Heckler & Koch (H&K) firearms enjoy an enviable reputation in terms of quality, reliability, and ruggedness. In terms of H&K rifles, the U.S. market is skewed due to firearm importation bans creating a shortage.
Roughly speaking, only 15,000 H&K 94 pattern weapons were imported before the 1989 ban, which causes them to be priced in the $3,500 to $4,000 range depending on condition.
It is often said that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. A handful of companies have sought to step into this void with H&K-pattern clones. Many of these companies hoped to appeal to customers with pricing significantly less than what original H&K rifles cost. These lower-priced alternatives can generate dismissive attitudes, especially with H&K rifles being held in such high regard.
MAD’S SUPERIOR QUALITY
A new firm has recently emerged with a different approach. Moore Advanced Dynamics (MAD) has decided its path to success with H&K-pattern firearms rests with superior quality. MAD has emerged as recognized experts for anything involving the H&K platform. In many ways, MAD has updated roller-delayed blowback models for more utility.
One important clarification with MAD is that they do not represent less expensive alternatives. Instead, they create custom-built variants from existing H&K parts. A major focus is on SBR select-fire platforms. SOCOM and other entities turn to MAD as a source for the German-based weapon systems.
Another vote of confidence is the number of well-known range rental organizations that send their prized H&K weapons to MAD for repair and updating. Moore Advanced Dynamics is leading the way for improving U.S.-made parts for H&K owners in terms of increasing metal heat treatment, hardness, and trunnion manufacturing.
Genuine H&K parts are used wherever possible, with the necessary American-made parts manufactured to the highest quality possible. U.S.-made parts that MAD includes in their builds are cold-hammer-forged barrel, receiver, muzzle device, sear, buttstock, forearm, cocking handle, and trigger housing.
MAD 9 CARBINE
The vehicle used in this article to explore what MAD firearms offers is the MAD 9 Carbine, which is patterned after the H&K MP5/94. The MAD 9 offers an effective alternative weapon in an AR/AK-dominated world.
The MP5 became an icon due to its appearance in the hands of SAS, GSG9, and other elite units worldwide. Over 40 nations utilize an MP5 variant, with several producing the SMGs under license.
The MAD 9 Carbine employs a roller-delayed blowback operating system that was featured in the legendary German MG42 machine gun and then downsized and tweaked in the closing stages of World War II in the form of the Mauser StG 45 assault rifle. The StG 45 was slated to replace the granddaddy of all assault rifles, the StG 44, because of its simplicity of manufacture, which resulted in lower cost and greater production potential.
The roller-delayed StG 45 concept was perfected in Spain in the form of CETME, courtesy of German engineers who escaped there in the hectic days following WWII. The roller-delayed blowback operating system uses recoil forces to manipulate the action and does not rely on gases to operate the weapon. There is no need to tap the barrel to bleed off gas directly into the action or via a piston.
This operation method minimizes opportunities for dirt or carbon build-up to affect reliability. The design also contributes to accuracy by having the barrel truly free-floated.
Furthermore, the roller-delayed blowback system avoids sharp recoil impulses derived from direct gas impingement or operating rod systems. The difference in recoil impulse of a weapon utilizing the roller-delayed blowback method versus direct impingement or gas piston of the same caliber and weight is noticeable.
Most SMGs use blowback or recoil operating methods—this is where cartridge pressure is used to overcome the bolt’s mass pushing it to the rear and action recoil springs returning it into battery, stripping a fresh round from the magazine to operate the weapon.
The H&K MP5 is the poster child of Fourth Generation SMGs firing from a closed bolt. The closed-bolt method made possible by the roller-delayed blowback operating system markedly increased accuracy potential of the MP5 compared to its open-bolt-firing SMG counterparts.
Think about it: A pound or more of bolt slamming forward to ignite a cartridge is not conducive to accuracy compared to merely tripping a sear via trigger pull. Design work had started in 1964 on the MP5 as a scaled-down version of the G3.
The MAD 9 features an 8.9-inch 1:10 twist Nitride-finished barrel with permanently attached muzzle device to bring the barrel length to a complying 16 inches. For those so inclined, the pinned MAD barrel extension, designed to look like a faux suppressor for aesthetic reasons, can be mechanically removed after NFA SBR paperwork is completed.
