As a general rule, I don’t like surprises of any kind. In my case, most of the time, a surprise wasn’t something good – at least in my eyes! But on December 31st, 2019, I was pleasantly surprised to get a press release from Ruger announcing an end-of-the-year surprise, to wit, their brand new handgun chambered in the high velocity 5.7x28mm centerfire. They sure kept a closed mouth on this one. I didn’t get any kind of a hint this gun was coming out – nor did many other gun writers hear about it.
At first glance, the Model 57 looks like a long-slide Security 9 from Ruger, but this is something truly new and special. And, as soon as you pick up the 57, the light weight will let you know this isn’t a 9mm handgun.
The 5.7mm round has been around about 30 years, but no big name handgun maker other than FN bothered to chamber anything in 5.7mm. It looks like a reduced sized 5.56mm round – no kidding. I’ve owned a couple firearms chambered in 5.7mm – both made by FN, but it was their little PS-90 carbine chambered in 5.7mm that caught my eye. Plus, with that 50-round magazine on top – what’s not to like? (They make 10-round and 30-rd mags as well.) I found a source – at that time – that was selling the 50-round magazines for $10 – needless to say, I stocked-up on a lot of them at that time. Alas, I got stupid one day and sold that handy little carbine – you see, I’m smart, just not all the time.
I think what I really like best about the 5.7mm round is that, you can easily hit man-sized targets out to 150-yards, and there was no recoil to speak of. Maybe you can’t take out any big game, but it would sure give cause for someone out there shooting at you, if you returned fire with the little 5.7mm round. They’d surely be praying they were some place else when the lead starting coming at them.
Still, for around 30-years, no big name gun maker in the USA bothered with the 5.7mm round. Another reason was, lack of ammo, or a variety of ammo, and it was also expensive, too. A couple years back, I was finding 50-round boxes of FMJ 5.7mm ammo from Palmetto State Armory, for under ten bucks – that was a steal-of-a-deal. The soft point ammo was a little bit more, but not by much.
Let’s take a close look at the Ruger Model 57. As already mentioned, by its styling, it looks like a long-slide Security 9, but a close up gander lets you know we’re not looking at a Security 9, 9mm handgun. Of course, first off is the tiny opening in the barrel. Secondly, when you pick-up the gun, you know it shoots a smaller round, because it is so lightweight. Then we have the trigger with the little safety bar right in the middle of it. And, this pistol’s action normally rests in partially cocked position. Pulling on the trigger fully cocks and releases the hammer and trigger pull was right at 4.5-pounds on my sample.
This is not a recoil operated gun, per se. Instead it is a delayed blowback operated semi-automatic, and the 5.7mm round is a centerfire round, not a rim-fire round. The slide is made out of alloy, and that’s another reason why it is so lightweight. The frame is black polymer, with impressed “checkering” for a sure grip under any weather conditions. The magazine holds 20 rounds and is made out of steel–unlike the FN FiveSeven pistol, that is made out of plastic. The sights are fully adjustable, for windage and elevation. I really liked the rear sight – nice and easy to see, and the front sight is green fiber – and fast to pick-up. The gun only weighs in at 23.5-ounces – so you won’t even know that you’re packing it. It would fit nicely in a waist holster or in a backpack when you’re out camping or hiking.
Now, the little 5.7mm round is fast, very fast, depending on the make of the ammo and the weight of the bullet, you can have those rounds screaming out of the barrel at over 1,700-feet per second. By FN company policy, private citizens cannot buy the hardened steel core ammo because it penetrates body armor – that little pointed bullet easily penetrates some layers of hard body armor. (In my testing, even the standard FMJ rounds penetrated soft body armor.)
The barrel is 4.9-inches, and the top of the slide is milled out, making the gun that much lighter. The frame extension has Picatinny rails, for adding lights and/or a laser on it, too. I just love the way the pistol fits in my hand, just feels natural if you ask me. If a gun doesn’t fit your hand, it means you’ll have to practice just that much more with it, to become proficient with it. However, when a gun feels like a natural extension of your arm and hand, it is much easier to shoot accurately.
You can also mount a red dot sight on the top (rear) of the slide, and that really makes this pistol shine. These days, you can find some really inexpensive red dot sights for a handgun…there was a time you could easily pay $500 for a “cheap” red dot sight, today, you can find some big famous name red dot sights for a handgun for around $150 – and if you want to go less, some decent sights are around $50 and even those work very well.
I had zero malfunctions with the Model 57, nor did I expect any. Ruger knows how to build great guns. I did notice that the extractor is positioned close to the 11:00 position on the slide, instead of amore traditional 9:00 position, but it seems to work extremely well.
I only had a limited amount of 5.7mm ammo on-hand, and it was all from FN, their FMJ stuff, and this is the “problem” Ruger may run into…if some of the big name ammo makers don’t jump on the bandwagon, and start making a variety of 5.7mm ammo, I don’t see a lot of sales for Ruger. However, right now, sales are extremely brisk, with some distributors only having a dozen or two of these guns in-stock to sell to dealers. The one great thing is, the Model 57 is about half the price of the comparable FN 5.7mm handgun, so that’s a big plus for Ruger if you ask me. If the ammo makers will start producing 5.7mm cartridges in quantity, and at decent prices, then I can see other gun makers jumping in and making their own handguns that fire the 5.7mm round.
During my limited testing, I did my accuracy work at 25-yards with the gun rested over a padded rifle rest, over the hood of my truck. Without too much trouble, I was easily getting groups between 2 and 2.5-inches and that’s nothing to sneeze at, from any handgun. The Model 57 can shoot, and shoot well. I didn’t have any volunteer testers because of the limited amount of ammo I had on-hand, and I wasn’t going to spend any more money on ammo than I needed to spend.
I did a lot of informal shooting at various targets of opportunity out to 75 yards or so, and I rarely missed what I was aiming at. Part of this is because of the lack of recoil, and part attributable to the great sights on the gun. If a gun is only barking at you, when you shoot it, it makes it that much easier to hit what you’re aiming at. If the Model 57 takes off, I think we will see another Ruger, this time a long gun, chambered in 5.7mm caliber, and I’d sure like to see something along the lines of the FN 5.7mm carbine – one that holds lots of ammo and magazines that are priced right…spare 20-round magazines for the 57 presently run about $50 each, so I’m glad Ruger included two mags with the 57. The Model 57 comes in a nice polymer carrying case – very classy. And, originally the 57 was announced to only be supplied with one magazine. I’m glad that Ruger included a spare one.
Full retail is $799 and that’s a deal if you consider how much a comparable FN-USA brand FiveSeven will set you back. I can see this as a great little survival gun, as you can carry a lot of extra ammo with it. Farmers might really like it, for varmints up to the size of coyotes.
There’s not anything much I could find to fault with the Ruger Model 57. It is a fun gun to shoot, and to be sure, you’ll be burning up a lot of ammo on each range session you go to. That’s not a bad thing, so long as you can find 5.7×28 ammo that isn’t too spendy. Check out the new Ruger Model 57 at your local gun shop – if they can even find one.