Handguns

Review: Smith and Wesson 5.7×28 — Raising the Bar

Smith and Wesson M&P 5.7x28mm semi-automatic handgun, left angled profile

The new Smith and Wesson M&P 5.7 NTS arrived in a hard case with an extra magazine and a mag loader. My first thought when opening the case was, “Well, it’s another M&P.” I don’t have anything against M&Ps, mind you. I have more M&Ps than I have teeth.

Features

When I picked it up, the differences between the 5.7 and my other M&Ps were easily discernible. The grip is thinner, but elongated to handle the 5.7×28 cartridges, which are longer than most pistol caliber cartridges. The whole gun is thinner than any of my M&Ps, except perhaps the .22 Compact. It has the same grip texture as the other 2.0 M&Ps and the same type of cuts on the slide for racking serrations.

Smith and Wesson M&P 5.7x28mm semi-automatic handgun, left profile
When holding the 5.7, the differences between it, and my other M&Ps, are easily discernible.

The trigger is different. The Smith and Wesson also features an extended, threaded barrel. The slide is cut for optic mounting. The slide is ported at the top, but the barrel is not. The cuts do make the gun lighter. The slide lock is different. It’s small and ambidextrous.

I chose a model that does not have an external manual safety. However, if there was one, it would have also been ambidextrous. Three-dot sights top the slide, and the Picatinny rail on the dust cover has four notches for light/laser mounting.

Smith and Wesson has done something different with a Tempo barrel system that is gas operated and something similar to the Carbine Williams-designed barrel for the Colt .22 Ace Service Model. At the heart of the design is the 5-inch Tempo barrel which is a locked-breech, gas-operated, rotating assembly that does not cam until the bullet passes the gas port, which initiates the unlocking process.

In addition to harnessing extra capability from each fired round, the system also provides for fast, easy extraction after unlocking. The 5.7×28 cartridges are a bottleneck cartridge (sort of a smaller versions of the M16 rifle cartridge). So, they need special handling to operate efficiently in a pistol action. The barrel is threaded for a silencer. Like the EZ-Rack Shield and Equalizer, the 5.7 has an internal hammer.

The gun shipped with two stainless steel, 21-round magazines and a mag loader that is different from any I’ve seen. You drop a round into a hole in the front of the mag loader then push it down to insert the round into the magazine.

Magazine loader for the S&W M&P 5.7 gun
The mag loader was different from any the author has seen. You drop a round into a hole in the front of the mag loader then push it down to insert the round into the magazine.

Maintenance

Disassembly for cleaning is different, but easy, as long as you have a small punch. You start by engaging the safety (if equipped), dropping the magazine, and checking the chamber to ensure the gun is unloaded. From the closed position, push the slide back about ¼ inch. Align the takedown notch with the raised part of the takedown pin.

You may have to look in the manual the first time to see what these parts are, because they’re not something you’re used to seeing on M&P guns. While holding these two items together, push the takedown pin through from the right side of the gun with a small punch. If they are aligned properly, the pin comes through easily.

Once the pin is removed, remove the slide from the frame by pushing it forward. Remove the recoil spring assembly from the slide by compressing the spring slightly and lifting it up and out. Remove the barrel shroud as a unit by grasping it by the lug and lifting it out.

Field stripped Smith and Wesson M&P 5.7x28mm semi-automatic handgun
With the barrel shroud removed from the gun, removing the barrel was easy.

With the barrel shroud out of the gun, remove the barrel by sliding it out the back of the shroud. This is where I recommend studying the barrel and shroud a bit to see how the barrel rotates within the shroud when fired. There is no tilting cam lock as in most semi-automatic handguns.

The rotation absorbs much of the recoil. It’s similar to how the Beretta PX4 Storm’s rotating barrel design works. After cleaning and lubricating the gun, reassemble it in reverse order. Ensure the hammer is in the cocked position before attempting to put the slide back on.

Range Testing

When it came time to shoot the Smith and Wesson 5.7, I was anxious to compare it to the two other 5.7 pistols I had on hand — my son’s FN 57 and my own Ruger 57. We had some FN 5.7x28mm ammo on hand. To go with it, I ordered some Federal 5.7×28. I’m hoping as more and more companies build 5.7x28mm firearms, more companies will make the ammo for them. I know Fiocchi is producing ammo for these guns, but I was not able to get any for my test.

