The role of the submachine gun (SMG) has faded. At one point, it was the close quarters battle weapon of choice. Over time conditions and technology changed. Bad guys began wearing body armor more often, and the pistol rounds that SMGs fired weren’t up to snuff. Short carbines became the go-to as companies like Colt figured out how to make 10.3 inch barreled M4 style carbines that ran reliably. These short carbines were superior ballistically in every way. Yet, they are still somewhat large, extremely loud, and deal with some serious concussion. That’s where the MP7 comes into play.

The MP7 – The Defiant One

Short carbines work well for most roles, but in extreme close-quarters environments, the MP7 provides a much smaller platform. It’s a mere 25.1 inches long with the stock extended and weighs less than five pounds. The MP7 was designed and manufactured by Heckler and Koch of Germany. It’s perfect for a wide variety of roles. The MP7 works like an SMG but occupies a firearm category known as PDWs or personal defense weapons.

For boarding ships, climbing ladders, clearing out tunnels, and more, the MP7 is much easier to use than a rifle. It can be used one-handed by K9 handlers or when climbing a ladder. The little gun’s small size gives it an advantage over even the shortest 5.56 carbines. In its specific niche, it’s tough to get a better weapon.

The HK MP7 - The SEALs Favorite Personal Defense Weapon

It offers more range, power, and control than a pistol but is lighter and handier than a more traditional rifle. Users can add optics, suppressors, and laser aiming units to their modular design. The MP7 magazine comes 20, 30, and 40 round variants, and has a firing rate of 950 rounds per minute.

Most SMGs utilize some form of blowback operation. Blowback-operated guns often cause more recoil than necessary. HK instead used a short-stroke gas piston system in the MP7. It’s basically a shrunk-down version of the gas system from the HK G36 and 416. The MP7 delivers a superbly smooth firing experience, and when suppressed, it works like a squirt gun in action.

The HK MP7 - The SEALs Favorite Personal Defense Weapon

It can do everything an SMG can do. But why has the MP7 found success in a genre of gun that special ops ditched long ago?

The Little Round

What sets the MP7 apart from most SMGs is the round it fires. The MP7 does not use a traditional pistol round. Rather, it fires a proprietary cartridge designed by HK measuring 4.6 x 30mm.

The projectile is a spitzer-style projectile. This means the projectile is pointy, much like a rifle round. The projectile is very small compared to most pistol rounds and very light. It comes out screaming from the short barrel of the MP7.

The HK MP7 - The SEALs Favorite Personal Defense Weapon

The longer casing gives plenty of room for powder and allows the projectile to move at almost 2,500 feet per second. It’s much faster than any traditional pistol round. That extra speed and that projectile design allow the MP7’s cartridge to penetrate through soft armor and hard barriers better than traditional pistol rounds.

The HK MP7 - The SEALs Favorite Personal Defense Weapon

When it hits the body, the 4.6mm projectile delivers the same foot-pounds of energy as any 9mm round. Additionally, the round generates less recoil and makes controlling the weapon in full auto relatively easy. Although the 9mm can be effective out to 100 yards or so with an experienced shooter, the 4.6 can double that range with ease.

Who Uses It?

As you can tell from the title, the SEAL teams are quite fond of the MP7. It provides a very short and controllable weapon for missions that require extreme close quarters. SEALs take down ships, and in those environments, even a short carbine feels long. The MP7 offers the point man a light and handy weapon for clearing rooms.

The Heckler & Koch MP7: Compact and lightweight Personal Defense Weapon

Read Next: The Heckler & Koch MP7: Compact and lightweight Personal Defense Weapon

The HK MP7 - The SEALs Favorite Personal Defense Weapon

SEAL Team Six famously used the MP7 in the bin Laden raid. The HK416D was the weapon that killed bin Laden, but SEALs brought the MP7 with them. If I was a betting man, I’d put money on the MP7 being used by the dog handlers on the mission.

SEALs aren’t the only spec ops commandos wielding the MP7. Special Ops forces in Australia, the U.K., France, Japan, Norway, Russia, and a dozen more carry the MP7 in one role or another.

The HK MP7 - The SEALs Favorite Personal Defense Weapon
A sheriff’s deputy tells bystanders to leave as she closes off Leighton Way and Peacock Ave. in Sunnyvale on October 6, 2011 during the manhunt for Shareef Allman. Allman was found and shot at a home on Lorne Way a block away. Shareef was the focus of a huge manhunt after an alleged shooting at a Cupertino cement plant early yesterday morning where three people were killed and seven wounded. (Photo by Gary Reyes/Mercury News)

It’s not just the SEAL’s favorite PDW anymore.

Police agencies in the United States also wield the MP7. Notably, SWAT teams and motorcycle cops carry the handy personal defense weapon. The MP7 has edged out its older brother, the MP5, for professional armed forces.

While the MP5 still serves, it’s slowly being replaced by the more modern, more potent, and more relevant MP7.

Another great MP7 Kevlar Killer post here.

Let us know what you think about the MP7 in the comments below.

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