In the 1970s, Heckler & Koch began licensing companies worldwide to produce various models of its legendary roller-delayed blowback firearms: MP5, G3, HK33, HK21 and others. In addition to manufacturing these guns for their host-country military and police forces, most licensees also have or at least had a healthy export business. Examples include POF in Pakistan (has), FMP in Portugal (had), and Hellenic Arms Industry in Greece (had). In addition to the licensed manufacturers, a number of U.S. companies legally produce and sell after-market or second-hand-original-equipment builds of H&K models to private citizens, while reverse engineered or otherwise illicit productions of the immensely popular MP5 can be found in several countries, three noteworthy examples of which we’ll now explore.
Who would believe the Chinese make a totally unlicensed homebrew MP5? Shocking, I know, but no less true. As a matter of fact, China has been kicking out MP5-style weapons for quite some time. The most well-known variant is made by Norinco (of all companies), and is dubbed the NR-08. China has had a logistics problem since before World War II, with an overabundance of varieties and types of small arms issued to its police and military forces. So, although the MP5 is surely an improvement over older submachine guns in Chinese inventory, this addition of yet another weapon must have been bewildering. In any case, the NR-08 seems to be in use with the Chinese military, and it is definitely serving with the Chinese police, which actually comprise a much larger total force. Norinco also exports its copy to various countries, in some cases for end-use by private citizens.
Russia’s MP5 clone
If you follow international developments in the shooting and training communities, you may have noticed how westernized some former East bloc operators seem to have become. Whether it’s “Multicamski” or “M4skis,” there seems to be an incredible amount of Western-inspired (copied) material showing up in Russia these days. It should come as no surprise, then, that Russia also makes at least one MP5 clone for its military and police, as seen in use with the FSB and OMON. A variant of the same is also offered, to some extent, for sale to private citizens. With the demise of the Soviet regime and the limited opening of Russia’s borders, the country has been able to avail itself, albeit illegally, of the many distinct advantages the MP5 offers over indigenous Russian platforms such as the AKS-74U “Krinkov.”
India has a well-established small arms industry that dates back several decades. Most of the small arms produced in India are variants of British-made or British-adopted firearms such as the SMLE (Short Magazine Lee-Enfield). While recently India began designing its own firearms, the substandard performance of its INSAS rifle suggests that doing so might not be the total-solution just yet. Perhaps until it is, the Indian government will continue obtaining designs from others, as in the Indian Ordnance Factory Board’s reverse engineering of an MP5 pseudo-clone about two years ago. Named the “Anamika,” the 9mm submachine gun looks to the MP5 the way the later Ishapore rifles look to the SMLE, although the heritage of neither is in doubt. Internally, the gun appears identical to the MP5, but externally it has been altered by the addition of a rail system, a ribbed metal lower, a pistol grip possibly adapted from the INSAS, different front and rear sights, and a collapsible stock. Presumably, if the gun was reverse engineered well, it will work. But if the INSAS is any indicator, it might be more akin to an unreliable paperweight. Hopefully we’ll hear more about it in the future.