Smith and Wesson 5.7 with an open box of American Eagle ammunition
My overall opinion of the 5.7x28mm cartridge is that it is a lot of fun to shoot and will make a good defensive round if you’re careful to get your rounds on target and not let any of those fast buggers go zinging around unbridled and causing collateral damage.

One thing I can say about shooting the 5.7, any of them, they are fun! They are loud, flat shooting, and accurate — with very little recoil. Among the three, the S&W was the tamest. The rotating barrel seems to do the trick. I didn’t bother to load the magazines to capacity. Both the FN 57 and the Ruger 57 have 20-round magazines. Smith and Wesson bumped its magazine capacity to 22 rounds. I wanted to cycle through the guns (one after the other) at various targets, so I loaded 10 rounds at a time. Shooting freehand at 10 yards, I found all three guns plenty accurate with easy triggers and great sights.

The Ruger had a Riton red dot sight. That’s probably what I’ll add to the Smith and Wesson, but I wanted to shoot it initially with open sights. Several of my 10-yard groups were inside of 1.5 inches with strays on some of the targets opening to 2 inches. If that’s all the flyer I’m going to get, I’ll take it any day of the week. The other two guns weren’t quite that tight, but in all fairness, I wasn’t shooting them for the camera. Concentration does make a difference.

Final Thoughts

My overall opinion of the 5.7x28mm cartridge is that it is a lot of fun to shoot. The round will make a good defensive option, if you’re careful to keep the shots on target and not let any of those fast buggers go zinging around unbridled. There’s no doubt the bullets will produce enough damage to stop a person with evil intent.

Smith and Wesson’s example of the pistol is as good as any I’ve seen, and a welcome addition to my arsenal. Because of its slim design, it fits well into a 1911 holster, but that won’t work with a red dot sight mounted. I found a Galco King Tuk Cloud IWB made for the M&P that will handle the 5.7 with a red dot sight mounted.

Smith and Wesson 5.7 pistol with a box of Federal ammunition on a paper target with bullet holes
Several of the author’s 10-yard groups were inside of 1.5 inches. The flyers stretched groups to 2 inches.

Since the S&W 5.7 comes with a threaded barrel, the question I have is, “Can I use my .22 suppressor on it without causing damage to the suppressor?” I did a little YouTube research and saw a number of guys shooting through .22 suppressors with their 5.7 pistols. My .22 suppressor is from Tactical Innovations, and it is not one of the ones that was being used. It will take months before I can have a true 5.7 suppressor on hand, so unfortunately, I cannot report on that part of the pistol for you.

The 5.7x28mm is gaining in popularity and the Smith and Wesson 5.7 is a welcome addition to the pack. Would you carry a 5.7 or rely on it for home defense? How do you think it compares other handgun cartridges? Share your answers in the comment section.

  • Ported slide on the Smith and Wesson M&P 5.7 semi-automatic pistol
  • Smith and Wesson M&P 5.7x28mm semi-automatic handgun in a Galco King Tuk Cloud IWB holster
  • Smith and Wesson M&P 5.7x28mm semi-automatic handgun, right profile
  • Smith and Wesson M&P 5.7x28mm semi-automatic handgun, left angled profile
  • Smith and Wesson 5.7 pistol with a box of Federal ammunition on a paper target with bullet holes
  • Three 5.7 handguns FN, M&P, Ruger
  • Magazine loader for the S&W M&P 5.7 gun
  • Smith and Wesson M&P 5.7x28mm semi-automatic handgun, left profile
  • Field stripped Smith and Wesson M&P 5.7x28mm semi-automatic handgun
  • Smith and Wesson 5.7 with an open box of American Eagle ammunition

About the Author:

David Freeman

David is an NRA Instructor in pistol, rifle and shotgun, a Chief Range Safety Officer and is certified by the State of Texas to teach the Texas License to Carry Course and the Hunter Education Course. He has also owned and operated a gun store. David's passion is to pass along knowledge and information to help shooters of all ages and experience levels enjoy shooting sports and have the confidence to protect their homes and persons. He flew medevac helicopters in Vietnam and worked for many years as a corporate pilot before becoming actively involved in the firearm industry.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (27)

  1. Accuracy at 18 yards from a bench rest is running 2″-3-1/2″horizontally and 1-1/2″ to 2″ vertically. Disappointing for a fast, flat shooting caliber. Multiple brands and bullet weights were tried. What size groups are you getting???

