MP-5A2 MP-5A3
Caliber 9x19mm Parabellum (also .40S&W and 10mm Auto)
Weight, empty 2.54 kg 2.88 kg
Length 680 mm 490 / 660 mm
Barrel length 225 mm
Rate of fire 800 rounds per minute
Magazines 15 and 30 rounds

HK MP-5A2 with fixed stock and plastic S-E-F trigger group.

The Heckler und Koch submachine gun, MP-5, is one of the most famous and wide-spread firearms of its class, developed since the Second World War. Its development began circa 1964 under the company designation HK MP-54, or simply HK 54. In the 1966, German police and Border Guard adopted the HK 54 as the MP-5, and it was originally available in two forms – MP-5 with fixed buttstock and MP-5A1 with retractable buttstock. Some years later HK slightly upgraded the design of MP-5, replacing the sights (from flip-up open notch rear and blade front to drum-type diopter rear and hooded post front) and the muzzle (replacing the two-slot muzzle compensator to the tree-lugs QD silencer mount without compensator). Other improvements made over the time concerned the magazines (early type magazines were of straight box type, latter – of curved box type for improved reliability). The trigger units also were upgraded – from original stamped steel with plastic grip to the all-plastic units, integral with grip, and with various fire modes and marking. Over the years MP-5 were adopted by the huge numbers of police, security and military forces around the world, including the German police and border guard, British police and elite Army SAS units, American police, FBI, Navy and Marine Corps, and many, many others. MP-5 is still manufactured in Germany by the HK itself, and also licensed to Greece, Iran, Pakistan and Mexico. The only real rival to the MP-5 in the terms of proliferation across the world is the famous Israeli UZI submachine gun. Most interestingly, the German Army (Bundeswehr) did not adopted the MP-5, most probably due to the economical reasons, and turned instead to the… UZI submachine guns, made under license in Belgium.
The success of the MP-5 is outstanding. It is based on the high quality and reliability of the gun, great single-shot accuracy (thanks to its closed bolt action), great flexibility and, of cause, good marketing. It seems that no other modern SMG at this time can rival the MP-5 in popularity (UZI is not manufactured anymore).

HK MP-5N. Modern version developed for US Navy. Features plastic trigger group of latest design, with ambidextrous selector lever and “icon” markings. Barrel is threaded to accept US-made detachable silencers, in addition to HK standard three-lug mounts. Retractable buttstock of A3 configuration.

The MP-5, basically, is no more than the scaled-down version of the Heckler-Koch G3 battle rifle. It shares the same basic design with stamped steel receiver and the same roller-delayed blowback action, derived from the post-war CETME rifles. The trigger units are hinged to the receiver and are now available with various fire mode options,  including 2 (Safe, Semi-auto), 3 (Safe, Semi, Full Auto) or 4 (Safe, Semi, Limited burst of 2 or 3 rounds, Full auto) position levers, ambidextrous or not, and marked with letters, digits or icons. The MP-5 is always fired from closed bolt for improved accuracy, but this limits the amount of sustained fire due to the barrel overheating and resulting cook-off problems. To avoid this, MP-5 cocking handle could be locked in the rear position in the special slot, leaving the bolt in the open position, with no cartridge in the chamber. To commence the fire one must simply release the cocking handle from its notch and then pull the trigger. Modern MP-5 submachine guns are equipped with three-lug quick detachable silencer mounts on the barrel. Sights are similar to other HK models, and consists of the front hooded post sight and the adjustable for windage and elevation drum-type diopter rear sight. Special quick-detachable clamp mounts allows for installation of night, optical and red-dot sights if required. Standard magazine capacity is 30 rounds, but shorter 15 rounds magazines are available. Special versions were developed and manufactured in limited numbers during 1980s-90s for the US Law Enforcement market, chambered for more powerful 10mm Auto (10x25mm) and .40S&W (10x22mm) ammunition. These guns can be easily distinguished from more common 9mm models by straight box 30 rounds magazines, made from plastic.

Navy Seals with MP5N

While all of MP-5 can be fitted with silencers, there also a dedicated silenced version of MP-5, called MP5SD2 or SD3 (depending on the stock type). This version is equipped with non detachable integral silencer, and the vented barrel, to reduce the bullet muzzle velocity down below the speed of sound. The MP-5SD is intended to fire standard 9mm ammunition, not the special subsonic one.

Semi-automatic only versions of the MP-5 were once made for civilian market under the designation of HK-94, some with longer, 16 inch (406 mm) barrels, to conform with US laws. There also is an US company, called Special Weapons LLC, that is manufacturing semi-automatic, civilian MP-5 clones in various pistol calibers, including the .45ACP.

