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« em: Novembro 06, 2004, 02:33:41 pm »

The HK MP7A1 PDW: Back to the Future

If the FN P90 PDW is an attempt to replace the submachine gun, the HK MP7A1 PDW, introduced by Heckler & Koch in 2001, would appear to be an attempt to get back to the original PDW's purpose, to replace the military pistol. So, the MP7A1 is perhaps closer to the SCAMP, than it is to the P90. At 14.96 inches long, 6.7 inches high, the MP7A1 is about midway between the SCAMP and P90 in size, about the size of a mini-submachine gun. Dry weapon weight is 3.53 lbs, and approx. 3.8 lbs with a loaded 20-round magazine inserted. It can be carried on the hip in a specially-made holster, somewhat like a pistol. It's magazine is inserted through the vertical pistol grip, just like on a regular pistol, the SCAMP, or a mini-UZI SMG. Like the P90, all of the MP7A1's operational controls are fully-ambidextrous, including the manual safety/selector switch, bolt carrier release lever, mag release, charging lever, and telescoping/retractable butt stock release lever. The HK MP7A1 fires its proprietary 4.6x30mm hardened-steel-core FMJ (full metal jacket) round out of its 7.09" barrel and down range at roughly 2400 feet-per-second (fps), at a cyclic rate of 950 rpm. According to Fred Yates of Heckler & Koch (HK) Training Division, this 4.6x30mm projectile can penetrate 22 layers of Kevlar or a Kevlar helmet at 50 yards. It will also reportedly penetrate NATO CRISAT body armor with no trouble, at this distance. Muzzle energy is approximately 332 ft. lbs (447 joules). Magazine capacity is 20 rounds with the standard magazine, or 40 rounds with the extended/battle mag.
Basically, the HK MP7A1 Personal Defense Weapon (PDW) is a slick little package. It's just very well-executed. The author first had the opportunity to fire the MP7A1 PDW prototype at SWAT Round-Up 2002, and came away extremely impressed with it. First, the ambidextrous controls are well laid-out. Everything's right where it should be for instinctive and fast operation under stress. Like the FN P90 PDW, the HK MP7A1 prototype was highly controllable on full-auto, and hits were easy against a man-size target at, if the author remembers correctly, about 40-50 yards out. There were no failures to feed or eject (no stoppages or jams of any kind) during the testing session, either experienced or witnessed by the author. Because of the MP7A1's relatively small size, low weight, and excellent balance, you can fire it one or two-handed like a pistol (with the stock retracted), using either the standard pistol sights and/or the reflex/red dot optical sight. Or, you can extend the 3-position telescoping/retractable stock, quickly bring it to the shoulder, deploy and employ the flip up BUIS (Back-Up Iron Sights), along with the reflex/red dot sight, and fire it as a rifle. The HK MP7A1 PDW features a full-length 1913 picatinny rail, and will accept the Hensoldt Z-Point reflex/red dot sight, EOTech 550 Series Holographic Weapons Sight/Holographic Diffraction Sight (the author prefers the EOTech 552, which takes AA batteries), and/or the Aimpoint CompM2 Red Dot Sight for ultra-fast targeting/multiple target engagement. The MP7A1 also sports a 1913 Picatinny fore end for mounting lasers and tactical white lights. It's flip-down vertical fore grip is another neat and utilitarian feature, since it aids in controlling the weapon while moving and while firing it on full-auto. It should also aid weapon retention during CQB engagements. That said, the MP7A1's 4.6x30mm projectile is really small, even smaller and lighter (and thus even more "pipsqueak") than the P90's 5.7mm round, so CQB employment would seem (by the author) to be somewhat risky with this weapon, especially for executive protection and military PSD teams tasked with protecting extremely important principles. Remember, you have to be able to stop an assassin extremely quickly at extremely close range. That said, the MP7A1's 950 rpm cyclic rate will probably compensate somewhat for any lack of stopping power that the individual 4.6x30mm projectiles might suffer. Still, the author wouldn't want to be the first guy to test it operationally. Like the FN P90 PDW, the HK MP7A1 PDW can be had with a factory-supplied silencer/sound suppressor.

Heckler & Koch's MP7A1 PDW can be carried on the hip in a specially-made holster, somewhat like a pistol.

The PDW of the Future

So, what does the future hold for the Personal Defense Weapon (PDW)? It's hard to tell. Politics (including military politics), military and law enforcement (LE) small arms doctrinal movement, and a veritable gaggle of unpredictable environmental factors will determine that. Perhaps the better question is what's coming down the pike, in terms of future PDW design and development? Oh, boy. To give the reader an example: Right now, as this is being written, a company called Arm West, LLC is working on a revolutionary and, some might say, transformational family of lightweight small arms (machine guns) that will significantly outperform all currently existing infantry assault rifles and machine guns. This Arm West family of lightweight weapons will include a PDW that, itself, is so revolutionary and transformational, it has the potential to quite literally change the entire game (i.e. create an actual paradigm shift) in terms of what PDW's are thought to be capable of accomplishing, both tactically and operationally.

