“Ho, ho, ho, now I have a machine gun,”
Immortal words from American Hero John “yippee ki yay” McClane.
What exact machine gun was he talking about?
The immortal MP5 of course.
The MP5 is the luxury SMG of SMGs and has filled the arms rooms of elite police and military units for decades. The MP5 came to be in 1966 and only now are they being replaced in most military and police forces.
This popularity of the MP5 has certainly been aided by being heavily featured in movies, television, and video games.
But the reason the MP5 found its way into so many productions is that it was so famous with so many police and military forces.
The Iranian Embassy siege where SAS members armed with MP5s is one of the most famous uses of the gun. Why was the MP5 so popular with these forces? That’s the key to the gun’s overall popularity.
A look at the day and age tells you why. Short rifles like the MK 18 weren’t a thing, and the SMGs at the time were interesting. They were mostly open bolt guns like the Uzi, the Carl Gustav M45, the M3 Grease gun, and similar guns. They were a bit unwieldy, bulky, or made from a tube with some springs.
The MP5 at the time was more than modern. It was a closed bolt weapon that was more reliable than most. It used polymer to save weight, and feature proper sights versus the crude open or peep sights of older guns. Ergonomically it was far superior to the competition.
And so, the MP5 took the world by storm and continues to be a very popular choice.
Is it sacrilegious to say the MP5 is an outdated gun? Do people defend this gun with the same vigor as 1911? The gun is far from perfect, and if you’ve ever only seen them in movies, you may not know they aren’t perfect.
What’s exactly wrong with the gun? Well based on my personal experience…
- The trigger pull is long.
- The gun lacks a last round bolt hold open.
- To reload you have to lock the bolt back or download magazines because a full mag does not want to enter the gun on a closed bolt.
- Every stock but the full stock kinda sucks.
- The MPX, MP7, and CZ Scorpion are better examples of what an SMG should be in 2019.
That being said the MP5 is insanely popular with the civilian market. Not only because of its military and police use, its fame in movies, but likely the fact that until recently you really couldn’t get one.
It seemed like overnight the market has been hit with a number of MP5 clones.
Your chances to get this Teutonic 9mm blaster have never been better. Today we are going to look at some of the better clones of the MP5 and who makes them, and why they stand out.
Best MP5 Clones
In the family of MP5s, the GSG was one of the first clones I ever became aware of. It should be said this was only a clone in looks as it is a .22 LR rifle that does not use a roller delayed system. It’s also super cheap and very common.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
After years of the GSG dominating the rimfire tacticool market, HK decided to license a clone to Walther/Umarex… at a significant markup. I’d love to suggest that one but it seems to have been discontinued.
The GSG 522 though is still easy to find and stupidly affordable. I owned one for years and found it to be a fun and reliable plinker. It mimicked most of the MP5ness, including the controls, the diopter sights, and you can do the famous HK slap.
There are pistol and rifle versions, but the rifle is much more popular than the pistol. The rifles feature faux suppressors to cover the 16-inch barrel that looks a little weird on an MP5. There are multiple configurations that include fixed stocks, folding stocks, collapsing stocks, and the famed SD model.
The GSG 522 is a massively fun gun. It’s perfect for kids, new shooters, and since 22 LR is finally easy to find an affordable means, it’s easy to plink with. As far as cool guns go the GSG 522 is a very fun and cool gun.
I’ve only ever regretted selling a gun or two, but my old school GSG 522 was one I regret selling. It was a massively fun gun, and now that my son is hitting the age to start shooting I might be picking up another GSG to get him trained on.
It is also ultra reliable. It functions with even generic and cheap 22 LR ammo, and there is no need to buy the pricey CCI stuff to get this gun to run.
What other Mp5 clones can I go out and hunt squirrels with? What other models can I shoot all day long for what’s basically pennies per minute? This is easily the most affordable all-around MP5 clone.
Sure, a 10/22 is good – but it’s no MP5.
The GSG series has also created a somewhat small, but potent aftermarket that features a drum magazine, stocks, and other accessories you can upgrade your GSG with.
