Table of Contents
The Ruger-57 pistol is a very special gun that uses 5.7×28 mm ammo. The 5.7x28mm (5.7) pistol cartridge which FN developed in the1980s is a small caliber, high-velocity pistol cartridge which is based on the 5.56x45mm SS109 NATO round. The ammo is fast, delivering about 2,000 feet per second when it leaves a 5-inch barrel. Ruger, here in the United States, has just introduced now in late December 2019 their Model 57, which uses the 5.7x28mm cartridge. I was fortunate to be offered one of the first Ruger-57 pistols “hot-off-the-press” to review and share with you.
Advantages of the 5.7 Cartridge and Pistol
Without a doubt in my mind, the 5.7x28mm cartridge is an excellent cartridge that offers some advantages. The 5.7 round case and bullet are reduced in size to create what some say is an improved performance to the 9x19mm. The round has a long and slim design with bottlenecked case and pointed bullet, as you can see in the above photo. It is almost 4 times longer than its diameter. This compares to the standard 9mm round which is about 1.5 times as long as wide. The 5.7x28mm round has its center of mass back towards the rear of the bullet than others. So when the 5.7 round hits the target, the bullet tends to tumble or pitch forward and yaw side-to-side, making for a much larger wound cavity. This helps the bullet’s energy transfer to the target more efficiently, with less chance of it over-penetrating out the target to whatever is behind it. So, Larger Wound Cavity; More Energy Transfer; Less Over-Penetration; More Expansion. Several say the 5.7mm has only a third of the recoil of the 5.6mm NATO and two-thirds of the 9x19mm. The cartridge pressure level is low enough so that the pistol is blowback operated and helps reduce felt recoil. I had to shoot it for my self to see how the felt recoil was and to compare it to the fine FN 5.7 pistol, which I reviewed HERE in December 2016.
There are mixed opinions about the 5.7 cartridge and pistols and it depends on how you define and measure “performance,” etc. While it has been criticized by gun control groups, investigation by the ATF found no commercially available ammo for the civilian market fired out of the 5.7 pistol was capable of defeating ballistic armor, as some claimed. The second generation 5.7 cartridge was developed for law enforcement and the civilian market. The “LF” (lead-free SS195LF) rounds may be used for training and law enforcement, while the sporting rounds SS197SR are for civilian use, since armor piercing ammo is prohibited in the U.S. The SS195LF is a lead-free hollow point (HP) round that has a totally lead free primer and projectile. It is even intended for use on indoor ranges or where potential lead contamination is a concern. (I prefer outdoor ranges.)
Some say the cost of 5.7x28mm ammo is a major detriment. Think about this. The cost of the civilian-grade SS197SR rounds are about $20. per 50 rounds, while the SS195LF HP rounds are about $25 per 50 rounds. So the ammo seems closely comparable now to .45 ACP (e.g. Speer Gold Dot 230 grain HP $28 for 50 rnds) and other caliber rounds (e.g. Federal Premium .40 S&W 155 grain HP $28 for 50 rnds.) Personal wallet preference.
The 5.7 is in service now with military and police forces in over 40 nations, including Canada, France, Spain, Greece, India, Poland, and the U.S., including the U.S. Secret Service, some Navy Seals units, and the Federal Protective Service. The internal hammer of the Ruger Double Action 5.7 is NOT a SAO striker like some claim, but is always cocked when there is a round in the chamber. There is no decocker. So, I had to try the 5.7 for myself to see if this unique gun and caliber worked for me, even though I prefer the 9mm. You can compare this review with my handgun analyses, comparisons, and rankings in the second printing of my book “Concealed Carry & Handgun Essentials.”
What follows first are the Specifications and Features for the Ruger-57 pistol. Then I give you my 10 criteria that I use to evaluate all guns. Finally, I present my analysis and how I specifically evaluated the gun against each of my 10 criteria to recommend or not recommend it. As always, set your own criteria and priorities, do your own research and check my data, information, etc. with yours, for your very personal selection process.
