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MP5SD Series

The "Silent" Type
Cal. 9mm x 19 NATO

Schalldämpfer.  This German word is the only differentiation given to the 'silent' cousin of the world's most popular submachine gun.  Literally translated as "Sound Dampened,"  the MP5SD has a large number of fans all over the world, as well as detractors.  "Silencers" as they are commonly called, both in legal definitions for their regulation by the National Firearms Act of 1934, and in popular vernacular do not actually do what their name suggests.  Sound suppressed or even dampened is a much better way to describe what actually occurs when a firearm is discharged with one on the muzzle. But they are, with the exception of .22 caliber suppressed guns, far from silent.

mp5sdclose.jpg (40010 bytes)

How would one describe what an SD sounds like being fired?  Many gun rags that are available over the counter describe them as being so silent that only the bolt opening and closing is audible.  That is pure pablum.  Sound suppressed firearms are relatively loud, but suppressed .22 pistols and rifles are very quiet.  Most all can be fired without hearing protection, but the key to what the suppressor does, in layman's terms, is to make a gunshot sound like something other than a gunshot.  This is an accurate description: They do not sound like gunshots.  More like a pneumatic staple gun.  As sound suppression systems go, the SD is one of the more quiet available.  The SD suppressor is to my knowledge, the only sound suppressor actually manufactured by HK.  HK markets many others, primarily by Knight's Armament Co. and Brügger &Thomet of Switzerland (for the new UMP.)

Key to the uniqueness of the SD suppressor is that it is coupled with a barrel that has 30 2.5 mm ports in it to drop supersonic bullets to subsonic velocity for even greater noise reduction.  It is often confused, but shooting subsonic bullets in an MP5SD is a definite no-no for what is described in ballistic performance as the world's most expensive .380.   The average reduction in velocity is 200 feet per second.  You can thus see why subsonic is not a good idea, apart from the unreliability that you are introducing the gun as well.  Supersonic always for the SD, but subsonic is in order for all the other muzzle mounted suppressors marketed by or manufactured for, HK submachine guns.

Caliber Cyclic Rate Mag Capacity Modes of Fire Width (in/mm) Height (in/mm) Weight (lb/kg) bbl. length (in/mm) Overall
Length (in/mm)
9mm x 19 800 15/30/40 S2/3/F 2.36 8.26 6.83 5.73 30.42
9mm x 19 800 15/30/40 S/2/3/F 60 210 3.10 146 780


Reno, Nevada tactical officer with MP5SD5.  The '5' refers to the fixed stock combined with three shot burst trigger group.  The SD series is the only series that does not use the 'A' before the version number.  Incorrect would be MP5SDA5.

It is a good picture, but again stance is bladed, not current technique being taught by HK International Training Division.  In pointing things like this out, I do not wish to sound critical of the officer or anyone that the photos catch doing it.  I merely wish to educate the reader on the subtleties of proper technique.


Another Reno, Nevada SWAT officer with MP5SD2 or SD5, depending on the trigger group, which is not visible here.  Most of these officers are using the double magazine clamp, which makes for the fastest reload in the West, but 60 rounds makes the gun quite heavy.  SDs are also very muzzle heavy because of the suppressor.


Business end of the MP5SD


Guy in camouflage "gets some" with the MP5SD3.  (SEF trigger group and retractable stock.)  I had to publish this photo, because he is doing it all wrong by pure technique standards, to the point of exaggeration.  the right elbow is held at a forced high angle, weight is back on heels and body is bladed.  The elbow is the most curious, sure to catch on any obstacle that comes in his way.  Someone somewhere gave him some bad advice on form..


The MP5SD is a sought after piece among American Class III firearms collectors.  The gun is currently in the $12000-14000 range, with two $200 tax stamps being necessary for the gun and removable suppressor.  This of course refers to transferable conversions, just like non- suppressed conversions of the HK94.  American law enforcement agencies will pay in the area of $1900 for an SD.

MP5SD prototype.  The SD project began in 1974.  Many of the 'waffle' type magazines like the one shown here are marked with 'SD' on them.  The straight 30 round magazines are reliable with ball ammunition, but reportedly were less than perfect with modern hollowpoints.  Thus the design change to curved.


MP5SD first prototype, (below) with modern production version above.


Detail of the SD suppressor internals.  Suppressor experts have said that this design is crude by today's standards, but still highly effective.  The suppressor is sealed at the factory and is not strippable like this.


Earlier, I said that there are detractors of the SD.  Primarily they fall into those who feel that the ports in the barrel drop ballistic performance too much, and those who argue that the SD is more prone to malfunction.  I take no sides here, merely to inform, but the SD definitely will start to malfunction much sooner than a standard MP5, due to the amount of fouling that the suppressor forces back into the action.

MP5SD4.  (Burst group combined with A1 buttcap)


GSG9 operator from early 80's with MP5SD2 and scope.