HK 94

by Peter G. Kokalis

With the exception of its 16.2-inch barrel, the new HK94 is pretty much an MP5 look-alike. As with all the civilian versions of HK weaponry, the flapper-type magazine catch release has been replaced by a push-button located on the right side of the magazine well. This modification has been incorporated to prevent installation of the full-auto military trigger-housing group. The MP5's trigger-housing is a two-piece synthetic molding. Only the HK94's pistol grip is plastic. The trigger guard and mechanism housing are made of stamped sheet metal. The trigger mechanism itself lacks an auto sear. The selector lever has only two positions, "0" and "1." The HK94 bolt carrier has been miIled to prevent engagement of the auto sear. Unauthorized conversion of the HK94 to selective-fire operation would be difficult, time-consuming and potentially dangerous. It will also void the warranty.

The exterior finish used on the HK system is baked enamel. The exact hue will vary from weapon to weapon. The HK94 tested was matte black, while the MP5 was a lighter charcoal gray. MP5/HK94 magazines come in two capacities, 15- and 30-round. They are of the modern two-position-feed type. They are well-made and the (floor plate is held securely in, place by two side tabs (although it is a bit more tedious to disassemble than more conventional designs). Early magazines were equipped with plastic followers but more recent followers are steel. The original magazine was a straight box. Feed problems with some lots of ammunition encouraged a change in 1977 to a curved magazine. MP5 magazines are difficult to load by hand. However, an efficient magazine loader-unloader is available. Also offered is a clamp which holds two magazines. But it interferes somewhat with the left arm when firing the weapon. H&K introduced a .22LR conversion kit for the MP5 in 1970. It consists of a sub-caliber barrel insert, bolt assembly and special 20-round magazine. After insertion, the .22LR barrel is retained by a flexible detent. The bolt assembly does not have locking rollers. The special magazine has the external configuration of the standard MP5 9mm magazine. With this unit installed, the MP5 will operate by pure blowback in both the semiauto and full-auto modes with a cyclic rate of 650 rpm. I doubt this kit will ever be marketed in the United States, as it would provide criminals with an easier avenue for illicit full-auto conversions.

A combat carrying sling is available and it can only be described as awesome in its complexity. Attempting to use and install this German cat's-cradle is quite beyond my pea-brain. A bent sheet-metal eyelet clip (riveted to the left side of the so-called target forearm on the HK rifles and to the left side of the magazine well on the MP5 and HK94) is supposed to be involved in its use. But the how is never explained. The MP5 manual devotes four pages of illustrations and one page of instruction to this maddening device. It's not enough. An entire booklet devoted to this one topic would be required. Or better yet, you can simply lay this Teutonic straitjacket aside forever, as I have done.

Any optical equipment that can be attached to the standard HK clampmount can be used on the MP5 and HK94. This includes night-vision units of the infrared or starlight varieties and an aiming projector which emits an intense narrow beam of light along the line of fire, powered by a 55-watt halogen lamp. This latter device can be used to both locate and temporarily blind targets.

Three conventional telescopic sights are available: the Zeiss 1.5- to 6-power variable, the Schmidt & Bender 4x25 and the Hensoldt 4x24. The Zeiss scope is too bulky for use on a submachine gun. We were provided with the excellent Hensoldt 4-power scope for our test. The reticle pattern is that used by the German military since world War I. It consists of a single, thick, pointed post at the bottom of the field of view with horizontal side bars and stadia lines. Although never popular in this country, this format excels in subdued light and offers faster target acquisition than standard crosshairs. It's a formidable combination when mated to the closed-bolt-firing MP5 and HK94.

Everyone agrees that firing from the closed-bolt position offers inherently higher hit potential tkan that obtainable from submachine guns which fire from the open bolt. When the heavy bolts utilized by most pure blowback SMGs fly forward and then stop violently against the chamber, accuracy is bound to be adversely affected. The problem associated with closed-bolt operation has always been that of "cook-off." When barrel temperatures greater than 250 degrees Centigrade are maintained for more than a minute, premature ignition of the cartridge becomes possible. There has always been a great deal of speculation about the MP5 in this area.

More than 3,600 rounds have now been fired through the two test weapons - an MP5 supplied by John Gannaway, president of Arizona Police Equipment, Inc., and an HK94 furnished by Heckler & Koch. I tried my damnedest to get the MP5 to cook-off, firing as many as seven magazines in rapid succession and then setting the weapon in the broiling desert sun with a loaded round in the chamber. I could not induce cook-off in the MP5 under any remotely realistic set of circumstances. However, the receiver's chamber area got righteously hot in the attempt. If you are accustomed to holding the palm of the support hand back against the magazine well and under the chamber area, a first-degree burn will be your reward.

As the blowback action is retarded by the two locking rollers, a much lighter bolt assembly is possible. The MP5, with retractable buttstock and without magazine weighs only 5.6 pounds. The tradeoff here is a higher cyclic rate, which approaches 750 rpm - close to the level at which full-auto hit potential falls off sharply from excessive muzzle climb. In the semiautomatic mode, the MP5 and HK94 are hard to beat. In full auto, I must go with the heavier guns and lower cyclic rates.

The MP5 and HK94 are not ammunition-sensitive. A wide variety of ammunition was fired during the test and evaluation: Winchester Silvertips, Remington jacketed hollow points, Czech, FN and Yugoslav surplus and reloads consisting of 124-grain cast bullets and the Hornady jacketed/truncated-cone projectiles backed by 5.0 grains of Unique. After 2,000 rounds had been fired through the MP5, without any cleaning, eight rounds of the Yugoslav ammunition (notorious for their hard printers) received light firing pin hits and failed to ignite. The barrel extension locking recesses were found clogged with debris. This is a Herculean performance by any standard and the MP5 and HK94 will pass anyone's test for reliability. Extraction is not nearly as violent as that of the Heckler & Koch rifles.

Surprisingly, the sturdy H&K retractable stock proved to be as stable a firing platform as the rigid stock. Its use on the HK91 (7.62mm NATO) rifle is not as pleasant an experience.

Lightweight, innovative, sturdy, reliable, well-balanced and supplied with useful accessories, the MP5 and HK94 warrant serious consideration by their potential users. The MP5 submachine gun is available to military and law enforcement agencies only...

HK94 Technical Specifications
Caliber 9x19mm Parabellum
Operation Recoil operated, delayed roller-locked bolt system
Ammunition Feed Staggered, box-type magazine; 15- and 30-round capacity
Mechanical sights Rotary aperature rear sight adjustable for windage and elevation; Hooded post front sight
Optical sights Any telescopic sight or aiming device compatible with HK claw-lock mounts; HK PULSE BEAM laser aimers mounted on cocking tube
Weight: with A2 (fixed) stock 6.43 pounds (2.92 kg)
Weight: with A3 (collapsible) stock 7.18 pounds (3.26 kg)
Barrel length 16.54 inches(420mm)
Overall length: with A2 stock 34.59 inches (878mm)
Overall length: with A3 stock extended 34.05 inches (865mm)
Overall length: with A3 stock collapsed 27.58 inches (700mm)
Sight radius 13.39 inches (340mm)
Width 1.96 inches (50mm)
Height 8.26 inches (210mm)

First Published in the December 1983 edition of Soldier of Fortune magazine