- Very Nice Overall Ergonomics, with Thin, Nicely-Textured Comfortable Grips
- Single-Action-Like Trigger, with Short, Light, Smooth, & Crisp DA Trigger with Positive Reset
- Reversible Magazine Release
- Undercut Trigger Guaqrd to Enhance Grip
- Ambidextrous Manual Safeties
- Picatinny-Style Accessory Rail- for Laser and Light Mounting
- Low Bore Axis to Help Reduce Muzzle Flip
- Minimal Felt Recoil, Partly Due to Smooth & High Velocity 5.7x28mm Cartridge
- Minimal Muzzle Rise, Partly due to Ported Slide
- Rounded Slide and Edges to Reduce Snagging and Handling Concerns
- Loaded Chamber View Port on Top of Slide by Extractor for Round Inspection
- Nicely Scalloped Front and Rear Slide Cocking Serrations
- Safe, Easy Takedown with No Tools or Trigger Press Required
- Options: Model #16402 with 10-round Magazine; Red Dot Sight Plates Available
Ruger-57 Review Criteria and Considerations
Here are just 10 of my Criteria and factors I use for evaluating any handgun, so I will use them for the Ruger-57. In addition to my criteria, there are other subjective features that may be appealing for some, like a certain style, mag release location, action, caliber, appearance, number of mags included, type of sights/modifications, bore axis, rail, grip angle, non-porting or porting, included extras like a holster and pouch, customer service, etc. So, I combined these into my last Miscellaneous criterion. I must admit that ALL gun-choice decisions involve tradeoffs, but I really want ALL of my criteria to be met. I assigned a total possible point score of 10 points for each of my 10 criteria for a total possible score of 100 points. You can certainly add your own additional criteria and preferences or subtract any of mine.
Recognize that there are several features, characteristics, pros and cons, and personal criteria to include and consider and you make your own tradeoffs according to your priorities, preferences, defined needs, and use.
Ruger-57 5.7x28mm Range Test
I was anxious to shoot this pistol and bought some Federal American Eagle 5.7x28mm 40-grain ammo, AE5728A. The ammo was readily available and you can shop around for the best ammo prices. The 5.7 ammo is offered by FN Herstal, Federal, and Speer. I went through this supply very quickly and had to shoot more to adequately test and evaluate it. I appreciate that Ruger donated some more ammo. It was very fun shooting this gun and I was amazed at its accuracy, lack of muzzle rise, and very soft recoil for such a lightweight gun. I enjoyed shooting about 400 rounds and could not put this fine pistol down. I usually shoot 500 rounds over a couple of days to decide if I want to use the gun and how to use it best. Below are my evaluations for each of my 10 criteria for the Ruger-57 for my home defense and range shooting purposes. I also was considering if this lightweight pistol with its 4.9 inch barrel and 5.6 inch height could be a carry gun. For me, it was not too heavy, too large, or cumbersome for concealed carry. I know some do carry it. I wanted to put the gun through its paces and check it thoroughly for malfunctions, stoppages, accuracy, and reliability. Thanks to Ruger for providing some rounds of Federal American Eagle and FNH ammo for my testing and evaluation of the pistol.
Ruger-57 Hands-On Performance Observations
This Ruger-57 pistol performed great. No malfunctions nor stoppages of any kind and I loved the 20-round capacity mags. It digested the different types of ammo without any problems. I was honestly amazed at the very low felt recoil and hardly any muzzle rise. I can honestly say that the recoil was much less than even my 9mms and about like my .22 mag rounds. It was easy and smooth as butter to handle when I racked the slide and it was so easy to insert and release the mag from the mag well. And the mags dropped quickly and easily from the mag well. It perforned exceptionally well. I was impressed with its short, smooth, light, and crisp trigger press, much like my single action pistols, even though it was a pre-cocked double action. I like the ergonomics and lines on this gun. Although polymer, it just felt solid in my hands, while being very lightweight. It was very comfortable in my hand and the moderately-aggressive grip texture was just right for me. The grip is thin enough, but longer and sightly wider to accommodate the 20 rounds in the mag. For my medium-sized hands, the grip felt just right and comfortable to me. Again, I want to emphasize the nice soft recoil and very low if any muzzle rise of this gun. Great features and performance to enhance accuracy. Below I will get specific and present my ideas for each of my criteria after my range testing.
