Gun Review: German Sport Guns (“GSG”) 522 SD


Unless you live under a rock like that guy in the GEICO commercials, you will have noticed the recent trend by gun manufacturers to offer replicas of military long guns chambered in .22 LR. These guns have flown off the shelves for two reasons. First, the economic double whammy of skyrocketing ammo prices and a never-ending recession has left many shooters feeling the need to lower costs by switching to .22LR. Second, it gives shooters the opportunity to train on a weapon that looks and feels like its big-brother AR, AK, Sig, or H&K. OK, there’s a third reason – they also look pretty darn cool! One of the more interesting designs on the market is the 522 by German Sport Guns (“GSG”).  The 522 is a close rendition of the venerable Heckler & Koch MP5. In this article, we test the “SD” version of GSG 522 and let you know if it’s really worth your hard-earned $400.


The upstart firm of GSG is based out of Höingen, Ense, Germany, a tiny village in North Rhine, Westphalia, in the Ruhr valley.  American Tactical Imports (“ATI”) is the importer. Formed in 2002, GSG first hit the market with their MP5 clone in 2008.  Based on the internet chatter I’ve read, the gun was anxiously anticipated but suffered from some initial growing pains.

Nonetheless, sales were brisk, and it’s a testament to the success of this rifle that HK bothered to sue GSG for trademark infringement. Now HK is marketing its own (Walther-made) MP5 clone. It makes you wish you could have been a fly on the wall at an HK executive meeting:  “Gentlemen, why the hell didn’t we think of this first?!”

GSG is producing a number of versions of this .22, including a clone of a standard Heckler & Koch MP5 A2 rifle, an MP5 “SD” rifle, a “light” version featuring a polymer receiver, and two pistol configurations, including a copy of the MP5K. This particular rifle is a full-size copy of the MP5 SD. The “SD” is a reference to the integral suppressor in the original HK, which is called a Schalldämpfer (sound “dampener” or “suppressor”) in German.

Not surprisingly, the “can” on the GSG 522 is a purely cosmetic faux suppressor: a mere barrel shroud. Apparently, some of the earlier versions were not “faux enough” to meet the strict standards of our friends at the BATF, and so a recall has been instituted.  If you own a GSG 5, you can go to ATI’s website to check out whether your gun is on the recall list.

The purpose of the fake can is primarily cosmetic, but it also offers some protection for the long, pencil-thin (.42 in diameter) barrel.  As most readers are aware, federal law requires any firearm that is equipped with a shoulder stock to also have a 16&1/4 inch long barrel.

The GSG-522 uses a straight-blowback design, rather than the more complex roller-locked operation of the HK MP5. The receiver is a two-piece clamshell design made out of die-cast zinc, held together by screws. The manual states that the end-user should not disassemble the clamshell, but I did it anyway. It’s one of those operations that requires three or four hands to get it back together, but I managed after about a half hour or so of trying. One tip is to use some heavy grease to keep some of the small parts in place while you line everything up.

The breech housing (aka “bolt carrier group” if you prefer AR terminology) is die-cast zinc like the receiver and houses a metal injection-molded steel bolt assembly.  The barrel is a 16¼ inch, 6-groove design manufactured in-house by GSG.

Overall, the .22 clone carbine echoes the same excellent ergonomics of the original MP5. It feels like it weighs slightly less than a real MP-5, but not enough so to make it feel like a toy. Having said that, the light-weight stock is the one part of the gun that feels more like an air-soft product than a real gun. It’s good enough to serve its civilian purpose (i.e. plinking, small varmint hunting), but it’s not rugged enough to stand up to any rigorous police or military training.

The two-stage trigger is a definite selling point. For a gun of this type, it is surprisingly good. I wouldn’t say that it breaks as precisely as a finely-tuned bolt-action rifle. In fact, it has a long pull and is a tad mushy – somewhat like a real MP5. Nonetheless, the GSG 522’s break is smooth, predictable, repeatable, and light enough so as to not cause flyers.

The 22-round polymer magazines for the GSG-522 are another high point. They duplicate the size and width of a real MP5 magazine, so they will fit in all your Blackhawk MP5 tactical gear. Although the mags are a single-stack rimfire design, they are thicker than necessary in order to approximate the size and feel of a real MP5 mag. The GSG mags also come with finger holds on either side and are therefore much easier to load than typical 22 high-cap mags.

Unlike real HK mags, however, the GSG units are a two-piece design made of plastic. When they’re fully loaded, there is a visible gap between the two halves. This gap is not, frankly, very confidence inspiring, and my initial impression was that these mags would last for a month and be finished. But after 2000 rounds they haven’t let me down yet.


One low point is the newly “redesigned” GSG sights, which are a deviation from the original HK design. The circle-in-circle design of the original HK MP-5 / G-3 rifles is one of the most intuitive, easy-to-master sight designs in existence. In the photo above, you can see a comparison between a real HK MP5K front sight (in this case, with the tritium insert on the left) and a GSG front sight post (on the right).  Both the HK design and the tried-and-true M-1 Garand type sights allow the shooter to frame the target in both the vertical and horizontal perspective, which is the key to their success.

The problem with the straight vertical posts on the GSG 522 is that it gives the shooter nothing to bracket the vertical perspective on, and therefore the shooter will tend to string the shots out vertically.  The conversion kit (discussed below) partially solves this problem by providing the user with an exact copy of the factory HK front site. Unfortunately, that only solves half the problem, as the kit doesn’t contain a rear sight drum.

