Zenith Z-5P – The MP5K Done Right

The ZP5 is an aggressive pistol designed to make the most of the 9mm.

The Z-5P is an aggressive pistol designed to make the most of the 9mm.

Check out the specs at Zentih: http://zenithfirearms.com/

Buy one on GunsAmerica: /zenith

A couple of weeks ago, we took an in-depth look at the long and winding history of the MP5. But the gun has yet to be relegated to the hallowed halls of historical firearms, as this review will surely show.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted an MP5K. Its iconic image dominated the landscape of my imagination. And why not? Military and security forces around the globe have used it for decades. The gun changed the definition of a personal defense weapon. And the MP5K was the weapon of choice for celluloid secret agents and villains, too. But owning one hasn’t been as easy on the wallet. There have been converted H&Ks on the civilian market in the past and there have been custom guns (and somewhat bastardized imports). Yet you could never really have a quality production model at a realistic price. Until now.

Zenith Firearms (an American company) set out to fill this gap. Importing firearms from an original H&K licensed plant (MKE) they have brought the US market a family of firearms built to more exacting standards. These guns, especially the Z-5P, give H&K factory guns a run for their money. Looking at things like welds, finish, fitment, and reliability, I find these guns are second to none. But they can be pricey. Are they worth it?

Z-5P

  • Caliber – 9X19 mm Parabellum
  • OA Length – 13.7 inches
  • Barrel Length – 5.8 inches
  • Weight Empty – 4.6 pounds
  • Operation – semi-automatic, roller-lock, delayed blowback
  • Sights – rear drum for elevation and windage, front protected post
  • Magazine – 30-round steel
  • Barrel – 3 Lug and threaded to 1/2×28
  • plastic carry case
  • three (3) 30-round magazines
  • factory cleaning kit
  • two (2) extra take-down pins
  • factory Picatinny style optics mount
  • factory sling
  • Warranty – 5-year warranty
  • Retail – $1800
The ZP5 broken down.

The Z-5P broken down.

While it is possible to hold the gun out like this, it isn't easy. These are natural SBRs, but can be awkward as pistols.

While it is possible to hold the gun out like this, it isn’t easy. These are natural SBRs, but can be awkward as pistols.

How do they shoot?

Let’s jump right into this one. The guns look cool. And if you’re running a Hollyood prop house, that may be all that matters. But I doubt you are. GunsAmerica readers typically want to shoot their guns. After firing 1000+ rounds for this review, I can safely say this gun can run with the best. With zero malfunctions, zero issues, zero problems to speak of, the gun ran perfectly and gave no signs that it would ever slow down. While this wouldn’t surprise an H&K fanboy, reliability like this is almost unheard of in most of the other imports.

I shot 200 rounds of PPU 115gn as the control. This gun ate through the brass without hesitation. Given its performance, I then decided to test this guns appetite by feeding it a lower class of ammo–Wolf and Tula steel cased. The next 800 rounds were shot suppressed and were intended to stress the gun, to fill every crevasse in it with carbon, and to try and make it choke. The Z-5P ate through it all with out complaint.

After I finished testing the gun I gave it a good detail strip and deep cleaning. I fired roughly 800 rounds suppressed and didn’t do any maintenance and the ZP-5 was still. Carbon covered every inch of the inside of the receiver, but the bolt and carrier still moved freely. After a deep cleaning, I could find no real atypical wear marks, no noticeable signs of hard use. All this pointed to one conclusion: this gun was going to be in it for the long haul.

Hard to handle?

In its SBR form, the MP5 is very ergonomic and easy to handle. But as a pistol? That’s a different story. In their stock form these guns appeal to the collector and novelty crowd. These guns are more than just an oversized pistol, but not by much. With the addition of a few accessories (like an arm brace and a red dot optic) these guns suddenly take on new life. They become serious tools or serious toys depending on who you are.

The ZP-5 is an ideal gun to carry on a single-point sling.

The ZP-5 is an ideal gun to carry on a single-point sling.

Forward pressure on a sling mount adds decent stabilization.

Forward pressure on a sling mount adds decent stabilization.

The Z-5P shoots much like every roller locked delayed blowback 9mm mp5 variant does. Its action feels smooth as the bolt unlocks and slides backwards through the receiver. The trigger is heavy but crisp as it breaks contact with the sear. The selector operates smoothly as it comes off safety with a positive click. The magazines lock firmly into the receiver while still being easy to insert and remove. All in all the Zenith Z-5P operates like a well-tuned machine.

