If you’re a “gun person,” then you probably know what a Heckler & Koch MP5 looks like. It’s an iconic weapon that shoots 9mm freedom seeds. Likewise, it has been used by SWAT teams all over the world since its implementation back in the 1970s. If you have never seen one, then go and watch the movie Die Hard. It’s a great Christmas movie and will help you understand the quote, “Now I have a machine gun, Ho-Ho-Ho.” Unfortunately, HK has them priced so high that you’d almost need to sell a kidney to afford one. But, for the more budget minded is the Century Arms AP5.
The Century Arms AP5
Enter Century Arms to the rescue! Century Arms is well known for importing top-shelf firearms from other parts of the world. In this case, it would be Turkey. And the Turks have been building firearms since they were producing cannons back in the year 1314. They have definitely figured out how to make firearms.
These are imported from the MKE manufacturing facility in Turkey. MKE has been building tanks, weapons, and munitions for export all over the world. Great News! The Century Arms AP5 is built on original HK equipment. And get this, all of the parts of the Century Arms AP5 are completely interchangeable with the HK MP5!
In case anyone is wondering, the “AP” in AP5 stands for “Apparatus Pistol,” which is Latin for “Machine Pistol.” Century left the “5” to pay homage to HK’s MP5. The AP5 is the same exact roller-delayed blowback system as the original HK MP5 from the 1970s. The roller lock platform is beyond proven and has been a favorite for just over half a century now.
I first got my mitts on the AP5 at the 2021 Athlon Outdoors editorial Rendezvous in Victor, Idaho. That’s when we found out that there will be three different pistols models to start. A full-size (AP5), mid-size (AP5P), and a mini (AP5-M).
The AP5 comes in a hard case with a receiver end cap, a Picatinny optics rail, two 30-round magazines, a military-style sling, two extra takedown pins, and a cleaning kit. In addition, the AP5 and AP5P barrel each have a three-lug quick attachment and a 1/2×28-threaded end for suppressor mounting options.
The muzzle device is so simple to remove that even a caveman could do it in a second or two. Unscrew the thread protector, put on your favorite suppressor, and you’re in business.
Facelift On an Old Classic
Given that the Century Arms AP5 is built on original HK equipment, it’s interchangeable with aftermarket HK parts. Don’t get me wrong here. It’s a sexy weapon, but I felt that it needed a serious facelift.
Being a pistol, the AP5 shipped with no brace or stock. Not a problem. Go and get yourself an SB Tactical Brace, remove the end cap, install, and you’re ready to go. The SB Tactical Pistol Brace is also a folder, so it folds to the right and will still fire without inducing a malfunction. Brass clears the ejection port just fine.
Or you can beg for your rights back and SBR it once you get your “approval,” enabling you to “legally” install a stock. Fair to mention, Magpul is also offering a pistol brace for the AP5 family of firearms.
Decking Out the AP5 with Magpul Furniture
Speaking of Magpul, I went a little crazy on their website and ordered replacements for all of the antiquated furniture. It was almost like one of those nights where you are half asleep, playing on the computer, then a week later, your wife is asking you why in the hell you ordered a bunch of gun stuff, and you have no idea what she’s talking about. I know some of you reading this know what I’m talking about. You can’t hide.
Magpul is now offering a variety of parts for the HK G3, MP5 and HK 94 family. The Magpul SL Handguard for the MP5/HK 94 is a perfect fit. It incorporated the traditional hand stop at the front and looks and feels just like Magpul’s handguard for the AR-style family of weapons. So, familiarity will be there, even though it’s only 7.2 inches long.
It incorporates the traditional M-Lok slots for mounting accessories like foregrips, lights, and other related accessories. Next was Magpul’s SL Grip Module and ESK Ambidextrous Safety Selector. The grip itself on the SL Grip Module will also feel familiar, as to me, it feels just like the Magpul MOE K Series of grips for the AR-style family of weapons. The ESK Ambi Safety Selector is very easily manipulated for split-second decisions.
Honestly, the AP5 doesn’t need a lot of things added to the front of it. All that does is upset the balance and feel of the weapon. If you hang anything off of the left side, you will have to be careful not to get it in the way of the charging handle.
