Understanding The HK MP5–Full Auto Review

Buy an MP5 at GunsAmerica: /Search.aspx?T=mp5

Ckeck out the latest from H&K: http://hk-usa.com/UMP

MP5 SD shown with factory collapsible stock. Suppressor screws onto barrel that has slots cut into it this allows all 9mm fired to be subsonic.

MP5 SD shown with factory collapsible stock. Suppressor screws onto barrel that has slots cut into it this allows all 9mm fired to be subsonic.

The beginning

The origin of the MP5 rifle can be traced back to the final years of World War II. Engineers at the Light Weapon Development Group at Oberndorf Germany were working on a new rifle for the German army: the MKb Gerät 06. When Germany surrendered, the engineers found themselves in the French-controlled portion of Germany. The French dismantled the factory and several of the design people were brought back to France to work at CEAM on French small arms. As conflict in Indochina heated up, the French lost interest in developing a new rifle. However, in 1950, the Spanish via CETME (their state-owned arms company) used the expertise of these German engineers to develop the Modelo 2.

Several of the engineers that were not spirited away to France were left in the postwar rubble of World War II. In 1948, three former Mauser engineers, Edmund Heckler, Theodor Koch, and Alex Seidel scavenged what the French had not taken from the small arms factory and began a small machine tool plant in the abandoned factory location. This concern became known as Engineering Office Heckler & Co. They manufactured everything from machine tools to sewing machine parts.

About the same time, Germany was reconstituting their federal Army and was looking for a rifle to equip its soldiers. The Modelo 2 drew the attention of the German border guards. There was an issue that had to be solved. West Germany, as a member of NATO, insisted the rifle be chambered in 308. It became evident that CETME was not going to be able to deliver a rifle that fired the high-pressure NATO rounds. In 1956, Heckler & Koch submitted their proposal for the G3 battle rifle, which was based on the Spanish CETME rifle. The German government awarded Heckler & Koch the contract and the G3 was declared the standard rifle of the Bundeswehr.

A schematic of a more recent HK G3, the first in a long line of formidable HK guns.

A schematic of a more recent HK G3, the first in a long line of formidable HK guns.

Encouraged by their success with the G3, the engineers developed a series of four rifles based off this design. First, 7.62×51mm NATO, the second for the 7.62×39mm M43 round, the third for the intermediate 5.56×45mm NATO caliber, and the fourth type for the 9×19mm Parabellum pistol cartridge.

The fourth design in 9 mm was a reduced size G3 rifle initially designated the HK54. In 1964, work formally began on the MP5. Two years later it was adopted by the German Army Special Forces.

HK Briefcase with K gun installed note trigger on underside of briefcase handle. All rounds were kept in case upon firing. A Business card could be inserted on side of case to cover muzzle. The case itself is considered an AOW in the USA.

HK Briefcase with K gun installed note trigger on underside of briefcase handle. All rounds were kept in case upon firing. A Business card could be inserted on side of case to cover muzzle. The case itself is considered an AOW in the USA.

History in the USA

The MP5 rocketed to fame in 1980 when, on live TV, the British SAS stormed the Iranian Embassy in London during operation Nimrod. The proficient use of the submachine gun resulted in the hostages being rescued and five terrorists were dispatched. This led to a quick adoption by special units in both the military and in law enforcement in the United States. Two events, the 1989 Panama invasion and the 1990 North Hollywood shootout, caused the submachine gun to fall out of favor. The 9 mm cartridge had been found wanting and was abandoned largely for the M4 platform in 223.

MP5 Variants

The good folks at HK adopted the Burger King model of this platform: “have it your way.” I have read that there are as many as 54 variants on this basic platform. I simply think of the gun with a few basic choices that can be assembled as needed.

The MP5SD gun has an integrated suppressor. A vented barrel allows supersonic ammunition to be fired at subsonic speeds.

The MP5K is a pistol version that was considered somewhat of a personal defense weapon. This platform also has the distinction of being available with a briefcase that it can be fired from via a trigger in its handle. The briefcase will also retain all of the spent brass.

The MP5SFA2 is a semi-auto version developed for the FBI.

Several versions of this gun result from the furniture that can be attached to it. There is a fixed stock, a metal retractable stock, a side-folding stock and receiver end cap instead of a buttstock.

All of the versions above can be modified with different trigger groups. The trigger groups determine how many rounds are fired with one pull of the trigger.

