GUN TESTS GRADE: C
About the original: The HK MP5 is an iconic firearm developed in the 1960s as a 9mm submachine gun and is one of the most successful designs in history, with more than 100 variants fielded by military and police forces from more than 40 countries worldwide. It has also starred in countless movies, TV shows, and video games. (Something seen in every movie is someone slapping down the non-reciprocating bolt handle to charge the firearm.) Manufactured under license in eight different countries, the MP5 has been around for over 50 years and is still in production today. The A5 variant has a retractable stock and a four-position trigger group that includes safe, semi auto, 3-round burst, and full-auto options. A compact firearm, the MP5A5 is less than 22 inches long with the stock collapsed and less than 7 pounds in weight. With a 9-inch barrel, the MP5 fires from the closed-bolt position using H&K’s unique roller-delayed blowback action, similar to the G3 automatic rifle fielded by the German Bundeswehr from 1959 to 1997. In a very simplistic description of a roller-delayed blowback action, friction created by rollers on either side of a wedge cause a slight delay in unlocking the bolt, allowing gas pressures to drop to safe levels before extracting the cartridge case. This mechanism allows for a lighter bolt and recoil spring for the same cartridge power, which yields a lighter firearm that is easier to rack. These are desirable traits in a compact submachine gun. Another feature that is unique to H&K firearms is the rotary drum rear sight. The drum has a notch and three apertures. The notch is for close range and low light usage. The three apertures are for 200-, 300-, and 400-meter ranges. This sturdy and flexible system is very easy and intuitive to use. The front sight is a front post well protected in a hooded ring. The MP5 is usually fed from a 30- or 40-round straight box magazine released by an ambidextrous paddle in front of the trigger guard. Overall, the user-friendly H&K MP5 is a solid, reliable and compact weapon that has withstood the test of time.
Our test rifle is the first official Heckler & Koch MP5 chambered in 22 LR, this one is a replica manufactured by Carl Walther. Imported by Umarex, the Walther-made MP5 A5 has H&K markings, and most of the testers thought it was very close in appearance to the military version. While not being manufactured at this time, it is still very popular and available on the used market for between $600 and $900. This is very expensive for a 22, but it’s still a fraction of the cost for a 9mm SMG that can cost more than $30,000! Our example was a loaner that showed almost no wear.
It was built in Germany with a match-grade precision barrel, metal receiver, MP5 standard forearm, and retractable stock. It also has a Navy pistol grip as well as HK-style sights and an imitation three-lug flash suppressor to maintain authenticity. The compensator was attached so that the 16.1-inch barrel extends the full length of the gun and compensator. The magazine is made of high-strength polymer and is designed with grips for the spring on both sides, making it simple to load. There are 25- and 10-round versions of the magazine available. Both are proportionate in size to the centerfire version’s magazine to maintain the authentic look of the 9mm MP5’s magazine.
While the weight of the rimfire Walther was the same as the 9mm, the 22 LR is 4 inches longer to accommodate the 16-inch barrel required to meet Federal regulations. It is a straight blowback action, as opposed to the roller-delayed version, and includes a fake suppressor that screws on and off. A real suppressor could potentially be screwed on with an adapter, but the 16-inch barrel is pencil thin and might not support the weight without affecting accuracy. The fake suppressor does a very nice job of protecting the muzzle from damage.
The Walther’s triangular handguard, lower receiver, pistol grip, and butt plate are a high-quality polymer, with the remainder being metal. Finish on the firearm was very even and has held up well to usage. The finish on the fake suppressor showed more wear. The cocking handle was checkered on both sides and functioned just like the 9mm SMG. The sights are metal and very similar to the standard setup, with the exception that the rear drum sight did not have the V-slot and the apertures only changed sizes and not elevation. The ambidextrous safety is plastic and had two positions. These positions were marked Safe (in white) and Fire (in red) and use the standard H&K pictographs. The magazine release has both a button on the right side and an ambidextrous paddle in front of the oversized trigger guard.
The two-stage trigger averaged a little over 6 pounds with a lot of light take-up, a spongy release, and moderate overtravel. The one control that gave the testers trouble was the latch for the collapsible stock. When locked, the extended stock was surprisingly stable and provided a good cheek weld. However, the latch frequently slipped to the unlocked position, causing the stock to collapse. As a result, the testers felt like they could not trust the gun to stay locked. Finally, one of the testers found that the latch would stay locked by holding the stock very tight to the shoulder. The Walther is not forgiving of sloppy technique nor stable when bringing the gun up to a firing position. This frustrated all the shooters and figured into the final score.
The testers looked forward to testing the H&K/Walther MP5. Many of the younger testers were particularly excited about a gun that figures so prominently in film and video games. The Walther also got its share of looks on the firing line. The 25-round magazine was long enough that firing from the bench was a little awkward. When firing off hand, the testers found the gun compact but a little front heavy. Surprisingly, petite shooters did not find this gun very comfortable. When stable, the Walther regularly hit the steel gong at 50 yards. However, all shooters expressed frustration with the stock unlocking. The controls worked well and the rifle was easy to use in the cold with gloves. The video gamers in the group thought the MP5 was a lot of fun to shoot.
In formal accuracy testing, the Walther performed very well with the Federal 40-grain roundnose ammunition, averaging 1.0-inch groups. This rifle performed adequately with the Winchester 36-grain hollowpoint load, averaging 1.2 inch groups. The MP5 was the worst rifle in the test with the Aguila 40-grain roundnose, averaging 1.4 inches groups. For all ammo brands, we noticed that many of the groups had a cluster with a flyer that substantially opened up the groups. We suspect that the gun could have shot very well, but the loose stock may have contributed to that pattern. On the plus side, the MP5 experienced no functional failures of any kind during testing. This is unusually reliable performance for a semi-auto rimfire.
Our Team Said: Our testers appreciated the historical accuracy of the Walther HK MP5 A5 replica. They would like to see it produced it again to help bring prices down. The rifle was popular with the younger video gamers in the group. We found it to be compact, easy to use, reliable and potentially very accurate. The testers really wanted to rate the gun very highly. However, the collapsible stock lived up to its description and proved to be the Achilles heel of the firearm.
Written and photographed by David Tannahill, using evaluations from Gun Teststeam testers.