8 Major HK MP5 Variants — A History

The HK MP5 needs little introduction to those who keep up with military and law enforcement weapons systems. Introduced in 1965, long before many people had even heard of Heckler & Koch, the German Polizei first adopted it.

The MP5 operates on the delayed roller block system, the same system that the German G-3 rifle operates on. H&K says that there are over 120 variants of the HK MP5 available. Various stocks, barrel lengths, forearms, and trigger groups allow semi-auto, 2-round bursts, 3-round bursts, and full-auto. The modularity involved guarantees and enables all of these various configurations.

SAS operators storm the Iranian Embassy, Londong, 1980.
During the Iranian Embassy hostage siege in London in 1980, the MP-5 was front and center with the British SAS.

In 1980, the HK MP5 made a splash on the world stage when the British SAS stormed the Iranian Embassy in London to rescue hostages from terrorists. Until this time, most of the world hadn’t seen the MP-5. Then suddenly, it was being wielded by black-clad, hooded figures who exhibited a wild amount of skill in storming a burning building and rescuing hostages.

At one time, the MP-5 series was used by almost every major military and special police unit worldwide. Today, let’s take a look at eight MP-5 variants.

The 8 Major HK MP5 Variants

1. HK MP-5

The original HK MP5 weighs around 5.5 pounds, and the fixed stock version is 27 inches. On telescoping stock models, the retracted length is around 21.5 inches.

All MP-5s are fed by either a 15 or 30-round box magazine. The rate of fire is 800 rounds per minute.

SWAT Operator with HK MP 5.
The MP-5 was a staple of SWAT teams worldwide for the longest time. (Photo: H&K)

2. MP-5A2

The MP-5A2 is 26.77 inches long with a barrel length of 8.86 inches. It weighs 6.01 pounds. The listed rate of fire is the standard 800 rounds per minute. H&K shows this model as having a fixed stock, so we are to assume that this is the original configuration for this SMG.

HK MP-5A2
The MP-5A2 featured a fixed buttstock. (Photo: H&K)

3. MP-5A3

This model, the A3, features a telescoping stock. The length of the MP-5A3 with stock retracted is 21.69 inches. The weight is 6.45 pounds, which is slightly heavier than the fixed stock A2 version. All the other specifications are basically the same as earlier models, including the rate of fire.

HK MP-5A3
On the MP-5A3 model, we see the telescoping buttstock that we all know and love! (Photo: H&K)
Navy SEAL with MP-5A3
A Navy SEAL emerges from the water with an MP5A3 at the ready. (Photo: H&K)

4. MP5K-PDW

The MP5K-PDW is a seriously compact Personal Defense Weapon that delivers actual performance. How compact? 14.53 inches long. It can be concealed easily with a barrel length of 5.51 inches and a weight of 6.49 pounds. For this reason, it has been a favorite of protection teams in guarding dignitaries, and the Secret Service has also used it for their work.

HK MP5 K-PDW
The MP5K-PDW features a side folding stock and shorter barrel, making it very compact yet practical. (Photo: H&K)

The rate of fire for the PDW is listed as 900 rounds per minute, which is faster than the standard HK MP-5’s rate of 800 rounds per minute.

Rather than a telescoping stock, this particular unit folds to the side and is comfortable when forming a cheek weld. It also features a front, vertical hand grip, contributing significantly to control.

Navy SEAL with MP5K-PDW.
A Navy SEAL employs the MP5K-PDW. (Photo: H&K)

5. MP-5K

The MP-5K is the smallest version of the HK MP5, weighing 4.4 pounds and less than 13 inches long. A big bang from a tiny package. Mounted to a short receiver is a 4.52-inch barrel. The “K” is derived from the German word, Kurz, which means Short. And short it is!

MP5K
The shortest of the short! MP5K. (Photo: H&K)

They come standard with a butt cap but can be fitted with the same side folding stock as the PDW, making this an even more versatile SMG. The rate of fire is 900 rounds per minute.

