FN P90

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The P90
Type Personal Defense Weapon
Place of origin  Belgium
Service history
In service 1994–present
Used by See Users
Production history
Designed 1986–1987
Manufacturer Fabrique Nationale de Herstal
Produced 1993–present
Variants See Variants
Weight 2.54 kg (5.60 lb) empty
3.0 kg (6.6 lb) loaded[1]
Length 500 mm (19.7 in)
Barrel length 263 mm (10.4 in)[1]
256.5 mm (10.1 in) (new models)
Width 55 mm (2.2 in)
Height 210 mm (8.3 in)

Cartridge 5.7x28mm[2]
Action Straight blowback, closed bolt
Rate of fire 900 rounds/min
Muzzle velocity 715 m/s (2,346 ft/s) (SS190)
850 m/s (2,788.7 ft/s) (SS90)
Effective range Sights fixed for 150 m
Maximum range 200 m
Feed system 50-round detachable box magazine
Sights Tritium-illuminated reflex sight, back-up iron sights

The P90 is a Belgian designed submachine gun. The weapon’s name is an abbreviation of Project 90, which specifies a weapon system of the 1990s.[3] The P90 is considered a Personal Defense Weapon (PDW), and was designed as a compact but powerful firearm for vehicle drivers, operators of crew-served weapons, support personnel, special forces and anti-terrorist units.

Developed between 1986–1987 at Fabrique Nationale de Herstal, the P90 features a compact bullpup design, ambidextrous grip and a polymer and alloy-based construction. The weapon contains several innovative features including the proprietary 5.7x28mm ammunition, designed for greater penetration of body armour than pistol ammunition.

The P90 and variants are in use by military and police forces in over thirty countries worldwide, and sports models are popular among civilian shooters.


[edit] Development

The P90 was developed between 1986 and 1987 in Herstal, Belgium. Its goal was to replace the pistol-caliber carbines 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, even with the longer barrel length compared to handguns.[4]

The gun was designed in conjunction with 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/aluminium 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. A modified version of the P90 adapted to use the new ammunition was introduced in 1993.

[edit] Design

The patented horizontal magazine

The P90 is a selective fire straight blowback-operated weapon with a short recoiling barrel and fires from a closed bolt. The return mechanism consists of two parallel spring guide rods that also guide the bolt carrier assembly. The weapon uses an internal hammer striking mechanism and a trigger mechanism with a three-position rotary dial fire control selector, located centrally beneath the trigger. The fire selector also provides a manual safety against accidental firing. The dial in the "S" position – weapon safe, "1" – semi-automatic fire, "A" – fully automatic fire. When set on "A", the selector provides a two-stage trigger operation. Pulling the trigger back slightly produces semi-automatic fire and pulling the trigger fully to the rear will produce fully automatic fire. The "safe" setting disables the trigger.

The P90 uses an original horizontally-mounted feeding system that is patent protected in the United States (U.S. Patent 4,905,394  dated March 6 1990), authored by René Predazzer.[5] It uses a 50-round box magazine, mounted parallel to the bore axis that locks in place between the charging handles and optical sight, flush with the receiver top cover. The magazine is made of a lightweight, translucent polycarbonate and allows for visual ammunition verification. The base of the magazine is located near the muzzle end, the feed lips above the barrel chamber in a circular bulge that contains the feed tray. Cartridges in the magazine body are double stacked to the left side. The magazine features a follower with rollers and a spiral feed ramp that will rotate a cartridge 90° to the right aligning it in a double stack pattern within the magazine.

The weapon’s hammer-forged steel barrel is fitted with a ported, diagonally cut flash suppressor that also acts as a recoil compensator. Early models did not have the cut in the flash hider. The P90 is equipped with an unmagnified HC-14-62 reflex sight from Ring Sights, which enables quick target acquisition up to 150 metres (490 ft) and operation in low-level lighting conditions thanks to a tritium-illuminated aiming reticle. Newer units are fitted with the Ring Sights MC-10-80 sight designed specifically for the P90. It uses a forward-aimed fiber optic collector to illuminate the daytime reticle, which consists of a large circle of about 180 Minute of arc (MOA), with a 20 MOA circle surrounding a dot in the center. The night reticle consists of an open "T" that is primarily illuminated by a tritium module or moonlight and ambient light drawn in by an upward-facing collector. The sight is adjustable for both windage and elevation and can be used with night vision equipment.[6] Auxiliary fixed sights are provided on both sides of the receiver's cast aluminium optical sight housing.

