H&K MP5SD: The Cadillac of Suppressed Submachine Guns

Shortly after introducing the MP5 submachine gun, Heckler & Koch added an integrally suppressed model to its line at the request of special operations forces. It was called the MP5SD, for “shalldampfer”, or suppressed. In order to minimize noise, the barrel was drilled with holes immediately in front of the chamber to bleed off combustion gases and reduce the muzzle velocity below the speed of sound. 

The first model was available in 1968, and used a wire mesh type of suppressor. This proved unacceptable, as it became excessively fouled within just 70 rounds of firing. Between 1970 and 1972 a new pattern was developed, using a round aluminum tube body and an internal set of baffles formed from a single piece of aluminum square section tubing. This was light and easily manufactured, and would prove to work exceedingly well – setting the MP5SD at the top of the heap for suppressed submachine guns. It has really not fallen from this position since, thanks to an excellent combination of noise suppression, accuracy, weight, and balance.

19 Comments

  1. Would be very interesting if you shot the HK suppressor/bbl side by side w/ the modern clone & a modern suppressor.

    Once you get a sound meter, would be nice if you suppressed your Calico, and ran that, a borrowed MP5SD, & a suppressed CMMG radial-delayed blowback AR. SIG has a gas operated 9x19mm AR you should test w/ it. Maybe on Inrange?

  2. My favorite photo of MYSELF is one of of me holding a MP5SD in the HK booth at the 1st MILLIPOL in Paris in 1984. For an extra 500 francs we got to fire some smgs such as the Finnish Jatimatic but not the MP5

  3. The Cosmopolis Washington PD had 5 MP5-SD’s
    They loved them. For 50,000 rounds, Im told.
    But after trying to have them serviced by HK
    It took forever. So the last I heard they went to AR-15’s

    • If you follow the analogies from the automotive industry, then it is more likely Citroen.
      Everything is fine as long as they are new.
      But all the enthusiasm ends with the guarantee. 😉

  4. ““shalldampfer”, or suppressed”
    So far I know name for suppressor (device itself, not Adjektiv) is Schalldämpfer – with uppercase S, ch not h and ä not a behind d. Though maybe I am using WW2-vintage Deutsch and form above is currently legal? Can somebody shed some light at this.

    • You are correct regarding the word Schalldämpfer, which is still in use. Among hunters, these are becoming more and more popular. Germany being a Federal Republic, leaves hunting law to the states. Some favour suppressors, some are against them.
      The military now also uses the word Signaturdämpfer, refering to the suppression of not only sound, but also muzzle blast and flash (muzzle signature).

      • The Bundeswehr calls them Signaturdämpfer (literally signature damper) to not use the evil word Schalldämpfer. The fudd is strong with them.

  5. Ian, not all special forces are military, and the MP5 was not a MILITARY project at all. The Bundeswehr at that time was politically stuck with the Uzi, or the MP2 (woodstock) / MP2A1 (folder), and no military unit was ever issued MP5 until the 1980s. And then it was MP5K with the German Military Police, the Feldjager). The MP5 was from the scratch a police project, or rather the BMI (Bundesministrium der Innern, the Internal Affairs Ministry) project for the BGS (Bundesgrenzschutz, Federal Border Guards), who also were serving as paramilitary police force for internal (C/T, or counterterrorism) use – e.g. the GSG-9 is technically a Border Guards unit). And so, it was the BGS special unit (soon to become renown as Grenzschutzgruppe-9 in the 1976, after the showdown in Mogadishu with the Palestinian Lufthansa plane hijackers) who requested the MP5SD, not the MILITARY guys.

    • UZI quite firmly held its niche in the army and police markets.
      But their own laziness and complacency let them down.
      HK left both IMI and Walther behind when it managed to exhibit, unified with the base model, a truly compact SMG for concealed carry.

    • Technically the BGS was still counted as combatants in times of war back in teh seventies and was equipped as light infantry with mortars, armoured cars, machineguns, the hand-me-down FN FAL G1 from the Bundeswehr, their vehicles painted a dark green for camo purposes etc. So one could say it was a PARAMILITARY request. 😉 Although in daily business the BGS served as the federal police force and has since lost the status as combatant.

  6. I found it of interest earlier this year, when informed that the UKSF community are using in a enhanced rebuilt form, the L34A1 9mm SMG. Replacing the MP5SD in certain roles, as the suppressor has been described as superior on the L34A1

    • Suppressor L34A1 is much more perfect, although more complicated.
      Apparently, the experience of the WW2 affected.
      The HK suppressor is a good compromise between “cost and sound” of the system.
      And it is served even by the dumbest soldier, rinsing in a bucket. No risk of damaging it or assembling it incorrectly.

  7. Another drop.
    MP5S had a problem with suppressor corrosion on old ammunition.
    Apparently because of the primers.
    However, it is not news that the MP5 “does not like other people’s” ammunition.

  8. As a Certified MP-5 Instructor, I can tell you shooting that weapon is like shooting a .22. No recoil, excellent accuracy, and very quiet.

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