I thought I’d do a review of another of my Umarex guns – a Heckler and Koch MP5K-PDW. I wasn’t sure whether to put this in the pistol or rifle section, but on balance I decided that it probably belongs here. In use, and especially with the stock removed, this feels more like a large pistol than a rifle.
The MP5 (Maschinenpistole 5) was first developed by Heckler and Koch GmbH in the early 1960s and was based on the design layout and operating principle of the G3 automatic rifle. In 1966 the MP5 was adopted for service by the German Federal Police, army special forces and border guards, though interestingly the Bundeswehr (German Army) opted for the MP5’s main rival – the Uzi. Variants of the MP5 have been adopted by large numbers of military and law enforcement agencies around the world. The MP5 is claimed to be the most widely used submachine gun worldwide – the Uzi is no longer manufactured.
The original MP5
The MP5 is a lightweight, selective fire delayed blowback weapon which is chambered for the ubiquitous 9x19 Parabellum round. The original version featured a fixed buttstock and a 225mm barrel. In 1976 the MP5K (Kurz – “short”) close-combat version was introduced. This featured a higher rate of fire and could be recognised by the lack of a shoulder stock, shortened (115mm) barrel and vertical foregrip. In 1991 the MP5K-PDW (Personal Defence Weapon) was produced. This had a folding synthetic shoulder stock and slightly lengthened (140 mm) barrel. The shoulder stock on the PDW can be removed and replaced with a receiver endplate.
The MP5 is described as having a modular design and can be configured with a variety of optional and alternative buttstocks, sound suppressors and optical sights or other aiming units. The ambidextrous fire selector switch on the MP5K-PDW is notable in that it uses bullet pictograms rather than letters or numbers to indicate the four fire modes – a single white bullet indicates “Safe”, a single red bullet indicates “Semi-auto”, a row of three red bullets indicates “Burst” and a row of several red bullets indicates “Full Auto”. With the selector switch in the “Safe” position, the trigger is disabled.
The Umarex MP5
Although Umarex had been producing an Airsoft 6mm version of the MP5 for some time, it wasn’t until 2010 that a 4.5mm version of the MP5K-PDW became available in the UK. It’s a blowback, BB firing, CO2 powered replica with a 6½” barrel which fires in semi-automatic mode only. Most of the external shell of the Umarex MP5K-PDW is made of high quality polymer, though the trigger, cocking handle, butt plate and inner frame are all metal. This is a very accurate replica of the original weapon. Externally, other than for the lack of a burst and full automatic pictogram beside the selector switch, it’s almost impossible to tell the two apart.
Real MP5K-PDW on the right, Umarex replica on the left. Probably.
The weight of the replica is also good – 2.4 pounds as compared to just over four pounds for the original. Although the external parts of this gun are mostly plastic, they appear to be very good quality and this doesn’t detract from its appeal at all. This is a great looking replica which is also good to handle.
The Umarex MP5K-PDW has blowback action and a smoothbore barrel. The blowback is a bit of a cheat – the blowback action is independent of the firing mechanism, and simply moves what would be the ejection port on the real weapon back and fore. The cocking lever doesn’t seem to do anything at all beyond opening the fake ejection port - it doesn’t for example, cock a hammer or assist in queuing-up the next BB for firing. However, the blowback doesn’t use much CO2 and doesn’t cause extreme recoil. But given that you can’t see the operation of the ejection port when you’re firing, missing this feature out completely wouldn’t have been a major problem.
Cocking lever and ejection port
In Europe the Umarex MP5K-PDW is supplied with a detachable mounting rail which fixes to the top of the gun and allows fitting optical sights or other accessories, and an alternative receiver endplate which allows the gun to be used without the folding stock. For some reason in some other parts of the world (notably Canada and the United States) the MP5K-PDW doesn’t come with these extras. The gun comes in a sturdy box which holds everything firmly in place and I was delighted to note that the internal packing can easily be modified to allow the MP5 to be stored in the box without removing the red-dot sight I have fitted. The gun comes with the usual Umarex multi-language manual which provides the bare minimum of information required for safe usage.
Shooting the MP5
Out of the box, the Umarex MP5K-PDW comes with a slotted rear sight and blade foresight which are an accurate replica of the sights on the original. It isn’t particularly easy to be accurate with these sights and I assume that many owners will mount an optical sight of some sort on the top accessory rail. I fitted a Gun Tuff red-dot sight and, for me, this transformed the shooting experience. With the red-dot sight I can place BBs accurately out to 25ft and beyond. Without the sight I’d struggle to get reasonable groupings at 6yds (which is what I find when using the peep sight on my Mini-Uzi).
Loading CO2 with the folding stock attached is a little fiddly. Two plastic pins must first be withdrawn to remove the receiver endplate. The CO2 cartridge can then be inserted and the endplate and pins replaced. Then you must twist the plastic tab until the cartridge pierces - you can’t hear this, you just turn the tab until it feels tight. However, with the stock fitted it’s not always easy for large man-fingers to turn the small plastic tab. Access is better if the alternative receiver endplate is used. The retaining pins can’t be removed until the CO2 is exhausted, so it isn’t possible to remove them and inadvertently launch a full CO2.
Endplate removed and tightening tab.