Arm West is headed up by legendary small arms designer/developer Jim Sullivan (L. James Sullivan). It's perhaps safe to say that Mr. Sullivan is rather famous in the small arms design and development community. You see, he co-designed and developed (with Bob Fremont) the AR-15/M16 rifle (under Gene Stoner), the AR-15/M16's original 4179 STANAG 20-round box mag, and the 5.56x45mm cartridge, that all NATO countries now utilize. He then went on to design/develop the Stoner 63 Weapons System (5.56x45mm LMG/SAW)--the first true modular weapon system--at Cadillac Gage (also under Stoner), the AR-7 Survival Rifle, the world's first chain gun--the 7.62 coax machine gun (currently still employed on Britain's Challenger main battle tank), the Ruger Mini-14 rifle, the Ultimax 100 Light Machine Gun (along with its proprietary--and reliable--100-round drum mag), the original C-Mag 100-round double-drum mag (which worked perfectly, and didn't require any graphite powder lubrication), the Ruger Model 77 bolt-action rifle, etc., etc. Mr. Sullivan is also the 2001 winner of the National Defense Industrial Association's (NDIA) prestigious Chinn Award for his extraordinary accomplishments in the field of small arms design and development.
Anyway, here's how Mr. Sullivan sees the personal defense weapon's role, and the form it should take: "The guy with an automatic pistol is just hopelessly outmatched by an opponent with a 30-shot assault rifle. In the end, the guy that needs a PDW the most can only carry a holstered sidearm, or no gun at all. You can't tell somebody who's got his hands full with a bunch of other stuff, like driving a truck or something, that he's gotta be carrying a rifle on a sling. Even riflemen can't carry [a rifle], full time. Everybody should be able to carry a personal defense weapon, even riflemen. They should be able to reach out [effectively] to at least 50 yards [with it]."

The Arm West PDW will first be developed in pistol form. This pistol version PDW will essentially be a highly (mechanically) advanced select-fire machine pistol that employs a truly revolutionary and unique recoil mitigation system. The Arm West PDW (pistol version) will rely on it's unique operating mechanism, rather than weapon weight, to attenuate felt-recoil and thus increase controllability and hit potential against moving targets. Once this initial pistol version of the Arm West PDW is fully developed, it will then be adapted into a shoulder-weapon version that will utilize the same recoil attenuation/mitigation system and, like the HK MP7A1 PDW, will also feature a telescoping/retractable stock. According to Sullivan, the Arm West PDW shoulder weapon will (believe it or not) be an even more "aggressive" weapon within it's effective range/operational envelope than any currently-existing assault rifle . This is due to the nature of its proprietary ammunition, which be more terminally destructive than 5.56x45mm, 5.45x39mm, or 7.62x39mm ammo. Because the Arm West PDW (shoulder-weapon version) will be adapted from the pistol version, it will be just as fast (extremely fast) to reload, since magazines will be inserted into the grip (hand-meets-hand).

Sullivan's proprietary high-velocity 10mm PDW round will be just as revolutionary and transformational as the weapon itself, in its combat capabilities. It will deliver 100 ft lbs (about 140 joules?) of energy into a human target after first penetrating/defeating the subject's NATO CRISAT body armor at a distance of 80 meters. At CQB (Close Quarters Battle) distances, that same high-velocity 10mm round will deliver about 600 ft. lbs of energy into a human target with no body armor protection to shield him. Body armor, no body armor-- it simply doesn't matter. The Sullivan/Arm West PDW 10mm projectile is simply going to cut right through the obstacle like a hot knife through butter, and create a truly devastating wound on the other side. According to Sullivan, if a man with a PDW and his assault rifle-armed opponent both "open up" on each other at the same instant, the former should have at least an equal chance of survival as the latter, within the PDW's effective range/operational envelope. That's the goal, anyway (Sullivan's goal). It's Sullivan's contention that the PDW has to be as simple to operate as possible, so even soldiers with the absolute minimum amount of small arms training can deploy and employ it quickly and instinctively.

Magazines: When the Arm West PDW (pistol version) is carried in the holster, the 15-round magazine, which fits flush with the grip, would be utilized. However, during offensive or defensive close quarters battle (CQB)/tactical engagements, the operator would go with the 50-shot battle mag, which can be carried as a spare in the same holster. The operator could, of course, also carry additional/multiple 50-shot battle mags in his web gear for Special Operations deployment, or if the threat level were high.

So, how does one (Sullivan, for instance) accomplish this?

1) You have to reduce the projectile weight from that of a conventional pistol bullet. Even though the Arm West high-velocity "special" PDW projectile will be 10mm, it will only weigh (approx.) 88 grains.

2) You have to have a mathematically-correct means of recoil attenuation/mitigation (Just like Sullivan's Ultimax 100 LMG, which utilized "Constant-Recoil" to prove that a lightweight machine gun could be more controllable than a heavier machine gun, and thus out hit it. Before the Ultimax 100 LMG, by the way, no one thought this was actually possible).

3) You have to increase the operating/recoil spring length.

4) You have to increase the stroke (length) of the slide.

Now, that's something to look forward to! While the author is privy to a lot more info/data on the Arm West PDW, he can't disclose any of it--at least not yet.

And, last but not least..."Marshal Arms Pistol" PDW

Another small arms designer developer, Walter Balsavage Jr. (of Marshal Arms, Inc.), has his own PDW concept in the works. The "Marshal Arms Pistol" mates the P90/Hill submachine gun top-situated, horizontal-oriented magazine and rotating disc ammo feed system with the size envelope of the SCAMP and Arm West PDW. As his PDW concept's name implies, Balsavage shares Jim Sullivan's belief that a PDW should be sized like a pistol, so it's holsterable and thus can be carried by all. Balsavage already has a functional prototype of his Marshal Arms Pistol PDW, and this prototype weapon has already received some positive (written) feedback from the U.S. Army TACOM-ARDEC's Close Combat Armament Center. The author will expound more on the Marshal Arms Pistol in a subsequent article, which will include a host of interesting Marshal Arms materials (made available for viewing). In the meantime, you might want to read Mr. Balsavage's paper on PDW's, which he submitted to the NDIA at their 2000 Joint Services Small Arms Symposium. The paper is titled "Personal Defense Weapon: Only for Defense?".
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About the Author: David Crane is a military defense industry analyst and consultant, and the owner/editor-in-chief of He can be contacted by phone at 305-389-1721, or via email at