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HK SP5K (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Over the last few years, we’ve all heard that one gun or the next will be the “MP5 Killer.” None of them have been that “MP5 killer.” In fact, roller lock firearms, and MP5 clones in general, are making a big comeback.

Many companies are making inexpensive semi-automatic MP5 clones, and a few are making expensive MP5 clones. As guy who keeps a roller-lock rifle in the truck at all times, I’m thrilled.

Finally, Heckler and Koch is on board with customer demand, making a civilian version of the famous MP5K, the SP5K. Well, MP5K-ish.

Gun Review: Heckler and Koch SP5K 9mm Pistol

The SP5K is in every way, both good and bad, an HK. The SP5K is manufactured in the legendary Oberndorf factory there in the Bundesrepublik. As such, the overall quality of the firearm is exceptional. Ze Germans have earned their reputation for strict quality control, and nothing has slipped through the cracks on this civilian focused model.

The semi-gloss finish is smooth and even throughout. The welds are even fish scales, with very little puddling. As far as tool marks, the gun is better-finished on the inside than out, something I’ve found common on many HK firearms.

Gun Review: Heckler and Koch SP5K 9mm Pistol

The sights on the HK SP5K are the same as on the HK MP5K and many other HK firearms going back decades. The sight set-up has spanned the ages because it works, and works very well.

The rear sight is a steel drum which, in this case, turns to allow slots of different widths. All of the rear sights are fairly wide, but the narrowest is still small enough for precise work.

Gun Review: Heckler and Koch SP5K 9mm Pistol

The front sight post is protected by a steel ring, which itself serves as a close range or low visibility front sight. Paint the front sight post with some bright paint and the result is a very visible post inside a ring. A silhouette at 15 yards fits inside that ring, making fast shooting in low light simple.

Gun Review: Heckler and Koch SP5K 9mm Pistol

Unlike the original MP5K, the SP5K includes a detachable Picatinny rail mount with the gun. The mount is easily removed, but there’s really no need to do so.

It sits below the sight line of the irons. If you are concerned that it would get in the way of releasing the charging handle with the HK approved “HK Slap” — and I was — fear not. I never had any issues getting the bolt locked back or released with a quick slap, even with the rail attached.

Adding a red dot optic to the SP5K would diminish the resemblance to the original select fire version, but the dramatic improvement in the ability to rapidly find and engage the target would overshadow the loss of style points. I’m not sure why HK chose to put an arrow on the left side of the rail mount, as the claw mounts on the other side make it abundantly clear how the rail has to go on.

Gun Review: Heckler and Koch SP5K 9mm Pistol

Of course, the SP5K is semi-auto only. It may look like submachine gun, but will fire just one round per trigger pull. The fire controls are appropriately marked, although otherwise identical to the full-auto and burst versions of the HK MP5 series. Unlike some of the HK rifles, the safe/semi selector is easily reached with either thumb.

Gun Review: Heckler and Koch SP5K 9mm Pistol

There is, sadly, no paddle-style magazine release. The button-style mag release is right-side-only and can’t be reached by the shooting hand while it grips the gun. You’ll need to reach over the magazine with your non-firing hand to hit the button. My fingers are long enough to get the job done, but small-handed shooters will have a challenge here.

Gun Review: Heckler and Koch SP5K 9mm Pistol

When it comes to accuracy, the SP5K has the same winning formula as all of the HK sub guns. Good quality + short barrel + long sight radius = precision.

The SP5K liked every round I threw into it. Using the supplied iron sights set on the narrowest setting, the dirt-cheap Armscor 147gr FMJ printed extremely consistent 1″ five-round groups averaged over four shot strings at 25 yards. So did the Armscor 115gr FMJ.

As a matter of fact, not a single round I shot through the SP5K averaged greater than 1.5″ groups at 25 yards. I suspect the limiting factor at that range was my eyes, not the gun itself. All accuracy shooting was done off a Caldwell Stinger shooting rest, turned backwards, and a small bag.

Gun Review: Heckler and Koch SP5K 9mm Pistol

The roller lock firearms are well-known for their reliability. The G3/G91, for instance, has been used all over the world and chugs along under the worst of conditions. However, it’s been my experience that the MP5 series likes to run soaking wet, and anything less often ends up in stoppages when firing full auto strings.

Not so for the semi-auto only SP5K. I sprayed a little EEZox into the gun prior to shooting, and never disassembled or lubed it again for the entire test. I put 400 Armscor 147gr FMJ through the gun, as well as 200 115gr FMJs and HPs from a variety of manufacturers without issue. It never failed to load from either factory-supplied 30-round magazine (it ships with two), never failed to fire, the mag to drop or load, nothing. It ran perfectly.