  2. I would not recommend using with a suppressor. On the first trip to the range, my S&W 5.7 worked fine until I installed a suppressor. First attempt resulted in the bullets hitting 2 feet high and to the left of where it had been shooting. Took it home and ran a alignment rod down the barrel and the threads are not aligned with the barrel. Contacted S&W and shipped it back to them, they ran a “range test” and declared it good to go. Installed two different suppressors and ran the alignment rod and it still indicated the barrel was not aligned with the barrel. Contacted S&W and someone not familiar with firearms tried to claim the issue was with the suppressor not the firearm.

  3. I owned an FN 5.7. Sold it. It was a nice gun but was unreliable with a .22 rimfire silencer since they generally do not have a booster or piston. The S&W is far superior if you intend to use a silencer. The threading is on the tube in which the barrel is encased. I have yet to have a malfunction with the silencer on or off. I couldn’t say that for the FN. Of course, there are silencers designed for the FN but I can shoot a SilencerCo Spectre on the S&W which I already had.

  4. You use the mag loader from the rear not the fron, I didn’t think it would work but it does and got 22 rnds in my mag not 21.

  5. Let’s see, questions to answer. 1) the threading for the suppressor is 1/2×28. 2) No wobble on my trigger. 3) From the top 3 mfgs of 5.7 ammo (FN, Federal, Fiocchi) current prices are averaging 60 to 65 cents per round. 4) My only .22 suppressor is already damaged on the front end, so I haven’t tried it on the 5.7 yet. 5) The round came about because NATO was looking for a replacement for the 9mm, specifically one that would pierce body armor. The biggest issue I see with using 5.7 as a defensive round is the possibility of over penetration.

    I just got a PSA Rock 5.7 and the feel of it is very similar to the Ruger. Have not yet shot it, but when I do you’re sure to see a report on it here. The Smith’s rotating barrel is sure to give it a little advantage over any of the other 5.7s

  6. Problem with the suppressor is that 5.7 has supersonic crack= nothing you can do with that.

    Enter Fiocchi 62 grain subsonic. Still at 980 fps in my SW 5.7. Problem it doesnnt function and will be a single shot at a time option. On the other hand my personal 5.7 i reliable and accurate, all I can ask.

  7. I was not so lucky with my S & W 5.7 pistol. Out of the box it would not fire and has since been sent back to the factory for repair or replacement. S & W has been very good at addressing this issue and I’m hoping the final pistol returned to me will be worth the wait and trouble. This was the first time I’d personally had any problem with a S & W product.
    Phil Kelly

  8. I love my 57s. I have an FN AR 57. A Ruger 57 and a Palmetto 57. I don’t like the feel of a FN pistol. The AR is Amazing. I thought the Ruger was great until I shot the Palmetto. To me the Palmetto was far better. A friend who has both also agrees with me. Would love to check out the Smith one day.

  9. I purchased the 5.7 Smith to replace my 9mm EDC. It’s a lot larger but even with a Holosun 507K X2 red dot on it, I can still successfully conceal it. My CCL instructor always said carry any gun you can comfortably conceal and shoot well no matter the size or caliber. I will say the 5.7 is extremely loud. I purchased the Smith and field stripped it and cleaned it before shooting it. I have field stripped it three times and have only had it for about 4 weeks. My only concern is if I have to actually use this gun, your ear drums are going to hurt. I can’t imagine having to use it inside my car. Gun is quite easy to conceal due to its thinness however, it is a full size gun. Groups are extremely tight and should be. It’s a 22 caliber bullet. Your responsible for every round that comes out of your gun so no one should have zingers flying about. If you can carry it, then do so. It’s a fun gun to shoot for sure.

  10. I have the FN pistol. It’s very accurate and much better looking than the Smith. The only problem is the ammo is very expensive here in California. When I first started buying ammo it was 27-30 bucks a box. Now I notice it’s over 50 dollars a box. I guess because of the growing popularity of that particular round or simply price gouging in this state.

  11. I have the Ruger 5.7, and got their threaded barrel for it. Ruger notes that although there are .22 suppressors rated for 5.7, they aren’t really effective compared to one for center fire caliber due to the amount of gasses generated by the 5.7 and the limited volume of rimfire suppressors. My Switchback 22 suppressor is rated for 5.7, and works OK on the Ruger, but 5.7 is naturally supersonic so is still noisey. The Optimus Micro is rated for up to 223 (AR15) – so may be a good choice. I’m still waiting for my tax stamp to try the Optimus.
    The slim Ruger barrel requires a thread adapter to fit a suppressor – one more part to come loose. What thread is on the S&W – 1/2-28?

