Field test: German Sport Guns GSG-16 and GSG-16 Sport in .22 LR, the rimfire MP5 clones

Without a doubt, the Heckler & Koch MP5 has a legendary reputation as one of the best submachine guns on the planet. With the GSG-16 series, fans of this classic have the opportunity to own recreational firearms with a similar external appearance and to use them on the shooting range. The internal differences are obvious: while the original gun in 9mm cal, which is also offered as a semi-automatic civilian version, uses an elaborate, two-piece roller-delayed bolt, the rimfire clones from GSG use a simple blowback system with a double recoil spring assembly. The "packaging" also differs significantly from one another: the German firearms milestonefeatures a sheet metal stamped receiver manufactured with 200 tons of pressure, while the .22s come with upper and lower receivers made of high-strength polymer.

German Sport Guns GSG-16 Sport in .22 L.R.

GSG-16 Sport with folded buttstock – a rimfire replica of the HK MP5 with 16.5 inch barrel. 

The sporting version has a 16.5"/420-mm cold hammer-forged barrel featuring a delicate 12-mm outer diameter. The synthetic folding stock shortens the rimfire self-loader to 63.5 cm for transport. The folding stock is also made of high-quality plastic here. Length of pull can be adjusted from 390 mm to 360 mm in three steps. At the push of a button, the cheek piece can be extended upward one step higher. Next to the push button is a hole for a quick-change sling swivel. The round forend with a diameter of 57 mm features a rubber coating with grooves to increase grip. The trigger assembly with the  double-sided two-position safety acting directly on the trigger in classic HK MP5 style. We measured an average trigger pull weight of 2,392 grams (average of 5 measurements) for the Sport variant with the Lyman Trigger Pull Gauge. On both guns we find a polymer ghost ring sight, adjustable for elevation and windage. The rear sight is removable, while the front sight is permanently integrated into the upper section. Different interchangeable front sights and a rear sight insert with a smaller aperture are included. On both rifles, a two-piece plastic optics mounting rail is integrated into the upper part of the receiver, covering the entire length.

The more compact German Sport Guns GSG-16

GSG-16 with the collapsible stock closed and with a Vortex Spitfire red dot sight. 

The standard, more compact GSG-16 version is equipped with a 16.3"/414 mm long barrel with 12 mm outer diameter, the visible part of which is completely encased in an "over barrel" dummy silencer. The dummy silencer increases the outside diameter to a whopping 30 mm. Now that's something! The 3-position polymer collapsible stock allows the rifle length to be adjusted from 720 mm to 870 mm after operating a lever. On the top of the stock buttcap is a short 50 mm Picatinny rail. 

On the handguard there are 163 mm Picatinny rails. Hidden under these are M-LOK interfaces that you can use after removing the Picatinny rails. We measured the trigger pull weight at an average of 2,468 grams for the standard variant. This model from GSG has a magazine safety, so the trigger only releases when the magazine is inserted.

GSG-16 and GSG-16 Sport in .22 Long Rifle: technical details

... and the sporty variant GSG-16 Sport. 
The two rimfire semi-automatic GSG-16s disassembled into their main assemblies ... 

The blowback bolt and the barrel are clamped in a housing consisting of two zinc die-cast molding halves. A feed ramp block is attached to the breech face of the thin barrel with six grooves and a twist length of 406 mm. Guide surfaces and a pin ensure that the block and thus also the barrel are always in a consistent position in the receiver. The HK MP5-style side cocking handle can be converted to left-handed by removing the front portion of the optics mounting rail. The polymer grip and the polymer receiver are connected by two screws. For maintenance and cleaning work, i.e. when the barrel is to be cleaned from the cartridge chamber. as well as to clean the inside of the gun, the stock must be removed. To do this, loosen and remove the rear screw on the grip, which allows the stock be pulled off. Another screw becomes now visible inside the upper part, which must be also removed. The detent piece is then pushed out and removed. After removing the front screw on the grip, the grip section can be pulled backwards and separated from the upper section. Now the encapsulated bolt assembly can also be removed from the receiver to the rear for cleaning. For the cleaning routine after shooting, however, it is sufficient to clean the gun from the muzzle.