I blame Zenith for the great MP5 revival. This Turkish company came out of nowhere and started selling Turkish made MP5s for a great price compared to trying to find original HK 94s. The Zenith MP5s are made on original German HK tooling and come in a variety of configurations.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
This includes pistols, AOWs, and rifles. Well one rifle, and it looks a little goofy, but it is a rifle and not a pistol or AOW. The pistol variants are the most expansive. This includes mimics of the original MP5 and the MP5K.
Zenith includes several models with SB tactical braces installed. My personal favorite is the newest classic model that lacks all the fancy rails and M-Lok handguards for a more simplistic design that harkens back to the classic MP5 we all fell in love with.
No wait, I want to change my personal favorite to the MP5K AOW. Way back when there was this little game called SOCOM 2. The little stockless MP5K was the coolest gun 13-year-old me had ever seen. Since then I loved the super compact MP5K.
As far as I know, Zenith is the only company that produces the AOW model of the MP5K. This is the proper K model.
On top of that, they do make guns with proper claw scope mounts in both standard and neutered K models. They also make the ultra-modern models with M-LOK handguards for those looking for something more modular.
Zenith guns come with cold hammer forged barrels, ½ x 28 RH threaded barrels, three magazines as well as a Covert Carry bag that looks identical from the Elite Survival Systems bags.
I understand that guns coming from Turkey, or in all fairness any place that’s not America or Europe, is viewed as potentially poorly made. With the Zenith guns, nothing could be further from the truth. These are great guns, well-made guns, that look and perform extremely well.
I have one minor, completely stupid, and very annoying complaint. The pistol grip has finger grooves. Yeah, I know some MP5s have those, but the straight grip is vastly superior. Albeit that may just be my opinion.
The Zenith guns certainly won’t let you down, and they’ve teamed up with SB Tactical to give you out of the box models ready for the range. Zenith MP5 clones are faithful to the MP5 design, and they’ve also stepped it up to modernize the MP5 experience.
PTR made their bones with their G3 clones in just about every flavor you could imagine. They are well experienced with the roller delayed design. They didn’t just dive into the MP5 design blindfolded. They knew what they were doing from the start.
PTR is an American based firm and the MP5 clones they are producing are very modern overall. Best of all they are quite affordable. In fact, these are the most affordable MP5s on the market overall. They produce only a few models, but they are quality guns.
PTR even submitted their MP5 clone to the US Army’s new SMG program. Imagine the balls it takes to submit your take on HK’s most famous design to a US Army contest.
This shows that PTR backs their product.
Their models include a full sized rifle that is just waiting for you to chop the barrel and SBR the damn thing. There are also two standard pistol models with different muzzle devices and a neutered K model as well. By neutered I mean the K model lacks the forward grip. The K model is also a correct compact model.
The PTR models all come with M-LOK handguards for modular attachment of accessories of all kinds. Of course, they are completely compatible with SB Tactical braces. They also have welded on scope rails for optics of your choice.
The guns come with both the paddle and push-button magazine release as well a hard case with custom cut foam. It does give it a very slick operator as F&*^ look to the whole package. The PTR guns come with multiple end cap options. This includes a sling point, as well as a brace, or even a backplate to accommodate MPX stocks.
PTR guns are ready for full auto sears if you just so happen to have one. If you do, hit me up, we can hang out. If you don’t, there is always room to dream and flirt in the comments section.
I mentioned the low price or at least a relatively low price. You can find PTR guns for about 1,600 bucks, which puts them in the lower range for MP5 guns. 1,600 bucks is an affordable price for these guns, just consider that for a moment.
You don’t suck, and HK doesn’t hate you, they are just in a tough spot. How tough? Well, German laws are notoriously fickle with exporting weapons, and importing the cool stuff is a hassle. HK has also been burned numerous times by American law changes ending with warehouses full of guns just sitting.
However, even HK’s famed stoicism couldn’t ignore the MP5 demand. They finally produced one, the new SP5K. The SP5K is a neutered MP5K… kind of. They made some interesting choices that a lot of the Mp5 fanbase disagreed with.
