Replica Review: Tokyo Marui FN-57 (Five seveN)

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, so why did I buy it? Well… I’m somewhat of a collector.

I also spent a portion of my teens playing Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell. And anyone who’s played Splinter Cell should understand the need to own an F.N. Five seveN.

The real F.N. Five seveN was developed in response to a NATO requirement for a pair of personal defence weapons, one shoulder fired and the other a handgun and with an increased armour piercing capability over the standard 9mm parabellum round.

To cut a long story short, the shoulder fired weapon became the P90 and the handheld weapon that F.N. developed was the Five seveN. Both weapons fire a bottlenecked 5.7mm round, designed to travel at high velocity and penetrate body armour. It worked very well, but ultimately… It’s more expensive than 9mm or 5.56 and so it’s remained a rather niche calibre outside of a handful of units and civilian owners.

The Belgian military is one of only a handful of users of the F.N. Five seveN – Image courtesy of @firemissionblog

The Five seveN has become a little bit of a cult hit though, with it appearing in countless games, films and TV shows. It’s raison d’etre in most cases being the token “body armour defeating” weapon.

Being the interesting pistol that it is, it was only a matter of time before the F.N. Five seveN became worthy of its own airsoft replica.

Let’s first address the elephant in the room… Marui’s FN-57 model isn’t regarded as one of their finest models, from horror stories of cracked slides and frames, to magazine catches wearing away and barrels flying out the front… It doesn’t have many fans, but those who fall in love with the Five seveN refuse to hear anything bad about it.

Is the hate justified? Let’s take a look at the pistol and find out.

Much alike the real F.N. Five seveN, this Japanese replica is predominantly made from polymer, albeit a much more fragile ABS. The Slide is a polymer shell with an internal cast zinc alloy sub-frame, providing a degree of rigidity and strength. The Marui replica is modelled on the USG model, but with a few minor (and strange differences).

The rear sight is modelled on one of the earliest Five seveN models, with a tapering profile from front to back, but the front blade sight is close in shape to the USG model. Unusual, but only a detail that true geeks would notice.

On each side of the slide, cocking serrations are bolstered by a large lug at the rearmost point. This does make cocking the pistol much easier, although it does nothing for the looks.

The front of the slide steps down drastically, giving it a rather unusual yet distinctly Browning Hi-Poweresque aesthetic. On the real Five seveN this has been phased out, with the latest generation having a constant width slide along it’s length.

The lower is aggressively textured where required to enable a firm hold, which certainly helps when you consider that this particular sidearm has a rather large grip due to it’s real world magazine housing a full 20 5.7x28mm rounds.

The controls are semi-ambidextrous; the magazine release is a push button type, designed for right handed use (something most left handed shooters have a work around for anyway).

The safety is probably the biggest departure from the norm in that it’s positioned in front of the trigger guard, not on the rear of the slide or the frame, as is the case with most pistols. This particular safety catch is fully ambidextrous, with an identical lever on both sides of the frame.

The slide release is a bit more conventional, it’s location being similar to that of a Sig P226’s. I’m not a big fan of the F.N. slide release design as this is generally very difficult to actuate with a left handed grip, although it does make it harder for right handed shooters to accidentally hit the lever than the more forward position of a Glock’s slide release.

The trigger… well, it’s light. The wall and reset are both pretty easy to gauge, and overall you’re able to put shots down range accurately and quickly with a modest amount of practice. It’s not as good as the trigger found on some of their newer pistols such as the FNX45 or M45A1, but it’s not too bad in all honesty.

There’s a takedown lever on the front left hand side of the frame, it’s reassuringly stiff to move and is made from the same light grey plastic as the rest of the controls.

An accessory rail lies below the frame to accommodate your choice of weapon-light or illuminator, the rail conforms to Marui’s “nearishatinny” spec. Some lights will fit better than others, my genuine Surefire X300U being a very tight fit compared to some reproductions.

The barrel is a chrome metal two piece design, and probably one of the key components to look out for signs of wear. If not looked after, these can become loose and end up parting company with the pistol.

The hop and barrel assembly, showing the Guarder threaded barrel fitted with the stock outer barrel on its own below.

It looks rather odd as it’s thinner than most pistol barrels, but it is pretty representative of the Five seveN’s barrel. I have swapped out the outer barrel to a Guarder threaded version, but it does require a 14mm CCW adaptor to run anything but home-brewed 3D printed suppressors.