Nonetheless, with a little practice I was able to get the round front sight/rectangular rear sight combo working pretty well. Of course, adding the red dot optic really solved the problem, as it makes the rear sight pretty much irrelevant. Another possible fix is to replace the GSG rear sight with a real HK MP5 rear sight assembly. I haven’t tried it myself, but I understand that it will fit, albeit with some slight modification to one of the screws.  http://rrages.com/sight/g3drum/index.html.

Far and away the biggest disappointment regarding the GSG 522 is the sorry excuse for a Picatinny/Weaver rail that comes with the gun. It has two fatal design flaws. First, it’s made of flimsy hollow plastic and is therefore too flexible to support any real weight.  Second, it’s held to the receiver via two tiny screws. Given this crappy design, you can never really get the rail to tighten very securely to the receiver. As a result, there is a lot of lateral movement in the rail. Basically, it’s a totally useless POS and should be tossed back in the box and replaced with a “real” rail ASAP.


Fortunately, ATI will sell you a “real” aluminum “claw” rail for $15.00. They also make a very nice clone of the excellent Brugger & Thomet low mount (the photo above shows the GSG mount and a Bushnell TRS 25 red dot). Prices on the GSG “Low Tactical Mount,” as GSG has named it, vary from $20.00 to $65.00, so it pays to shop around.  The best price I could find was $19.95 from http://www.hkspecialiststore.com.  It’s a very solid unit and, as discussed below, immediately solved the wandering zero issue I was experiencing.

Operation

Although the manual of arms is more or less the same as a real MP5, there are three critical differences. As many of you will know, the HK MP5 differs from most sub-machineguns insomuch as it fires from the closed bolt. The GSG 522 also fires from the closed bolt. The HK MP5 does not have a bolt hold-open feature. The GSG 522, on the other hand, does – the bolt will lock to the rear (i.e. stay in the “open” position) after the last round in the magazine is fired. The bolt stays locked to the rear even after the magazine is removed.  Once a new loaded magazine is inserted, the charging handle can be “slapped” forward in the same manner as a real MP5.  Or, the bolt can be closed on an empty chamber by pulling the charging handle to the rear for a fraction of an inch and then releasing it (similar to a Ruger 10/22).

The third difference is that the GSG has a magazine safety. The gun will not fire unless a magazine is inserted in a rifle.   This type of safety feature is good on a gun that will be shot mainly by civilian plinkers, but is not the type of feature that you’d want on a combat-oriented weapon like an MP5.

The GSG’s magazine release system is patterned after the MP5, in which the magazine release is made up of both the cross-bolt button and a paddle-type lever located at the rear of the magazine well. The 522’s magazine release paddle is textured but otherwise the same as an MP5. The safety is ambidextrous and is similar in operation to a real MP5, although the shape and texture of the safety differ somewhat from the original.

Disassembly / Reassembly

Those of who are familiar with the simplicity and ease of disassembly of the original MP-5 design will be somewhat disappointed by the GSG-522 for three reasons. First, it requires a screwdriver and Allen wrenches to disassemble. Second, there are small parts to contend with. Specifically, the bolt carrier assembly is held into the receiver via a small metal block, which is held in place via a small Allen screw and washer. Third, the two retaining pins also differ from the original HK style pins insomuch as they are a two-piece unit which tightens with a flat-head screw. I replaced the two-piece GSG pins with factory HK push-pins, which fit perfectly.  Two sources for these pins are listed below:

http://rrages.com/pins/net.htm

http://www.hkspecialiststore.com/index.php?Category=10&Product_Page_Count=All


Fortunately, GSG provides the end-user with a small screwdriver with interchangeable tips (pictured above). While the gun is not particularly difficult to disassemble and reassemble once you get the hang of it, I did actually have to take the unmanly step of resorting to the manual to figure out how to take it apart and put it back together.

And, honestly, the manual sucks. I’m not sure why, but it seems like manual writing is one of those jobs that always ends up getting assigned to the dumbest and/or laziest person in the company. Aside from not being very helpful, the GSG 522 manual had little gems like this:


Overall, I found the GSG to be a bit of a chore to clean. There are lots of little nooks and crannies inside the receiver, and because of the straight blowback design, lots of crud ends up in the “bolt carrier group” (to borrow AR-15 terminology) and receiver. It takes me a little less than an hour to do a basic functional cleaning job, perhaps as much as two hours if I really want to get in there with pipe cleaners and Q-tips to make it look really clean. The 522 needs to be cleaned after every brick (or so) of ammunition, especially if you are using the cheap stuff. After my last range trip, I was really surprised by the extremely heavy lead built up in the first 5 to 6 inches of the barrel.  Having said that, I was shooting a lot of cheap stuff on that trip, so maybe I should not have been that surprised.

According to Mike Cummings, one of the gunsmiths at ATI, the breech housing and bolt will require a thorough cleaning after approximately 5000 rounds.  This requires you to take the breech housing apart (which the manual discourages) or use solvents and compressed air.  If you decide to take the breech housing apart, you’ll want to make sure you note the orientation of the two long springs. They are slightly tapered at one end, and if you install them backwards, you will cause the gun to jam. Mike says he sees quite a few guns being sent in for factory service because of this. Again, this is the type of problem that a good owner’s manual could prevent.

