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Zenith ZF-5 Review: Your American “MP5” is Waiting preview image
Jul 30 2023
7 min read

Zenith ZF-5 Review: Your American “MP5” is Waiting


The MP5 is arguably one of the most recognizable firearms out there, which is why we’re reviewing an MP5 clone, the Zenith ZF-5. Many of you know about the MP5 because you’re a firearm enthusiast, but even those who aren’t have likely seen it in a movie or video game.

Heck, well before I ever shot one in real life, it was one of my primary guns in Call of Duty.

Given the popularity of the original MP5, there are many clones out there. One stands out in particular, though, which is the ZF-5. It’s one of the closest to the original and definitely does not give you any feeling of a “knock off”.

zenith zf-5 with magazines range test
Just walking up to shoot the gun had me excited.

One of the largest appeal factors is that it’s made in the USA. Here’s a closer look at what could be your next American-made SMG.

Zenith ZF-5 Review

Zenith ZF-5 For Sale

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Operating SystemGas-operated Roller-delayed Blowback
Barrel Length8.9 Inches
Overall Length17.9 Inches
Width2.3 inches
Height8.3 Inches
Weight (w/o magazine)5.5 Pounds
SightsFixed Hooded Front, Adjustable Rear w/ 4-aperture Rotary Drum
Sight Radius13.4 Inches

Pros & Cons

  • Priced Competitively (compared to H&K)
  • Retractable Stock
  • Surprisingly Accurate
  • Made in the USA
  • Difficult to Reload
  • 1,000 Yard Targets Difficult to Hit (Obviously!)

Range Report: Reliability & Accuracy


I had limited time with the ZF-5, but my overall experience was positive.

I had no issues with ammo, but the magazine dropped out twice, even after the first round loaded and went bang. I’m not sure if it was the specific magazine I was using, but I would definitely want to test several different magazines after to find the root cause.


I was able to shoot a model with and without an optic. I first shot one with an Aimpoint Acro, which felt like I was using a cheat code with how easily I hit my targets.

The next only had the classic iron sights, and it really surprised me how accurate it still was.

Granted, targets weren’t placed much more than 15-20 yards away from us, but the ZF-5 quickly and easily transitioned between them.

Can’t complain too much when you’re spending the day shooting in the desert!

Overall Feel

With the retractable stock, I didn’t think it would feel as sturdy as it does. Thankfully, I was wrong.

The ZF-5 may be smaller than the AR you’re used to shooting, but it still feels like you’re ready to take on almost anything with it.


Improved Controls

One of the major complaints I hear about MP5s is the position and angle of the safety. Zenith made sure to address that and make it somewhat more user-friendly, but it still has room for improvement.

At least it’s ambidextrous!

I really like the paddle magazine release being located right behind the magwell, in addition to the button mag release in the standard location. The reloads were hard enough with the small magwell, so any way to make them easier is welcomed.

Lastly, you’ll find your run-of-the-mill charging handle located on the left side of the gun at a 45-degree angle.

Nothing special, nothing wrong with it.

zenith zf-5 controls and trigger safety
I really liked having both a push button and paddle mag release.

Retractable Stock

The 4-position A3 retractable stock feels lightweight despite being made of steel. It’s connected simply with a large takedown pin and slides to its various positions via a button at the 6 o’clock position.

I know the point is to be minimalistic, but I do wish the buttpad had more to it.

zenith zf-5 stock
When fully-extended, the stock was even suitable for my tall self.


Being used to the AR platform, these sights are way different. However, they were surprisingly easy to adjust to.

The rear rotary drum sight is adjustable, with four different precision holes. The front is a classic fixed hooded sight that was easy to line up. Having four different levels of precision is a neat feature that I could get used to.

zenith zf-5 rear rotary drum sight
Need a little bit more precision on your next shot? That’ll be no problem, thanks to the rear rotary drum sight.

How We Tested

We could put as many rounds as we wanted through the ZF-5 at Range Day during SHOT Show earlier this year.

There was a variety of ammo available, all FMJ (at least that I saw), but we had no malfunctions with any of it. From rapid firing to slowly plinking away at random targets downrange, the ZF-5 performed well.

Score Card

Reliability (10/10)  

While it was a limited amount, all rounds went through it flawlessly.

Ergonomics (8/10)

Small gun and large man = hard to feel ergonomic. However, it’s ergonomic for its size.

Customization (8.5/10)

With the M-Lok handguard and top rail, you’ll have plenty of options for accessories.

Appearance (10/10)

It’s awesome…it’s an “MP5” and looks just like it does in Call of Duty!

Value (8/10)

Better price than some of the competitors but still pricey.


Vortex Optics Spitfire HD Gen II 3x Red Dot Prism ScopeVortex Spitfire HD GEN IICheck Price
ZF-5 30-Round Magazines ZF-5 30-Round Magazines Check Price

Vortex Spitfire HD GEN II

Vortex makes some of the best optics out there and the Spitfire is one of my favorite prism scopes. It features an AR-BDC4 reticle and a 3x magnification. Backed by Vortex’s lifetime warranty, you won’t have to worry about much.  

ZF-5 30-Round Magazines 

With how fun the ZF-5 is to shoot, I would want at least 10 or 12 magazines, all pre-loaded prior to my range trip.

All steel construction, reinforced feed lips, and round count indicator holes make the ZF magazines extremely durable and high quality.



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Said to be one of the most imitated PCCs in the world, the SP5 is the US version of the famous MP5.

It’s known for its reliability and accuracy, while some of the MP5 clones are most definitely not. I believe it’s still made in Germany, with the parts even being stamped for authenticity, which adds to the cool factor!


PTR 9CT 601
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For those who want an “MP5” but also value saving a good chunk of money, there is the PTR 9CT.

It’s made in the US with some modern touches, such as an M-Lok handguard. Regardless of the lower price tag, I’ve heard strong reviews regarding reliability.


As I mentioned before, there are and have been a ton of MP5 clones made over the years.

Some are cheaper than others, some are easier to find, and some are more authentic to the true MP5 than others. The Zenith ZF-5 is one of the most well-rounded, in my opinion. You don’t have to sacrifice quality for the little bit lower price tag the ZF-5 comes with.

If you’re in the market for a new SMG, specifically an MP5 clone, I highly recommend checking out the Zenith ZF-5.

Written by Ryan Domke
Ryan Domke photo Ryan Domke is a freelance writer, photographer, and social media consultant with a passion for guns and tactical gear. He works with some of the largest manufacturers in the firearms industry, allowing him the opportunity to continuously learn from and knowledge share with the 2A community. Ryan has contributed his writing expertise to numerous reputable publications, including Guns.com, Cheaper Than Dirt, Springfield Armory's 'The Armory Life,' Smith & Wesson's 'The S&W Bench', and The Mag Shack. When he’s not spending time with his family, you’ll likely find him at the range or starting a new DIY project.


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