A Submachine Gun Bursting With Features
Words: Jonathan Higgs of Airsoftology.com
Photos: Amy Carter & Walter Sidas
Possibly one of the most recognizable submachine guns to have ever been made, the MP5 by Heckler and Koch has been used across 80 countries since its inception. Originally produced in 1966 and still going strong today, the MP5 is still a favorite of SWAT teams, SEALs and law enforcement alike. And it doesn’t stop there. The MP5 has made its way onto TV and movie screens for decades on end as a favorite of on-screen heroes and villains. With so much popularity, it’s no wonder that Umarex has been offering airsoft versions of the MP5 for years. Each revision brought improvements and updates, all in the name of getting the replica as close as they could to its real steel counterpart. So, when Umarex switched manufacture’s to VFC in 2013, the airsoft world was curious as to what the next evolution for this iconic SMG would be. And that only leaves one question: Did they finally hit the pinnacle of replicas with the latest MP5, or did they miss the mark with their newest version? After a few calls, a box containing the fixed stock “A4” version of Umarex’s most recent gun arrived at our doorstep so we could run it through the paces. We’d soon have the answer we were seeking.
THROUGH THE SCOPE
WHO MAKES IT: Umarex (OEM by VFC) Test sample supplied by Elite Force
GUN NAME: H&K MP5 A4
CLASS: Automatic Electric Gun (AEG)
TYPE: Submachine gun
WHO IT’S FOR: Experienced player
HOW MUCH: $299
FPS: 389 FPS with .20g BBs, 346 FPS with .25g BBs
PROS & CONS
+ Mechanical three-round burst both fun and functional
+ Extremely solid build, no wobble at all
+ Stamped steel upper
+ One-year warranty form Umarex
+ Solid power that is both field and CQB ready
– Tight magazine well. The snug fit requires a break-in period for all new mags
– Would like to have had a metal flash hider
With some of the better externals we’ve seen in a while coupled with field level power, the MP5 A4 from Umarex excels in the airsoft submachine category.
STAR RATING (1-5): 4 stars
STOCK: Fixed (as tested)
INNER BARREL LENGTH: 214mm
GRIP: H&K fixed-style
TRIGGER GUARD: Polymer – molded into lower
UPPER & LOWER RECEIVER: Metal upper, polymer lower
MAG RELEASE: Ambidextrous primary paddle style release located in front of the trigger guard, right side secondary button-style
FIRE SELECTOR: 4-position ambidextrous.
OPTIC SPACE: None, however the receiver is aftermarket rail-mount compatible
SLING ATTACHMENTS: Three included- front and side “eyelet” style and rear “pin” style
MAGAZINE: 200 round metal Hi-Cap included
MATERIAL: Stamped steel (upper receiver)/aluminum alloy/nylon fiber reinforced polymer
OVERALL LENGTH: 26.75 in.
WEIGHT: 5 lbs., 8 oz. unloaded
GEARBOX VERSION: Modified Version 2
MOTOR: VFC high torque “Long Type” motor
GEARS: V2 metal gears with a modified sector gear
BUSHINGS/ BEARINGS: 7mm Metal
SPRING GUIDE: Metal
INNER BARREL: Brass – 6.06mm inner diameter (measured),
214 mm length (measured)
HOP-UP UNIT: One piece, plastic. Slide-style adjustment
GENERAL FEEL: Solid build without even a hint of wobble between any of the parts. The external finish of the components is top notch, And any seams have been smoothed down. Weight is balanced as well; and the center of gravity is right at the shooter’s hand. And, with the inclusion of a three round burst option, they really raised the stakes.
CONTROL/OPERATION: Tried and true H&K style controls, everything is within reach for users with average to large hands. All airsoft-necessary control systems are ambidextrous, and it is easy to use either hand.
