Heckler & Koch’s Cutting-Edge Compacts G36C And MP7 PDW

Not open for further replies.


Dec 24, 2002
Moscow on the Colorado, TX
Heckler & Koch’s Cutting-Edge Compacts
G36C And MP7 PDW

By Charles Q. Cutshaw

When Less Really Is More

Personal defense weapons (PDWs) have been of military interest for some time. The United States issued a PDW requirement several years ago, but never brought it to a solicitation. Britain’s Ministry of Defense, however, declared its intent to purchase some 15,000 PDWs between 2003 and 2005.

There has been no final action on this solicitation and like the American requirement it now appears dormant.

H&K’s MP7 was clearly in anticipation of the UK requirement and others that might potentially follow, although PDWs as a class of small arm have yet to be adopted by any military service.


Neither Fish Nor Fowl

PDWs are intended to arm soldiers whose duties are not near the forward combat area, soldiers whose duties require their hands to be free, and soldiers whose duties do not normally require an infantry rifle. They essentially bridge the gap between pistols and rifles, being chambered for a cartridge whose ballistics exceed those of the former, but are less than those of the latter.

In that context, H&K’s MP7 is the quintessence of a PDW. Whether or not PDWs as a class of small arm will establish itself is not within the purview of this brief article, but any new weapon such as the MP7 combined with an untried cartridge entails a degree of risk for the manufacturer.

Technically, H&K’s MP7 is a state-of-the-art small arm. The receiver and external components are virtually all of polymer construction, as are other recent H&K designs, such as the G36 rifle and UMP submachinegun. The PDW is chambered for a new cartridge, the 4.6x30mm (.18 caliber), developed jointly between H&K and Royal Ordnance Radway Green.

Detail Inspection

H&K’s MP7 is a locked breech, select fire, gas-operated small arm. The gas system utilizes a short-stroke piston to drive the bolt carrier assembly to the rear. The MP7 has a cold hammer forged, chrome-plated barrel with six lands and grooves with a right hand twist. The bolt mechanism uses the tried and true Stoner principle with a multiple lugged bolt in a carrier that uses a cam and pin mechanism for locking and unlocking.

The reflex sighting system is made for H&K by Hensoldt and is mounted on a MIL-STD-1913 rail. The optical sight has relatively long eye-relief, so it can be used either close to the eye when the MP7 is fired as a carbine, or at arm’s length when the PDW is fired as a pistol. The optical sight works either by using ambient light or under low light conditions, from a battery or tritium insert. There are backup open sights in case the optical sight becomes damaged or is removed.

The MP7 feeds from a detachable staggered-row box magazine. Two magazines are available — 20 and 40 round capacities. The magazine well is in the weapon’s pistol grip. The MP7 has a folding foregrip and collapsible buttstock. Cyclic rate is approximately 700 rounds per minute.

Hot Brass And A Caution

We found the MP7 to be very pleasant to shoot. The controls are well-placed, fully ambidextrous and intuitive to use. The sliding buttstock retracts easily into its fully extended position and the foregrip aids in maintaining control in fully automatic fire.

Our only possible complaint about this little weapon is that its barrel is so short that the potential exists for a user to place his or her hand over the muzzle under stress.

We should note, however, that H&K has placed a “hook†at the forearm tip to prevent one’s hand from overriding it and inadvertently covering the muzzle. We preferred to shoot the little PDW using the folding foregrip. The MP7 was easy to control both in rapid-fire semiautomatic and full automatic. Felt recoil was negligible, and muzzle rise virtually nonexistent.

We fired the weapon at ranges of 25 and 50 meters, the latter distance representing about the limit of the realistic effective range of such a weapon. We found it easy to place a high percentage of bullets in the center of mass of our silhouette target. The reader will note from our discussion of the 4.6x30mm cartridge below that the PDW can be used effectively to a range of at least 100 meters.