Gun Review: Heckler and Koch SP5K 9mm Pistol

My crushing disappointment with the SP5K is the barrel. Like the original MP5K, this pistol is not supressor-ready. The barrel is not an HK-flanged barrel. It is not left hand threaded. It is not right hand threaded. It is not threaded at all.

Even worse, it’s too short to thread. If you ever want to suppress this firearm, it will require a barrel change. A barrel change on the SP5K pistol is not cheap, and it’s not easy for the user.

This is a missed opportunity by HK and it took me from interested to “swipe left” with a quickness. Yes, it keeps with the MP5K, but since the forend was lengthened and changed for the hand guard anyway, there was plenty of room to add threads, which would still be tucked away and out of sight for anyone who didn’t want to silence the gun.

Gun Review: Heckler and Koch SP5K 9mm Pistol

The SP5K is actually slightly longer than the MP5K because of its weird hand guard. According to the HK website, that hand guard is “designed with special ergonomic and safety features to protect the shooter’s hand and provide a comfortable and stable grip.”

Is one of those “safety features” placing your thumb parallel to, but well in front of the muzzle? Because that’s exactly what the SP5K’s manual asks you to do. The barrel ends directly forward of the front sight. The plastic hand guard extends beyond that, and the thumb rest cut into the hand guard is in front of the muzzle.

As long as your thumb is on that rest and the barrel holds, I find it impossible for a round to exit the barrel in a way that would injure the shooter. But I still don’t like it.

Gun Review: Heckler and Koch SP5K 9mm Pistol

First, my size large hands make it so that my support thumb can extend beyond the hand guard. On a quick snap shoot, if I hold it the way HK says I should, my thumb can end up in the way of a bullet. I seriously doubt that would ever happen, but the hand guard is a set up for failure.

Speaking of failure, in the extremely unlikely case of a barrel failure, now your support hand is in line with the shrapnel. That’s not the case with a vertical grip, or a traditional handgun.

Gun Review: Heckler and Koch SP5K 9mm Pistol

Of course, the fix for that is to just hold the magazine well, which is, in effect, what you are doing on a traditional handgun anyway. I think most folks will just grab it there naturally. In fact, almost every photo and video on the HK website shows shooters grabbing the gun by the magazine well. I did the same, and found it easy control the SP5K’s minimal recoil.

The reason for the SP5k’s awkward hand guard is likely an overabundance of caution. The good folks in Germany don’t want there to be any doubt that the SP5K is a pistol and not an SBR.

By including the horizontal hand guard and explaining how to use it in the manual, they are making it clear that the magazine well is NOT a vertical grip, which would therefore reclassify the pistol as a Short Barreled Rifle.

If you did want to convert the HK pistol to an SBR, there are other hand guards that you could swap out, after purchasing your rights back from our benevolent overlords, of course.

Gun Review: Heckler and Koch SP5K 9mm Pistol

The trigger on the SP5K is, unfortunately, also true to the MP5K. It breaks somewhere between 6.7 and 10 lbs., with a long pull and a lot of squishiness in there. The trigger was designed for military and police use of a select fire submachine gun, not for semi-auto fast and precise trigger pulling.

It works great as the former, not great as the latter. Of course, the MP series has been out a long time, and custom upgrades for the trigger are available. Expect to pay $200 or more to get your trigger safe, reliable, and down to a crisp and clean 5 lb. pull.

Gun Review: Heckler and Koch SP5K 9mm Pistol

Of lot of folks, including myself, would doubt a pistol such as the SP5K would be controllable in rapid fire at 25 yards or more. I know the MP5K is, but that’s just one trigger pull for either a burst or solid stream of rounds. I’ve done it plenty of times, and keeping every round inside a 19″ wide silhouette at 25 yards is not an issue.

With the SP5K, you’ve got to pull that long, squishy trigger every single time. Because the of the low recoil of the firearm, it was actually that trigger pull that slowed me down in rapid fire, not the time it took to get the sights back on target.

With the pistol slung up and holding firm, I was able to keep the sights generally aligned during firing. The above 30 rounds group was fired standing at 25 yards in 8.85 seconds. That’s not bad, but better shooters could likely do it much faster.

As usual, Heckler and Koch is extremely proud of their work. You can buy the semi-auto only SP5K at the same price that an NFA dealer can purchase the full-auto MP5K; $2,699. No, that’s not a misprint. For that coinage, you get the HK name and the commitment to quality that comes with it.