BATTERY STORAGE: Small Type NiMH or Crane Style LiPo battery fits inside Rear stock. – Small Tamiya connector
RANGE/ACCURACY: 150 ft. effective, 175 ft. max
9.6V- 13 RPS
11.1V- 15 RPS
.20g- 389 FPS
.25g- 346 FPS
– 11.1V Turnigy 20c LiPo Battery; NG1800A.3S.20
– Duratrax Onyx 235 LiPo Charger; DTXP4235
– BB’s -Elite Force .20g and .25g BBs; 2279059 & 2279061
Most AEGs use a predictable mix of materials during their external build process; variations of affordable “pot-metal” for the body, ABS plastic for grips and (if you are lucky) a spattering of aluminum for only the critical detail parts.
Well, VFC and Umarex decided that this wasn’t going to cut it with their latest MP5 family. They went outside the box and opted for higher end materials in an effort to improve the detail and durability of this airsoft rifle.
With the MP5-A4’s lower receiver being comprised totally of plastic, a high-strength reinforced polymer was the only choice to ensure that it could hold up to abuse and keep the look and feel of a high-end rifle. The buttstock, lower receiver and front handgrip are all made of the same strong polymer and have been textured to both provide grip and lower the reflectivity across the body.
With the exception of the upper receiver body, all of the remaining parts are made of an aluminum alloy that is as strong as it is light. This is another high-end touch that further showcases the attention to detail that Umarex and VFC took when joining forces on this project. And they could have stopped there…but they didn’t. To top it all off, VFC opted for a real stamped-steel upper receiver to cap the project off, bringing this build on par with real firearms when it comes to build quality. By going with the steel for the core of the body, the MP5 becomes a tank of an SMG, but still remains a manageable five pounds, eight ounces, thanks to the use of aluminum and reinforced polymer elsewhere. The finishes across the metal are very well executed, and we couldn’t spot a flaw in the paint no matter how hard we looked. Markings and trademarks were identical to the real MP5 A4; from the etched MP5 marking on the top of the receiver down to the fire selector designations on the lower half. They even muted their required block of mandatory licensing text so it isn’t noticeable unless you are searching for it.
The only part that we could find on the MP5 that was a possible issue was the orange plastic flash hider. Rather than opting for a metal one and paint the tip as required by US importation laws, they went with a plastic material instead. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, except that on this MP5 the flash hider is threaded externally to accept screw-on mock suppressors or tracer units. With the potential stress of a suppressor on the end of a plastic tip, we wondered about the durability of the flash hider over months and years of use. That isn’t a deal breaker for potential buyers, but it is something you should be mindful of if you are planning on adding accessories to the front. Even with the one small change we would like to have seen, we thought that VFC and Umarex did a knockout job on the body of this SMG. They really set the bar high for what an airsoft MP5 should look like.
Umarex included a 200-round metal hi-cap magazine in the box, which is actually a bit higher capacity than most MP5 magazines on the market today. The mechanics felt strong during our winding tests and it fed flawlessly in our shooting tests. Overall it’s a great magazine, but fitment in the magwell was a challenge at first. This isn’t the magazine’s fault, but rather the tight tolerance on the build of the steel VFC receiver. But fear not, after about one dozen magazine change drills, the hi-cap broke in and began to fit better. Personally, I’d rather have to break in my magazines than deal with a wobbly magwell like we’ve seen on some rifles out there. We did test a few other brands of MP5 magazines (Classic Army and CYMA) and they fit in the magwell perfectly with the same break-in process.
On the MP5 A4 version we tested, the battery lives in its own compartment in the buttstock. But, it’s not accessed in the way that we’ve come accustomed to. Rather than popping the rubber end pad off of the fixed stock, you remove the stock altogether to replace the battery.
Normally that would be a labored process, but the MP5 uses a single takedown pin for the stock removal. That makes swapping the battery a quick process that requires no tools, which is a huge boost if you are playing a long game and require a tactical change. Inside the stock there is plenty of room for a 9.6V small type NiMH battery or event a 11.1V 2000mAh battery with some room to spare. I was impressed with the design change over other MP5s, and have to tip my hat to VFC for a solid design that works.
