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Century Arms 9mm AP5-M Pistol: Ultimate HK MP5 Clone?

Do you have the roller-lock itch? The Century Arms AP5-M Pistol is an affordable, quality, feature-packed option that is ready to go out of the box.

Century Arms 9mm AP5-M Pistol: Ultimate HK MP5 Clone?

Century Arms’ AP5-M is am economical Turkish built MP5K clone which proved reliable, accurate and a whole lot of fun. 

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For any action movie fan, the MP5K is one of the most iconic submachine guns on the modern silver screen. When thinking of the MP5K, the helicopter scene with the T-1000 comes directly to mind in Terminator 2, or Brad Pitt wielding one in the 2005 film Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Luckily, MKE (Makina ve Kimya Endüstrisi or Mechanical and Chemical Industry) of Turkey produces a semi-automatic, pistol variation of this personal defense weapon and Century Arms offers it here in the US. Known as the AP5-M and AP5-P, both Apparatus Pistols are based off of the MP5K. The AP5-P is “PDW” style offering featuring a 5.8-inch Tri-Lug barrel and 1/2x28 threads per inch threaded muzzle. The AP5-M is more of a “traditional K” offering with a shorter 4.6-inch barrel without a protruding muzzle. Designed in 1976 by Heckler and Koch of Oberndorf Germany, the shortened variation of the MP5A2 would bear the name MP5 Kurz (“short” in German) or MP5K. This firearm would become quite popular as a close-quarters and personal defense weapon, mainly due to the British SAS. Being smaller, more compact and lighter weight than Israeli’s IMI UZI, more controllable and accurate than the equally sized Mini UZI, and far more effective than the Micro UZI (essentially a machine pistol), I am on board with Heckler and Koch’s claim of “ultimate close-quarters” weapon and the AP5-M/P is no different. Offering great magazine capacity, ease of concealment, accuracy, reliability, robust design. The AP5-M/P would offer a great deal of advantages to the user, with a package not much larger than a handgun.

The AP5-M is a 9x19mm pistol featuring a delayed blow-back operating system which utilizes a roller-delayed bolt. The fit and finish is excellent, the coating used is smooth, uniform and quite durable. Even the welds and fit is a bit better than pre and post-86 MP5s I’ve fired in the past.

My friend and mentor David Fortier (Executive Editor around here) and I have discussed in-depth, the viability of 9mm PDWs in today’s era. We’ve had long conversations bench-racing dedicated PDW rounds, KACs interesting but unsuccessful 6x35mm offering and rifle caliber SBRs, so it’s obvious both of us have a fascination with compact, yet formidable weapons. When he asked if I would be interested in testing and reviewing Century Arms’ imported MKE AP5-M 9mm pistol, I was quite excited. While offering only a 4.6-inch barrel, it would give “pistol like” performance and terminal ballistics. However, a properly outfitted AP5-M (meaning, registered as an SBR, with vertical foregrip), will provide performance easily exceeding that of a simple handgun. It offers a more stable platform, is quite robust, reliable and with a stock it gives the user the stability of a long gun, in a “pistol size” package. With 20- and 30-round magazines it provides great capacity and the ability to easily mount a red dot sight. It would make for an optimal home defense or travel gun for those seeking a pistol caliber option.


The AP5-M is a 9x19mm pistol featuring a delayed blow-back operating system which utilizes a roller-delayed bolt. This system of operation hearkens back to the World War II-era 7.92x33mm Kurz StG 45 (M) Assault Rifle. Size-wise, the AP5-M can be viewed as big for a pistol, but very compact compared to the submachine guns of the era it dates from. The pistol is 12.7 inches in length and weighs 4.4 pounds. As previously stated, it is fitted with a 4.6-inch barrel and is built on a stamped steel receiver. A synthetic lower receiver is pinned to this. A protected non-adjustable front sight is fitted along with a fully adjustable diopter rear sight with multiple square notches. Feed is from HK MP5 pattern magazines which are available in a variety of capacities, including a 15-rounder for concealment (originally from HK for the K model), but typically 20 and 30 rounds with most 20 rounders available on the secondary market from companies like KCI USA.

