War Games: Uzi Pistol vs. HK MP5 K
Two classic military arms air each other out
By Dennis Adler
The Uzi (right) is more than 50 years old in design yet remains as viable a self defense and tactical pistol today as in the 1950s. The blowback action CO2 model sold by Pyramyd Air has a select fire system that allows both semi-auto and full auto. The Umarex HK MP5 K is a more modern design which is still in use today by military and law enforcement. The CO2-powered PDW (Personal Defense Weapon) version is a very authentic rendering of the compact H&K pistol with folding stock.
Few military arms have remained as universally accepted around the world as the Uzi pistol and Heckler & Koch MP5K. Neither gun in full automatic military versions is available to the general public without an ATF Form 4, local law enforcement approval, a federal background check and a $200 tax stamp, or a Class III license for automatic weapons. But, both have been spectacularly duplicated as CO2 blowback action versions by Umarex. There is a special select-fire Uzi Pistol with folding shoulder stock sold by Pyramyd Air, a semi-auto only model from Umarex, and the HK MP5 PDW semi-auto version. These 20th century firearms, one more than 50 years old in design, are still in daily use the world over; that’s how good they are and how well they perform in combat and law enforcement situations. As CO2 models they put at hand designs that most of us could neither afford nor use for practical shooting, but as .177 caliber airguns, they serve a purpose for sport shooting and, if need be, as training substitutes for the actual guns. Either way, both are great fun to shoot as CO2 models.
About as close to real as it gets for this style pistol, the .177 caliber Mini Uzi Subgun is a select fire version with semiautomatic and full auto operation. The self-contained CO2 BB magazines give the CO2 version the final touch of authenticity.
UZI, the simple solution
The Uzi is named after its inventor, Uziel Gal, a Captain (later Major) with the Israel Defense Force. Gal based his design on the Czechoslovakian Model ZK 476 and Czech Model M23/25 sub machineguns, but designed his version so it could be more efficiently manufactured for quick deployment to the Israeli military. The final version was patented under Uzi Gal in 1952, with production rights assigned to the Israeli Ministry of Defense. Two years later the Uzi was adopted by the Israeli military and the rest, as they say, is history. The Uzi SMG, Uzi carbine, Mini Uzi, Micro Uzi and civilian semi-auto Uzi pistol remain as practical for military use today as they were half a century ago. In fact, the Uzi SMG remained the Israeli military’s primary gun from its introduction until being phased out after 51 years in service in 2003. In the 16 years that have passed, Uzi models are still carried by military units around the world. The Uzi has also appeared in more films and television shows than almost at other automatic firearm.
All of the 9x19mm select fire features of the Mini Uzi Subgun are duplicated in this all metal construction air pistol. Note the authentic ridges stamped into the sides of the receiver to strengthen the flats against impact and damage. The pistol grip and forend are plastic just as they are on the centerfire models.
The CO2-powered, semi-auto and select-fire models are absolutely true to the Uzi design in virtually every important detail and operating feature. Although Uzi construction is simple, right down to the CO2 models, Uziel Gal put a great deal of forethought into the “simple” original engineering. The Uzi was intended to be an effective close-quarter battle (CQB) weapon for troops, and it served and continues to serve in that capacity.
The same as the centerfire models, the pistol grip incorporates a working safety that has to be depressed for the CO2 pistol to operate. The select-fire control is the same as the 9mm model with “S” safe, “R” semi-auto, and “A” automatic. Also note the flip-up rear sight aperture.
Gal’s ingenious design was also intended to lower manufacturing costs in the 1950s and decrease production time. To make the Uzi easy to build, the receiver is stamped out of flat steel and then formed around dies. The receiver for the CO2 model is made the same way and incorporates the same series of long ridges stamped into the sides of the receiver. The aesthetics of this design are unmistakable but their intended function is to strengthen the receiver’s flat sides against impact and damage. The same applies to the CO2 model.
