A True German-Made HK Semi-Auto Subgun? The Street-Legal 9mm SP5K – Full Review.

The SP5K from Heckler & Koch gives U.S. civilian HK enthusiasts a chance to own their own street-legal version of a true German submachine gun classic.

In 1956, Heckler & Koch GmbH (HK) designed the G3, a 7.62×51mm NATO battle rifle. After the success of the G3, HK began to develop other variants. In the 1960s the 9mm MP5 was started, and soon it was adopted by the German Federal Police, Border Guard and Army Special Forces.

In the 1970s, the MP5K (K from the German word for “short”: Kurz), a shortened version of the 9mm MP5A2, was introduced. The K gun had a cap with a sling loop where the stock was attached on the full-sized version. The bolt and receiver were shortened, along with the barrel and cocking handle. To help control the gun, a vertical foregrip replaced the standard handguard. The K gun was intended for CQB by special operations and personal protection missions.

In 1980, the MP5 was made famous in the hands of the SAS during a 17-minute raid when they stormed the Iranian Embassy in London, they rescued all but one of the remaining hostages, and killed five of the six hostage-takers. Operation Nimrod was so successful that the MP5 became the go-to gun for special operation and SWAT teams worldwide.

The SP89 (Sport Pistole M1989) was introduced as a semi-automatic version of the MP5K. To comply with the National Firearms Act, the vertical foregrip was removed, along with the pushpin lower receiver. The SP89 was sold until the early 1990s, when its importation was restricted.

With classic HK lines and a rock-solid roller locking operating mechanism, the SP5K is great gun for fans of the design.

At the 2016 NRA Annual Meeting and Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky, HK announced that they would be producing the SP5K. This would be a semi-auto pistol based on the famous MP5K submachine gun.

The SP5K packs in German-made quality into an attractive and appealing package. It is not cheap, though.

Anyone familiar with the G3 family of HK guns will be right at home with the SP5K.


  • Chambering: 9mm
  • Barrel: 4.53 inches
  • OA Length: 13.9 inches
  • Weight: 4.2 pounds
  • Grips: Integral, plastic
  • Sights: Ringed front post
  • Action: Semi-auto
  • Finish: Matte black
  • Capacity: 30+1
  • MSRP: $2,699


The SP5K arrived in a Pelican-style custom-fitted, lockable, carrying case. Inside the case was the SP5K, two 30-round magazines, a sight adjustment tool, a bungee cord sling, an instruction manual and a gun lock. This was much nicer packaging than the original carboard box with an expanded polystyrene insert that the SP89 was shipped in.

Upon inspection of the gun, I found the rock solid roller-delayed blowback operating system that is at the heart of all the descendants of the G3 rifle. This system offers accuracy and reliability that are still the envy of many guns today. The handguard has a new ergonomic design that provides much of the stability of the vertical foregrip on the MP5K without running afoul of the BATF. One accessory that was long overdue is the Picatinny rail scope mount, which comes attached to the upper receiver where the novel claw mount attaches. This new mount adds new versatility while maintaining a low profile for mounting optics. The entire gun is manufactured in Heckler & Koch’s Oberndorf factory in Germany, and it shows with the quality for which German manufacturers are famous. Most of the components are taken straight from the MP5K, including the cold-hammer forged barrel. The SP5K is backed by Heckler & Koch’s limited lifetime warranty.

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This gun is a diminutive personal defensive weapon or a bulky pistol depending on how you employ it.  However, it is not awkward or clumsy, but rather well-refined; it works well when held with two hands. The redesigned foregrip provides a very positive lock on the front of the pistol. The pistol grip allows for comfortable control of the selector and trigger.

The SP5K comes packed in a really nice hard case with accessories and two magazines.

On the Range

I was particularly eager to get this gun to the range. You see; I have owned many HK guns over the years. I currently own an MP5 sear gun with a three-lug barrel and a matching can. I have made several attempts to buy an SP89; I once offered $3,200.00 and was turned down flatly. My obsession to finally get a turn on the pistol was almost to the point of greed. Not in the sense that I wanted one at someone else not having one but more like gun lust.

The SP5K sports a charging handle along the top right side of the tube above the barrel. Note the HK-pattern sights.

The first thing I wanted to try out was the new Picatinny rail scope mount. I selected the Meprolight- MEPRO RDS red dot sight. This optic is rugged and offers a huge display window. I attached the bungie sling to the swivel on the rear plate. With the sling around my neck, and then under my arm, the gun was held mid-chest and was easy to bring up to the eye. This was not quite the same as having a buttstock but it was way better than just using two hands.

The author was really impressed with the Picatinny rail optic mount, upon which he mounted a Meprolight RDS.