The P90 is fully ambidextrous; it can be operated by right or left-handed shooters without making any modifications to the weapon. The charging handle, auxiliary fixed sights and magazine release are symmetrically distributed on both sides of the firearm. The manual fire selector below the trigger can be operated from either side. Spent cartridge casings are ejected downward through a chute located aft of the pistol grip, keeping fired cases out of the shooter's line of sight.

The P90 is designed in the bullpup configuration which reduces the firearm's overall length while retaining a full-length barrel. The pistol grip with thumbhole and oversized trigger guard act as the forward grip, a handstop is incorporated into the weapon's stock to prevent the operator from accidentally reaching out in front of the barrel during firing. The P90 is a modular firearm and consists of 69 parts that disassemble into four main groups: the barrel with integrated sight assembly, receiver with return mechanism, stock body with trigger and firing mechanism and the magazine. The P90 makes extensive use of polymers and lightweight alloys to reduce both the weight and the cost of the weapon.

It can also be fitted with a laser aiming module integrated into the stock body, beneath the barrel and the SP90 suppressor, made by Gemtech, which has a length of 184 mm (7.2 in) and weighs 550 g (19 oz).

[edit] Variants

A disassembled PS90, showing the major component groups: 1. trigger group, 2. barrel and optical sight assembly, 3. butt plate, 4. magazine, 5. bolt carrier and recoil assembly, 6. stock body and trigger. The standard P90 disassembles into similar main components.

The firearm is produced in several variations. All of these versions are able to mount certain optional accessories such as tactical slings, empty case collector bags, bayonets, visible and infrared laser aiming modules (LAM) and tactical flashlights.

The P90 TR features a receiver-mounted triple MIL-STD-1913 rail interface system or "Triple Rail" (TR). There is one full-length rail on the top of the base and two rail "stumps" on both sides of the receiver. The side rails serve as mounting points for tactical accessories such as laser pointers or halogen flashlights, while the integrated top rail will accept various optics with no tools or additional mounting hardware required. Some components of the P90 TR and standard P90 are not interchangeable since the entire receiver assembly is different.

Another variant is the P90 USG, which is similar to the standard P90 with the exception of the revised optic system and side rail, developed based on input from the United States Secret Service and other government agencies. The aluminium sight uses a non-magnified black reticle that does not require ambient light. This sight does not suffer from the problems of the regular MC-10-80, since the reticle does not "wash out" against bright backgrounds.

The P90 LV and P90 LIR add an integrated visible laser sight or infrared sight respectively. Both units are manufactured by the Australian company Laserex Technologies. The lasers have three internal settings: "off", to prevent accidental activation, "low-intensity", for combat training and extended battery life, and "high-intensity" – for maximum visibility. The laser's power switch is a green button located under the trigger grip. The battery compartment is located below this button.

The PS90 is a semi-automatic only sport version designed for the civilian market. It has a 407 mm (16.0 in) barrel, an olive drab synthetic stock body (black synthetic stock is available in limited production quantities), and an MC-10-80 reflex sight identical to that used on the standard P90. The MC-10-80 can be removed and replaced with a special top rail in order to use third party optics. The barrel has 8 right-hand grooves, a 1:7 twist, a rifled length of 376 mm and comes with a fixed "birdcage" type flash suppressor. The overall length of the PS90 is 667 mm. The trigger pull is rated at approximately 7.5 to 8 lbf (33 to 36 N). The receiver assembly is drilled and tapped to accept accessory Picatinny rails on either side. The front swivel sling mount is not included, and installation requires the barrel shroud to be unpinned and removed. It accepts the standard P90 50-round magazines, but is sold only with a 10 or 30-round magazine depending on local and state regulations. The PS90 weighs 2.9 kg (6.4 lb) empty and 3.4 kg (7.5 lb) with a fully loaded 50-round magazine.

