During the Cold War a German arms manufacturer paired the firepower of NATO’s 5.56mm round with its legendary submachine gun platform, creating a niche weapon that once equipped Britain’s specialist units. John Ash profiles the HK53, Heckler & Koch’s close-range heavy hitter

The HK53 essentially combined the HK33 rifle with the MP5 submachine gun to produce a niche close-quarters battle weapon

It is an image as iconic as the unit itself: coverallclad, MP5-wielding members of the SAS abseiling into South Kensington’s Prince’s Gate at the climax of the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege. It was a high stakes but near-textbook operation, one that owed plenty to skill and preparation – but also rested at least partly on the reliability and suitability of the equipment used.

The Heckler & Koch MP5 series is a ubiquitous family of compact submachine guns chambered primarily in 9mm. With suppressed and kurz (short) variants produced, the MP5 is ideal for closequarters battle. Reliable and effective, it is one of the most recognisable firearms around and, almost 60 years since its introduction, is still used by law enforcement agencies and special forces world-wide.

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