When it comes to firearms in the military or tactical realms, few names possess the cachet of Heckler & Koch. And a particularly desirable example is the HK94 carbine, the semi-automatic-only version of its MP5 series of submachine guns. Due to 1989 restrictions on its importation, this appealing 9 mm Luger carbine is now unfortunately out of reach for many firearm enthusiasts.
There is an intriguing alternative, however, for those who want to own a firearm that captures the charm of this revered design-and one that is more affordable to shoot as well. The firearm in question is the GSG-5 Carbine, a .22 LR semi-automatic styled quite closely to the HK94. Manufactured in Ense-Höingen, Germany, by German Sport Guns, the rimfire GSG-5 is imported into the United States by American Tactical Imports.
Visually, the GSG-5 carbine is astoundingly similar to an HK94, with the open sides and exposed spring of the carbine's 22-round magazine being the most obvious cue to its true nature. Rather than the stamped-steel receiver of the original H&K, however, the GSG-5 features a receiver and cocking tube of die-cast zinc with an evenly applied matte-black coating. The top portion of the receiver features interface points to accept an optics mount. With its rotary drum rear sight assembly and hooded post front sight assembly, the GSG-5's sights mimic those of a genuine H&K.
Modern polymers are also used extensively, from the fixed-buttstock assembly that comes standard on the carbine to the fore-end to the lower receiver assembly. The lower is of Taromid GF 39 polymer and features an integral pistol grip.
The GSG-5's primary controls are quite similar to those of the HK94. The two-position safety operates in the same manner as that of the HK94, although it is ambidextrous. A red dot is located next to the "F" off-safe position and a gray dot is next to "S" on-safe setting. A yellow dot on the lever itself indicates the safety's orientation relative to these markings.
A lever located on the left side of the cocking tube above the barrel charges the action, and the tube itself features a recess in the upper rear portion of the charging handle's track that allows the receiver to lock the action open.
The HK94 sports a crossbolt-style magazine release button just behind the magazine well. The GSG-5's magazine release system is patterned after that of the MP5, in which the magazine release is made up of both the crossbolt button and a paddle-type lever located at the rear of the magazine well. Either can be used to release the magazine.
The polymer magazine of the GSG-5 is also unique. Although it is a single-stack rimfire design, it is thicker than necessary, giving both it and the GSG-5's magazine well the appearance of accommodating 9 mm Luger cartridges. To aid loading, the magazine's follower has ambidextrous thumb studs exposed through its open sides. The follower's left-side thumb stud engages a bolt stop, and the GSG-5 also sports a magazine safety.
The semi-automatic-only GSG-5 in .22 LR employs a straight-blowback design rather than the roller-locked operation of the center-fire HK94. The breech housing of the carbine is of die-cast zinc like the receiver and houses a metal injection molded steel bolt assembly.
Like the HK94, the GSG-5 has a full 16¼" barrel. As the original MP5 is designed to have a roughly 9" barrel, the full 16¼" length of the barrel can look a bit ungainly with the short fore-end. To address this aesthetic issue, German Sport Guns developed a false suppressor of aluminum that threads into the lower ring of the front sight assembly and conceals the length of the GSG-5's barrel.
For testing, we took the GSG-5 out with a selection of .22 LR loads from Federal and Remington. The magazine, thanks to the thumb studs, loaded quite easily to its full 22-round capacity. Through the course of a few hundred rounds, the GSG-5 performed without a hitch. In fact, our testers found it hard to resist shooting rapid-fire strings from the handy little carbine.
Handling of the GSG-5 was excellent, with its balance and heft quite reminiscent of a true H&K. Accuracy was quite good, and probably could be even better if fitted with an optic. One area where the GSG-5 completely captured the feel of an HK94 was in its trigger pull-long and gritty, but with a reasonably light break.
The GSG-5 is a truly unique offering in the realm of rimfire semi-automatic carbines, and American Tactical Imports clearly understands its appeal, offering a full line of H&K-style accessories ranging from both collapsing and side-folding stocks, Picatinny rail fore-ends and slings to name a few. For those with a desire for an H&K-style carbine that is not only more affordable, but also inexpensive to shoot, the GSG-5 should make for an excellent addition to their collection.