One of the design intents for the standard 5.7×28mm cartridge type, the SS190, was that it have the ability to penetrate Kevlar protective vests—such as the NATO CRISAT vest—that will stop conventional pistol bullets. Fired from the Five-seven, the 5.7×28mm SS190 has a muzzle velocity of roughly 650 m/s (2,130 ft/s) and is capable of penetrating the CRISAT vest at a range of 100 m (110 yd), or 48 layers of Kevlar material (roughly equivalent to two stacked Level II Kevlar vest panels) at a range of 50 m (55 yd). It is also capable of penetrating a PASGT vest at a range of 300 m (330 yd) or a PASGT helmet at a range of 240 m (260 yd). FN states an effective range of 50 m (55 yd) and a maximum range of 1,510 m (1,650 yd) for the 5.7×28mm cartridge when fired from the Five-seven pistol.
In testing conducted by Passaic County, New Jersey Sheriff's Department, the 5.7×28mm SS190 penetrated to a depth of 27 cm (11 in) in bare ballistic gelatin, and a depth of 23 cm (9.1 in) in gelatin protected with a Kevlar vest. In testing, the SS190 and similar 5.7×28mm projectiles consistently turn base over point ("tumble") as they pass through ballistic gelatin and other media, using the 21.6-mm (.85 in) projectile length to create a larger wound cavity.
The 5.7×28mm projectile potentially poses less risk of collateral damage than conventional pistol bullets, because the projectile design limits overpenetration, as well as risk of ricochet. The lightweight projectile also poses less risk of collateral damage in the event of a miss, because it loses much of its kinetic energy after traveling only 400 m (440 yd), whereas a conventional pistol bullet such as the 9×19mm retains significant energy beyond 800 m (870 yd). This range exceeds the engagement distances expected for the 5.7×28mm cartridge's intended applications, so the cartridge's limited energy at long range is not conversely considered to be disadvantageous. Since the 5.7×28mm SS190 projectile does not rely on fragmentation or the expansion of a hollow-point bullet, the cartridge and pistol are considered suitable for military use under the Hague Convention of 1899, which prohibits the use of expanding bullets in warfare. When fired from the P90 2350 FPS/394 Ft-Lb and is roughly 200 FPS faster from the longer barrel PS90
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