A Classic (but Still Awesome) SMG for Your Next Game
|Weapon Name||Heckler & Koch Maschinenpistole 5|
|Country of Origin||Germany|
|Role||Close quarters SMG|
|Good for:||Casual airsoft skirmishes, collection, milsim, CQB, indoor skirmishing|
There are some guns out there that are just iconic and beg to be part of any respectable airsofter’s collection – the M16, the AK47, the SCAR, just to name a few.
Aside from perhaps the Uzi, when it comes to submachine guns there is perhaps no more iconic example than the Heckler & Koch Maschinenpistole 5, more commonly known as the H&K MP5.
Historically popular with SWAT teams, police tactical units and special operations forces in over 40 countries, the MP5 has also long been ingrained in pop culture, popping up in equally iconic movies and tv shows as the SMG of choice for both heroes and villains.
From Die Hard to Mission Impossible II to the Dark Knight to the Black Widow, the compact and reliable MP5 has become probably one of the most easily recognizable firearms in the world.
It is therefore no surprise that this little icon has become popular in the airsoft world as well
Brief History of the MP5
Introduced to the firearms world in 1966, the MP5 was originally known as the HK54 and was part of the company’s famous (and ominously titled) Project 65, which sought to create a line of firearms based on an improvement on the roller blowback of the WW2-era machine gun, the relatively cheap and easy-to-build MG42.
The MP5 began its life as the standard-issue SMG of the German Federal Police, the Bundespolizei, as well as German border guards and special operations units.
As time went on, its compact form and easy to use nature garnered it some love from select elite units around the world, including some Green Beret teams in Vietnam, but the MP5 largely flew under the international community’s radar and seemed destined to be just another plain-old submachine gun.
This all changed in Somalia in 1977 when 91 passengers from Lufthansa’s flight 181 were taken hostage by hijackers and were rescued by members of the German Federal Police’s special tactics unit, GSG 9.
Having swiftly and efficiently stormed the aircraft, freeing the hostages to public acclaim, the German commandos posed for the news and the wider world caught their first glimpse of the compact, futuristic looking submachine gun.
A couple years later, the MP5 was again thrust into the spotlight, being wielded by elite SAS commandos as they successfully stormed the Iranian embassy in London live on television.
Being at the forefront of two very successful counter-terror operations, and being chosen by some of the world’s finest operators, did wonders for the perception of the MP5.
The weapon would become a mainstay of SWAT teams and military operators around the world and, as Hollywood took notice and included it in films and television series, its striking profile quickly became as ingrained in popular culture as the venerable Uzi.
Read enough and want to buy a good airsoft MP5?
What makes an H&K MP5 good for airsoft?
If you’re looking to use an SMG as a primary or even secondary in your games, airsoft MP5s tend to have a few things going for them that can make them a great choice.
It looks great
Unlike some other airsoft SMGs out there that sort of look like a generic machine pistol, the MP5 definitely has a unique, classic and iconic look to it.
Its machined look, tubular body and tapered handguard makes the MP5 (especially in its most classic form) immediately identifiable to pretty much anyone on the field.
Even if other players aren’t really into guns themselves and can’t place the exact model, they will certainly cast a few envious looks your way.
At just over 27 inches (about 700mm) in total length, and considerably smaller when mated to a collapsible stock, the venerable MP5 is pretty compact.
This makes it easy to carry around and easy to handle in airsoft games.
As it is an older design, MP5s tend to be a bit bigger than some of the later designed replicas, such as the MP7, but it is still relatively small and very useful in tight quarters CQB games, much like its real steel counterpart.
Vintage looks, modern punch
Unlike a real steel MP5, however, airsoft MP5s have not necessarily been left behind by their more modern counterparts.
While they may look vintage on the outside, airsoft MP5s typically are built using the same modern and full sized internals as modern SMGs and carbines.
Opening one up, users can expect to see full-sized V2s/V3s gearboxes, decent batteries, solid hop ups and even high tech fire control systems on premium models.
