Military Hardware in Civilian Hands

It appears that H&K, along with certain magazine editors who should know when to keep their mouths shut, are seriously concerned about the repercussions of mere civilians having possession of the fancy new military technology which is the small-bore, high-velocity MP7A1, designed to perforated Soviet body armor at hundreds of yards:

Like we mentioned before, the MP7A1 is unavailable to civilians and for good reason. We all know that’s technology no civvies should ever get to lay their hands on.

Well, H&K’s attitude shouldn’t be the least bit surprising – they have pretty much built their modern corporate identity on a foundation of sneering at mere civilians. And the magazine is more fluff than substance, so it’s understandable that the editor would pander to H&K.

As a guy who tends to be more into old guns than new ones, this whole situation seems a bit familiar – I think Winchester once developed a specialized high-velocity small-bore weapon and cartridge for military use. It wasn’t a machine gun, but then again it was designed to perforate torpedo boat armor and snipe enemy sailors (or Boxers) at 700 yards, not merely body armor at 200. And do you want to guess what their attitude was on letting this cutting-edge military technology fall into the hands of mere civilians?

Winchester Lee Navy handbook cover

Yeah, they though it would be just fine for you and I to have, and they were obviously pretty proud of it having been adopted by the US Navy. Heck, you could walk into the shop on Broadway in NYC and buy one from them right over the counter. Lest you blow this off as just some other bolt action, let’s recall that when this rifle was available to you or I, the majority of the US Army was still armed with a single-shot, black powder Trapdoor Springfield. The Army had just barely finished adopting the Krag, because they still thought a magazine cutoff was a high priority so the troops wouldn’t waste all their ammo by shooting too fast. And yet, anyone with cash in hand could walk out of a shop with the latest in high-speed low-drag military hardware.

We don’t want to return to the world of 1895, but it would be nice to see its firearms ownership paradigm make a comeback.


  1. The increasing aversion to civilian possession of arms really reflects a deterioration of the citizen’s position in society. Governments were not really very concerned about private possession of arms 100 years ago when there were well defined boundaries to government authority.

    • I came into comments to praise Ian for having said in a few words what took me over 3,000 (and a full recounting of the who-shot-john of Recoil, Tsai, and H&K (I always use the ampersand because it vexes them). But your comment, John, is really insightful. Depressing, but insightful.

      The funny thing is that the “aversion” is localized. It’s found in government functionaries, and in those regions where government has an overweening share of the power. In areas where the citizen holds power (few though they may be), even government functionaries are usually pleased about civilians in arms, and indifferent to, say, collectors of obsolete weapons.

  2. I can understand a fully automatic version being restricted (not like, but at least understand), but exactly how could a semi-automatic version have no sporting applications? Plenty of people buy PS90 carbines, and they have become decently popular light deer guns in certain groups.
    It seems like that combined with the atrocious SL8 and USC carbines just points out how out of touch with a sporting market HK is, and constantly self-serve their own cult like following of “too good for just anyone” mentality.
    Hey, I think I just found the Apple of the gun world.

    • Hi anon,
      I’m guessing that you are an American.

      Where does the second amendment to the US constitution mention “hunting” or “sporting”?

      I’m not trying to embarrass or berate you for having fallen into the gun control crowd’s trap.

      I’m neither an American, nor a constitutionalist, I’m much more sympathetic to your anti federalist writers views, than to the federalists.

      The second amendment makes it clear that civilian possession and “bearing” of arms (including, but no where restricted to guns) shall not be infringed.

      its references to “well regulated militia” and protection of liberty, make it clear to all but the most determined obfuscaters, that the purpose is for the citizenry to be equipped to fight.

      The other associated documents make it clear that the individuals who are to be fought are tyrants and their forces.

      Machiavelli, in “the prince”, written in the mid fifteen hundreds, contrasts the centralized Ottoman empire, with the much more decentralised politics of France, and the ease with which the Ottoman power structures could be controlled once the Caliph was removed, compared to the intractable difficulty of controlling all of the nobles, barons and communities in France, if the King were defeated.

