Germany Goes HK, Again

Keeping a tradition established in 1959 alive, the German military will continue to call on HK to deliver its primary infantry rifle.

German Army’s new Basiswaffe System Sturmgewehr will be the HK416 A8. Adopted in two different lengths as the G95A1 and G95KA1, for the Bundeswehr the new guns will replace the HK-made 5.56 NATO-caliber G36, which had been adopted in 1997.

While the HK416 family may look like any old AR15, they are piston guns rather than the more traditional gas impingement system familiar to the Stoner design. Ironically, the proprietary short-stroke gas piston system is derived from the G36 family, which, in turn, owes a lot of groundwork to Stoner’s AR-18 design. The 416 has proven popular enough to be selected as the main infantry weapon for the French and Norwegian militaries as well as to be fielded by the U.S. Marines as the M27. (Photo: Bundeswehr)

HK has produced the futuristic-looking G36 in several variants, including the standard model, the shorter G36K carbine, and the G36C compact, over the past 25 years, and the type is in service with over 40 countries although its primary user has always been the German military, who has used in combat in Afghanistan and Mali.

Prior to the G36, the West German military’s standard battle rifle was the HK-made G3 in 7.62 NATO, which had won a federal government tender in the late 1950s. 

West German panzer grenadier jumping off an M48 Patton during the Cold War, HK G3 in hand.

Of course, the G3 owed its lineage to the Spanish CETME 58, which was basically the final version of Ludwig Vorgrimler’s experimental StG 45(M) developed by Mauser for the Wehrmacht at the end of WWII, using the then-innovative roller-delayed blowback operating system that went on to make HK famous.

But that’s another story…

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