The Sig brace braced on the arm. Use only as directed. Absurd.

The Sig brace braced on the arm. Use only as directed. Absurd.

The Blade works like the Sig brace, but doesn't require a strap.

The Blade works like the Sig brace, but doesn’t require a strap.

You can brace The Blade on your cheek, too.

You can brace The Blade on your cheek, too.

Accuracy

The Z-5P’s accuracy is great when you compare it to your standard pistol. It has a somewhat longer barrel, a few more pounds to absorb recoil, and easily twice the sight radius of a normal handgun. All this makes for tight groups and easy shooting. The ballistics, though, aren’t anything to write home about. Out of the 5-inch barrel an 115grain 9mm ball zips through the air right around 1200fps–what you would expect form a typical full size handgun.

I shot a .75″ group from 10 yards.  1.5″ from 25 yards. The iron sights are designed for speed, not precision, so the addition of a red dot optic allowed for tighter groups. But the gun points well, and slapping rounds on target is easy, even from the hip.

Accuracy with the iron sights isn't bad, though they were meant for speed of acquisition and not precision.

Accuracy with the iron sights isn’t bad, though they were meant for speed of acquisition and not precision.

With a red dot dialed in, point of aim is easier to predict.

With a red dot dialed in, point of aim is easier to predict.

The trigger of the Z-5P is clean. It’s a bit on the heavy side, breaking consistently around 8 lbs. Its manageable, but could be lighter. The reset is not pronounced, nor is it audible, so getting used to the reset takes practice.

And shooting fast? That's where the ZP-5 shines.

And shooting fast? That’s where the Z-5P shines.

Cheek-weld with Sig brace. It is not a bad way to use it.

Cheek-weld with Sig brace. It is not a bad way to use it.

Customization

AA5-PSBK MP5 K Style Pistol Arm Brace – $279.00

https://www.atlanticfirearms.com/component/virtuemart/shipping-accessories/aa5-psbk-detail.html?Itemid=0

AA-PSB Side Folding Hinge – $59.00

https://www.atlanticfirearms.com/component/virtuemart/shipping-accessories/aa-psb-side-folding-hinge-detail.html?Itemid=0

Shockwave Blade Pistol stabilizer – $48.00

http://shockwavetechnologies.com/site/?page_id=2316

Primary Arms Micro Dot MD-06 – $80.00

https://www.primaryarms.com/Primary_Arms_Micro_Dot_Removable_Base_Gen_II_NV_p/md-rbgii.htm

The Z-5P comes in a hard plastic box with a few accessories. It ships with three 30 round steel magazines, a two-point convertible single point sling, a claw mount 1913 rail, a set of spare receiver pins, and a full cleaning kit. It’s a real laundry list and part of the reason why this gun costs as much as it does. If you intend on keeping the pistol in its stock configuration, these are all the things you will ever need to make the gun run.

If you intended to attach a pistol stabilizing brace, you will need to diversify. The best option for attaching a brace is sold by Atlantic Firearms. They are one of the select few selling this gun, so if you are looking for one and Zenith is sold-out, check with Atlantic. And Atlantic Firearms sells a special brace kit designed just for the Z-5P and its MP5K clone cousins.

What you get is a receiver block, an AR buffer tube adapter, a buffer tube with extensions, and a SB47 arm brace. A side-folding hinge is available for $60.00, if you are interested in that type of thing. Once outfitted with the arm brace and adapters, the pistol truly takes shape. It becomes a truly usable weapon, something much more than novelty. Utilizing a check weld and maintaining an “ATF safe distance from your shoulder” you are able to increase your effectiveness noticeably.

If the SB 47 isn’t your style, you can also stick a Shockwave Blade on the gun. The Blade gives you options. You can adjust the length of the blade, and the cant of the blade. The blade is also rigid polymer and makes for a much slimmer, low profile option.

Adding an optic to this gun for me was a must. It does have adjustable sights but I found them lacking when it came time to place precise shots on target. Adding a Primary Arms microdot to the pistol majorly changed the way I was able to preform. I went from struggling to use the sights to making clean hits at 100 yards.

The ZP-5 in its case with all of the extras. And there are a lot of extras.