Aftermarket Parts / Accessories

There are quite a few aftermarket stocks available for the GSG 522, including clones of the HK “A3” style telescoping stocks, and Brugger & Thomet Style side folder. Real HK stocks will not fit, however.

I decided to test GSG’s “Advanced Folding Stock.” It’s adjustable both for length (4 positions) and cheek weld (3 positions). It folds to the right and stays in place using a tension spring and has a removable ambidextrous sling attachment point. Again, prices on these vary from $70 to $100 so shop around. The “HK Specialist Store” in Greer, South Carolina seemed to have the most competitive prices in GSG accessories. Their customer service was excellent and they even shipped the same day as my order.   http://www.hkspecialiststore.com.

Overall, I think the stock is a worthwhile investment despite being a bit pricey. Again, the unit is not as rugged as you’d find on a real military rifle but it’s adequate for plinking. The only disappointment is that it doesn’t actually lock in the folded position with the SD model (the front SD handguard is too wide).

Being a confirmed HK guy for over 20 years, I strongly dislike the GSG-522’s factory-redesigned front sight post, so I spent $50 and ordered the GSG-5 / GSG 522 conversion kit from the HK Specialist Store. The kit contains a new trigger housing, left and right hand safety levers, a paddle magazine release, a receiver cap, a sling loop, two metal front site blades, eight polymer front sight blades, a sling loop screw, a cocking tube housing, a cocking tube handle, an SD style cocking tube handle and a few other miscellaneous parts.  The HK Specialist Store has the factory HK push pins in stock as well, so I had them ship a couple of them as well.


The photo above shows the GSG-522 with most of the retro-fit parts added to the rifle. The photo also shows the GSG adjustable folding stock. The whole job of converting the gun took about two-hours while I was watching a football game. Replacing the receiver cap was the toughest task, as it required the disassembly of the clamshell receiver.

The conversion probably would have taken half as much time if it had come with good instructions. The only set of instructions that came with the kit was a second copy of the owner’s manual. Unfortunately, the owner’s manual does not really do a good job of explaining the steps needed to do the conversion. While I was able to figure it out on my own, not having detailed instructions is inexcusable. GSG needs to get off its German ass and write some better manuals. Mach schnell!

One final modification that GSG owners may want to consider: a common complaint you hear about the GSG 5s and GSG 522s is that the screws that hold the rifle together are of poor quality and sometimes work themselves loose after extended firing sessions. In fact, the gunsmiths at ATI confirmed that this is sometimes the case. So far I have not had any issues. Nonetheless, one aftermarket solution to this problem is to replace the factory nuts and screws with higher quality aftermarket versions. Check out the “rrages” website if you are interested:

http://rrages.com/screws/net.htm

Field Tests: Accuracy & Reliability

Range time: this is where the GSG 522 really started to shine. As an initial matter, this gun is very accurate for its genre. In fact, the skinny little GSG barrel will run toe to toe with my highly-modified Ruger 10/22, which features a $300.00 Volquartsen bull barrel and a trigger job from Clark’s. When fed with high-quality match grade .22 ammo such as Remington (Eley) Target Rifle, the GSG consistently delivered ¼ to 3/8 inch groups at 50 yards. Federal Gold Medal Match HV also turned in respectable groups in the ½ inch range. Cheap mass-produced plinking ammo typically resulted in 1-inch groups at 50 yards. Still not bad at all.

The photo above was taken using a Leopold VX-II 3×9, set on 9 power, and Remington Target Rifle ammo (which is actually made by the British firm Eley). These groups show flyers which I attribute to a wandering zero due to the crappy plastic rail that comes with the factory GSG. It was these annoying flyers that prompted me to seek out a better solution for the rail.


After I replaced the POS factory-issue rail with the optional GSG “Low Tactical Mount” and cleaned the massively fouled barrel from the 600 round session, I was quickly able to turn in ¼ inch groups at 50 yards with the Eley-made target ammo. The group shown above is representative of the type of accuracy I think you can expect from this rifle once you replace the rail with something more substantial. Belding ground squirrels beware! Obviously, these types of results aren’t as easy to achieve with non-magnifying red-dot type optics or iron sights.

One note on the GSG Low Tactical Mount: it’s designed so that you can co-witness red dot sights with your iron (or, in this case, plastic) sights. If you want to use a conventional hunting scope with the Low Tactical Mount, you will have to temporarily remove the rear sight drum.  For my purposes, that was OK, but if you want to put the bigger hunting optic on the gun permanently, you may want to opt for GSG’s “High Tactical Mount.”


The photo above shows the types of groups I was typically achieving with cheap-mass produced ammo such as Remington Thunderbolt (40 gr. /  1255 f/s) and the factory rail. Again, some of the groups widened due to the POI shift from the crappy rail.

I achieved similarly sized groups with CCI Mini Mags (40 gr. / 1235 f/s), Federal “American Eagle” (38 gr. / 1260 f/s) and Winchester Xpert HV (36 gr. / 1280 f/s).  Incidentally, the gunsmiths at ATI recommended using CCI Mini-Mags, and specifically advised against Remington brand ammo. I personally think CCI Mini Mags are overpriced for what you get as they really provided no accuracy advantage. The CCI’s do seem to run a bit cleaner than many of the lesser-priced brands, however.