The MAD 9 Carbine weighs 6.2 pounds and measures 34 inches in total length. All welds on the rifle are clean, with the Cerakote finish on the metal a deep black. Other color options are available. Internal components are parkerized and then also Cerakoted. This makes cleaning easier as well as adds to the life and function of the weapon overall.
Range testing consisted of an initial function test involving dumping multiple magazines at several targets in rapid fashion once iron sights were verified. The rotating diopter/drum sight is conducive to wringing better accuracy out of the MAD 9 compared to typically crude SMG sights.
There can be no doubt that the Teutonic mind found crude notch post sights an aberration, with the resultant H&K rotating diopter sight being developed initially for the G3 and then carried over to the MP5.
The MAD 9’s rear stock is removable after drifting out the crosspin that attaches it to the receiver. The trigger group drops away easily. The bolt carrier and recoil spring come out of the back of the receiver, permitting unhindered access to the bore for cleaning.
The trigger group is marked with select-fire settings resembling the H&K SEF trigger group, but the MAD 9 will fire semi-auto only no matter where the lever is placed. Safe is with the lever moved to the uppermost position.
Accuracy with the MAD 9 was more than acceptable, with the open sights producing two-inch groups at 50 yards. Steel-cased ammunition was purposely chosen for use in the MAD 9, along with more traditional brass type. Generally speaking, steel-cased ammunition leads to problems with Western-made weapons in terms of reliability, especially as temperatures rise as volume of fire increases, due to steel’s malleability compared to brass interfacing with the chamber walls.
The MAD 9’s fluted chamber eliminates the concern of using steel-cased ammunition. The fluted chamber is incorporated in the roller-delayed blowback operation method due to the cartridge extraction process beginning almost as soon as the round is fired. A fluted chamber assists in the reliable extraction of empty cases by utilizing flowing gases to “float” in between case and chamber walls, weakening the bond between the case and chamber walls and enhancing extraction.
After speaking with a few associates experienced with the H&K MP5 via law enforcement careers or military, I decided to run a variety of 9mm ammunition through the MAD 9 Carbine. This was based on their reports of encountering some finicky behavior in terms of ammunition preference.
I was aware of higher-pressure 9mm loads existing for use in SMGs as well as the increased pressure represented in 9mm NATO loads. With this said, no issues were encountered with the MAD 9 Carbine either in weight of 9mm bullet fired or bullet profile. Winchester 9mm 124-grain NATO FMJ loads, Winchester 147-grain JHP, Hornady steel-case 125-grain HAP and 147-grain TAP, Black Hills Ammunition steel-cased 115-grain FMJ and brass cased +P 124-grain JHP, Century International Hot Shot Elite 115-grain, and Federal 124-grain JHP were all used in the evaluation.
Another brand of ammunition used was a new one to me and recommended by MAD based on their use of it: On Target Ammunition. Many may not have heard of On Target due to their focus as a provider of ammunition to ranges and manufacturers.
While not AR-like, which has spoiled us here in the U.S. in terms of ergonomics, the MAD 9’s H&K-like operating controls are superior to other contemporary SMG designs from the 1960s or before.
The MAD 9 has a non-reciprocating forward cocking handle on the left side of the forearm. The MAD 9 does not have a hold-open feature after the last round is fired. Thus, any reloads starting with “click” or malfunction drills start with locking the action back with the cocking handle via a recess, removing the magazine, inserting a fresh magazine, releasing the cocking handle, and back into action. Magazines need to be firmly inserted into the magazine well, especially if the bolt is forward.
MAD’s decision to specialize in H&K-type weapons may prove a savvy move considering the niche market they occupy. The MAD 9 Carbine tested here was a very capable carbine, both reliable and accurate. While the sample is a standard version, MAD offers different MAD 9 variants with railed receivers, forends, calibers, suppressed, barrels, and select fire.
The MAD 9 Carbine will appeal to many by default due to it not being an AR, thus offering something distinctive in an AR-dominated gun culture. It is a solid weapon with a distinguished pedigree that MAD maintains, and even improves upon, through superior quality control and hand fitting of parts.
MOORE ADVANCED DYNAMICS
BLACK HILLS AMMUNITION
FEDERAL PREMIUM AMMUNITION
HORNADY MFG. CO.
ON TARGET AMMUNITION