Obscure Object of Desire: The Walther MPK Submachine Gun

Walther MPK submachine gun

Courtesy Joe Grine

In the summer of 1972 I was five years old. I don’t remember much from that time but I have a fairly good memory of the TV news reports of the Munich Olympic Village massacre, where the Palestinian group Black September murdered 11 Israeli Olympic athletes.

One thing that didn’t go unnoticed: the unique Walther MP series submachine guns used by first responder German Polizei units. They looked so sinister. It would take more than four decades for me to finally actually fire one, an opportunity provided by Battlefield Vegas.

Walther MPK submachine gun

The 9mm parabellum MPK (Courtesy Joe Grine)

The post-World War II cold war era saw a renaissance in submachine designs, including the UZI, the MAT-49s and Beretta Model 12.

Walther saw the need for a for a more lightweight design which would be both controllable and reliable. The fruit of their labor — the Walther MP series of SMGs — entered production in 1963.

A few years later, competitor Heckler & Koch would perfect the SMG via its roller-lock design, producing the iconic HK MP5.

Despite getting to market first, the Walther MP submachine gun would always play second fiddle to the MP5. Although Walther secured a fair number of contracts from West German police departments and a few military forces here and there around the world, the MP’s were a disappointment commercially. Nonetheless, it remained in production for roughly twenty years.

Interestingly, United States special forces purchased a small number of MP series SMGs in the late 1960s and 1970s, including 1st SFOD-D and Navy SEALs. The photo below purportedly shows a SFOD-D operator using a Walther MP on the ill-fated Iranian hostage rescue mission:

Pic 3

Courtesy US Army

The Walther MP is a select-fire, open-bolt, blowback-operated submachine gun that fires the 9x19mm cartridge. Rounds are fed via a 32-round box magazine that appears to be based on the Carl Gustaf “Swedish K” stick magazines.

On full auto, the cyclic rate of fire is approximately 550 rounds per minute, making the weapon highly controllable. The Walther MP features a stamped steel upper and lower receiver. It’s typically found with a skeleton wire folding stock cloaked in a rubberized covering.

Walther produced two variants of the MP: the Walther MPL (Maschinenpistole Lang shown above) and the MPK (Maschinenpistole Kurz shown below). The primary difference between the two is the barrel length.

The MPL features a 10.2″ Barrel and the MPK sported a 6.8″ barrel. With the stock extended, the MPL is 29.5″ long (75cm), and the MPK measures 26″ (66cm) long.  The MPK was also 1/3 pound lighter than the MPL.

Walther MPK submachine gun

Courtesy Joe Grine

The Walther MP SMGs are interesting from a design standpoint for a number of reasons. First, it features an L-shaped bolt which rides partially above the barrel. This design reduces the length of the receiver, as shown in the photos below.

Walther MPK submachine gun

Courtesy Joe Grine


Walther MPK submachine gun

Courtesy Joe Grine

Second, the MP doesn’t have a firing “pin” per se, but rather features a nipple-like protrusion on the bolt face.

Walther MPK submachine gun

Courtesy Joe Grine

The Walther MP’s dual-purpose iron sights also deserve attention. It’s a long-range aperture sight. A “notch” style CQB sight is etched into the top. With this combination the shooter can take more precise shots at longer distances and use the notches on top for instinctive or point shooting at closer ranges.

My shooting experience with the Walther MPK was very pleasant and all too brief. The weapon can be easily be fired in 2-3 round bursts. Hits were easy to obtain.

My only real complaint: the three-position ambi selector switch isn’t nearly as easy to manipulate as an HK MP-5’s. Interestingly, the selector goes from safe (S) to full auto (D) and then finally to semi-Auto (E).

Walther MPK submachine gun

Left side of MPK receiver (Courtesy Joe Grine)

The two photos below show the barrel shroud, chamber, and the non-reciprocating bolt handle:

Walther MPK submachine gun

Courtesy Joe Grine

Walther MPK submachine gun

Courtesy Joe Grine

The next photo shows the lower receiver, highlighting the weapon’s use of a simple stamped metal design. Students of the gun will recall that the Germans pioneered the use of stamped metal in SMGs during WWII.

Walther MPK submachine gun

Courtesy Joe Grine

You can shoot 25 rounds through the Walther MP at Battlefield Vegas for a mere $40. Fifty rounds are a relative bargain at $75.

That’s a lot of coin, but for those of us who remember that sad day in Munich, the money buys you a little insight into an interesting question: what if?

Walther MPK submachine gun

Courtesy Joe Grine

Walther MPL
Caliber: 9×19 mm Luger
Weight unloaded: 3.0 kg
Length (unfolded / folded): 746 / 462 mm
Barrel length: 260 mm Rate of Fire: 550 rounds/min
Effective range: 200 m
Magazine capacity: 32 rounds

Walther MPK
Caliber: 9×19 mm Luger
Weight unloaded: 2.83 kg
Length (unfolded / folded): 659 / 381 mm
Barrel length: 173 mm Rate of Fire: 550 rounds/min
Effective range: 100 m
Magazine capacity: 32 rounds



  1. avatar The Goodson says:

    You lost me at “They looked so sinister.”

    1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

      That’s how things roll in TTAG. The reviewers don’t have long sticks shoved up their asses. Don’t let the door hit ya on the way out, ‘K?

