FN FiveseveN Warning *Picture Heavy*

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by f3rr37, May 10, 2008.

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  1. f3rr37

    f3rr37 Member

    May 10, 2006
    As some of you already know I had a malfunction of my dearly beloved FN FiveseveN IOM pistol, which I used as a CCW for just over 1 year, that caused my gun to literally explode in my hands.

    On Saturday, April 12, 2008, at 1528HRS I was out target shooting and testing some ammunition that I had reloaded. Before anyone says, "It was a reload, he probably double charged it!" let me say this:
    I did not double charge this load, everything was well within specifications.

    I had loaded 200 rounds of the following:
    Bullet: Hornady 55grain FMJ BT
    Case: Once (a couple might have been twice) fired 5.7x28mm brass
    Primer: Winchester Small Rifle
    Powder: Ramshot TrueBlue 5.0grains
    Case Length: 1.228in + or - .002in
    OAL: 1.580in + or - .003in

    I load every single round by hand using a Lee hand press, RCBS 5-0-5 Scale, RCBS calipers, RCBS seating die, etc... Each round is placed in front of me with plenty of lighting while I am measuring powder, then after all powder is measured and placed in the cases I inspect the case for powder, as even 1.0grains more or less is quite easy to see, then placed in the hand press, topped off with a bullet, and then the bullet is seated. If the powder was double charged it would fill up into the base of the case's neck. Like I said, cases are inspected for overcharges.

    Back to the accident. I had fired 66 rounds all reloads of various bullets (Hornady 40grain VMAX, pulled 28grain HP from SS195LF, Hornady 55grain FMJ). My 2nd 20round magazine I fired 5 rounds of 40VMAX I had some failure-to-eject (these were loaded with HS-6, I've had problems with that powder causing FTE), then tossed the magazine so I could pull those bullets and reload them with Ramshot TrueBlue. After that I fired 20 rounds of the 28grain bullets, all of which functioned flawlessly with Ramshot TrueBlue powder. The next magazine of 20 rounds was the 55grain FMJ with the load data above. The first magazine fired flawlessly, I even noted in my reloading book that it I might want to try loading to 5.1grains and see how they functioned. The 2nd magazine is when I ran into the malfunction, the first round fired like the previous 20, the it happened.

    On the 2nd round I realigned my sights, slowly pulled the trigger, and all hell broke loose. I saw bits and pieces of the top of the slide cover blow. My first reaction was, "Oh crap what just happened." My second reaction was, how are my hands, I released my grip with my left hand and blood was trailing down my palm dripping off my hand. I could see 2 sources of the blood flow, one on my thumb and the other the web of my hand. I tossed down my FiveseveN into the grass in front of me and inspected my right hand. My right hand faired much better than my left, a small spot on the tip of my thumb.

    I immediately pulled my cellphone out of my pocket and called my wife who had just arrived at my father's residence where I was at, I was ~1/2mi from the house. I told her to tell my dad to get out here, my gun just exploded, and not 2 seconds later I heard the 4wheeler start up and hightail it down the driveway. I started walking to the gravel road to meet him and he quickly arrived and assessed my injuries. We went back to the house, cleaned my hand up a bit, bandaged it up, and went to the hospital ~40minutes away with my wife and mother-in-law.

    Spent about 2 hours at the hospital getting 1 stitch in the web of my hand and 2 xrays. The xrays revealed a chunk of brass in the middle of my hand between my index and middle finger, and two very small peices between my index finger knuckle and the web of my hand. I have gone to a surgeon to see about getting the large piece of brass removed from my hand but he cautioned against it as it would cause more damage taking it out than leaving it in, as it is embedded into the muscle in my hand a probably isn't going to go anywhere so there isn't any worry about it moving around and slicing tendons and such.

    I initially lost feeling in over 50% of my index finger and my thumb felt like it had been hit by a hammer and had numbness for about a week. I have gained some feeling back in my finger and am at ~35% numbness now.

    My FN FiveseveN IOM is a complete loss, the magazine is still inside the grip, the remaining 18 rounds were forced out of the bottom of the magazine.


    Here are some pictures of my hand and the progression of healing:

    After removing bandages the next morning:

    Here is a picture of my loss of feeling and where the brass is in my hand:

    Two days after the accident my hand started swelling, which lasted for about 1-1.5 weeks, here is day two:

    One week after the accident, a comparision of my left and right hands:

    More pictures of my injured hand at 1 week:

    16 days after the accident:

    Three weeks:

    And finally one month:

    After looking over my new $1000 paper weight I've concluded that my FiveseveN fired out-of-battery. There is 0 damage to the chamber and barrel that I can see. From what I can figure the round fired (out-of-battery) and the case was able to hold the pressure enough to allow the bullet to clear the barrel and the case wall gave way in the rear because it wasn't being supported by the chamber. The expanding case broke off at the neck while being extracted and as you can see from the photos above the whole back end of the case gave way. One chunk of brass is embedded into the right side of the grip, I almost had a matching chunk of brass in my right hand, but the grip stopped it.

