Heckler & Koch MP7: Not your father’s sub-machine gun

MP7-Crop-for-TFB-540x452

I was a teenager in the 1990s, and I remember a computer game called S.W.A.T. came out. Former LAPD Chief and S.W.A.T. team creator Daryl Gates’ name was on the cover of the box, and the game was my first introduction to the MP5. It’s a gun that I still have yet to shoot, but in this post we’ll be talking about it’s big brother, the MP7 in 4.6x30mm, released in 2001.

The Heckler & Koch MP7 in action. Photo by Oleg Volk.

There’s been some recent controversy over a comment made regarding civilians and the MP7, but you can read more about that here. I’ll stick to the fun part of shooting it, and how I met this beautiful gun.

I was invited to an event called the Industry Shoot, where industry folk got together in Manchester, Tennessee to share and play with a bunch of fun toys. The NFA-TCA was in attendance, and they supplied the MP7 along with a bunch of free ammo. I shot the MP7 in single shot as well as fully automatic with a 40-round magazine. The model I used had an extendable, lightweight stock. The kevlar piercing 4.6x30mm round didn’t kick at all, and there was minimal muzzle climb in full auto. I did a few bursts, and then also let about 20 rounds rip with my trigger finger fully engaged. It was fairly easy to stay on target through the string of fire. It was such a satisfying feeling, and I was sad it went by so quickly.

The MP7 is in the personal defense weapon (PDW) class, and it’s probably good for folks on protection details who need to conceal it in their jackets, etc. It’s a light, small frame sub-machine gun that is used by a number of militaries and law enforcement agencies around the world. As a civilian, I wish I could own one!

From left to right: 4.6×30mm (Hollow Point), 5.7×28mm, .30 Carbine. Photo courtesy of the Wikipedia Commons.

Firing automatic weapons should put a smile on anyone’s face :) Photo by Oleg Volk.

Chris Cheng is History Channel’s Top Shot Season 4 champion. A self-taught amateur turned pro through his Top Shot win, Cheng very much still considers himself an amateur who parachuted into this new career. He shares his thoughts and experiences from the perspective of a newbie to the shooting community. www.TopShotChris.com.

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Chris Cheng

Chris Cheng is History Channel’s Top Shot Season 4 champion. A self-taught amateur (and former Googler) turned pro through his Top Shot win, Cheng very much still considers himself an amateur who parachuted into this new career.

He is a professional marksman for Bass Pro Shops who shares his thoughts and experiences from the perspective of a newbie to the shooting community. www.TopShotChris.com.



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  • Keith

    Thanks for the post, Chris! I think your smile in the last picture says it all, I know I’d sure be grinning after getting to fire such a slick little SMG. Nice Bass Pro hat too, I saw you on a sign at the one in Springfield MO last time I was up there.

    • Jeff

      I too immediately saw the BPS hat and was like “Cool! I go there too!”

    • http://www.TopShotChris.com Chris Cheng

      Thanks Keith and Jeff! I enjoyed hanging out in Springfield, great people, and a ginormous Bass Pro Shops. They’re going from 300,000 sq ft to 700,000 sq ft by the end of 2013. The NRA Museum is expanding from Fairfax, VA to Springfield, and BPS is building a shooting center of sorts. It’s gonna be grand!

      • Keith

        Oh cool, that’s some awesome news for Springfield!

  • Joseph

    It sounds like a blast. I wonder how well it would do here in the States with civilian sells not just because of what it is, but the round it fires.

    The applications for a small compact firearm with that kind of round would be many in my opinion. SBR or Pistol and you’re good to go.

    • Munkfish

      Well if it was chambered in 5.7×28, like it was obviously destined to, then it would probably sell alright in the US.

      • Lance

        Not really HK and Germany are committed to 4.6×30 which is a good round by itself.

