Made famous to us BB gun enthusiasts via the fourth season of the sci-fi TV series Stargate: SG1, does an Airsoft BB AEG weapons system modeled after the P90 is – as their fans swear – the best Airsoft gun ever?
By: Ringo Bones
Stargate: SG1, a sci-fi TV series that not only revived Richard Dean Anderson’s post-MacGyver acting career, and spread awareness to the TV “couch-potato” community the works of German mathematician Herman Weyl and theoretical physicist John Wheeler about the yet-to-be-discovered cosmological phenomenon called wormholes. But also made famous – during the series’ fourth season – a somewhat esoteric weapons system called the P90 in which we - the Airsoft Replica / BB gun AEG weapons system enthusiasts – are forever grateful. Not to mention the time when one of the contributors of this blog became a “rabid” Stargate: SG1 fan when her “look-alike”, the perennial TV sci-fi guest star Elisabeth Rosen appeared in a fourth season episode titled “Prodigy”. But before we proceed, let us first discuss briefly on how the P-90 weapons system came into being.
The P90 (FNP90) is a Belgian designed weapons system that fires the 5.7mm X 28mm or colloquially known as five-seven cartridges. It is usually classified as a submachine gun even though the five-seven cartridges that it fires are classified as an intermediate round. To the uninitiated, an intermediate round is a cartridge that is more powerful than a standard 9mm round, but has less kinetic energy and range compared to a “full-grown” rifle round like the NATO 5.56mm X 51mm or the 7.62mm X 44mm cartridge. Stéphane Ferrard originally developed the P90 at Fabrique Nationale de Herstal in 1986 to 1987. The weapon’s name is an abbreviation of Project, and the number 90, which specifies as a weapons system of the 1990’s. Since the weapons system’s inception, the P90 has engendered a new class of weapons systems called Personal Defense Weapons or PDW. The need for Personal Defense Weapon arose when increasing number of criminals and terrorists acquired Kevlar body armor with a level 2 bullet resistance rating which can easily stop a 9mm round fired from a Heckler and Koch MP-5. The P90 is a selective fire straight blow back-operated weapon with a short recoiling barrel that fires from a closed bolt position. This made the gun a compact bull-pup design suitable for CQB situations.
Despite the P90’s design merits, the US military has resisted its widespread use, relying instead of newer variants and upgrades of Eugene Stoner’s famed M-16 design. Looks like the TV sci-fi series’ top secret US Air Force unit in Stargate: SG1 is looking very “science fictioney” indeed for using a weapons system that looks more like a ray gun – i.e. the P90 when compared to the looks-so-high-tech-back-in-1964 M-16 / M4 A1-type assault rifles.
Airsoft BB gun AEG weapons system modeled after the P90 are very suitable for use in CQB / room clearing simulations because there’s no 20-inch barrel advertising your position an you enter. Majority of the world’s military outfits are now increasingly embracing bull-pup designs, like the British SA-80, the Austrian Steyr AUG, or the French FAS 5.56mm X 45mm assault rifles because their compactness doesn’t become an encumbrance in close quarter firefights in urban warfare situations.
Despite of its positive attributes, a significant number in the global Airsoft gaming community “vehemently” disliked Airsoft BB gun AEG weapons systems modeled after the P90. As is with the criticism thrown against Airsoft guns modeled after the XM8, many of them view guns with an increasing number of external plastic components – even the real lethal versions of the P90 and the XM8 – as “mere toys”. (Real M-16 rifles have foregrips and butts made of polystyrene but they – the Airsoft enthusiasts - just let the issue sail by.). Maybe this is due to the fact that Tokyo Marui – who has the sole global monopoly of Airsoft guns modeled after the P90 – is infamous for using plastic on their stock Airsoft models, by offering only metal and - sometimes real wood veneer ad-on’s as a relatively expensive upgrade. I even wonder if Tokyo Marui even acknowledges the contributions of Stargate: SG1 fans who are also Airsoft enthusiasts to their company’s “bottom line”. Plus, the P90 – despite being used by the US Secret Service, the Philippine National Police Special Action Force and certain Philippine Army units – still looks like a toy, really! And that will probably keep any Airsoft BB gun AEG weapons systems designed after the P90 from making into everyone’s “the best Airsoft gun ever” shortlists.