The Fabrique Nationale Herstal (FNH, or simply FN) P-90 was born out of the need for a modern and updated solution as a means to enable combat support and non-frontline military personnel to defend themselves against potential enemy attack.
The requirements of such a Personal Defense Weapon (PDW), as it became to be known, were given by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in a request in 1989, which states that the weapon was to have ‘greater range, accuracy, and terminal performance than the 9x19mm cartridge’ and that ‘it was to be capable of penetrating body armor’. Said PDW also had to weigh under 3kg when unloaded, and would be required to be easily maneuverable in confined spaces, such as in the cab of a truck.
FN was the first arms manufacturer to respond to NATO’s request, and developed a revolutionary, select-fire bullpup PDW in 1990, that was chambered in their new, proprietary 5.7x28mm cartridge. FN’s P-90 featured an innovative and futuristic design, incorporating a compact, all-polymer receiver with a 10.4-inch long barrel, an ambidextrous changing handle on both sides of the receiver, blowback-operated action from a closed bolt, a bottom ejection port, a unique top-feeding see-through magazine holding 50 rounds of 5.7x28mm, as well as an integrated non-magnified, tritium-illuminated optical sight located on the front top-end of the weapon. This design enabled the P-90 to be fully-ambidextrous, with the brass casings being ejected downwards rather than to the right or the left of the weapon, eliminating any chance of hitting the user in the face.
At just 19.9 inches in overall length, the P-90 is a sleek, easy-to-carry and deploy weapon against threats which may arise at unexpected times and places. When the situation calls for suppressive fire, the P-90 is capable of unleashing a hail of high-velocity 5.7mm rounds at a cyclic rate of 850-1,100 rounds per minute. The proprietary magazine that fits flush against the top of the receiver also contributes to the P-90’s compactness, as compared to a similar sized firearm with a conventional, bottom-feeding magazine which can snag or catch onto the user’s gear during use. The fire selector on the P-90 is located just below the trigger, making the switch from Semi- to Fully-Automatic a simple twist of the finger.
The FN P-90 has seen much use with over 40 countries worldwide since 1991, including Belgium, Austria, Argentina, Poland, Singapore, and the United States. Due to its sleek design and attributes, the P-90 has increasingly taken on more of an offensive, rather than defensive, role by many counter-terrorism and special operations forces around the globe.