As is, it’s a neat gun. SB Tactical makes a folding brace that fits this model, and so equipped, it takes this neat gun up a big level. If it were mine, I’d SBR it in order to put a stock and vertical foregrip on the firearm. But sadly, I won’t, because of that unthreaded barrel.

Gun Review: Heckler and Koch SP5K 9mm Pistol


armscor advanced tactical

Specifications: HK SP5K 9mm Pistol (Part no. M750900-A5)

Caliber: 9mm x 19
Magazine Capacity: 30 rounds (2 included)
Trigger Pull Weight: 6.74 – 10.11 pounds
Overall Length: 13.9 in
Height: 8.66
Barrel Length: 4.53 in
Sight Radius: 10.2 in.
Weight: 4.2 lb (without magazine)
MSRP: $2699

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style and Appearance * * * * *
Iconic. The HK MP5K is somehow both retro and futuristic at the same time. The SP5K is no different.

Customization * * and * * * * * if you have to have it
There’s an endless amount of accessories available for this firearm from HK and multiple other vendors. But most aren’t cheap, and some, (like the HK flanged barrel) are ridiculous in price. With enough money, you can turn this into a semi-auto MP5K clone. Be prepared to spent some coin to get there.

Reliability * * * * *
Runs perfectly, even dry.

Accuracy * * * * *
One-inch five-round groups for the average on several different loads. If that was it, this would be a 4 star rating. The exceptional consistency, across a wide variety of bullet types and weights, as well as multiple manufacturers, gets another star added to the rating.

Overall * * *
The inability to put a can on this gun is such a monumental disappointment for me it overshadows everything else. The trigger is acceptable on a full-auto gun, but not up to par for the semi-auto “sub-guns” of today. The support hand grip is strange and a little scary. HK could have chosen to upgrade those features to what we now expect of a semi-auto sub, but they didn’t. That said, the SP5K s an extremely well-built, surprisingly easy to control, perfectly reliable pistol. If you want the closest thing you can get to a new MP5K from HK, without shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for a transferable submachine gun, the Heckler and Koch SP5K is it.

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  1. Would love to have one…almost 2,700 reasons that I probably will never own one.

    As a side note: Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever? My daughter has one and he is a hoot to be around…so much personality…so much hardheadedness…all in one 35 lb dog.

  2. $2700? That’s a bit steep for a gun that you will have to re-barrel and then add a tax stamp and stock to. It may be an abomination, but my dream is to have an A3 style collapsible stock and VFG on my little MP5K clone. Perfect counterpart to the P90 that I will never have. (Mostly because re-barreling a PS90 is insanely hard and I’m not in a hurry to stock an entirely new high volume intermediate cartridge.)

    • I recently found a company local to me that will cut and re-thread the original FN barrel because I didn’t want a CMMG conversion.

      However, I’m not ready to buy one. For the sheer fact that it doesn’t have the happy time trigger pack and I feel that’s where it shines the most. Same thing with the Kriss. If I could get a factory 5.5” 10mm with 2rd burst, I’d die happy.

    • Can you run an A3 collapsible stock on a MP5k? I didn’t think they would fit because of the welded reinforcement tabs that cover the channels on the back of the receiver the stock legs collapse into. I’ve only ever seen sidefolders on a MP5k. This might be just the excuse you need to buy a MP5k Reverse Stretch. It looks like PSA is going to be bringing one out, just wait for all the initial buyers / beta testers to iron out all the bugs first.

        • That would certainly look cool. After trying SB Tactical’s similar collapsible brace on an AR15 I wonder how much you would like it though.

          I’ve got both a Choate side folding stock with all the spacers installed and a SB Tactical side folding B&T style brace and I like the brace better than the stock only because the length of pull is slightly longer.

          If you haven’t already replaced the notched rear sight drum with a diopter drum I definitely recommend it. I got a US made drum for about $25 and it was a big improvement. They are a PITA to install though.

    • Apparently I can’t post a link but a quick Google search will find them. That said, as I said in the article, I find it extremely unlikely.

  3. Does my Scorpion not count as an “MP5 killer” simply because it costs half as much, even with a tax stamp and upgrades? 🙂

  4. “Hey everybody…!!,
    A new gun review is here!
    A new gun review is here!”

    Thank you young Mr Taylor for doing the good work.

  5. There are at least 3 companies making MP 5 clones, Zenit, POF and PTR.
    All 3 have either barrel threads or a tri lug for a silencer.
    Some are even made on HK machines. All cost less than the HK product.
    The MP 5 is cool but it is 1970’s technology.
    Pistol caliber carbines have been brought into the 21st century with offerings like the CZ scorpion, Sig MPX and Vector.
    You could buy a Scorpion pistol, Scorpion carbine a silencer and a tax stamp and 500 rounds of ammo for the price of the MP 5.
    The Scorpion can even be loaded using an HK slap on the charging handle!
    Or is that now a Cz slap?