Mated to a proper gearbox and quality mechanicals and parts, airsoft MP5s are therefore still capable of going toe to toe FPS-wise with pretty much any other SMG.
Out of the box, airsofters can expect these old-school SMGs to deliver a solid 300+FPS. As a result, airsofters can get that old school, tactical look but with enough firepower to still send opponents scrambling for cover.
What are some disadvantages of an airsoft MP5?
Classic looks, old-school size
The MP5 was developed in the 1960s, and what was a radical and compact design then was eventually surpassed by smaller, lightweight SMGs and more capable and tactically flexible carbines.
Airsoft MP5s, being (ideally) more or less faithful replicas and although not exactly huge, do tend to be larger and heavier than some other SMG models out there.
While they can deliver the same level of firepower as other similar airsoft guns, aren’t exactly the smallest or easiest to carry of the bunch, which can be a bit of a drag in CQB and speedsoft games.
Not as many rails or easy customization options
An airsoft MP5 is, at its heart, a replica of a classic weapon.
The traditional MP5 that people know and love was developed long before rails and other easy mounting really became a thing (although various different variants have been developed since).
As such most of their airsoft replicas tend to have fewer native exterior mounts for accessories, forcing users to add on claw mounts and other aftermarket mounts.
This tends to be true even on more modern variants, which sort of limits its use for those who like to kit out their airsoft guns with all the latest and greatest technologies.
Similarly, as it is a very iconic airsoft gun, those who do find a way to strap on all sorts of accessories to it may find other players and enthusiasts to be less than receptive to the idea.
Not always so easy to find if you live in the US
Due to the complexities of licensing agreements and intellectual property rights concerning the MP5 and its design, not all models of airsoft MP5s are available for purchase or even import into the US (even those from bigger manufacturers), and the retail market is general restricted to a few brands with licensed models.
Not the best option for those going for modern tactical loadouts
While the MP5 was a heavy hitter in its day, adopted by special operations forces and police tactical units the world over and used in that capacity for decades, it has, much like other SMGs, been largely supplanted in the military and police world by lightweight carbines of various types.
As a result, an airsoft MP5 might not be the most appropriate or acceptable choice for those interested in adopting a more modern look or, for example, those building a SEAL, Delta or SAS loadout for their milsim or airsoft games.
What to look for in an airsoft MP5
Slap down, charging handle
One of the more iconic components of the real steel MP5 is its charging handle.
When the gun is empty and the bolt is open, the cocking lever is held in a little indent notch. When a fresh magazine is inserted users are supposed to sort of give the handle a slap downwards.
This has become known as the H&K slap.
Aside from being a lot of fun to do, the motion is actually the factory recommended way to release the bolt.
Given that this is such a well-known and fun part of the real steel MP5 experience, it would be a shame for airsofters to consider buying an airsoft Mp5 without this functionality, even if its not strictly necessary for an airsoft gun to work.
That said, as an airsoft MP5 is not a real steel MP5, and most airsoft manufacturers aren’t exactly as quality obsessed as H&K, the charging handles on cheaper MP5s can be prone to poor fit and looseness.
If made of cheap plastic it can strip or even break off if you slap a little too hard, which sort of defeats the purpose of it.
For that reason we recommend that users look for models with solid, preferably metal, upper receivers, housings and handles so you can slap away without too much worry.
Rotating rear diopter 4-position drum sight
On the rear of a classic MP5 is a sort of round, drum sight.
This is designed to swivel and give users access to 4 various width aperture openings and, while a bit overkill for airsoft purposes, they are quite cool, fun to play with and a necessity if you’re going for realism.
Obviously, this drum should swivel smoothly and feel solid without any shaking or looseness.
Users who are very concerned with realism should also make sure that there are not no “U” or “V” notches or numbers on it, since H&K leaves them pretty much blank as a rule.
In fact, notches and markings on the rear drum sight in real steel versions are usually a tip off of aftermarket parts.
Airsoft suppressor – flushness and fit
Some airsoft MP5 models may come with a mock suppressor, emulating a common real life tactical MP5 configuration.