The ZP-5 in its case with all of the extras. And there are a lot of extras.

Conclusion

At the end, is the Z-5P worth $1800? For the purist, the collector, for the enthusiast–yes.  Without a doubt. It’s likely the best deal to be had. If you’re just the run-of-the-mill gun-guy, then the price is going to be prohibitive. It’s antiquated technology. It’s no longer the hot item in our Hollywood movies, nor is it the latest and greatest. The ZP-5 does offer proven performance and endless aftermarket support. And there’s an appeal in the now classic design. This isn’t the newest plastic fantastic, but the design isn’t going away, either.

Check out the specs at Zentih: http://zenithfirearms.com/

Buy one on GunsAmerica: /zenith

The internals of the lower are just as easily accessible.

The internals of the lower are just as easily accessible.

30 round steel mags. The gun ships with 3 of them.

30 round steel mags. The gun ships with 3 of them.

The upper is easy to remove and is easily maintained.

The upper is easy to remove and is easily maintained.

Field-stripping is easy, which makes routine maintenece much less cumbersome.

Field-stripping is easy, which makes routine maintenance much less cumbersome.

The ZP-5 next to a POF clone.

The ZP-5 next to a POF clone.

 

{ 33 comments… add one }
  • Bryce Griffith April 2, 2016, 6:00 pm

    Anyone know what hand guard that is to be able to mount the angled grip?

    • Andrew Deutchman February 11, 2017, 4:58 am

      Same here what is that angled forgrip and where did you get it?

  • Matt October 27, 2015, 10:23 am

    Where did you find a side folding hinge for the Shockwave brace setup you have pictured above? Atlantic doesn’t sell it separately and I haven’t been able to track it down anywhere else. Thanks.

  • Joseph September 12, 2015, 2:43 pm

    The Taurus CT40 is fun to play with, and the price isn’t bad, either. I picked one up for just over $400.

  • David September 8, 2015, 8:26 pm

    Nice review. Very caustic audience.
    Perhaps this is an over emphasis of the obvious but “Reviews” are advertisement.
    Regardless the product.

  • Pro2Aguy September 8, 2015, 8:16 pm

    I have been a fan of sub-guns since a kid watching WWII movies with my Vet Dad whereby I would stare completely mesmerized at the screen seeing John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Peter Falk, Audie Murphy and so on each equipped with sub-guns including just to name a few Thompson’s, MP3 Grease Gun and comparable ones ranging from British to German Sub-Guns…So no the price of this one is not ludicrous to me, out of my price range yes indeed but I would love to have one as well as the real deal MP5.
    As an average guy who works 40hrs a week, my “Sub-Guns” are the Kel-Tec Sub-2000 which in conjunction with Glock 33 Round Mags makes for a very practical weapons system to be sure and a couple of very nice frugal affordable Hi Point Carbines in 9mm and 45acp (these too are awesome affordable quality sub-guns with low cap mags being the only knock against them IMO).

    As you can see from the aforementioned “ramble,” I do not like Sub-Guns” I love them!

  • SteveA September 8, 2015, 12:21 pm

    Fix your links, they go to a zenith, but one in 556 not a 9mm version.

  • Robert September 8, 2015, 11:06 am

    Haters ……..
    Are you kidding me ? True Gun lovers love guns …this ain’t no friggin’ contest ! I own a large collection of guns ,all different shapes ,sizes ,colors and calibers . And guess what ….there was usually a couple things I loved about that particular gun that grabbed my interest .Thats why I bought the damn thing ! Some cost too much but WTF ?
    Everything is a trade off . If you like that particular gun enough , you will buy it !
    I bought the Zenith ZP-5 and I love it . I bought it because I like it ! I liked it because the Scorpion seemed too bulky and front heavy . I did not care how much cheaper it is compared to any other gun in that category ! But hey …..that’s just me . Remember gentlemen , This ain’t no competition…….

  • Rick S September 8, 2015, 8:37 am

    Thanks again for your in-depth reviews and hard work.

    Don’t understand the haters. What I see, is an objective review of a gun that is pricey, ha a specific tactical role, and is probably not for everyone.

    Personally – while it has some “cool factor”, and is somewhat “parts compatible” with a genuine MP5 – from a “collectors standpoint” – it doesn’t “look enough like” an MP5, to make it very high on my list “gotta have guns”.

