Ruger 57 Pistol
This week, we got our hands on what has to be the hottest pistol of the year, the Ruger 57. The 57 was an unexpected evolution for team Ruger and hit like a shockwave when it was released. I, for one, was also absolutely stunned by what Ruger has built-in terms of features and quality. But the first question some of you may have is, why the 5.7x 28 cartridge?
5.7x28mm is a strange one, for sure. It has a small but fanatical following, and if you are one of the fanboys you may want to just skip over this part. 5.7 has never really been on my radar as one I wanted to add to my logistics problem, so I learned a lot about it just in the course of this review. And what I learned has me reconsidering that choice.
5.7x28mm I think of as a modern cartridge, having never heard about it until around 2007. But it is actually quite a bit older than that, FNH having introduced it in 1990. Not a typo, 30 years ago in 1990. It was designed specifically in response to a NATO request for replacement of the 9×19 Parabellum in Personal Defensive Weapons ( PDWs). As a military round, it had some specific traits that would eventually raise much controversy when it shifted gears to the civilian market.
5.7 was not only designed to be lighter, weighing about half as much per round as 9mm, but to outperform it against armor. While the original package of weapons included a pistol, the FN P90 was the star of the show. Basically a space-age looking subgun, the 5.7 round from the P90 was created specifically to penetrate body armor at a range of 200 meters.
The P90 and FNH 5.7 did catch on in limited military circles but was never widely adopted. And like many military calibers, it was then introduced to the civilian market. And many pearls where subsequently clutched. While the armor-penetrating projectile was NEVER sold to civilians, the reputation stuck to all 5.7. And who are the only people that generally wear body armor on a daily basis in the United States? Police Officers.
5.7 was shouted down as the new scary “Cop Killer” bullet, much like Glock could “ go through metal detectors” as a plastic gun. Despite the ATF classifying 5.7 bullets as non-AP, the freak out was real. Coupled with a relatively high cost per round, typical of a new cartridge with limited platforms, we didn’t see much out of 5.7x28mm for many years.
While a few non-FNH platforms or conversions do exist, 5.7 remained mostly an FNH specific cartridge until recently. Over the last few years, we have seen CMMG chamber a Banshee for it and some AR conversions, but to my knowledge not one other real pistol beside the FNH existed. Until now.
The 5.7 actually has some insane ballistics for such a small cartridge. It pushes a 40-grain bullet at over 2000 FPS, while still having very minimal recoil. The ammo is very small and light, a huge bonus in terms of field use or survival. With the velocity, it actually isn’t that far off of 223/5.56 from a short barrel. Which is rather amazing considering the overall size of the cartridge.
With the history and ballistics lesson over, how about that Ruger 57? It is, quite simply amazing. On this model, Ruger did literally everything right. Even from the moment you pick up the case, the only word to describe it is quality.
The case is a hard-sided plastic affair, with red accented latches ( padlock compatible of course) and Ruger stenciled in red on the front. Inside, the top is foam, while the bottom is hard molded plastic. The portion where the rear of the slide sits is cut for a red dot, which we shall elaborate on in a moment.
Then you pick up the gun. Despite being light and agile, it doesn’t feel cheap, in a manner we often associate with polymer guns. Ruger has not only added a very nice feeling texture to the grip but how they have shaped it is stunning. It narrows at the top, with a nice rear slide undercut and grooves at grips apex. Those grooves are large. At the risk of sounding like a crazy person, it feels like they were done to move your finger more in line with the trigger. It is a feature I didn’t know I wanted until today, but I can’t unsee it. ( To be fair, the P365 sports something similar, which I didn’t realize until today. The grip is rather oblong to facilitate the rectangular magazine required for 5.7x28mm, but it ends up feeling really good. Ruger also packed in a textured cut out at the bottom of the grip, to allow a serious grab on a potentially hung magazine, without taking away from the overall feel in your palm.
The controls are also nicely executed. Up top, you get a 1911 style safety, ambidextrous out of the box. The slide lock is well machined, and a nice balance of useful size while remaining out of the way. The takedown lever is very thin, which keeps it from interfering with your grip while remaining easy to use. The magazine release is reversible, and while quite functional, is the only control that feels even a little out of place. It works really well, it is just plain. Which makes it feel a bit out of place with the other bits.
Now, how about that trigger, the key piece to any handgun? Prepare to defend your morale. The trigger is kind of a hybrid of curved and flat, which produces a very nice feel. It has a safety in the middle of the trigger, but it is wide enough to easily depress without causing discomfort, even in a long day of shooting. The weight is a bit of an odd one. It felt so light and crisp, I would have sworn it was about 3 pounds. But my gauge insisted it was five and a half. We will have to chalk that up to a marvel of ergonomics, and I think you will agree it feels much lighter than the specs say.
The gun ships with two magazines, which are steel. With a capacity of 20, this is a serious bit of shooting per mag. The magazines are true double stacks, with a follower in them just like a baby AR magazine. The basepads are flared a bit, which makes them easy to grab out of a pouch.
The slide is where the real magic happens. The engineering department really outdid themselves in both style and features. With both front and rear cocking serrations, and a machined in fuller, it is a beauty to behold. It also features a lightening window cut out on top, a fiber optic front sight with an adjustable rear, and did I mention included red dot plate? The plate mounts right in the top of the slide, without obstructing the iron sights. It adds maybe 1mm to the width of the slide but doesn’t take away from the looks.
With the overall aesthetics of the gun, you would swear it comes from a more expensive house if it didn’t have Ruger roll stamped down the slide. And I mean that in no way as an insult. Ruger has, in my lifetime at least, mostly been known for value guns. They might not be the most sexy, but they don’t cost much either. This one is absolutely different. At the risk of offending the Super Redhawk and Vaquero crew, I would stand behind this statement: The new Ruger 57 is the best handgun Ruger has produced since the original Security Six. Considering the Security Six set the standard for strength and durability back in the ’70s, that is no small statement.
This new gun is so good, it is hard to adequately put into words. And if this is the new direction Ruger is headed with handguns, everyone else is in trouble. Not only may I send Ruger a check instead of this gun back, but applied to 9mm, 45 ACP, as well as 22LR and 22 WM, this line could be amazing. And at an MSRP of $799, compared to the only competitor’s MSRP of $1435.00, this one is poised to dominate the market.