The pistol grip is unusual to look at and hold when compared to most pistols, it feels like you’re holding a cross between a Colt M1911 and a Desert Eagle. The grip is rather narrow, but much longer from front to back than most other designs. This again is due to the ammunition that the real Five seveN is chambered in.

Although your brain might tell you that it’s bigger than any other pistol you’ve held, the distance between the rear back strap and the trigger on the Five seveN is almost identical to that on a Beretta M9, meaning that as long as you hold it correctly, you shouldn’t have issues in maintaining a steady and comfortable grip.

Most of you might not be aware, but the internals are what set this replica apart from the pistols that came before it, the Five seveN was the first Marui pistol that was developed around the 13.5mm cylinder system, offering a hefty amount of recoil and a rather crisp shooting experience.

This replica also follows the external lines of the real F.N. Five seveN close enough to allow the use of real holsters, something that wasn’t always guaranteed with older Marui models.

I know from first hand experience that both Kydex and Blackhawk! Holsters designed for the real thing will work flawlessly with the Marui replica, my personal holster being a HW Holsters Kydex piece that was originally manufactured as a prop for Marvel’s Black Widow.

In use, the Five seveN is surprisingly snappy. I was expecting it to be akin to their Gen 3 Glock 17 or Sig P226E2 in performance (being of a similar age design at 10/12 years old), but it’s honestly a really fun pistol to shoot. The 13.5mm cylinder really provides a lot of kick, which is sadly one of the key reasons this pistol tends to break.

Accuracy and range are good overall, it does have a pronounced muzzle flip if not held firmly due to the rearward weight of the slide and large cylinder volume, but it’s not difficult to tame and fast accurate shots are possible due to the relatively light trigger.

The magazine is obscenely large, almost as big as a Desert Eagle’s. A curved bottom plate blends into the ergonomic curve of the pistol grip and a large gas reservoir helps supply the 26 round magazine.

Finding magazine pouches to fit this particular pistol might not prove easy… HSGI Tacos are a safe bet, but pistol KYWIs are a little too tight. Haley’s new DPMPs (reviewed here) work well, and are a great option for those of us who swap between pistols regularly. Oh, and it holds 26 shots, making this one of the closest real to replica capacity ratios in Marui’s range.

Onto the less than good…

This was never one of Marui’s biggest hits, the cylinder volume offers great performance, but at the cost of longevity. The reports of slides and shit falling apart are not ghost stories, they actually do break. Mine has survived it’s first thousand or so rounds, but it’ll never be a pistol I choose first for a weekend away, it’s a fun choice for games where I want to mess around, not when I want to blast off a whole mag in less than 5 seconds.

If you’re buying this pistol, you should be fully prepared to look at it as a glorified paperweight in the making. There are certain things you can do to help minimise the potential damage, but unfortunately there are flaws within the design that will almost always result in it’s destruction.

I’ve personally bought a Guarder set of controls, threaded barrel and reinforced slide set to provide a little bit more longevity and some spares should I need them. I’ll also be using this within a rotation of my other pistols, hopefully allowing me to use this once in a while for many years to come.

The stock barrel (bottom) should be swapped out as soon as possible for one that has a built in spring retaining ledge. The Guarder threaded barrel (middle) is a great upgrade that adds functionality and prevents undue stress from the recoil spring.

So would I recommend it to a friend? Absolutely not. It has an unforgivable propensity to kill itself without warning, making this replica an absolute waste of money. For the love of god, if you have £150 to spend on a pistol, buy the FNX 45 or literally any other recent Marui release over this one. It’s reputation as a complete bastard is absolutely justified, and it’s the only pistol I’ve bought a replacement slide for before it’s broken, because I know I’ll need one soon.

But, it’s unique and I can’t help myself from adding the occasional pig to my collection. For my fellow collectors, this shouldn’t be your fifth or even tenth pistol; but if you’re ever going to call yourself a real collector and have a collection worth looking at, this is one pistol that inevitably will need to be bought.

The fact that Guarder are still releasing body kits for this model is nothing short of a miracle. But it also means that there’s a few of you guys out there, being hipster as fuck with your awkward to hold, Belgian body-armour eaters… To those of you who have decided against all odds to use this as your pistol of choice, you have my utmost respect and my deepest sympathies.

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