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The Symbols on HK Firearms

The Symbols and Other Markings On HK Firearms


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One of the most often asked questions about HK firearms comes shortly after the proud new owner brings his prized new HK home, and starts looking closely at the gun.  There are a number of unfamiliar symbols on the guns that I will explain here.

In the above example, the Chantilly import P7M8 has a serial number of 86912.  Simple enough.  What about the other symbols?  What is the funny character with the 'N' under it?  What does 'IE' mean?  What is the symbol next to the 'IE'?

The character with the 'N' under it is an eagle with spread wings.  This is called the 'Bundesadler' and roughly translated means 'federal eagle."  It is used on many German federal insignia.  The 'N' stands for "Nitrozellulose" (Neetro-tselluloze) or "Nitrocellulose" in English.  This is a universal symbol found on German firearms that use modern nitrocellulose based propellants.  The 'IE' is the date code.  More on that in a minute.

The symbol to the right of the date code is a stag horn.  It is the symbol of a particular proof house, located in Ulm, Germany.   German firearms are sent to proof houses before sale, for inspection and quality control.  This is much like a 'UL' listing for American small appliances.  There are other proof houses, for example, in Kiel and Hannover, Germany, but HK uses the Ulm proof house exclusively.  Here is a link to the Beschussamt Ulm web page: (In German)

There have been many P7 pistols imported into the United States that have had a certain mark removed from the slide prior to export from Germany.  Many have wondered what that mark looked like, and what it meant.  HKPRO members have solved the puzzle.  The mark is illustrated below:

The BWB is from the German "Bundesamt für Wehrtechnik und Beschaffung" or  "Federal Bureau of Military Technical Procurement."

The date coding system is very simple too.  It gets tricky when you start talking about non-proofed products like firearm magazines, but the general rule is thus:

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

The letter corresponds to the number.  The letter 'J' is skipped for proofed firearms, but is present on magazines.    Therefore, the P7 above was manufactured in "84" or 1984.

AUSFÜHRUNG WHAT?  The various and confusing roller locked "Versions."

Many of the models of the roller locked guns have another number behind them that can cause a great deal of confusion.  Ausführung is German for "version." This should help:

As a general rule:

A1 Buttcap Only MP5A1
A2 Fixed Stock/Full Auto MP5A2
A3 Retractable Stock/Full Auto MP5A3
A4 Fixed Stock and Burst Group MP5A4
A5 Retractable Stock and Burst Group MP5A5
A6 For SD only retractable/Burst Group MP5SD6

The SD series goes SD4 buttcap only with burst group, to SD6 retractable stock with burst group.  The 'A' is not used when describing the SD versions.  There are exceptions that only familiarity with the weapon system distinguishes.  For example, you might say HK33KA3, but not HK33KA5, even though it would be correct.  This is primarily because the HK33 was never available with a burst group option until a few years ago, and the gun is now discontinued.  The main departure from this nomenclature is on the G3.  See the G3 page for more detail there.  Another departure is the MP5KA1, which has no traditional sights.  With a burst group, it is called the MP5KA4.  Go figure.

Most recent manufactured HK firearms (within the last 10-15 years or so) have specific numeric prefixes to their serial numbers that denote models by caliber and type.  What significance these numbers have or how they are chosen, I do not know at this time.  Here is a listing of several of the models and their serial number prefixes.  I will add to these as I get more of them.  Most all older HK firearms do not have prefixes at all, or just a single letter prefix.  UPDATED 2.21.2008

Serial Number Prefix Firearm
11- HK33KE
15- P7 PSP
16- P7M8
17- P7M13
18- P7K3
USA- Some P7K3 US imports
21- P7M10
21- SP-89
22- USP40F/Expert
23- Mk23 SOCOM
24- USP9F/Expert
25- USP45F/Expert/Tactical/Match
26- USP40C
27- USP9C
28- USP357C
29- USP45C
39- SLB2000
41- HK91 and 911 (most 80s models)
42- HK93 (most 80s models)
43- HK94 (most 80s models)
44- PSG1
45- MSG90
46- SR9
47- USC45
48- SL8-1/4/5/6
57- GMG
62- MP5 9mm
63- MP5SD
64- HK33E
74- 46-
76- HK53
84- G36K
85- G36C
88- HK416
89- HK417
92- HK21E
94- HK23E
96- MG4
111- USPC .357 SIG
114- P10
115- P8
116- P2000
122- P2000SK .40 S&W
123- P2000US
125- P2000SK
126- HK45F
129- P30
163- UMP45
251- XM320/AG416

There are other symbols on the receivers, barrels, bolt carriers and magazines that are confusing as well.  The best information that I have found on these areas is indicated by the diagrams below.

Location and layout for markings on MP5 barrels manufactured by HK.


Location for manufacturing symbol on MP5 bolt carrier.


Diagram for locations of symbols on MP5 receivers.