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Posted: 2/11/2006 3:59:09 PM EDT
Courtesy Brady:

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
about the FN Herstal Five-Seven Pistol
Q: What is the Five-SeveN?

A: The Five-seveN is a 5.7 x 28 mm pistol manufactured by FN Herstal of Belgium. It is a small, lightweight (1.5 lbs fully loaded), easily-concealable handgun which is marketed for its ability to penetrate body armor.


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Q: What is it that makes this weapon so dangerous? The gun itself, the ammunition, or a combination of the two?

A: The combination. This gun is designed to shoot only 5.7 x 28 mm bullets. Several varieties of these bullets have been proven in tests to pierce body armor - such as typical police vests - when fired from this handgun. The design of the gun allows it to accept this ammunition and fire it at around 2100 feet per second. The manufacturer advertises that with one variety of 5.7 x 28 mm bullets, the Five-seveN "will perforate 48 layers of Kevlar up to 200 meters." The gun is sold with high-capacity 20 round magazines, adding to its lethality.


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Q: Other types of guns penetrate body armor - why is this one any more dangerous to police?

A: What makes this gun so dangerous is the fact that it is a lightweight, easily concealable handgun designed and marketed to shoot armor piercing bullets. Some other types of ammunition, when fired from rifles, may penetrate body armor. That's why police alerts on the gun have urged officers who encounter an adversary armed with the Five-Seven to react as if the assailant is armed with a rifle.


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Q: What types of bullets were used when the gun was test fired by the Brady Center? Are those bullets legal?

A: The Brady Center recently purchased the Five-seveN from a Virginia retail gun dealer, along with 5.7 x 28 mm SS192 rounds of ammunition. The Brady Center test fired the weapon with these rounds and found it easily penetrated typical threat level IIA, Kevlar police body armor. This ammunition is legal to be sold to civilians.


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Q: Did the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives say that this gun won't pierce armor?

A: No - the ATF said the ammunition did not constitute armor piercing ammunition under existing Federal law. The Brady Center agrees - and that's why it believes Congressional action is called for. The current law on armor piercing ammunition is very weak. It states that ammunition made of certain materials is illegal and it doesn't mandate testing of specific ammunition fired out of specific firearms.


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Q: I've heard that FN Herstal claims that ammunition it sells to civilians for this gun does not penetrate body armor. FN Herstal clams that they no longer sell 5.7 x 28 mm SS192 cartridges to the public. However, staff from the Brady Center just obtained 5.7 x 28 mm SS192 cartridges at retail in mid-January. FN Herstal has taken no steps to recall these cartridges from the civilian market.

FN Herstal also claims that 5.7 x 28 mm SS192 cartridges do not penetrate level IIIA body armor. The tests that the Brady Center completed show that 5.7 x 28 mm SS192 cartridges penetrate level IIA body armor, which is soft body armor that most law enforcement officers use.


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Q: When did the Five-SeveN first become available to civilians in the US?

A: FN Herstal debuted the gun and ammunition for sale to civilians in 2004.


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Q: Is the gun legal? Under federal law, this gun, and its ammunition, is legal.


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Q: Does the availability of this gun have anything to do with the expiration of the AWB?

A: No. The Five-seveN was available to civilians before the AWB expired. High capacity magazines are now available for use with this gun, which were banned under the AWB.


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Q: Are there states where this gun and ammunition are already illegal?

A: This gun and its ammunition are not legal to be sold in California under Title 2.6 of the Penal Code, Section 12320, which forbids handgun ammunition designed primarily to penetrate metal or armor
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