Keep­ing it kurz

Mod­ding and shoot­ing the Heck­ler & Koch SP5K


It only takes a split sec­ond to rec­og­nize the iconic lines of the MP5. One quick glimpse and you al­ready know what it is. That’s how fa­mous this gun is. In­tro­duced in 1964, Heck­ler & Koch’s MP5 “ma­chinepis­tole,” or sub­ma­chine gun, is among the most fa­mous mod­ern-era firearms.

The MP5 has been a work­horse for spe­cial op­er­a­tions and other mil­i­tary and law en­force­ment units world­wide for more than 50 years. To put that in per­spec­tive, the year that the MP5 was in­tro­duced saw LBJ in the Oval Of­fice and the Bea­tles make their first ap­pear­ance on the Ed Sul­li­van Show. Since then, its vari­ants have been seen ac­tion in all types of sce­nar­ios. It’s even been fea­tured on the big (and lit­tle) screen for decades. As pop­u­lar as the firearm is, it’s hard to be­lieve that a vari­ant hasn’t been avail­able to the civil­ian mar­ket in the States for over two decades.

With more than half a mil­lion MP5S and vari­ants sold world­wide, it bog­gles the mind why “the rest of us” were left with­out an of­fi­cial HK model un­til 2016. In 1989, HK re­leased a pis­tol ver­sion of the MP5 called the SP89. It was ba­si­cally a semi-auto ver­sion of the MP5K, which is

“De­signed as a pis­tol, the SP5K is meant to re­call the look and feel of the orig­i­nal mp5k.”

a pis­tol ver­sion of the MP5. The MP5K is a short­ened MP5, with the K stand­ing for Kurz—or “short” in Ger­man. It was orig­i­nally de­vel­oped for use in con­fined spa­ces and is suited for per­sonal de­fense and other some­times-clan­des­tine op­er­a­tions.

MP5K & SP89

The civil­ian ver­sion SP89 was im­ported for only four short years and was made un­avail­able for civil­ian pur­chase due to the 1994 Crime Bill. From then on, HK fans every­where were forced to buy their SP89 or MP5 vari­ant on the sec­ondary mar­ket or buy a clone. Count your­self lucky if you picked one up back then. For the rest of us, we would have to wait another twenty-plus years for our next chance to get our hands on one.

Un­like other MP5S, the MP5K and SP89 do not have shoul­der stocks and have end caps cov­er­ing the back of the re­ceiver. The bolts and re­ceivers were short­ened at the rear as well, mak­ing them re­mark­ably short. The same goes with the SP5K. It is es­sen­tially a mod­ern­ized ver­sion of the SP89 as both are semi-auto ver­sions of the MP5K with the SP5K pick­ing up a cou­ple of more mod­ern fea­tures over the SP89 pis­tol. The newly in­tro­duced SP5K car­ries on these traits and adds some new ones too.

Up­dated Fa­vorite

De­signed and man­u­fac­tured as a pis­tol for the civil­ian mar­ket, the SP5K is meant to re­call the look and feel of the MP5K. (Spoiler alert, it does this in spades.) The SP5K is man­u­fac­tured com­pletely in HK’S Obern­dorf fac­tory in south­west Ger­many and fea­tures the same cold-ham­mer-forged bar­rel used on the MP5K, en­sur­ing a ser­vice life of tens of thou­sands of rounds.

New to the SP5K are am­bidex­trous safety levers as well as a re­mov­able Pi­catinny rail for op­tics mount­ing. The hand­guard is also dif­fer­ent from the other mod­els. It was

“the SP5K fea­tures HK’S ro­bust roller-de­layed blow­back sys­tem.”

made more er­gonomic with added fin­ger pro­tec­tion from the muz­zle. With a gun this short, be­lieve us that it’s a wel­come ad­di­tion. HK in­cludes a hooded front sight as well as an ad­justable drum-style rear diopter sight for tar­get­ing. For those who shoot with red dots, the afore­men­tioned top rail is a use­ful new fea­ture.

The SP5K fea­tures HK’S proven and ro­bust roller-de­layed blow­back sys­tem for re­li­able func­tion­ing. We’ve been told that in or­der for HK to im­port the SP5K as a pis­tol, cer­tain “fun” fea­tures had to be cur­tailed. En­thu­si­asts look­ing to repli­cate an MP5 may be dis­mayed to find that the 4.5-inch bar­rel is both non-threaded and non-three-lug, which means that sup­pres­sors and other muz­zle de­vices can­not be mounted to it in stock form. The good news, how­ever, is that the bar­rel mounts the same as an MP5K’S, so a com­pat­i­ble off-the-shelf threaded or lugged bar­rel can be pressed in by a gun­smith.

