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Zenith Arms ZF-5 Pistol an Excellent Clone of H&K Legendary Submachine Gun

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by Friedrich Seiltgen

The Heckler & Koch MP-5 Sub-Machinegun is a legend. Its development began in 1964. It began service with the West German Bundespolizei in 1966, and H&K never looked back. Throughout the years it gained a reputation as a quality built, reliable weapon and was selected for service by more and more users. In 1980 the MP-5 entered iconic status after video of British Special Air Service (SAS) operators equipped with MP-5’s stormed the Iranian Embassy in London during a hostage standoff. From that point on, it seems every SWAT team in the world had to have the MP-5 for their teams.  

Heckler & Koch is known for its quality, and I can attest to that. I was an armorer on the MP-5 and attended training at H&K U.S. headquarters in Virginia. The attention to quality and detail was impressive.

Currently the MP-5 is being manufactured under license by several countries, and MP-5 clones are being imported by several companies here in the United States. Zenith Firearms of Afton, Virginia made its mark by importing MP-5 clones from Turkey. Zenith is now producing its ZF-5 clone in-house, with magazines produced by KCI in Henderson, Nevada to Zenith specs. Zenith is also offering a full line of roller delayed blowback weapons, and will honor warranty work on the Turkish produced models. They also employ a staff of gunsmiths who will repair and refurbish all makes and models of a similar design.

Here’s a look at the Zenith version.

The lowers

The receiver

Great welders are worth their weight in Gold, and Zenith has them. The welds on the ZF-5 are superior.  Kudos to Zenith for going with a Magpul selector switch instead of the H&K design. The original selector switch is short, stubby and a bit rounded. The Magpul version is longer and enables the shooter to select without moving their hand out of position. Zenith also worked on the trigger and got the pull down into the six pound range. A vast improvement on the original.  Some MP-5 clones have the receiver end cap permanently attached. The ZF-5 end cap is removable for mounting a brace or Zenith’s A3 collapsible buttstock (all NFA rules apply)

The barrell

The ZF-5 features a cold hammer forged 4150 CMV Fluted barrel that is ½ x 28 right hand threaded with an H&K style tri-lug mount.


Type: gas-operated roller-delayed blowback

Caliber: 9X19mm

Magazine Capacity: 30 rounds

Sights: fixed hooded front; adjustable rear with 4-aperture rotary drum

Barrel Length: 8.9 inches

Overall Length: 17.9 inches

Weight: 5.5 pounds without magazine

MSRP: $1,989 

Find them here, on the web.

Zenith with brace

The verdict

Zenith Firearms is producing, not importing, perhaps the absolute best MP-5 clone available.  Since it is new to the market, it does not have a long track record, but I have not heard of any negatives about the ZF-5.  Fit & Finish are excellent, and it’s all made in America.  The ZF-5 comes shipped with 3-30 round magazines, 3-lug flash hider, custom 2-point sling, and a Pelican style hard case.

Please keep sending in your questions, tips, and article ideas. And as always – “Let’s Be Careful Out There.”

Friedrich Seiltgen is a retired Master Police Officer with 20 years of service with the Orlando Police Department. He conducts training in Lone Wolf Terrorism Counterstrategies, Firearms and Active Shooter Response. Contact him at [email protected]. His last article for Soldier of Fortune was about medical marijuana and firearms laws.

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