Ruger Model 57

Bringing mass-market appeal to the 5.7 x 28 mm cartridge
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The Ruger 57 was fired with the only two factory loads John found available — made
by Federal American Eagle and FN, both sporting a 40-grain FMJ bullet.

What’s in a number? There was a time in ancient history, and for some people still today, when numbers were thought to be mystical. Secret societies, cults actually, even rose around worship of numbers.

The number 57 has some special significance for me. After WWII we lived in a housing project specially constructed for returning veterans. Although I was just learning to read, my mother could send me to the store to get a certain yellow or red bottle which I could recognize by the 57 on the front. In the infant days of television, one of the shows on the old Dumont Network was “Studio 57,” which introduced many young actors who would eventually become quite famous.

Also the same year, one of the most beautiful cars ever designed arrived with the ’57 Chevy V-8 Convertible and two-door hardtop. In those days it was quite an occasion each fall to go down to the local car dealer and see the new models.
In 1963, which was 57 years ago, we had the arrival of the first attempt to produce small-bore long-range handguns with the arrival of the .22 Jet, .221 Remington and .256 Winchester. These are only rarely seen today but Ruger has now come forth with their new Ruger Model 57, a semi-automatic pistol chambered in 5.7 x 28mm. The 5.7 chambering gives us the Ruger 57 nomenclature — the number 57 is about to gain new significance!

Targets shot at 25 yards with the Viper Red Dot equipped Ruger-57. The unique round
offers high velocity, low recoil and excellent accuracy.

Cartridge Creation

The .22 caliber 5.7 x 28mm cartridge goes back over 30 years when it was developed by Fabrique Nationale and chambered in the FN P90 semi-automatic pistol. It was originally designed for military and law enforcement use, especially in sub-machine guns and I have heard from several sources it’s the pistol of choice for the Secret Service. The new Ruger chambered in this cartridge can certainly be used for self-defense but is basically designed for the field. Actually, I see applications for both and if used for self-defense and touched off in an enclosure with no ear protection, it would certainly be an attention getter!

Currently, the cartridge itself is available from Federal in the American Eagle 40-grain FMJ and the FN 40-grain Hornady V-Max. Speer has announced a version specially designed for self-defense that should arrive shortly. Originally, 27- and 28-grain bullets were loaded to 2,000 fps, however the 5″ barrel of the Ruger Model 57 gives muzzle velocities for the 40-grain loads are in the 1,600 to 1,700 fps range.

I have extensively fired the new Ruger with both ammunition versions with almost flawless performance. I say “almost” as I have experienced two failures to completely chamber, both of which required a simple push on the back of the slide to override, along with a couple of failures to completely eject. Both of these may simply be due to the newness of the pistol.

Specs

The frame of the Ruger 57 is what the company describes as High-Performance Glass-Filled Nylon while the slide and barrel are both Alloy Steel, the former finished in Black Oxide and the latter in Black Nitride. The grip is finely textured for a secure hold, although recoil is exceptionally mild and the slide has cocking serrations both front and rear.

The barrel has a 1:9 right-hand twist with eight grooves. With a weight of only 24.5 oz., the Ruger is very easy to carry in a properly designed holster. Rather than being a striker-fired pistol, this Ruger features an internal hammer with an ambidextrous thumb safety. Ruger calls this the Secure Action Fire Control. There is also an inspection port allowing one to tell if the chamber is loaded. The trigger is excellent with a short, crisp pull and a positive reset. Two 20-round steel magazines are provided and the frame is fitted with an easily accessible, reversible magazine release that also operates positively to allow the magazines to easily drop free.

The new Ruger 57, a unique 5.7 x 28mm semi-auto, brings mass-market appeal
to a cartridge previously seen as specialized and prohibitively expensive.

Sights

The front of the frame features a Picatinny accessory rail for easy mounting of a light or laser. Sights are excellent, very easy to see and acquire, consisting of a green fiber-optic front sight matched with an adjustable for both windage and elevation rear sight. I found it quite easy to sight-in the Ruger 57. In addition to excellent factory sights, this Ruger is also drilled and tapped in front of the rear sight for the mounting of a base plate and a red dot sight. Both of these are available from Ruger with the red dot sight being a Vortex Viper.

For testing I fired the Ruger with both iron sights and the Viper. The Viper has 10 different Red Dot illumination levels and shuts down automatically after 14 hours. It is powered by a CR2032 battery, with an anti-reflective, ultra-hard ArmorTek lens coating and is advertised as shockproof, waterproof and weighs just one ounce. It installs and adjusts easily with a click value of 1 MOA, and weight is just 1 oz. For me, the red dot sight is quicker to acquire than the factory sights, however it does not extend my range over the factory sights — it simply makes shooting a little more precise at relatively close range. On and off controls are on the left side and it’s not turned on quickly, at least for me.

I would like to see some sort of arrangement for mounting a pistol scope. At one time, too many years ago, Burris offered a 3/4″ pistol scope which I have mounted on a .22 revolver. If I had known it was going to be dropped from production I would have purchased a couple more. Its light weight and compact size would be a perfect choice for this pistol.

Half Price Sale

At an MSRP of $799, the Ruger comes in at just over 50% of the original cost of the FN M90 pistol. This alone should certainly make it a very popular pistol. As far as ammunition cost I have found both currently available versions at $20 to $22 per box of 50 rounds. With the arrival of the new Ruger, I expect two things as far as ammunition goes — the price to come down and more versions being offered.

Range Time

Firing the Ruger 57 with the available ammunition reveals several things. The gun is quite accurate, actually more accurate than I am, recoil is exceptionally mild, and examining fired brass reveals something I’ve never seen before. The shoulder of the fired case moves forward far enough to be easily detected. The original FN pistol had a delayed blowback which allowed the shoulder to move forward as the gun was fired and this Ruger is also blowback operated. I do not know if it’s true of every FN 5.7 x 28mm pistol, however one reliable report from over 10 years ago revealed fired cases had a reverse taper which means the front of the fired brass case was larger in diameter than the base of the case. In measuring fired brass from the Ruger 57 this proved to not be the case with the forward diameter being 0.314" and the base 0.316".

I am set up for reloading the 5.7 x 28mm brass with dies from Lee Precision and also a Lee Universal Expanding Die for belling the case mouth instead of excessively working the brass with the standard expander ball. I hope to do some reloading of this cartridge in the future, however it will be a different story for a different time.

To sum up, the Ruger 57 is lightweight, easy to shoot, serves well as a relatively close-range varmint/small game pistol, can be used for self-defense and perhaps most importantly — is a lot of fun to shoot.

Ruger.com

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