Shooting the MP7 can best be described as pleasant and uneventful, a tribute to the overall excellent design of the little weapon and its diminutive 4.6x30mm cartridge.

The Cartridge Is The Question

A key element of the MP7’s design is the 4.6x30mm nontoxic cartridge. The bullet is of solid steel, copper plated and weighs 24.7 grains (1.6g). It leaves the muzzle at 2,379 fps (725 mps), with muzzle energy of 312 ft-lb. (420 joules). In contrast, the standard NATO 9x19mm cartridge has a muzzle velocity of 1,299fps (396 mps) and a muzzle energy of 430 ft-lb. (583 joules).
The 4.6mm bullet has a high ballistic coefficient, and is fired at a higher velocity than the 9mm, which gives it a flatter trajectory and greater range. The 9mm bullet, for example, will not defeat the standard NATO CRISAT target (1.6mm of titanium and 20 layers of Kevlar®) at 50 meters. The 4.6mm bullet, on the other hand, will defeat it at over 100 meters, with sufficient velocity to transfer 85 ft-lb. (115 joules) of energy into and completely perforate a 150mm thick block of ordnance gelatin behind the armor barrier.

This greater penetration is due to the higher velocity of the 4.6mm bullet, as well as its construction of copper-plated solid steel, while the 9mm bullet is copper with a lead core. H&K states the PDW’s 4.6mm bullet will also penetrate NATO’s CRISAT armored personnel target at 200 meters.

The Big Question

Although we cannot dispute the claim, the ability of so light a bullet to inflict an incapacitating wound after having passed through 1.6mm of titanium and 20 layers of Kevlar(r) at any range is questionable. Particularly so in light of reports of the lack of terminal effectiveness of 5.56x45mm SS109/M855 ammunition in both Somalia and Afghanistan.

Further, the tiny 4.6mm bullet cannot create a large permanent wound cavity — a key element of wound ballistics performance. H&K and Radway Green are also developing tracer, frangible, JHP, training (Solid copper bullet), blank and plastic training ammunition for the PDW.

In sum, H&K’s new PDW is an excellent overall design. It is handy, lightweight, and can be fired either as a carbine or a pistol. Despite the fact the 4.6x30mm cartridge offers improved penetration in comparison to standard NATO 9mm pistol ammunition, its actual terminal ballistics are sure to be questioned due to its small permanent wound cavity.

There may also be objections because adopting the MP7 will add another small arms caliber into an already complex ammunition logistics system. Only time and the acceptance of PDWs as a class of weapons will tell whether H&K’s latest product will be a success.


New G36C

H&K’s G36C (Commando) is the company’s latest version of the G36 assault rifle. We will not go into any great detail on the description and functioning of the rifle, as the principal features of the G36 are well known.

The G36 essentially uses a modified AR-18 operating system that incorporates a fixed piston and operating rod to drive the bolt carrier to the rear. The G36 is an excellent overall design and has been adopted by several nations as a standard infantry rifle. The G36 is noted for its reliability under adverse conditions and its simplicity of operation.

Dedicated Mission

The G36C is intended primarily for special operations units that require an extremely compact carbine for close range engagement (CRE) to 50 meters. The G36C combines all of the best features of the larger G36 in an extremely compact package. The G36C is comparable in size to a 9x19mm MP5A3 submachinegun, yet fires the 5.56x45mm cartridge which totally outclasses the MP5’s 9mm pistol round.

It is compact carbines, also known as subcarbines, like the G36C that are spelling the demise of the submachinegun in many military special operations units. Pistol-caliber submachineguns simply do not have the effective range, terminal ballistics, or versatility of subcarbines, and thus are beginning to be phased out of many major military special operations forces.

Proven Ancestry

The G36 is lightweight, versatile, easy to operate and like most H&K firearms that we have encountered, pleasant to shoot. If its parent G36 is any indication, the G36C will also prove to be extremely reliable.

