The Heckler and Koch MK23 Mod 0 is a highly effective offensive pistol system consisting of a match grade semi-automatic pistol, a suppressor and a laser aiming module (LAM).
The HK MK23 was initially adopted by USSOCOM or the United States Special Operations Command for use within dpecial operations units throughout the 1990's.
The designation of the weapon as an HK MK23 applies to the complete system of the firearm, however the name is also commonly used in reference to solely the pistol component itself. The pistol of this weapon is chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge. The weapon was first developed by Heckler & Koch, and was chosen over the Colt OHWS during trials at USSOCOM's Offensive Handgun Weapon System (OHWS) prgram. The first suppressor and LAM were developed by Knight's Armament Company (KAC) and Insight Technology, respectively.
The HK MK23 Mod 0 was constructed as an "offensive" pistol for the United States Special Forces under the USSOCOM project, pursuant to a request made in 1989. Official military versions of the handgun have the writing "MK23 USSOCOM" prominently engraved on the slide of the weapon.
The HK MK23 is highly touted as a match grade pistol and the weapon is more than capable of making a very tight 2 inch group at over 50 yards or about 4 MOA. Development and production of this pistol first began in 1991 and the weapon served as the foundation for the HK USP which was developed in 1993. The HK MK 23 is very durable in harsh environments. the pistol is corrosion resistant and waterproof. Reported to improve durability and accuracy, the weapon uses a hexagonal barrel design. the weapon also is equipped with ambidextrous magazine and safety releases on both sides of the frame of the firearm. The magazine release on the HK MK23 is near the backend of the trigger, which allows for the use of gloves when using this pistol. The decocking lever is positioned on the left side of the pistol. This lever will silently lower the cocked hammer. The United States Navy MK23is one piece of a much larger weapons system which includes a suppressor, a laser aiming module, and some additional features inlcuding a high pressure match cartridge.
The HK MK 23 was tested and proven to be able to fire tens of thousands of rounds without changing the barrel which is very suitable for special forces. The .45 ACP cartridge has considerable stopping power even when suppressed.
The large size and weight of the pistol left it open to criticism. HK responded to this criticism by creating the USP Tactical from the original USP. The USP Tactical contains many of the same performance of the HK MK23 minus the bulky size of the weapon and can use a suppressor. HK also developed the USP Tactical as an even more compact pistol with the HK USP Compact Tactical, this pistol is not equipped with its on LAM. Lastly, the USP-CT is a much lighter pistol which can still fit a silencer, therefore making this pistol the ideal selection for Special Forces operations.
Offensive Handgun Weapon System
The HK MK23 was entered into the USSOCOM Offensive Handgun Weapon Systems competition (OHWS) in late 1991 with the purpose of creating an entire pistol package which could replicate the performance of some of the longer barreled weapons such as the submachine guns with numerous customizable features. The weapons rival was the formidable Colt OHWS. Similarly, the Colt and the HK weapons competed well, however the HK MK23 won out.
HK offers the MK23 in differing types to the commercial market, however doe snot offer the entire SOCOM system. The weapon's suppressor is developed by Knight's Armament Company and was chosen ahead of the one HK initially included as part of the weapon's entry. The laser aiming module was developed by Insight Technology and then later called AN/PEQ-6.
The initial HK MK23 firearm production models were received by SOCOM on May 1, 20996 and to date over 2,000 models have been built.