The internals of the MP5 are a mix of mostly V2 parts with a splash of V3 components, all housed in a special mechbox shell that accommodates the newly-added mechanical three-round burst system. To achieve a three-round burst that wasn’t electronically controlled, Umarex and VFC had to go back to the drawing board and redesign the cam driven burst model first used by Tokyo Marui in their SIG 550 model years ago. They kept most of the V2 mechbox intact, but went to work modifying the selector plate system to allow the three-round burst function. By going with a two-part toothed selector plate arrangement, they could utilize a special sector gear to bump the top part of the plate on each pass as a shot counter. With the bottom part having three teeth, you would then need three passes of the sector gear for the catch to release and stop the AEG from firing. And that is what they did; a simple mechanical system that allows a select fire system to work with a three-round burst option. No fancy electronics, no MOSFETS that need programming. Just good old fashioned engineering. Aside from the cam system, shell and sector gear, all of the remaining parts are off the shelf replaceable. From the 7mm metal bushings to the polymer piston, you can upgrade to your heart’s content.
The trigger in the Umarex MP5 is solid and beefy, just like the real MP5’s trigger, and the trigger guard allows plenty of room to operate even with gloved hands. The trigger itself has a bit of a stiff pull over what I personally prefer, but not so much that it gets in the way of rapid follow up shots in semi-auto. The stiffness may be that way due to the three-round burst system, but that’s a fine tradeoff for the added burst option.
Under the hood, you’ll find a one piece plastic hopup that is unique to the MP5 series. The stiff slide-style adjustment allowed us to set the hopup for our BB weight and not worry about it moving out of position. The hopup seal was solid, but that’s no surprise considering VFC is known for well-sealing designs. Overall, the hopup performed as advertised, and we can’t think of anything that would make it better in the MP5.
Like all A4-version MP5s, this one does not include a rail to attach optics and accessories. It does, however, include the standard MP5 claw mount on the upper receiver, so you can affordably install an accessory rail of your choice. We were able to pick one up at our local shop for under $20, which is a bargain compared to optic mounting solutions for most other platforms. On our wish list, we also have a quick detach MP5 suppressor that fits over the three-lug flash hider, as well as a flashlight foregrip to help with low light situations. But aside from that, we can’t think of too many other ways to improve this already solid rifle.
Ok, we’ve established that the MP5 A4 is a good looking AEG, but is it all show and no go? I took it out to the range to see if the performance of this submachine gun can keep up with its top notch exterior.
I loaded up my magazine with Elite Force BBs for our tests and broke out the chronograph. I filled the magazine with .20g BBs and wound it up as I headed to the test range. I pressed the barrel to the opening on the Xcortech chrono and squeezed off a shot in semi-auto. The display lit up with a surprisingly high 387 FPS. Wow, I was impressed, but was that a fluke? After firing a dozen more shots I was sure it wasn’t a mistake. With an average of 389 FPS across the tests, I was thoroughly impressed on how much power it was able to produce with the short 214mm barrel.
But, can it keep up with the ROF under such a strong spring? I switched the fire selector over to the full auto setting and let it rip. On my 11.1V LiPo battery, I clocked in a stable 15 rounds per second, which is a nice balance of speed to the solid FPS performance in the previous test. So far things were going well, but the final test was ahead of me. And this is the test that really matters…How would it do in a 100 foot accuracy test? I set up my target and walked off the paces back to range. After loading up a fresh magazine with .25g Elite Force Bio BBs, I put my goggles back on and locked the magazine in place. I flipped the fire selector to three-round burst and gave the trigger a solid squeeze. Three shots ripped out in succession headed down range to their destination and all three hit their target. Again, I was impressed. I repeated this process multiple times in all fire modes, and only had one random flyer that missed the target by a few inches.
Over 1000 rounds later, I was satisfied I had a solid feel for the MP5, and that feeling was one of being impressed. Not only did the MP5-A4 look good, it shot good as well. It was a true double threat of performance and styling.
Overall we really were impressed with the MP5-A4 from Umarex and VFC. It has an external build with attention to detail, but ruggedness that can stand up to the abuse of daily use. Aside from the plastic flash hider and snug magwell, this is an almost perfect example of an airsoft SMG. But once you add in the three-round burst option, you have a very impressive rifle. Bottom line: if you are in the market for a new primary AEG with a small footprint, definitely take a hard look at the new MP5-A4 from Umarex.