The MP5K also fea­tures a but­ton mag­a­zine re­lease sim­i­lar to other HK firearms and other pop­u­lar guns such as the AR-15. Again, those look­ing to re­pro­duce a cer­tain look or func­tion of another MP5 vari­ant can add a pad­dle re­lease with help from a gun­smith.

Form 1

For those who are plan­ning to take the SP5K into NFA ter­ri­tory, you can fill out a Form 1 and turn your pis­tol into an SBR.

Af­ter it’s been SBR’D, the world of stocks is your oys­ter, so to speak, as any stock that would fit an MP5K will fit the SP5K as well.

Be­cause we en­joy Sbrs—who doesn’t?— we hit up Adam Web­ber over at HK Parts (hk­ for some guid­ance on how to bring our SBR’D SP5K up to speed. He sent us a host of good­ies in­clud­ing an HK Parts three-lug bar­rel and pad­dle re­lease up­grade kit to get us started on turn­ing the SP5K into more of a MP5K-PDW build. The U.s.-made bar­rel is milled to the lat­est specs of the MP5K-N bar­rel. Its three-lugged and threaded muz­zle gives us the abil­ity to mount sup­pres­sors.

“it may have taken 20-plus years, but it was worth the wait.”

“to im­port the SP5K as a pis­tol, cer­tain ‘fun’ fea­tures had to be cur­tailed.”

We turned to the ex­perts at RDTS Man­u­fac­tur­ing ( for the in­stal­la­tion of the new three-lug bar­rel and pad­dle mag­a­zine re­lease. RDTS is a NFA Class II man­u­fac­turer and has been han­dling af­ter­mar­ket mods on Hk-type firearms for decades. The work was quickly and ex­pertly per­formed and we had a track­ing num­ber within only a few short days. We eagerly an­tic­i­pated the SP5K’S re­turn to add on a host of other ac­ces­sories that we gath­ered for the build.

Af­ter re­ceiv­ing the gun back, we added an HK Parts en­hanced and con­toured cock­ing han­dle. The cock­ing han­dle of­fers twice the grab­bing area for charg­ing the firearm and is made from solid steel bil­let. This U.s.made part is 922R-com­pli­ant. As cliché as it might be, we had no ex­cuse not to do the “HK slap” to charge the gun now. It may be cliché, but it is fun.

In or­der to fit a flash­light and fore­grip, we opted to re­place the new SP5K’S hand­guard with an M-LOK style forend, also made by HK Parts. The 3.25-inch hand­guard is made of bil­let alu­minum, is a sim­ple drop-in re­place­ment, and has a very solid lock-up. We at­tached a Sure­fire M300 Mini Scout Light via an Arisaka In­line Scout Mount M-LOK mount, as well as BCM’S new M-LOK BCMGUNFIGHTER-VER­TI­CAL-GRIP for greater for­ward con­trol.

Some of our shoot­ers are used to a lower cheek­weld po­si­tion on the gun than the stock HK op­tic mount af­forded. Although this was a point that was not agreed upon by all, we went ahead and re­placed the ex­cel­lent fac­tory mount with an equally use­ful MFI Ul­tra Low Pro­file Red Dot Mount any­way. The mount in­ter­faced with our Vor­tex Ra­zor red dot per­fectly. We found the Ra­zor re­flex sight to be clear, com­pact, and durable dur­ing our time with it.

For quicker reloads we also in­stalled an HK Parts ex­tended mag­a­zine that at­tached to the pad­dle re­lease. Giv­ing the fin­ger an over­sized re­lease to push re­duces user er­ror and helps guar­an­tee that the mag­a­zine drops free ev­ery

time you press it. Own­ers of other types of guns will be glad to know that the re­lease will fit other pad­dle-re­lease-style ri­fles like the HK G3 and AK-47.

Last but not least on our mis­sion to SBR the SP5K was the ad­di­tion of an HK Parts PDW Te­le­scop­ing Stock. This five-po­si­tion ad­justable stock is made in the USA and is prob­a­bly the low­est-pro­file stock ever pro­duced for the MP5 fam­ily. Un­like other stocks made for Mp5k-type weapons, this stock col­lapses in­stead of folds. It can be set in five po­si­tions and fea­tures stain­less steel ni­tride-coated rails, a se­cure steel lock­ing mech­a­nism and a 7075 hard-an­odized alu­minum body.