      • RocketScientist

        The H&K 4.6 round was developed as a competitor to the FN 5.7 round… not sure why you think H&K would have designed their rifle to shoot its main competitor’s proprietary round? To me that would be like a Ford F-150 that was designed to be powered by a small-block chevy 350?

  • hikerguy

    I have often wondered how effective the caliber is, but still will have to say the MP7 is a well designed weapon. It could even be described as “sleek” or even “sexy” if such terms could describe a firearm.

    • Alex

      I’m guessing it’s doing a pretty good job at dropping bad guys seeing as how its popular with assaulters in AFG.

      Also the temporary wound cavity on the 4.6×30 is far greater than the 5.7×28 after penatrating a 1.6mm titanium plate supplemented by 20 layers of Kevlar (CRISAT).

      • Nmate

        Since when? NATO chose the 5.7×28 because it was significantly more effective on unarmored targets and at least as effective on armored ones. It was also less sensitive to extreme temperatures and theoretically would have less issues with throat erosion. But since any single member nation can block adoption without any legitimate reason, Germany did so at the behest of HK.

        An MP7 firing 5.7x28mm FN would theoretically be about the best small caliber PDW one could build.

  • Masood

    I had that game. Never made it past the first level because I like to shoot bad guys. No need to carry cuffs….just extra ammo.

  • Lance

    Both weapons are great, MP-5 and MP-7. Glad neither replaced each other fully. Both are good and very accurate SMG and much more comfortable to shoot than the old open bolt UZI was.

  • bbmg

    Would be interesting to see it chambered in 0.30 carbine too, with the high velocity 4.6 bullet offered as a saboted option in the same cartridge for when one expects to encounter armor.

  • Peter

    Nice! Thankfully you didnt say that we should never ever be able to own one of these rifles lol ;)

  • http://www.batmanbatmanbatman.com Woodroez

    Ha, I played a lot of S.W.A.T. 3, it was pretty much my first 3d game on the PC. That was actually the game that turned me on to the 1911 before I had made the deep-dive in to gun-nuttiness.

    That thing looks like a blast to shoot!

    • Dan A

      Heh yeah, playing SWAT 3 (and Counterstrike) in high school is what got me interested in guns in the first place, I think.

  • Arjan

    “Red team, breach bang and clear”
    “Compromised!”
    “THIS LAPD SWAT, PUT DOWN YOUR WEAPONS!”
    Bang, Bang!
    “Tango down!”

    Ahhh, those were the days.

  • http://flamedeleted إبليس

    Chris Cheng gives humanities’ biggest middle finger to RECOIL! For. The. Win.

  • Frank W. James

    Both the Navy SEALS and the units with the German army deployed in Afghanistan are equipped with this weapon so it is combat ‘tested’. Initial reports from open sources indicate its effectiveness is better at short distances. Medium to long range engagements — not so much, but then that’s been true with most “sub-machine guns” since forever…

    All The Best,
    Frank W. James

    • Big Daddy

      Yes it’s so true, basically no matter how you make them a SMG is what it is. It’s a short to very short full auto weapon made for one reason. To kill someone, more in a defensive engagement but not always. It can also be an excellent offensive weapon if backed up with troops using heavier arms. The Russians made that an art in WWII.

      It is an extension of the sidearm, providing more fire power through being able to fire more rounds.

      I wonder if these newer SMGs are all that better than the older designs? They pretty much do the same thing. I was surprised the Philippine army brought back their suppressed M-3 Grease guns for the Special Forces. Because they worked well and as good as anything they would spend a bunch of money on they really don’t have.

  • gunslinger

    nice write up. wish i could get my hands on some of those things.
    the range back where i used to live had full auto rentals. they had an MP5, but i never got a chance to rent it.

    5.7 vs 4.6? humm. well i guess i’d never want to be hit with either.

  • West

    “Been a long time since I rock & rolled…”
    -Robert Plant

  • cc19

    Hk needs to make like FNH and give us the chance to buy their latest cool toys. And not neuter them like they did to the G36 with that SL8.

