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Tokyo Marui FN P90
  • Manufacturer 
     Tokyo Marui
  • Model 
     FN P90
  • Capacity 
     68
  • Weight 
     2200
  • Power 
     280
  • Motor 
     EG1000
  • Hop-up 
     Adjustable
  • Battery 
     Small
  • Shooting Mode 
     Semi, Full Auto
  • Construction 
     ABS Plastic, Metal

Pros

Compact and highly ergnonomic design makes it extremely easy to use. Small footprint means its perfect for CQB scenarios whilst the long inner barrel generates enough power for longer range outdoor skirmishing. A benchmark for modern day weapons.
 

Cons

Space age styling not accepted by everyone
 

Verdict

Our overall impression is that the P90 is a very good AEG for CQB fans, yet has enough power for long range battles (though the barrel length falls just short of the M4). Upgrade options are still a mystery at this point and we will have to wait on what Systema or other after-market manufacturers come up with in terms of parts. The battery compartment size is a major concern and we speculate that upgrade kits may require external mounted batteries.

Editors Note 2002: RedWolf Airsoft has developed a custom method to fit a custom battery into the P90 without the need to extend the stock.

 

Imagine a lightweight and compact weapon with armor piercing capability. Imagine such a weapon to have semi and full auto capabilities in a ergonomic two-stage AUG style trigger. Imagine full ambidextrous support for the cocking handle, selector switch and iron sights. Imagine a 50 round magazine (in the real steel world). Not enough? Well throw in an integrated red-dot sight. If this sounds too good to be true, then let me introduce the Fabrique National P90; a weapon that comes as close as any other to the modern day prayer of a PERFECT sub-machine gun.

The Real Deal
Military organizations have struggled for generations with two frequently overlapping problems: (1) how to arm troops whose primary mission is something other than the use of small arms; and (2) how to arm troops who need compact firepower for conducting special operations. A remarkable selection of inventions have surfaced over the years and each attempt yielded weapons that suited one application, but not the other. Developing a weapon with the perfect mix of size, hit probability, sustained firepower, and terminal ballistics proved more elusive than anyone could have imagined.

In recent years, demands of law enforcement agencies have matured to a level where officers have to face an array of changing tactical environments that demands a weapon of high flexibility. Criminals and terrorists are becoming better equipped with body armor and increasing firepower. As a result of this growing demand, many types of side-arms, submachine guns and carbines developed for the military have been adopted for use in law enforcement. Of these many attempts, one is worthy of the gold: the P90 Personal Defense Weapon designed by Fabrique National Herstal SA of Belgium. But first, a little on how the P90 was conceived.

In the 80's, NATO planners became increasingly concerned about the issue of body armor on the battlefield. Tests had indicated that the standard 9x19mm cartridge was frequently unable to penetrate the type of body armor which NATO had envisioned would become standard equipment for infantry troops. These NATO planners informally approached small arms manufacturers regarding their interest to invest in researching a new type of ammunition that could penetrate armor. The heavy investment required turned away many manufacturers.

The P90 uses a top loaded magazine
Hop-up adjuster is on lower receiver - easily accessible
Red-Dot reticule and ambidextrous iron sights

Two companies, Fabrique Nationale of Belgium and Giat of France, agreed to invest in the venture and began the development of the new cartridges in the mid-1980s. Both companies developed their own armor piercing rounds. Fabrique Nationale not only developed a larger round, the 5.7x28mm, but FN also developed a series of innovative weapons around the new cartridge. This ultimately led to the development of the P90 in 1989, which was scheduled for production 1990. Ironically, however, the P90 was not named for the year of its initial production, but rather for FN's "Project 9.0" which spawned it. Giat, which eventually bought over FN, chose to stay with FN's new ammunition and superior weapons in its lineup.

The P90 looks highly unconventional, with its top loaded magazine, polymer construction, integral sights, and its unusual stock. The weapon uses a simple blowback mechanism, and the entire barrel/bolt assembly can be lifted out of the weapon in seconds. With an overall length of just 19.7 inches, the P90 is considerably shorter than the 9x19mm H&K MP5 submachine gun or the 5.56x45mm Colt M4 carbine! The P90 weighs 2.8 kg with an empty magazine and 3.3 kg with a fully loaded 50-round magazine, which is similar to the weight of an MP5 with a 30-round magazine. The P90 is just 21cm high with a magazine fitted to the weapon.

