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Good Business 101: The Minimalized Differences Between the FN P90 and PS90

Posted by GSC on 10/15/2019 to Parts Identification
Despite FN Herstal initiating their development of the P90 in the 1980s specifically to provide a small caliber personal defense weapon for military and police forces that would offer an unrivaled ability for defeating body armor, the prestigious Belgian firearms manufacture also released a civilian-friendly version known as the PS90 for sporting and defensive purposes.

Even more unexpected than the bold decision by FN to market the PS90 to civilians as of the 2000s is the fact that, unlike most civilian weapons systems that have such a distinct military purpose and pedigree, the core construction and capabilities of the PS90 is virtually identical to the P90. In fact, one could succinctly describe the PS90 as a semi-auto only P90 with a barrel that is 6 inches longer than its military counterpart.

With these weapons maintaining such minimal differences, you might be asking yourself “what keeps the PS90 from being easily turned into the P90?” The answer: the two weapons’ stocks’ abilities to contain only certain types of trigger packs. More specifically, the PS90s and P90s stocks are slightly different in their dimensions so that a full auto trigger pack will only fit a stock built to support full auto use via full auto selector and trigger linkage compatibility. In other words, a P90 full auto trigger pack will simply not drop in and work with a PS90 stock.

These subtle constructive differences mean that, technically, the heart of the two weapons, which is their receivers, as well as most of their other operational components, are basically identical between the P90 and PS90 but a few of the accessory parts of the firearms determine the full extent of their abilities. This is quite unusual with most modern firearms, particularly those that are essentially created as civilian versions of military weapons systems. Typically, the crossover from military to civilian uses of weapons systems involves the receivers of civilian counterparts of weapons being substantially changed in ways that require major alterations in order to modify them for many parts to function properly between the military and civilian models, even if the civilian models don't have any legally forbidden abilities that are granted to the world's militaries and police forces. FN cleverly deviated from this more conventional design and manufacturing approach with their P90 and PS90.

Ensuring the general commonality of the majority of the P90’s and PS90’s components works to the advantage of all firearms enthusiasts interested in FN’s personal defense weapon lineup. Buyers always want maximum parts interchangability and companies that produce spare parts and accessories for weapons like the P90 and PS90 are able to market items that are, more likely than not, going to be capable of working perfectly in both the military and civilian weapons right out of the box, thus ensuring the largest possible number of potential consumers for their goods.

More firearms manufacturers might benefit from taking this approach to their weapons’ development, marketing, and sales in the 21st century because it intelligently and efficiently streamlines the marketplace that provides support for military and civilian weapons platforms that overtly share common roots. Only time will tell if more of the top tier firearms manufacturers will expand their embrace of these practices (we’re looking at you, Heckler and Koch)...

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