American Tactical Imports GSG-5 Semi-Auto .22 LR Carbine


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

June 27th, 2008




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I am often asked to state my favorite caliber of rifle. The typical, often-asked question usually goes something like; “If you could only have one rifle……..“ That very thought is repulsive to me, but I usually indulge the fellow, as I am sure that he means no harm in asking such a fool question. Usually, the inquirer is expecting an answer involving some exotic, powerful cartridge, but my answer is always the same; “If I could have but one rifle, it would be a .22 rimfire.” There is a perfectly good reason for this. I can do about ninety-five percent of what needs to be done with a rifle using the .22 long rifle cartridge. It is ideal for small game hunting, works well within range on predators and vermin, and is relatively quiet and inexpensive to shoot. Out to about 40 yards or so, it also works well for harvesting whitetail deer. One shot behind the ear will take a deer cleanly, and ruins no meat. I am not stating that the twenty-two is the ideal deer cartridge, just that it will do the job if that is all one has. Also, it can serve pretty well as a defensive weapon if needed. Again, not the ideal choice, but since I am only to be allowed one rifle, that is the one that I would choose. Now, the best reason to own a twenty-two rifle is that they are just a lot of fun to shoot. A person can shoot all day long for less than twenty bucks, and at the end of the day, neither the gun nor the shooter is tired.

Many twenty-two rifles are built as a replica of a larger-caliber gun, but overtake the original in popularity. A good case in point is the very popular Ruger 10-22. It was initially introduced as an understudy to Ruger’s larger .44 Magnum carbine, but the 10-22 is today probably the most popular .22 Long Rifle carbine on the market, even though the original .44 Carbine was discontinued several years ago. A new .22 Long Rifle carbine that is being built as a replica of the H&K 9mm carbine is the subject of this review; the GSG-5 as imported into the United States by American Tactical Imports. Already, the GSG-5 has developed a cult-like following, and I believe that the GSG-5 will become very popular in the US as more shooters discover this little carbine.

Built to replicate one of the most popular 9mm submachine guns in the world, and one of the best, the GSG-5 is for all practical purposes a .22 LR MP-5. To comply with our laws, the GSG-5 is a semiautomatic, and wears a sixteen and one-quarter inch barrel. I hear that there is also a pistol version in the works, but I have not seen one yet. The GSG-5 has a fake suppressor shrouding the slim barrel, and it is detachable if the shooter desires. The carbine has an overall length of just under 33.75 inches, and weighs one ounce under seven pounds. I have been playing with the GSG-5 carbine for about a month now, and it has proven to be one of the most reliable .22 LR rifles that I have ever fired...and I have fired a lot of them. Besides the shooting that I have done here, I carried the GSG-5 to the Shootists Holiday near Raton, New Mexico recently, and let everyone who wanted to shoot it fire off as many rounds as they wanted. All totaled, this GSG-5 has had well over a couple of thousand rounds put through it, using a variety of ammunition, with a total of two malfunctions. They were both failures to fully eject the empty cartridge case, and both were experienced with low velocity imported ammunition. Other than those two instances, and I do not fault the weapon for those, the GSG-5 fed, fired, and ejected everything that I put through it. I tried the carbine with a wide variety of .22 Long Rifle ammunition, mostly bulk Federal hollowpoint from Wal Mart and Winchester Dynapoint. I also tried standard velocity target ammo, hyper-velocity hollowpoints, Aguila 60 grain SSS, and a bunch of other stuff that I had on hand. I was pleasantly surprised by the reliability of the GSG-5. I don’t know why, but I was expecting it to be a bit finicky, but it wasn’t. Not even when dirty. The magazine holds 22 rounds (there is also a ten-shot version available), and is very easy to load. The magazine is also very easy to insert and remove from the weapon, and the magazine release works just as well using either hand. There is also, thankfully, an ambidextrous safety on the GSG-5. It is large and easy to operate, even if wearing gloves. The charging handle is on the left side of the weapon, forward of the receiver, and is easy to use. The bolt stays open after the magazine is emptied. Inserting a loaded mag and pulling the charging handle to the rear and releasing chambers the first round. The weapon will not fire without the magazine in place. The GSG-5 has an unusual-feeling trigger for a .22 carbine, but it is surprisingly light and easy to shoot well. The pull weight on the test gun measured three and one-third pounds. The pull is very smooth, much like a super-light double-action revolver pull. It is not crisp like a fine target rifle, but I like it. Target work from the bench was much easier than I expected using that trigger. While on the subject of target work, the GSG-5 proved to be very accurate. Even the cheap bulk Federal hollowpoint ammo that I love to shoot grouped under one inch at fifty yards from this GSG-5, and the Winchester Dynapoint did almost as well. The worst fifty yard group fired was with PMC Zapper ammo, and it still turned in a respectable two-inch performance at that distance. To shoot these groups, I had mounted a ten power scope using a Leaper’s claw mount. The GSG-5 will accept any mount made for the MP-5, and the inexpensive Leaper’s mount worked well. For most of my shooting, I used a Trijicon 3.5 power ACOG attached to the Leaper’s mount.

The GSG-5 comes with a good set of mechanical sights. The front post is sturdy, well-protected, and easy to see. The rear sight is adjustable for windage correction, and has a V-notch and three other apertures on its rotating drum. At fifty yards, the sights placed most bullets about three inches high on target. Personally, I prefer a good optical sight, such as an ACOG or a traditional scope. With the GSG-5, there are many good sighting options available.

As a perfect understudy for those who own an MP-5, the GSG-5 is a no-brainer. Get one. For those who are looking for something a bit different as a hunting rifle for small game and vermin, the GSG-5 is very reliable, and certainly has the accuracy to deliver as well. To defend the homestead from critters and the occasional thug, the GSG-5 can also serve that role in a pinch. And finally, as a really fun plinker that is reliable, fun, and cheap to shoot, the GSG-5 could very well be the perfect choice.

Check out the GSG-5 and other products from American Tactical online at

For the location of an American tactical dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at

To order the GSG-5 online, go to

Jeff Quinn


For a list of dealers where you can buy this gun, go to: To buy this gun online, go to:


The GSG-5's compact size is shown in comparison to a Ruger 10-22 carbine.



Magazine is easy to load.



Magazine worked well with the Target Shooting, Inc. rifle rest used for accuracy testing.



Federal's inexpensive bulk hollow point ammo proved to be very accurate in the GSG-5, as shown by this 10-shot 25-yard group.



Best and worst 50-yard groups demonstrate that the GSG-5 is accurate with a variety of ammo.



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Click pictures for a larger version.


American Tactical Imports' GSG-5 .22 LR semi-auto carbine.



Iron sights consist of protected front post (top) and adjustable rear with V-notch and apertures (center & bottom).





Buttstock attaches with a single bolt.



Ambidextrous safety lever is large and easy to use.





Sling attachment points.



Cocking handle.



Magazine release is easy to operate with one hand.



Fake suppressor is threaded at the rear.



Receiver is machined to accept an H&K style claw mount.