Now, this is mostly a personal preference but it does look pretty cool. It will, however, extend the overall length of the gun.
One issue here that some cheaper models may have is that the suppressor may not align well enough with the inner barrel of the airsoft gun.
Some users have found little gaps in between the two that, in the worst case scenario, can cause performance issues, with BBs going off kilter and destroying accuracy and is something to be careful of.
Ambidextrous fire selector
The real steel MP5 is well known for having an ambidextrous H&K fire selector.
Good quality airsoft MP5s should have their own fully functioning versions as well , since it’s not just handy for our left handed friends but is also more true to life.
As always, fire selectors should move smoothly and click into place with a minimum of wobbling.
Dual mag releases
Another interesting quirk of the MP5 is its dual mag release system – real steel MP5s adopted both the circular M16 button style release and a traditional AK paddle.
Although the button isn’t always the most convenient for users to reach with a finger, and in our opinion the paddle is a lot easier to use one handed, for realism a good MP5 replica should have both.
Full size gearboxes (for AEGs)
The MP5 is a small airsoft gun and cheaper AEG producers may try and get away with using smaller or even pistol gearboxes to make it easier to squeeze in the battery and other components into the frame.
This can have a rather poor effect on performance and reliability, and if a proprietary gearbox is used it can make upgrading the airsoft MP5 a lot more of a hassle than it should otherwise be.
Most good quality airsoft MP5s will use a standard, full sized gearbox, often a V2 (sometimes a V3), which allows for better and more reliable performance and makes it easier to perform future modifications.
As a result of its global popularity, over the decades Heckler & Koch released a plethora of variants for the MP5. Many of the variants offered had minor differences, such as different buttstocks, internal mechanisms and fire-select modes, barrel lengths, suppressor options and caliber types.
When it comes to airsoft, obviously many of the configurations and options that have a functional effect on real steel models don’t really apply.
As a result, there aren’t necessarily as many popular variants of the MP5 offered in the airsoft world as the hundred or so variants and clones that exist of the real steel version.
In addition, many manufacturers and retailers aren’t always that careful at properly labeling their MP5s with variant designations, simply using the MP5 name as a blanket term, which can cause some confusion.
That said, some of the more popular versions we’ve seen out there are:
MP5 A Series
The standard MP5 type, mass production of the MP5 really began with the A2 and A3 models (the A1 being a more limited, first production run).
The differences between A-series models with airsoft replicas are largely cosmetic, reflecting operational realities of the time, periodic design changes, and various product options introduced by H&K over the years.
For those interested in historical accuracy, key differences include the iconic triangular handguard (introduced in later A4/5 models) and the fire-select markings on the side of the weapon.
Older MP5s used a SEF – safe, semi and auto, while later A4 and A5s used a diagrammatic safety selection (called the 0-1-3-D pictogram).
The chart below lays out some key differences airsofters keen on realism and accuracy might want to pay attention to:
|A1||No stock, sling mounted,|
|A2||Fixed stock, metal cylindrical handguard, straight magazine, “SEF” fire-select markings|
|A3||Collapsable stock,metal cylindrical handguard, straight magazine, “SEF” trigger group markings|
|A4||Fixed buttstock, triangular plastic handguard, curved magazine option, 0-1-3-D pictogram|
|A5||Collapsible buttstock, triangular plastic handguard, curved magazine option, 0-1-3-D pictogram|
It’s important to note, however, that H&K continued offering these different A-series product lines as they introduced new options, so it’s not uncommon to see older models with features from newer models (A2s with triangular buttstocks and curved magazines, for example).
Designed for the US Navy, The MP5 N has ambidextrous fire-select, a collapsible buttstock, pictogram markings, a threaded barrel and a tritium illuminated front sight.
For airsoft purposes, the N series is more or less similar to late model MP5s, such as the A5.