TypePositionsSettingsLocation
SEF3-positionSafe (Sicher), Semi-Auto (Einzelfeuer), Full Auto (Feuerstoß)Left-side
SF2-positionSafe & Semi-Auto (Fire)Ambidextrous
Navy4-positionSafe, Semi-Auto, 2- or 3-round Burst, Full AutoAmbidextrous
Navy3-positionSafe, Semi-Auto, Full AutoAmbidextrous

 

The MP5/10 and MP5/40 were chambered in 10 mm and 40 caliber. These were offered primarily in response to what felt like a less than acceptable performance in the 9 mm.

Homemade version of above.

Homemade version of above.

Civilian Versions

H&K was in the civilian market with versions of the MP5 beginning in 1983 and ceasing in 1994. They had two models with multiple variants that they offered in the United States.

The HK 94 represented the standard sized MP5 chambered in 9 mm with several modifications to comply with the 1968 Gun Control Act. Most obviously was the increase in barrel length to 16 inches. Less obvious and perhaps more important, the lower receiver which housed the fire control unit was no longer held on by a pin that would allow it to swivel down. Now it was a clip-on lower that was designed not to accommodate the full auto parts.

The SP 89 was a 9 mm pistol that closely resembled the MP5K. Again the lower receiver was modified to make conversion to full auto difficult.

Importation of both of these models eventually became impossible as a result of various changes to gun control laws.

MP5 K Gun with Navy Lower. Factory HK device to attach 2 magazines shown. Factory down front grip to control rise.

MP5 K Gun with Navy Lower. Factory HK device to attach 2 magazines shown. Factory down front grip to control rise.

Clone History

The American manufacturing of clone weapons has its origins in 1986 with the Hughes Amendment, followed by the 1989 Import Ban. But the final death knoll to the civilian importation of H&K MP5 variants occurred with the Clinton 1994 Crime Bill.

I remember, in the early ‘90s, quality was sketchy, prices were high and availability was impossible to predict. Now a simple Internet search reveals multiple suppliers, competitive prices and a laundry list of options. I believe now that we have improved the platform and increased modularity in ways that never would have happened had the importation continued. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in favor of gun control. I’m simply saying that we Americans have a way of making lemonade when the government gives us lemons.

If Star Wars has taught us anything, it is that clones can fight. Check out these reviews for more prospective on the quality of these clones.

The PTR 51: /blog/308-pistol-ptr-51p-new-gun-review/

The POF 5: /blog/pof-5/

Buy an MP5 at GunsAmerica: /Search.aspx?T=mp5

My MP5.

My MP5.

My Story with HK

In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, my dad and I were involved in a sport called practical shooting that would later evolve into what we now call USPSA. One of the premier shooters in our club in central Arkansas was a gentleman some of you may have heard of named J. Michael Plaxco. Michael, being a world-class shooter, had been to a match somewhere in which one of the prizes that he was awarded was an HK 91. This was the civilian version of the G3 discussed earlier in this article.

Through some world-class horse-trading, my dad ended up with this rifle. About 15 years later, this fine German firearm became mine. There’s no other way to say it but that I developed a disease that didn’t have a cure and it could only be treated with more H&K rifles! Throughout the years I have owned the HK 93, SP89 and HK 94 along with all the more modern rifles and handguns (MK 23, USP’s, P7M13, etc.) that H&K offers.

Finally, in 2001, I purchased a registered machine gun. This gun started life as an HK 94 and was converted in Oklahoma to full auto with the three lug barrel, SEF lower and a collapsible stock. Many of my other guns have come and gone throughout the years but this one will stay with me. It represents the pinnacle of my collecting in the genre and, besides that, it’s just one of those guns that puts a smile on my face.

Buying an MP5 these days isn’t easy. You can find originals occasionally. You can buy really good knock-offs (and some not-so-good knock offs). Or you can check out the HK UMP.

The UMP is the latest branch of the MP5 family tree.

The UMP is the latest branch of the MP5 family tree.

MP5 with collapsible stock this gun has a “clip on lower” as it is a converted HK 94. This is an SEF Lower.

MP5 with collapsible stock this gun has a “clip on lower” as it is a converted HK 94. This is an SEF Lower.

MP5k with collapsible stock this gun has a “clip on lower” as it is also a converted HK 94.

MP5k with collapsible stock this gun has a “clip on lower” as it is also a converted HK 94.

MP5K with side folder and fixed stock stocks are aftermarket.

MP5K with side folder and fixed stock stocks are aftermarket.

MP5 in 40 S&W with plastic magazines with NAVY Lower.

MP5 in 40 S&W with plastic magazines with NAVY Lower.

