Heckler & Koch UMP: A successor to the famous MP5

HK UMP45 (Photo: Reddit)

Heckler & Koch UMP is a submachine gun designed as a successor to the famous Heckler & Koch MP5, designed in the mid-1990s as a lighter and cheaper successor to the MP5, though both remain in production. The weapon is chambered in three different calibers, 9×19, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP.


The Heckler & Koch UMP (Universale Maschinenpistole, German for “Universal Machine Pistol”) was designed to be a lightweight and powerful weapon but cheaper than the MP5. While most submachine guns are infamously inexpensive, the MP5 isn’t. Heckler & Koch meant to change that and to offer UMP to the U.S. law enforcement market and make it attractive to the various agencies. Its production commenced in 1999, and it is still available.

This submachine gun (SMG) is in service in more than 20 countries. However, this weapon could not surpass its predecessor in popularity and proliferation. It is mainly because submachine guns are declining in popularity, so the MP5, with its first-mover advantage, will never be surpassed by any other SMG.

Heckler & Koch UMP45 equipped with a vertical foregrip
Heckler & Koch UMP45 equipped with a vertical foregrip (Photo: XY)

The three major things the Heckler & Koch UMP gave you over the MP5 were weight savings (2350g vs 3100g) and the UMP came in a more caliber standard (9×19,.40S&W,.45ACP vs. 9×19), and the UMP’s lower cost. As H&K is still producing the MP5, if you didn’t care about the caliber or weight and had the bucks, you could still buy an MP5 over a UMP.


The Heckler & Koch UMP is a blowback-operated, selective fire weapon, fired from a closed bolt. Its first versions, the Heckler & Koch UMP45 and UMP40, were chambered for .45 ACP and .40 SW ammunition respectively. Later, a Heckler & Koch UMP9 version became available, chambered for 9×19 mm Parabellum ammunition. All versions have similar design, apart from the different chambering.

The UMP can fire in semi-auto, full-auto, 2- or 3-round burst modes. Its fire mode selector is also acts as a safety lock. This fire mode selector is fully ambidextrous. Cocking handle is located at the front of the receiver. The HK UMP is available with 25- and 30-round capacity magazines.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers carrying UMPs
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers carrying UMPs (Photo: Wiki Commons)

The UMP-45 is typically fed from 25-round capacity magazines. Other versions are fed from the 30-round one. It is worth mentioning that the .45 ACP and .40 SW versions use straight magazines, while the 9 mm version comes with curved magazines.

This SMG comes with adjustable iron sights and a Weaver-type rail on top of the receiver, which is used to mount various sights. This submachine gun has an effective range of about 100 meters. The UMP comes with a side-folding buttstock, which folds to the right side. Weapon can be fired when buttstock is in folded position. Its accessory rail on the foregrip accepts a wide variety of equipment, such as tactical flashlights, vertical grips, laser pointers and so on. A silencer can be attached to the barrel.

A Heckler & Koch MP5A5 (from top), MP5A4 and UMP9, on display at a Navy armory exhibition
A Heckler & Koch MP5A5 (from top), MP5A4, and UMP9, on display at a Navy armory exhibition (Photo: Wiki Commons)


The UMP is interchangeable between three different calibers:

  • UMP45 chambered in .45 ACP
  • UMP40 chambered in .40 S&W
  • UMP9 chambered in 9×19mm Parabellum

Apart from the different chambering, all versions feature the same design model, the exterior differences being the curved magazine used on the UMP9. In contrast, both the UMP40 and UMP45 each use a straight magazine. All three versions of the weapon can be cross-converted to any round chamberings via replacing the bolt, barrel, and magazine.

Heckler & Koch USC

Heckler & Koch USC is a semi-automatic carbine version intended for civilian customers. It has a longer barrel and a magazine capacity limited to 10 rounds. This version is chambered for .45 ACP ammunition.

Technical specifications

Country of origin:Germany
Manufacturer:Heckler & Koch GmbH, Oberndorf Am Neckar, Germany
Entered service:1999
Caliber:.45 ACP, .40 S&W, 9×19 mm
Weight (empty):2.3 kg
Length:600 mm
Length (with folded stock):450 mm
Barrel length:200 mm
Muzzle velocity:285 m/s
Cyclic rate of fire:600 rpm
Practical rate of fire:30 – 80 rpm
Magazine capacity:10, 25, 30 rounds
Sighting range:25-100 m
Range of effective fire100 m
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