Up to 40 BBs are loaded into the removable magazine. The follower must first be depressed, and this then locks at the bottom. A small clip at the top of the mag is then held down while BBs are added. When the mag is full, a button on the bottom is pressed, which releases the follower. It’s notable that the follower spring feels very weak indeed, though I haven’t experienced any failures to feed. The mag is then re-inserted, ensuring that it seats correctly. This is confirmed by a distinct click from the release lever. If you don’t seat the mag properly, you can find that a loose BB is released and rattles around inside the gun. This will then prevent the mag from engaging until you remove it completely and give the gun a shake - this usually causes the stray BB to drop out.
Once you have the mag in, you’re ready to shoot. There is no need to use the cocking lever – it’s just for show. Simply move the ambidextrous mode selection switch until it points at the single red bullet. Trigger pull is long and interesting. You can feel that lots is going on inside the gun as you pull the trigger (as you pull the trigger the barrel moves forward until a BB is allowed to pop-up out of the mag, then it snaps backward, activating the CO2 release). It isn’t unpleasant, and the release point is well defined, but it is a long and fairly hard trigger pull. The gun fires with a sharp, if not terribly loud, crack. There is very little recoil. If you pull the trigger partway back, and then release it without firing, a BB will roll out of the end of the barrel. The blowback action doesn’t lock back after the last round is fired, but the trigger does lock so you won’t find yourself shooting just CO2.
The gun is very comfortable to hold and shoot. With the stock in place and unfolded, it balances close to the pistol grip. The folding stock may look rather small, but it is just long enough to allow it to nestle into your shoulder while shooting. The foregrip looks a little awkward, but is well placed to steady the front of the weapon. When I first started using the gun I often found myself inadvertently gripping the magazine rather than the foregrip. Using the alternate receiver endplate allows the gun to be used without the folding stock, and this does feel very different. In this configuration it feels almost like a very large pistol, and can be fired using a two-handed pistol grip. Overall, I preferred using the gun with the stock.
Power and accuracy
400fps is claimed on the box for this gun. I fired a six-shot string with fresh CO2 and got an average on my chronograph of 286fps, (with a high of 288 and a low of 284). This was very consistent, but rather lower than expected. The testing was admittedly done on a chilly autumn day, but not enough to account for such a low reading. I’ll admit that I was surprised – the gun feels more than powerful enough and BBs hit the target with an authoritative “thwap”. Over 100 shots later, still on the same CO2, out of curiosity I ran another three shots over the chrono; 277, 279 and 280fps. I don’t know whether to be disappointed by the rather low velocities, or delighted at the amazing consistency. CO2 usage is exemplary for a blow back gun. I can get into the fourth magazine of full power shots from a single CO2. That’s around 140 full power shots from a single CO2! I wonder if anyone else has run an MP5K-PDW over a chrono?
Six-shot grouping, free-standing, 6yds
Accuracy is good for a BB weapon. At 25 feet freestanding, using the red-dot sight, I get groupings of not much over one inch for a six-shot string. Even firing the whole 40 shot magazine fairly quickly often provides groupings of less than 3½ inches.
Thirty shots, rapid fire, free-standing, 6yds
This is a well-designed and very well made gun. It’s visually an accurate replica of the real weapon, and is a pleasure to handle and shoot. The trigger pull is rather long and a little heavy, but has a consistent and crisp break point. CO2 usage is very efficient – I get more full power shots from this gun than from any other CO2 gun I own. I like the fact that it’s possible to easily and quickly customise your MP5K-PDW with optical sights or accessories, different magazines, a sling and even with a silencer (if you’re willing to do a bit of bodging). I also appreciate being able to change configuration just by removing the folding stock. The only minor gripes for me are the slightly fiddly process of installing and piercing a new CO2 and the fussiness of the magazine locking mechanism. I was also a little disappointed at the low velocity recorded on the chrono, but the gun feels more than powerful enough for enjoyable shooting. Overall, and considering that it costs less than some Umarex pistols, I think that the MP5K-PDW represents very good value for money, and I’d recommend it to anyone interested in replica BB guns.
Comparison with the Cybergun Mini-Uzi
Almost inevitably, some folk have asked me how this replica compares to the other replica 4.5mm submachine gun currently available in the UK, the Cybergun Mini-Uzi. The best way I can explain is to say that, if the MP5K-PDW is a rapier, the Mini-Uzi is a baseball bat. With nails through it. In comparison to the light, tight feel of the MP5K-PDW the Uzi can feel a bit agricultural. Fit and finish aren’t the best, it’s loud and it’s heavy (with mainly metal construction). The blowback actually works, i.e. it cocks the bolt and queues up the next BB, but it also provides massive recoil which sometimes feels as if it’s going to shake the gun to pieces (on my gun the cocking bolt handle regularly loosens itself after 50 or so shots). CO2 usage is very heavy on the Mini-Uzi – you’ll be lucky to get fifty (two magazines worth) of full power shots out of one CO2, though it’s not much more powerful than the MP5K-PDW (on the same day that I tested the MP5, my Uzi averaged 328fps for six shots with fresh CO2). In addition the folding stock is flimsy, accuracy with peep sights is poor (for me at least), it’s not possible to fit optical sights and I do worry about the longevity of internal parts subjected to that recoil. Despite all this, the Mini-Uzi is a hoot to shoot.
So, make your choice. Both guns are accurate visual replicas, but one feels like a refined and efficient if slightly clinical piece of kit while the other is raw and visceral and challenging. Both are fun in their own way so probably the only sensible solution is to have both.