TFB Review: HK SP5L – Modern Day HK94

Category: Firearms | Reviews

The MP5 is arguably the best 9mm SMG ever made. It has been cloned by many and yet fans and collectors always want that German roller delayed blowback perfection. While H&K has imported the SP5K and SP5, they have decided to bring to the US the HK SP5L, the modern-day HK94.

HK SP5 @ TFB:

An SP5 For All

HK-SP5L-Right_Web

Photo credit: HK USA

HK SP5L

Phot credit: HK USA

Photo by HKUSA

Some of you may be wondering to yourself; “Why make a long-barreled SP5?”. Well, there are a number of reasons. First, let’s go back in time when H&K imported the HK94.

The MP5 is normally an 8.9″ barreled SMG. For legality reasons, a full auto is harder to get and more expensive. Also, pistol versions of a semi-auto MP5 were not really feasible in the 80s so H&K made and imported the HK94. It was a long-barreled semi-auto MP5. It came with a 16.54″ barrel and came in a number of versions: fixed stock, collapsible stock and sniper/target variant called the HK94/SG1. As you can see in the photo above, some of them came with a vented barrel shroud and a vertical foregrip.

It is thanks to the stabilizing brace that made pistol versions of the MP5 (the SP5 and SP5K) more practical. So then why have a modern HK94 and make the HK SP5L? State restrictions and possibly competition.

Some states like California and New York have terrible gun laws. The HK SP5L is imported into the US as a pistol and therefore not subject to 922R compliance. While this is great for H&K, it does not really affect the end-user. What is important is some states restrict your ability to own an SP5K or SP5. The SP5L can be converted into a rifle and made compliant for any state. Just add a stock and any other compliant modifications like a fin grip or fixed magazine. And yes, you should probably swap some parts for US-made ones to satisfy the ATF and 922R.

Another option for the SP5L is to use it in a competition like USPSA. Unfortunately, the governing board of USPSA does not allow the use of pistols with arm braces for competition. You need to have filed for a tax stamp and SBR’d your pistol and then you can use it in competition. Local matches and doing a fun run with a braced pistol is a separate thing altogether. If you want to compete officially and have your scores counted, then you need a rifle. The SP5L allows you to compete now in the USPSA PCC division.

The HK SP5L Is a Blank Canvas

HK SP5L next to SP5 and SP5K PDW

Gotta get them all. SP5L, SP5 and SP5K PDW

As mentioned earlier, the SP5L comes as a pistol. But you can then customize it how you see fit, as long as it is legal in the state you reside in. The first thing I did was adding a stock and optic mount so I could use a red dot. I have a tri lug flash hider that I added to the barrel. However, since it is a long barrel, I wanted a way to cover it up. My friend Kevin built an HK34 for himself. I wish H&K had gone this route for the SP5L.

Photo by Kevin R.

I wanted to make the SP5L just like this. Unfortunately, I cannot since the HK34 has an elongated cocking tube that allows it to use HK91/G3 handguards. I was not deterred though. The HK SP5L is an MP5/SP5 at heart so any accessories made for them will work. I came up with this solution. I used a 9″  HK416 quad rail that I had lying around and mounted it to my KAC MP5 handguard.

This is not a “real” solution though. The HK416 handguard is only held on with the friction of those rail covers. Later I used a 416 front sight and mounted it right in front of the SP5L front sight and used a zip tie to hold them together. That way the handguard would not slide off if I pick up the SP5L by the handguard extension. I hope someone produces a better handguard extension for the SP5L.

Kevin mimicked my setup and replicated it on his MP40.

Not a fan of the extended handguard? A decent-looking barrel shroud and some key accessories can make the SP5L very attractive. Here I used the barrel shroud from my CZ Scorpion Carbine.

I wanted to replicate the MP5-SD aesthetic so a friend of mine gave me an SD rubber handguard. These handguards slip over the cage that is welded onto the MP5-SD receiver. I found that it fits perfectly over a Midwest Industries M-LOK handguard for the MP5.   

What if you live in a state that is restrictive? Some states do allow you to own “Other Firearms”. It is easy to convert the SP5L into a firearm instead of a rifle. Just add a brace and vertical foregrip. I went with the Wilcox PEQ-7 but you can use any vertical foregrip of your choosing.

How Does The HK SP5L Shoot?

Since the SP5L is an SP5 with a long barrel there were some characteristics I was curious about. How quiet is the SP5L than my SP5 and what is the velocity of the bullets out of the HK SP5L vs the SP5?

Since the SP5L has such a long barrel, it does not take much to make it quiet. I used my Tirant 9M but rather than using the entire suppressor, I only used the short configuration. With 165gr subsonic rounds, it is extremely pleasant to shoot. I have to use the full-length Tirant 9M on my SP5 to get similar results. However, I think the HK SP5L is quieter due to the fact the muzzle end is so much further away from my ear.

I used my FX Airguns pocket chronograph. It can only measure velocities below 1200 FPS so I decided to use subsonic ammo. If there is a speed boost from the longer SP5L barrel, it should show up.

According to the chronograph, there is no difference between the SP5 and SP5L. Both suppressed.

Compared to a suppressed SP5K though? On average, a 40 fps drop in velocity.

Final Thoughts On The SP5L

I took the SP5L to a local USPSA match. The extended handguard made it more comfortable to reach out and control the barrel. The long barrel is not ideal but I can see it helping oppressed people getting their hands on roller lock goodness. The HK SP5L retails for around $2900. I saw one at my local gun store for just $2700. With a few choice accessories, you can make it look better and at the heart, it is still a semi-auto MP5 that you can legally own and isn’t that something worth having? I hope more companies develop accessories for the SP5L. For more information about the HK SP5L go to HK’s website.



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