A non-reciprocating charging handle is located above the barrel on the left side of the receiver. This can be used to manually lock the bolt open. The safety is located on the left side of the receiver. An ambidextrous paddle-style magazine release is fitted behind the magazine well. A push-button magazine release is mounted on the right side of the receiver. Initially examining Century Arms’ AP5-M pistol you might think, “Hmm, this is big and heavy compared to a conventional pistol, without a stock it will be very hard to shoot fast and accurately.” If this goes through your head please note the sling swivel mounted onto the rear of the pistol. This sling swivel allows easy mounting of a single-point sling. However, it’s imperative you understand the sling is not only intended to be used to carry the pistol, but also to act as an effective shooting support in place of a stock. Remember, the original selective-fire MP5K as fielded by the British SAS did not originally have a stock. Instead, the SAS developed a simple yet effective technique using the sling in place of a stock to make rapid, accurate hits on multiple targets during fast paced counter-terrorist operations. I’ll touch more on the British SAS sling technique later in this article when we head to the range.


The entire firearm is finished in a uniform, smooth and deep black coating of some sort. I was pleased to see this, and while not “traditional” in a sense, the finish is far more durable, smooth and scratch resistant then that of the epoxy finishes that were painted on traditional MP5s. All the welds are smooth, uniform, and fit and finish is quite nice overall. I did notice a couple of things that I wasn’t pleased with on initial inspection, but that will be touched on a bit later. As standard, the AP5-M came packaged in a nice hard case, protecting its contents with standard gray foam. It came complete with warranty card, instructions, an advertisement for Red Army Standard ammunition, German military style cleaning kit, low profile scope mount, sling with HK-style hooks and two 30-round magazines. It’s quite a nice little kit.

The Century Arms AP5-M came nicely lubricated and protected from rust or corrosion, which I found to be a nice touch. At times, this is something that is skipped by some manufacturers and the finish can pay for it, especially in humid environments. Magazines lock up quite nicely, and both magazine releases (paddle and push button) are quite smooth, with the paddle release being easy to manipulate and ambidextrous. The button release, while smooth and positive, is a bit small. This isn’t a problem on the stamped metal lower receivers found on my SACO import H&K 93 or Virginia import H&K 91, which leads me to believe that it may be a polymer trigger housing clearance issue.

All of the accessories are nice; the cleaning kit uses a “shoe string” style barrel cleaning pull-through over the traditional German military style “chain.” I am actually quite pleased to see this as, while I will likely use carbon fiber cleaning rods, in a pinch, I do not want a metal chain down my barrel. The cleaning kit would work quite adequately in field conditions. The aluminum, low-profile optics mount is quite nice and I would prefer this style heavily over the traditional H&K or A.R.M.S. “claw” mount of yesteryear. These low profile mounts fit the AP5-M quite well, making for a much smaller, less ‘clumsy’ weapon overall. Nicely machined and nicely finished, this really is the perfect mount style for roller-lock 9mms.

The photo of the carrier speaks volumes on the fit and finish (top left). Crisp, smooth and durable black coating, along with nicely executed welds. As with its full size counterpart, the AP5-M features the forward trigger housing pin, along-side the corresponding paddle magazine release. For anyone familiar with H&K rifle, carbine or submachine gun trigger packs, this will be nothing new or unexpected. The finish on the cassette, however, is a bit better than traditional H&Ks. Other than a slightly better finish on the trigger housing, I personally can’t tell the difference between this and my HK 91 or 93 triggers in terms of quality or fit.

The trigger and trigger pull are nothing to write home about, with a creepy 8.4-pound trigger break. It breaks like a rubber band (meaning the pull weight increases until it finally breaks). This is both a good and bad thing, as this trigger break does have a silver lining. While not great at all, anyone who has any trigger time behind these type of roller-lock rifles has come to expect this. It is simply how the original MP5 trigger was designed. To deviate from this would mean a deviation from the original specifications. While definitely not on the level of a premium AR-15 trigger, I am actually pleased to see and feel this trigger. Why? It means that no deviation was made from specifications. The firearm is in fact, simply a semi-automatic variant of the MP5 and it will confidently and positively go “bang” with everything it is fed.