I also did some rapid-fire drills with the GSG 522 at 20 yards. The weight of the weapon creates a steady platform with no recoil, and I was able to turn out the following five-shots-in-two-seconds groups with the Bushnell TRS 25 red-dot optic:



The other most obvious high point for this gun was its reliability. By the time I finished testing, I had put approximately 2000 rounds downrange, and had only experienced 4 or 5 jams.  Most of those occurred in the first 60 or so rounds, and can be attributed to break in, and perhaps a bit of “operator headspace and timing.” Of the last 1200 round we fired, I had no failures and Chris Dumm only experienced one – which may have been ammo related (bad primer?).  For a semi-automatic rimfire rifle, I was pleasantly surprised by the reliability of this gun.

Having said that, you do have to feed this gun higher velocity .22 rounds. The owner’s manual recommends using ammo that generates at least 1200 ft/sec. The sample gun I tested seemed to work fine with somewhat slower fodder. For example, Remington (Eley) Target Rifle ammo was totally reliable, even though it only generates a muzzle velocity of 1085 f/s.  However, the test sample gun would not cycle my favorite match ammo, Wolf Match Extra, which only generates 1033 ft/s, so consider yourself warned.

Conclusions

To be honest, I started this project not expecting to be very impressed. In saying that, I don’t mean to suggest that I had any biases against the manufacturer or importer. It’s just that I had no prior experience with GSG products and my only direct experience with ATI products was with their excellent Korean-made 30-round MP5 mags and their inexpensive but functional 32-round extended magazines for the Glock 17. My comrade-in-arms and law, Chris Dumm, recently had a bad experience with an ATI AR-15 clone (the VK-22) in .22LR, but I was determined to not let that debacle influence my review of the GSG.

Rather, my bias stemmed from years of experience with military look-alike .22 autos and hi-cap mags. I’ve owned almost a dozen high capacity mags for my Ruger 10/22, from makers such as Ram-line, Butler Creek (including the Steel Lips) Eaton, Mitchell 50-round tear drops, etc., but none ever ran well for any length of time. The tried-and-true 10-round rotary magazine was the only 10/22 magazine that hasn’t let me down. A friend of mine owned an AK-22 back in the 1980s and although it looked pretty cool, it was not the most reliable gun. In addition, I’ve seen more than one guy at the local range have problems with their .22LR Colt AR-15 clones.  Thus, all of my prior experience told me that I should prepare to be unimpressed with the reliability of a high-cap .22. As detailed above, however, my instinct was completely wrong.

Maybe I should have been more optimistic. As Vince the “Sham-Wow” guy can attest, “the Germans always make good stuff.” As it turns out, the GSG will run toe-to-toe with my Volquartsen-barreled Ruger 10/22 in terms of accuracy, and is a hell of a lot of fun to shoot.  Just upgrade the craptastic factory rail (shown in pic below) and you will be good-to-go.


SPECIFICATIONS

Caliber: .22LR (optimized for use with high-velocity .22 LR ammo)
Action: Semi auto, blowback operated
Capacity: 10 and 22 stick magazines; 110 round drum magazines
Overall Length: 33 & 3/4 inches
Barrel: 16.25″ ST35 steel
Rifling: six-groove 1:16″ RH twist
Trigger Pull: non-adjustable, single-stage; 5 lbs.,12 ozs (according to the factory).
Weight: 6lbs, 9 ounces, unloaded.
Sights: front sight is a vertical blade set in a dovetail, with vertical protective ears, rear sight is a rotary drum (similar to the original H&K design, but not as good).
Finish: Receiver appears to be powder coated, remainder is black plastic.
Price: MSRP: $399 (Retail Street Price).
Accessories: multi-tool, breech cleaning tool, 10 extra front sight posts, clamber flag, lock, crappy owner’s manual.

RATINGS (out of five stars)

Style  * * * *
It’s hard to beat the looks of an MP5. I’m going to take a point away simply because ATI added weird looking dots on the pistol grip and equally unnecessary horizontal lines on the trigger group. My understanding was that these cosmetic changes were made in order to get to get Heckler & Koch to drop its lawsuit against GSG. If the non-authentic look really bugs you, you can shell out $50 for the retrofit kit.  The fake suppressor looks cool, but be prepared for guys to approach you at the range asking about your can: they get a disappointed look on their face when you tell them it’s just a barrel shroud.

Ergonomics  * * * * *
Feels like a slightly lighter version of a real-deal MP5. The safety, charging handle, and mag release are in the right positions. The weight and balance are comfortable. What’s not to love?

Reliability  * * * * 1/2
The GSG 522 experienced a few hiccups running through the first few mags, but then ran smooth as silk. On the last two range days of the testing, we put roughly 1200 rounds downrange with only one cleaning and only experienced one malfunction (and even that may have been ammo related).

Customize This  * * * *
While this ain’t no Ruger 10-22, there’s a fair amount of factory “tacticool” that you can buy for the GSG 522 including dual mag clamps, flashlight holders, folding stocks, high and low scope mounts, laser mounts, etc. From the internet lore I’ve read, it seems that some of the stuff made by various air soft manufacturers will fit as well, but I can’t vouch for that.

Accuracy  * * * *
The GSG is not quite as accurate as a bolt-action Anschutz or a CZ 452, but it’s going to embarrass your stock Ruger 10/22.

