Weapons: August 22, 2005


The Heckler and Koch MP5 and its derivatives have been, for years, the most popular  submachine gun  in the West. Originally developed for the 9mm Parabellum, there are now versions firing the 10mm auto and .40 Smith and Wesson rounds as well. Often, the MP5 is used by Special Forces and marine units for close-quarters combat, particularly hostage-rescue situations. This is because pistol rounds have advantages when compared to rifle rounds, including less hitting power (due to a lower velocity).

Rifle rounds have long range but in close-quarters action (like clearing a room), the distances involved make that extra capability unnecessary and even harmful. The extra energy designed to allow fatal hits at 300 meters or more,  means that in a close-in fight (say 10 meters), the round will go through the target and hit something else. The something beyond could include a fellow soldier or an innocent bystander. This has even been known to happen in police shootouts. 

Recoil from rifle rounds is also harder to recover from, due to the greater energy from the rifle bullets, usually more than twice as much. This loss of energy, though, does not necessarily compromise the safety of the special forces operators. The NATO SS109 round has, in a study of shootings, achieved a one-shot stop 96 percent of the time. For comparative purposes, Federals 115-grain 9mm +P+ hollowpoint (very similar to Cor-Bons load) achieved a one-shot stop 91 percent of the time, and Cor-Bons load did so 88 percent of the time. In that same study, Remingtons Golden Saber achieved a one-shot stop 94 percent of the time.

The ammo used is but one advantage for the MP5. Another major advantage is the fact that the MP5 is lighter (5.6 pounds to 6.6 for the M4) and smaller (the MP5 with its stock fully extended is about 4 inches shorter than a M4 with its stock fully collapsed). This makes handling close-quarters combat much easier. The MP-5K is even smaller than the MP5.

These submachine guns are also more effective than pistols. This is because the submachine guns barrel is longer (the MP5s barrel is about four and a half inches longer than a Glock 17s). This means the bullet goes faster, and the gun is more accurate. Often, law enforcement agencies (not to mention special operations units) will get submachine guns chambered for the same round as their pistols. This simplifies logistics for these units.

The MP5 will celebrate 40 years in front-line service in 2006 (from the time it was adopted by West Germanys Border Guard and police). Since then, units like the Special Air Service and law enforcement agencies like the FBI and DEA have made the MP5 a ubiquitous classic. It will be the best option for close-quarters combat for years to come. Harold C. Hutchison ([email protected])




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