All tolerances on the AP5-M seem to be within the original specifications. MKE is actually a very old and respected manufacturer which was originally licensed by Heckler and Koch to produce the G3 rifle for the Turkish Army. Firearms News Executive Editor David Fortier has visited this facility and had a chance to examine their jigs, robotic welding machines and state of art hammer forged barrel production. He reported very favorably on the facility. During my examination, I noted the pistol’s lock-up is positive, solid and sound. Although slightly “stiff” initially, with some “MP5 slaps,” dry firing, and range trips the AP5-M loosened up nicely. The parts needing the most “working in” had to be the safety, and the takedown pins, especially the pins for the receiver plate (where normally a stock would go). While Century Arms suggests using a punch to knock them out, I found that slightly pushing down on the receiver end plate on a solid surface takes tension off of the receiver end plate from the recoil spring. This allows the holes of the stamped receiver to better align with the end plate, thus allowing the pin to easily come out. I learned this trick on my HK-93.

The finish inside is quite even, with the carrier nicely finished as well. The welds and finish work was so clean on the AP5-M, I initially mistook them for a solid, single-piece “Reinmetal” style carrier. However, there is no denying the durability of the original two-piece design, and as picky as MKE is on fit, finish and specifications, I can’t imagine this carrier failing at any point. While the fore-end is nice, we all wish we could have the “broomhandle” K-style foregrip on it. Unfortunately, due to the infringements of 1934 in the National Firearms Act, doing so creates an Any/Other Weapon (colloquially known as an AOW). While not as “authentic,” MKE did a great job (and in my opinion, more traditional than H&K with their SP89) recreating an acceptable looking alternative fore-end for the AP5-M.


Range Time and Accuracy

Disassembly is simple and straightforward, with no tools required. That nice fit, finish and smooth welds continue to the inside of the firearm (where it matters most).

Range time is a blast with the AP5-M. The recoil impulse is different on the AP5-M versus a full-size MP5, but not in a bad way. The AP5-M practically has no recoil, especially in comparison to other 9mm pistols of equal barrel length. I attribute this to its bolt and recoil system, along with its near Desert Eagle heft of 4.5 pounds. Even with +P+ rated ammunition at over 1,300 feet per second, recoil was still mild and easily manageable. If this was coupled with a PDW stock and foregrip, felt recoil would be reduced and spread out even further. The select fire variant is the same way, offering very controllable recoil and high accuracy, even with extended bursts.

As I stated earlier, the original MP5K as fielded by the British SAS did not have a stock. Instead, they utilized a shooting technique using a single-point sling. Commonly referred to as the “SAS Sling Method,” it is intended to provide rapid and effective hits in a fast-paced close-quarters fight. To use this technique, you need a simple single-point sling, preferably without a bungee. It does not need to be fancy; a simple sling made from one-inch tubular nylon with a square knot will suffice. What IS important though is the sling’s length. It needs to be just short enough so that as you reach full extension you are applying tension on the gun, pushing it away from you. The sling combined with your tension work to lock the gun in place. If the sling is too loose, and insufficient force is being applied, it will not work properly. You need to be applying force against the sling. This will steady the pistol and reduce felt recoil as you are firing, increasing your control over it.

Are there any advantages to using the SAS Sling Method over a stock? Yes, when using a sling, you do not need to waste time extending or unfolding a stock. Simply punch out and shoot. When wearing a protective mask it can be difficult to get a proper cheekweld using a stock. This is not an issue using the SAS Sling Technique. Transitioning from shooting with one hand to the other is very fast. Like any technique though this method requires practice. Proper sling length is critical. However, with a bit a practice you’ll find the AP5-M is easy to shoot in this manner. Remember, it’s a 9mm, so recoil is easy to manage. Rapid hits are easy to make on a man-sized target at realistic self-defense distances. Would I prefer a stock? Yes, but the SAS Sling Technique is a viable option.

Century Arms’ AP5-M digested 450 rounds of various 9mm loads without an issue, it provided good accuracy and ran flawlessly.

During testing, I fired at 10, 15, 25, 50 and 100 yards, with 100-yard and some 50-yard shots being on steel silhouettes. With the shorter sight radius (and lack of a stock), 100-yard shots were a bit more tricky to make, and the notch rear diopter sight didn’t help either. Once  I got used to the sight picture though, banging steel at 50 and 100 yards was fun and a breeze. Reliability from bulk commercial full metal jacket and 9mm NATO was great as expected. Using Serbian, various American, Korean, German, and Israeli 9mm NATO spec and commercial spec full metal jacket ammunition, no malfunctions were experienced, the AP5 just shot great. Of course, this is to be expected from a Turkish, commercial MP5, right? The question was, will it function with hollow points? Be it plated, jacketed or solid material?

