The MP5 is one of the most iconic firearms in existence. Whether you are watching a movie, playing a video game, or reading a book, you stand a chance of running into an MP5.
The ubiquitous nature of the MP5 in our culture has led to a demand for MP5s that, until recently, was unmet by the original manufacturer of the MP5, Heckler & Koch (H&K).
One of the companies that have stepped in to fill the need for an MP5 in the American firearms market is Century Arms. Century Arms has partnered with MKE to bring a semi-automatic MP5, the AP5, to the United States. The question that needs asking and answering today is whether this MP5 clone, the AP5, is a worthy scion of the MP5 family.
Keep reading to find out.
Century Arms AP5 Review
Many people are hesitant to buy a clone of anything classic. We all want the original deal.
The “Real McCoy,” as you will. Since the AP5 is manufactured by MKE and not H&K, some potential owners might be unsure if the AP5 is truly an MP5. If that’s you, let me reassure you.
The AP5 is as close to an MP5 as you can get without pulling one of the factory lines in Germany.
The AP5 is manufactured by MKE in Turkey. In the early 2010s, H&K sold their tooling to MKE, who began to produce MP5 clones under license.
This means the machinery used to make the AP5 is the same machinery used to make the MP5 when Heckler and Koch operated the factory. The initial importer for MKE’s MP5 clones was Zenith Firearms, but when the contract between Zenith and MKE expired, Century Arms stepped in as the importer.
Under Century Arms’ brand, there are three distinct AP5/MP5 flavors available.
The first AP5 is the full-size variant. This is the version being reviewed today.
The second MP5 variant that is available is the AP5-P which is a version of the MP5K with a tri-lug and muzzle device. The third variant is the AP5-M, the most compact version of the AP5, and the muzzle is flush with the front sight and handguard.
The sights on the AP5 are the traditional MP5 adjustable drum rear sight and front post with a ring. Some people don’t like the sight type that the MP5 and hence, the AP5 have.
I like them. I was able to effectively and accurately shoot the pistol using the sights.
The AP5 has both a paddle magazine release and a button magazine release. The button release was very stiff and hard to use. It is included for those who want to use it, but the paddle release functioned much better for me, and it is what I use.
The safety selector on the AP5 is functional, but nothing to write home about. The entire group unit is this way. This is one area where the aftermarket support for the MP5/AP5 really shines. You can find lots of options for the AP5, both new and surplus, to improve the pistol.
One of the defining features of the MP5 and other roller-delayed firearms by H&K is the charging handle. The HK slap has become iconic in the world of firearms and video games, and you can definitely use the HK slap on your AP5.
The charging handle is not ambidextrous like many modern firearms, and operating the firearm left-handed is less intuitive. That being said, the charging handle functions well overall.
The handguard of the AP5 is textured to provide a better grip for the shooter and is another area where many owners of the AP5 make changes. The factory grip is not bad, but many change it to an M-Lok handgrip or a handgrip that has the classic MP5 look.
|Barrel Length||8.9 inches|
|Overall Length||17.9 inches|
|Sights||Fixed front, adjustable rear|
Pros & Cons
- Built on genuine H&K tooling
- Excellent shooter
- Excellent price/value
- Older design
The Century Arms AP5 was very reliable for me. I wanted to ensure my AP5 functioned at peak performance, so I followed the break-in suggestions in the manual. I put five hundred rounds of 124-grain NATO spec FMJ rounds through the AP5 before moving on to other ammo loadings.
Whether my success with the AP5 is because I followed the break-in instructions or the AP5 is just an inherently reliable firearm is a question I can’t answer. From my research of the AP5, the full-size AP5 seems to have very few issues with reliability, and those that I did find were easily fixed by replacing minor parts with surplus and new H&K manufactured parts.
My AP5 is a very accurate pistol.
I could ring steel well out to fifty yards without a stock and using an old single-point sling I had lying around. The AP5 performed very well on paper at fifteen yards as well. I plan to SBR my AP5, and once I do so, the only limitation I can foresee for accuracy is the skill of the shooter and the limitations of 9MM as a cartridge.
The MP5 is the pistol caliber carbine all other PCCs are judged by, and rightly so. The MP5 is not a new design, yet the overall feel of the AP5 is special.
As soon as you open the box and look at it for the first time, the pistol asks to be picked up and fired. The feeling doesn’t diminish once you start putting rounds down range, either.
Roller-Delayed Blowback Action
Roller-delayed blowback actions greatly assist with recoil management, and the AP5 is no different. The action on the AP5 is smooth and a pleasure to shoot. The moderate recoil allows for fast and accurate follow-up shots as well.
I own a decent-sized collection of PCCs, but none of them are Roller-Delayed Blowback, and while they all shoot well and have negligible recoil, the AP5 takes the cake.
Authentic MP5 Design
The MP5 is an economic firearm. The Century Arms AP5 is incredibly faithful to the MP5 design. The appearance, controls, and features all line up with the classic MP5. If only the AP5 were select fire….time to write my congressman a letter about repealing the NFA.
Cheap Surplus and Aftermarket Parts
There are lots of surplus and newly made parts on the market that will fit the AP5. There are stocks, slings, mag pouches, and other goods and accessories out there for making your AP5 fit your personal wants or needs. Your ability to accessorize your AP5 to suit your needs is limited only to your budget.
