Review: Zenith MKE Z-5RS: An Affordable MP5 for the Masses

Zenith MKE Z-5RS MP5 pistol right profile with earmuffs

If there is one weapon that is on nearly every tactical shooter’s bucket list, it is the MP5, For most, spending quality trigger time with a MP5 was out of the question—until now. Zenith makes the MP5 delayed roller lock experience attainable. Don’t call the Zenith MKE Z-5RS a clone, knock-off, or wannabe MP5. The Zenith is a licensed version of the iconic Heckler & Koch MP5. Zenith Firearm in Afton, Virginia, imports a number of H&K-licensed delayed roller lock action models from MKE (Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation) of Turkey.

Zenith MKE Z-5RS MP5 pistol right profile with earmuffs
It is easy to understand why the H&K MP5 is still in use with many military and LE groups around the world.

The Z-5RS is a semi-automatic version of the H&K MP5A1 and uses a delayed roller lock action similar to the H&K G3 and PTR-91 7.62mm NATO rifles. This mechanism is decidedly simple. Using a bolt head with rollers and a bolt carrier, expanding gases from a fired round produce rearward pressure on the bolt head. Some of this rearward pressure is transferred to the rollers on the bolt head which cam against the tapered bolt carrier extension. This results in the bolt carrier moving rearward faster and delaying the movement of the bolt head.

The advantage of a delayed roller lock action is the simplicity of the design and ease of manufacture. Compared to gas or recoil operated mechanisms, the delayed roller lock action is easier to build and utterly reliable. The mechanism was designed in the mid 1960s and numerous—some 100 according to H&K—MP5 variants have been built. Full auto variants are probably the most widely used submachine in use today.

Military, law enforcement, and other groups in some 40 countries still use the weapon. A pal who was a former SWAT team member in New York was a MP5 trainer. He could write his name with his full auto MP5. That’s what I call cursive penmanship!

Zenith Firearms MKE Z-5RS with SB Brace, Model MKZ5RSA009BK
Action type: Roller-delayed blowback
Overall length: 17.9 in.
Overall height: 8.5 in.
Maximum width: 1.9 in.
Weight unloaded: 6.1 lbs.
Weight loaded: 6.9 lbs.
Upper receiver: Stamped steel
Lower receiver: Polymer
Barrel: 8.9 in.; 1:10 Twist
Muzzle device: None; 1/2×28 LH threads
Pistol grip: Textured polymer
Handguard: Textured polymer
Magazine: (3) 30-round steel
Rear sight: Steel, elevation/windage adj.
Front sight: Steel, protected post
Sight radius: 13 in.
Trigger; 5.5 lbs.
Safety: Ambi., 2-Pos. Lever
Warranty: Limited 5-Year
Made In: Turkey
MSRP: $2,050

The Z-5RS comes in a hard case with three 30-round magazines, a 3-point sling, extra takedown pins (they are easy to loose), and cleaning kit. Like the MP5, it is constructed with a welded, stamped sheet-steel receiver. The fit and finish of the Z-5RS is well executed. It wears an all-business matte black finish.

The upper is made with a welded, stamped-sheet steel receiver that houses the barrel, bolt mechanism, and magazine well. The barrel measures 8.9 inches, and the muzzle is threaded for a muzzle device. The sights are characteristic of H&K-designed roller lock guns with a rear sight consisting of a drum that adjusts for windage and elevation. The front sight is a protected post.

Working the cocking handle, I found the action slick and smooth. The cocking handle is non-reciprocating and located above the handguard and protrudes from the cocking handle tube at approximately a 45° degree angle on the left side of the pistol. The fire control group is housed in a polymer lower receiver. The safety selector is large paddle that is easily operated with the thumb of a right-handed shooter. Pull a few pins, and the Z-5RS breaks down into six components including the curved 30-round magazine.

With a weight of 5.5 pounds and an overall length of 17.9 inches, the Zenith requires a good two-handed hold. When firing a pistol such as this, I prefer to use a one-point sling to brace the pistol. With the sling, I can push the pistol forward toward the target and use the sling as a brace to steady the weapon. When not in use, the Z-5RS can be handled at waist level.

I ran three brands of ammo with three different bullet weights: SIG V-Crown 115-grain JHPs, Aguila 124-grain FMJs, and Atlanta Arms 147-grain FMJs. The Zenith chewed through everything I fed it. Working the gun sideways and upside down did not interfere with the Z-5RS’ desire to perform.
At 10 yards, I was able to produce five-shot groups averaging about an inch. Moving out to 25 yards, I averaged less than two inches. Zenith also has one of those evil arm braces as an optional accessory. Think of the Z-5RS in the same way you would use an AR pistol for home defense, except a lot less muzzle blast and recoil. Those 9mm bullets purred through the Zenith.

If you have always had an itch for an MP5, the civilian legal Zenith Z-5RS is affordable choice. Check that off my bucket list.

Is the MP5 on your bucket list? What do you think of the Zenith Z-5RS? Share your opinion of the Zenith Z-5RS in the comment section.

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Comments (8)

  1. Yeah, 2 grand is not ‘affordable’. I’m having a hard time calling $1200 affordable for that Troy Defense XM177E2.

  2. I don’t get why everyone likes these HK type pcc’s
    I’ve shot them, they are typical examples of 1980’s stamped steel technology
    No bolt hold open on the last shot and no easy way to attach a red dot.
    Why not get a Sig MPX which has modern technology, a rail, and a last round bolt hold open?
    Or a CZ Scorpion at half the price?

  3. Bob is quite correct in fact not only is the barrel length on both the MP5 and Z5RS 8.9″ but also, the RECEIVER length is identical to the MP5 and the HK94. The SP89 uses both a shorter barrel and a shorter receiver. The Z5RS comes with a threaded 3 lug Nitrided barrel that is designed for suppressor use and guess what… the SP89 doesn’t. I’ve shot all the above and the Z5RS is one nice shooting well designed and executed example of a civilian legal version of the MP5 I’ve come across. There are other manufacturers of clones out there that also do an excellent job as well however, I’ve not had the opportunity to test those, just the one’s mentioned above. The Z5RS that I tested was flawless in fit, finish, and function, accepted and functioned with a variety of different ammunition and magazines without fail, printed on target where it was aimed and that is about as good as it gets.

  4. 3rd paragraph, 3rd to the last word: change to “in.”

    I’m not picking knits–it just confused me.

  5. You have the model names wrong. The MP5 has a buttstock, either fixed or sliding. If you put that on the Zenith, you would have a short barrelled rifle. What you really have pictured is an HK SP89, a pistol; I used to own one. Without the stability of a buttstock, I found it unwieldy as a pistol & sold it. However, now with the so-called arm brace as a mini-stock, I think it would be a viable defense gun. Sure would like to see it in 10mm & .45ACP!

    1. Mike, you are incorrect the HK SP89 or SP5K is the same size as a HK MP5K with the “K” standing for (short), the MP5 has a longer barrel that is what the Zenith 5RS is, the MP5 model does NOT mean it has a stock, The same goes for AR-15 carbines and a AR-15 pistols.

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