I played with mounting a pressure pad for a light on the left side but found that it got in the way of manipulating the charging handle when I was clearing induced malfunctions.
This weapon screams out for needing a light, though, and not a Maglite duct taped to the top either. With so many choices out there on the market, I didn’t want to compromise. So, I chose a SureFire Mini Scout Light Pro.
One doesn’t need a billion lumens of light shining from the front of the AP5. They aren’t sending Morse code to the International Space Station. There is such a thing as too much light. Especially if you intend this to be more of a home-defense type of weapon.
Sure, I could have gone for a brighter light, but the 500 lumens of TIR (total internal reflection) focused light is ideal for close, as well as longer range missions. It’s powered by a single CR123A battery and has a quick on/off tail cap pressure switch.
Another great feature of the SureFire Mini Scout Pro light is the low-profile mount that came with it from Surefire. It allows the light to rotate from top to bottom for the best positioning.
The Century Arms AP5 comes with an optics rail in the box. So, that means that we need to find a quality optic to mount on it. The traditional diopter style “iron” sights that come installed on the AP5 work as well as they were originally designed. There’s nothing wrong with them. But if an optics rail comes with it, then one is naturally inclined to mount a red dot on it.
When it comes to a quality red dot, there are many out on the market that will do you just fine. However, as soon as I got the green light on this project, I envisioned a Trijicon MRO on top of the AP5. It’s in a low mount and fits nicely. The only negative is that I’d say the shooter cannot use the iron sights properly.
The front sight is easily viewable through the MRO, but one cannot line up the front and rear sights with the MRO in this mount. Well, that’s why I chose a Trijicon MRO, chances of it failing are very slim.
The 2.0 MOA green dot in the MRO is crystal clear and, in my opinion, is much nicer than the traditional red dot. It’s very easy on the eyes and simple to track.
Unfortunately, the battery in the green dot will last you one year, whereas the traditional red dot will last five years. Both figures are on setting 5-8 continuously. Personally, I don’t mind, as I switch out my optics batteries every six months to a year anyway, depending upon the setup that I’m using.
Running The Rig
Back in October of 2021, at the Annual Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous, Century’s Adam Ruonala was there with his crew and they brought out the AP5, as well as some other cool toys. Thankfully they brought a whole lot of ammo. That’s because that AP5 was passed around like the granola at a tree-hugger protest.
I knew back in October that I needed the AP5 in my life. Thankfully, I was able to get my hands on one to play with for a while. Several hundred rounds were cycled through the AP5 without so much as a hiccup.
The only malfunctions were the ones that were self-induced to get a complete feel for the AP5. A variety of ammo was shot, including FMJ, TMJ, JHP, TSJ and others. Federal’s Syntech Training Match 124-grain TSJ netted a 1.4-inch grouping at 25 yards using a Kopfjager CF Tripod w/ Reaper Grip.
It was dead on when I was doing some close-up drills. This is just another reason why the MP5 has been a coveted weapon for so long. The recoil is so minimal and soft that repeat shots are a cinch.
Manipulating the charging handle is simple enough, even for a southpaw. I just rotate the AP5 about 45 degrees to the right, reach over with my right hand, pull the charging handle to the rear and lock it in place, or rack back and forth if needed.
If it’s locked back to the rear, no problem. Do the old “HK Slap” and send that thing home, loading another 9mm freedom seed. Thanks to Magpul, it has an ambi-safety that is easy to manipulate with either hand.
The Century Arms AP5 is One Hell of a Rig
Range time with the Century Arms AP5 put a smile on my face that would make the Joker proud. It’s hard to put into words how fun this thing is to shoot. It’s no wonder it’s been a favorite for so long, as it’s a very practical weapon.
If you can find a Century Arms AP5, do yourself a favor and pick one up. It will make for one helluva home defense rig if you set it up properly. On that note, it would make for a great truck gun as well, especially with the folding brace.
For more information, please visit CenturyArms.com.
Century Arms AP5 Specs
Overall Length: 17.9 inches
Weight: 5.5 pounds (empty)
Sights: Drum-style battle sight
Action: Blowback semi-auto
Finish: Matte black
This article was originally published in the Combat Handguns May/June 2022 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions at OutdoorGroupStore.com. Or call 1-800-284-5668, or email email@example.com.