Handguns

PTR 9CT: The Affordable HK MP5

PTR 9CT pistol with a single point sling and four boxes of ammunition

During the 1960s, Heckler and Koch developed one of the finest submachine guns in history. The MP5 went through many variations and became one of the most famous anti-terror tools ever fielded. The SMG was developed during World War I as a trench fighting tool. In that role, and later in house clearing in Europe during World War II, it worked well.

The 9mm cartridge owes much of its present popularity to the adoption of NATO standard 9mm pistols and submachine guns. However, the shortcomings of the SMG were brought to the forefront during the war on terror and in domestic use. The AR-15 carbine provided far greater wound potential and accuracy.

PTR 9CT with single point sling right profile
The PTR 9CT is a well-made firearm that is certainly worth its price tag.

PTR 9CT Features

The MP5 survived the longest among the SMGs because of its stalwart reliability, excellent handling, and accuracy. Its day may be over in frontline service, however, that doesn’t mean it isn’t one of the coolest firearms ever.

A modern clone made in the United States is the PTR 9CT. This pistol is a close replica of the MP5. SMG clones often lose a lot in translation to semi-auto fire. Since most fire from an open bolt, simply converting them to semi-automatic fire results in a firearm that is inaccurate, jarring the shooter as it operates.

Moving from a room-clearing role to attempting accurate fire on the static range, these conversions give up too much in my opinion. The MP5 semi-auto is a different matter.

The original fired from a closed bolt, resulting in excellent accuracy. So does the PTR. The result is a superior firearm and one that offers superb accuracy. The pistol has the unmistakable MP5 outline, finish, and handling, giving it a lot of class and eye appeal.

The PTR and MP5 use roller cam locking and stamped construction. This isn’t cheap and the firearms are not inexpensive. The PTR, however, is affordable.

Safety lever on the PTR 9CT pistol
The PTR pistol’s safety lever is well designed and easy to manipulate quickly. The indents are positive.

As for the 9mm cartridge, it is ideal for recreational use. Reliable high-quality loads are available. Since many of us use indoor ranges, and others are limited to 100-yard outdoor ranges, the 9mm makes a lot of sense. If the PTR 9mm was pressed into service as a defensive firearm, there are worse choices when facing a take-over gang.

Pride of ownership and recreation are my primary concern. The PTR, however, would make a great area-defense firearm — if the need arises.

The pistol is supplied in a nicely-sized carrying case with two, clear plastic magazines, a well-designed single point sling, and a sight tool. The magazines are ok. They offer good feed reliability and are not difficult to load to full capacity.

30 rounds is a chore in some magazines — not these. I cannot fault them. However, my experience with clear plastic magazines is that they shatter if dropped when loaded. I did not test the opinion. Instead, I obtained two German MP5 magazines. For peace of mind and critical use, these are excellent magazines. I should note, I never did experience any type of problem with the factory magazines.

Loaded PTR 9CT magazine with spare rounds in an ammunition carrier
When loading these magazines, the author made certain to load 3-5 and then tap the rear of the magazine body to properly seat the cartridges.

Modern Upgrades

My friend who knows such things tells me the PTR pistol is so similar to the MP5 and the parts will interchange. The magazines certainly fit. The sighting system is superior, however, as the pistol features a rail and mounting a red dot is a great option.

When the MP5 was designed, red dot sights did not exist. The front sight is a protected post. This is among the finest close-range combat sights ever designed. Learn to use it well and you may not need a red dot! The rear diopter offers considerable adjustment.

The fit and finish are simply beautifully done. The nitride finish is evenly applied. The barrel is threaded. At 8.8 inches long, the barrel allows fast handling in crowded places. Velocity increase over a 5-inch barrel pistol is modest, but measurable — about 50 fps.

An M-Lok-type forend allows mounting lights and lasers. The pistol is all HK in design. It features a charging handle that is moved to the rear and locked in place to load. Insert a loaded magazine and slap the charging handle out of battery to load the pistol.

The upper receiver is built the old way — from stamped metal welded together. The work is flawless. The polymer trigger group is nicely shaped for most hands. The safety is marked “Safe” and “Fire.” This is an ergonomic setup that’s very easy to manipulate without visual orientation.

