Recoil - - Gunnery -



FNH’s iconic P90 has seen a lot of ac­tion on tele­vi­sion, in movies, and in first-per­son shooter (FPS) video games, no doubt thanks to its fu­tur­is­tic ap­pear­ance. It’s prob­a­bly the most de­sir­able gun in the

Call of Duty fran­chise and cur­rent list­ings on the In­ter­net Movie Firearms Data­base web­site show the P90 has more me­dia ap­pear­ances than agen­cies us­ing it. The

Stargate T V se­ries ( SG-1 and At­lantis) didn’t just uti­lize P90s, they made the gun into a plot point — not­ing it as be­ing more ca­pa­ble of pen­e­trat­ing alien hides and ar­mor than the MP5s pre­vi­ously used on the se­ries.

In real life, the P90 was de­signed in the late 1980s as a per­sonal de­fense weapon for mil­i­tary per­son­nel whose pri­mary duty was some­thing other than car­ry­ing a full-size ri­fle (for ex­am­ple, ar­mored ve­hi­cle crews, ad­min­is­tra­tive per­son­nel, cooks, and so forth). There’s no doubt that a small shoul­der-fired weapon with an op­tic is eas­ier to shoot ac­cu­rately than a hand­gun, es­pe­cially by per­son­nel with min­i­mal train­ing.

The 5.7x28mm car­tridge of­fers nearly twice the ve­loc­ity of 9mm NATO, lighter felt recoil, and far bet­ter pen­e­tra­tion. Nearly three decades af­ter its in­tro­duc­tion, the P90 has been adopted by law en­force­ment and spe­cial op­er­a­tions units in over 40 coun­tries, but has never seen the wide­spread mil­i­tary use FN hoped for. In­stead, it seems to have at­tained the pop­u­lar­ity FN en­vi­sioned only in the vir­tual world.

Fol­low­ing the sun­set of the fed­eral As­sault Weapons Ban in 2004, FN re­leased a semi­auto ver­sion of the P90 in the Amer­i­can mar­ket as the PS90 in 2005.

The PS90 comes with a longer bar­rel and per­ma­nent flash hider to achieve a 16-inch over­all length, to re­main com­pli­ant with the Firearms Act of 1934. This gives it a bit of a goofy ap­pear­ance, and makes it way longer than it should be. How then, can we make the gun of­fered over the counter, more like its coun­ter­part in video games?

The first or­der of busi­ness was to con­vert the PS90 into an SBR, or short-bar­reled ri­fle. Here’s where things start get­ting te­dious, as it re­quires the fil­ing of an ATF Form 1. Once you’ve filled out the form, paid 200 bucks, and sub­mit­ted your fin­ger­prints, you then wait. And wait. Even­tu­ally, the wheels of gov­ern­ment bu­reau­cracy grind through their in­ter­minable pro­cesses and you wind up with an ap­proved form and a tax stamp. Yay! In the mean­time, you can spend the in­ter­ven­ing months choos­ing the good­ies you’re go­ing to add to your project.

There are sev­eral guides for re­mov­ing the PS90 bar­rel on the In­ter­net. I ini­tially tried the more dif­fi­cult op­tion that in­volves drilling out a pin from the

bar­rel shroud, which is threaded onto the bar­rel with a left handed thread pitch. If you at­tempt this method, great care must be taken to avoid dam­ag­ing the threads. Since this was my first at­tempt, of course I dam­aged the threads, mak­ing re­moval of the bar­rel pretty dif­fi­cult. Time to break out the an­gle grinder!

This is prob­a­bly the best bet for end users do­ing this at home — just chop the damned thing off — it’s fastest and causes the least frus­tra­tion. In­stalling the new, shorter (10.4”) CMMG bar­rel into the re­ceiver was a three-handed op­er­a­tion.

