Back in the decade after World War II, the designers at Heckler & Koch began work on a neat little submachine gun that became the HK-54. With a few small alterations, it was developed into the MP-5. In 9x19mm chambering, its roller locked closed-bolt firing system gave better full-auto control.
Later, around 1983, H&K made a semiauto version, the HK-94, which was available in the U.S. for about five years. These were not imported in large quantity. At the present time, an HK-94 in perfect condition is valued at about $4,000. As for the full-auto MP-5, don’t ask. You can’t afford it. This is bad news for those who have always wanted to shoot one, this writer included.
Ah, but now there’s good news American Tactical Imports is offering the GSG-5, a perfect copy of the H&K guns. It’s semiauto, of course, and the chambering is for .22LR. The “GSG” part of the name stands for German Sport Guns GmbH of Ense-Höingen, and the German craftsmanship is evident. As it should be, the finish is matte black, and it appears to be very durable.
On guns of this type, the ridiculous U.S. barrel-length requirements usually result in a lot of bare barrel sticking out. Not this time. It is neatly solved by the addition of a shroud-like barrel cover that looks exactly like a suppressor. All of the other features of the GSG-5 are exactly the same as those of the H&K MP-5, except, of course, there’s no “A” position for the safety lever. There’s an internal bolt hold-open after the last shot, and you can also lock open the bolt by turning the cocking handle into a recess.
No reader of this magazine would forget to check the chamber when unloading. However, for the occasional idiot out there who might one day handle a GSG-5, there’s an internal magazine safety. When the magazine is taken out, it won’t fire. The magazine has pull-down tabs on both sides to make loading easy. The capacity is listed as 20 or 22 rounds (it will actually hold 24).
The magazine release is a push-forward lever located in front of the triggerguard. The manual safety is fully ambidextrous, and the levers on both sides are perfectly located for easy thumb operation.
As the lever is turned up for on-safe or down to fire, a greenish-yellow dot on the lever will align with the white dot by the “S” or the red dot by the “F.” The trigger pull, for a gun of this type, is very good. There is minimal takeup and overtravel, and the let-off measured five pounds on my Lyman electronic scale.
The square post front sight has a protective ring. The rear sight can be rotated to give you three apertures of different sizes or a V-notch. The unit is horizontally adjustable by loosening a vertical Phillips screw behind it. The firing system of the GSG-5 is balanced to use only high-velocity .22LR cartridges. For test-firing, I used the economical Remington Thunderbolt. Through five full magazines, there were no problems, not even with a few rapid-fire sequences.
Although a gun of this type does not pretend to be a target rifle, the shooting results were a great surprise. At 25 yards, standing, no rest, the first five shots were all in the black of a standard target, and the group measured just 1¼ inches. Fired from a rest at 50 yards, a 10-shot well-centered group measured 1⅜ inches. Obviously, the Germans know how to make a perfect barrel (and I was having a really good day).
Later targets also had impressively small groups. With the serious stuff done, I then began engaging small objects on the dirt-bank backstop. Some of this was with the GSG-5 at belt-level (sometimes we play, eh?).
On a more practical note, a good application for the GSG-5 would be as a low cost, ammo-savings trainer for any law enforcemnt unit that uses a Heckler & Kock MP-5 or HK-94. For non-serious users, though, it’s just a lot of fun to shoot.