MP5 Clones: How to Pick the Best Option
OutdoorHub Reporters 08.29.18
The Heckler & Koch MP5 is arguably one of, if not the most popular submachine gun in the world. Designed in West Germany in the 1960’s, this well designed machine gun uses a roller locking mechanism, much like the larger FAL, CETME or G3 style 7.62 NATO rifles. More importantly for lowly private citizens who cannot aspire to the joys and wonders of a 9mm with a giggle switch, there are a great many MP5 clones out there which mimic this famous design, while being legal semi automatic handguns.
While not the most practical configuration for a semi auto pistol, there are a number of reasons to own an MP5 clone. Not the least of which is collecting something cool and fun to shoot at the range. Another, is to convert into short barrel rifles where legal. These MP5 clone based SBR’s then become very practical home defense and tactical weapons, along with adding a new level of fun to range shooting, so let’s take a look at a few MP5 clones.
The Zenith Z-5RS MP5 clone, is probably the premier MP5 copy on the market today. Made under HK license, and on HK tooling, it is about as close to a real HK MP5 as you can get, without paying HK prices. Like all MP5 clones, the Z-5RS is a precision made welded and assembled semi auto pistol unlike any other submachine pistol copy. Featuring a top Picatinny rail, it is easier than ever to install modern optics on an MP5 clone.
One of the more interesting MP5 clones is the PTR 9CT pistol. A high quality copy of HK’s gun, PTR Industries is a US based company, which allows them to supply guns to the US market without worrying about import issues and foreign trade. Featuring a top Picatinny rail, Atlantic Firearms also ships a unique folding wrist brace with the PTR 9CT. This allows the shooter to come close to legally mimicking a carbine style gun, without needing to register it as a short barrel rifle.
Dakota Tactical offers an incredibly well built MP5 clone. Choosing to focus on the expensive and elite SBR market, Dakota Tactical builds high end MP5 clones that might be built better than the real thing from Germany. Because these are sold as SBR’s, they require a tax stamp which comes with a multiple month waiting period. However, they are extremely nice MP5 clones, and again come with a Picatinny top rail for optics mountings.
Choosing an MP5 Clone
The good news is that there are plenty of MP5 clones on the market. The bad news is they aren’t cheap. With prices well over $1000 and higher, these are not simple impulse purchase guns, but rather something of an investment. With that in mind, buying a Zenith MP5 clone is the closest thing you’ll get the real HK experience. Beyond that, buying to a price point might be your best course of action.
MP5 style guns are not cheap to make. While most sheet metal receiver guns are inexpensive and easy to make by design, the MP5 is expensive to build. The carefully rolled and shaped design sections require skill and special tooling to form, and these parts must be welded together after shaping.
The delayed roller blowback system offers incredible light recoil due to the way the roller delayed system handles recoil and directs blowback energy. This also improves accuracy, but also increases cost of production when compared to traditional blowback guns.
Because MP5 clones are sold to an upscale market, they are also often finished to a high level of quality. We can see this when we look at different models from different companies. Each manufacturer tries to create a high quality finish that invokes the legendary quality of HK.
The somewhat limited market for MP5 clones also hurts prices. While there is clearly enough of a market for there to be multiple competing products, the volume of production to really drive prices down just isn’t there, so MP5 style pistols become boutique items.
This raises another issue. MP5 clones are cool because, well, they are copies of a legendary submachine gun. However, in the process of turning a submachine gun into a semi auto pistol, something gets lost in translation. While it is true, losing the full auto parts won’t affect design, losing the buttstock does. Now you can attach wrist braces that give you some of that look and function back, or you can register your gun as a short barrel rifle, or you can simply live without a buttstock. However, stockless versions are never going to be as accurate and efficient as ones with stocks, making MP5 pistols something of a gimmick without investing more money in wrist braces or tax stamps.
MP5 clones are increasingly more common, and built to high quality or even licensed HK products. While expensive, they are unique collectible guns that can also be highly effective personal defense weapons. And if nothing else, they bring a smile to your face when you shoot them.