The Ruger-57

A Love Story

The revolutionary Ruger-57 is reliable, sexy and cool.

Just what is love anyway? Poets have spilt rivers of ink on this torrid subject. Crooners from the beginning of time have infused their particular medium with enough of this gooey stuff to drown the planet.

Love is ethereal, soft, confusing and powerful. Love is something more easily described than defined. Love is undeniably abstract, yet you invariably know it when you see it.

I have loved my wife since my 16-year-old eyes first fell upon her. I have loved my kids from the moment I met each one of them, pink and screaming. I love both my country and my dog. I love freedom, pizza, the movie Aliens, and a roaring fire in the fireplace on a cold winter’s day. I also find that I really, really love the new Ruger-57 pistol.

The Ruger-57 (left) occupies a similar niche as does this .22TCM 1911
from Rock Island Armory. Both guns are a hoot to shoot.


In a sea of many splendored handguns littering the nation’s sundry gun emporia, the Ruger-57 is legitimately unique. Lightweight, high tech, beautifully executed, and cool beyond the capacity of the language adequately to describe, the Ruger-57 is my new favorite pistol. I defy you to heft the thing, jack the slide, and launch a few of those zippy little Federal 40-gr. bullets downrange without breaking into an expansive involuntary grin.

For starters, the Ruger-57 just looks sultry. The gun is a wee bit longer than most, yet at 24.5 oz. remains unnaturally lightweight given its prodigious 20-round magazine capacity. The angular lines and sleek particulars make the weapon look like something out of a science fiction film. In addition to its radical chambering, everything about the Ruger-57 reflects the current state-of-the-art in modern combat handgun design.

The lightweight polymer frame is nicely stippled and aggressively undercut for a high hold. There is a generous length of Picatinny rail on the dust cover. The flat-faced trigger is both comfortable and crisp. The reversible push-button magazine catch is just the right size. The slide release is smallish, but most of us slingshot our slides during reloads these days anyway. The bilateral thumb safety is long, positive and awesome.

Some people are inexplicably bigoted against manual safeties. I’m an ardent fan. If you have some religious aversion to the thing, just leave it disengaged and act like it’s not there. As for me, I like the extra hedge against an accidental discharge.

The Ruger-57 printed these little 1" groups all day long at 13 meters.

The Secure Action fire control system drives an internal hammer and offers a nice brisk trigger personality along with a short reset that lends itself to fast accurate fire. This trigger has a slightly different character from typical striker-fired fare, yet it remains quite eminently friendly. There is a predictable smooth take-up and a nice discrete break. The Secure Action trigger is long enough to be safe but sufficiently sharp for precision accuracy.

The front sight features a fiber optic light tube. The rear sight is easily adjustable for both windage and elevation with a small screwdriver. Despite their target-grade particulars the sights do not snag or interfere with a proper draw. The slide also features a prominent lightening cut up top.

The rear slide deck is drilled and tapped for an adaptor to accommodate a micro red dot if desired. These adaptor plates are available at This same website offers scads of accessories and carry solutions that make the Ruger-57 into something you can practically use.

The grip is thin enough to accommodate modest-sized mitts as well as my big honkin’ monkey fingers. However, the trim box magazine that lurks within holds a whopping 20 rounds of 5.7x28mm chaos. This double-column, double-feed design loads easily just like that of an M4, Uzi or MP5.

Pack the spare mag that comes with the gun and that’s 41 rounds on tap. There are recesses built into the bottom of the grip to improve your purchase in the profoundly unlikely event the magazine might get sticky. However, the mags leapt out of my gun like a cockroach from a campfire.

Inexplicably, Will wants to buy his Ruger-57 new gifts like this thumb-sized Streamlight
LR-8G combination white light illuminator and green laser. Is he okay? Or just smitten?

The double column 20-round magazine of the Ruger-57 is similar
to the M4 Carbine while being comparably easy to load.

Origin Story

The radical 5.7x28mm round was an FN contrivance designed back in 1986 to meet a NATO request for a replacement for the venerable 9mm Parabellum cartridge. Georg Luger’s timeless little pistol round is the most produced handgun cartridge on the planet and has likely killed more people than cancer. However, nowadays most folks who wield guns for a living wear body armor, so NATO needed something with a little more penetration.

The earliest SS90 rounds pushed a 23-gr. plastic-cored bullet to about 2,800 fps. When fired from FN’s comparably radical P90 Personal Defense Weapon, this blistering little round would reliably defeat a NATO CRISAT vest or Level IIIA Kevlar at 200 meters. The P90 looks like it was cut from a piece of 2x4 lumber, but it’s awesome enough to equip the U.S. Secret Service as they defend the President.

Somebody someplace decided such supernatural armor-piercing capabilities were way too scary to be possessed by us mere mortals. As a result, the AP rounds are not available on the civilian market. However, there are several intriguing alternatives. Federal offers a splendid 40-gr. target load that’s not quite so fast yet still hits with authority.