    For the guy looking for a SBR-like pistol in 5.7×28 – check out Masterpiece Arms MPA57x series pistols http://masterpiecearms.com/cat/defender-series/pistols/5-7x28mm-pistols/ (have you reviewed one of THESE YET?). With AE making 5.7 ammo now, they’re a little cheaper to shoot – and they take standard (and extended) FN 5.7 mags. This would be (is) a little higher on my list of “things to get”. With their folder adapter and a “brace” or Form 1 folder – they’d make an interesting addition to a collection. Definitely on my list – will wait till my stock of 5.7 ammo comes back up to an acceptable level to keep my other guns in this caliber fed though.

    That being said – think I’ve got this caliber and “tactical tasking” pretty much covered with my Sig MPX. Waiting on my Form 1 to come back for that one so I can “legally” put the Sig folder on (not a big fan of the “braces”, though the blade would probably work better than the Sig brace) and the Silencerco Osprey suppressor I have on order (c’mon BATFE get a move on) to get this particular project gun finished up. As Sigs entry into the marketplace for an MP5 “clone”/replacement, despite being somewhat pricey also for a 9mm “pistol” – the updated tech on this gun makes it a great accurate “close-up shooter” that has run everything I’ve put through it without a hiccup.

    To the haters: if you don’t like the gun – DON’T BUY IT. Were I not already covered in this caliber and tasking (and in love with) with my Sig MPX, it would probably make my slobber/obsession list pretty easily.

    Lighten up guys…

    Rick

  • Ringo Lapua September 7, 2015, 8:33 pm

    This gun is made in Turkey. Turkey is a Muslim country. BUY USA AND ONLY USA. NEED I SAY MORE!

  • L Stewart September 7, 2015, 12:00 pm

    Cheek weld! I love it! Lol

  • Ringo Lapua September 7, 2015, 10:08 am

    WHY would anyone in their right mind want to buy a 5 lb. 9mm for $1800++, when you can buy a short barreled 300 AAC blackout pistol weighing less for less than half that price? Find me a 9mm that can be truly silenced or if so desired can shoot a round at 2600 fps. Yes, the market is flooded with cool 9mm carbines which cost much less such as the new upgraded Keltec sub 2000 which weighs half the weight of the Zenith and is far easier to conceal. The Keltec also uses Glock 33 rd mags and can be suppressed. Personally, my favorite is my suppressed Glock 19 with 33 rd mags and a red dot built in. Much lighter, truly concealable and just as effective as the Zenith at 1/3 the price.

  • Reality Reviewer September 7, 2015, 10:06 am

    Obviously, the reviewer got more than a day on the range and a free lunch out this. Anyone buying the ZP-5 or any other MP-5 clone is not buying it because it is the best bang for your buck, they’re buying it for bragging rights; hey, look what I got. Face it, $1800 is a lot to spend for most of us. The reality is that there are a lot of 9mm pistols and carbines on the market with comparable accuracy for a lot less money, but if your driving motivation is to be the first (or only one) of your friends to have one, then by all means skip a mortgage payment (or two) and get one today.

    This is yet another impractical gun that appeals to the action hero wannabes; its as tacticool as they get. As Johnny B Goode put it so well earlier, for the money, it should outperform a $300 9mm carbine (Hi Point 995). Simple math done in my head tells me that For $1800 I can buy a couple of Hi Point carbines, a couple of Taurus PT-92 pistols and a boat load of ammo.

    Granted, for $1880 the ZP-5 should be the highest quality firearm, but one point really jumped out at me in the review; it only comes with a 5 year warranty. Why does such a purportedly top-of-the-line firearm only have a five year warranty? Even the “lowly” Hi Point carbine has a lifetime warranty and Taurus has an “Unlimited Lifetime Repair Policy™”.

    • Bad to the Bone September 7, 2015, 2:53 pm

      Jeez, purist gun nuts like you are so BORING. It’s called “fun”, and it’s why 99% of gun owners have guns.

    • Arizona September 7, 2015, 3:05 pm

      Hahahaha…That’s funny stuff right there…Then you would have 4 POS and some 9mm ammo…

    • joe dontcha know September 11, 2015, 1:30 pm

      Very well said, especially the action hero wannabe’s ! LoL!!!
      Laughed so hard I fell off my toilet seat while reading this. I am sure these wannabe’s will be lining up in front of my local strip mall beating the door down at TnrSptnGds!