Trigger compression broke at 7 pounds. It isn’t difficult to manage this trigger considering the weight of the PTR pistol. It’s like you were pulling against a 2-pound pistol!

The PTR pistol features two magazine releases. One is a push button-type and the other a paddle release. Each is positive in operation. I think the paddle might work best for gloved-hand use. Moving to the end of the receiver you’ll find a polymer endcap. The single-point sling clips onto this endcap.

pistol group fired into the X, 9 and 8 rings of an orange silhouette target
Combat accuracy with the PTR 9mm pistol is excellent — with a little practice.

Operation and Handling

The pistol is 17.6 inches overall in length. This is compact for a carbine but large for a pistol. The weight is 5.5 pounds.

Handling the PTR pistol is a dream. The bolt is positive in operation. There is nothing like the sound of an HK-type bolt flying home! The magazines were easy to load and reliable. I repeat, as this isn’t always the case with high-capacity 9mm magazines. I am not a full-auto expert, but the open-bolt design (First used, to the best of my knowledge, in the 1870s Roper shotgun. You cocked the bolt, pulled the trigger, and the bolt went forward and fired the shell. Then cocked it again.) was designed as a necessary design feature for SMGs.

When the bolt is open the trigger is pressed, and the bolt flies forward. Often, the firing pin is simply molded into the front of the bolt. This prevents ammunition cook-offs in a hot chamber. The MP5 was designed to fire accurately and demanded a closed bolt.

The design envelope included a demand for taking out threats at 100 yards — with headshots! It will certainly do this on-demand. All parts were heavy military-grade. The bolt and extractor are impressively machined. The closed-bolt system and precision machining are expensive. This is not a boiler-tube Sten SMG!

TruGlo TruTec Micro mounted on a picatinny rail
The TruGlo TruTec Micro offers just the right size unit for this formidable pistol.

Accuracy and Reliability

During the evaluation, I primarily used the iron sights. However, I had the option of mounting and using the TruGlo TruTech Micro dot as well. This is an affordable red dot, but not the least expensive.

The TruGlo TruTech Micro sits at a good price point and offers good performance. It is the right size for the PTR 9mm. The experience was interesting. Hit probability soared with this red dot sight. Most of the evaluation, however, was undertaken — as issued — with iron sights.

Let’s get to the heart of the manner. So far, I had fired 11 full magazines from the pistol without a single failure to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. I made a point to fully load the magazines to check reliability. It is asking a lot to feed from full compression with 30 rounds to minimal spring compression and the last round. These magazines do the job.

PTR 9CT pistol with a single point sling and four boxes of ammunition
The pistol fed a wide range of ammunition without any stoppages.

I began firing from the hip walking bullets into the B 27 target. Results were very good. The pistol points like a finger. After attaching the sling, I developed a knack for firing accurately at close range and destroying the X-ring.

Most of the ammunition expended in the first few range sessions was PMC Bronze. It is affordable and goes bang! I also used an unknown brand, ZQi, with good results. A good quantity of Remington UMC 9mm FMJ was fired, along with Federal American Eagle 124-grain FMJ. The pistol is more accurate than I can hold.

I braced the PTR 9CT against my truck bed (My rolling, made in Japan, 4,480-pound firing brace.) and carefully fired a few rounds at 25 yards. I fired five of the American Eagle. Two were in the same hole, two more in another hole, and one single hit. This dog will run.

At a later date, I was blessed to be able to benchrest the pistol using a pistol rest at 50 yards. Among the most accurate 9mm Luger loads ever loaded, is the Fiocchi 124-grain XTP Extrema. This load breaks 1,198 fps in the PTR.

Bob Campbell firing the PTR 9CT pistol from the hip with smoke surrounding the barrel
The pistol is enclosed in powder smoke but hasn’t moved during a firing string!

I was able to butt the pistol into the rifle brace and use sandbags for accuracy. Later, I had good results simply bracing against a log post. 50 yards is a stretch for any pistol, but I was able to put five rounds into 4.5 inches — three of these in 3.0 inches. I have considered investing in a brace, and perhaps I will obtain one at some point, but the fact is, the pistol is fun just as it is.

