AR57: Fun Times with a Tiny Carbine (aka FSS Hurricane)
Hi guys, thanks for tuning in to another video on ForgottenWeapons.com. I'm Ian McCollum, and those of you from computer game world will recognise this as the FSS Hurricane from one of the recent Call of Duty games. The rest of you, if you recognise it at all, will recognise it as the AR Five Seven. This is a system that was developed ... in the mid-2000s, 2005/2006, by a company called Rhineland Arms. Which also made a bunch of interesting pistol calibre conversions of other systems.
They started leaking details around '05-'06 like I said. In about 2008 this actually appeared on the market, and at that point it was the first generation of the system, which is this guy. Now there was a second generation that was developed 5 to 8 years later. This is a second generation gun. However, the difference in generation is not about the barrel length, both of these were made primarily as full-length 16 inch rifles. But they did make some with a barrel that was basically 12 inches, 11 or 12 inches, the length of the handguard.
And then they made a super-short one with about a 6.25 inch barrel that was specifically intended to have a suppressor attached to it ... inside the handguard. And I had the chance to buy this second generation, very short PDW version, and I thought it just looked way too cool. So this is my own. This first generation rifle, which is a really good example of the first generation, complete with an AR Five Seven branded lower and an AR Five Seven branded EOTech that we'll take a look at in a minute. This was loaned to me generously by Battlestar Gatlactica for the video, so thanks to you.
The basic mechanical premise here is a combination of the magazine and cartridge from the FN P90 that's the 5.7x28mm cartridge, hence "Five Seven", with the AR-15 lower receiver system. The ... P90 is kind of an expensive, difficult to get gun, certainly it was at the time, and it lacks in a few critical ways. The trigger's kind of meh. It's a bullpup, it's got a squishy, icky trigger.
In full-auto they actually have a progressive trigger, so a short pull is semi and a long pull is full. Personally I'm not a big fan of that system at all. And the sights on the P90 are kind of iffy. They come out with some later versions that allowed you to mount your own optics, but it was still a bit of ehh, not great. Not a lot of after-market support for the guns. Compare that to the AR-15 platform
where you can get anything and everything on the after-market. Including very good triggers, and whatever sort of sights you want to mount if you have just a plain Picatinny rail on the thing. So what Rhineland did was develop an upper that would fit on a totally standard AR-15 lower.
And ... they had a spark of inspiration that the P90 mag has to sit on top of the gun, that's how it was designed. And so it's going to really eject down unless you want to put a whole lot of weird engineering into it.
Well, downward on an AR-15 is the magazine well. So you can just leave the magazine well open, don't put a magazine in it, and presto, the magazine well becomes your ejection port. Hence I have probably, possibly the only gun you will ever see with a flared ejection port. Well, not the only one, but a flared ejection port here on my little short version. So I want to get this thing out to the range and try it out, because I think it looks fantastic and I bet it's going to shoot really, really well.
You guys want a quick little behind the scenes here? My shooting range is a little bit of a drive from the house. So whenever I go out to film something, I try to take 2 or 3, or maybe 4 things and get a bunch of different filming done all at the same time. Make the best use of the trip. That leads to some issues with packing. I am often taking guns that are expensive. Sometimes they're mine, sometimes they are loaned expensive guns, and I need to take good care of them. So I have actually just got one of Magpul's new Daka cases, which is going to really simplify this process. What they've done is essentially take a Pelican case (it's going to be their own case eventually I think) and they have lined it with essentially gun case Lego bases.
So the whole bottom of this has a hard cell foam liner. There's soft foam under and soft foam on the top. And then they have a whole bunch of modular block inserts that you can put in literally anywhere, in any configuration, to fit whatever guns go in the case. So there's angled ones, straight ones, another straight one.
Got a couple that have a little barrel clevis in them. 45 instead of a 30 degree angle. A variety of things. And that is going to allow me to pack a case full of guns that are worth more than my car today. Today of course, we are taking out the AR57.
I've got a nice solid spot for that. Can't show you how to take the magazine off that would be dangerous, so we'll put the magazine in there. And then ... I'm going to take the FN D out with us today. So this is a chunky heavy piece. This is a pre-sample, so this is worth some significant money. So if I fold the sling up right there, we can get that nice and firm in place.
