In the mid-1980s, NATO began seriously considering the existence of an
enemy wearing Kevlar body armour, and how it would affect future combat
engagements. Against a rifle, Kevlar provided only minimal protection,
but it was a lifesaver against SMGs and pistols, which prompted NATO to
consider switching to another small-arms ammo round. Fabrique Nationale
(FN) of Belgium presented an answer: the 5.7x28mm FN round, a small
bullet that looked like a smaller version of the 5.56x45mm rounds used
by NATO for its Rifles and Carbines. Not only that, FN produced two
weapons for the new round, the FN Five-SeveN pistol and the FN P90 SMG.
The FN P90, like the Steyr TMP, it was originally designed with the PDW
(Personal Defense Weapon) concept in mind, only chambered for 5.7mm as
opposed to the 9mm SMGs currently existing. The weapon has been tested
against Kevlar and CRISAT (Titanium plus layered Kevlar) and easily made
short work of its targets. It was highly compact (far smaller than the
MP5), carries a large magazine, and is easily maintained due to the
simplicity of most of its working parts. Top it off with an incredibly
robust construction, and it is small wonder that European Special Forces
teams have literally fallen in love with the P90.
The unique P90 magazine can pack a total of 50 rounds, and actually
turns the 5.7x28mm bullets 90 degrees within the magazine case in order
to fit the great amount of ammunition. Before firing, the magazine turns
the bullets back into the 'normal' position and into the weapon. There
have been some reports that a mishandled magazine will jam if struck too
hard (thus destroying the rotating mechanism), but so far, no serious
problems have been experienced with the gun.
The recent Iraq war (2003), the performance of the 5.7mm rounds in the
P90 against unarmored targets is comparable to most 9mm submachineguns.
However, take note that this may be in part due to the P90's long barrel
(as opposed to the Five-seveN pistol). It remains to be seen if the
pistol will liv eup to it's reputation, but for all intents and purposes
the submachinegun P90 performed well.
As either a PDW or assault SMG, the P90 leaves little to be
desired, and may someday revolutionize the way SMGs are
made and used.
[edit on 6/11/04 by W4rl0rD]
[edit on 7/11/04 by W4rl0rD]