Walther MPK submachine gun
Courtesy Joe Grine
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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

 

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17 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve always hoped a company would come a long and start reproductions of some of these classic Cold War and WW2 SMGs. I think they’d be a big hit. If I was in the business I’d give it a try.

      • If we get the ‘Hughes Amendment’ killed off and get the New! (Or Improved!) select-fire registry re-opened, one of those ‘toys’ in some flavor is on my list…

        • I’d rather be the owner than the feeder… I can’t think of anything in my conglomeration of guns (as opposed to a collection) that hasn’t had at least DOUBLE the cost of it in ammo run through it!

        • “I’d rather be the owner than the feeder…”

          It absolutely can be an ammunition-generating machine if you own one. Folks ’round here have been offered ammo in exchange for letting them fire it.

          Very handy in times of ammo scarcity… 🙂

        • SMGs will become immensely popular is my prediction; The guns are so simple to make compared to closed bolt counterparts.

  2. I’ve shot a few SMGs. Mostly the Uzi and MP-5 platform. I think sub-guns are a good idea. No experience with this one. Looks like it, a few spare mags and 1000 rds of ammo could be a good time though.

  3. Does it shoot MOA? How’s the trigger? Does it come with canted iron sights, bipod, and a binary trigger? Worst review ever! Jk, it’s nice to get back to roots and experience historic guns. Now days everything is another polymer 9 and another AR15.

    • “Does it shoot MOA?”

      You’re joking, right?

      Open bolt SMGs fire only when the heavy bolt slams forward into the breech face.

      That means the muzzle won’t be pointed at what you aimed at unless you’re Superman.

      Pull trigger and feel a ‘click’. The heavy bolt lurches forward (pushing the muzzle downwards), picks up a round, and chambers the round. Just as soon at the heavy bolt stops it’s forward motion, the firing pin ‘nub’ crushes the primer, igniting it and the gunpowder. The gun fires, slamming that heavy bolt rewards and pushing the muzzle upwards, extracting the spent brass and spitting it out.

      All that considerable reciprocating mass going back-and-forth in your hands makes it near impossible to hold steady enough for anywhere near MOA accuracy, because you can’t hold one steady enough while firing full-auto…

  4. Great piece on an smg I wasn’t familiar with! Really cool and compact little piece.

    Re battle field Vegas….. so fun. My wife and I got in on their half price sale right when they opened up after Covid and spent like 3 hrs shooting 20+ different guns for $600. Frankly even at full price it’s worth it for true gun nuts. I only regret not buying more time on the m249. The small 25rnd belt or maybe even 20 was over way too fast.

  5. The Walther MP’s double reason iron sights likewise merit consideration. It’s a long-range opening sight. A “score” style CQB sight is carved into the top. With this mix the shooter can go after longer distances and utilize the indents on top for natural or point taking shots at closer ranges.

  6. Our local Sheriff’s Department SWAT team had a couple of MPK’s in the mid 70’s to mid 80’s, shortly before switching to MP-5’s. Don’t know what happened to the MPK’s. Either they traded them in or sold them to another Department. I missed getting a chance to actually shoot one by a couple of years.

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