Is that a machine pistol in your briefcase or you just happy to see me?
Undoubtedly, one of the most interesting takes on personal and VIP protection was the Heckler & Koch MP5K, concealed inside of a briefcase, sometimes called an “Operational Briefcase." But it wasn't just concealed inside a briefcase, a nifty trick for any submachine gun. No, this gun could actually be fired from inside the briefcase. Germans, Especially West Germans back in the day, are nothing if not clever. The idea behind this gun was to have a bodyguard carrying what appears to be just a regular briefcase. But if you look closely at that briefcase, there's a hole on one side and there are a couple of buttons on the handle. One of those buttons is a safety. And the thing that looks like a trigger inside the handle? Yep, that's the trigger.
When this was introduced in the 1970s, the threat from political groups such as the Red Brigade and the Baader-Meinhof gang were very real. Politicians and even generals were being murdered and kidnapped. Even as the Soviet Union was crumbling, terrorist groups continued to make the evening news in Europe. And protecting dignitaries became part of the role of elite Special Forces units and police agencies, as well as private security contractors even before they were called private security contractors.
Plus, less-rich people sometimes kidnap more-rich people in the hopes of becoming, well, rich.
Inside the magic briefcase, you can see a mount and linking system. The gun is securely fastened by the claw scope mount rail built-in into the MP5K’s top. The gun is held securely, and the muzzle fitted into a replaceable plastic collar on the briefcase’s side.
We were filming for the next season of American Rifleman Television, and the guys from HK were very kind to let us shoot a lot of rounds through the MP5K, but they regarded the briefcase itself as too rare and valuable to let us live fire from inside it. I think they are just out of the replaceable plastic muzzle inserts.
A true machine pistol, or machinen pistolen in the native of Deutsche, the MP5K is a real handful. When fitted with a single-point sling and pushed out from the body, it is somewhat manageable. It is even far more manageable with its folding buttstock, but that would not fit inside the briefcase. The MP5K has cyclic rate of 900 r.p.m. or so due to shortening and lightening of the bolt.
Just in case you are wondering, the "K "stands for Kurz, which is German for short, and reflects that the gun, instead of the normal 12” barrel, has one measuring only 4.5”. For those that believe in the metric system, that's 114 mms.
And while MP5K is used by elite forces in law-enforcement around the world even still, it is not likely used with the briefcase anymore. No, that relic of the Cold War-era stands in testament to a different time. If you look carefully on the inside of its lid it reflects that fact. It reads "Made in West Germany."
And while the temptation to beg to fire the gun from within the briefcase was strong, we refrained. It's probably for the best. Heckler & Koch’s Bob Schultz, who has decades with HK as a trainer and knows these guns better than probably anyone, suggested it wouldn't be good for the briefcase. That was the same response I received from the National Firearms Museum staff when I asked if I could shoot John Alden's wheellock, a gun that may have come over on the Mayflower. Just because it probably still shoots, doesn't mean you should.
That said, a dozen magazines through an MP5K isn't a bad consolation prize.