 

Overall  * * * * 1/2
The GSG 522 is a lot of fun if you are looking for a low-cost range plinker with the added benefit of sexy looks and historic provenance.

62 Responses to Gun Review: German Sport Guns (“GSG”) 522 SD

  1. avatarjustin says:

    any chance of a side by side comparison of the GSG-522 and the Umarex MP5?

    • avatarJoe Grine says:

      Working on it. Stay tuned.

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  2. avatarEric S. says:

    “Or, the bolt can be closed on an empty chamber by pulling the charging handle to the rear for a fraction of an inch and then releasing it (similar to a Ruger 10/22).”

    Provided you have a “auto bolt release” or have modified your factory one to do this. From the factory, the 10/22 will not release the bolt lock with just a pull on the charging handle but since most folks pay the $12 for the part or do the work themselves it’s easy to forget that.

    • avatarJoe Grine says:

      Come to think of it, you’re right!. The factory 10/22 has a small latch ner teh triggergurd that needs to be depressed to release the bolt. I had forgotten that my Ruger 10/22 had been “modified” in that regard. Thanks for the correction.

  3. avatarAaron says:

    I actually like the trigger of the real 9mm MP5. I shot one recently, whose fun switch was set to “three round” burst only.
    I found it much easier to exercise trigger control and get single and doubles out of it on command, vs when I shot a full-auto Uzi.

  4. avatarChris Dumm says:

    I shot Joe’s GSG-522 a lot during this testing, and I’ve come away amazed by its reliability and accuracy. It handles much more comfortably and nimbly than .22 AR clones because of its light weight and odd but extremely comfortable trigger, and it runs circles around them in terms of reliability and accuracy. Despite Joe’s kvetching about only shooting high-velocity ammo, it worked fine with just about anything we fed it. If you have a 9mm H&K carbine, this is a perfect low-cost practice version. If you don’t, it’s an awesomely fun and functional range toy that even works well for hunting and some target work. I loved it, and wish I’d picked one up for myself.

  5. avatarJoe nobody says:

    I was intrigued when I saw $400 and sd but then I realized It was a fake silencer. If I want a cheap copy of an h&k that fires small bullets with a fake suppressor I will buy an airsoft gun. A great review none the less

  6. avatarBub says:

    I have one of the older pre-lawsuit GSG5 models. It’s a blast to shot. Reliability has not been an issue, maybe one or two per brick of cheap ammo. However, a little extra lube after every two or three hundred rounds will typically keep it running flawlessly.

  7. avatarMatt says:

    Thanks for the review! This sounds like an economical way to feel like you’re shooting a real MP5.

    Would not expect a real suppressor for this price, also a real one would be a pain in the ass to get licensed.

  8. avatarTerry says:

    Can you install just the SD can and not the forearm on the GSG-5??

  9. avatarMamba says:

    Excellent review & pix Joe, nicely done! Your’s was the review that pretty much convinced me to make a purchase; my SD is due in any day now. I’ve looked a bit at the Umarex HK and the main advantage seems to be that it’s easier to disassemble/maintain. Of course I’d be sinking more $ into either model for accessories and the HK already includes the retractable stock of preference so cost is mostly a wash for me in regard to the stock. The GSG models do appear to be more available for purchase online than the HK.

  10. avatarJoe Musso says:

    After attending a local Gun Show, I had seen one of the GSG 522 Carbines on Sat. I came home and read this article, and, even though I was “pretty sure” about it after handling it, I decided to jump in and buy one.
    Talk about being absolutely amazed at the rifle!! I ran 1000 rounds through it on Sunday (Helped that I went ahead and bought two of the 110 rotary drums, so one could be reloaded as the other was being shot!) and I had ONE malfunction! The rifle held to a 1/2 inch grouping at approx. 35 yards without any hiccups. Not only that, I was able at one point to “hip shoot” it and just flat out dump ammo and it not only played like a well tuned guitar, it “played like a orchestra!
    Your review was on the money in almost all accounts except that you didn’t quite get across how much fun this little plinker is!!
    I am extremely happy with the gun. I think my 10/22 will be collecting a bunch of dust from here on out! Also, to refute one previous posting, “This ain’t no Airsoft!!!!!!:”

  11. avataraustin14 says:

    what is difference between gsg 522 and gsg 522 lwt… i dont want plastic

    • avatarCreeper45 says:

      I went back and forth in my mind about the standard and lightweight versions of the GSG 522 and settled on the LW. I’m very happy I did! It’s perfectly balanced and with a Leupold Deltapoint reflex sight it’s hard to leave at home now!

  12. avatarCarl Graul says:

    It does have to be cleaned after every brick of ammo. Using the bore brush during shooting helps.