Using Federal HST, Speer Gold Dot, Black Hills 115- and 124-grain +P jacketed hollow points, along with Winchester Silvertip 115-grain, Barnes TAC-XPD and SIG V-Crown, all of the hollow points and defensive ammunition performed great and with 100% reliability. The wide gambit of ammunition performed well, all producing quite acceptable groups from the bench. The AP5-M seemed to favor “hot,” high velocity ammunition, shooting +P and +P+ ammunition the best and most consistent.  Out of all the ammunition used, Federal’s ‘9BPLE’, 115-grain +P+ Hi-Shok JHP performed the best, giving the most consistent groups. A close second was Black Hills 115-grain +P and SIG V-Crown P365. The AP5-M preferred the lighter 115-grain projectiles over 124-, 135- and 147-grain.

From “home defense distances” (10 to 15 yards), there was a noted point of impact difference, due to the iron sights’ height over bore and the likelihood that MKE diopter sights are zeroed for 25 meters minimum. For those considering this for home defense, there is a three- to four-inch POI difference to account and factor for, which is ammunition dependent as well. At this distance, the Federal 9BPLE +P+ had the least POI deficit at three inches, 115-grain +P, 124-grain +P, and 124-grain standard pressure ranged between 3.2 to 3.5 inches, while Federal HST and Speer Gold Dot 147-grain standard pressure featured the most, at four inches. This is quite a notable variance, considering the importance of shot placement, especially with handgun cartridges. For those considering these for home defense, I would highly suggest making use of the low profile optics rail and micro optic of some sort. My choices would likely be the Aimpoint ACRO, Aimpoint Micro T1/T2, Trijicon RMR or Trijicon SRO. Others may consider an EOTech, but even the XPS series is a lot of bulk for such a small package.

At “home defense distances” checking accuracy wasn’t necessarily my initial goal, as much as it was to find the height over bore differentiation. That said, at 10 to 15 yards, accuracy was quite good, with most groups coming in at 1.5 inches or smaller off of bags (and a bench). It wasn’t until hitting 25 and 50 yards that groups really began opening up (and groups started centering up at 25 yards). The rear “notch” diopter sight system works great for fast target acquisition, but does not lend itself well to precision shots, especially past 25 yards, and I think this, coupled with the shorter sight radius is the culprit. This is really where a quality red dot sight or optic would work well for this firearm. For my personal use, I would much rather see the traditional “peep” rear sight used. Even so, the AP5-M still shot acceptable groups at 25 and 50 yards, along with slapping steel at 100 yards.

The sling is intended to act as a shooting aid in place of a buttstock when employed using the SAS Sling Technique as seen here. (Photo courtesy Tim Harmsen)

With defensive ammunition, the AP5-M shot well at 25 and 50 yards, shooting quite respectable groups from both bulk commercial and NATO FMJ, as well as premium defensive ammunition. At 25 yards and 50 yards the Federal 9BPLE +P+ was still the most consistent, producing three-inch groups at 25 yards and 4.75-inch groups at 50. A close competitor would be the Black Hills 115-grain +P JHP at 3.2 inches and 4.75 inches at 50 yards. From 9x19mm FMJ, groups ranged from four to six inches at 50 yards and three to four at 25 yards. With this, I do believe both the firearm and ammunition are capable of a lot more, but the lack of a stock and the sight picture just didn’t work well with me as a shooter. I will be revisiting this test in terms of accuracy, once the AP5-M is registered as a Short Barreled Rifle (SBR) and wears a red dot sight. As it stands at this moment in time however, these are the results and I am not disappointed in the least. This is quite solid and acceptable accuracy, especially for a firearm based on a close range, compact submachine gun.

From a bench, using a rest, accuracy was great. I have zero complaints on the accuracy potential of the AP5-M whatsoever. That said, shooting it free-handed without a sling can be tricky to adjust for, especially for those who are more adapted to using stocks on roller-lock guns and built their experience around a stocked, PDW MP5K. Without the front “broomhandle” grip, hand positioning was slightly cumbersome and the AP5-M could definitely benefit from a stock as well. Unfortunately, thanks to the NFA of 1934 and GCA of 1968, this is exceeding hard to do for a portion of the public. While I dislike the NFA and the extortion tax as much (if not more) than anyone, this model would benefit most and perform best in its PDW form, which would require SBRing it. This really would squeeze the most effectiveness out of 
this pistol.