    • I agree 100 percent.

      Unless i am mistaken, it also comes neutered if you want to shoot it suppressed and hence would need a barrel change. Also I toyed with the idea of buying one (cost be damned) and SBR-ing it and couldn’t find one anywhere.

    • From H&K, buy our genuine German product and not those cheap knockoffs made on our own tooling with assistance from us.

    • Yeah, the entire MP5 craze is largely a matter of preference these days. I’m not a big fan of the ergonomics on the Scorpion but love the Vector. Sadly, Vector distributors refuse to sell factory SBRs to my state (despite the fact that they are legal) and it’s the only way to get one with the small folding stock rather than the AR buffer tube adapter abomination they put on their “pistol” variants.

      I like my Zenith, it’s in the same price range as the Vector or MPX, but has a plethora of HK after-market upgrades available. Might have to get around to filing the paperwork to put a real stock on it rather than the brace that lives there ATM.

    • Good points, but to be fair, the AR is 1950s technology, and the AK is 1940s tech. It being older isn’t really a mark against it. All the more modern pistol caliber carbines I know of use fairly old tech as well, even if it is in a new chassis. Even the p90 design is 30 years old.

    • There’s a mp5/10mm parts kit with flat and weldment kit on Sturmgewehr.com on the NFA boards for $2,400. FYI

  6. Cool. If I had unlimited funds, I’d get one. But not so cool that I would buy one at that price without winning the lottery.

    • “Cool. If I had unlimited funds, I’d get one.”

      I’d be willing to bet if you won the lottery you’d get an original transferable select-fire variant.

      …and a 55 gal. drum of 9mm for it…

      • I’d have to move first, but yeah, maybe. Might be some Islands off the coast of the Carolinas I could buy and set up my own NFA-themed range with ‘unlimited’ money.

        Let’s call this the “if I won the lottery… no, not the powerball, the other one…” option.

  7. I have a German RR MP5 that I’ve run dry since 1985… must be 90,000+ rounds through it. I took it apart for only the second time in it’s life this past year and was amazed at the amount of sludgy, oily, burnt and unburnt powder looking residue everywhere. I shoot it suppressed about 60% of the time so I cleaned it all up and did lube it and gained maybe 200+ rounds per minute in full mode.

    Having said that, when I’m ready for an MP5K it will not be this ridiculously overpriced non threaded pos. PTR makes a beautiful MP5K clone in at least two versions for half the price of the HK and accepts all German parts so far as I’ve found so far. I’ve sold a few, just haven’t kept one for me yet.. still saving for a HK registered sear pack.

  8. Reminiscent of the HK SP89 back in the day for about $999.00 and the OEM Laser for a total of $1,300. Had additional accessories if you wanted, like a claw mount for optics and detachable stocks by removing the rear plate with sling swivel. It was a a bit pricey three decades ago, but very cool.

  9. JWT, what roller locked gun do you carry in your vehicle? I wouldn’t want to leave one in my car all the time because other than a PTR91 they all cost so much.

  10. I ran into these same issues when I got my SP-89. The MP5 connection was cool, but being a huge 9mm handgun with bad ergonomics, it wound up being a safe queen for several years.

    Eventually I gave it a makeover… SBR tax stamp, 922r parts, Choate stock, vertical foregrip, clip and pin ambi lower, paddle mag release, rebarrel to a 3-lug with threads. Aside from a lack of full-auto, it’s very much a MP5K-PDW, and become my favorite gun to shoot.

    SP5K is in the same boat… as shipped, it’s cool but also kind of “meh”. It has the potential to be completely awesome, but becomes quite an expensive project, even if you forgo the auto-sear.

  11. The only reason to get one of these is because it says HK on the side. After the boat full of Zenith / MKE guns arrives they are about $1k less than the HK, but have a 2 pin lower, paddle mag release and are available with a threaded 3 lug barrel. Sadly right now I think you have to wait for the next batch to be imported. I have also heard good things about the PTR versions of the MP5 which are within a few hundred of the Zenith guns ($1600-1800).

    If the HK had a paddle mag release and a threaded tri-lug barrel I could see paying a few hundred more for the HK vs a Zenith. Paying $1k more and then having to pay another $1k+ to modify the gun is just crazy.

  12. You know, we always say that Heckler and Koch WON’T service the consumer market properly, but have we ever considered that they maybe CAN’T?

    $2700 for a non-threaded barrel, strange front handguard, and a trigger that could use improvement? Big oof.