    After talking with a few friends and showing them my new paper weight they came to the same conclusion. Ryan from Elite Ammunition (www.eliteammunition.com, Custom 5.7x28mm Ammunition, both reloaded and virgin brass loads) also concluded that the cause was from it firing out-of-battery. He also stated that he has observed that with the FiveseveN the hammer will drop at up to 1/4inch out-of-battery.

    That my friends is where the problem lies. It doesn't matter what load is used in the pistol, reload or factory, it is an inherent design defect that allows the FiveseveN to fire out of battery by up to 1/4"!

    Try this for me... if you have a FN FiveseveN clear the weapon, clear it again, insert an empty magazine, make sure the gun is empty, move the slide to the rear and slowly creep it foward and see how far out-of-battery it can be when the hammer drops, I imagine you will see anywhere from 1/8-1/4".

    That is completely unacceptable at the pressures that this cartridge operates at. I'm sure FN knows all about this and is just trying to sweep me under the rug and hope that it doesn't happen again. Imagine if it did happen to an officer who carried the FiveseveN as his/her duty weapon. Not only could he/she have damage to their hand, they could lose their life if they were in a situation of life or death.

    FN needs to acknowledge this problem and fix it before someone else ends up worse than I did.

    Do you want to know how FN has treated me?

    I contacted Robert Ailes the Customer Support Manager at FN, 703-288-3500 ext 122, [email protected], on the 14th of April and told him my situation. He told me that he would talk to his boss about it and contact me the next day. Also told me that since I was shooting reloads that the warranty on my gun is void.

    Next day, no phone call, so I called after hours and left a message for him to please return my call and gave him my cellphone number. So around noon on the 16th he called me and told me that "someone" would be contacting me soon. I asked when they might be contacting me and he said he did not know, but they would be in touch. I also asked how much it would be to just get it fixed/replaced and he said he didn't know, I would have to talk to the person who will contact me. I was expecting a call from FN's legal team...

    April 28th... I called and left a message for him, asking him what the situatino was and when/if someone was going to contact me. At this point I pretty much felt as if they were just waiting for me to go away so they wouldn't have to deal with the situation.

    April 29th... Rober Ailes returned my call and said the best they could do for me was send me a pre-paid packing slip that would be here by Thursday (May 1st) to ship the gun to them so it could be looked at, held for 30 days, then destroyed. I asked if I could get it back after they looked at it, and he said no and that it would be destoryed. He also offered me a "deep discount" on a new gun, but gave no details as to how much it would be.

    Today is May 10th, 2008, and I have yet to receive a packing slip from FN. I was told I would get a call from "someone", never got that either. I'm thoroughly disappointed in FN and how they've dealt with this. Their weapon needs to be fixed, period.

    I'll probably end up with a couple hundred dollars in medical bills because of their weapon design. Until they make this right, I will never buy another FN product again and will continue to share my experience with what happens when a FiveseveN fires out-of-battery.

    I know this was a long post, but I had to get it all out. For those of you with FiveseveN's, please... be careful, you might want to consider wearing some decent shooting gloves.

    If you think their weapon has a problem, as I do, give them a call and tell them it is unacceptable.

    Bob Ailes
    Customer Support Manager
    703-288-3500 ext. 122
    [email protected]

    Thanks everyone,
  2. kd7nqb

    kd7nqb Member

    May 1, 2006
    Puyallup Washington
    Not cool at all, I know almost nothing about the specific mechanics of the FiveSeven, so I dont want to comment on that part. I hope you heal up nice and fine. I also hope that FN makes this right.
  3. Quiet

    Quiet Member

    Apr 29, 2007
    bouncing between the 909 & the 702
    Wow. First time I've ever heard of a Five-seveN "kaboom".

    The Five-seveN IOM was discontinued a few years back, current production is the Five-seveN USG. I believe (not 100%) the frame is different from the two models.
  4. f3rr37

    f3rr37 Member

    May 10, 2006
    Thanks kd7ngb, I have to go back to the surgeon on the 19th because he wants to see how the feeling in my finger is, he suspects that most, if not all, of it will come back in due time.
  5. f3rr37

    f3rr37 Member

    May 10, 2006
    The only difference in the frames are the trigger guard shape and the grip pattern.
  6. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

    Oct 27, 2006
    Excellent images of the gun. I think it is very telling.