In terms of accuracy, the gun over delivered in every case. I easily managed ½” groups at 25 yards, no matter what ammunition the gun was fed. I began to shoot some steel, and decided that a steel torso would be the bench mark. While shooting, the gun was held with the support hand on the forearm and the other on the pistol grip, utilizing the sling to add stability. I began at the 25-yard line and decided to walk back until I reached the limit of the gun. The only problem with this plan was that I ran out of range at 100 yards! I have no doubt that the red dot facilitated this performance, but the SP5K was quick on target, and felt more like a rifle than a pistol. My choice of ammunition was the white box Winchester 115 gr FMJ. I believe that almost any quality brand would perform similarly in the SP5K. The 30-round magazines ran flawlessly, without a single malfunction

I had others shoot the gun, and their experiences were quite similar. There were no malfunctions or accuracy complaints, and plenty of fun was had by each shooter. There was a reasonable learning curve required to hold the gun out and rely on the sling to stabilize it properly. Once that was out of the way, there were no issues. There was quickly that lightbulb moment I get this and it works for me then it was just a matter of keeping magazines going. One point that must be explained in the manual of arms is the bolt does not hold open after firing the last round.

The SP5K has an integral polymer pistol grip and standard paddle-style selector located above the trigger.

Conclusion for Fun

This is clearly a new gun for the American market. I will admit that I have some bias here, based on my history with HK guns and my long-standing desire to own this model.

I do fear that the SP5K may fall short in a few areas. First, modularity is limited to only the new Picatinny rail scope mount. There is no provision to mount lights and lasers, or an (aftermarket) arm brace. These factors will make comparisons to other 9mm pistols in this class problematic for the SP5K. Second, when the gun left the market in the 1990s, others began to offer American-made clones. Their quality was poor in the beginning, but while prices have dropped some their quality has increased. Heck, you can even make your own from kits, if you are so inclined.  Finally, with a retail price of $2,700.00, it is the most expensive offering in its class by a sizeable amount.

These shortcomings cannot be ignored, and will likely have an impact on this gun’s sales, but this is a boutique gun more than a mainstream offering. It will appeal to HK fans, and those (like me) who never got to own one the first time around. This is also a rock-solid, proven design that all others must aspire to emulate. This gun is still a bargain compared to an original SP89, and I think is a better option based on how it comes equipped. If you want the real thing, it is definitely for you.

For more information, visit http://hk-usa.com/hk-models/sp5k-2/.

To purchase an SP5K on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?Keyword=SP5K.

{ 42 comments… add one }
  • BeenThereDoneThat July 10, 2017, 10:05 am

    There is nothing tactical about the SP5K it is a defensive measure and or response. As for the price the brand carries the tag don’t like the tag buy another brand it’s that simple.
    Please be advised many professionals regard H&K as extremely dependable pistols and longs, thus don’t look at the tag.
    Professional contracted protection details worldwide and you bring your own.
    Just my opinion.

  • Norm Fishler June 13, 2017, 10:38 am

    Great for a gunfight in a phone booth or an elevator. No way around it, this pistol does fill a particular niche. I believe it’s called “mental masturbation.”

  • Stellerseaeagle June 12, 2017, 3:55 pm

    This will sell like hotcakes because there is no way they will depreciate in value. Sure, there a lots of alternatives at a much lower price but, in the end there is only one HK,

  • Barks rudis June 12, 2017, 12:56 pm

    Please explain how hot the fore hand guard (?) gets, as there is no vertical grip.

  • Lars June 12, 2017, 11:43 am

    I bought an SP-89 right after I got to Bragg in 1990. Paid a $1279 for it. It was right after one of those mass shootings, and I figured I’d get one while I could. I really had no reason to get it other than it looked cool and I had the cash to spare. Took it to the shooting house a couple of times, and everyone loved the way it shot. There’s very little recoil due to the rolling bolt assembly, and it was deadly accurate. And that was without a sling. No malfunctions ever. Sure, there are better options in terms of practicality and cost out there. No different than anything else. A 35 mpg subcompact will perform the same basic function as a Porsche, but if you have the money and want one, get the Porsche. A Remington 870 will work just fine, but if you like Benelli and can afford one, get it. So if you have a thing for HK and feel like you missed the train the first go-round, and you have the money to spare, why not?

  • Cyrus June 12, 2017, 11:40 am

    I love HK products but wouldn’t buy this even if I had Fuck You Money

  • Charlie June 12, 2017, 10:49 am

    Appears very awkward to hold and aim. Don’t see any practical use for this type of fire arm. There are many nice handguns that would be better fitted to most sportsman as well as others. Also the cost factor appears way out of line.

  • Capacitygear June 12, 2017, 10:27 am

    This boat anchor built so it cannot be a sear host! Few if any parts fit SP89/MP5…
    So many better weapons for $, and as it sits its 2/3 price of a full auto Ingram (spelled wrong?) gun… this place gotta start reviewing weapons that MAKE SENSE to average guys!!

