The FN P90 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.
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 sub-machine gun or compact assault rifle. The standard selective fire P90 is restricted to military and law enforcement customers, but since 2005, a semi-automatic version has been offered to civilian shooters as the PS90.
The P90 and its 5.7×28mm ammunition were developed by FN Herstal in response to NATO requests for a replacement for the 9×19mm Parabellum cartridge and associated pistols and sub-machine guns. NATO called for two types of weapons chambered for a new cartridge—one a shoulder-fired weapon, and the other a handheld weapon. According to NATO, these new weapons, termed personal defense weapons (PDWs), were to provide “personal protection in last-resort situations when the user is directly endangered by the enemy […].”
In 1989, NATO published document D/296, outlining a number of preliminary specifications for these weapons:
The new cartridge was to have greater range, accuracy, and terminal performance than the 9×19mm cartridge. Additionally, it was to be capable of penetrating body armor.
The shoulder-fired personal defense weapon was to weigh less than 3 kg (6.6 lb), with a magazine capacity of at least 20 rounds.
The handheld personal defense weapon (pistol) was to weigh less than 1 kg (2.2 lb), although a weight of 700 g (1.5 lb) was deemed desirable; it was to have a magazine capacity of at least 20 rounds.
Both weapons were to be sufficiently compact to be carried hands-free on the user’s person at all times, whether in the cab of a vehicle or the cockpit of an aircraft, and were to perform effectively in all environments and weather conditions.
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