    I think a good gun design should take a kaboom into account even if from overloaded cartridges. It should be designed so that the weakest portion of the gun, and the path of least resistance that would be taken by an explosion is away from the shooter.
    The design of that firearm clearly causes a kaboom to direct the explosion downwards into your hand.

    It appears the path of least resistance in that firearm from excessive pressure is directly downwards along the length of the forward portion of the grip forward right into the fingers of the hand. A design you clearly do not want a kaboom in.

    If you really did not double charge it and just had too much pressure or it fired out of battery, the energy for carnage was less.
    Just imagine the injuries if you had double charged it. You might be missing a couple fingers, especialy the index finger with all the energy directed straight into them.

    Perhaps a manufacturer in the future will add a vent area between the chamber and the hand within the frame, and reinforcement just above the hand. That would direct the kaboom forward through the internals of the gun rather than the hand.
    Makes it seem like a good idea to add a lil reinforcement to make sure those areas in contact with the hand are stronger than some others so the path of least resistance is not through the hand (or back into the shooter's face) but instead elswhere.
  7. Disaster

    Disaster Member

    May 1, 2008
    I definitely would not send it back to them to be destroyed. That only benefits them by destroying the evidence against them.

    How do you suspect the gun fired out of battery? Did the slide not return all the way forward and yet it fired and you did not notice it?

    Because you used reloads your case will be more difficult, but not impossible. I would continue to pursue a resolution with them. At some point you might suggest you are going to retain a lawyer. Companies generally prefer to settle these type of cases vs. get in a protracted legal battle. However, even if you can get them to pay your bills and buy you a new pistol, would you want to shoot it knowing this might occur again?
  8. HM2PAC

    HM2PAC Member

    Jul 21, 2007
    Maine, USA
    Sorry to hear what happened. That is rather awful.

    In the picture of your ammo, it looks as though a few of the cases in the top right have bulges at the shoulder. It is not a detailed picture, and I can't see them very well. If they are bulged, they may prevent full seating into the chamber.

    Could you post a few close-ups of those 18 rounds, particularly the ones on the right?
  9. f3rr37

    f3rr37 Member

    May 10, 2006
    Thank you Zoogster, it seems to that all of the pressure was directed upwards and also down and to the left.

    Disaster, I suspect that it did not fully return to battery as it should have after the first round was fired. The slide being out of battery up to 1/4" is hard to tell as all surfaces in the rear are black polymer and out target practicing all things functioned as normal (I thought anyway) and had no reason to suspect that it was out-of-battery. I have no plans at this point to send them the firearm. Thanks for the advice :)

    HM2PAC, yes, the 5 cases on the right hand side I suspect were the top 5 in the magazine, they did sustain some denting in the shoulder areas.
  10. riceboy72

    riceboy72 Member

    Jan 14, 2008
    Western Washington
    Thanks for the well written and well documented post, Jake. I'm extremely glad to hear you weren't seriously injured and your hand appears to be on the road to healing.

    My brother in law has considered purchasing this gun for some time. I will have him read this post when he flies in next week, then strongly recommend we find him something different. Please keep us posted with what FN says and/or does for you. I'm very interested to see what the outcome will be.

    Stay safe!
  11. HM2PAC

    HM2PAC Member

    Jul 21, 2007
    Maine, USA
    f3, do you crimp the cases when you seat the bullets? Do you full length resize, or just the neck?

    The pics look as though the brass is bulged, not dented.
    Last edited: May 10, 2008
  12. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

    Apr 24, 2007

    First, good to hear you're mending properly and that is one less thing to worry about.

    Second, absolutely do not send them the remains of your gun. I think they kind of erred on that one when they told you the "evidence" would be destroyed.

    Third, definitely time to find an attorney and to consider your legal options. You're not going to get any satisfaction from them at this point, and this might be the only way to get to the heart of the matter.

    I hope everything turns out okay for you and please keep us posted as to what's happening with your case.
  13. f3rr37

    f3rr37 Member

    May 10, 2006
    HM2PAC, no crimp, full length resize. No bulges, just dents and marks from the case giving way.

    bannockburn, thanks for the advice, that is definitely still on the table as an option.
  14. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

    Oct 27, 2006
    When I said down along the grip I meant relatively into your hands. It actualy looks like the greatest amount of energy not directed upwards through the chamber was actual down and to the right. Some went down and to the left , and you can see the path of least resistance on that side in your photo: the thinnest part of the plastic just below the start of the missing chunk of plastic. However most of the energy seems to be to the right.
    That is clearly what you noticed the most because your left hand was there.

    If you were a lefty I think your injuries would have been much more severe though. Down and to the right in a relatively 45 degree angle seems to be where most of the force went, taking much of the firearm on that side with it. Right where a lefty's supporting right hand would have been. Since you are right handed though your injured support hand was on the left, where less of the blast appears to have been.
    That actualy makes perfect sense because the chamber opens on the right and if out of battery some of the energy would naturaly already be going in that direction.