K-9 Cop with MP5K
Here we see the MP5K being used by law enforcement. (Photo: H&K)

The MP-5K can be set up to fire from inside a special briefcase. It is also a favorite with Protection Teams.

MP5K in briefcase.
In the event you want to spice up business meetings, H&K can help you do that. For example, the MP5K can be configured to fire from a briefcase. H&K Photo.

6. MP-5SD

This particular configuration of the HK MP5 has an integral suppressor. Additionally, Heckler & Koch‘s website lists eight trigger group configurations available for this submachine gun. They range from safe and semi-automatic; some have various burst mechanisms (two and three-round bursts), bursts, and full auto combinations.

MP-5SD
An integral suppressor makes this MP5SD quiet, especially with subsonic ammunition. (Photo: H&K)

When used with subsonic ammunition, this weapon is amazingly quiet. The applications for military and police special units are apparent.

Firing from a closed bolt, it is one of the most accurate submachine guns in the world, with an overall length of 31.77 inches. The barrel length is 5.75 inches. Weight is 7.48 pounds. The rate of fire is 800 rounds per minute.

HK MP5 gone quiet: SWAT with MP5SD
The integrally suppressed HK MP5 (the MP5SD) has long been a favorite among law enforcement and military units. (Photo: H&K)

7. SP5K-PDW

This is the civilian version of the MP-5K in semi-auto. Retail, at the time of this writing, for these is $3,279, which, in my opinion, does not represent a bargain. But man, the cool factor on this one is white hot!

SP5K civilian version.
The civilian legal version! Yes, you can own the SP5K – for a price. (Photo: H&K)

The specs on this one are very close to the MP-5K, except it will not fire fully automatic. It is configured as a pistol and so can be purchased by civilians.

8. SP5

Basically, this one is an MP-5 without any buttstock attached. In short, it’s a pistol. H&K included the Navy barrel and threaded tri-lug adapter. The price on this one from H&K, at the time of writing, is $3,279.

HK5 SP5 civilian version
It’s just like the MP-5, sans buttstock. You can own this pistol. (Photo: H&K)

The total length of the SP5 is 17.8 inches, the barrel length is 8.86 inches, and the weight is 5.1 pounds. That’s a pretty substantial pistol! Note that buttstocks can be purchased for this should the buyer intend on filling out all the proper Federal Class III paperwork and jumping through the requisite hoops to turn it into a Short Barreled Rifle.

It’s pretty much a stockless, semi-auto MP-5, which is pretty damn cool. But, of course, you have to have the big bucks to play with the big boy toys. Like all the other H&Ks, this one accepts the standard MP-5 magazines.

In Conclusion on the HK MP5

Now you have an overview of the H&K MP-5 variants, including a few you can own!

It’s hard to believe it’s been around since the mid-1960s. Sadly, the Submachine Gun (SMG) has largely been overshadowed by the carbine/assault rifle due to the carbine’s more effective rifle rounds. Then, the SMG was a specialized, close-range weapon. Now the rifle/carbine rounds can fill that bill and reach out farther and penetrate body armor that the SMG cannot.

Despite that, I believe we’ll be seeing the iconic image of the H&K masterpiece for quite some time.

Jim Davis served in the PA Dept. of Corrections for 16 ½ years as a corrections officer in the State Correctional Institute at Graterford and later at SCI Phoenix. He served on the Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), several of those years as a sniper, and also the Fire Emergency Response Team (FERT). For 25 years, he was a professional instructor, teaching topics including Defensive Tactics, Riot Control and Tactical Operations, Immediate Responder, and cognitive programs as an adjunct instructor at the DOC Training Academy. He was then promoted to the title of corrections counselor, where he ran a caseload and facilitated cognitive therapy classes to inmates. His total service time was close to 29 years. He was involved in many violent encounters on duty, including incidents of fatalities.

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