5.7 Pistol Designs: Different Routes to the Same Destination

gel block wound channel writers 5.7x28
Writers can’t resist penetration tests. Shoot a round into a gel block and they practically run to see the results. After all, testing proves testing works. (Jim Shepherd for SNW)

The best way to learn any tool is to learn by using it. That’s the reason behind this week’s 5.7 Fest in Louisiana. Writers and manufacturers of 5.7×28 guns, ammo and accessories got together to give an opportunity to invited media to determine for themselves what this diminutive caliber is capable of doing. They also did that by answering any questions we might chose to ask.

Writers, FYI, ask a lot of questionsa bout anything and everything, from stippling patterns on grips to the powder and primer selected for any particular round. Not all questions are relevant to the project at hand, but manufacturers know gun writers churn out a lot of stories. Any educating they do will likely prove useful sometime down the road.

Writers can’t resist penetration tests. Shoot a round into a gel block and they practically run to see the results. After all, testing proves testing works.

Aside aside, the education this week included an insight into how different companies approach a gun with physical constraint challenges.

For the 5.7×28,“right sizing” the operating system is critical to make certain the gun runs. We shot three brands of handguns guns: Ruger, Smith & Wesson and Tisas. Each was different. That’s because each company approached the “make the gun run” challenge from different perspectives.

5.7 fest Ruger rifle gel block
No matter which of the three Ruger platforms you’re using, the 5.7×28 fire control systems are essentially the same. (Jim Shepherd for SNW)
Ruger offers the 5.7×28 in three different, but very similar, platforms. The carbine, charger platform and Ruger 5.7 pistol platforms share essentially identical operating system. Their magazines are interchangeable.
Ruger-5.7 pistol operating system schematic
Ruger’s proven system is designed to prevent any sort of accidental discharge via a system of disconnects. Screen shot from Ruger video. (Jim Shepherd for SNW)
The Ruger-5.7 operates with what they call their Secure Action fire control system. It’s similar to the system used in their LCPII and Security 9 pistols. That makes “running the guns” simpler. Their guns feel and operate the same whether you’re holding a carbine, charger or 5.7 pistol. Their shared magazines hold 20 rounds (20+1 capacity if you keep a round in the chamber).
Smith & Wesson M&P 5.7
Smith & Wesson’s M&P 5.7 uses their TEMPO two-piece barrel system. The system keeps the gun locked until the bullet passes the gas port, then pivots to cycle. Screen shot from Smith & Wesson website. (Jim Shepherd for SNW)
Smith & Wesson offers their 5.7×28 in the M&P platform that runs on their TEMPO system. Surprisingly, the TEMPO name is not an acronym for a long description of the system. It’s a direct reference to getting the timing of the gun’s functioning correct via a two-piece barrel system.
Using TEMPO, the gun doesn’t unlock for cycling until the bullet has passed the gas port. S&W says that gives more stability, enabling faster, more accurate shooting. In fact, their reference material says TEMPO enables you to “feel the fast.” I didn’t feel the fast, but the gun sure seemed capable of going faster.

The M&P 5.7 also offers the highest magazine capacity of the three pistols tested at 22 rounds. It’s a 26.7 ounce pistol, slightly over an inch wide (1.1 inches), 5.25 inches tall and operates in a full-size frame. It’s also an internal hammer-fired gun. The MSRP start at $719.

Shooting the Tisas 5.7 pistol
The Tisas pistol doesn’t use a complicated internal operating system. Instead, we’re told it operates by “maintaining general weights and balances that make the guns function.” It works. (Jim Shepherd for SNW)
The Tisas pistols are Turkish guns, imported into the United States by Tisas USA. They use the proven striker-fired system common to many guns. They say their system runs reliably and simply because they “observe the weight/length requirements of the operating system.” That isn’t exactly some “secret sauce,” but it probably means they’re most likely to come out with a downsized version of the 5.7×28.

As I wrote yesterday, that totally depends on whether they can come up with a preferred blend of ammunition, barrel length, and operating system weights that can stabilize the extremely fast little projectile out of a barrel shorter than today’s seemingly unavoidable 5-inch-ish length.

Like the Ruger and S&W models, the Tisas isn’t lacking for capacity, holding 21 rounds. It is, however, the lowest priced of the guns, enabling shooters to get into the 5.7×28 for around $400.

Having seen, used and observed better shooters run the guns, there’s very little doubt that certain combinations of guns and ammo run better than others.

We ran thousands of rounds through controlled situations with the goal of putting the guns into situations we might encounter off the square range and in real life. That’s often overlooked when it comes to testing. We enjoyed the shooting games, and shooting ballistic gelatin molded in the shape of a tyrannosaurus rex.

But the ultimate purpose of these tools isn’t to punch holes in paper, ring steel, or draw pretty designs in gel blocks.

5.7 gel block test wound channel
Shooting through a piece of plexiglass into a gel form torso isn’t an FBI standard test, but it reminded everyone of one application where a firearm has to be equal to the task. (Jim Shepherd for SNW)
At the core, these devices are designed to be used to save or take lives. The Bill Drill and lollipop challenges were fun, but their purpose is to teach you to shoot fast and accurately.

The longer range shooting is designed to hit a target precisely. That makes your shot the most effective. In simple language, that means one-shot kills, whether neutralizing a threat or harvesting protein.

Guns really are fun to shoot recreationally, but shooting isn’t all about range games. I try never lose sight of that fact despite the difficulty I sometime have separating work from recreation.

As always, we’ll keep you posted.

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