    You can see the same portion of the firearm damaged on the left side which is where the damage to your left hand was done through is totaly destroyed and missing on the right side. You can also see the sheared directions the plastic took on the right side even at relatively strong points of the frame.
    A left handed shooter would have been left with a very mangled right hand and far worse injuries.

    If it did fire out of battery it could have happened if the rounds were not resized and unable to chamber all the way. It would still be a faulty design allowing it to fire at that point out of battery, but the failure to fully chamber would be from the improper dimensions of the casing if that was the case.
  15. PTK

    PTK Member

    Mar 25, 2007
    The USG also drops the hammer 1/8" out of battery and, if you ride the slide home, rests out of battery 1/8". That said, I do not believe FN is liable.
  16. esheato

    esheato Member

    Apr 8, 2003
    Nice CS....:cuss:

    Glad you're healing up well.

  17. TX1911fan

    TX1911fan Member

    Mar 7, 2006
    I normally don't advocate lawsuites, but this seems like a good case. I'd at least talk with an attorney. It may help to have a lawyer call FN for you.
  18. Girodin

    Girodin Member

    Mar 22, 2008
    The problem I see with a lawsuit is that you were firing handloads. You may be 100% sure that you didn't double charge the round and that everything else was done correctly as well but there is no way to prove that. Unless there have been other documented incidents of this type of failure the susipicion is going to be that the handload was the cause.

    That said an attorney may make FN come want to be more helpfull. It is a fact that often makes me angry but it is usaully cheaper and easier to settle than fight a case that you will win.

    I dont have enough facts about what happened nor a solid enough knowledge of the mechanics of a 5.7 pistol to pass anykind of judgement. I do hope you heal well however and things get worked out for the best.

    Has anyone else heard of this type of failure before?
  19. Waldo Pepper

    Waldo Pepper Member

    Nov 18, 2007
    Well I guess my buying a FN 5.7 next week has just been put off until I do more research. I don't like the sound of their CS department, another reason for buying a S&W I guess.
  20. wally

    wally Member

    Jan 2, 2004
    Houston, Tx
    No crimp?

    Bullet setback is asking for trouble in any high pressure round.

    I'd suggest using a primed empty case for your out for battery firing test. The hammer may fall with the side a good bit out of battery, but it should not fire the primer unless the gun is locked up.

    Clearly its a design flaw if some one can demonstrate a primer will pop with the gun out of battery.

  21. Funderb

    Funderb Member

    Oct 23, 2007
    Jacksonville, Bold new city of the south.
    Im sorry to hear that happened, but this does not mean that all fivesevens are bad. The fact that you hand loaded kills your case. I'm not saying that you overloaded, just that maybe the case was improperly sized, or had a burr you missed, from your post it seems that you reloaded a lot of rounds, and you're only one guy.

    Now, play by play, here is a friends 5/7 in my lap, while it does drop slightly out of battery, it is only 2-3 mili's not 1/4 of an inch. Though this is not an IOM, I suspect the out of battery fire and detonation was wear and tear a failure in the mechanism of the firearm, not in the original design. I suspect it had to be even further out of battery than you'd think, and that, even better, maybe delayed blowback design failure is to blame, but the cartridge attempted ejection while the round was still inside the barrel. Then the neck ripped off and the portion just above the rim that was not impinged by the slideor frame failed.

    It really really sucks a lot, and I'm sorry this happened to you. FN should replace the pistol. Glad you didn't get a slide piece in the face.
    I just can't see that the 5-7 is a failed design.
  22. Gunnerpalace

    Gunnerpalace Member

    Aug 8, 2007
    Somewhere in Michigan
    Not to sound like a jerk, but almost every weapon wa,rranty I have seen voids if you use reloads, ranges don't like them much either so I would not expect anything from FN, even if it blew my hand off. If it went out of battery you were still shooting reloads, just my .02
  23. waumo

    waumo Member

    Feb 12, 2006
    Another good example why I will just stick with the 45 ACP in a 1911.

    I'm sure one has blown up somewhere sometime but probably only from a double charge of Bullseye!
  24. meef

    meef Member

    Nov 7, 2004

    Now that's gun porn!
  25. Gordon
    • Contributing Member

    Gordon Contributing Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    Southern Oregon
    Why I have only two plastic framed guns: a Model 17 Glock from 1988 and an early 26. I use them on duty as a reservist because the dept. requires a Glock. I have NEVER shot reloads in a Glock since 1988. I don't really like a plastic framed gun and regularly shoot only metal framed ones. Things can happen and the well designed metal frames contain and rechannel the gas ect. away from your hands.
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