  13. avatarJesse James says:

    I just happened to find this site today and was stoked by your review of the GSG-522. I live in San Diego, CA, and thus have too many limitations when it comes to firearms, so when I saw this MP5 SD clone a year ago at a local Big 5 sporting goods store for under the $400 MSRP, I took a leap of faith and bought one. I, too didnt know what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised. Here in California, hi-cap mags will net you some jailtime, so my GSG only had a 10 round mag (which was as long as the standard 22-rnd mag, but with a stopper to keep it from loading more rounds), but even with that, the gun has been a blast to shoot.
    Having worked at a local gun store and having watched too many military movies as a kid, the look of the mp5 sd, coupled with the cheaper .22 rounds, and a semi-auto ability, made this little plinker hard to ignore. I mainly shoot this out in the hills target shooting, and hunting squirrels, rabbits, and an occasional coyote, and this gun, when used with my 4 power Barska MilDot scope, is actually very accurate, just as Joe Grine said in his review. I agree the sight rail is flimsy, so the metal one would be a much better bet. I also had to remove the rear sight so that my Barska scope could fit properly on the rail. The only real annoyance is that my plastic CA-legal (non-folding) stock can be a little loose and wiggle when held tightly against my shoulder. Other than that, this gun has been great.
    I have had it a year now, probably put 3000 rounds through it, through light rain, dirt and dust, and haven’t had any problems with it- its taken everything I have thrown at it up to this point, and I (sadly) haven’t been cleaning it much at all, and it still shoots reliably and accurately. Although the Picatiny rail did come loose once, but all I had to do was tighten the screws, which could have been loose when I got it. The only time it misfires was when crappy bulk ammo was used, when the primers failed. The only time I have had a jam was when I used lower-velocity rounds (subsonic or below) , or specialty rounds, which do not have enough energy to cycle the bolt back to firing position, so the empty brass will get stuck, but it is an easy fix, just pull back on the charging handle and turn the gun on its side to dislodge the brass. For me, Remington Sub-Sonic rounds only had this cycling issue like 3-5 out of every 100 rounds, and the CCI Shotshell rounds, however, would fail to cycle 100% of the time, but you could manually cycle the bolt with the charging handle if you had a mag full of the shotshell rounds- it wouldnt damage the gun- I used these rounds to shoot snakes and had no problem.
    I would recommend to stay clear of crappy ammo, especially the .22 ammo that looks like it has a spray on metal jacket look, or ammo with dirty propellants. I found that using ammo like Federal 550 round value pack copper plated Hollow points (my favorite for this gun) or CCI Mini-Mags provided the most consistent shots, and less cleaning time compared to when using CB or lead-only rounds, which made the barrel dirtier quicker. I recommend using CCI Stinger or Velociter rounds for longer distances (75+ yards), since I was able to grab a big ‘ol squirrel at probably 120 yards in difficult terrain. Also, if sound is an issue for you like it is with us here, what with all the anti-gun people around, I do recommend the subsonic or even CCI “Quiet-22″ (~700fps) rounds, since it eliminates that telltale “crack” that you hear with standard rounds, although be prepared to have to manually cock the bolt back occasionally and clean more frequently, as I stated above.
    The trigger pull is longer but smooth and relatively low-tension, and is easy and very fun to loose off rounds very quickly in succession, with surprising accuracy, even at a distance, so long as you maintain a constant sight picture.

    For me, this gun has been reliable, extremely fun to shoot, and looks bada$$.
    It may not be a real MP5 SD, but with the cost of ammo, you can go shooting more often, have more fun, and look great doing it. I highly recommend this gun, and if you get one, get a scope for it, since it is pretty accurate for a 22. I find that Joe’s review of this gun is as close to the truth on this gun as is possible.

    • avatarJoe Grine says:

      Jesse: Thanks for your in-depth and insightful comments. I think your experience with the GSG 522 SD has been similar to mine.

    • avatarjuanito says:

      You should consider moving to Texas where you can play all day with all your toyz! No CA rules to worry about ending up in the hoosegow. :)

  14. avatarMatt says:

    I saw a Dunham’s ad where they have this model on sale for 300. this week (200. off normal), was interested than overheard my son tell his mom something about wanting a real gun. Well, after this review, the .22 I was planning on getting him (the Cricket anyway for use in a couple years, he just turned 4) just got a major paramilitary upgrade.
    I briefly owned one, in 2008, just an ordinary MP-5A2 with what appeared to be a thin O.D. can to hide a pencil barrel, gave it to a friend in need. Never fired it, never made it home in fact. Never knew they’re zinc, that is a hell of a turn off normally and pretty inexcusable for a mostly plastic otherwise gun selling for 4-500+ normally. I mean come on. That’s more ludicrous than what it costs for a decent AK these days, just as much as a lower end but reputable brand AR which is obviously far more expensive to manufacture. And I won’t even mention WASR’s. I like them, they’re not to be purchased sight unseen, but pretty much are “all AK”…but with today’s pricing, it’s really time to step up to an Interarms or whatever for just a few dollars more.
    Anyway.
    That really sucks about the sights. I like HK sights. Some do, some don’t. Boston T. Party thought they were inadequate for a .308 MBR (I always thought of the G3/HK91/Cetme/PTR more as an assault rifle that happened to be in .308, than a battle rifle), some swear by them on Custom S-12′s (yeah, a 400M peephole for 147 gr. x51…for buckshot. Or bulk 7.5 low brass bird, more likely. Can see the point they are great sights, but the CQB position on the drum sucks). I think they would be absolutely perfect on this rifle. Is that a FO front?

    It also looks like the charging handle is a little smaller than the MP-5/original GSG?

    I also don’t care for the little protrusion on the front of the TG.

    Thanks for the review, I’ll definately purchase one now that I have an opportunity at a kind price. For my kid, but it might be broken in a little when he gets it. Growing up on Miami Vice i have a love for the look of SMGs, they have fallen from favor in pretty much every stronghold they had, which is too bad and they still make a good first choice in some applications. I always wanted one or two, or hell a collection, of semi auto pistols and carbines styled after SMGs, but never got around to it for several reasons but I think my son is going to like this one. I creamed over a Marlin 60, something like this would have blew my mind.