The G36C incorporates MIL-STD-1913 rails on the upper carrying handle and lower forearm to mount optics and other accessories. The example we test fired was equipped with a Knight’s Armament foregrip that clamps to the adapter rail. This foregrip makes the weapon easier to control on full-automatic fire.

The G36C is also equipped with an advanced design, Vortex-type flash suppressor that virtually eliminates muzzle flash, which is always a problem with short-barreled carbines due to incomplete combustion of powder in the shortened barrel. Although the G36C has a short sight radius, we did not find that to be a problem in our shooting.

Final Verdict

Whether we fired semi- or full-automatic, the little G36C was easy to control and keep on target. There was slight muzzle rise, but it was easily controllable.
In the final analysis, we found the G36C is a very satisfactory weapon, based on our brief experience with it. The reliability and ruggedness of the parent G36 rifle is well established. If this new addition to the G36 family approaches its parent rifle in these areas, it will appeal to any organization seeking a compact carbine for close range engagements.

charts and graphs here...
These two beauties are high on my wish list..;)

Heck, I'd settle (only because of GW SR., :banghead: ) for the G36c magwell, G36 bolt and 30 round translucent mags for my SL8..:evil:
Did'ja really have to post pictures of someing I really, really, really want but my government doesn't allow me to own?

Oh well. There's always Airsoft. :)
Schuey, I can get you those things.
I'll even do my best to get you a 36C barrel.
But... you have to be the one to bring them into the US... :uhoh:
Guess that kind of rules that out then. :(

You may get it sooner than you think

Assuming the assault weapon ban sunsets, a semi-automatic version of the G36 may become available. You might say that "oh, the 1989 importation ban". Well, that's only if they import it.

HK is building a US assembly and manufacturing plant. That gets around any "sporting purposes test" in the Gun Control Act of 1968.

I really want to get a semi-auto version of the G36. Those rifles ROCK!
Kobun, my Norwegian friend..

Please, don't torture me like that.. The 30 round mags are illegal (for us "sheeple", :rolleyes: ) to own in this country due to the Slick Willy's of this world..:banghead:

As far as the G36C barrel; I can get one in this country.. Because of its length, it is classified as a SBR and you have to go through the BATF and fill out the appropriate form in order to obtain one..

Whatever you do, don't bring any "G36" goodies with you when you come to the states.. I don't want to see you get into trouble with the Feds..

What am I saying?:uhoh: It sounds like you already know this...;)

P.S. Don't forget to take pictures of your journey on this side of the Pond.. :)
Last edited:
Well there it is!

I'm gonna get a demo letter for two rifles..the first is an AUG...and guess what the second is...

That there G36...

Hopefully a range report will follow!
Next you'll be telling us how silly PDWs are.

On the contrary. I like them! But they are expensive to shoot and is what always kills a LE deal. State and local agencies don't have the money for a PDW program.

FN got a jump on the competition, Winchester is already making the ammunition and some ammunition and a gun have been classified as "sporting" by ATF. FN is still requiring agency letter head to obtain one, but now an individual officer can venture into the world of PDW's on their own. They want to unleash FiveSeven on the civilian market in some form, but fear the publicity. There are other domestic companies that are developing product quietly for the same reason. First thing general public thinks of when it comes to PDW's or the cartridges themselves is armor piercing capabilities and not the other benefits. So they will remain unobtainium for the time being.
Don't worry, you'll have one.

If the pro-gun guys remain as active on other gun control as they are on AWB, other gun laws will soon be history (see H.R. 153). I expect FOPA 1986 machinegun clause is next. If we stay active, then within 10-15 years, you free Americans will be buying RPG-27's in hardware stores. Send me one, will you?:D

I'm gonna get a demo letter for two rifles..the first is an AUG...and guess what the second is...

That there G36...

I hate you!:fire:

[Psssssst, get a G36K or C model... Don't forget to take pictures.] ;)
Not open for further replies.