The barrel, that can go right there in it's a nice little barrel clevis. And then a Merwin & Hulbert for a little bit of an Old West flavour to end out the trip. Slide that in there, and what I like about this is everything in here is nice and secure, it can't move once I put the lid down. It eliminates the potential problem with typical like two gun cases where you can put two in, but when they start bouncing around they're going to slide together and they're going to scratch each other. So this should be a really good solution.
Alright, let's go. Just like we put them in. Alright, let's do some shooting. Really calls for a loading tool. Apparently the current manufacturers are working on designing one, but they don't have it out yet. It's not a hard magazine to load, it just takes a very long time.
Now the question is can I actually run a spinner with 5.7 out of a 6.5 inch barrel. It's pretty much just .22 Long Rifle I think. I got 50 rounds to try, so let's see. Whoo! I did it with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, I think 7 rounds left to go.
And the forend is just starting to get a little hot. ... Well you can actually see a little bit of oil burning off the barrel or the suppressor there. Honestly, this handguard does a really good job of protecting your hand from the heat. So you can see on the underside there we've got exposed barrel up to here and then suppressor. And it's hotter out here.
But you can definitely hold onto that without any trouble at all. I really like this thing, this is cute, and very pleasant to shoot and fantastic. [ Now, let's dig into how it works ... ] I've got this adorable little short-barrelled upper on a KP-15 polymer lower, which I think makes a great fit for it. Both of these are exactly the same mechanically, so I'll go ahead and show you how this operates on our shorty here. We're just going to do a standard sort of AR-style disassembly. Take out the pin.
What we have here is a simple blowback action, so the bolt just slides right out of the back of the upper. This will happen very easily whenever you pick this thing up if you don't have a lower on it. Not that I've maybe dropped this on the floor a couple of times, but be aware of that. And it is by the way, a little counter-intuitive which direction this actually goes in, and so they helpfully marked it with "UP" and an arrow for reassembly. Because the P90 magazine is designed to feed from the top it holds cartridges perpendicular to the barrel like this. It has a rotary feed system right here that then plops out one cartridge pointing down the barrel.
So it's ... double stacked in the magazine, it's a single feed position. Which makes it nice and easy to design feed mechanisms for. But this is going to sit facing down on the gun. The bolt is going to use this lug here to pick a cartridge up out of the magazine.
It's going to push it down into the bolt face, we have a spring-loaded plunger ejector on the top. We have our extractor on the bottom there. So this is going to feed the round into the chamber. This fires from a closed bolt and it is hammer fired, so we've got a spring-loaded firing pin right here.
There we go. So it's going to use a standard AR-15 fire control system and hammer. The hammer hits that spring-loaded firing pin, firing pin goes forward, and fires. That's why there's this big slot by the way, it's for space for the hammer.
And then it's ... simple blowback that is going to push this back to cycle it. This is designed to use a standard carbine buffer and tube. So I've got that there in my lower.
One thing worth pointing out here is the standard production bolts here are not compatible with full-auto fire control groups. So these are basically semi-auto only bolts. They did make a number of full-auto compatible bolts that have a different cutout here that can accommodate things like forced reset triggers or legal full-auto triggers. Those are marked "FA" instead of "UP", so ... that's a way to distinguish those. If we look at this, there is no ejection port on the side of the gun. The magazine's sitting on top, that only leaves it space to eject downward.
And sure enough that's what it does, it actually ejects out of the magazine well of the AR-15 lower that you have it set up on. Alright, let's go back to our generation 1 gun for a moment here, and take a quick look at the markings first because it is marked AR Five Seven like every conceivable place. The company (and by the way AR57 was a separate company spun off from Rhineland to produce these guns), they actually went and got a variance from ATF to have Aero Precision manufacture lower receivers for them with the AR Five Seven logo.
And ... the model here for the first gen is AR57A1 PDW. Calibre is 5.7 and a serial number. This is actually quite a low, very early production serial number. But because the receivers were actually made by Aero Precision they do still have to have Aero Precision's name on them there.
You then have AR Five Seven on the upper receiver as well, along with a calibre marking. They got pistol grips with AR Five Seven moulded into them there. And AR57 was actually an EOTech distributor while they were in business. And they got a run of EOTech holographic sights with the AR Five Seven logo laser engraved into them. So pretty cool that we've got that original accessory here on this gun as well. On the first generation guns there is a fixed charging handle on the right side.