First, they just included the push button magazine release. There is no paddle release, the gun cannot accept a full auto pack, and it has a super goofy forend. The barrel isn’t even threaded. Plus the MSRP of 2,700 dollars is a tough sell.
That being said this is the way to get a proper HK MP5. As an HK MP5, it is a ridiculously well-made gun. The German engineers at HK aren’t messing around. They take their reputations and their finely made arms very seriously.
The SP5K can be upgraded with an SB Tactical brace, and the scope mount allows for your favorite red dot or low powered optic to have a home. The SP5K is an interesting little gun, and it is a roller delayed gun done right. However, I think HK should go back to the drawing board.
Just a bit anyway. They need to bring back several models of the gun, especially with the price point they are asking for.
Also, make more than 10 of them a year. It seems like they are consistently sold out and their demand isn’t meeting production levels.
This all being said I still thoroughly enjoyed shooting the SP5K during our short period together. The goofy forend is functional, and your hand is well protected from slipping in front of the barrel.
Recoil is nearly nothing and hosing a target with 30 rounds of 9mm is a blast.
Of course, this was one of the few time I got to do a real HK slap on a real HK gun, so I did it enough to annoy even myself.
Functionally the gun is a champ, and there are no complaints regarding reliability or even accuracy.
Using the most open sight and a one point sling I had no issues consistently landing chest shots on a target. It is well balanced as a braceless pistol, more so that full-size non-braced MP5s.
It’s certainly a gun you enjoy more in your hands than looking at it on a website.
What’s your take on the SP5K?
Dakota Tactical is a small operation but if you are an MP5 fan you’ve heard of them.
They make the highest end MP5 guns on the market. They painstakingly go every each and every firearm to ensure an accurate and high-quality rendition of the famed SMG.
These guys really love these guns. They’re the type who doesn’t just have Die Hard memorized line for line, but they’ve probably met the SAS guys who stormed the Iranian embassy.
If you offered me an authentic HK MP5 or a Dakota Tactical and asked me to choose, I’d go with Dakota Tactical.
If budget is a concern, you can likely skip this portion of the article.
Dakota Tactical MP5 clones are not cheap, with the more affordable pistol model selling for 2700 bucks.
Like Nighthawk 1911s the guys at Dakota Tactical know these guns inside and out.
That knowledge gives them the ability to craft some awesome guns. They produce a core series of MP5 handguns and rifles and are now producing a classic line of MP5s.
These are hand built guns and mass produced should never be mentioned when it comes to DT. Their team is all experienced with the MP5 platform, and QC is rigorous. This is a truly made in USA MP5.
In fact, their pistols are still in the pre-order phase. They are mostly known for their modern and high-quality SBR models. Along the way, they’ve produced small batches of MP5s in 40 S&W and even 10mm.
Historically, organizations like the FBI and DEA experimented with 10mm and 40 S&W MP5s. As far as I know Dakota tactical is the only company that has successfully reproduced these guns.
Additionally, they make compact and reverse stretch frames for the pickiest of consumers.
The downside is that as a small operation you may end up waiting for your gun if you order straight from DT. Ordering direct will likely save you a good deal of money though.
If you want a factory SBR, I would personally go with DT. If you want the best of the best, I’d go with DT.
The MP5 Market
Oddly enough of the old school factories, POF, hasn’t seemed to be importing MP5s in some time. I left them off the books simply because their guns haven’t been at retailers since Dec 2017 apparently.
However, the market is growing. Palmetto State Armory has been developing their own MP5 clone for a couple of years now, and people are speculating that this might be the ultra-affordable model we’ve all always wanted. However, that is pure speculation.
The good news is as the MP5 market grows costs will be cut. Companies like ETS are producing affordable polymer magazines, and companies are developing HK stocks, forends and more for the gun.
The MP5 as a German classic and still captures the public’s imagination.
What say you? What are your experiences with the MP5? Would you want one? Don’t we all agree the K model is the coolest? If you’re looking for a different PCC option, take a look at the Best Pistol-Caliber Carbines!