Reviewed: Ruger 57

Ruger's 57 is a hot new pistol in a unique round.

Reviewed: Ruger 57

Similar to the development legacy of Ruger re-innovating firearms with cult followings such as the Ruger Mark-I mimicking the Luger, the 10/22 offered an affordable option to the .30-caliber carbine, and the M77 delivered a reliable and accurate rifle for Mauser fans. Ruger introduced the new 57 as an affordable and unique variant of a 5.7x28 pistol with many improved features, all for a lower price than Ruger’s only competitor.

The notable competing FN Five-seveN was a groundbreaking pistol in 2000 that delivered a pistol platform for the unique 5.7x28 round, but featured some unusual ergonomics and came at a price of $1,199, which was out of reach for most customers. The unique round was originally fielded in the FN PS90 rifle/PDW and later the FN Five-seveN and was designed specifically as an anti-personnel round. Customers only had a single vendor choice to shoot this unique high-capacity, low-recoil, and flat-shooting round — until the new Ruger 57.

The Ruger 57 introduction will drive further adoption of the 5.7x28 round to a lot of net new customers. The NATO spec rounds were exclusively made by FN in Belgium. The FN-branded sporting consumer rounds are currently manufactured by Fiocchi and also distributed under a branding agreement with Federal’s American Eagle brand in a less expensive FMJ option. Both the Federal distributed rounds functioned flawlessly, with the FN-branded Hornady V-Max tipped sporting rounds delivering the best accuracy, but the American Eagle FMJ were not far behind as a less expensive training round. We can only hope that a broader range of 5.7 ammunition options will result from the market demand the Ruger 57 generates.

The Ruger brand and $400-lower price point of the Ruger 57 will undoubtedly pull over some previously hardcore FN customers with a pistol with more traditional ergonomics, a shorter trigger reach, Ruger’s broader dealer availability, and a standard-style thumb safety vs the more awkward FN pistol safety.

The Ruger 57 is equipped with a surprisingly slim ergonomic grip for the long 5.7x28 round, short trigger reach, trigger safety, chamber inspection port, Picatinny front light rail, high-viz front sight and fully adjustable rear sight, and it’s tapped for an optional red-dot mount. One of the notable features on the Ruger 57 is the simple 1911-style thumb safety, which is ergonomically familiar with a good, positive feel. The Ruger 57 ships with two 20-round magazines and a very nice molded case with dual clasps and padlock points.

Shooting the Ruger 57 is as expected — it shoots for a very long time with very little recoil, but with the sharp, snappy report of the 5.7x28 round zipping along at 1,600-1,800 fps from a 4.94-inch barrel. The trigger has a very good feel with a little shorter take-up compared to other Rugers, and it broke at a consistent 3.75 pounds, based on my Timney trigger gauge. The accuracy is really very good, with easy off-hand 1-inch groups at 10 yards. Part of easily delivering that accuracy is the nearly complete lack of recoil of the round, the trigger feel, and the Ruger 57 design. Once the fully adjustable, high-visibility sights are set, the trigger and lack of recoil really encourages the shooter to a faster trigger pace. Bottom line, the Ruger 57 is an absolute blast to shoot fast while still maintaining good accuracy. One of the most surprising parts of shooting was the 15-plus-yard jog to go pick up the brass. This actually became a game during testing to attempt to catch the brass of the shooter. Beyond any doubt, the Ruger 57 throws brass farther than any gun I have ever shot. Customers planning to reload should expect to hunt for the very small brass a long way from the shooting position spread across a six-foot radius.

Disassembly is unique compared to other typical pistols. The 57 must be unloaded with the magazine removed, the righthand take-down lever button must be pushed in with the edge of the magazine or some other non-marking device, the slide is locked back, the take-down lever is rotated, then the slide can be slipped forward and off. The disassembly sounds complex, but it’s an extremely quick process the second time. One notable reassembly tip is to ensure the barrel is pushed fully rearward before moving the take-down lever back to the lock position.

A lot of customers will ask, “Why the 5.7x28 round?” The 5.7x28 was developed from the ground up by FN first and foremost as a more lethal replacement for the 9mm NATO round. Testing determined that the round was 27% more effective on soft targets and similar to the 9mm on hard targets. The consumer FN-branded 5.7 round with the Hornady V-Max bullet has proven to be very effective defensively. Certain steel core armor-piercing rounds will defeat soft body armor, however, those rounds are restricted for government and LEO use. The biggest advantage to the 5.7 round is the extremely light, controllable recoil, paired with more proven lethality than the 9mm round. As a home-defense option, the Ruger 57 is a fantastic choice, with a lot of ammo capacity in an easy-shooting, slim and light format.

The weight advantages of the round are real, and many customers want the weight/ammo capacity advantage of the Ruger 57. The Ruger 57 with two full magazines is only about 35 ounces vs a Glock 17 with two 20-round magazines weighing in at 52 ounces; the Ruger is about a pound lighter with the same round count, which can become a huge advantage for hikers wanting to minimize weight or make that off-body CCW pack a bit lighter all day.

Ruger put a different style into the 57, which is a clear departure from the very unusual FN Five-seveN model and offers customers another flavor to shoot the 5.7x28 round. The reliability, weight, nominal recoil, accuracy, ammo capacity and lethality advantages of the round are big selling points for customers who don’t want just another handgun. Once you do start shooting the Ruger 57, it is very hard to put it down and not like it. What’s not to love about a gun that’s easy to shoot, that saves you $400 over the only other option, and that has a very long-lasting magazine count? Despite many people asking what the 5.7x28 round is, Ruger clearly has delivered another firearm with a cult following that will drive more customers to dealers.



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