Visual difference between trigger units:
left -earliest type stamped steel with plastic grip (converted from semi-auto only civilian gun HK 94, with American markings on selector);
middle – early type all-plastic with S-E-F markings;
right – most modern all-plastic design of “A4” variation, with additional 3-rounds burst facility and icon markings.

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Instruction video – Part 1

Instruction video – Part2

G36 G36K G36C
Caliber 5.56x45mm (.223 Rem)
Length (buttstock open / folded) 998 / 758 mm 860 / 615 mm 720 / 500 mm
Barrel length 480 mm 320 mm 228 mm
Weight empty 3.6 kg (3.3 kg G36E) 3.3 kg (3.0 kg G36KE) 2.8 kg
Magazine capacity 30 rounds standard
Rate of fire 750 rounds per minute

The Heckler und Koch G-36 assault rifle had been born as HK-50 project in early 1990s. The reason behind that project was that the Bundeswehr (the German army), after the cancellation of the G11 and G41 projects, was left with outdated G3 rifle and no modern rifle, compatible with the current NATO standards at hands. So, the famous company Heckler & Koch was set to develop a new assault rifle for the both German army and the export. The new rifle should have been a flexible, affordable and extremely reliable design. And a modern of cause. It seems that the HK succeeds in every respects with the G36. The new 5.56mm assault rifle had been adopted by the Bundeswehr in the 1995, and in the 1999 the Spain adopted its slightly different, export version, G36E as its standard infantry rifle. The G36 also found its way into the hands of various law enforcement agencies worldwide, including British police and some US police departments. So far I’ve heard very few complaints about this rifle, and a lot of good revives and opinions. In fact, the only complaints about G36 that I know are the overheating of the handguards during the sustained fire, and the loose of zero of built in scope on some G36KE rifles, used by US police. Otherwise it is a really fine rifle, accurate, reliable, simple in operations and maintenance, and available in a wide variety of versions – from the short-barreled Commando (some even said that it’s a submachine gun) G36C and up to a standard G36 rifle and the MG36 squad automatic (light machine gun).

G36K – carbine version with standard dual scope mount and the buttstock folded

The G36, in severely modified form, also is used as a “kinetic energy” part of the US XM-29 OICW weapon. It also appears that in this form it also can be adopted by US Army as the separate XM-8 light assault rifle, to replace in the near future not so successful Colt M4 carbines, which are now in service with US military.

Technical description.
From the technical point of view, the G36 is a radical departure from all the previous HK rifles, based on the proven G3 roller-delayed system. The G36 is a conventional gas operated, selective fire rifle, made from most modern materials and using most modern technologies.

The receiver and most of the others external parts of the G36 are made from reinforced polymers, with steel inserts where appropriate. The operating system appears to be a modification of the older American Armalite AR-18 rifle, with its short stroke gas piston, located above the barrel, square-shaped bolt carrier and the typical rotating bolt with 7 locking lugs. Of cause, there also are many differences from the AR-18. The bolt carrier rides on a single guide rod, with the return spring around it. The charging handle is attached to the top of the bolt carrier and can be rotated to the left or to the right. When not in use, the charging handle aligns itself with the axis of the weapon under the pressure of its spring, and reciprocates with the bolt group at the top of the receiver. The gas block is fitted with the self-adjustable gas valve, that expels all the used gases forward, away from the shooter. The ejection window is located at the right side of the receiver and features a spent cases deflector to propel the ejected cases away from the face of the left-handed shooter.

All the major parts are assembled on the receiver using the cross- pins, so rifle can be disassembled and reassembled back without any tools.

The typical HK trigger unit is assembled in a separate plastic housing, integral with the pistol grip and the triggerguard. Thanks to this feature, a wide variety of firing mode combinations can be used on any rifle, simply by installing the appropriate trigger unit. Standard options are single shots, full automatic fire, 2 or 3 round bursts in any reasonable combinations. The default version is the single shots + 2 rounds burst + full auto. The ambidextrous fire selector lever also serves as a safety switch.

G36C – Compact or Commando version with open (iron) sights installed on the Picatinny rail

G36 is fed from the proprietary 30-rounds box magazines, made from translucent plastic. All magazines have special studs on its sides, so two or three magazines can be clipped together for faster reloading. The magazine housings of the G36 are made as a separate parts, so G36 can be easily adjusted to the various magazine interfaces. By the standard, the magazine release catch is located just behind the magazine, in the G3 or AK-47 style, rather than on the side of the magazine housing (M16-style). A 100-round Beta-C dual drum magazines of US origins also can be used (these magazines are standard for the MG36 squad automatic versions of the G36).

The side-folding, sturdy skeletonized buttstock is standard on all G36 rifles. It folds to the right side and does not interfere with rifle operation when folded.

