The Keefe Report: Original Designs Under Fire at SHOT 2020

posted on January 20, 2020
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If you’ve had Internet access over the past month, odds are you have seen advertisements from two great names in the firearms industry letting people know that “the original“ is always better.

The first of these was Heckler & Koch with the introduction of its SP5 pistol. The American H&K have long lobbied the home office in Oberndorf to supply them with the guns that made H&K, well, H&K.

Of course, legal civilian ownership of the MP5 submachine gun is limited the number of registered fully transferable guns in the United States, and the semi-automatic-only 16” barreled HK 94 has been prohibited from importation since 1989. And prices for 94s are classic case of supply and demand.

After a successful launch of the SP5K, we get the SP5. It is a 9 mm pistol and has the three-lug barrel and triangular handguard that make this pistol somewhat nostalgic for the days when every special forces unit in the world used the MP5.

This is not an inexpensive gun, and there are copies coming from Turkey, with Zenith being one of the notable ones. Awkward, isn’t it? But H&K is banking that people will vote for their with their wallets for a gun made on the same assembly line by the same workers with a version of the gun in pistol form and semi automatic only. Did I mention it’s spendy?

The Germans, of course, could have done this year’s ago but chose not to do so. In the mind of at least one German formally employed by H&K, he was just flabbergasted that Americans didn’t want carbine versions of the UMP, which he regarded as completely superior to the MP5.

Few would argue that UMP, while a superlative gun in function, has the lines or style let alone the heritage of the MP5. Note to H&K management, the guns that got you to where you are are the guns that American consumers would sure like to buy. If not from you, then from someone else.

Colt’s let pretty much the entire firearm industry take over three of its classic models. Sadly, when it comes to the semi automatic AR-15, Single Action Army and the M1911, far more guns have been sold by Colt’s competitors than Colt itself. That said, Colt is making quite a comeback in M1911s and double-action revolvers.

The other “original” being vigorously defended an ad campaigns is the ubiquitous Ruger 10/22. While, there have been guns from the likes of Magnum Research and AMT over the years—you need to check out the new AzimuthThompson/Center’s T/CR22 appears to have garnered the attention of folks in Southport. There’s no doubt that the Ruger 10/22 is the most produced .22 rimfire of all time, and it may only be surpassed in total production by the Kalashnikov and the M16/AR-15.

But the Thompson/Center gun looks, well, pretty much like the Ruger in a Magpul stock. As a matter fact, the TCR22 is designed to take advantage of the ubiquitous aftermarket stocks and other accessories for the 10/22. The resemblance is such that Ruger even took to Thompson/Center to court arguing it was a close enough copy of the 10/22 to cause consumer confusion.

While that lawsuit plays out, Thompson/Center continues to offer the 10/22, including a Performance Center version that will be in the magazine next month.

Imitation it is said is the sincerest form of flattery. And competition is usually healthy, but some people simply prefer the “original.” Ruger and HK certainly hope so.


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