The controls are right where they should be. Will loves the bilateral manual thumb safety.

Taking It For A Spin

If you are able to brush your own teeth, you can run this pistol well. The manual of arms is the same as that of any striker-fired pistol you’ve ever hefted. As regards the manual thumb safety, use it if you want, don’t if you don’t. I think it’s the bee’s knees.

The long snout, undercut frame, and light-recoiling cartridge all combine to make this pistol shoot like a directed energy weapon. Recoil is perhaps 70 percent of a comparable 9mm pistol and follow-up shots are preternaturally fabulous. The Ruger-57 will drop a double tap like Jane Austen turns a phrase. Were I blessed with a tractor trailer-load of Federal 5.7x28mm ammo, I could shoot this thing until I starved to death.

The generous barrel and slide make the Ruger-57 exceptionally accurate. I could print 1″ groups at 13 meters off a simple rest until I got sick of doing it. The slide locked back over an empty box every single time and the gun’s optimized everything makes it fast and cool.

Drag out a few plastic milk jugs filled with water and get ready for fun on an apocalyptic scale. Those small-caliber high-velocity bullets explode a fluid-filled container like a hand grenade. There’s not much ambiguity regarding whether you connected with your target or not. It either explodes, or it doesn’t.

On that subject, 27-gr. loads are commercially available that produce a muzzle velocity of around 2,300 feet per second. If my math is correct, this should reliably light off Tannerite. Like liberal politics, venomous snakes, or electricity, you don’t want to be standing so close you get any of this on you. However, I can’t wait to get my mitts on some of the stuff and see what sort of mischief I might foment with it.

The Ruger-57 actually sports a concealed hammer as part of its Secure Action ignition system.
The rear sight is easily adjustable for windage and elevation.

Establishing A Genre

With the advent of the Ruger-57, you now have three options in this quirky little niche. Introduced in 1998, the original FN Five-seveN was a lightweight, high-capacity combat pistol that broke new ground in the field of defensive handguns. The pistol weighs a mere 1.3 lbs. empty and has seen active service in the military and police forces of 40 different countries. The Five-seveN typically feeds from a 20-round box magazine and sports an MSRP of $1,435.

The Rock Island Armory .22TCM is a slightly faster cartridge that also pegs the awesometer. This adorable little round is essentially an extended 9mm case necked down to accept a 40-gr. JHP bullet. Out of a standard handgun barrel, this beast flirts with 2,000 fps.

The RIA guns that push this revolutionary round are all based upon John Moses Browning’s inimitable 1911. My copy sports a steel frame, a divine single-action trigger, and a double-column, single-feed 17-round magazine. The gun also comes with a spare 9mm barrel. Swap the barrel and recoil spring and you can run the same gun on standard cheap 9mm Parabellum. This novel pistol is also all but recoilless and spits out an intoxicating softball-sized muzzle flash each time you stroke the trigger.

HK produces a comparably radical 4.6x30mm round for their MP7 Personal Defense Weapon. This high-velocity cartridge occupies a comparable ballistic niche as the 5.7x28mm and .22TCM, but HK has never seen fit to sell anything that shoots it to American civilians. I guess HK doesn’t like money.

This new Ruger-57, however, offers something truly revolutionary, fresh and new. The gun weighs about nothing and looks as cool as a Star Wars blaster. With an MSRP of $799, it is also markedly cheaper than the FN offering.

Left to right: 5.56mm, .22TCM, 5.7x28mm, 9mm Parabellum and .45ACP.

What’s It Good For?

The original 5.7x28mm round embodies some of the same secret sauce driving the 5.56x45mm rifle cartridge. The bullet is designed to be a bit butt-heavy and tumble upon impact with something soft and gooey. Though I have not had the privilege of attending anyone unfortunate enough to have received one of these little monsters in anger, they should be intuitively horrible.

A great deal of hay has been made online concerning the proposed lack of stopping power embodied within tiny fast bullets like these. I dare say no one making the claim has ever been shot with one. I have comfortably packed my Ruger-57 underneath my scrubs at work in a CrossBreed IWB rig for a couple weeks now and feel well prepared for any of life’s resplendent ills.

This gun has no recoil worthy of the term and packs 21 rounds onboard. Anything that warrants shooting warrants shooting twice. With the Ruger-57 you could get half a dozen of these wicked little rounds on target without breaking a sweat.

Whether you use the Ruger-57 for home defense, personal protection, or simply as the ideal way to while away a lazy Saturday afternoon at the range, this nifty new high-tech hand howitzer legitimately raises the ballistic bar. The FN Five-seveN is an undeniably superb pistol. However, the Ruger-57 is more comfortable to run, remains utterly reliable, looks cooler and sells at almost half the price.

The new Ruger-57 just stole my heart. I find myself wanting to send it silly texts in the middle of the day and frivolously buy it presents like the Streamlight TLR-8G combination white light and green laser. In return this svelte sexy handgun sticks close and remains both utterly reliable and simply great company in a fight. True love is silly that way.

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