A couple weekends past, the bounciest gunbunny of them all, our friend Spear, came to visit. On this visit, he had laid hands to one of the more oddball entries in the modern firearms catalog, the FN PS90 in semi-auto, long barreled civilian trim. It looks like this:
(Image credit Wikipedia)
This is a canoe paddle:
(Image credit some paddle store. Nice lookin’ though.)
If these shapes seem similar to you, that is because the FN PS90 is in fact a paddle for the failboat.
Spear has requested that my review be more in depth than “Set that pile of suck on fire and never speak of it again,” so let me elaborate.
First, it’s a bullpup. This means that in an effort to save length, everything has been shoehorned into oddball locations, such as the chamber being pretty much under your cheek when firing. And the trigger being nowhere near the sear, or the rest of the trigger-involving parts. This means there’s a fuckoff huge rod connecting the trigger way at the front of the gun to the actual primer-slapping mechanisms at the rear, so the trigger pull feels like you’re trying to choke Spongebob Squarepants. The trigger doesn’t so much break, but more is like when you chill silly putty and then try to snap it in half. It mostly oozes around the problem and then sort of lets go in a half hearted glorp.
This particular model came with the factory sights. Which also sucked. They were adequately lined up for social purposes, but to acquire them required head gymnastics that would earn at least a bronze*. Attempting to use them for anything more than 50 yards, give or take 20, and you may as well just point and hope.
Next we have the ergonomics. As a southpaw shooter, I do appreciate when there is a nod in this department to those of a sinister bent, but the funky-ass little radio dial serving as a safety is a device that feels more at home on a car’s dashboard than as part of the firing controls of a super duper space gun that this paddle aspires to be. To use it, you fiddle the dial to a different position, and then flip the gun from side to side trying to figure out if you just put the safety on or off, before eventually declaring “Fuck it,” pointing it down range, and seeing if you can make Spongebob Triggergroup emit a sharp gurgle or if it will just stretch and squish silently. Additionally on the ergonomics, your support hand goes inside the trigger guard, because nothing screams “Good idea” like having your off thumb in the same tiny space as your trigger finger. It’s perfect for doing shadow puppets while you shoot! I call this one “Punching a retarded designer in the balls.”
Back to the bullpup design, this particular incarnation ejects downwards, and brings us to an important safety tip: Ladies, do not shoot the FN PS90 ever unless you are an A-cup. The brass shot down at my chest and by sheer luck all bounced off my range ID badge. Hard enough to leave marks, and a couple tiny little melty-streaks. When LabRat went to shoot it… well her chest is less straight down than mine. Ladies, if you must stroke this oar, it is even more vital than normal to wear a shirt with a very high neckline. A turtleneck wouldn’t be a bad choice. “It’s great if you’re wearing armor, ’cause then it’s no problem at all,” I was told. Guess what I wasn’t wearing. Guess what nobody else was wearing.
This brings us to the ammo itself, the 5.7x28mm. On paper, it’s fairly interesting. In reality, it’s a necked cartridge about the size of a large ibuprofen that’s more or less a .22 mag and costs something stupid like six gold per round. The main advantage is that it’s technically a bit fiestier down range than said .22 mag, and the magazines for this thing (the most interesting part which I’ll get to in a minute) will hold 50 of them and still function. How much fiestier? I couldn’t tell you. I don’t want to get shot with either, so let your wallet be your conscience in this situation.
Now, the magazine. The magazine is also stupid as hell, but it’s stupid as hell in a way that’s so nifty that it actually works that I can’t help but like it. Ammunition is stored perpendicular to the axis of the barrel, so each round has to make a 90 degree turn as it leaves the mag and goes into the chamber. Spear wouldn’t let me
disassemble beyond any hope of reassembly inspect thoroughly the mechanism that causes this to happen, but somehow it does, and does so without at any point the magazine becoming unloadable from spring tension on the 30th or 40th or even 49th round necessitating thumbs of steel. I’m pretty sure a child was sacrificed during the design of this magazine, because for as over-complicated as it is, even LabRat wasn’t able to break it or make it stop feeding.
Which, fair is fair, I also have to note that the paddle is very reliable and did not have a single jam, ftf, fte, qrs, tuv, or any of the other little bundles of joy that translate to “won’t go bang when I strangle Spongebob.”
Spear was good enough to point out, repeatedly and almost to the point of defensiveness, that this gun is not designed for popping prairie dogs or deer or sporting clays or any of the other things that every other gun in the universe can multitask to at least a little, but for the single and sole purpose of being a personal defense weapon (he wouldn’t even call it the PS90, just “the pdw”). For this one and only task, I can see it as being a viable entry…. in the original short-barrel configuration. With the extended paddle neck… er, barrel, the impressive shortness that could sit comfortably along a car door muzzle forward is trashed, but 50 rounds of decent, if overpriced and goofy, ballistic stop-that in a won’t jam ever (trust me, if it didn’t jam for LR or myself, it’s pretty solid) package is not a bad option to have. He further reports that while the rate of fire on the un-neutered version is high enough to rank into the realm of stupid, that with good trigger discipline it will spray a healthy dose of lead into whatever needs to stop doing that very controlably. Unfortunately, with Spongebob Triggergroup, the only practical way to get enough practice to have such discipline in the first place is if you’re shooting someone else’s ammo.
The FN PS90 is good for: Mercenaries and body guards in third or lower world shit holes where threats are a bit more serious than paparazzi, with ammunition budgets in place and paid for by the client, but they still have cars and stuff and buildings with doors instead of tents/yurts. People with more money than sense who think it’s a cool looking space gun. People who want one because fuck you I want one and that’s all the reason I need dammit. Movie prop departments who need more than the glowing field doors on the prisoner cells** to convince the audience that the setting is in space/the future.
The FN PS90 is not good for: Everybody else.
Moving this up from comments to make sure it’s seen, because it’s too good not to, LabRat notes: “I’d like to append that Spear brought it in large part to let me try a bullpup rifle, given that front-heavy rifles are one of my bugbears.
I am told my reaction to shooting it was much akin to a small child that has been handed a salmon-flavored ice cream cone.”
*Obligatory Olympics reference completed. We may now resume ignoring the event just as hard as we do the rest of the time.
**Y’know what would’ve been better than force fields? An actual door. With a lock. That won’t shut off when the power goes out.***
***Yes, we love us some Cave