Ease of handling was also another important aspect of Uziel Gal’s design which, unlike conventional sub machineguns, has the magazine inserted into the pistol grip just like a semiautomatic handgun. This not only resulted in a better balanced pistol or sub machinegun, but one far easier to reload. Pushing a magazine into the pistol grip is more intuitive than loading one into a mag well further forward on the receiver, especially under pressure or in a dark. This was Gal’s observation in the field and the principal reason he designed the Uzi with the magazine going into the pistol grip.
With the metal shoulder stock extended the overall length of the Mini Uzi air pistol is 23.5 inches. Note the charging handle on top which is channeled to allow sighting. The gun is cocked with the handle for the first shot and reciprocates with each round fired. The dual aperture rear sight is windage adjustable and the front post sight can be adjusted for elevation by turning it up or down.
Cartridge firing models have ranged from 9mm (the original chambering for the guns) to .41 AE, .40 S&W, .45 ACP and .22 LR, in both pistol and carbine versions. Centerfire (and rimfire) Uzi models use a blowback action mechanism with a bolt that wraps around (shrouds) the back of the barrel; a design, although not unique to the Uzi, that contributes to reducing the overall length of the weapon. Civilian Uzi models, chambered all the way down to .22 rimfire in pistol and carbine versions (the latter also manufactured by Umarex), utilize a closed bolt blowback operated semi-auto action, with the same operating controls and pistol grip safety.
One more touch of authenticity, the ejection port opens and closes with each shot fired, even though there are no spent shell cases to eject.
The Umarex Mini Uzi CO2 is as close in measurements and operation as possible to an original c.1980’s Mini Uzi version. The correct-style charging handle is mounted on top of the receiver and reciprocates with each shot, and the ejection port on the right side of the receiver opens as if an empty shell case were being extracted.
At 21 feet fired semi-auto with the shoulder stock extended, the Uzi put 20 steel BBs into a spread of 1.5 inches with some really tight groups.
The CO2 Mini Uzi pistol has the same look and feel as a 9x19mm model and the same-style rear sight with two flip-up apertures, original style plastic pistol grips and forend, and even bears the MINI UZI and IWI imprint on the back of the receiver. The Full Auto version, available exclusively from Pyramyd Air, perfectly duplicates the “S” safe, semi-auto “R”, and automatic “A” fire control selector switch at the top of the grips. The magazine release at the bottom center of the grip is also a carbon copy of the cartridge-firing version. And best of all, the air pistols have self-contained magazines that hold both the single CO2 capsule and 25 BBs. With a weight (including magazine) of 4.85 lbs., the gun has a 5.6 inch (smoothbore) barrel and an overall length (with open shoulder stock) of 23.5 inches (13.4 inches with the stock folded). For an Uzi CO2 model, it just doesn’t get any closer to real than this.
Only in films or in the real world of military, law enforcement, and private security will most of us ever get to shoulder a 9mm MP5 K-PDW. The Umarex .177 cal. pistol makes it possible.
Heckler & Koch MP5 K
Umarex has done the same with a .177 caliber version of the MP5 K-PDW (Personal Defense Weapon) model. The experience Umarex gained for this CO2 version also comes from building .22 LR models of the full size MP5. The MP5 K in this particular CO2 configuration with short barrel, forward assist pistol grip, and folding stock is not available to the general population as a centerfire gun. With BB gun designs exempt from NFA edicts, the same selective fire and SBR (short barrel rifle) designs used by military and law enforcement can be duplicated in .177 caliber, although Umarex chose to make the CO2 model a semi-auto only.
With its folding shoulder stock closed the Umarex MP5 K-PDW is a .177 cal. doppelganger of the famed military pistol right down to the locking charging handle, sights, and muzzle break. Also note the ambidextrous thumb safety.
The earliest MP5 9mm models were introduced by H&K in 1964 to fulfill military contracts for a compact sub machinegun. There were five standard configurations, MP5 A1 without buttstock, A2 with fixed buttstock, A3 with collapsible buttstock, A4, a modified version of the A2, and A5, a variation of the A3 and the model that is most commonly recognized today as an MP5. Models later equipped with silencers for special operation were given an SD (schalldämpfer) suffix.