Let the Good Times Roll

We han­dled the SP5K in as many con­fig­u­ra­tions as we could. First, we had it in its unadul­ter­ated state as a pis­tol. In this form, it was at its most com­pact and eas­ily han­dled, even sin­gle-handed. The 10.2-inch sight ra­dius gave us a nice ac­cu­racy ad­van­tage over tra­di­tional pis­tols. The pis­tol weighs 4.2 pounds, so it can be a hand­ful to keep sta­ble af­ter a while.

“For those plan­ning on NFA ter­ri­tory, you can fill out a Form 1 and turn your pis­tol into an SBR.”

An in­cluded bungee cord sling is used to not only sling the SP5K when it’s not in use, but to help sta­bi­lize shots when it is. Sim­ply wear it as you would a sin­gle-point sling, pull the gun for­ward, and use its “stretch” to help sta­bi­lize the weapon and re­duce fa­tigue while shoot­ing. It’s bril­liant re­ally. We didn’t have the op­por­tu­nity to try the SP5K with pis­tol braces, but we imag­ine they would make great ad­di­tions to the pack­age.

It goes with­out say­ing that we had a ton of fun us­ing the SP5K in SBR form. We con­fig­ured it in a few ways, in­clud­ing with a fold­ing stock and stock MP5K hand­guard as well as in the full-blown, decked-out, af­ter­mar­ket build de­scribed above. We were left smil­ing with ev­ery shot. But what got us even more smiles was still to come.

It was then that we were pre­sented with a Sure­fire SF Ry­der 9-MP5 Sup­pres­sor to at­tached to the three-lug bar­rel tip. As if the day couldn’t get any better! The SF

Ry­der is specif­i­cally made for use with HK Mp5-style three-lug at­tach­ments. The stain­less-steel-con­structed sup­pres­sor quickly at­taches by way of Sure­fire’s Fast-at­tach twist col­lar. It is de­signed for sub-ma­chine gun use, which means it per­formed with our semi-auto fire with ut­ter im­punity.

We at­tached the sup­pres­sor and went to

town. It is eas­ily dis­as­sem­bled for clean­ing and Sure­fire claims that it does not af­fect bul­let per­for­mance or in­crease point of im­pact/point of aim. Each of our shoot­ers was able to hit tar­gets from a few yards out to about 100 yards with ease. The SP5K is in­tu­itive to use and didn’t re­quire much get­ting use to, even for shoot­ers that were un­fa­mil­iar with the MP5 plat­form. The muf­fled shot that the SF Ry­der pro­vided was a wel­come sound to our ears.

Worth the Wait

We’re go­ing straight out say that we’re be­yond pleased that HK has brought the MP5 plat­form back to our shores. It might have taken more than 20 years, but it was worth the wait. The ul­tra-com­pact SP5K is a proven firearm that is also a hoot to shoot, sat­is­fy­ing to col­lect, and just as fun to mod­ify and con­fig­ure. If we had the abil­ity, we’d buy a few of them to make our own “HK Grey Room” at home. (If you don’t know what that is, look it up on­line.) One can al­ways dream!

“the sp5k is very in­tu­itive to use, even for shoot­ers un­fa­mil­iar with the MP5 plat­form.”

The SP5K is es­sen­tially a mod­ern­ized ver­sion of the SP89, which was in turn a pis­tol ver­sion of the ven­er­a­ble MP5.

The MCX is avail­able in 16-inch bar­rel length car­bine, 11.5inch SBR, 11.5-inch pis­tol and 9-inch pis­tol mod­els with dif­fer­ent cal­iber choices.

The MP5K was a short­ened MP5; the new SP5K car­ries many of its sig­na­ture traits and adds some new ones to the mix.

This is what we started with.

The SP5K you re­ceive from the fac­tory fea­tures am­bidex­trous safety levers and a quick de­tach op­tic mount, which are new ad­di­tions com­pared to pre­vi­ous in­car­na­tions. It also comes with an ul­tra-com­pact, un­threaded, non-three-lug cold­ham­mer-forged bar­rel as seen above.

Af­ter in­stalling our three-lug bar­rel and pad­dle mag­a­zine re­lease, we added an HK Parts cock­ing han­dle and M-LOK forend, MFI Ul­tra Low Pro­file Red Dot Mount, and PDW tele­scopic stock.

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