You have to make the recoil spring and cock­ing han­dle all go back to­gether cor­rectly with­out let­ting the spring pop out. CMMG also of­fers two muz­zle de­vices for their bar­rel, one be­ing a copy of the FN com­pen­sator, the other a ½-28 TPI thread adapter. The com­pen­sator didn’t do much (the 5.7 round doesn’t gen­er­ate a whole lot of gas to work a comp), so most test­ing was per­formed with the thread adapter and a Witt Ma­chine and Tool sup­pres­sor.

Be­ing cau­tious about mis­align­ment, I chose a 9mm sup­pres­sor just in case there was any de­vi­a­tion in the thread adapter, in or­der to avoid baf­fle strikes. Us­ing a high vol­ume can like this has ben­e­fits when it comes to sound re­duc­tion — with­out ear-pro, the only noise I heard was the cy­cling of the ac­tion and the sonic crack of the 5.7x28mm pro­jec­tiles go­ing down range.

With the new shorter bar­rel in­stalled, it was time to add sights, lights, and lasers. The orig­i­nal op­tic that came on P90s/ PS90s left a lot to be de­sired. It had a small field of view and wasn’t eas­ily vis­i­ble in bright day­light — some­thing con­ve­niently left out of FPS game sce­nar­ios. This par­tic­u­lar PS90 came with an FNH Pi­catinny rail mounted at 12 o’clock, with an emer­gency peep sight sys­tem un­der­neath, should your op­tic fail. The Aim­point CompM5 was a nat­u­ral choice for use on the PS90; with­out a spacer it sits as low as you can go with­out re­sort­ing to the orig­i­nal P90 op­tic. The M5 fea­tures a crisp, 2 MOA dot that runs on a sin­gle AAA bat­tery, with an ad­ver­tised bat­tery life of 50,000 hours.

The height over bore for the Aim­point is 4.5 inches, 2 inches more than a typ­i­cal AR-15, so know­ing holdovers at close ranges is of para­mount im­por­tance; oth­er­wise your bul­lets will strike way lower than ex­pected. Again, this is some­thing that isn’t a fac­tor in the vir­tual world, but be­comes read­ily ap­par­ent when at the range. Hits at 100 yards with the Aim­point on 12-inch steel tar­gets were achiev­able, but not con­sis­tently be­cause, in typ­i­cal bullpup fash­ion, the trig­ger on the

PS90 isn’t great. It was dif­fi­cult to tell how much of that was prac­ti­cal ver­sus me­chan­i­cal ac­cu­racy po­ten­tial, but if this were my gun I’d be look­ing at a trig­ger up­grade ASAP. That left two spots on the PS90’s up­per re­ceiver va­cant, which, in a gamer gun, would never do.

Two rail sec­tions from Dam­age In­dus­tries bolt up to pre-threaded holes in the PS90 re­ceiver to ac­com­mo­date a light and laser. The SureFire M162 Ul­tra Scout Light with a healthy out­put of

600 lu­mens ful­filled light du­ties, while a DBAL-I2 served as the laser/il­lu­mi­na­tor. This is where things got tricky. Due to the PS90’s un­usual mag­a­zine lay­out, it took some trial and er­ror to con­fig­ure the light and laser to avoid in­ter­fer­ing with the mag­a­zine. Both throw levers need to face up­wards; oth­er­wise there’s no way to insert a mag. Pressure switches were run around the grip and lo­cated un­der the fir­ing hand, so they could be ac­ti­vated by squeez­ing a lit­tle tighter. There just isn’t any good way to route them to the for­ward grip used by the non-fir­ing hand, which would be a bet­ter so­lu­tion.

This setup would have been great for a low-light com­bat­ives class; un­for­tu­nately, time didn’t al­low for it. While the PS90 doesn’t re­ally do any­thing bet­ter than a sim­i­larly equipped short-bar­reled AR, it cer­tainly looks bad ass. If you’re go­ing to have a con­ver­sa­tion piece or range toy, it might as well be func­tional. Movies, TV, and video games are all ways peo­ple get in­ter­ested in real firearms, and hav­ing a real gun that sparks peo­ple’s en­thu­si­asm is a great way to con­vert on­look­ers into ac­tive par­tic­i­pants in the shoot­ing lifestyle.


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