      History has illustrated that insight many times; even if a state army is defeated, and a Marshall Petin or a Vidkun Quisling, signs the surrender documents, or a Saddam Hussein is given a show trial and hanged,

      an armed population takes many more military resources and much more time to even begin to suppress (spiders and starfish)

      From the Russian peasants harrying Napoleon’s forces all the way back from Moscow, Afghanis expelling all invaders since Alexander the Great, the Warsaw uprisings, the Irish “troubles”, to name a very few examples

      That history upsets the fragile egos of those who would make our decisions for us. They’re the ones who make “laws” and they’re the ones who take our money to spend at the likes of H&K and HS Precision.

      They’re the ones who’d like us to think that the only reason we should have access to guns is “hunting” and “sporting”

      as one of the pipers, H&K play the tune the pays them wants to hear.

      • I was not, and would never, argue that the second amendment is restricted to only the uses of sporting and hunting, and know full well reading Jefferson’s explanation of the amendment is intent and goal of an armed populace in the defense of personal liberties against tyranny and the creation of a citizen-soldier vanguard of a national community, etc.

        I was arguing the main point the editor of the magazine wrote that “This is a purpose-built weapon with no sporting applications to speak of.” I was saying that this is an untrue statement due to the popularity of 5.7 PS90 and AR carbines, and small “PDW” calibers do have their place in the sporting world.

        As for understanding the MG ban, I understand it in the sense that I know public position on it, and that it isn’t going to change any time soon, and I might as well live with it instead of banging my head into a wall. I know the registry should be open due to the fact that it SHOULD and is inherently covered by the law’s intent, but alas modern politics is more about public emotional backlash combined with ignorance, and no real philosophy guiding people at the voting booth even if there are people who understand the scope and meaning of government. I don’t like it, but I understand that it won’t change. Yes, it’s apathy, but at one point you realize you can’t move a mountain alone. So pretty much I’m saying that restricting something just because you don’t think it has a sporting use is wrong when there are counterexamples showing it’s sporting potential, not that the 2nd amendment only covers sporting uses.

  3. I’ve been watching this slow burnout take place since the story broke over the weekend with a bit of curiosity. I’m puzzled as to why is it that people make such poor decisions when it guns and gun publications. Whether its Bill Ruger and his hi-cap mag ban, the S&W deal with the Clinton administration, HS Precision signing an endorsement deal with Lon Horiuchi (google that name…), or Jim Zumbo with his “terrorist rifles” comments, you would think that someone out there would eventually get the memo that stuff like this will come back on you from an economic and PR perspective.

    Businesses are free to pick their client base, and HK has done just that, seeing more money in the military and LEO world. Likewise, magazine editors are free to have the final say over the content, as that is their job and their right as a private publication. Ultimately though, we as consumers also have the right and freedom to take our money elsewhere, and only by us doing such will businesses like these ever change their mindsets.

    Off the soapbox…thanks…

  4. Everyone has there own opinion. What all this controversy did is take a flashy magazine, and put it on the front pages of gun blogs. Made me get the magazine, and i dont even like it. what do they say, bad press is good press. Something like that.

  5. I had already made the mistake of buying two previous issues. Considering the level of fluff in the magazine, I’d say you’ve all been pwnd by them simply by even giving them the time of day.

    I mean, this is a magazine that has as it’s best feature a cheaply made & not terribly useful tear out target.

    Ignore them; definitely don’t buy them. They’ll go away quite soon if you do.

  6. Here is a letter from recoils website.
    The POS editor trying to backtrack.

    Dean from Idaho

    Read more:

    RECOIL Statement
    Article by Jerry Tsai
    I’d like to address the comments regarding what I wrote in the MP7A1 article in RECOIL issue 4. First and foremost, I’d like to apologize for any offense that I have caused with the article. With the benefit of hindsight, I now understand the outrage, and I am greatly saddened that it was initiated by my words. Especially since, I am an unwavering supporter of 2nd Amendment Rights. I’ve chosen to spend a significant part of both my personnel and professional life immersed in this enthusiasm, so to have my support of individuals’ rights called into doubt is extremely unfortunate. With that said, I retract what I wrote in the offending paragraph within this article. It should have had been presented with more clarity.

