Historical Firearms’ History Lesson on the H&K UCP

Where the MP7 is that “cool gun” that almost no civilian in the United States can get these hands on (much less see), we can at least take comfort in knowing that the well-respected weapon has a few choice homes here amongst those who protect us. We may yet get to see one in person.

But, did you know that the MP7 had a handgun little brother? Neither did I until HistoricalFirearms.info had a nice little expose on a true ghost gun, the Heckler & Koch UCP.

In the early 2000’s, NATO was keen to procure a “Personal Defense Weapon” that was a bit more compact and maneuverable than main assault rifles, yet packed enough punch to get through body armor. The basic idea was these weapons would be useful for rear-echelon troops and vehicle/aircraft crews. Both HK and FN competed on this program, yielding two popular platforms today, the MP7 and the P90, respectively. Where FN has released their Five-Seven handgun, HK’s offering has stayed in-house.

Dubbed the UCP or “Universal Combat Pistol” the handgun was the smaller true pistol-sized companion to the MP7. Chambered in the same 4.6x30mm cartridge, it would allow troops to carry common ammo weapons or simply give others a bit more punch in their handgun against modern soft-armored troops.

For more details, head on over to HistoricalFirearms.info, which has additional pics of the UCP (including prototypes!) and other neat weapons. 


TFB’s FNG. Completely irreverent of all things marketing but a passionate lover of new ideas and old ones well executed. Enjoys musing on all things firearms, shooting 3-gun, and attempting to be both tacticool AND tactical.


  • BenJamin

    I like the “made of balsa wood” look to it.

  • tony

    Could have given the FN57 a good run for its money

    • ostiariusalpha

      The barrel is only a couple of inches shorter than the MP7, but that was enough to drastically degrade the velocity of the 4.6x30mm bullets. That round needs a certain amount of barrel length to adequately perform both in penetration and terminal effect.

      • The smaller the bore, the more barrel length you need to drive a projectile of the same weight to the desired velocity.

        Thats why the 5.7 is able to work out of a 4.8″ barrel, but the 4.6 was unable to.

        • ostiariusalpha

          Right on. My thought was that if they had used a reverse feed pistol, similar to the Gabbet-Fairfax Mars Automatic or Boberg XR9/Bond Arms Bullpup, they could have kept the same slide length and gotten an extra inch of barrel length. That would have met their performance criteria and saved the pistol from cancellation.

  • Old Tofu

    longest slide release on a handgun???

  • ostiariusalpha

    Both the handgun and the SMG were supposed to be part of an overall PDW package; the NATO preliminary specification was clear on this. The P90, MP7, Five-seveN, and UCP are all PDWs.

    • Mike

      I always thought PDW were a great idea, but events in The middle East showed it was better to just equip non combat troops with smaller AR15 types.
      PDWs have their uses, but for the original purpose an M4 is cheaper, easier to use, and keep in the supply chain.
      A civilian PDW would be ideal

      • ostiariusalpha

        Well, to be perfectly straight, any weapon issued to drivers, pilots, and other rear echelon troops is a PDW; it’s a role, not a class of weapon. You could be forgiven for thinking that SMGs and other small cartridge carbines are exclusively personally defense weapons; after all, most discussions of the PDW center around the P90 and MP7, or their conceptual predecessors like the M1/M2 Carbines and LP.08. But the actual term itself was created in the late 60’s, and was first applied to the M1911A1 firing standard .45 ACP ball rounds; and later to the M9 pistol. If the brass thought that shotguns were perfect for the role, then those would have been PDWs.

  • SP mclaughlin

    Nothing personnel, HK.

  • Gary Kirk

    H&K.. Because, “we hate you, and you can’t have it”..

  • Ark

    Neato. I guess I can always buy a PMR and just play pretend.

    Oh, wait. That’s an awful idea.

  • Vuyo Ncube

    There’s something beautiful about this one. It’s so straightforward looking.

  • Cyborg Fred

    SO HK you are going to release the MP7 in civvy format. Why not make a gen 2 version of this pistol? That way 2 things would actually shoot the 4.6x30mm cartridge. Hmmm kinda like what FN did.

    • CommonSense23

      Is there a reason you want the MP7 other than you can’t have it?

      • Taylor Hardin

        Its different and cool and sometimes that’s all that matters

        • ostiariusalpha

          It would be a little cooler if it didn’t have a polymer charging handle that won’t work after a few mag dumps, and if it… was chambered for 5.7x28mm. 😎

          • Taylor Hardin

            Whats wrong with the charging handle?

          • ostiariusalpha

            The MP7 uses a rear charging handle like the AR-15, but instead of making it out of aluminum, HK made it from polymer. Many law enforcement agencies found that on their select fire units the handle would distort from heat after a few mag dumps and jam up inside the gun. Even worse, it would interfere with the cycling of the weapon and cause numerous malfunctions.

          • Brett baker

            I’M more of a fan of the fact it needs a full factory rebuild after 4000 rounds.

          • Taylor Hardin

            I did not know that.

      • Mike

        Since when did you need a reason to buy a gun.
        You sound like a wife.

        • CommonSense23

          It’s more I see why HK doesn’t bother to bring the gun to the states. Only so many people are going to by a gun just for the cool factor.

  • Zapped 02

    Hi point called, they want there slide back.

  • Able_Dart

    Make it in .17 WSM LOL

  • Ben Loong

    Huh, I knew they planned to build a pistol in 4.6 before they scrapped the idea after they effectively lost out to FN, but I didn’t know they actually built it.

    This is a real unicorn gun.

  • Mazryonh

    With the 9mm AP rounds that Glock unveiled recently, it would be interesting to see if H&K made a version of their UCP to use that kind of ammo.