The .177 caliber PDW is authentic in almost every detail right down to an accurately-sized, 40-round capacity BB magazine. The MP5 K-PDW weighs in at a modest 3.56 pounds with a 6-inch smoothbore barrel and overall length of 24.5 inches, with open stock, and 15.25 inches with the stock folded.
Authentic handling is part of the Umarex design and the charging handle operates exactly like a cartridge firing model. Note the open ejection port and the charging handle in the rear locked back position.
Handling the CO2 version is almost identical to a 9mm with an ambidextrous thumb safety/fire switch just above the pistol grip, making it easy to reach and operate with the shooting hand thumb. The forward charging handle is functional in as much as it moves and also locks back, but has to actual purpose for the CO2 model other than to reciprocate as part of the blowback action. And the gun will not fire on an empty magazine, so you know when your 40 shots are gone. The CO2 loads into the receiver by releasing the shoulder stock and opening the CO2 chamber. It is not a quick operation but the number of shots per CO2 is sufficient for at least 80 rounds. Maybe it is a good thing this model doesn’t have full auto capability!
The authentically styled BB magazine is easy to load with a locking follower, and holds a total of 40 rounds (steel BBs).
Like the original guns, the MP5 K CO2 model design does not have an integral top rail, thus a rail must be added for optics, as it is shown in the article. For this purpose I added a Strike Systems MP5/G3 Series rail mounts to the top of the receiver providing a top mount for optics plus a side rail for a tactical light. The mount also allows co-witnessing with the H&K’s adjustable BUIS.
The CO2 cartridge loads inside the receiver after pulling a locking pin and opening the back of the gun by raising the folded shoulder stock…
…this tilts the back panel down allowing the CO2 to be inserted. After closing the back and re-inserting the locking pin, the seating screw is tightened down.
The MP5 is a big gun compared to the Uzi, but also more of a dedicated tactical pistol at 21 feet using optics. With an average velocity of 400 fps, the MP5 was fired off hand shoulder stock open. Using .177 caliber Umarex Precision steel BBs 20 rounds grouped in a spread of 2.5 inches with a best 10 shots inside the 10 ring and X at 1.75 inches. Not exactly target shooting accuracy, but this isn’t a target pistol. The gun shoots much better with optics than the BUIS. In comparison, the Uzi has no practical way to add optics to the pistol’s receiver (although it can be done) so the metal sights on the CO2 model are all you have.
To mount optics in the MP5 K-PDW I used a Strike Systems MP5/G3 Series rail mount on the top of the receiver. This allows fitting most optics, in this case a Walther PS 55 red dot. The mount also has a rail for mounting a tactical light on the side. The PS 55 is a military-styled sight with a 30mm objective lens, red duplex reticle, seven brightness settings and an integral Weaver mount making it a quick attach and detach from the rail without tools.
From 21 feet the MP5 put 20 Umarex Precision steel BBs into 2.5 inches with a best 10 shots inside the 10 ring and X at 1.75 inches.
Downrange competition from the Uzi
At a combat distance of 21feet, and an average velocity of 360 fps, the Mini Uzi put 20 Umarex steel BBs into a spread of 1.5 inches. Between the Uzi and H&K models, the Uzi has enough weight and balance in the hand that it feels like the real thing with the reciprocating bolt. It takes one CO2 capsule for each load of 25 steel BBs if you want to fire on full auto, about two loads on semi-auto. That CO2 has a big job to do operating the action on the Uzi. With a few magazines loaded and ready, the CO2 Mini Uzi subgun is as quick as its 9mm counterpart to operate and reload. It is an ideal tactical training gun and honestly about as authentic as possible for an air pistol of this type. The Uzi, even though it is an older design than the MP5 K-PDW, comes out on top for this competition in all the best ways.
Winner and still champion, the Uzi select-fire Subgun remains the best blowback action model in this class of CO2 powered firearms.