An even shorter version of the MP5, the MP5K could fit inside a briefcase and was designed for concealed carry. This model is considerably shorter than the original, at around 13 inches (~330mm) in length, has no buttstock and comes with a foregrip for easier handling, making it a popular choice for airsofters as a secondary and for those heading into CQB or speedsoft games.
Amusingly it was sold with a custom briefcase that came with an integrated trigger, allowing users to fire a spray of bullets at a target while the gun was concealed inside.
The personal defense weapon (PDW) version of the compact MP5K, the PDW variants are recognizable for their slightly longer barrel (so as to fit suppressors) and have a side folding stock, which can extend their length but makes them more stable and easier to fire accurately for longer periods.
MP5 SD series (SD1-6)
The SD series stands for Schalldämpfer, or Sound Dampener, is is a variant that offered users an integrated suppressor and a vented barrel (for releasing gas and reducing bullet velocity).
For airsoft these differences amount to more of a cosmetic difference than anything else but gives the MP5 a far more tactical look to it that some users appreciate.
This does come at the cost of a longer overall length that can be a bit more cumbersome in close quarters, however.
Airsoft MP5: AEG or GBB?
If you are in the market for an airsoft MP5, unless you have a strong preference already, you will eventually get to the point where you will ask yourself whether to go for an electric or gas model.
There are good, solid models of both on the market, and as with other airsoft guns it really boils down to your preferred style of play.
Gas models do have their advantages – they are a heck of a lot of fun to use, their sliding mechanism and light recoil add a sense of realistic action that is sometimes missing from electric MP5s, and they are great to watch in action.
In terms of realism, GBBs also tend to offer a bit more of a realistic feel in general than AEGs with their physical blowback. Most models will give users the satisfying and fun ratatatat that is characteristic of an SMG.
On the other hand, they don’t send as many BBs downrange as a good quality AEG can, and a GBB MP5 in action isn’t really all that dissimilar to watching an airsoft M4 carbine in action.
In terms of recoil and blowback action, the MP5 was originally designed to fire relatively low-powered 9mm ammunition, so it’s not exactly known for having a particularly high recoil compared to blowback-operated, higher-caliber MP7s and UMGs.
As a result, physical recoil isn’t really something we feel should be make or break with airsoft MP5s as much as it might with a replica based on a higher powered gun.
So if you’re looking at an MP5 as a dedicated secondary (and especially as a primary), and performance is a main concern, you might want to consider an AEG MP5.
If you’re looking for more fun and don’t mind paying a bit more, consider a GBB.
Metal or Plastic?
For most airsoft guns, the quality of overall construction and materials is usually more important than simply whether a gun is made of metal or plastic and so usually it doesn’t really matter if you go with all metal or all plastic.
With cheap metals like flimsy zinc alloys being obviously less preferable and durable than reinforced polymers, with the MP5, although we don’t think you really need a full metal version, to replicate its use properly we recommend that users look for those with metal or reinforced polymer uppers and charging handles.
This is so that users can give their airsoft MP5 charging handle a nice, solid slap without worrying about a sudden catastrophic failure or other damage to the gun or its parts.
How easy to customize and accessorize are airsoft MP5s
It depends on the model but things aren’t too bad with most good quality MP5s.
Most AEG airsoft MP5s on the market run on V2 gearboxes, and most of the major brands are more or less TM-compatible, so there are a lot of upgrade and replacement possibilities out there.
Similarly, being a high interest piece, there are quite a few aftermarket tighter bore barrels, cylinders, springs, pistons and so on that can be fairly easily found online, so with a little work you should be able to trick out an MP5 fairly easily.
In terms of looks, keep in mind that vintage airsoft replicas aren’t usually the most ideal choice for those who really like to modify, customize and accessorize, since a big part of ownership is their particular look.
That said, the MP5 is a little more flexible in this regard.
Due to its popularity and fame, there are a wider variety of workarounds and aftermarket accessories that can help maintain a classic look while giving users a variety of customization options.
Now, being developed in the 60s, the MP5’s design predates picatinny rails by quite some time and most faithful replicas won’t really have them out of the box.