      Buh-Bye, now… 😉

  2. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

    Who makes that tiny European SMG in .380?

    1. avatar Not Larry from Texas says:


      1. avatar jwm says:

        I thought the skorpion was a .32 acp.

        1. avatar Knute(ken) says:

          Most were, but it was also available in .380ACP. I think much later. like a decade or more. It must not be many, because every skorpion I’ve ever seen (or fired) was in .32.

        2. avatar Art out West says:

          As I recall, it was made in .32ACP, .380, and also 9×18 Mak.
          But mainly .32ACP.

    2. avatar Barnbwt says:

      B&T makes a smaller TP9 in 380

  3. avatar Knute(ken) says:

    Detailed video of the internals, and firing:

  4. avatar enuf says:

    I’d enjoy owning an automatic firearm just for the fun of it. The cost is simply beyond me. The major part of that is stupid laws that do nothing about crime or criminals. The minor part is the ammo cost to keep such a thing fed for a day at the range.

    1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

      “I’d enjoy owning an automatic firearm just for the fun of it. The cost is simply beyond me.”

      It will be a lot easier to stomach if we get the registry re-opened, usually a few hundred over the cost of the stamp, for a conversion.

      And I can’t think of a bigger ‘Fuck You’ Trump could do on his way out the door… 😉

    2. avatar Knute(ken) says:

      Plus, if the registry was reopened, .22RFs like the American 180 would make for a fantastic range day. Cheap ammo, little noise or recoil, massive mags, and a high ROF. What’s not to like?

      1. avatar Roger J says:

        I have an American 180 and it is a lot of fun to shoot. Very low recoil but blazing fast rate of fire. Mine tested at 1340 rpm. They are picky about ammo. I buy CCI Blazer ammo by the case (5000) off the internet for under $250. A 165 round lexan drum gives about 7 seconds of trigger time.

        1. avatar Knute(ken) says:

          I only shot one one time, but a 188 round drum would turn a cement block into a pile of grey dust in that few seconds. I’d sure like one but about a year after that the Hughes act closed the registry. Forever… maybe.

  5. avatar GS650G says:

    I think it’s pretty badass. Too bad it’s unobtainable for most of us. Perfect truck gun.

  6. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    I don’t say this to be mean. But as a statement my opinion. This machine gun and others like it are for rich white people. There are non white folks who have purchased MGs. But the majority are owned by whites. And really that’s ok. As long as anyone who has the money can buy one.

    Researchers or more correctly stated, “people who tinker”, have created the bump stock, the Fostech trigger, and 3D printed guns. They have created away to get the effect of a machine gun without the very high cost of a real MG.

    And that’s the real point about the 1934 National Firearms Act. Keeping the cost of guns out of the reach of a “certain class, or race, of people”. After the race riots of 1919 white lawmakers were very afraid of the blacks who had guns and fought back against the white mobs who invaded the black areas of town. And latter white criminals used MGs at the Kansas City massacre.

    Modern Technology made Hi Point firearms within reach of poor people. Not the best quality. But they work for those who can’t afford a $300 or more for a gun. Surprisingly there’s a great deal of disdain for new technology in the gun community as it is applied to making guns cheaper.

    Perhaps they fear cheap newer guns make for fewer purchases of older guns.
    All Hi point carbines are threaded now. 20 round magazines in 9mm and 45acp.
    The Ultimate Hi-Point Yeet Cannon 15 minutes long

    1. avatar D says:

      Putting race to the issue of machine guns is pathetically stupid

      1. avatar Chris T in KY says:

        The Racist Roots of Gun Control

    2. avatar Aleric says:

      Agree with you on the way machine guns have been relegated to only the rich or well connected. There is NO reason why automatic weapons should be outlawed.

      1. avatar Chris T in KY says:

        The world would be a safer place if more law abiding citizens owned MG’s.

  7. avatar Nick says:

    This thing looks like it jumped right out of the Fallout universe.

    Now I want one.

  8. avatar Scott C. says:

    Hey, this thing isn’t obscure! Ian did a video of this on “Forgotten Weapons”… oh wait… lol

  9. avatar Aleric says:

    Always thought the weapon looked like what the MP-40 would evolve into had the war gone on longer.

  10. avatar James Campbell says:

    6 coaches, 5 athletes, 5 Black September members, and 1 West German Police Officer were lost in the events that unfolded during the ’72 Munich Olympics siege.
    I actually focused my sidearm collection around the German guns designed/produced in response to the German Governments realization more powerful, quicker into the fight sidearm were needed.
    The Walther P5 & P5 Lang/Sig Sauer P6 (first released gun to merge manufacturers SIG and JP Sauer & sons names/ Heckler & Koch P7 grip cocker. These guns represent a high point in German all metal design (leading onto the poly guns), and belong in the collection of any serious collection.

    1. avatar Anymouse says:

      I wouldn’t call 5 Black September members”lost.” That’s like saying we lost Jeffery Dahmer when another inmate beat his brains out with a broomstick. Or we lost the Dayton shooter to police gunfire. Tough to lose something you never wanted.

    2. avatar Mastro says:

      Funny- all good guns- but other than the SIG- basically dead-ends. The Walther was a spiffed-up P38 and the H&K P7 was too clever by half (and too $$ by 2X)

      Maybe if H&K had given the VP70 a decent trigger, we would have had polymer framed guns 10 years earlier.

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