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • maxwell April 29, 2016, 9:36 pm

    hk full auto lowers have never been banned and are easy and cheap to get. so a 1974 date coded lower is legal, but pointless unless you own a registered receiver with a double push pin reciecer, which is the closest a us citizen can get to a real mp5. Taking the barrel out is no fun without the proper training and tools. i replaced my barrel and bent in the back of my mp5. it was quite a task to reform the back, and it still is not 100% probably 95% fine. fleming built my mp5, and would be very upset to see that bent german receiver. i have not done enough research on this, but zenith and pof i believe are coming in with double push pin receivers that are linked closely to the real deal, but still have a metal piece stopping a full auto trigger pack being put on, but I’m not sure if you took the pack out and put it in the pof if it would work, granted the bolt group and recover let full auto parts in. i would like to see a zenith in person and check it out. there is something about the double push pin that is just cooler and easier to take apart. So after my experience i would recommend sending your gun to a gunsmith who does hk work. there are a few very talented gunsmiths out there, and these guns are not like an a r15 that is basically legos.

  • njtree September 6, 2015, 11:33 am

    Great article on the history of the rifle. I own a civilian version USC in .45. Another branch of the tree, although not quite as fun, from the MP5 & UMP, in the civilian version. Yes, they are expensive but really manufactured well and shoot great right out of the box. Guys & Gals in my club had a lot of fun trying it out and were impressed. You can still find a few of these new if you look around. What a shame HK ended the production of these items. I also know there are folks who can make USC to UMP conversions but it’s not cheap, roughly $2500 for a rifle that can run about $1500 brand new.

  • steve August 25, 2015, 2:39 am

    lol. “But the final death knoll to the civilian importation of H&K MP5…”

    uh…that would be “death KNELL”. you gunsamerica writers are killing me with your lack of understanding of the english language.

    • Joel August 28, 2015, 7:25 am

      I agree Steve. Two meny tymes I see orendus grammer, punkuashun, and spelling. It just furthers the stereotype that all gun owners are ignorant and lack intelligence.

  • Keith August 24, 2015, 12:10 pm

    Heckler and Koch makes darn good firearms. I got to shoot a rented .45 Auto H&K UMP submachine gun at a range on full automatic and was very impressed. Several years later I returned to the range and asked about the .45 Auto H&K UMP they used to have. They told me it was broken and they had to scrap it. We estimated at least 130,000 rounds went through it before it finally broke.

    I would love a semi-automatic UMP .40 S&W clone but they are way too expensive. I settled for a Kel-Tec Sub 2000 .40 S&W. You can get .40 S&W Glock twenty-two round magazines for them.

  • SOL August 24, 2015, 10:16 am

    There are plety of MP5’s on the market, for close to the original prices of the late 80’s HK94’s. Zenith imports MKE (turkey) built, licensed MP5’s that are more accurate renditions of MP5’s than HK94’s ever were, in that they are MP5 pistols. Do a form 1, stick on a stock and it’s 90% MP5. Only difference is a block to prevent adding a functional SEF trigger group and a FA bolt block. Otherwise it’s all MP5. They also import MP5K’s and MP5K-PDW pistols. They are very very nice and function like an HK.

  • THOMAS HAUSLEIN August 24, 2015, 9:58 am

    I have a swing down lower MP-5…12/74 marked…when was the swing down restricted from importation?

  • Joe August 24, 2015, 9:43 am

    Out of my league.
    I looked long and hard at the PTR ‘s but settled for a domestic AR 10

  • Rick Stern August 24, 2015, 8:19 am

    Sig has also made an “Mp5 Clone” (or actually, targeted as a REPLACEMENT for the venerable old Mp5) in the MPX.

    Probably one of the finest designed SBR’s of recent manufacture (if you do a Form 1 and put a folder on the pistol – still waiting on stamp to come back, so mine can be “legal”). It has flawlessly digested everything I’ve fed it (and my “ready mags” are loaded with Corbons and L7A1 +P Subgun ammo). I’d forgotten how much fun it is to shoot 9mm (most of my PDW/carries are in .40).

    I occasionally look for MP5’s on the “open market” – they are astronomically priced (for a used SA, never mind a C-III example). Not that the MPx is, by any means, “cheap” to purchase either.

    Thanks again for your continued hard work and interesting/insightful articles. One of the few pieces of email I look forward to.

    Regards,

    Rick

  • Argo August 24, 2015, 8:17 am

    Requires a hydraulic press and a support fixture to keep the sheet metal receiver from collapsing. Also need to machine out the pin to take the barrel out. This is a job for experts.

    The brief cases are NOT registered as AOWs. The gun that goes in them must be registered as an AOW or machine gun. Same for wallet holsters etc.

  • Dr. H.H.Hillson August 24, 2015, 6:17 am

    Have a few HK SB 89s. HK offers a threaded barrel for these. how much pressure does it require to remove stock
    barrel and replace it with threaded barrels? do you have any photos with instructions?
    thanks for any help
    Dr. Hillson

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend