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Preview – Brethren Armament BAP 9mm

Photography by Straight 8

Brothers in Arms
Brethren Armament Drags the MP5 Into the 21st Century

The question of how to update a classic firearm brings to mind an old joke. Namely, the one that poses the question of how porcupines mate — the answer, of course, being, “very carefully.” When the firearm under scrutiny is the iconic Heckler & Koch MP5, a gun that is surrounded by mystique and recognizable the world over, you’d better know your stuff before putting anything on the market.

Although developed in the ’60s and widely adopted with more than a million units produced, the MP5 is still a comparative rarity in the USA. Transferable full-auto HKs (when they can be found) fetch north of 20 grand and their semiauto counterparts (the SP89 and HK94) also command premiums. Partly, this is due to their having the distinction of being banned by name from import by both Republican and Democrat administrations, as well as appearing in starring roles in numerous Hollywood blockbusters.

Once HK was forced to abandon the U.S. civilian market for MP5 variants, the void was filled by small domestic companies who copied the original with varying degrees of success. Some HK clones are superb, indistinguishable for the most part from their Oberndorf cousins. Some are truly awful too — bulky as paperweights and not heavy enough to serve as boat anchors, but utter failures as firearms. Shady business practices and numerous lawsuits were the defining features of this niche for a few years, and the uninitiated consumer was well advised to stay clear — swimming with sharks is not for the faint of heart.

Preview   Brethren Armament BAP 9mm photoPreview   Brethren Armament BAP 9mm photo

Band of Brothers

Now that the dust has settled, one company that has begun to make a name for itself in terms of quality and customer service is Brethren Armament. A small (read, very small) veteran-owned business run by brothers Quinn and Kyle McIntosh, these guys have been putting together some very slick guns on a semi-custom basis and have recently expanded their operations into limited production runs. Their standard offering is a 9mm semiauto pistol, which is usually the basis for a short-barreled rifle (SBR) conversion. There are two typical methods to creating an MP5-pattern SBR — by either adding a stock to a pistol or cutting down the barrel on a carbine version. The latter requires the services of a gunsmith, while the former requires only normal field stripping — hence usually the preferred route. In addition to their BAP 9mm pistol, they also produce 10mm and .40 S&W versions, semiauto SP89 clones, as well as post-1986 sample guns for Class III dealers. We tested their BAP pistol, which had been outfitted in its final SBR configuration, and came away impressed.

While iconic, it would appear that the MP5 is regarded as a legacy system by its original designers — although still produced by HK, the gun has been frozen in the 1980s with almost zero development work since then. The MP5/40’s last round bolt hold open could have easily been incorporated into the 9mm, but wasn’t. A railed fore end could have provided light and laser mounting options, but for ages HK couldn’t be bothered to offer one (it did, however, cobble together a fake KeyMod hand-guard for their SHOT Show booth this year, but the holes were out of spec and backwards).

And if you’ve been awake at any time during the past few decades, you may have noticed a bit of a fashion trend in which folks have been mounting lumpy things called “optics” on their guns. Instead of following the herd and perhaps offering a simple, time-proven system to attach glass to the MP5, HK has resolutely stuck with their claw mount, despite the fact that it’s expensive, heavy, overly complicated and, well, just plain crap. Would you willingly use a mount that has the potential to crush your receiver if it gets out of adjustment? Thought not. Although this may seem like heresy to some HK fan boys, it would appear that there is indeed room for improvement.

Back to the Future
On picking up the BAP 9, the casual observer will note that, joy of joys, it’s now easy to bolt up an optic to the gun. Welded between the rear sight and trunnion is a section of Picatinny rail. Profiled to fit the cocking tube’s upper contour, the rail’s weld is exceptionally clean and precise. The same can be said of weldments in the area of the cocking tube and trunnion, which have been smoothed out and blended into the receiver.

Preview   Brethren Armament BAP 9mm photoPreview   Brethren Armament BAP 9mm photo

Preview   Brethren Armament BAP 9mm photoPreview   Brethren Armament BAP 9mm photoFor the rest of this article, subscribe here: RECOIL Issue 13