The FN P90 is a personal defense weapon (PDW) designed by Belgian firearms manufacturer FN Herstal in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The weapon’s name is an abbreviation of Project 90, which specifies a weapon system of the 1990s. The P90 was originally designed as a compact but powerful firearm for vehicle drivers, operators of crew-served weapons, support personnel, special forces and anti-terrorist units.
The P90 is the ultimate system for operating in urban and other close-quarter battle scenarios. This system is built around our revolutionary 5.7 x 28mm ammunition, which gives you the best of both worlds: It easily penetrates soft body armor, but since the dual-core projectile destabilizes on impact, overpenetration is unlikely. The P90 provides a compact, lightweight and completely ambidextrous platform for this ammunition. The 50 round magazine runs horizontally across the top of the P90, keeping it compact and empty casings are ejected downward, where they cannot interfere with the user. The P90 fires from a closed bolt, giving it outstanding accuracy and making it easy to keep on target. The Five-seveN tactical pistol, also chambered for 5.7 x 28mm, is an excellent companion to the P90. The FN P90 sub-machine gun is the ideal personal defense weapon for armored vehicles or helicopter crews. Perfectly fitted for law enforcement tactical teams.
The P90 features a compact bullpup design, ambidextrous grip and a polymer and alloy-based construction. The weapon contains several innovative features including the top-mounted magazine and proprietary 5.7x28mm ammunition, designed for greater penetration of body armor than conventional pistol ammunition.
By 2003, 17,000 P90s were in use by military and police forces in over 25 countries worldwide. By 2009, the P90 and variants were in use with over 200 agencies in the United States. The PS90 sporting model is also becoming popular among civilian shooters.
The P90 was developed between 1986 and 1990 by FN in Herstal, Belgium in conjunction with the new 5.7x28mm cartridge. FN’s goal was to replace the pistol-caliber submachine guns which were in use at the time by military and law enforcement personnel, as it had become evident that such weapons were ineffective against body armour.
Initially the weapon was designed to use a 5.7x28mm cartridge called the SS90. The SS90 propelled a 1.5 g (23 grain) plastic-core projectile from the P90 at a speed of roughly 850 m/s (2800 ft/s). 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 trial production mode. The weapon saw its first use in service with Belgian special forces shortly after its introduction, in the 1991 Gulf War.
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Following the P90’s introduction, FN revised the 5.7x28mm ammunition. The new cartridge, designated the SS190, used a projectile 2.7 mm (0.11 in) shorter in length than that of the SS90. This allowed it to be used more conveniently in the FN Five-seven pistol, which was also being developed at that time. This projectile also had a heavier weight and more conventional construction containing an aluminium core and steel penetrator. Several special types were also developed for the new cartridge, such as the L191 tracer round and the subsonic SB193 bullet for the sound-suppressed P90. A modified version of the P90 with a magazine adapted to use the new ammunition was introduced in 1993.
Further development has led to the creation of the P90 TR variant, which has a MIL-STD-1913 top rail system. This variant was introduced in 1999 and continues to be offered alongside the standard P90. More recently, the P90 has been offered commercially in various configurations, as the FN PS90. This is a semi-automatic sporting version with a lengthened 407 mm (16.0 in) barrel.