For those really interested in adding optics, however, there are a variety of aftermarket rail mounts available for the MP5. These clip on to the top of the gun and provide users with ready to use picatinny rails.
In fact, fans of historic military photos may spot a certain British commando unit posing with similar mounts on their MP5s in real life.
Beyond that, if you are interested in keeping things authentic, because H&K would create updated product options for previous models, most MP5s have a variety of furniture that can be switched out (various types of buttstocks, handgruards, foregrips, etc).
This means that airsofters interested in authenticity have a lot more to work with in terms of cosmetics while still maintaining an arguably true-to-life replication.
Probably the most common accessory users add is a mock silencer, which is not exactly uncommon in real life usage.
One thing to be careful about is that most MP5s come with a 3 lug flash hider that is a bit unusual compared to most guns (being a proprietary H&K design).
In most good quality MP5s these do unscrew, with users finding (although not always) a properly threaded inner barrel underneath, so shouldn’t be much of an issue.
With some airsoft MP5s out there, however, these do not properly or easily unscrew, and can damage the gun.
While there are a number of companies making MP5s, and the demand is there, as mentioned due to import restrictions certain models can be a little hard to get depending on the country you live in.
If you’re looking for what we consider the best airsoft MP5s out there, you can check out our list, or take a look at some of the models below.
If You Want a Classic MP5 Look – Elite Force H&K Competition Kit MP5 A4/A5
|Gearbox||TM-compatible Full Metal Version 2|
|Adjustable Hop up||✅|
|Build||Mixed Polymer and Metal|
|FPS||~330-350 on .20g|
Although it is modeled after the later MP5 A4, the Elite Force Competition Kit MP5 A4/A5 has everything that most people would associate with a classic MP5 – triangular grip, sickle mag, diagrammatic safety selector and even comes with the option for a classic fixed stock, in addition to a more practical, collapsible PDW one (for better stability or if you want to switch between an A5 and A4 look).
The gun itself is made of polymer with a metal barrel and barrel assembly, which gives it some heft and sturdiness, and although it is an AEG, it does include a moving charging handle that you can slap, which is nice.
It also comes with an easily unscrewed H&K 3-lug shroud that allows users to add a selection of suppressors and tracers, which is nice.
As an accurate MP5 A4/5 replica, the gun comes without rails, which limits further attachments out of the box, but there are plenty of relatively inexpensive claw mount adaptors should you want to mount optics or lasers later on.
But this AEG MP5 isn’t all looks.
Inside it comes with a highly upgradable, full metal V2 gearbox (with all metal gears), an adjustable and easily accessible hop up (helped along by a locking charging handle ).
The battery is located in the handguard, which may be somewhat unusual for most airsofters, but does give the gun a bit of room for later upgrades.
In terms of performance, the gun packs a decent enough punch at 330-350 FPS. Although no monster, this means it will be usable in most fields, including indoor and CQB fields with tighter FPS restrictions.
Coming in at just over $180 or so, the Elite Force H&K Competition Kit MP5 A4/A5 isn’t the cheapest SMG around, but it is a well built, accurate and upgradable MP5 replica that should serve users well for quite some time.
If you’re really into CQB and want an Airsoft MP5 – Umarex Licensed MP5K AEG
|Gearbox||TM-compatible Full Metal Version 2|
|Adjustable Hop up||✅|
|Build||Mixed Polymer and Metal|
|FPS||~300 on .20g|
While a traditional MP5 is good for casual CQB games, it is a bit longer and bulkier than some might prefer.
Just like its real steel inspiration, the Umarex MP5K is a highly compact alternative to its big brother that is quite a bit easier to handle close in.
The Umarex MP5K is well-built, with a metal upper receiver and barrel assembly and a nylon-reinforced lower receiver, making it quite durable, hefty and sturdy feeling in-hand despite its 13.6 inch (345mm) size .
It’s also officially licensed, so you get those nice H&K trademarks and diagrammatic safety selector down the side.