    • Darren P. June 12, 2017, 11:45 am

      YES!! Thank you! Listen to your readers please.

      • Oaf June 12, 2017, 5:35 pm

        Who died and left you the decider of what articles we like to see here? What’s the harm in reading about new and different firearm? While I myself would never cough up the cash they want for this gun, I find it a interesting and fun read. Keep up the good work GA!

        • Capacitygear June 14, 2017, 12:10 pm

          Uh, well, I guess there’s a reason you’re called Oaf… lol.
          But we’re all on the same team pro-gun my point is that a non-sear host semi automatic MP5 is totally worthless tactically, has little value to the average shooter. For my time I ‘d rather read about the new Korth stuff or domestic made Sig- 210…

    • JCitizen June 13, 2017, 2:17 pm

      I’m glad that reviewed it, but I will probably never own an HK because they are just too damn heavy. I’ve had better with the NFA version of the SM-11-9. For a street legal semi-auto I’d rather have a mini-Uzi. Nice and simple, and much lighter, and maybe some day if they repeal the ’86 law, I could get it refitted for full auto. I can always dream!

    • Dave Hicks June 14, 2017, 9:06 am

      Capacitygear You spelled Ingram correct. AKA MAC 10 .You’re right way to pricey , buy alot of firearms with that kind of money.

    • Porky August 9, 2017, 11:36 pm

      What about SBR a Ps90 with the 50 rd mag in the 5.7. Just a thought. About the same money time you do the paperwork on a Short Barrel Rifle(for those that don’t know what SBR means.

  • Rotti June 12, 2017, 10:01 am

    Some things that make sense in select fire or full auto do not make sense in semi auto. Both the HK MP5K and the Original UZI are GREAT machine guns. They are also very poor semi auto handguns. I also think with the baby boomer generation dying off, the days of buying for appreciation are done.

  • Flep Vandergaard June 12, 2017, 9:58 am

    Ich verstehe. As a former resident of the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, this was VERBOTEN. Big Mamie did not approve, “Nein! Was ist los mit Dir?” What is wrong with me, indeed… LGS prices are $3-500 less, I AM BUYING ONE. I am of that age, and availed of enough overtime, that I WILL NOT COMPROMISE. I have wanted one of these going on 35 years. It will be fitted with the Franklin Armory BFS 3 for HKs, and I will have a can on it. And when I have giggle after giggle with it, you can tell me “We hate you and you suck!”. I don’t care. Machs nicht! Verstates Du das?

    • JCitizen June 13, 2017, 2:20 pm

      LOL! Plus one for the German words, making it snood like the government acts like a Naxi – which the always want to do!

  • larry Abrams June 12, 2017, 8:52 am

    Why???? would anyone want one????

    • Rob June 12, 2017, 2:50 pm

      If you have the cash, and like it, why NOT?

    • loupgarous June 12, 2017, 8:24 pm

      It fills the slot of “personal defensive weapon”, an over-engineered pistol with a large mag that I, personally, would buy to keep on a boat or a personally-owned aircraft. With the low recoil and good accuracy, crew on a distressed boat or downed aircraft could use it, swing it on target better than, say, the Air Force over/under survival rifle/.410 shotgun or the Armalite AR-7. And while the semi-auto action makes this a poor choice for a PDW in a battlefield vehicle, it’s a reasonable choice for under the driver’s seat in a car or truck.

      • Bill June 13, 2017, 7:58 am

        HKs are fine weapons. Also you buy whatever you want. But here is the “but”, $2700 will buy you 2 count’em 2 quality handguns and 2 count’em 2 quality shotguns for the same price as that one count’em one HK SP5K you want to stick in your boat or plane. That to me makes little sense economically and if that one count’em one weapon gets stolen or dropped overboard or confiscated by some local official who just doesn’t think it is “legal” who can take that kind of hit to the wallet? If you need the gun I really wouldn’t plan on a HK SP5K scaring off the intruder or attacker because of its “cool” look. As another person said: “$2700 plinker, no thanks.”

  • dan June 12, 2017, 8:46 am

    Sear host ?

  • flintman50 June 12, 2017, 8:35 am

    $2700 ‘plinker’…..not thanks

  • Jim June 12, 2017, 8:24 am

    A bit tooooooooo much for a firearm that is semi automatic.

  • Mojave dave June 12, 2017, 8:12 am

    “No arm brace available” ?…..The guys at SB Tactical probably want to slap you right now

  • Dan Forbey June 12, 2017, 7:26 am

    I’m glad to see HK at least making an overture toward the US market again, but the day if the MP5 being the be-all end-all of cool has passed. This is a gun for wannabes who can’t have the real thing, and so disappointingly unlike the real thing that it’s pointless. A much better option is the CZ Scorpion for a third the price, if you just have to have a 9mm pistol the size of Kansas. Bah.