Over different distances, especially distances of 10 to 25 yards, accuracy was very acceptable, but shoot it for yourself to make your own decisions, based on your abilities and proficiency… and budget.
Ruger-57 Range Test Results for each of my 10 Criteria:
1. Accuracy and Reliability – Score: 10
The accuracy of the Ruger-57 was excellent for me at distances from 5 yards to 25 yards. This aging old codger was pleased, but the gun did most of the work. I did not have to adjust the rear sights for elevation or for windage, out of the box. After no fine tuning it at all, my hits were very good. The 4.75# trigger press of this single-action-like gun with its crisp and soft trigger with a short reset helped my accuracy. I feel certain after more rounds down range it will be even more accurate for me, but its trigger press was outstanding. I used my Modified-Isosceles Stance, a two-handed grip, & shot SS197SR V-Max blue-tip 40-grain rounds (ave. muzzle velocity=1700 fps) and American Eagle AE5728A 40-grain TMJ at 1650 fps ave. muzzle velocity.
2. Trigger Press – Score: 10
The trigger press averaged about 4.75 pounds with 10 readings from my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge. This was excellent and even at the lower limits for my press range for my carry guns. I prefer that my carry guns have a maximum of 6.5 pounds press or less, so this press was great. If I buy it, I will mostly use it for home protection and range fun, but I will seriosly consider it for my carry rotation. Again, the trigger press was short, smooth, and crisp.
3. Trigger – Score: 10
The trigger had a tactile and very identifiable click and short reset. I liked the short and positive reset and very crisp trigger. My shots were consistent each time and I could easily recognize the reset point. I really enjoyed shooting it, but wish the price of ammo would be less. An excellent soft and smooth SAO-like trigger, although a pre-cocked double action.
4. Barrel Length: Score: 10
The 4.94-inch barrel combined with its lightweight, delayed blowback operation, and single-action-like performance had surprisingly low muzzle flip and recoil. Very manageable for a large majority of folks. The alloy steel barrel was of high quality. My science friends tell me that Alloy Steel can handle more stress and pressure than other steels, but usually are prone to some corrosion. But this Alloy Steel finish had sufficient protective coating.
5. Sights – Score: 10
The green fiber optic front sight matched well with the all-black rear sight. And the rear sight was adjustable for both elevation and windage, with a ledge to help one-handed racking. The green fiber optic front sight stood out great for this colorblind shooter. And most shooters can pickup green better than red. Out of the box, the sights were right on without any adjustment at all. This is rare for a new gun and I was very pleased. The sights were excellent and I could not ask for anything more.
6. Proper Gun Weight – Score: 9
The overall 24.5 ounce unloaded weight was very light and this would be a very good benefit for a concealed carry gun. Given its light weight, I thought this polymer gun would cause me to feel more recoil, but it did not. The weight is certainly very acceptable.
7. Caliber – Score: 10
It was easy and comfortable to shoot the 5.7x28mm caliber. The 5.7 pistol has a delayed blowback design matched to the ammo. Felt recoil was much lower than I expected and the recoil from this caliber ammo was very easy for me to control. It digested the two types of ammo easily without a single malfunction or stoppage. The lightweight made it comfortable for handling and the recoil was not a problem. Ammo experts tell me that the tip of the 5.7x28mm rounds have a steel penetrator and aluminum core that is heavier than the forward tip, causing the bullets to tumble and yaw in soft tissue after about 2 inches of penetration, creating a large wound cavity and virtually eliminating the risk of overpenetration and subsequent unintended injuries. This is an important advantage for this caliber round.
