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