Heckler and Koch USC Carbine

The HK USC carbine is an overlooked HK product that performs well and offers excellent reliability. The pistol caliber carbine is an interesting development and one that has merit in some situations. As an example quite a few shooters don’t have access to a range longer than one hundred yards. Others fire their guns in indoor ranges. The pistol caliber makes sense for recreation. For personal defense a .45 ACP carbine is a formidable option.

The USC was imported only in .45 ACP caliber. The HK USC is a development of the UMP submachinegun. By all accounts a formidable submachinegun, the UMP was designed as an affordable option compared to the MP5. It turned out well. The USC is a semi auto version of the famous UMP. Many carbines lose a lot in translation from their fully automatic primogenitor. The UZI, as an example, firing from an open bolt isn’t a very accurate semi auto. The Auto Ordnance Thompson with its heavy trigger and eleven pound weight isn’t a very practical firearm. The HK USC on the other hand is a practical, reliable defensive firearm. 

The USC features a thumbhole stock designed to meet import limitations and the then in force Crime Bill (It’s a crime, Bill!).

The USC features a 16 inch hammer forged barrel as well. The frame is a reinforced polymer. It seems durable and will take hard knocks. The HK is a blowback operation rifle, no surprises there. The HK USC is about as far from a MP5 as you can get. It is quite different without the air of quality and bling of the MP5 but it is neither inexpensive nor ineffective.

The USC features the usual HK safety. The safety is easily operated and indents with a positive audible click. The bolt cocking handling is standard HK- pull the handle to the rear and release to rack the bolt or pull it to the rear and up to lock the bolt in place. The USC has a second bolt open device on the side of the receiver. Rack the bolt to the rear and use this bolt lock to lock the bolt in place and then release it with the same lever. You cannot release the bolt with the AR type side release if you locked it to the rear with the forward cocking lever. 

The sights are very good designs. The front sight is a hooded post. A hooded post of the HK type is among the fastest sights ever designed to get fast hits. The rear sight features an open sight for close work and an aperture sight for long range work. The combination is fast and accurate to about fifty yards.  The front sight is wide to subtend the aiming point at 75 to 100 yard diminishing accuracy potential. The rifle operates smoothly and offers excellent handling. The HK USC is supplied with two ten round magazines. Aftermarket magazines are available. I added two ProMag twenty round magazines. I don’t consider ProMag service grade- yet these magazines have worked fine for hundred of rounds. The HK carbine has a couple of aftermarket accessories including light rails for the top of the receiver and the sides of the receiver. My carbine does not have these. The rifle is delivered in an impressive drag bag with generous pockets. 

Firing impressions

For most uses I have fired standard 230 grain full metal jacket loads, hardball in common parlance. This load averages 850 fps in handguns with a five inch barrel and 920 fps in the 16 inch carbine barrel.

.45 ACP loads typically have a modest upcharge in velocity in a carbine length barrel. I used Remington UMC ammunition during this evaluation. The magazines are not difficult to load, even the longer twenty round units. They are no more difficult to load to full capacity than a 1911 handgun magazine as a reference.

The proper loading sequence is to lock the bolt to the rear using the operating handle. The magazine is locked into the magazine well. Then release the bolt to run forward and load the chamber. Firing the HK USC is a pleasant experience. The trigger is heavy at about ten pounds compression but manageable. The trigger is smooth enough and reset is sharp. Recoil is modest, less than .410 shotgun. The recoil is the steady thump thump of a .45 ACP. Firing quickly and addressing man sized targets from 15 to 50 yards the USC is easy to get hits with. Center the target and press the trigger.

The blade type sight is most useful to about 20 yards. It is open and fast but accuracy is limited at longer range. The aperture sight is useful. The USC is well regulated for the six o’clock hold at 25 yards. At 50 yards you hold dead on the target. The aperture sight is more useful at 50 yards. The front sight is so broad it subtends most of a small target making accuracy testing more difficult. Firing off hand the USC swings quickly, recoils little, and allows good hits and follow up shots quickly. Firing for accuracy off a benchrest is a little difficult with the long stick magazine, most of the accuracy testing was done off a barricade resting the forend against a wooden barricade. Firing carefully at a bright orange target at 50 yards I put five Remington UMC 230 grain FMJ bullets into 3=4 inches on demand. That is more than accurate enough for most uses. The best five shot group was obtained with the Remington 230 grain Golden Saber with a five shot 2.4 inch 50 yard group. The USC feeds hollowpoint and even lead SWC handloads. This is not only a piece history and a superior product, but a useful defensive firearm.