  12. Unfortunately this gun will go the same way as the m&p 357sig. Limited run inpossible to find when u do get one by 2 carrying for self defense,not an option know your target and what’s behind it comes into play. A good state attorney would rip u to pieces for using this gun for self defense.

  13. When I deployed to Iraq with the Department of Justice I had planned on taking my own FNH 5.7 pistol. I’m glad I didn’t make the purchase at that time, because I was completely restricted to using the Beretta M-9 while I was there. I was lucky, in that the M-9 I was issued, though not new actually worked really well. The only modification I used was to install a Crimson Trace laser grip. My students really loved shooting with the laser! But now as a retired Texas Master Peace Officer who is going to go back to work for my local sheriff’s office as an unpaid reserve I just might get the Ruger 57. It really looks to be the best choice for my uses (although our armorer will probably freak out at having to buy 5.7 ammo so that I can shoot to qualify!

  14. Regarding suppressors, I own a Silencerco Sparrow 22 that sees a lot of use on the business end of a Walther P22, a Ruger 22-45 and a Savage TRR-SR. When I learned that the Sparrow could be used on my FN57 I purchased an EFK 5.4″ Threaded Fire Dragon Barrel for it. What I wasn’t told at the time was that if the Sparrow was previously used on a rimfire gun, it MUST be thoroughly disassembled and cleaned before sending a 5.7 round through it. I learned this the hard way as the first 5.7 round destroyed the internals of the Sparrow. There was no catastrophic failure and no damage to the serialized outer tube. Silencerco repaired it under warranty.

    In any case, using the very expensive subsonic QuieTOR 5.7 ammo from Elite, the Sparrow did an admirable job. However, it was a novelty. The FN pistol is a monster to begin with and .22LR was a lot more fun to shoot suppressed than the 5.7. Not to mention, a lot more economical.

    IMO, if you’re not going to use subsonic 5.7 ammo (good luck finding it any price), there’s really no point in using a suppressor. If you do use one, make sure it was not previously used with rimfire ammo or if it was, it’s been cleaned to like new status.

  15. Reloading 5.7 isn’t hard, don’t tumble brass to clean stripping poky er coating off. And don’t use an automatic powder thrower like a Dillon powder measure…. Use an electronic dispenser like Hornaday, and trim your brass. Oh, and use rifle primers.

  16. Great article. I own FN 5.7, S&W 5.7 and Ruger 5.7. I would rate S&W 41/2 stars, FN 4 stars and Ruger 3 stars.

    The S&W 5.7 is a fun RANGE GUN! 😊

    The 5.7 x 28-mm is a great home defense round due to lack of wall penetration and lower decimals.

  17. Thanks for the assessment of the new pistol. I appreciate it. My question is, what is the thread on the pistol? Is it the “normal” 1/2×28 or some other size? Thanks.

  18. Why are all these gun manufacturers making these guns so large?
    Why can’t they make a small version that holds maybe 10-12 rounds this way it’s smaller and can be carried concealed.
    I would buy one in a minute if they made a smaller version.

  19. Love my S&W 5.7 , I installed a Holosun 407K multiple rectical green dot on it. Shoots great groups.

  20. Dave,
    Do you know why FN originally developed the 5.7 pistol and sub-machine gun? And what the executives told LE several years before introducing the 5.7 to the public?

  21. I’m no gunsmith but I was under the impression that for a suppressor to work properly you need subsonic rounds? And the whole point of the 5.7 is to bust armor, that may be harder to pull off going subsonic. Not trying to offend anyone I just think a suppressor defeats the whole purpose of the 5.7.

  22. Rob, I talked with Tactical Innovations, the maker of my .22 suppressor and for legal reasons they would not commit to it being used for any other caliber than the .22LR it was made for. When looked at my suppressor today to get the name of the company that made it I noticed the front of the can is damaged as if something had blown through from the back and was wobblying so much it took some of the metal with it. I can’t get my micrometer into the tube to measure its actual dimension because the tube is recessed on both ends. It’s possible I can push something through that I can measure. I’ll post my progress, if any, here.

  23. Looked at both Ruger and Smith. You are right on with your comments. My choice ended up being the Smith because it was already threaded for a suppressor. The cost of the round is the problem right now. If you can find them, they are going to run you a dollar or more per round. Not something you take out to do a little plinking. Super light pistol!!!!

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