Our test: on the shooting range with the GSG-16 and GSG-16 Sport in caliber .22 LR

The magazines with capacities for 25 rounds (GSG-16) and 10 rounds (GSG-16 Sport) are elaborately designed half-shell constructions with many individual components that are very easy to handle when loading and unloading. 

The slightly creeping triggers are not necessarily designed for precision shooting. Nonetheless, you can shoot quite decently with them after a certain familiarization phase. There is an adjustment screw on the trigger assembly that allows you to adjust the sear overlap. From the factory, the screw is fully screwed down, which corresponds to the position for the smallest overlap. Thus, we made no further adjustments to this screw during testing. Since the two rimfire semiautomatic rifles are labeled ".22 Long Rifle HV" (High Velocity), we tried several standard ammunition types in quick firing strings during the first part of the testing on the 25-m line. For this purpose, we mounted Vortex Spitfire red dot sights on the GSG-16 and GSG-16 Sport models. We could not find out that the rifles work reliably only with high velocity ammunition, because not a single malfunction occurred even with standard .22 LR cartridges. However, the manufacturer surely wants to eliminate any problems in this regard with the HV note. In the second part of the test, we mounted a Leupold Mark3HD 4-12x40 scope alternately on the two self-loaders and moved to the 50-meter course for the accuracy check with thirteen rimfire ammo types. We achieved the best result of an amazing 13-mm group with the GSG-16 and SK Biathlon Match ammunition.

The GSG-16 Sport's top group also measured a respectable 22 mm for such a "plinking" recreational rifle, achieved with RWS R100 rimfire Top cartridges. In general, the GSG-16's accuracy was slightly better, with an average of 29 (24) versus 36 (34) mm for the GSG-16 Sport. We suspect that the different barrel vibration range of the thin barrels, encased by the dummy silencer on the standard model and exposed on the Sport model, play a role here. While the original MP5 can be manipulated with a harder attitude, you should not let the charging handle of the GSG-16 models constantly snap forward in the guide tube, because the material could suffer from continuous use. All in all, the GSG rimfire clones are more complicated and also more delicately constructed than the original, with screw instead of socket pins and the necessary use of tools.

GSG-16 and GSG-16 Sport rimfire rifles specs and prices

GSG-16                         GSG-16 Sport
.22 LR HV
.22 LR HV
Semi-automatic rifle with polymer upper and lower receiver with Picatinny rails at 9/12/3 o'clock. Convertible charging handle for left handers.
Semi-automatic rifle with polymer uppers and lower receiver with Picatinny rails at 9/12/3 o'clock. Convertible charging handle for left handers.
16,3"/41.4 cm long cold hammer-forged barrel with 6 grooves and over barrel dummy silencer
16,5"/41.9 cm long barrel with 6 grooves; barrel diameter 12 mm
Barrel Diameter:
12 mm, with silencer 30 mm
12 mm, with silencer 30 mm
Polymer, 3-position collapsible
Polymer, 3-position foldable 
Ghost ring with interchangeable inserts
Ghost ring, windage and elevation adjustable with interchangeable inserts
Sight Radius:
360 mm360 mm
Polymer box magazine, 22-round capacity
Polymer box magazine, 10-round capacity
Two-stage, adjustable sear overlap, measured trigger pull weight: 2,468 g
Two-stage, adjustable sear overlap, measured trigger pull weight: 2,392 g
Two-position, on both sides of the lower receiver
Two-position, on both sides of the lower receiver
Overall Length:
718-868 mm
870-900 mm
2,500 g
2,250 g
Price (MSRP in Germany):
449 euro
479 euro

Our test conclusion on the GSG-16 and GSG-16 Sport in .22 LR

We thoroughly enjoy the handling, function and shooting performance of the two rimfire leisure rifles. The price/performance ratio at 449 euros (GSG-16) and 479 euros (GSG-16 Sport) is absolutely right. The sporting version, living up to its model designation, can be used for sporting purposes. To our taste, however, we like the GSG-16 just a bit better in appearance than the GSG-16 Sport with its exposed, thin barrel. Nevertheless, for fans of rimfire-MP5 clones, we can give both versions a clear buy recommendation.

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