    In the article, I stated some information that was passed on to me about why the gun is not available for civilian purchase. By no means did I intend to imply that civilians are not responsible, nor do we lack the judgment to own such weapons, if I believed anything approaching this, clearly I would lead a much different life. I also mentioned in the article that the gun had no sporting purpose. This again, was information passed on to me and reported in the article without the necessary additional context. I believe everything published in RECOIL up to this point (other than this story), demonstrates we clearly understand and completely agree that guns do not need to have a sporting purpose in order for them to be rightfully available to civilians. In retrospect, I should have presented this information in a clearer manner. Although I can understand the manufacturer’s stance on the subject, it doesn’t mean that I agree with it.

    Again, I acknowledge the mistakes I made and for them I am truly sorry.

    Jerry Tsai

    Read more:

  7. The weapon is an interesting concept and design. It is a shame that an American company does not come up with something comparable. As for H&K or FN with there attitude toward US sales, it is a shame. At least Glock has the common sense to grasp that the American public is a much larger market then any European government. H&K would sell more of there MP 7 A1 here then any country of the world. The same goes for there AR look alike.

  8. all in all, i guess this would be quite effective in making pin holes in soft armor at 300 yds, maybe h&k would make a pistol version like the Five-seveN, call it the 1ne-se7eN or something to that effect

  9. My response is a combination of indignation as a gun owner, and a complete “Meh” in regards to HK guns. My taste is in blued steel and wood, not in picatinny rails and lasers and whatnot, so HK has never appealed to me. Their complete hatred of their fanboys has more made me laugh than anything else.

    Ask yourself, what would you rather have in your collection, a PSG-1 or a ZH-29? For me, at least, the beautiful gun so easily takes the cake. Even if it’s a little odd.

  10. Here seems to be a lot of misguided hatred.

    Unlike most of you seem to believe, Germany has laws, too. It’s not Somalia. One of them is called “Kriegswaffenkontrollgesetz” (KWKG, engl.: Law to control (the proliferation of) weapons of war. I know, that is a long word and a bit hard to pronounce.
    The KWKG forbids exporting weapons of war to other countries. It defines what a weapon of war is. According to the KWKG weapons of war are: Machine guns, sub-machine guns, automatic rifles and semi-automatic rifles (except sporting and hunting guns). Pistols are no problem – that’s why the HK 45 went more or less directly to the US civi market.
    And here come the problems: What’s the difference between a military and a civilian semi-automatic rifle? Is a semi-auto only MP7 still a sub-machine gun or is it a rifle?
    To make the MP7 a civilian gun in accordonance with german law would be difficult.

    – just removing the buttstock and calling it a pistol wouldn’t be enough
    – plus pistols with a caliber less than 6.3 mm are illegal in germany
    – they’d have to manufacture the barrels and the bolt heads on entirely different machinery (requ. by law or BKA? I’m not sure)
    – they’d have to make barrel, bolt head and the trigger mechanism incompatible with the mil. MP7.
    – they’d need a certificate from the BKA (think FBI while they make the job of the BATF) that has the authority in such complicated cases. They seem to deside on a day to day basis. Remember the MR556/MR223 receiver pin hassle?
    – and they’d have to comply with US laws.
    – etc…

    You don’t like the KWKG? Have you ever heard about ITAR?
    What is HK supposed to say. “We would like to disobey the law”?

    I’m not sure if I have everything right. But that doesn’t matter anyway. Just believe me, it is complicated.

  11. Well, yes – I would like to hear them say that. Or simply, “we’d love to sell a civilian MP7, but German law makes it impossible for us to do.” (or they could just build them in the US and avoid all these issues). Instead, HK actively does not want to sell to civilians.

    • Well, then it’s HK’s policy not to sell MIL/LE products to civilians. You’ll find that many companies have such supposedly illogical policies. That’s not exclusivly a firearms topic.

      HK probably wants to avoid the same kind of trouble that FN undergoes every time anyone uses a P90 or Five-Seven in a not so nice way. “Cop killer gun/caliber”, etc. Read closely what HK’s representative says: “… this is a gun you do not want to see in the wrong, slimy hands”. The Editor’s unlucky notes made that statement look really bad.

      I cannot understand why this is such an emotional matter.