Similar to its bigger A1-5 brothers, the Umarex MP5K doesn’t have rail attachments (although claw mounts are easily available for it), but much like its real steel inspiration it does come with a comfortable, integrated vertical handle.
Overall, its compact size, lack of stock and integrated handle make the MP5K very easy to maneuver in close quarter games. Even players wearing bulkier loadouts should have no problem squeezing behind cover or quickly pieing corners with this little gun.
With a sling attached, it can even be easily carried as a higher ROF/FPS secondary.
Inside, this little airsoft MP5 variant is no slouch, either.
It contains a full metal and highly upgradable V3 gearbox and an adjustable gearbox, which allows for later upgrading (although its highly compact size does mean a little more care has to be taken when doing so).
In terms of power, it is a more CQB-oriented airsoft gun but generally fires between 280-310 FPS, meaning it should fall well under FPS limits for CQB and indoor games but will still deliver enough of a punch that your opponents will feel something.
At $200 it isn’t exactly the cheapest SMG out there, but the Uramex MP5K is a highly compact, well-built, officially licensed, and durable airsoft replica that should be a benefit to any CQB player interested in an MP5 style piece.
You want to go premium and you want to go tactical – CYMA Platinum SMG9
|Gearbox||TM-compatible Full Metal Version 2|
|Adjustable Hop up||✅|
|Build||Mixed Polymer and Metal|
|FPS||~350 on .20g|
MP5s are very cool but they’re not the most modern looking SMGs out there.
CYMA’s Platinum SMG9 is a highly modified airsoft MP5 A3 with a modern edge that turns the venerable SMG into something that would be at home in the hands of a modern tactical team.
The Platinum SMG9 is a mostly metal airsoft gun that feels nice and durable in hand, and has some nice heft to it, at around 7 lbs (3.2kg).
It comes with a top mounted rail, for adding optics and other accessories, as well as an alunimum M-LOK handguard that provides more accessory space at the 3, 6 and 9 o clock positions.
Although the M-LOK does take some getting used to (it requires adding a small modular rail before attaching anything) it does serve to keep the handguard smooth so it doesn’t snag as much as a quad-rail might, and it gives the gun a nice skeletonized appearance.
The gun comes with a three piece barrel set that’s kind of like a Russian stacking doll set. It has a very noticeable flash hider that unscrews to reveal an H&K 3-lug shroud that also unscrews to reveal a 14mm CCW threaded barrel that can easily accommodate a suppressor or tracer unit.
It also comes with a collapsible PDW-style stock that can be swapped with an A4 fixed stock or even a tube stock (M4 style), should you prefer.
As part of Cymas more premium Platinum series, the gun is pretty high quality inside as well. It contains a full metal, upgradable V2 gearbox, a high-strength polycarbonate piston with steel teeth, aluminum cylinder, 13:1 ratio steel gears, a long-type torquey motor, a 6.03mm tight-bore brass barrel and more.
In terms of performance, these internals add up to a pretty good and accurate shooting experience, with the CYMA Platinum SMG9 delivering a pretty consistent ~ 350 FPS with 0.20g BBs.
On the downside it is somewhat expensive, usually coming in at over $300, and, due to demand, often hard to get your hands on, especially in the US.
That said, with its high quality internals, customization and build quality it is one of the best MP5 replicas around, with performance that rivals far more expensive airsoft SMGs, such as the VFC Avalons.
An icon of 20th century armaments, on par with the classic Uzi, MP5s can be a great choice for airsofters in the market for an SMG.
If purchased from a reliable manufacturer, good quality airsoft MP5s can offer vintage commando style while delivering the FPS to make your foes scramble for cover.
And because they are so iconic and in-demand, compared to other vintage replicas, there are enough aftermarket parts out there to let you tinker around without ruining its looks.
David Lewis – A longtime airsoft and airgun enthusiast and collector, our editor David’s lifelong passion for tactical sports began in high school with some friends, a cheap knock-off airsoft M4, and an open field behind his parents’ house.
When he’s not plinking around, he enjoys sharing his knowledge of airsoft and helping those just starting out.