The HK Universal Self-loading Carbine (USC) is a pistol caliber rifle, and the civilian version of the military’s Universal Submachine Gun (UMP). First made in the early 2000s, it came back in 2013 with an all-new black polymer look. Many people buy the USC specifically to convert it to a UMP, but is the USC itself worth the money? Keep reading to find out...
As you would hope with a military-style rifle, the USC is pretty accurate—just like the Ruger 10/22 Takedown. I’ve never had any issues hitting 100% of targets at fifty yards, and 4/5 targets at seventy yards. Be warned, it is kind of difficult to shoot accurately and rapidly at the same time, which is not what you want with a semi-auto. The heavier recoil affects the sight picture, making it blurry and harder to aim. If you like to shoot slower, though, the accuracy is pretty great.
HK has a great track record for reliability. While the USC is generally pretty reliable, the two ten-round magazines it ships will leave something to be desired. The last round sometimes fails to feed, and loading isn’t the easiest (we’ll get into that more later). I’ve had more than one instance where the last round gets stuck, which is a little disappointing. Feeding issues aside, it’s still decently reliable.
There are some pros and cons to this piece. It looks sharp, is fun to shoot, and features Picatinny rails for any optics and sights you want to use. It is also shockingly quiet, and you can barely hear it at all when you use a suppressor! As far as negatives, you can’t really put a sling on it and the rear sight is poorly constructed. It sits a little too close to the eye to get a clear picture, but the flip-up aperture is MUCH better than the notch-style. If you’re left-handed, you might want to look elsewhere because the USC is kind of awkward for lefties to shoot. I’ve also heard of some people having issues with the thumbhole stock. It’s awkward to hold and a little bit clunky, making it difficult to reach the safety with your thumb. While I didn’t have any issues with it, some people do, in terms of ergonomics.
The trigger is heavy and takes a little getting used to. It pulls around 9.5 lbs, and feels kind of, for lack of a better word, strange to pull. But on the bright side, there’s not much take up, and while it is heavy, it is also consistent! Once you figure it out, you’ll see that it’s not the worst trigger out there. It features an oversized trigger guard, so it’s easy to operate while wearing gloves, and the non-ergonomic safety is ambidextrous.
Magazine & Reloading
This is where it gets a little more complicated. The USC has a ten-plus-one capacity, which goes pretty quick in a semi-automatic rifle! Thankfully, you can find twenty-plus-one magazines available online for a decent price. It comes in the box with two non-staggered ten-round magazines, for import reasons. The magazines have some clear negatives. I noticed that, when loading the first round, there’s no follower tension and the round can easily fall out, unless you push the follower up and then push it back down gently after loading the round. As mentioned before, this sometimes causes the last round you shoot to get stuck. Ejection is also a little inconsistent, and it throws spent cases all over the place!
Length & Weight
Weighing in around 6.1 lbs, the USC is very lightweight. It has a 16” barrel, and an overall length of 35.4.” The lightness of the USC does come with some issues. Most of the weight is in the bolt and carrier, which causes heavier recoil and more movement than it would if the weight was evenly distributed.
Recoil is manageable but noticeable. Like I mentioned above, the weight distribution causes some issues, and the abrupt recoil is difficult to control! It does come with a rubberized recoil pad and a cheek rest, though, so it won’t do too much damage. If you’re looking for a .45 ACP rifle that has very minimal recoil, check out the Kirs Vector Gen II CRB.
The USC MSRPs for around $1,600. It’s more expensive than other similar models, but if you don’t mind paying for what you get, go for it!
This gun has gotten some very mixed reviews in the past. It’s really up to you to decide if the positives outweigh the negatives or vise versa!
Here’s what I liked about the HK USC .45: It has great accuracy, it’s lightweight, and has a quiet sound profile.
However, I didn’t like heavier recoil, trigger and occasionally magazine issues.
In short: If you’re willing to shell out 1,800 bucks on a CQB carbine that is a lot of fun to shoot, then I’d recommend giving the HK USC a shot. Otherwise, I’d recommend checking out other .45 ACP carbines.
Richard Douglas is a firearms expert and educator. His work has appeared in large publications like The Armory Life, Daily Caller, American Shooting Journal, and more. In his free time, he reviews optics on his Scopes Field blog.