FN P90

The P90 is a Belgian designed 5.7x28mm submachine gun, developed between 1986-1987 by Stphane Ferrard at Fabrique Nationale de Herstal. The weapons name is an abbreviation of Project, and the number 90, which specifies a weapon system of the 1990s.The submachine gun contains several innovative features, including the proprietary ammunition. It uses the new, 5.7x28mm cartridge, which has a greater penetrating capability, lethal range and flatter trajectory than most other pistol caliber cartridges such as the NATO-standard 9x19mm Parabellum round. Initially the weapon used a 5.7x28mm SS90 cartridge (with a lightweight, roundnose, jacketed projectile and a polymer core), as well as tracer, training (reduced range), sub-caliber (increased velocity and effective range of up to 250 m) and blank ammunition. The first prototype firing this ammunition was completed in October 1986, and over 3,000 submachine guns were produced in this configuration until 1993 in a low-rate initial production run. Meanwhile, FN revised the ammunition, with the intention of using it in a planned semi-automatic pistol of the same caliber - the Five-seven. The new cartridge, designated the SS190, has a more conventional full metal, plated steel jacket, lead core and steel/aluminum penetrator. Several other projectiles were also developed for the new cartridge, including the L191 tracer round, a subsonic SB193 bullet for sound-suppressed P90 firearms and blank ammunition. This modified version of the P90, adapted to use the new ammunition was introduced in 1993.The P90 is considered a Personal Defense Weapon (PDW), and is designed as a compact but powerful firearm for vehicle drivers, operators of crew-served weapons, support personnel, special operators and anti-terrorist units.

FN P90
Class Manportable
Type Machine Guns
Manufacturer FN Herstal
Origin Belgium
Country Name Origin Year
Belgium 1991
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Afghanistan 2001 2014 View
Iraq 1990 1991 View
Iraq 2003 2011 View
Libya 2011 2011 View
Mexico 2006 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
FN Herstal 1990 View

The P90 is a selective fire, straight blowback-operated weapon with a cyclic rate of fire of 900 RPM (rounds per minute). The weapon is chambered for FN's 5.7×28mm ammunition, and although it was developed and initially marketed as a personal defense weapon, it could be considered a submachine gun or compact assault rifle. Its unusual shape is based on extensive ergonomic research. The weapon is grasped by means of a thumbhole in the frame that acts as a pistol grip, as well as an oversized trigger guard that acts as a foregrip for the shooter's support hand. The P90 fires from a closed bolt for maximum accuracy, and its design makes extensive use of polymers for reduced weight and cost. Overall, the weapon is relatively lightweight, weighing 2.5 kg (5.6 lb) empty, or 3 kg (6.6 lb) with a loaded 50-round magazine.

The P90 is notable for being fully ambidextrous—it can be operated by right or left-handed shooters with equal ease, and without making any modifications to the weapon. FN Herstal has described it as the "first fully ambidextrous individual automatic weapon." The charging handle, magazine release and backup iron sights are symmetrically distributed on both sides of the weapon, and the firing selector is located directly at the foot of the trigger, where it can be operated from either side by the shooter's trigger finger or support hand thumb. When fired, the P90 ejects spent cartridge casings downward through a chute located behind the grip, so spent cases are kept out of the shooter's line of sight.

The P90 can be fitted with a sling for greater ease of carry, and since the weapon has a fixed stock (as opposed to having a collapsing or folding stock), it can be quickly deployed when needed. The weapon's smooth, rounded contours prevent it from snagging on the shooter's clothing or equipment, and a small vertical protrusion is provided at the front end of the weapon's frame to prevent the shooter's hand from accidentally slipping in front of the muzzle while shooting. A hollow compartment inside the rear of the weapon's frame—accessed by removing the buttplate—allows for convenient storage of a cleaning kit.

The P90 was designed to have a length no greater than a man's shoulder width, to allow it to be easily carried and maneuvered in tight spaces, such as the inside of an armored vehicle. To achieve this, the weapon's design uses the unconventional bullpup configuration, in which the action and magazine are located behind the trigger and alongside the shooter's face so that there is no wasted space in the stock. The P90's dimensions are minimized by its unique horizontally mounted feeding system, wherein the box magazine sits parallel to the barrel on top of the weapon's frame. The weapon overall has an extremely compact profile—it is the most compact fixed-stock submachine gun to be made. The standard version of the weapon has an overall length of 500 mm (19.7 in), a height of 210 mm (8.3 in), and a width of 55 mm (2.2 in).

The P90 requires minimal maintenance, and it can be disassembled quickly and easily. It is a modular firearm, consisting of four main component groups: the barrel and optical sight group, the moving parts group, the frame and trigger group, and the hammer group. The P90's barrel is cold hammer-forged and chrome-lined, with an overall length of 263 mm (10.4 in). The barrel has eight rifling grooves with a right-hand twist rate of 1:231 mm (1:9.1 in), and it is equipped with a diagonally cut flash suppressor that also acts as a recoil compensator. The stated service life of the barrel is 20,000 rounds.

The P90 uses an internal hammer striking mechanism and a trigger mechanism with a three-position rotary dial fire control selector, located at the foot of the trigger. The dial has three settings: S – safe, 1 – semi-automatic fire, and A – fully automatic fire. When set on A, the P90's fire selector provides a two-stage trigger operation similar to that of the Steyr AUG assault rifle—pulling the trigger back slightly produces semi-automatic fire, and pulling the trigger fully to the rear produces fully automatic fire.

Type Personal defense weapon
Place of origin Belgium
Service history
In service 1991–present
Used by Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, France, Germany, Georgia, Greece, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Suriname, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United States, Venezuela
Wars Gulf War

Afghanistan War

Iraq War

Mexican Drug War

Libyan Civil War

2013 Lahad Datu standoff
Production history
Designed 1986–90
Manufacturer FN Herstal
Produced 1990–present
Variants P90 (P90 TR, P90 USG, P90 LV, P90 TR LV, P90 USG IR)

PS90 (PS90 TR, PS90 USG)
Weight 2.6 kg (5.7 lb) (P90)

2.85 kg (6.3 lb) (PS90)
Length 50.5 cm (19.9 in) (P90)

66.6 cm (26.2 in) (PS90)
Barrel length 26.4 cm (10.4 in) (P90)

40.7 cm (16.0 in) (PS90)
Width 5.5 cm (2.2 in)
Height 21 cm (8.3 in)
Cartridge FN 5.7×28mm
Action Straight blowback, closed bolt
Rate of fire 900 RPM (rounds per minute)
Muzzle velocity 715 m/s (2,350 ft/s)
Effective firing range 200 m (660 ft)
Maximum firing range 1,800 m (5,900 ft)
Feed system 50-round detachable box magazine
Sights Tritium-illuminated reflex sight, back-up iron sights

End notes