      That being said I don’t like Recoil. It has some nice footage in it but that’s about it. There is only few information, nothing historically valuable, some of the info given in the MP7 article was plain wrong. For example:
      HK hasn’t redesigned the grip to facilitate larger capacity magazines. It was redesigned for corporate identity, to look like the P2000. The old grip could take 40 round magazines, too.
      The buttstock with two notches instead of one isn’t exactly newer, both are used simultaneously, just a detail.
      They’ve mistaken grams with grains. Well, that happens sometimes but that the head editor makes that mistake…

      And most disturbingly who the hell calls an M320 grenade launcher “noob tube” – nobody who wants to be taken seriously!

    • Wait, that doesn’t make any sense. If H&K actively didn’t want to sell to civilians, why do they import all their handguns virtually unchanged and for fairly reasonable prices, and why do they go to great effort to create importable versions of the HK G36, UMP, and HK416? These last firearms, the SL8, USC, and MR556, all have significant differences to their military cousins. They all have different moving parts groups than their military counterparts. They have a different takedown mechanism, etc.

      For not wanting to sell firearms to civilians, H&K puts an awful lot of effort into doing just that.

      H&K does have a bit of an elitist attitude, and they do have “you suck and we hate you” customer service (though I understand it’s getting a bit better), and they make the vast majority of their money on military and law enforcement contracts, but the idea that they don’t want to sell to civilians at all does not make sense given how ready they are to jump through hoops to do so.

  12. [quote]”You don’t like the KWKG? Have you ever heard about ITAR?
    What is HK supposed to say. “We would like to disobey the law”? “[/quote]

    [b]What is HK supposed to say?
    For a start they can keep their mouth shut!
    It’s better to keep one’s mouth shut and appear a fool, then to open one’s mouth and prove it!
    Good marketing strategy. Piss off the largest gun market in the world.
    As said before I’ll stick with my wood and steel!
    Dean from Idaho [/b]

  13. You brought up a good point Markus. I did not realize that German law would not allow for export. Japan has a similar law about export. It is a shame. I wonder if that applies to complements as well. Thanks for the insight.

  14. as MG-42 notes; Glock has its eyes onthe US civillian market.

    I remember the first magazine articles about Glock (Handgunner – the British magazine who were closed down for a period as punishment for disclosing what a POS the SA80 rifle is)

    Point being, Glock is a very successful newcomer to gun making and selling.

    If the established firms are getting snotty with us, let’s give them some competition.

    I’m sure that everyone here has ideas for something that would do the job that the expensive little H&K toy is meant to do, as effectively and cheaper.

    Anyone want to share those ideas?

    the more radical the better: we want to make H&K management and various bureaucrats have an “oh s**t!” moment.

    Here’s mine for an opener:

    Forget rifling – go smooth bore.

    An aerodynamically stabilized small calibre projectile, either sharp pointed or hollow pointed and sharp edged wadcutter.

    Seated in a plastic sabot.

    my preference is for a projectile like a pointed and long skirted “Minnie” rather than a waisted “Diablo”, as the “Minnie” will better withstand acceleration without bending.

    Preferred material for the projectile: machinable tungsten – it’s half as dense again as lead, so for the same length and weight, you only use 66% the frontal area of a lead projectile.

    for anyone who thinks it is “unobtainium”, just get some cheap tungsten darts.

    second choice would be stainless steel (there’s a bit of a higher density than carbon steel), but ordinary scrap high tensile steel (torsion bar etc), would be better than nothing.

    Preferably coat the projectile with PTFE to help it penetrate. gargle “PTFE coating, dupont” for some ideas of how to do that.

    What to fire it out of?

    .30 cal sabots to hold .22 projectiles are commercially available:

    .30 carbine and .30 Tok come to mind as hosts, so too .30 fireball/whisper and 7.62 X 39mm. plenty of host guns for those!

    Personal preference is for a blowback firing .338 fireball (a .223 cut off at the base of the shoulder you could even potentially use fired .223 blanks).

    .338 fireball is (according to COTW) roughly equivalent to .351 Winchester (approx .357Max performance out of a carbine) which was chambered in the blowback mod 1907 Winchester rifle.