8. Capacity – Score: 10
Outstanding capacity. There were three 20-round quality steel magazines included with my sample gun package and this was very convenient for my range test and is also helpful for personal protection. SAFETY FIRST ALWAYS! I think the new standard package includes two 20-round steel magazines.
9. Ergonomics – Score: 9
The ergonomics of the Ruger-57 were very nice. Form, function, and fit were excellent. The contemporary grip texturing was just right for me and easy to handle with my sweaty palms. Not too gritty and not under texturized. The grip’s body was ample to allow me to acquire a firm and comfortable grip with my medium-sized hands. I was able to easily reach all the controls and I could not get an improper grip, after repeated trials. I really like the rounded slide by the muzzle and its smooth lines to help prevent snagging.
10. Miscellaneous – Score: 9
As always before shooting any new gun, I disassembled, lubed and cleaned, and re-assembled the 57 before I shot it. I did NOT have to press the trigger to disassemble it and it was very easy and quick to field strip. I liked the placement of the manual safeties and for this “righty”, it was easy to reach and operate the left-side manual safety. A very big advantage of this 5.7x28mm pistol is that it can be bought for near or below the $799. retail price, if you shop. There is a Lifetime Implied Warranty from the original new purchase date. The Operating Manual was not shipped with the case and new pistol, since the manual was being printed.
- To clean barrel, use .22 caliber or .223 caliber copper brush;
- To clean chamber, use 7mm or .30 caliber copper brush.
Total Points = 97 out of 100 Possible. I certainly highly recommend this Ruger-57 5.7x28mm pistol for consideration for your range plinking fun and for personal protection in the home or a possible carry alternative, depending on your needs, etc.
Ruger-57 Review Conclusions
The Ruger-57 pistol is more than a unique caliber and conversation gun with a “cool” fun factor to shoot. Its fine attributes can be used to significantly help your personal protection in my opinion. Once you understand the history and technical specifications of the various 5.7x28mm rounds, you can better appreciate the caliber, its efficiency and effectiveness, and the related excellent pistol that uses the ammo. The accuracy, low recoil, lightweight, high capacity, minimal 10.5-11.5″ penetration to avoid collateral injuries, and moderate pistol price benefits outweigh the relatively-high ammo cost. The benefits of reliable, potential life or death protection outweigh the costs in my opinion. With so much going for it, and little downside, I think it deserves a more thorough review, testing, and evaluation by most folks for not only fun plinking, but for personal protection and possible carry. These are just my opinions and ideas, so handle and shoot it for yourself. I hope this review of the Ruger-57, single-action-type pistol has helped you gain some information you did not previously have. Consider that these are just my opinions with limited live-range fire and shooting myself about 400 rounds of ammo, some at my expense. You need to determine for yourself its reliability and accuracy by your own shooting and handling of the gun. Like always, I recommend that you shoot any handgun yourself before you purchase it. Decide on your criteria, how you will primarily use the gun, and what features are important to you and you are willing to pay for ahead of your range time. Then critically evaluate the gun YOURSELF per your criteria and purpose, with standard drills (several mentioned in my book), with various ammo types, over an extended break-in period of at least 500 rounds. Remember, Safety First Always.
Sturm, Ruger & Co.
Prescott, AZ 86301
Triple K Manufacturing
San Diego, CA
Federal American Eagle Premium Ammo
Anoka, MN 55303
FNH SS197SR 40-Grain V-Max Ammo
McLean, VA 22101
Photos by Author.
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2019-20 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at ColBFF@gmail.com.
Col Ben reviews the brand-new Ruger-57, a full-featured handgun wrapped around a standard capacity, 20-round steel magazine, chambered in 5.7x28mm.
Accuracy and Reliability
Proper Gun Weight