  • TxDog

    I’d be curious to see a side-by-side comparison with the FN P90. The P90 was a pleasure to shoot and I’d like to know if the P90′s “space gun” layout gave it any advantage over the MP7′s more traditional design.

  • Richard

    Can some one explain me what so special about over price machine gun only few can owen shoot??? Unless join some special force military group or work as gun write that about only way gone get shoot one. I real do not see offer up any real big advantage to fn P90 at all. That gun is way more available.

    • LJK

      A thing doesn’t have to be available for everyone for it to be interesting.

      • Paul

        very true, in the UK I can’t own ANY of the weapons featured here but I’m still plenty interested!

  • Steven Braden

    I’d like to find a place that does machine gun rentals that rents them. Anyone know of one?

    • gunslinger

      Can you give a general idea of where’d you be willing to travel to? I know a gun range in Greenville, SC that has full auto rentals. And i’m sure there are several others in the states. Can you give a better search window?

      • Steven Braden

        I’m located in NE Ohio. I’d be willing to make a one day trip (anywhere within 250 miles). Other than that, if anyone could let me know where machine gun rentals are popular, I’ll keep a list in case I’m ever in town.

        Thx.

      • gunslinger

        I did a Google search for machine gun rental Pittsburgh pa and found a place in NW Ohio greytown or something. I bet Columbus has a range as we’ll as around Pittsburgh

        Hope that helps.

    • Jeff

      I’d hate to buy the ammo for it even if it could rent one =P

  • Lance

    Think most dont understand, HK championed the 4.6×30 and will not relent on its own caliber. I think MP-7s come in 9mm as well which is NATO round 5.7 is NOT a NATO round. So the MP-7 in 9mm could be a NATO SMG if a nation wanted them to be.

    • MNOR

      That’s actually not a bad idea.
      The object of PDW-calibers(5.7 , 4.6) is to penetrate kevlar, So maybe a +P 9mm version of the MP7 would work. Then again so does an +P MP5…

      Someone more knowledgable than me on the subject would have to wouch for the performance of +P-rounds too.

      • W

        on that note, the Russians went to 9x19mm for a PDW solution, having two cartridges in the +P+ range (certainly higher pressure than western +P+ too).

        The MP7 is only in the 4.6mm cartridge. I also do not know of other PDWs that can switch from a PDW round to a pistol round.

      • bbmg

        Apparently most weapons chambered for 9mm parabellum can be converted to take the HVAP 6.5x25mm CBJ round with a simple barrel change: http://www.cbjtech.com/sida.asp?sida=2_6.5×25%20CBJ

        It doesn’t seem to be any closer to reaching production status though, in spite of the claimed performance.

      • W

        that is not the first time i have heard of that 6.5mm cartridge. Besides a couple articles, I have not seen any new information about it. If everything is indeed true, it is a potential game changer in the world of small arms.

      • bbmg

        The physics seems to make sense – neck down a 9mm cartridge and you get higher velocity, use a saboted projectile and you’ll get even more, so I don’t doubt the velocity and penetration figures. The reasons I think it would be hard for it to get off the ground would be:

        - tungsten is expensive, and if you’re talking small arms, you need to stockpile a lot of ammunition

        - accuracy is not exactly up to the standards claimed by the manufacturer

        - there are doubts about what effect such a tiny sub-projectile can have on animate targets

        The latter point would not seem to stand when you compare it with the MP7. This achieves at least 100 ft/lbs less at the muzzle than the energy claimed for the CBJ, and because of the high ballistic coefficient of the tungsten penetrator, the CBJ keeps this energy for longer downrange. In spite of this, the MP7 seems to be successful in action, so there is every reason to believe the CBJ would be even more so – and you get to keep your 9mm submachineguns and magazines, just switch out the barrel!

        There must be a catch somewhere, but I’m not seeing it.

