The MP5 was the apex predator of its day. Here on the 50th anniversary of the very first production run military and law enforcement organizations around the globe continue to deploy the gun. That said, the firearms world has moved on. New production versions of the MP5 are stamped on old worn-out machines in various countries with abundant QC issues. Taking a different tack, Brethren Armament set out to resurrect the MP5 in all its glory . . .
I’ve reviewed my fair share of MP5 variants. I’ve had the pleasure of playing with an original German MP5K PDW. I’ve reviewed the Turkish Z-5P version. While I haven’t had enough time with the Pakistani POF MP5 to write a full review, we’re well acquainted. And every time I encounter an MP5 from one of these overseas factories, the first thing that I notice is their fit and finish.
The original MP5K PDW is a thing of beauty, from the precision and craftsmanship of the welds on the stamped receiver, to the feel of the external coating as you run your finger along the ridges. A proper MP5K finish should feel like a well oiled supermodel — POF’s gun doesn’t feel that way. At all. Zenith’s version comes close. But Brethren’s all-American-made version makes the grade.
Check out the weld line along the bottom of the rear sight assembly of the Brethren Armament gun (or BA9C). On the imported guns that bead looks clunky and haphazard, with imperfections in both position and quality. On the BA9C, the weld is smooth and consistent, created in one clean pass by a competent craftsman.
It’s not just a question of aesthetics. You don’t just buy a BMW for performance; you buy it for the way it looks and feels. If it was simply a matter of bang for the buck, you’d buy a Subaru Impreza Turbo. The ballistic versions of the Beamer and Scooby have their places in the firearms world (Lord knows I own a few from each end of the spectrum). But when you’re spending this kind of money you don’t want good enough. You want perfect.
Another area where the BA9C’s quality manufacture is evident: the muzzle’s three-lug adapter. As with a standard MP5K, you can remove the Brethren’s three-lug adapter’s thread protector and slip on any silencer that’s threaded in the standard 1/2×28 thread pitch. If you’re in a hurry, you can pop on any can with the common three-lug H&K adapter. With the Turkish firearms I tested the three-lug adapter was noticeably out of spec. The BA9C’s three-lug adapter is spot-on. Given that most adapters are built for the looser tolerances common to modern MP5s this isn’t a huge issue, but I know I feel better when I slot on my thousand dollar silencer that the mount was built right and won’t cause any baffle strikes.
Brethren Armament achieves this level of quality because it produces the BA9C in the U.S. from the MP5’s original specs, using brand new stamping equipment. Closely monitoring the quality of the product coming off the line, using trusted manufacturers for the parts they can’t make in-house, Brethren’s firearm is 100 percent 922(R) compliant [Note: as no parts are imported, the regulation doesn’t apply.] and a thing of mechanical beauty.
Not to belabor the point, Brethren recently proved its dedication to quality when they discovered a third party shop’s parts weren’t up to snuff. Instead of shipping the guns as-is, they stopped production. They are working to bring the production of those parts in-house so they can control the quality, and in the meantime they are offering refunds on any pre-orders who don’t want to wait for the finished product.
The MP5 is made from stamped metal welded into place. The original design was crafted so owners could clamp accessories to the top of the receiver — things like the B&T Picatinny clamp or the H&K scope claw mount. The problem with this setup: there’s an extra bit of engineering between the receiver and the optic, something that can wiggle loose during extreme use that also adds to the overall height of the gun.
BA’s solution: weld a custom Picatinny rail directly to the top of the receiver. This provides the smallest overall profile for the firearm and allows an optimal co-witness between the iron sights and a red dot (like the Aimpoint above). It also increases the firearm’s rigidity and structural stability. The MP5K design already calls for a couple strengthening plates at the rear of the firearm. Brethren’s modification adds an additional strengthening point, which is a good thing indeed.
With two exceptions — the welded rail on top and the custom trigger pack which keeps users from dropping in a full-auto pack, making an illegal machine gun — the BA9C is otherwise 100 percent compatible with existing MP5K parts. The SB Tactical pistol arm brace for the MP5K, for example, fits with ease. Silencers (both 3-lug and 1/2×28 varieties) are completely compatible. And magazines of all shapes and sizes are good to go.
Out on the range the gun performs like the thoroughbred she is. The BA9C’s standard MP5 trigger is a little on the squishy side for my taste, but it’s hardly a thrill killer. I ran through 200 rounds just chucking lead at dirt clods before I could get myself to focus on anything more precise. Add a silencer like this Liberty Suppressors Mystic-X and you’ve got yourself an amazing firearm for some quiet fun. Add a stock and it’s an ideal gun for new shooters.
Standing at 30 feet and using the Aimpoint red dot I was able to slide five rounds into the ragged hole you see before you. It was just a little north of an inch wide, but good enough for shooting whatever needs to be shot. From plate racks in a 3-gun competition (trooper division, for example) to just pinging steel in your backyard, the BA9C doesn’t disappoint.
Brethren Armament has knocked this one out of the proverbial park. They’ve brought sexy back, MP5 style. There’s no doubt that Brethren makes the finest example of the legendary gun available on the market today. Priced within $200 of its imported competition, this is the one to have.
Specifications – Brethren Armament BA9 Compact Pistol (MP5K)
Barrel: 5.8 inches
Weight: 5.5 lbs empty
Capacity: 30 round magazine
Ratings (Out of Five Stars):
(All ratings are relative compared to the other weapons in the gun’s category.)
Accuracy: * * * * *
One-hole groupings, well within the size of a small plate on a plate rack.
Ergonomics: * * * *
It’s got the H&K safety selector, which is to say awkward. I’m dropping a star because the seam down the middle of the trigger pack is a little rough.
Ergonomics Firing: * * * * *
Just like a standard MP5K.
Customization: * * * *
There are tons of aftermarket parts, from silencers and buttstocks to slings and replacement sights.
Overall Rating: * * * * *
For those who don’t have the cash for the original full-auto MP5, Brethren’s American-made model is a fun, faithful representation of a classic firearm.