Germany’s Mark 23 (Mk 23) pistol is a semi-automatic weapon manufactured by Heckler & Koch.  The pistol was designed in the 1990s and was implemented into the US military in 1996. 


The Firearms and Ordnance Gallery at the Armed Forces History Museum takes you back in time with the extensive collection of military weapons and pistols which are on display in this area.   These authentic weapons date throughout history with the oldest piece being a very rare bayonet from the Revolutionary War.



The Mk23 has a laser aiming module – or LAM – and a suppressor.  USSOCOM adopted this weapon as an ‘offensive’ handgun for use in the special operations units during the 1990s.  Regarded as a match grade pistol, the MK23 has the ability to make a 2-inch group at a 50 yard distance.  This pistol is also considered highly durable under adverse conditions due to its waterproof and corrosion-resistant features.  The polygonal barrel design on the MK23 is said to improve both the accuracy and durability of this weapon. 


Additional features of the Mark 23 include a safety and magazine release located on both sides of the frame, a magazine release wide enough (at the rear edge of the trigger guard) that permits operation even with heavy gloves, a lever on the left side, which will allow the cocked hammer to be lowered silently and the means to attach additional pieces such as a laser aiming module and a suppressor.


Tests on the Mk23 confirmed the weapons ability to fire tens of thousands of rounds without needing to change the barrel.  The weapon’s reliability, combined with its ability to hold up in harsh conditions, makes it an ideal choice for Special Forces.  The Mk23s M1911 design base allows for easy transition to those who are already familiar with the Colt M1911.



The weapon has come under some criticism due in part to its large size and heavier weight.  However, the Mk23 was designed as an offensive weapon making the size and weight necessary to retain its accuracy.   The features that make it an ideal offensive weapon create problems when the Mk23 is needed in a defensive situation.  Its large size and weight make it difficult to quickly draw and uncomfortable use when being used defensively. 


Civilian Mk23

Manufacturer Heckler & Koch also offer a Mark 23 for civilians and law enforcement.  It originally came with the 10-round magazine in compliance with the US Assault Weapons Ban, but later – after the ban expired – became available with a 12-round magazine.


Specifications on the Mark 23

  • Type:  Semi-Automatic Pistol
  • Service:  1996 to present day
  • Variants: 
    • MK23 Mod 0 (military            )
    • Mark 23/MARK 23 (civilian / law enforcement)
    • Empty Weight:  2.7 lbs.
    • Loaded weight:  3.2 lbs.
    • Loaded weight w/suppressor and LAM:  5.0 lbs.
    • Overall Length:  9.7 inches
    • Overall Length w/suppressor:  16.5 inches
    • Barrel Length:  5.9 inches
    • Cartridge:  .45 ACP
    • Action:  Short recoil, DA/SA
    • Rate of Fire:  Semi-automatic
    • Muzzle Velocity:  850 feet per second
    • Effective Range:  80+ feet

Germany’s Mark 23 (Mk 23) is not only used by the United States SOCOM, but has been adopted in Indonesia by their tactical diver group and their Special Forces group, Malaysia by their Royal Malaysia Police and in Poland by their Special Force group GROM.