The standard sighting equipment of the G36 consists of the TWO scopes – one 3.5X telescope sight below, with the second 1X red-dot sight above it. The sights are completely independent, with the former suitable for long range accurate shooting, and the latter suitable for the fast target acquisition at the short ranges. Both sights are built into the plastic carrying handle. The export versions of the G36 are available with the single 1.5X telescope sight, with the emergency open sights molded into the top of the carrying handle. The subcompact G36K Commando version is available with the integral Picatinny-type scope and accessory rail instead of the carrying handle and standard sights.

The standard G36 rifles can be fitted with the HK AG36 40mm underbarrel grenade launcher. It also can be fitted with the bayonets. Interestingly enough, G36 uses an AK-74-type bayonets, which are left from the now non-existent NVA (East Germany Army) stocks.

Caliber: 7.62mm NATO (.308 win)
Action: Roller-delayed blowback
Weight: 4.5kg
Overall length: 1023 mm
Barrel length: 450 mm (315 mm on G3KA4 model)
Magazine capacity: 20 rounds

G3A4 – retractable butt version of the G3

During the early- to mid-1950s West Germany, like the other NATO countries, faced the need for rearming its army for the newest common 7.62x51mm NATO caliber small arms. Initially Germans preferred the Belgian FN FAL rifle, and adopted it circa 1956 under the designation of G1. Due to obvious reasons Germany wanted to manufacture its military rifles, and attempted to buy a manufacturing license for FAL, but Belgium rejected the deal. So, Germany turned to the another design, available from Spanish company CETME, and known as the CETME mod. A rifle. Germany bought the manufacturing license for CETME rifle and transferred it to the Heckler und Koch (HK) company, located in Oberndorf. HK slightly modified the CETME design, and in 1959 the Bundeswehr (W.Germany Army) finally adopted the CETME / Heckler – Koch rifle as G3 (Gewehr 3 – Rifle, [model] 3). Since that time and until the 1995 the G3 in various modifications served as a general issue shoulder weapon not only for German Armed forces, but also for many other countries. Those include Greece, Iran, Mexico, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal, Sweden, Turkey and many other countries. Total of more than 50 countries during the last 40 years issued the G3 to its forces. The G3 was or still is manufactured in countries like the Greece, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Portugal and others. The key reason of high popularity of the G3 is that it is much simpler and cheaper to manufacture, than its major contemporary rivals – Belgian FN FAL and US M14. To the best of my knowledge, the HK itself continued to produce and offer the G3 until the year 2000 or 2001, when it finally disappeared from HK catalogs and web-sites. However, the HK still manufactures a wide variety of firearms, based on the G3 design but of different purposes and calibers, like 9mm MP-5 submachine guns, 5.56mm HK 33 assault rifles, 5.56mm and 7.62mm HK 23 and HK 21 machine guns, PSG1 sniper rifles etc. In general, the HK G3 rifle can be described as one of the best 7.62mm NATO battle / assault rifles – reliable, versatile, controllable, non-expensive and, finally, very popular. For the civilian markets, HK produced the semi-automatic only versions of the G3, initially known as HK 41 and later – as HK 91.

G3A3 with drum type rear sight, plastic ventilated handguards and fixed stock

The G3 rifle is a selective fire, magazine fed rifle, built using delayed blowback action, developed by German engineers at Mauser Werke late in the 2nd World War and refined in Spain, at the CETME company. Initial models of the G3 rifle were quite similar to CETME rifles, and even had “CETME” markings on the receivers (until 1961 or so). The roller-delayed blowback action is described under the CETME Rifles, so I will not repeat it here. The G3 is built using as many stamped parts as possible. The receiver is stamped from sheet steel. The trigger unit housing along with pistol handle frame, also are stamped from steel and hinged to the receiver using the cross-pin in the front of the trigger unit, just behind the magazine housing. Earliest G3 rifles also featured stamped handguards and CETME-type flip-up rear diopter sights. In the mid-1960s the initial design was upgraded to the G3A3 and G3A4 configurations. These rifles had ventilated plastic handguards and a drum-type rear diopter sights, marked from 100 to 400 meters. The G3A3 was a fixed butt version, with buttstock made from plastic, and the G3A4 was a telescope butt version, with retractable metallic buttstock with rubber buttplate. Late German production G3A3 and G3A4 models were built using new trigger units, integral with restyled pistol grip and triggerguard, made from plastic. The shortest version of the G3 was the G3KA4, similar to G3A4 but with shortened barrel. Every G3 rifle can be equipped with detachable bipods, claw-type detachable scope mounts. Long-barreled versions can be fitted with bayonet or used to launch rifle grenades from the barrel. Folding cocking handle is located on the special tube above the barrel, at the left side, and does not reciprocate when gun is fired. The safety / fire selector is located above the triggerguard on the left side of the trigger group housing and usually is marked “S – E – F” (Safe – Single shots – Full auto). Latest models could have selectors marked with colored icons.