    • MNOR

      The Russians are sensible that way, just like they were by scaling up the 7.62×39 to the 9×39 for a subsonic armor-piercing round.
      Having a larger mass 9×19 round that can punch trough armor makes sense to me, rather than having such a miniscule round like the 4.6x30mm.
      I’m sure it’s effective when tumbling and what not, like most SCHV-rounds. But(and I’m just asking here), does it comes to a point where a round just becomes too small to be reliably effective?

      And I know the MP7 only comes 4.6×30. Maybe it could be upscaled to 9mm +P. I’m sure it’s possible, but I doubt it would have any success with MIL\LE-clinents, as it wouldn’t really offer anything another 9mm SMG could do. Or am I completely off there?

      • W

        “The Russians are sensible that way, just like they were by scaling up the 7.62×39 to the 9×39 for a subsonic armor-piercing round.”

        The Russians are very practical that way. Due to our superior defense budgets, we (as in westerners) have a propensity to accuse them of being backwards and obsolete, when fact proves to the contrary.

        “Having a larger mass 9×19 round that can punch trough armor makes sense to me, rather than having such a miniscule round like the 4.6x30mm.”

        I agree strongly. Not only do you have more surface area to damage tissue and dispense kinetic energy, but you are simply upscaling a cartridge that already exists without reinventing the wheel. The PDW cartridges have their strengths and weaknesses that are different than Russian 9mm PDW rounds, but I do like the idea of steroiding a existing cartridge.

        “I’m sure it’s effective when tumbling and what not, like most SCHV-rounds. But(and I’m just asking here), does it comes to a point where a round just becomes too small to be reliably effective?”

        All ammunition works by punching holes into a target. It is my opinion that you reach a point where when you punch smaller holes, the more reliant you are on follow up shots to punch holes in vital structures and organs. This gets into a very emotional and opinion based conflict, but I believe, in a nutshell, that 9mm Russian PDWs are more effective in stopping assailants than the western PDWs but that is just a personal opinion. That is why I support the idea of a upscaled 9mm.

        “And I know the MP7 only comes 4.6×30. Maybe it could be upscaled to 9mm +P. I’m sure it’s possible, but I doubt it would have any success with MIL\LE-clinents, as it wouldn’t really offer anything another 9mm SMG could do. Or am I completely off there?”

        No, youre tracking. That is why I dont see HK producing a pistol caliber MP7 because they already have two other SMGs to fill that niche: the MP5 and UMP. A pistol-caliber MP7 wouldnt be measurably superior in my opinion.

      • MNOR

        Seems like we agree completely mr W. Good points all-a-round.

        The Russians are very practical that way. Due to our superior defense budgets, we (as in westerners) have a propensity to accuse them of being backwards and obsolete, when fact proves to the contrary.

        Exactly. And with the economic situation being what it is in the US, EU and the western world in general, western millitary technological supremacy might not hold up for long. maybe not even a decade.
        The Russian economy is staying strong on the count of they’re wealth of natural resources. They are also pumping billions into they’re defensebudget, modernizing equipment cutting down they’re millitary from a mass-army into a lean highly mobile and hard hitting fighting force.
        People can stereotype “the poor Russians” all they want, but don’t count on the reallity of things, or the Russians for that matter, to agree.

      • bbmg

        The disadvantage of the subsonic rounds is that they don’t have the flat trajectory that the smaller high mach rounds tend to have, so out to several hundred metres drop and wind estimation and compensation becomes an issue.

        Having said that, there is the possibility of having alternative bullets for longer ranges, in the same way 300 blackout is optimised for relatively slow heavy bullets but can also fire saboted smaller calibre rounds at higher velocity for a flatter trajectory: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cvxq7-Ior-g

        It seems a bit silly – “why did you get a bigger bore if you’re going back to shooting small bullets?” – but ultimately unlike the original 5.56 chambering, you get the option of shooting either a large quiet slug or a smaller penetrator screaming along at mach 3, simpyl by switching magazines.