Tokyo Marui FN P90
After more than a year following Marui's initial announcement that it would design and build an airsoft version of the FN P90, fans have held their breath waiting for this impressive AEG. Last month, the P90 was officially released and became an immediate hit both in Japan and abroad. While the P90 has been adopted by numerous government agencies all over the world, it is not a well known weapon. Its most public appearance so far was during the siege on a Japanese embassy where security troops shot the terrorist leader with a P90 (right through his body-armor). Our first impressions were mixed given the space-gun look of P90. Being traditionalists by heart, we initially had trouble with the relatively rounded and ergonomic styling which lacked the business-like and intimidating looks of other weapons like the M4 and AK47. Some might point out that the AUG could have served as a "preview" to the P90 given its similar ergonomic styling. Even so, spending several minutes shooting the P90 in a tactical training scenario quickly convinced me that the Marui's P90 had achieved what it set out to do; to be a highly flexible weapon for both outdoor and indoor skirmishing.

Constructed of high quality textured ABS plastic, Marui's P90 weighs in at 2,200g (including battery), which is about 600g less than the real unloaded P90. Designed with a horizontally mounted EG1000 motor, Marui's P90 is capable of shooting up to 850 rounds per minute, which is close to on par with the real P90's 900 round per minute rate of fire. Standard fare for Marui's AEG is a hop-up unit which enables back-spin on BB's to allow for enhanced shooting range. True to form of the real P90, metal parts are quite limited. They include the flash hider, charging lever (not the handle itself which remains plastic), side mounted accessory rail, and the housing for the built-in red-dot reticule sight. In fact, the P90 has a higher percentage of plastic than any other AEG on the market today. But given that the real P90 is made almost entirely out of composite polymer, you can not really blame Marui for simply being "true-to-form". Balance of the gun is slightly biased towards the rear, as that is where the new gearbox is located.

Sharp observers will also note that there is no visible ejection port on the P90. FN deliberately designed the ejection port on the bottom of the receiver so that shells are ejected downward. On Marui's model, it's obvious that very little attention was paid to this detail though since the "ejection port" is simply a molded piece of plastic that looks rather toy-like. Having said that, it is located in a part of the gun that is rarely visible.

Genuine looking magazine with fake rounds looks extremely real
Red-Dot reticule compartment for AAA batteries
Red-Dot reticule selector switch

Markings on the gun are fairly prominent on the left side. Marking on the lower receiver read "Model PROJECT 90 Cal 5.7x28 SS90", and "P90 cal 5.7 x 28" is inscribed on the side of the upper receiver. FN logos are nowhere to be found and only a very small "FN" is marked inside a cavity on the other side of the gun. For US collectors, that's good news since there are no trademarks that need removing.

The magazine is beautifully crafted in tan colored semi-transparent plastic with the markings "MOD P90 50-ROUND MAGAZINE-2001-RESTRICTED LAW ENFORCEMENT GOVERNMENT USE ONLY" inscribed on the side. Removal of the magazine is performed by squeezing back two magazine release buttons on either side of the gun, right where the rear part of the magazine meets the receiver. The magazine unseats and pops upwards, allowing you to grab it with your thumb and index finger. Lift and pull backwards to remove the magazine away from the P90. The fake brass rounds within the magazine are very well done and are convincingly real. Marui cleverly designed a 68 round BB magazine into these fake rounds and loading the magazine with white BB's actually allows you to see them from the bottom-side of the magazine. A loading tool is included with Marui's P90 to make loading easier.

Unique to the P90 is the downward feeding BB design, which allows every single BB to be fed. Experienced airsoft collectors will know that other "upward feeding" AEGs always tend to leave 2-3 BB's in the feeding tube even when the weapon is "empty" and firing blanks.

Rumored to be only offered on the first batch of Marui's P90s, our test model came with an integrated red-dot scope. While the reticule offered no magnification, it did offer two intensity settings for daytime and night-time use. Housed in a durable metal frame, the reticule has a coated lens which offers crystal clear optics even on glaring sunny days. The high intensity setting also proved quite visible in direct sunlight. Included is a scope tuning tool which allows the user to adjust the dot for accurate shooting. The switch for the scope is located on the underside of the scope housing, just above the magazine (when installed). We found this switch difficult to reach with gloved hands and even with bare hands, only slender fingers allowed access to accurately flip the switch to (1) for nighttime use, or (2) to daytime use (see photo 2 below). Powering the red-dot reticule are 2 AAA batteries which are stored in the forward section of the scope body (see photo 1 left).

Of notable mention are the dual iron sights on either side of the red-dot reticule. These proved to be quite accurate for distance shooting but proved less effective for close quarters combat, where the operator had to make mental adjustments for the slight horizontal offset. Even so, it represents good thinking on FN's part. A metal rail (20mm width) is located on the right side of the reticule sight which allows for installing RIS style accessories like flashlights and laser pointers.