    .338 fireball should (with correctly shaped sabot and projectile) work through STANAG mags, allowing use in ARs etc, but my preference would be for a STEN type action, stretched appropriately to take a STANAG mag, and with a bolt weight appropriate to the .338 fireball loaded with sabot plus a 60 grain or so projectile, and charged with shotgun powder (more readily available than rifle powder – even if it means cutting shotgun cartridges open to get it).

    The higher expansion ratio than a .223, means less flash and less noise. You should be looking at .223 like velocities or better with less powder, and out of a smooth bore, STEN type gun.

    • A man after my own heart, I believe that making an effective sabot round for the 9x19mm chambering is a much more profitable route than creating an entirely new weapons system.

      The CBJ 6.5 round is a good start, but needs a new barrel:

      I imagine the reduction in calibre was selected in order to raise chamber pressures given the fact that the projectile is much lighter and therefore from a 9mm bore not enough pressure would be generated to operate an automatic action effectively.

      Even so I’m sure that a tungsten round in a synthetic sabot bringing the all up weight to 115 grains could be developed. while it would not fire at the fantastic mach 2 velocities the MP7 does, it would still by virtue of its increased sectional density fly much further and flatter than an FMJ round, and also punch through armour without much effort.

      When less formidable targets are expected, or when a heavy subsonic load is preferred to make a suppressed weapon more efficient, existing 9mm rounds can continue to be used without modifiying the weapon.

      With such a round to hand, any 9mm machine pistol or compact submachinegun would make as effective PDW for the modern battlefield as the MP7 is.

      The P90 on the other hand is not be discounted in a similar manner, FN should be praised for succeeding in creating a compact and revolutionary design. Relatively small sales figures though in my view prove that improving ammunition for existing weapons would be a more viable route to take.

      • Excellent points

        I’d better explain my advocacy for a smooth bore and chopped off .223 brass.

        should the need ever arise (and I pray that it never does) to follow the people Leszek has written about, the thinking needs to be done before the need arises.

        I’m guessing that neither commercial ammo nor the time and equipment to rifle barrels will be available.

        Aerodynamically stabilized projectiles avoid the need to rifle bores

        chopped off .223 brass allows rounds to be made from scratch – using picked up enemy brass, and using readily available STANAG mags.

        The straight case allows use of blowback actions

        The large diameter sabot allows use of powder from shotgun cartridges (which are likely to be more available than rifle or pistol cartridges in an emergency)

        The intended use, would be like a WW2 liberator pistol:

        Pretty girl flirts with enemy to distract them, accomplice or opportunist shoots distracted enemy, and makes escape with their rifles and ammunition.

        rinse and repeat.

        The enemy becomes your supply sergeant

        should a search or a roadblock be expected, the gun is cheap and can be thrown into the long grass to avoid endangering the owner. If it is lost, another can be made with relatively little difficulty – or much less difficulty than a guerilla would experience if captured.

        incidentally, a “blondin” slug (a wasp waisted, wad cutter 12g slug turned from steel) is supposed to bite into light armour well, even when impacting at an angle, the sharp edge over stresses and cuts fibres, and the slug will reputedly penetrate a vehicle engine block casting

    • The “Universal Ferret”

      a gun before its time, and sadly a “forgotten weapon”

      it was a commercial .30 carbine chambered for 256 Win (.357 mag necked down to .25)

  15. I forgot that H&K is owned by BAE. This was mentioned in a couple of articles discussing the possible BAE – EADS merger. Adds a new dimension to H&K’s position on civilian ownership of their products, doesn’t it?

  16. Button rifling is the simplest way to rifle a barrel & is very fast. Much faster than doing the drilling of the barrel. I have read that the Polish during WW2 used converted spiral reamers to rifle barrels, but I don’t know if they used them like a button or made them into broaches.

    As for the action of DIY & a different design, a primer activated action would be interesting to look at. The one for the Clarke was simple & light. Because of being light, there was very little recoil.

  17. Just a reminder; H&K sells a semi auto MP7A1 and Fiocchi makes and sells ammunition in Canada! Yes it is as a restricted weapon but so are most handguns. US law would classify it as a Short Barreled Rifle in its present form. If they lengthened the barrel and fixed the stock in the open position it would be legal to own in almost every state except California. H&K would have a nice small game rifle if it followed the path of FN . FN made the PS90 for civilian sales where shooters found it both useful and fun.

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