        Some wise words here: http://guns.connect.fi/gow/2030.html

  • Michael

    Nato requested a PDW many years ago, and no final decision on 5.7 or 4.6. I think the 5.7 is more likely to be picked and used purely because it is out there and being used, not just by military/LEO but by civilians with the FiveseveN pistol, PS90 and AR57.I believe H&K would benefit from civilian sales of a weapon in this caliber (different ammo, magazine, slings, sights etc).
    Most Armies engaging in combat are giving all troops rifles. I think that the experience in Afghanistan and Iraq are finding everyone, including non-combat troops as in supply drivers need rifles. The PDW weapon appears to be used by SF, CP bodyguards and police units.
    My opion would be for a short barrel bullpup 5.56 weapon with ammo optimized for a short barrel

    • noob

      The Chinese QBZ-95 rifle has been upgraded to fit that bill. It even features 1 o’clock ejection so left-handed use is possible (though apparently not pleasant).

      I wonder how short you can make a bullpup rifle and still squeeze all the energy out of the powder load in the larger rifle case? 10″ bbl? How short can the action be? not much shorter than 2″ in a caseless/case telescoped weapon. probably more like 4″ for actions that eject conventional brass.

      If so you could potentially have a platform about 12″ to 18″ long with an adjustable stock spacer – short enough to conceal.

      We probably need a weapon that hits like a rifle and conceals like a PDW. getting the ammuntion supply out of the grip would help that, since your finger reach constrains the OAL of the cartridge in grip mounted magazines.

      • noob

        I should add when I say “squeeze all the energy out” of a 10″ bbl, I mean squeeze enough energy out that the bullet is still moving at “rifle speeds” at the muzzle.

  • Moose

    Screw H&K. Anyone who supports H&K is a fool. You will never see the MP7 because it is not used for “sporting purposes”, just like you will never see a civilian MP5 chambered in 9mm. I don’t care about what law was created around the time they WERE making civilian MP5s, the AWB passed 10 years ago. Plenty of other gun manufacturers that were chomping at the bit to get AR-15′s to the public. Take a company like FN, every single one of their military arms has a civilian counterpart, probably because they understand the market. H&K acts like their shit doesn’t stink, and the arms that they HAVE released to the public, they will make you pay for it. So I say screw em’, I’ll keep my SCAR thank you very much.

    • AZRon

      Wow. All a web author has to do is mention H&K in an article, and the parrots come out of the woodwork. (usually some misguided soul that has never owned an H&K that didn’t come from their buddys’ kit, or a cheap out-of-spec copy)

      (derp, derp, derp…you suck and we hate you…derp, derp, derp)

      You like your SCAR? Good for you, Mr. Operator, you’re a paragon of experienced insight. If it’s OK with you, I’ll buy what I want.

      Oops, I guess that makes me a fool in your eyes. I’ll try to carry-on as best as I can sans moose ad-hoc.

    • W

      then dont buy from them.

      Pretty simple solution. Also, dont mudsling those that do buy and use products from them.

  • John Doe

    As cool as the MP7 is, most of its appeal (for me at least) is from its inaccessibility. The P90 (or PS90) is extremely interesting from an engineering viewpoint and is really compact.

    Top-feeding magazines? Cool. The ejection system? Cool. The fact that the edges are all rounded off so there’s no corners to catch on clothing? That’s pretty cool too.

    • bbmg

      Agreed 100% – the MP7 design is lazy when compared to the P90.

      • W

        actually “laziness” is the P90s strength. Its top feed magazine uses gravity to help feed ammunition downwards, which improves feed in my opinion.

      • Mike Knox

        @W
        The P90 magazine doesn’t use gravity in feeding, It uses spring tension on the rounds against the magazine feed lips for the bolt lug to strip and chamber the next round. It only uses gravity in ejection like the Calico M100. Interestingly though, shooting the P90 sideways or even at an angle can cause ejection problems.

        Do you really know anything right about the P90?