    • Dan Fowler December 25, 2015, 7:04 pm

      A “lifetime” warranty is generally only 7 years. That varies from State to State. Fine print reading required.
      5 years is a pretty long time considering the application range of this weapon.
      Well made weapons with good steel just cost $$$$. It’s the “duty-cycle” you are buying
      with this guy. It will handle fullauto trigger groups and will probably handle fullauto firing.
      Further testing is required, as well as huge balls………………….but that’s where an MP-5 lives fullauto capacity.
      There is no more severe test than extended fullauto use on a firearm, add a suppressor and it better
      be some-kind-of well made. The barrel pressure and heating are incredible.
      Weak links in the chain show up quickly. Failures at fullauto usually involve barrel/chamber bursts
      and the destruction of someone’s left hand. This is a badboy and is priced as such. I want one.

  • Mike green September 7, 2015, 9:46 am

    I am replying to all of the above , “Hi Point “? Ok I would love to see the you tube video of you shooting the worst rifle ever made at a golf ball at 80 yds, and do it with a variety of ammunition w/o cleaning. Not going to happen , don’t respond … Post the video .. Your life obviously dosent depend on your equipment. “It’s just a 9mm” well you are indeed correct .. Jealousy looks bad on you though , I personally carried an HK MP5 SD for 4 years as an SOD operator and yes my life depended on it , you cannot ask for a quieter more reliable weapon for CQB under 100 yds , yes I also have an M4 and bolt gun both great for other applications . “I want a 5.7 version” well .. Yeah it’s soooo cool to have a 5.7 , it is a super fast bullet that may not save your life when needed , the largest advantage over this weapon isn’t that it runs dirty and shoots straight it is that ammunition is a plenty and can be had anywhere in the world .. Literally

    • Joe September 7, 2015, 2:00 pm

      Opinions and butt holes have two things in common
      everybody has one and they all stink to somebody else.

      • Mike Green September 8, 2015, 6:16 am

        This is true , buttholes and opinions do stink sometimes . Facts and evidence should win the day , but most of us Americans enjoy a bit of fiction and flash to facts … Just look at our president for the last two terms.

        • Joe September 8, 2015, 10:36 am

          I’d have to go back to Ike before I found a president worth his salt.

    • Johnny B Goode September 8, 2015, 1:51 pm

      In the owners manual it says don’t clean your new Hi Point for 1,500 rounds. To say the Hi Point carbine is the worst carbine in the world proves you have never fired a Hi Point or even watched the existing videos of the Hi Point. I am not making a video to please someone who acts like a 3 year old, closes his eyes and stomps his feet screaming it aint true.

    • Scott May 2, 2016, 12:16 am

      I have also spent a significant amount of time behind an mp5SD doing vbss and I assure you the mp5 in 9mm is an extremely effective CQB platform that takes a beating in shitty conditions and functions. No bull shit no exceptions it just works……. 30 plus years of SOF use in every close range application you can put it in speaks volumes. Tacticool? Maybe…….but running your cock holster slamming someone’s well written review smacks of tactical ass hole.

  • Michael Dugas September 7, 2015, 9:13 am

    It’s still just a another 9mm.

  • Johnny B Goode September 7, 2015, 8:36 am

    I will stick with my Hi Point. I never liked the MP5 and the Zenith is less impressive, I can see from the targets in the area the author never shot the Zenth on the rifle range, The Hi Point will consistently hit golf balls at 80 yards. For $1,800 the thing has to out perform a $300 carbine.

  • Steve K September 7, 2015, 7:15 am

    Why are ALL the 9mm pistols so fat and clunky looking? I’d like to see a slimmed down version.

    • praharin September 7, 2015, 9:04 am

      These are not 9mm pistols. These are submachine guns without stocks that shoot semi-auto only. If you want a slim pistol, get a pistol.

      • Buck September 7, 2015, 11:58 pm

        A submachine gun lacking a stock and only capable of semiauto fire – “fat and clunky pistol” sounds pretty accurate to me.

  • joe September 7, 2015, 6:53 am

    The only real question wasn’t answered: will it take a registered trigger pack?

  • Joe September 7, 2015, 3:43 am

    At 1800 bucks I find it a bit pricey for an under powered modular AR shorty variant.
    However i’d like to shoot one in say a 5.7 x 28 hi-bred format.

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