Is 5.7×28 better than 9mm?

A lot of shooters have been wondering, will 5.7x28 replace 9mm? And it’s a good question. It’s an old one, but still viable.
Brady Kirkpatrick Avatar
5.7x28 vs 9mm

A lot of shooters have been wondering, will 5.7×28 replace 9mm? And it’s a good question. It’s an old one, but still viable. 5.7×28 is a solid round for many reasons. NATO has standardized the round, after all. Maybe they’re planning on using it in the future for military firearms? Who knows.

We’ll talk about why 5.7×28 was invented as well. Hint: It’s strikingly close to the topic of this article. I’m also going to be chiming in on whether or not the 5.7×28 can replace the 9mm as well. Fair warning: I like to poke at the 5.7×28. Anyway.

Why was 5.7×28 invented?

FN began designing a new cartridge that would replace the 9mm back in 1986 following a request from NATO. The request included a faster, more accurate round and with better terminal ballistics than the round in service. 

9mm. 5.7×28 was built to replace 9mm.

Madonna was singing Poppa Don’t Preach, the Challenger Space Shuttle disintegrated on launch and killed all seven astronauts, and FN was hard at work trying to find a replacement for the 9mm.

Good times.

FN continued research, producing the FN PS90 and Five-Seven in the meantime and taking the round. Over ten years later, in 2003, NATO finally got around to testing the 5.7×28 and pit it against the 4.6×30 from H&K.

ruger 5.7 and p90
Five-Seven and P90.

5.7×28 was declared the winner, considered more efficient as a whole compared to the H&K round. Oddly enough, H&K was given the business with the MP7. 

5.7×28 faded into black. Some countries adopted it for military use, but the U.S. Military didn’t adopt the 5.7×28 or the P90. NATO simply ‘lost interest’ and realized they didn’t need a replacement round after all. 

Back to the lobby 5.7×28 went. 

Civilians ate it up, but why?

Shooters in the civilian side of the industry ate the 5.7×28 up. In 2004, it was purchased as a sporting cartridge and gained popularity in the community, with plenty of shooters opting for 5.7×28 over 9mm in the process. 

One look at YouTube over the years shows plenty of personalities putting the two rounds in a dual to the death. 

With no clear winner. But those guys did bring up some good points. 

How well did it do in home defense? Did it penetrate more than 9mm? How about the actual stopping power? So on and so forth. 

These questions were answered. But no one bought into it too far, and you didn’t see too any companies making their firearms in 5.7×28. Think about it, have you ever seen a Glock 57? 

Of course not.

The only company that made anything chambered in 5.7×28 was FN. It wasn’t until recently that other countries tried to chime in on the growing popularity of the round. 

Ruger made the 5.7, Palmetto State Armory made the Rock, and Kel-Tec came out with whatever the P-50 was.

ruger 5.7
Ruger 5.7. That thing is hideous. Courtesy of Ruger.

Why I believe the 5.7×28 will not take over

5.7×28 is and will always be a niche round. It’s fast and accurate but does not pack the stopping power of the 9mm, which already lacks the desired stopping power for some. 

For one, the round itself has a smaller diameter and weight. Two, it’s basically a smaller .223 Remington, which isn’t known for putting down enemies with one shot. 

And it’s too expensive. One box of 50 rounds will cost you just as much, whereas practice 9mm ammo will cost you half or less. It’s a no-brainer at that point. 9mm isn’t a broken system, and 5.7×28 was created to solve a problem that didn’t need too much solving in the first place. 

I know; those are bolt claims. But I’ve had my 5.7×28 craze, and I was too young in my shooting career to understand that there is a reason why the round didn’t catch on in the first place. 

Just think about it from the standpoint of someone who likes to stockpile ammo. 1000 rounds of 9mm won’t dip into your wallet too hard, but if you turn that around and go try and spend the same for 1000 rounds of 5.7×28, you’ll be disappointed. 

But, if you have the bread for that, then by all means. I only recommend stuff that I would buy as well. And I’m not in the business of telling you to go waste money or wasting money of my own. 

Which is almost the same thing. 

There may be some hope

And I say that because NATO standardized the round. That doesn’t mean that it will be adopted in new firearms for the military. Obviously, we are still getting pistols from Sig Sauer. Thankfully with a manual safety.

Belgian door kickers. One of them rocking a Five-Seven.

And you know how long it takes the military to come out with something new. Those Sig pistols will be checking themselves out of the armory room before the new trials begin for a pistol. Your grandchildren will be in high school. 

And that’s being modest. 

Is 5.7 more powerful than 9mm?

If you’re still wondering if the 5.7×28 will replace the 9mm, I will give you a flat-out no for multiple reasons. One of them is that 9mm is perfectly fine. It’s been around for 122 years and will be around long after we’re gone. 

I bet Luger didn’t think his design would have been around this long. 

In the future, 5.7×28 will have a fighting chance. When other firearms in 5.7×28 come about, and more ammo is mass-produced, and we can get the round under a dollar, then maybe we’ll see if it does anything. 

For now, it’s a niche. Unless we boog, we aren’t shooting at armor plates. 

Be good and take care of yourself.