How We Tested
I took the AP5 to my local outdoor range and spent the majority of my time shooting both paper and steel targets.
I shot the paper to get a handle on the overall accuracy of the AP5, then spent the rest of my time ringing steel. Shooting paper is well and good, but I find the steel targets the most fun.
Even without a stock or a brace, the Century Arms AP5 was excellent. I was able to ring steel out to 50 yards with zero issues.
There are a number of companies that manufacture MP5 and MP5-compatible magazines, but I decided to stick with MKE magazines and experienced zero issues with my MKE-manufactured AP5.
Special thanks go to Natchez Shooting & Outdoors for providing the ammo for this review. Natchez is a fantastic place to go for your shooting needs; whether it is ammo, gun parts, reloading supplies, or something else, they have you covered.
Natchez provided PMC Bronze for this review. The AP5 ate this ammo like a champ. It chewed through the ammo with zero fuss. PMC Bronze is not the only ammunition I have run through the AP5 in my time owning one.
The manual for the AP5 suggests a 500-round break-in period where you use NATO spec 124-grain FMJ ammunition. I was able to purchase 300 rounds of MKE NATO 9MM and use 200 rounds of Sellier and Belloit 124-grain FMJ for the break-in. After completing the breaking period, I used the PMC Bronze 115-grain ammunition in the AP5.
The AP5 had zero issues. I experienced no failures to feed (FTF), no failures to extract (FTE), or any other issues.
I know some people complain about the MP5 and the dated nature of its design. I, personally, don’t have any complaints about the AP5.
The AP5 really shines with its ability to be customized. There is a huge aftermarket and surplus market out there. Make changes to your AP5 to suit your needs.
It is gorgeous.
There are several other MP5 and MP5 clone manufacturers for consumers to select from. PTR, Zenith, and H&K all make MP5s or clones of the MP5. All of those MP5s cost more than the AP5.
The SP5, sold by H&K, is often over three times more expensive than the AP5.
Suppressors – NFA Item
The MP5 feels like a gun that was made to be suppressed. The light recoil of the firearm from the roller-delayed blowback design and the functioning of the roller-delayed action means the AP5 is incredibly quiet when being fired suppressed.
Which suppressor you select for your AP5 will depend on your personal preferences and needs. I personally have a CGS Mod9 I purchased for my Grand Power Stribog SP9A1. I use a tri-lug adaptor to move it between the various hosts.
Other options that would serve well on the AP5 include the Dead Air Wolfman and SilencerCo Omega 9K.
Stock/SBRs – NFA Item
The first thing to note here is that you should only buy a stock for your AP5 once you have completed the process to Form 1 your AP5 through to the ATF.
Once you have your Form 1, there are a lot of options out there. There are fixed, folding, and sliding stocks available for the AP5. You can also purchase surplus stocks if that is what you are looking for.
The price for stocks also varies from A2 style stocks that are under $100 to H&K stocks that are hundreds of dollars.
Optic & Mount
Depending on which SKU you purchase when you buy your AP5, your AP5 may or may not come with a Picatinny rail.
If your AP5 does not come with the rail, you can purchase the OEM Picatinny rail separately or go with an aftermarket Picatinny rail. A good choice for an aftermarket rail would be the MFI ultra-low mount.
One of the MP5 clones on the market is the American-made Zenith ZF-5.
Zenith was the original importer of the MKE clones, but both companies went in different directions and are now competitors. The Zenith ZF-5 is a quality MP5 clone and one you should check out if you are in the market for an MP5.
Make sure you check out Ryan’s review of the ZF-5.
The B&T APC9 PRO is a high-quality pistol caliber carbine designed for the military and police. The pistol/rifle is designed to meet the performance, reliability, and accuracy needs of those using it.
The PRO model is an upgraded version of the original APC9 and incorporates updates requested by end users. Anyone who has used a B&T firearm knows that B&T is quality, and the APC9 PRO is no different. If you want a more modern PDW than the MP5 platform, check out the APC9 PRO.
The Grand Power Stribog is another PCC that seeks to slot in the market created by the MP5. The SP9A3 is an upgraded version of the SP9A1. The SP9A3 uses a form of roller-delayed blowback for its action, which helps reduce the already limited recoil of the Stribog SP9A1.
A cheaper option than the B&T APC9 PRO and the AP5, the Stribog represents a growing player in the PCC market.
Another quality pistol caliber carbine on the market is the Sig Sauer MPX.
It is different from the other PCCs listed above in the type of action it uses. It uses a gas piston system for the action, which is more reliable than the direct blowback system many PCCs use. Like the APC9, the MPX is a modern take on the PCC compared to the MP5 and has many upgrades and features that just aren’t found on the MP5.
If you are looking to grab a pistol caliber carbine, give the MPX a good hard look.
The Century Arms AP5 is a faithful clone of the H&K MP5. The pistol is compact, light, maneuverable, and an excellent firearm. If you are looking for a gun that will put a smile on your face and draw lots of attention at the range, look no further than the AP5.
It is important to understand what the AP5 and any MP5 or MP5 clones are. These are based on a firearms design from the 1960s. Don’t expect many of the modern features a firearm like the APC9 PRO, Sig MPX, or Grand Power Stribog will have. What you can expect, though, is a firearm that will be soft recoiling and silky smooth to shoot. The AP5 is reliable, durable, and accurate.
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