The PS90 TR, or Triple Rail, uses a different receiver assembly that is similar to the P90 TR. The standard back-up iron sights are no longer present, and instead, the top of the receiver is machined to form a Picatinny rail. There is no provision for using back-up fixed sights with the PS90 TR. Two plastic side-rails are included for mounting lasers or tactical flashlights. The PS90 TR is available with either an olive-drab or black polymer stock.

Another semi-automatic variant is the PS90 USG, which like the standard P90 USG, replaces the MC-10-80 reflex sight with an unmagnified sight with a black ring aiming reticle. The PS90 USG is also available with either olive-drab or black furniture.

[edit] Users

FN P90 in the hands of Cypriot National Guard during a parade in Larnaca.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b Military Small Arms of the 20th Century, Hogg, Ian, Weeks, John, pages 101-102
  3. ^ Paulson, Al (November 1998). "On The Edge With the New FN P90 5.7x28mm". Guns and Weapons for Law Enforcement. http://remtek.com/arms/fn/p90/data/concept.htm. Retrieved on 2009-01-14. 
  4. ^ Doc Random (16 March 2008). "An In-Depth Look at the FN PS90". http://countryboyartillery.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=56:an-in-depth-look-at-the-fn-ps90&catid=40:reviews-firearms&Itemid=59. 
  5. ^ Rene Predazzer. "Top mounted longitudinal magazine". US Patent. Google. http://www.google.com/patents?id=Sn0CAAAAEBAJ. 
  6. ^ "Ring Sights MC-10-80". http://www.ringsights.com/Products/sights/SightsDesc/MC-10-80.htm. 
  7. ^ Vortisch, Hans Christian (2001). "Foreign Agencies". FortuneCity. http://www.fortunecity.com/tattooine/leiber/50/DGAAAForeigners.html. Retrieved on 2008-10-28. 
  8. ^ Gourley, S.; Kemp, I (November 2003). "The Duellists". Jane's Defence Weekly (ISSN: 02653818), Volume 40 Issue 21, pp 26-28.
  9. ^ "Terre - P90" (in (French)). Defense.gouv.fr. http://www.defense.gouv.fr/terre/decouverte/materiels/materiels_specifiques/p90. Retrieved on 2009-03-13. 
  10. ^ "Nouvelles tenues et nouveaux moyens pour le GIGN" (in French). Les Forces Speciales en Action.... http://le.cos.free.fr/new-GIGN.htm. Retrieved on 2008-10-27. 
  11. ^ Milosevic, Milan (2005). "Trojan Horse for Terrorists". Kalibar. http://www.kalibar.rs/code/navigate.php?Id=74. Retrieved on 2009-04-04. 
  12. ^ Unnithan, Sandeep (2008-08-22). "If looks could kill". India Today. http://indiatoday.intoday.in/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&&issueid=68&id=13607&sectionid=3&Itemid=1&page=in&latn=2. Retrieved on 2009-04-04. 
  13. ^ "The Special Services Group". Haider, Shahnam. 2007. http://www.specwarnet.net/world/pakistan_ssg.htm. Retrieved on 2009-04-04. 
  14. ^ Wilk (REMOV), Remigiusz. "Nowe gromy GROM". http://www.altair.com.pl/cz-art-1660. 
  15. ^ Web Del Grupo Especial De Operaciones (G.E.O.)
  16. ^ "Richland County Sheriff's Department". Rcsd.net. 2009-02-19. http://www.rcsd.net. Retrieved on 2009-03-13. 
  17. ^ "Richland County Sheriff's Department — Special Response Team". Rcsd.net. http://www.rcsd.net/dept/specops-tactical.htm. Retrieved on 2009-03-13. 
  18. ^ "Cops go ga-ga over latest gadgets". Sfgate.com. 2002-09-20. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/09/20/BA226409.DTL%20. Retrieved on 2009-03-13. 
  19. ^ Agency Issue (Very Long) - Real Police: Law Enforcement,Police Officer,Criminal Justice,Background Checks website

[edit] External links

FN Herstal promotional video at YouTube

Video demonstration of the P90 at YouTube

Video of operation at YouTube (Japanese)

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