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The H&K MP5: A Part of History and Still Useful Today

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One of the most popular, well used and reliable sub machine guns around, the H&K MP5 has been around for generations.

The Heckler and Koch Machininenpistole 5 (Machine Pistol 5), or MP5, is one of the most widely used submachine guns in the world, seeing use by over 40 nations for militaries, by law enforcement and by security services.

It is one of the firearms most often seen in movies and recognized as one of the more reliable submachine guns around. It is still used today by many SWAT teams across the United States. It is so popular there are a number of military variants, a couple of civilian variants and even copies from other nations and manufacturers.


Developed from 1964-1966 in Germany around the 9MM Parabellum Cartridge, the MP5 was the fourth type of a set of rifles developed on the G3 Rifle platform. The G3 Auto Rifle platform saw such a huge success that H&K designed four new rifle platforms that fired the 7.62×51 NATO, the 7.62×39, the 5.56×45 NATO and the 9x19mm Parabellum respectively.

The first users to adopt the MP5 were the German Federal Police, border guard and army special forces. Today in the United States, it is used by the FBI Hostage Rescue Team, Special Forces Units, the Secret Service and various SWAT Teams around the country.


The original design of the MP5 is called the MP5A2. It is a roller-delayed blowback and fires from the closed bolt position (the bolt forward like today’s Modern Sporting Rifles). It is air-cooled, select fire and very lightweight. The barrel is a fixed free floating barrel that is pinned to the receiver. It is fed by a curved steel 15 round or 17 round magazine. The early version used a straight double stack box style magazine. There is also a 100 round beta-style drum magazine available for it.

Depending on the variant used, the rifle’s overall length ranges from 25 inches to 32 inches with a fixed stock and 13 inches to 32 inches with a telescoping stock. It can weigh from a little over four pounds to almost seven pounds. The barrel length can range from four inches to nine inches. It is equipped with iron sights, with the rear sight being adjustable.

MP5SD3 Model Wikimedia

While originally designed around the 9mm Parabellum cartridge, there were variants that will shoot the 10 MM auto (MP5/10) and the .40 S&w (MP5/40). Rate of fire ranges from 700 rds/min to 900 rds/min. However, these variants were short lived and had a few problems so H&K discontinued them.

There was even a .22LR conversion kit offered at one point that consisted of a barrel insert, bolt group and two 20 round magazines. The .22LR conversion limited the rifle to a 650 rds/min rate of fire. The idea was this would allow users to practice and not spend too much money on ammunition.

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Long lived, a part of history and still as reliable and useful today, the Heckler and Koch MP5 is a sub machine gun that will be used for generations to come.

Have you ever had a chance to shoot an MP5? Share that experience with us below.

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The H&K MP5: A Part of History and Still Useful Today