    BTW-remember a few years back, for a while, the only guns you’d see on tv or a movie were an MP-5 or Beretta 92F? Got sick to death of seeing them but these days have taken a serious liking to both (well, HK94 clone instead of MP-5), they just work well for me, don’t own either yet but could see them becoming go-to’s.

    • avatarJoe Grine says:

      More likely than not, the model that you saw on sale for $300 is the “Lightweight” version that features a plastic receiver. It tends to be around a $100 cheaper than the metal receiver version. I have never fired the lightweight. But frankly, after pawing it at a gun store, I have to say I prefer the extra weight of the metal receiver because it feels more like a “real” MP5.

  15. avatarBackwoodsBulldog says:

    Hey guys, just found the eval and wanted to pass on somethings even though its a few months old. I actually have the GSG522 Carbine not the SD. I just purchased the retrofit kit that you listed above for $19.99 plus shipping. They will ship any/all accessories for a flat rate of $9.99 reagardless of the number of items. They also have the 22 round mags for $9.99 each. I ordered them from CDNN Sports, INC.. Shipping was extremely fast. http://www.cdnnsports.com

  16. Loved the review. I jut have a few questions for you; I too have a GSG-522 and I do enjoy shooting it. My problem is that I have A LOT of FTL issues, most seeming to stem from the magazines. I’ve found that under-loading the magazine (a maximum of 16 rounds in the 22 round mags) seems to solve the issue a bit. Have you seem or heard of this problem? If so, any recommendations?

    • avatarJoe Grine says:

      I havent had that problem with mine. I would send it back to ATI.

    • avatarJoe Grine says:

      One thing I have noticed about the GSG 522 is that it is very importrant to keep the chamber extra clean. This is especially true if you are using cheap ammo. I think the ammo leaves some sort of build up (lead? wax?) that eventually prevents smooth extraction.

  17. avatarJeff says:

    I recently bought a 522, shot 400 hundred rounds off CCI with only a few problems. During dissembling a plastic piece broke. I sent it back to ATI when I was told it wasn’t covered under warrantee. I have 19 years in the Marines and handle weapons of all variety on a daily basis. I enjoyed the GSG but as the review points out it is plastic, basically a lethal toy. I have buyers remorse and should have spent the money for the Sig or Ruger.

  18. avatarmitch bourin says:

    I bought and love the gun. How do you change the rail? I have a new one but can’t figure out how to install it.

    • avatarJoe Grine says:

      The POS factory rail is held to the receiver with two screws – they are pretty obvious to locate on the top of the rail. If you have the low mount replacement rail, it relies on 4 tension screws that attach to the upper sides of the receiver. The upper half of the receiver has a long ridge / valley structure, and each side has two indentions in that structure (one located roughly in the middle of the receiver – the other located towards the front of teh receiver (its over the logo on the left hand side). The four attachment points on the low mount fit into these indentions.

  19. Have a GSG 522SD.LOVE this gun.Have a HK MP5SD from corps days.My teen girls dont like FULL -Auto so got this gun.For a 22 its very close.Semi is fast in this thing.Now I wont have to waste 9mm .Great training tool>3/6 india

  20. avatarsteven sammis says:

    where can i get detailed info and illustration of field strip procedure for cleaning after shooting..im usually good once i perform the field strip a few times, like you said, after getting used to it. manuel leaves alot to be desired and i have to make sure its done right first and every time..love this gun

  21. avatarroy krah says:

    having purchased a gsg522sd, i gotta agree its a great lttle plinker thats both accurate and reliable. thanx for a great reveiw packed with alot of very useful info. cant wait to customize and improve mine. The GSG 522 SD fun gun or epic plinker,? I say BOTH!!!!

  22. avatarLC says:

    In today’s paper . . . $279 at Dunham’s. After reading the review and follow-up comments that sounds like a screaming deal. I am about to jump in the car.

    • avatarC.J. says:

      this might be too late but that is where i got mine and so far it is a great gun so go get it!!

    • avatarJoe Grine says:

      Keep in mind that there are two versions – the ones selling for $279 are typically the “lightweight” version that have the polymer receiver. I don’t have any opinion on the polymer receiver versions – haven’t tried one out. But the extra weight of the metal receiver seems to me to be the better option because it feels more like the real thing.

  23. avatarC.J. says:

    Im sorry if missed this but is it impossible to change the posts? or can you make it a circle with a post in the middle. I just got a GSG-522 SD model and it has a circle but i honestly have no clue how to change it! so if you can, please tell me how to do this or if i can do it at all! THANKS FOR READING THIS!!!

    • avatarUnknown says:

      Get the conversion kit from GSG-522 to GSG-5. It contains all of the parts that H&K required them to for the lawsuit.

      • avatarC.J. says:

        Again im sorry but can I change it from 3 post to a circle with that kit? and how do you like it with the circle if you have one?

  24. avatarDan says:

    Does anyone know if you can convert the pistol model to either the SD or carbine? I found a deal on the pistol locally, but would prefer a longer barrel and a stock.