And ... it's very simple, but to my mind this is definitely one of the weak points of the design, because well, I had a generation 2 charging handle which adds a folding capability. And before I could even get this out to the range to try shooting, that broke on me. So the problem here was that this is basically a steel screw that is threaded into an aluminium plate. And the way this works is that this pin comes through the front of the charging handle, goes through the side of the upper receiver. You can see the slot right there.
And it just sits in front of the bolt, and when you pull it back it pulls the bolt back. But what that's doing is putting a lot of lateral loading on this screw that is threaded into a pretty narrow piece of aluminium. And this one, which had I think gone through a fair bit of use before I got it, it just ... ripped the threads out of the aluminium. And without this there was really no good way to cock the thing. So. I did get a replacement charging handle from the guys who are making the new version of these, which is very nice, I appreciate that. Anyway, the magazine release on this is a plunger right there.
You take this lever on the top and it just pulls back. You can see right there it's going to pull that lock out of where it locks into the magazine. And then I can just lift the magazine up. So resetting the magazine is a bit trickier, you have to pull the lever in first (at least in my experience), pretty much set the magazine in. And then release your magazine ... release to lock the magazine in place.
I'm doing this by the way: the front end of the magazine is going to lock right in there under this front section of Picatinny rail. So as for the rest of the first generation guns, it's pretty much a big solid monolithic upper. We've got quad rails on the thing, we've got a very heavy profile barrel.
We've got a fancy compensator out here which I think is completely unnecessary for a cartridge as wimpy as 5.7x28. But they put it on there. They did also send a lot of these out of the factory with ... standard A2 birdcage flash hiders as well. That is your AR57 first generation. Now both generations of these were, at least theoretically, offered in three different barrel lengths. There was the standard 16 inch barrel like this.
There was an 11 inch barrel, which basically comes out to right here at the front of the handguard. And then there was the 6.5 inch barrel. My second generation gun here is in fact a 6 inch barrelled version. So this ...
is designed where the barrel only goes about halfway down the handguard. And then it's intended to have a suppressor threaded on, which will extend just ... beyond the end of the handguard. And I think that makes a fantastic looking package. So the suppressor I chose to use is a GSL. They make one specifically for the 5.7x28 cartridge,
but any .22 calibre suppressor would in fact work just fine. Just thread that back on there. In order to reduce weight, the second generation guns all had fluted barrels, even the really short ones like this, but also the full 16 inch barrels. They went ahead and cut lightening slots in the quad rail.
The body of the upper receiver body is thinner in profile. Generally they removed a lot of excess material to reduce the weight. And as a result a full 16 inch ... gen 2 upper weighs in at just a hair under 4 pounds.
So it's getting reasonably lightweight there. The magazine release was redesigned so it now pushes forward or back from either side. I don't know that that's necessarily better, I suppose it is. It is definitely a bit different. And then they went ahead and cut a slot for the charging handle on the left side of the receiver, and added this screwed-in plate to cover that slot. So what you can do now if you want to, is take the charging handle off of this side and put it on this side, which frankly for right-handers I think would be more convenient. I really like having this left-handed where I can have one hand on the grip and my support hand operates the charging handle.
Which is now also by the way folding, you already saw that. This was also a gen 2 improvement. Now one detail here is if you do want to swap the charging handle, you have to take the bolt release out of your AR because it will interfere with the charging handle moving back and forth. If you have a dedicated lower for a 5.7 upper that's not a big deal, because this bolt hold open doesn't do anything on the 5.7 upper anyway. You can't lock the bolt open, and it doesn't lock open when the magazine's empty.
Now let's talk about some pros and cons. Pro: this thing is fantastically fun to shoot, the recoil is minimal. Magazine capacity is nice and big, it's just a ton of fun as a plinker. That's a little bit offset by ... the expense of the ammunition, which is [still] a good deal more expensive than something like 9mm.
So it's like you've got to be willing to eat the ammo cost if you're going to shoot it a lot. And what's the point of this if you're not going to shoot it a lot? You also have an interesting limitation with optics. So there's a relatively short piece of Picatinny rail back here. Notice that on the gen 2 it is a little bit longer than on the gen 1, gen 2 overhangs backwards just a little bit.
