Although Heckler & Koch states that the Heckler & Koch 53 (short: HK 53) should be considered an assault rifle because it fires the 5.56 mm NATO round, many consider it to be a submachine gun because of its small size - virtually identical to the MP5 submachine gun. The two weapons' dimensions are so similar, in fact, that many parts are interchangeable between them. The HK53 is technically a variant of the HK 33 rifle, based on the proven delayed roller lock bolt system introduced with the G3 battle rifle scaled down to 5.56 mm NATO. The gun is useful because it combines the power of an assault rifle, including the ability to penetrate body armor, with the handling characteristics of a submachine gun. It is, however, being rapidly eclipsed by short-barrelled versions of conventional assault rifles such as the M4, AKS-74U, and the G36C variant of HK's G36 assault rifle, and next-generaton PDWs such as the MP7 and P90.
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