    • Al June 12, 2017, 10:40 am

      That has always been my biggest issue with HK, (and yes I own a few) in that the ‘powers that be’ at HK have always had a kind of socialist bent towards the American market, catering to the Govt., but pretty much thumbing their noses at the American gun owning market, when it comes to their shoulder arms.
      And I draw that conclusion from several conversations I’ve had with their reps from when I was in the business.

      • loupgarous June 12, 2017, 8:34 pm

        For H&K, the motive probably isn’t socialism, but a hard look at the probable return on their investment in getting into the heavily-regulated, litigious US civilian market. And looking at the fates of Smith and Wesson and Colt, it’s hard to blame them. H&K have had a full order book from various national militaries (including the US armed forces) and police forces (including various Federal, state and local agencies in the US). Why take the risk of losing a lawsuit in a nation with an activist judiciary and at least one major political party dedicated to the eventual goal of outlawing your product in private hands?

  • Veritas June 12, 2017, 6:32 am

    \”A true German-made HK semi-auto subgun (submachine gun)\”. Is that like a four-wheel drive motorcycle?

    • Dan Forbey June 12, 2017, 8:56 am

      At least four-wheelers have a practical purpose. This is more like a Harley unicycle.

  • Dean June 12, 2017, 6:24 am

    Price is entirely TOO high….those days are over. I guess I ll keep going on with a clone……..IM not collecting anymore that’s a waste.

  • Gary June 12, 2017, 4:43 am

    If one wants an oversized handgun, an AK or AR pattern pistol provides far more power and less cash, for a modest increase in bulk. In my estimation, H&K overpriced it by at least $1,000 and in an era where the firearms market has slowed significantly, the demand will be less than they expect – even to those able to get it at wholesaler pricing.

    • Rouge1 June 12, 2017, 9:46 am

      I built 2 mp5s what a waist of time and money. I could of built 3 ar 15s for the price of 1 mp5.

  • Bill June 9, 2017, 10:34 am

    Bought a new SP89 in 1990 for $1200 and sold it in 2008 for $2700. Cool looking gun with it on a strap that hung perfectly under my armpit. Had fun with it but lets be real, its just a veeery heeeavy 9mm handgun. Not the gun one uses to carry everyday and I would rather have my 34oz Glock 30 with an extra 2 magazines on my hip than a 2.2 kilo 9mm anchor around my shoulder. If you got to have it make room in your gun safe because that is where it is going to spend most of its life.

    • Ryan June 12, 2017, 9:23 am

      I had several sp89 that I bought for $400 each and later sold for $800 ea h when they rea he’d their peak. The the ban hit and they skyrocketed. These are crazy prices for a stamped steel overweight pistol. Buy ATIs 22 version and youha e just as much fun for $350.

      • Rouge1 June 12, 2017, 9:49 am

        Looks like these are polymer lowers.

      • loupgarous June 12, 2017, 8:39 pm

        Honestly, if I won the lotto tomorrow, the great big prize where your take-home is still many millions, I would pass this by and get the paperwork and other legal stuff done to own a surviving H&K VP70z, a much funner gun (once you slid the issue stock into the pistol, making it a full-auto weapon). It’d cost much more, but oh, what bragging rights!

        • loupgarous June 12, 2017, 8:44 pm

          Whoops – wetware failed again. The original VP70 was the one with the fun three-round burst mode once you fitted the stock. The VP70z (for “zivilian” or “civilian”) was semi-auto only. But it was a nice, hefty piece which shot well (that octagonally-rifled barrel). Doubt Big Maman would let a mere civilian own the original, these days.

    • JCitizen June 13, 2017, 2:27 pm

      That’s my problem too – too damn heavy to be practical no matter what! I rather have an AR 9mm pistol.

  • Cam June 9, 2017, 8:41 am

    Make one in traditional mp-5 and not sp-89 style and I would buy it in a heart beat to sbr it but I never liked the 89.
    And to buy it and have someone like ghilebear or breatheran convert to a mp5 configuration does not seem like the way to go for me.

    • Boca Jim June 12, 2017, 10:32 am

      Be careful! Back when H&K was selling this pistol as the SP89, circa 1990 or so, the ATF issued a ruling that fitment of the front vertical grip from the MP5K subgun created a National Firearms Act weapon and a long term in Federal prison for the unweary.

      • JCitizen June 13, 2017, 2:30 pm

        Oh well – just file your paperwork for an SBR plus front fore-grip with the appropriate form, and pay your tax and be done with it. (NOT ME!!)

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