      • W

        @W
        “The P90 magazine doesn’t use gravity in feeding, It uses spring tension on the rounds against the magazine feed lips for the bolt lug to strip and chamber the next round.”

        Ill take that as my fault for miscommunication. The P90 magazine obviously directs the cartridges toward the back with spring tension, though I implied gravity favored the design more since it is fed downwards instead of up like most designs out there (rather than implying that its inherently reliant on gravity for feeding). Since the ammunition is feeding towards the earth instead of upwards, this is a unique advantage. Same goes for the ejection.

        Its not the same level of gravitational advantage like the Bren, and perhaps any such advantage is hindered by the rotation of the cartridges loaded in the P90s magazine, though I think this gives the PDW a unique advantage AND disadvantage in some areas.

        “It only uses gravity in ejection like the Calico M100. Interestingly though, shooting the P90 sideways or even at an angle can cause ejection problems.”

        Its characteristic of the design, though the only ejection problems i have seen is when the thing is fired at drastic angles, such as 90 degrees. Other than that, its ambidextrous ergonomics are well worth it.

        “Do you really know anything right about the P90?”

        Im not a P90 armorer but I know how to operate the damned thing and have extensive trigger time behind it. Its not a rube goldberg devise in that it is rather simplistic in its design.

        I never put much stock in PDWs. They dont do anything particularly special that a SBR wont do.

    • Mike Knox

      @John Doe
      Actually the MP7 was supposedly a bullpup PDW Concept when HK was working on the CAWS, that’s why the Operating system is a miniaturised G36 system. They chose the Machine Pistol layout because of the Hands find Hands philosophy..

  • schizuki

    How often do the good guys encounter baddies in vests? It seems like a simpler compromise would be to just make an MP5 in 7.62x25mm Tokarev, giving a nice compromise between hard- and soft-target performance in a proven package.

    • MNOR

      More often than you might think. There have been quite a few TIC’s in Afghanistan in the past few years were ISAF-forces has encountered Taliban wearing vests and Kevlar helmets. Some Taliban have also been found dead next to pimped out Galils,complete with rails, red-dot optics, vertgrips and the likes.
      Or the Mumbai attacks in -08 where the terrorists were all wearing an assortment of tactical gear.
      Closer to your doorstep you have the Mexican cartels who are notoriously well equipped.

      What I’m getting at, is that all these large organized groups are typically well funded. The cold war days with dirt poor millitants with one shoe and a rusty AK is becoming a thing of the past. Even the millitants themselves don’t have the means, then they’re typically sponsored by or has ties with someone who does.
      So, case and point, IMO, all MIL-personell need, and all LE should have AP-capable firearms.

      • noob

        plus the hollywood shootout bank robbers Larry Phillips, Jr. and Emil Mătăsăreanu wrapped themselves neck-to-ankle in class III vests (god knows how they were able to walk like that, must have been sweaty before it got bloody).

        I guess your poor home invader who is looking to rob or rape might not have the foresight or means to get a vest before his first crime… but once he’s robbed a house with a vest in it, then why wouldn’t he wear it?

    • bbmg

      You can stick to 9mm and change the projectile.

      Steel cored bullets exist: http://i699.photobucket.com/albums/vv360/wolfganggross/cutaway%2012/cutaway82911027.jpg

      By virtue of their hardness and higher velocity, they should go through armour with ease.

  • Sean

    I feel like more and more MP7 articles have been popping up lately like they’re rubbing our faces in the fact that H&K will never release them to the Civie market.

  • Mike Knox

    Is that a Rudy Project Reydon you’re wearing?

  • Michael

    Its not just US import laws, but German export laws that are important.
    Government sales are much more important to gun companies than civilian sales
    Love my Fiveseven pistol, would love a PS90, a 4.6 weapon would be fun. The biggest question is how effective these new rounds are, both in military rounds and civilian rounds
    I would expect a modern gun to shoot better than a 40 year old designed gun.
    I would like a new polymer high cap pistol in 7.62×25