The FN P90, also known as the FN Project 1990, is a personal defense weapon (PDW) designed and manufactured by FN Herstal in Belgium. Created in response to NATO requests for a replacement for 9×19mm Parabellum firearms, the P90 was designed as a compact but powerful firearm for vehicle crews, operators of crew-served weapons, support personnel, special forces, and counter-terrorist groups. Designed in conjunction with the FN Five-seven pistol and FN 5.7×28mm ammunition, development of the weapon began in 1986, and production commenced in 1990 (from which the “90” in its name is derived), whereupon the 5.7×28mm ammunition was redesigned and shortened. A modified version of the P90 with a magazine adapted to use the new ammunition was introduced in 1993, and the Five-seven pistol was subsequently introduced as a companion weapon using the same 5.7×28mm ammunition.
The P90 is currently in service with military and police forces in over 40 nations, such as Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Greece, India, Malaysia, Poland, and the United States. In the United States, the P90 is in use with over 200 law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Secret Service. While developed and initially marketed as a PDW, it can also be considered a submachine gun or compact assault rifle. The standard selective fire P90 is restricted to military, law enforcement or holders of a Federal Firearms License (FFL). However, since 2005 a semi-automatic version has been offered to civilian users as the PS90.
The P90 TR (Triple Rail) model, also known as the “flat-top,” was introduced in late 1999. It features a receiver-mounted triple MIL-STD-1913 (Picatinny) rail interface system, or “Triple Rail,” for mounting accessories. There is one full-length accessory rail integrated into the top of the receiver, and two rail stumps are included on the sides of the receiver. The top rail will accept various optical sights with no tools or additional mounting hardware required, and the side rails serve to mount secondary accessories, such as tactical lights or laser aiming devices.
The P90 USG (United States Government) model is similar to the standard P90, except the reflex sight housing is aluminium, and the sight has a revised reticle. The black reticle consists of a tiny dot inside of a small ring, which is joined by three posts that glow red in low light conditions due to tritium-illumination. The USG reflex sight can be removed and replaced with a special MIL-STD-1913 (Picatinny) rail mount for attaching a different sight.
P90 Laserex models
The P90 LV (Laser Visible) and P90 IR (InfraRed) models, both of which were introduced in late 1995, have an integrated laser sight manufactured by Laserex Technologies in Australia. The P90 LV model projects an 8 mW visible laser intended to be used as a low-light shooting aid or for dissuasive effect, while the P90 IR model projects a 4.5 mW infrared laser that can only be seen with night vision equipment. Both laser systems are compact, consisting of a small, flat panel integrated into the front end of the weapon’s frame.
The Laserex P90 laser systems have a weight of 131 g (0.29 lb), and they are activated by means of a green pressure switch located on the underside of the weapon’s pistol grip. The lasers can be configured for three different internal settings: Off – disabled to prevent accidental activation, Training – low intensity for eye safety and extended battery life in training, or Combat – high intensity for maximum visibility. The Laserex P90 laser systems have a battery life of 250 hours when used on the Training setting, or a life of 50 hours when used on the Combat setting.
The PS90 is a carbine version of the P90, intended for civilian shooters for personal protection and sporting use; it was introduced in 2005, and continues to be offered in several configurations. The PS90 will accept the standard 50-round P90 magazines, but the gun is supplied with a magazine that is blocked to a capacity of 10 or 30 rounds, allowing it to be sold in jurisdictions where magazine capacities are restricted by law. In order to be legal for purchase by civilians without obtaining a tax stamp for a Short Barreled Rifle (SBR) as defined by the United States National Firearms Act, the PS90 carbine has an extended 407 mm (16 in) barrel and is semi-automatic, with a trigger pull of approximately 31–36 newtons (7.0–8.1 lbf). The lengthened barrel has eight rifling grooves, with a right-hand twist rate of 1:229 mm (1:9 in) and a rifled length of 376 mm (14.8 in); the muzzle is equipped with a fixed “birdcage” type flash suppressor.