  25. avatarKC says:

    Great review. I agree with what was said. I paid 349.00 at a gun show in Oklahoma city. Found it a dicks sporting goods a week later for 329$. Clips were 49$ for 2 22rd clips. Unfortunately after the tragedy in Conn. dicks pulled gun and all related accessories off shelf. 22 round mags are hard to find. Cleaning gun is a bit of a pain. Wish I could find the original shroud that gsg was forced to change out. KC

    • avatarAmy says:

      are there any other mags that work with the SD? Hard to find at decent price from all the gouging. Also can’t find ANY mags in stock for mossberg 715t..HElP!!! Don’t forget to contact ur reps in congress we can’t stop Obama but we can have a voice

      • avatarJoe Grine says:

        No, Amy. There are no other mags that will work. I thought the HK / Umarex .22 LR mags might work, but apparently theere are differences. I bought 18 mags for the GSG 522, in part because they were relatively cheap (2 for $34), and in part because I prefer to load them the night before so I save time at the range.

  26. avatarSimon Jester says:

    I love my GSG 5! I couldn’t help myself and “tacticool’d” it to death, but when I’m at the range my giggling scares the norms as I speed-dump mags into bouncing ball targets.

    The ATF recall/notice was an ugly surprise, tho…

  27. avatarKen says:

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  28. avatarOnTheFence says:

    Impressive review. Thanks for taking the time on this.

  29. avatarJared says:

    Last week my 522 went full auto after a 400 round outing. The seer spring bolt came loose. I disassembled, and cleaned the weapon thoroughly for a range visit the next day…same thing..only this time it let out a 10 round burst, followed by 2 3′s, before it locked up…I repeated this again…same issue…..and yep…full auto…

    • avatarRobert Farago says:

      You need to send that gun back pronto! The ATF doesn’t care whether or not a full auto rifle is defective or not. Seriously. Get rid of it NOW.

  30. avatarmike says:

    the gsg 522 is a POS the first time firing it ,the gun misfired more than 1 out of 3 rounds we spent more time unjamming and recovering shells than we did shooting it . after cleaning it many times it now is able to shoot an average of 6 rounds before jamming. (I believe the firing pin is too short ) . I’ve taken all the misfires
    put them thru a cheep semi and have fired all of them without a hitch . Other people who have the same gun complain there is so many misfires the gun is not fun to shoot To put it in its proper perspective Glenfield app 4 misfires in 30 years marlin no misfires ruga
    r no misfires gsg522 over 40 misfires in under 150 rounds

    • avatarJake says:

      You must have had a bad one. Some say the same thing about Glock’s and myself. Have two GSG 522′s, one two years old old with over 5200 rounds of different ammo through it and two misfires and they were with cheap ammo. I have had three Glock’s over 12 years and at least one of every 100 rounds, misfire, failure to feed or stovepipe. One actually exploded at the range and left me with 3 stitches. No longer own one. Some swear by Glock and never had issues ??

  31. avatarmagnum says:

    Have an sgs522sd great 22 lots of fun looks cool works well eats all types of 22s. I live on long island n.y. cant get it here any more. Fun and cheap rifle. Shoot safe stand proud u.s.a.

  32. avatarFrank says:

    I installed real H&K furniture and pin set on my pre-lawsuit GSG-5 without problems. Gives the gun some weight. It took very minor drilling to do so.

  33. avatarJake says:

    I bought and still own, two GSG 522′s and they have been the most fun I have ever had with gun, handgun or rifle. One has over 5200 rounds through it with different ammo, 2 jams total, with cheap ammo. Can’t say that about Glock, more issues there than I care to say. I am 45 years old and been owning and collecting guns since I could hold one. I recently bought another more expensive mp5 clone by another company, I will not name and all I can say is, I lost $ 175.00 when I sold it. The gun was more accurately detailed to a real MP5 and would be great if I intended to hang it on a wall to look at but I use my guns and function #1. Some talked of jams and if you do not disassemble, clean and oil a new gun, there will be problems. I would never sell either GSG and actually just bought a 1911 model handgun they sell for a good price and 400 rounds so far with no issues there yet either. Not a spokesman, just calling quality and low cost what it is.

  34. avatarGage says:

    I got my GSG 522 SD about a year ago and have around 2500 rounds through it and it is very accurate and fun to use. I ran over 1600 rounds of cheap winchester ammo through it without a cleaning and it still worked great. But now (900 rounds later) im having 1 of 3 rounds light strike and cleaning doesnt help so i found that there is a removable “firing pin safty” that prohibits the full motion of the pin after awile of use causing light strikes so i might try that to fix the problem by removing it. Other than that one issue it is an amazing gun given the great looks with a 110 round drum attached and the cool factor of being a replica of such an iconic gun. I would want the ring and post front sight to complete the look though.

  35. avatarTim Allem says:

    I have read most of the post, I own two GSG 522 and have given two more as gifts. They are all POS’s. They all jam like crazy using premium ammo. The magazines are far from adequate. The quality is pathetic. I’m going to take them to a gunsmith to see what he thinks. The only reason I bought them because they looked cool.What a mistake. Any suggestions on a remedy besides melting them down for something useful.

  36. avatarJohn Cifra says:

    To be honest and to he point….out of the box my GSG didn’t work…..I sent it back for repair…..got it back, I fired (4) rounds throug it……it jammed…..it didn’t work….it was broken again…….I sent it back for repair……been waiting over 2 months ……..still don’t have it…….this gun is a P.O.S……..wish I had my money back. If you are considering buying one,do your self a favor……DON”T!

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