PTR 9CT Specifications

Caliber: 9x19mm
Operation: Roller-locked delayed blowback
Barrel: 8.8 inches
Overall Length: 17.6 inches
Feed: MP5 pattern detachable box
Weight: 5.5 pounds
Sights: Protected front post, fully-adjustable rear diopter
Finish: Nitride

If it were to be kept at ready for personal defense, it would be in the home and at close quarters. The pistol handles incredibly well. I like this pistol. It isn’t for everyone, but it is well-made, reliable, and completely interesting.

As iconic as the HK MP5 is among shooters and collectors, it would be hard imagining not wanting one — until you see the price tag. However, the PTR 9CT solves that argument, so what’s holding you back? Share your answer in the comment section.

  • PTR 9CT with single point sling right profile
  • pistol group fired into the X, 9 and 8 rings of an orange silhouette target
  • Bob Campbell firing the PTR 9CT pistol from a solid, braced hip position
  • Loaded PTR 9CT magazine with spare rounds in an ammunition carrier
  • Dual safeties on the PTR 9CT pistol
  • M-LOK rail on the PTR 9CT pistol
  • PTR 9CT pistol with a single point sling and four boxes of ammunition
  • Safety lever on the PTR 9CT pistol
  • TruGlo TruTec Micro mounted on a picatinny rail
  • pistol group fired into an orange silhouette target with 10 holes
  • Bob Campbell firing the PTR 9CT pistol from the hip with smoke surrounding the barrel

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.


Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Handloader
Rifle Magazine
Handguns
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns



Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (5)

  1. “Roller cam locking and stamped construction. This isn’t cheap.”

    Actually it is. Milled from a casting or forging is expensive, before polymer became the material to use for reduced costs stamped guns were preferred due to their low cost and ease of manufacture without expensive machine tools and the skilled labor to use them. What you are paying for here is the demand for MP5 clones.

    HK made a whole line of roller locked guns, all using the same basic design with minimal changes needed for the different calibers. PTR makes a .308 HK91 clone as well, and except for the size of the parts being larger in some areas the guns are almost identical, with the 9mm version being a bit simpler as it lacks the bolt lock and the different cocking knob required to unlock it. No mechanical buffer in the stock. Smaller parts, less material used, less and simpler made parts. Sounds to me like the MP5 version should cost less to produce. So why is the MSRP and “street prices” $600 more for the cheaper to make gun?

    Subguns do not require an open bolt to avoid cookoffs, the small amount of powder used in a pistol cartridge rarely heats the bbl up enough to set of a chambered cartridge. Cookoffs are a thing mainly with belt fed rifle caliber MGs, which is why most of those use an open bolt.

    Most subguns use an open bolt because it is simpler and cheaper to make. All it needs to fire is the bolt slamming forward, the trigger mechanism simply has to hold the bolt back to control the firing. As was stated, the firing pin is normally machined into the breechface of the bolt. Many open bolt FA only subguns simply have a sear to block bolt movement and a trigger to pull the sear down to fire. 2 parts and a spring or two along with the bolt itself is the entire moving part inventory. Now look at a typical hammer fired closed bolt like the MP5. A firing pin hole is bored through the bolt, a firing pin and spring is added, along with a way to retain the firing pin. The simple trigger and sear now has to have a hammer installed and a safety selector, where the open bolts typically just use a notch in the cocking handle track like the HK uses to lock open the bolt.

  2. Killin me man …. Title “afordable” multiple lines in the artical about best price point……..not one flippin mention of the Price lol .

    1. Travis,

      This is currently, $1,690. Because people often read articles on the blog that are several years old, and then complain because the current price does not match the price in the article, we quit adding prices (most of the time, occasionally one slips past the editors) in articles several years ago. ~Dave

  3. You state “My friend who knows such things tells me the PTR pistol is so similar to the MP5 and the parts will interchange”. Could you ask him if any further machining would be necessary to make this into a registered SBR with collapsible stock? You would have to take off the butt cap and see what is under there.

  4. At the end of the day you are sitting in a Cadillac with a Datsun motor trying to compete in the Auto bon. No doubt you ate watching the real HK zoom by.
    Might be a good choice to complement a Halloween costume.
    From 10 feet at the range you might get a wow, until further examination shows a knock off of the …Real thing.

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