The charging handle is functional but does not open the ejection port like the M4A1 or AK47. We are a little disappointed at the sound that it makes too when you pull it back and release it. While there is clearly a metallic clang, it sounds a little too hollow (okay, we might be getting too critical).

The P90's grip is very comfortable and the operator places his/her trigger hand on the rear rung, while placing his/her supporting hand's thumb on the front rung. Hoisting the P90 up to shoulder position makes for a very compact firing position with only 6 cm of "gun" protruding forward of the supporting hand. When the P90 is brought up for sighting (i.e. when the operator looks through the reticule), approximately only 22cm of the gun protrudes forward of the nose! That's the equivalent of aiming a Beretta 92F at close quarters, which you might imagine makes for an extremely agile and flexible aiming stance.

Another truly exceptional feature of the highly ergonomic P90 is the pressure sensitive trigger. The P90 has a three-position rotary selector beneath the trigger with positions marked "S" for Safe, "1" for semiautomatic and "A" for Automatic.

Moving the selector is quite easy, and can be performed with either your trigger finger or the supporting hand's thumb. When the selector is set to "S", the trigger is locked and cannot be depressed. When set to "1", depressing the trigger fully releases a single round. When set to "A", the trigger becomes pressure sensitive and releases a single round on half a pull, and goes full auto in fully depressed mode. The trigger operates in exactly the same way as that on the Steyr AUG. The plastic trigger itself if rounded and wide, making it extremely comfortable to pull.

The hop-up adjuster is located on the downward facing side of the lower receiver, within the same rung as the trigger finger grip. A sliding door reveals the adjuster knob (see earlier photo above).

Set in "S" or SAFE mode (Trigger is locked)
Set is "A" or AUTO mode (semi or auto fire)
Battery compartment in stock

The P90 is powered by a small type battery, whose compartment lies in the stock right above the transversely mounted EG1000 motor. The compartment is a tight one and we already have curiosities about how to develop a custom 9.6v battery to power future upgrades. The butt-plate is removed simply by pressing a release button and sliding the plate downwards and off of the stock. Firepower is quite impressive given the long barrel and shots proved to be quite accurate at +/- 0.75 inch at 15 feet. Maximum tested effective range was approximately 120 feet, but actual traveled distance was more like 150 feet with the hop-up moderately set. Power was chronographed at 270fps with a 0.2g BB, which is very impressive for an overall package of this small size. The high rate of fire also emptied the 68 round magazine in seconds.

In tactical scenario simulation, we found the P90 to be highly effective for close quarters combat and at times could even be fired like a pistol with arms stretched away from the body (thanks to its center located pistol grip which gives it great balance when shot single-handed).

The threaded barrel can also take a silencer. Installation of a tracer system is also possible and the installer should use the AK47 adapter, which also works for the P90.

Field stripping the P90 is also very easy and the upper receiver comes away from the lower receiver simply through a push of a button. Removing the magazine reveals this disassembly button. Pressing down on it allows you easily pull the upper receiver forward and away from the lower body.

The Verdict
Our overall impression is that the P90 is a very good AEG for CQB fans, yet has enough power for long range battles (though the barrel length falls just short of the M4). Upgrade options are still a mystery at this point and we will have to wait on what Systema or other after-market manufacturers come up with in terms of parts. The battery compartment size is a major concern and we speculate that upgrade kits may require external mounted batteries.

Another concern is the magazine. Given the compact design of the magazine and the lack of gravity as a feeding mechanism, we are curious how Marui will design a high capacity magazine for the P90. Given Marui's track record, we have complete confidence that an innovative solution will be developed.

Given these relatively minor flaws, we think Marui's P90 is a winner. While the style may not bide well with all fans out there, the engineering finesse that has gone into putting a gearbox into such a small package is again tribute to Marui's R&D expertise. In fact, I must admit that I have grown accustomed to the styling and no longer find it as odd as I first thought! For all we know, this may be love at first sight for our readers out there!

The P90 flash hider can screw off be replaced with a silencer
The P90 disassembles in a blink

To get your own FN P90 right now, visit our AEG section.!
Specifications

Attribute Marui P90 Real P90
Overall Length 504mm 504mm
Weight 2,200g (including battery) 2,800g (unloaded)
Barrel Length 247mm 263mm
Magazine Capacity 68 rounds 50 rounds
Ammunition 6mm BBs 5.7mm x 28mm
(formerly known as SS90)
Initial bullet speed 90 m/s 715 m/s
Full Auto Rate of Fire 700 - 850 rounds per minute 900 rounds per minute
Rail Width 20mm MIL-STD 1913" (Picatinny Rail)

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