The Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun was state-of-the-art when it was introduced… 50 years ago.

That isn’t keeping the Lexington, Kentucky Police Department SWAT team from demanding ten of the museum pieces in a bid for new equipment:

This month, Lexington’s Urban County Government will begin accepting bids so it can buy 10 submachine guns, plus ammunition and other accessories, to replace aging equipment at the city’s police department.

The bids must be submitted to the city by 2 p.m. Oct. 30, according to a request for proposals — typically called an RFP — dated Oct. 16.

The request says that the submachine guns “MUST be a Heckler & Koch MP5A2 and MP5 SD2,” and that no substitutions will be accepted.

Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said the new weapons would replace the weapons carried by the Emergency Response Unit, commonly known as a SWAT team.

“They are too old,” she said. “They need to be replaced.”

The department’s ERU, made up of about 36 officers, answers the call when negotiations are needed. ERU can be called out to myriad situations such as bomb threats, standoffs and NCAA Tournament celebrations.

An MP5A2 is a fixed stock selective-fire closed-bolt submachine gun that fires 9mm bullets.

The MP5 SD2 is a suppressed version of the same gun.

I frankly question the competency of the procurement officers and firearm “experts” with the Lexington PD.

While submachine guns were the hot ticket for specialized military and SWAT/ERT units in the past, they have long been outclassed by compact AR-15 variants in every conceivable way, which is why most military and SWAT units have abandoned SMGs for compact AR-15 or M4 carbines.

When compared against compact AR-15 pattern carbines in .223 Remington/5.56 NATO, the MP5 comes up short in numerous ways:

  • 9mm is a pistol-caliber bullet, with much less energy to transfer into target (roughly 400 ft-lbs, depending on ammo used) than the rifle-caliber .223/5.56 (the common 55-grain M193 loading for the .223/5.56 transfers roughly 1,100 ft-lbs of energy). To have the same energy transfer to the target, officers will have to fire more rounds, increasing the risk to everyone downrange.
  • 9mm ammunition will not effectively penetrate common soft body armor sometimes worn by suspects, such as the armor worn by the robbers in the infamous North Hollywood shootout which saw 9mm bullets bounce off the suspects. In contrast, .223/556 will penetrate soft body armor consistently.
  • 9mm hollowpoints and FMJ rounds frequently over-penetrate building materials, and pose more of a risk to innocent civilians downrange when compared to the small, lighter, much higher velocity .223/5.56 bullets, which tend to yaw and fragment upon impact with building materials.
  • 9mm submachine guns have much shorter range than .223/5.56 carbines, limiting the situations in which the firearms can be used.
  • MP5 SUGs are not as accurate at any range as are .223/5.56 carbines.
  • MP5 development is basically stagnant, with limited aftermarket or 3rd-party support. AR-15 development is not only constant, but is rapidly evolving as the platform continues to mature, making it more versatile as times goes by.

If I were a member of Lexington’s City Council, comptroller, or had any oversight at all into police purchasing I’d immediately quash this RFP and force the Lexington Police Department to justify their decision to purchase inferior and outdated equipment when their peers in other departments who have done their research have moved away from the antiquated concept of using inferior SMGs.