would prefer. When trying to shoot the Ruger-57 as quickly as I could, I found myself occasionally short-stroking the trigger. That’s just a training issue, but with a shorter trigger travel this gun would be insanely fast.
Mirrored on each side of the Ruger-57 are slim ambidextrous manual safety levers with nice serrations. Function is precise and the levers somehow manage to be simultaneously easy to use and out-of-the-way.
Other controls include a takedown lever and left-side-only slide stop. The size, location, and shielding around the slide stop worked great for me — the Ruger-57’s slide locked back on empty every single time (my thumbs never interfered with the slide stop) and the lever was easy to use both to manually lock the slide back and to release it from lock.
To field strip the Ruger-57, at least when new, you’ll probably need an implement of some sort — I used the corner of a magazine baseplate — to pop the takedown lever out from the right side to the left side. Lock the slide back, pop the safety lever off its detent, pull it out by hand from the left side, then release the slide and slide it just forward of its normal, in-battery location then lift it up and off the gun. No trigger pull necessary.
Takedown is simple, but not as fast as with most modern, polymer-framed pistols.
The Ruger-57 is internal hammer-fired. It has short rail sections at rear and in front of the locking block.
Captured recoil spring, skinny alloy steel barrel.
Like the Five-seveN, the Ruger-57 operates with a delayed blowback action. Slide and barrel do not actually lock into battery, though unlike a straight blowback action semi-auto, the barrel travels rearwards with the slide until the projectile has left the barrel and pressures have dropped. At that point, the barrel is stopped and the slide continues rearwards to extract and eject the empty case at high velocity, sending it about 20 feet above and 20 feet to the right of the shooter.
As you can see in this fancy GIF, the barrel and slide move rearwards together for a short distance — about 3/16-inch — before the slide continues on alone.
On the range, the Ruger-57 is a freakin’ hoot to shoot. The 20-round magazines — it comes with two — are easy to load and functioned flawlessly.
Combine high capacity with the boom of a magnum, the occasional fireball, a good single-action trigger, solid accuracy, nice sights, and extremely low recoil with minimal muzzle flip and you have a recipe for lots of fun. If your desired use is fun.
As a defensive weapon or for running through a competition course (one that doesn’t require meeting a certain ammo power factor), the Ruger-57 is a force to reckon with. Its ability to rapidly put rounds on target is exceptionally hard to match.
Speaking of accuracy, the Ruger-57 did well. I’m not very good when it comes to making tight groups with iron pistol sights, so this result at 25 yards is really solid for me. It was shot with Elite Ammunition’s Protector rounds, which are little ballistic tip jobs that are great for critter hunting and self-defense. Elite Ammo’s Penetrator rounds made near-identical groups.
I also shot (and cut myself with) a few rounds of the ridiculously sharp and noticeably hotter-loaded Vanguard Outfitters Dragon Fang ammo and tried to shoot some Detroit Ammo Co. 55 grain subsonic 5.7x28mm but ran into issues.
Though the Ruger-57 doesn’t have a threaded barrel, I expect this will be available in the future whether from Ruger or the aftermarket, so I thought I’d see if it cycled the subsonic loads (though, yes, adding a suppressor could easily help or hurt that function so this test may have been of limited utility anyway). Unfortunately, due to the shoulder shape on this ammo it wouldn’t fully chamber in the Ruger and couldn’t be fired.
I had previously noticed this different shoulder shape when testing the CMMG Mk57 BANSHEE in 5.7×28, but the BANSHEE chambered and ran it without issue. Judging from online reviews, FN’s 5.7×28 guns seem to chamber it fine as well. So the Ruger-57 may have a tighter chamber, but this is still clearly an issue with the ammo, not the gun.
There are few pistols more fun to shoot than the Ruger-57. And priced at just more than half the MSRP of the FN Five-seveN, it has finally brought 5.7x28mm to the masses. The Ruger-57 is also easier to grip and, in my opinion, a lot nicer to look at. It’s one hell of a fast, flat-shooting pistol. I hope it drives an increase in availability and a decrease in cost of the previously-niche 5.7x28mm cartridge.
Though certainly not a fanboy of the caliber, the Ruger-57 is the first gun that makes me consider stocking up and shooting it on the reg. This thing’s a blast! And in more ways than one.
Barrel Length: 4.94 inches
Overall Length: 8.65 inches
Width: 1.2 inches
Height: 5.6 inches
Weight: 24.5 ounces
Frame: glass-filled nylon
Slide: alloy steel with black oxide finish
Barrel: alloy steel with black nitride treatment for wear resistance
Safety: ambi thumb safeties
Sights: green fiber optic front and fully adjustable, black serrated rear
MSRP: $799 (retail should be anywhere from $600 to $699, at least to start)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style and Appearance * * * *
I think the thing looks great.
Reliability * * * * *
It ran 100% with a range of ammo weights and styles, feeding smoothly and ejecting [very] confidently, aside from not chambering those subsonic rounds with the weird shoulders.
Ergonomics * * * *
Compared to the rest of the polymer pistol market I’d give the Ruger-57 two stars. Compared to the only other truly comparable 5.7x28mm pistol, the FN Five-seveN, it’s a definite improvement with a more comfortable grip. So four stars it is.
Customization * * * *
Optics-ready is cool and it warrants one star better than your average pistol, though if I’m honest the Ruger-57 employs a somewhat kludgy optics mounting design.
Accuracy * * * *
Overall * * * *
A strong four stars, indeed! My biggest gripe is the reach to the reversible magazine release, and unless the aftermarket comes up with an extended button, this is just a side effect of having to fit the long 5.7×28 round into the grip. Ruger has managed to accommodate it in a much sleeker, more comfortable fashion than FN, so overall I’ll happily call it a win. On the plus side, the Ruger-57 is one of the funnest and fastest pistols there is, and whether you’re planning on taking advantage of that on the range or in self-defense, it will absolutely serve you well.