Heckler & Koch “real-steel” HK33 and HK53
Basically a G3 scaled down to take the 5.56x45mm round, and designed for the export market, the HK33 came in several variants. The HK33A2 (fitted with a rigid synthetic stock), an accurized variant known as the HK33SG/1 (with a telescopic optical sight and improved trigger analogous to the one used in the G3SG/1), HK33A3 (with a telescoping metal stock), the HK33KA3 carbine (barrel reduced in length to the base of the front sight post also equipped with a telescoping metal stock).
During its production life the rifle received several minor improvements. The fixed stock was strengthened and the synthetic forearm replaced with a handguard that allows a lightweight bipod to be attached and stowed into two recessed grooves at the base. These modified weapons are referred to as the HK33E.A compact version of the HK33 was also developed. Known as the HK53A3 carbine, it features a short 211mm barrel, a forearm derived from the MP5 submachine gun and a telescoping stock. Later models also received an open-style flash hider of the same type as later seen on the G36K.
The HK13 and HK23 light machine guns were also based on the HK33. They are fed from either box or drum magazines (the latter has a 100-round capacity), have a quick-change heavy barrel for sustained fire, shrouded with a sheet metal heat guard (replacing the synthetic forearm) and a 2-point bipod adapter.
The HK33 series was never adopted by the Bundeswehr, however, it has seen some use among European military and police force – particularly among special operations forces. In fact, its little brother the HK53 has had a rather successful career in the UK and European special operations communities. Further afield, the HK33 series has enjoyed perhaps more success; being used or adopted by at least 17 non-European countries.Sadly, the HK33 series is no longer manufactured or marketed by Heckler & Koch, the rights to the series now belong to the Turkish state arms producer MKEK. They produce a modernised version of the HK33 that features the Navy-style trigger group, green ploymer furniture and semi-transparent polymer magazines that can be clipped together. MKEK also produce a version with an integrated top rail and a side-folding HK UMP-style stock called the T-50, and a long-barrel adaptation of the HK33SG/1 known as the T-12.
CLASSIC ARMY “CA33E”
Much like its real-steel big brother the HK33E, the Classic Army CA33E has never achieved the kind of popularity of M16 or M4 replicas – or even of replicas of the 7.62x51mm G3 series.Personally, I’ve always been a fan of the real-deal HK33 / HK93 and its various derivatives. So I was quite excited when the possibility came along to own a high-quality, realistic, airsoft replica of the HK33K. The first type I owned was the superb KSC dual-mode HK33K (above) – but whilst it has the best build quality and hop-up unit of any airsoft HK33 on the market, its unique gearbox and piston design – and low power – made it less than ideal as a skirmishable weapon.The CA33E on the other hand – whilst not as beautifully finished, or as technically interesting – offered the advantages of standard, upgradeable internals and a wider array of after-market accessories and parts. These were the key reasons why I decided to add this particular model to my armoury. However, I became very frustrated with the apparent lack of dedication to this model shown by Classic Army – as demonstrated by the extremely slow pace with which they released other models and accessories for the series. By far the biggest frustration was the fact that CA chose to initially replicate only the real-deal 25-round style magzines – in low-capacity and high-capacity versions. Only after they launched the CA53 range (HK53 replicas) did they add a replica of the real-deal 30-round style magazine – but only as a high-capacity type! On the other hand, the CA33K still came with the old 25-round style 330-BB hi-cap magazine as standard.Whilst the 30-round style hi-cap did at last provide a magazine that looked better in the gun, it still meant that the user had to put up with the annoyance of winding up the spring-tension feed mechanism to make it work. And it also meant having to contend with CA’s sometimes hit-or-miss quality controls on their hi-cap magazines, as well as the rattle of BBs inside the metal magazine shell.What we still needed was a non-winding, mid-capacity magazine in the 100-150 BB capacity range. Well, now at long last, and without any fanfare, Classic Army have finally released a 30-round style, mid-cap magazine for the CA33 and CA53 series. Woot!!
Not all mid-capacity magazines hold the same amount of BBs – some hold 90, some 100, some 110, some 120, some 130 and some 150. 100-rounders are good – becuase you can easily calculate how rounds you’re carrying buy adding up how many loaded mags you have. 90- rounders are kind of like “neither fish nor foul” – and run dry pretty quickly. 150-rounders offer a good quantity of ammunition for intense firefights, but can be less reliable and durable. So for me, a capacity of 120 or 130 seems just about right – you get a good amount of ammunition to throw downrange, and they also seem to be more reliable and durable.The Classic Army CA33/CA53 mid-cap’s hold 130 BBs, and they appear to be well made. The shell is metal – which adds a very nice touch of realism and durability – and the top plate with the feed hole is plastic. Unlike their CA33 lo-cap magazines, CA have included a spring-loaded BB retention nib that can be manually released – very handy if you need to unload a full magazine without doing it “Lebanese unload” style.
So far so good – but how do they perform? Well, “pretty bloody good” was my first impression. It loaded up smoothly and fed reliably – right down to the last BB. As with most airsoft magazines, there’s always that one last BB that doesn’t get fed – and the couple in the feedtube that drop out when you remove the magazine. Other than those typical issues, I didn’t have a single miss-feed or double-feed in the course of running several hundred BBs through a single magazine.
The mid-capacity magazines for the CA33 and CA53 should be available from any retailer that sells Classic Army products. I got mine from Airsoft Armoury, for £19.99. So, not the cheapest magazines on the market – but hopefully the price will come down over time, or Classic Army will offer a special-deal box set option as well.
Even at that price though, I know I’ll be getting some more – and I’m sure that all you old skool mil-simmers out there will be happy to know that at last there is a high-quality mid-cap option for your CA33 or CA53.
photo credits: HKPro.com, MilitaryPhotos.net, Wikipedia, DefenceTalk.com, Ian Mays, Classic Army, Benji Hanson.