But because the magazine has to lift out here (come on) right there, you can't have an optic that's basically any longer than the front of this Picatinny. So that's all right for red dots, which is I think the type of optic that makes the most sense for this. Red dots and holographics. But it would be pretty tricky to actually put a longer magnified tube optic on one of these.
They are set up with a piece of front rail. If you want to use iron sights, that's very easy and convenient. There's one other significant issue that I need to address, and I've read rumours of this happening to people, but it in fact happened to me first-hand.
So that is the problem of out of battery detonations. The AR57 has no prevention for an out of battery discharge. So what I mean by that is if the bolt is not all the way closed, let's say the bolt comes to here. If the firing pin hits the primer while the bolt is this far open, you'll have an exposed section of brass that will not be able to contain the pressure from firing. And ... the pressure, the gas, will blow through the brass and detonate your magazine.
And it will launch your magazine about 5 feet up in the air. And there's how I know it, I actually had this exact thing happen to me and I am really, really bummed that I didn't get this on camera. We were just zeroing the gun and weren't filming it.
And what happened to me specifically was I had a cartridge (and this is by the way, FN SS197 general practice ammunition, but it is FN, it's not hand loaded or anything), it sheared at the case neck right here, and it left this forward little bit of brass in the chamber. Now that's all pretty well covered up by the magazine, and I didn't notice that the second round fed into the chamber, but jammed up against that little bit of brass that was still left in the neck of the chamber up there. And so the bolt was in fact left about that far open.
And in most guns there ... is a safety mechanism that will prevent the hammer from dropping if the bolt is open like that. AR57 does not have it. Alright, let's go ahead and demonstrate that. I have a cartridge here that I have pulled the bullet out of, dumped the powder out of, but it still has a live primer. So ... if the hammer hits that primer we'll hear a nice pop,
but there's no projectile, there's no powder, so there's no danger, nothing is going out of the barrel. As you can see there, I'm not concerned about dropping the bolt and letting the bolt slam onto the case. That's not what's going to cause a problem here because there's a very good firing pin spring that prevents the firing pin from bouncing forward in a situation like that.
What I am concerned about is that I can hold the bolt open like this, pull the trigger, have the hammer drop and hit that primer, like this. You hear that? That went pop. There's a little bit of smoke there. And there is a nice divot in the primer. That just fired. Still a little bit of smoke whisping out of it even. So that is a real problem, because that will blow a magazine off the top of the gun. The good news is this is not generally a problem that would be dangerous to a person.
But if you happened to have your hand over the bottom of the magazine well, or for some reason your hand over the top of the magazine, it definitely could cause injury. So that's something to very much be aware of on ... at least the first two generations of AR57. Oh by the way, I did find the piece of brass that detonated out of battery on me. That is what it looks like when it comes out of the gun.
These became available about 2008, and they would be available until the mid/late 20-teens. Now, unfortunately what happened is that the owner of the company passed away, and the company had developed significant debt at that point. And so while there was some interest in picking up production, there ... is demand for these, they were never really good sellers
largely because of the cost of ammunition. It's really cool ... you can fit an entire box of ammo in here in one magazine and go out and have a lot of fun shooting at minimal recoil. ... However, that's a lot of money per magazine full of ammunition. And I think that really kind of set a lot of sales back. Ammunition for these has actually come down in cost, generally speaking, since the original generations of the AR57 were out there.
There are more guns out there now that are using the 5.7, there's PSA's pistol, Ruger has a pistol, KelTec has a pistol. It's becoming a more popular cartridge, I think simply because it's just so fun to shoot. It's like .22 Magnum without all the issues of being unjacketed and rimfire.
At any rate, the owner died. ... My understanding is because of some of the legal liability laws, anyone who wanted to pick up manufacturing from AR57 at that point would have had to pick up all the company's debt. ... No one wanted to do that. So instead it kind of waited around until statutes of limitations expired, the debt kind of went away, and now fairly recently production has restarted. So like I said at the beginning, if you guys are interested perhaps we can take a look at one of the new versions of these. But I don't suspect that it will be any cooler than this little SBR 5.7 carbine here. Hopefully you guys enjoyed the video. Thanks again to Battlestar Gatlactica
for the loan of this guy and all of its many AR Five Seven branded bits. Thanks for watching.