  13. Would be fun to play with one.

    That said….if I am going to have an oversized pistol that is not an SBR, I will take a Tec9.

    I almost bought an UZI pistol back in the day when they were being liquidated for around 300 bucks. You could kind of shoot it like a pistol but the terrible trigger made them decision for me.

    I think now I would get a Glock long slide and a giggle stick or a KelTec Carbine. Fun to shoot and no mortgage needed.

    The added bonus is that I don’t have to give money to HK.

  14. I own an sp5k that I got for “cheap”. I actually wanted a k gun, and can appreciate it for what it is. Ain’t no safe queen since I don’t mind shooting it at the price point I got it for and the brace I put on makes it shoot very nicely. Yes, it ain’t perfect like what has been mentioned in the review, but I think the point of it not having a trilug or threaded barrel is a bit over blown everywhere. It’s called a sp5k after all, not sp5k-pdw.

  15. I have to say, I cannot see the point in a semi-auto MP5 clone. It makes about as much sense as “virtual sex” or non-alcoholic beer: ie, “…you could, but why would you want to?”

    As for roller locking to delay blowback: It’s far easier to get a gas-operated action tuned and running correctly, and they’re more forgiving of changing your bullet mass and brass thickness. The firearms world is replete with blowback designs that try to build in some hesitation to opening the breech while the pressure is still high. The Thompson has the Blish Effect block, the Remington Model 51 has the delayed/inertia blowback system, etc, etc.

    • I don’t think there is a tuned action for a roller lock firearm. They are all essentially fantastically overgassed. We have a full auto g3 at the shop and a PTR 91 in my truck. Both send brass a good 20 yards or more down range. The G3 just a lot more of it. The fals were not quite that bad, but still pretty bad.

      As far as the semi-auto version of subguns, this is where HK, CZ, Kriss, and everyone else that isn’t an AR has failed. None of them came out of the box with a crisp, short, fast trigger. Full auto is a lot of fun. But really fast is still pretty fun. Slow squishy trigger pulls? Not fun.

      That’s one of the reasons why the AR sub gun is so much fun. There are short, fast AR triggers available. Brethren Ams, the only people that make a better HK than HK, can get it done for the HK, but they are pricey.
      Apparently the new Skorpitrol for the CZ scorpion can do it. And they tell me they are working on an HK version as well. If that is the case, PTR is going to make a lot of money off those guys.

    • As someone that spent a year working on a gas op 9mm AR-15, which I can share photos and details of what’s required, If it were easy then Boom Bros/Rudy would have them out in the wild. There is just not enough gas to work with to have it run reliably without hot loads or a suppressor. I made it work with both but not with run of the mill store bought ammo. Lightweight bolt carrier, lightened recoil spring, pin INSIDE the barrel extension to keep the brass from tipping out too early. It is doable but it is not what you think it is when it comes to 3.5gr of powder in a rather large bore diameter. That said, when it runs right, the complete lack of recoil is hilarious.

      • Oh ya and then I built an MP5. Its heavy as hell but I don’t think blowback guns warrant their pricetag for 1.2lb of sprung steel and the MP5 could be built over time as opposed to plopping down the money for the MPX.

  16. Now most of the people who dreamed of hk releasing a civilian mp5 can keep dreaming that they wish they had the small fortune to spend on it.

    Well played hk, well played.

  17. My Cz scorpion scratches 99% of the same itch that this gun does. Functionally it works as an excellent affordable substitute that I can suppress out of the box. I can even lock the charging handle back and do the HK slap with it if I so choose.

    The only thing it doesn’t really let me do is quote 80s action movies while at the range. I’m sure it’s also not as good as this when trying to do 80s hipfire because it’s too new. I can live with that.

  18. HK makes fabulous guns that are overpriced. This is another example. It’s not a hunting gun, can’t be suppressed, costs more than most guns no matter what the model and is only available in 9mm.

  19. You can get 5 DRACOs, w/ ammo and drums, for just one of these pea shooters.

    Do the math. Not Obamacare math, real math.

  20. I think the point isn’t that it’s equal to the other gun, but that anyone can own one and shoot something that is short, compact, handy and usually out of reach due to restrictions on what civilians can own. I don’t really care about adding on a suppressor if I don’t have the need and money for it. The same goes for buying a fully automatic pistols or rifle and going thru the legal hoops to own one of those.

    The price may be high, but that is expected until an american company builds one for less such as we have seen done with some other firearms that are high priced or have been out of production or unavailable on the market for many years. Buying a BMW in Germany is like buying a Ford in the United States, but buy the BMW in the US and it’s a luxury item for those with thicker wallets.

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