Century Arms’ AP5-M proved reliable, accurate and fun. Zero issues were encountered during testing. It fed, fired, extracted and ejected everything I fed it. Magazines insert easily, the bolt reciprocates smoothly and it is just plain fun to shoot. It’s very compact and fits neatly into a small bag to complement your CCW. It looks very good and Century Arms’ price is very hard to pass by. Plus, there is a ton of aftermarket support thanks to its MP5 heritage. With a bit over 450 rounds down range, I can’t necessarily attest to the long-term durability of this arm at this time. This is something I will revisit however this summer, as I would like to use this through a couple of local pistol caliber carbine matches, as well as put a lot more ammunition down range. For the 450 plus rounds though, the AP5-M has performed great. It has provided 100% reliability with all forms of 9mm placed into it, has shot well and I am quite impressed with it. It offers mild recoil with all forms of +P and +P+ ammunition, it offers decent accuracy in its current form and the firearm is overall quite nice. The AP5-M is offered as a nice package, ready to get the user on the range and is a “just add bullets” setup from the factory. Anything can be taken care of on this firearm, straight out of the box, including cleaning and maintenance.


Black Hills shot this 1.9-inch group which really helped its average. Note that Hamilton had a very awkward shooting position on the bench (especially using a 30-round magazine), and she was still able to shoot very respectable groups. A stock and a magnified optic would cut the average of these groups in half.

The only true complaint with the AP5-M concerns an ugly optics mount lug (for lack of a better term) located on the upper receiver. The rear of this is rough looking, although it in no way hinders the mounting or use of the optics mount. Plus, it is hidden once the mount is fitted. But, it is ugly and detracts from the rest of the gun. So much for writers receiving special hand-picked guns! Again, the AP5-M trigger does leave a lot to be desired when comparing it to 9mm AR pistols, AR carbines or its 9mm peers. It is quite drawn out and heavy, weighing in at a bit over eight pounds. That said, it is quite usable and I was able to make consistent hits at 100 yards using it. Of course, there is some aftermarket support for the MP5 in terms of triggers.

Another point to consider is you cannot mount a sound suppressor to the AP5-M. So, if you want to suppress it, you will want to consider Century Arms’ AP5-P which features both a Tri-Lug mounting system and 1/2x28 muzzle threads. Another thing to be aware of is the price of MP5 magazines. Yes, they are an excellent and extremely reliable design, but they are expensive if you want quality magazines made from steel. Unlike modern designs, the bolt does not lock-back on the last shot. Some will not like this. Plus, the safety is a bit of a reach. Yes, I have small “girl hands” but Patrick Sweeney is 6'4" and voices the same complaint.

Final Thoughts

Looking for something to scratch that roller-lock itch? Consider Century Arms’ AP5-M 9mm pistol.

Before my experience with this particular firearm, I thoroughly disliked the traditional MP5K, unless it was in PDW form. My (erroneous) ideology on the arm was they were an outdated and somewhat useless firearm without the PDW’s folding buttstock. That they were overshadowed by firearms such as the PP2000 or H&K’s MP7. Century Arms and MKE has not only changed my mind, but taught me several lessons on the “MP5K,” with their AP5-M. I have really learned a lot and gained a whole new respect for the standard MP5K design, as well as the workmanship offered by the Turkish MKE company. My understanding of their overall quality wasn’t solidified until using the AP5 series. Owning H&K rifles and having experience with multiple real deal MP5s (both pre-86 transferable and post-86 dealer sample) has given me a unique stance and ability to critique these firearms in a way that many people can’t. Overall, a great shooter, a mild shooter, great finish, quality and quite deserving of a foregrip and stock. The Century Arms AP5-M and AP5 family has really impressed me. The AP5-M has a MSRP of $1,289.99 but can often be found for a bit less. This makes it not only an MP5K “clone” but also the best priced option currently on the market.

Century Arms AP5-M Pistol Specs

  • Type: Roller-delayed blow-back, semi-automatic
  • Caliber: 9mm Parabellum
  • Capacity: 30 rounds standard (10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 60 and 100-rounds capacities available) 
  • Barrel: 4.6 in. 
  • Overall Length: 12.7 in. 
  • Weight: 4.4 lbs.
  • Finish: Black
  • Sights: Fixed protected front, fully adjustable diopter rear
  • Trigger: 8.4 lbs.
  • MSRP: $1,289.99
  • Contact: Century Arms 

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