Tag Archives: Heckler & Koch

The HK SL8 Fever Dream is still Alive

Much as the HK91 was a civilianized version of the G3, soon after the very sci-fi looking G36 hit the market in 1997 HK moved to give hungry fans what they wanted.

I mean, who wouldn’t want a G36, right?

First introduced in 2000, the .223 Rem caliber SL8 used a short-stroke piston actuated gas operating system with a 20.8-inch cold hammer forged heavy barrel. Semi-auto with a grey carbon fiber polymer thumbhole stock– it debuted during the Federal Assault Weapon ban– with an adjustable cheekpiece and buttstock, the initial version of the rifle included a removable Picatinny rail, an ambi charging handle that folded into the centerline of the gun, and adjustable sights.
So this is the “G36” consumers in the U.S. got stuck with:

The original SL8-1. Originally imported 2000-2003 and then again in 2007-2010, the first generation model now known as the SL8-1 included 10-round mags and a grey thumbhole stock.

In 2010, HK updated the design to the SL8-6 which ditched the space cadet grey for an all-black format and added an elevated Pic rail/carrying handle. It also had a vented handguard, closer to the G36 original. Unfortunately, this model was only imported for a year.
Now, the SL8-6 is back, and it is still kinda wonky but, if you call people like TBT, they can turn it into something great.

Cracking the Army’s Budget Book on SmallArms

The Army’s recently announced budget request for the fiscal year 2022 includes at least $114 million for new rifles, handguns, and the next generation of small arms. 

While the overall FY2022 Defense Department Budget is $112 billion, most of the non-operational dollars are for high-level R&D and big-ticket items like the F-35 fighter. The Army’s budget book for weapons and tracked combat vehicles meanwhile has a low nine-figure ask when it comes to individual small arms. 

The bulk ($97 million) is to go to the Next Generation Squad Weapons, with much of the balance to acquire new Barrett-made Precision Sniper Rifles, and a few crumbs for M4s, M17s, and the like.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Sig Shows off Planned Army Future Weapons

Sig Sauer, as I’ve covered a few times in the past couple of years, is one of the three teams who are in the running for the Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapons, a group of guns using the same 6.8mm caliber that is set to replace the M4 and M249 families. Further, they are the only one that is solely a firearms company and plans to do everything in-house as opposed to the other two teams which are made up of several sub-contractors. 

Their submission:

Sig’s MCX Spear series carbine aims to be the Army’s NGSW-Rifle, replacing the M4. Standard features include a fully collapsible and folding stock, rear and side charging handle, free-floating reinforced M-LOK handguard, fully ambidextrous controls, and a quick-detach Sig Next Generation suppressor. (Photo: Sig Sauer)

Sig’s Lightweight MMG is a belt-fed general-purpose weapon intended to become the Army’s NGSW-Automatic Rifle, replacing the M249 while hitting the scales at 40 percent lighter and with a round that has double the effective range of 5.56. (Photo: Sig Sauer)

Both platforms use Sig’s 6.8mm hybrid ammunition, which is billed as offering a significant reduction in weight over traditional ammo while offering better performance and greater penetration while using a 121-grain bullet. (Photo: Sig Sauer)

Further, Sig thinks they are positioned to pull it off, a move that, when coupled with the fact that their P320 pistol has been adopted as the M17/M18, would give the company the Pentagon small arms hat trick with the exception of 7.62 caliber platforms.

New to the Gun Circuit: The Shooting Sports Showcase

So I am back from a brand-new firearm industry event, this year’s inaugural Shooting Sports Showcase. In a year where SHOT Show was canceled, the SSS was like a breath of fresh air.

The event was put on by the Professional Outdoor Media Association, the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association, and the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers and held at the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s superb 500-acre Talladega Marksmanship Park on Monday.

Like you really need an excuse to hit the CMP Range…

While small compared to SHOT– there were only about 60 exhibitors– you still got to spend lots of quality time with the big boys like HK, Glock, and Sig Sauer, but also with the smaller guys like Sol Invictus, Century, and Taylor’s.

And they all had lots of interesting stuff on hand.

Looking forward to next year’s Showcase already.

Sig: Next-Gen Weapons Delivered to the Army

Sig Sauer this week announced it has completed the delivery of the company’s Next Generation Squad Weapons system to the U.S. Army.

The company is one of three contractors who in 2019 got the nod from the Pentagon to continue with the NGSW program. The sweeping initiative aims to replace the Army’s 5.56mm NATO small arms – the M4 Carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. Sig’s program consists of an in-house-designed lightweight high-performance 6.8x51mm (.277-caliber) hybrid ammunition, NGSW-AR lightweight machine guns, NGSW-R rifles (based on the MCX carbine), and next-gen suppressors.

They certainly look the part and, if selected, would give Sig the small arms hattrick as their P320s have been adopted as the DOD’s standard handgun to replace everything from the USAF’s lingering K-frame 38s to the Marine’s M45 CQB railguns and everything in between. At that point, the only man-portable system used by the Army not made by Sig would be the M240 and M2, which FN still has a lock on.

More in my column at Guns.com.

KAC getting a lot of Pentagon Love

The aircrew of the Florida-based Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron stand for a photo after the 500th recorded drug bust in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, March 11, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard photo. Note the M107A1 with mounted AN/PEQ-15 aiming laser in the foreground, the M110 7.62x51mm sniper rifle with can in the background, and the fact that the crew names and weapons’ serials have been blurred for OPSEC/PERSEC.

In the past week, the DOD has announced two big contracts for Knight’s Armament Company in Florida.

For those who aren’t familiar with Reid Knight’s KAC, just keep in mind that the company served as the final home of Eugene Stoner, who redesigned his original AR-10 there as the new and very much improved SR-25. That 7.62 NATO precision rifle went on to pull down the Army’s XM110 Semi-Automatic Sniper Rifle competition in 2005.

The resulting M110 has gone on to be used not only by the Joes but also with the Navy EOD and Specwar community, the Marines in a designated marksman role, and the Coast Guard’s HITRON interdiction teams.

It is so well-liked that, even while the Army is picking up HK-made G28s for the new M110A1, they are still buying M110s from KAC, announcing a $13M contract for the rifles last week. 

Quiet Time

U.S. Marines assigned to Scout Sniper Platoon, Battalion Landing Team 3/2, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), conduct an M4 Carbine live-fire exercise on the flight deck of the USS Kearsarge, at sea, July 18, 2013. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Christopher Q. Stone, 26th MEU Combat Camera/Released)

And in other related news, the Marines just issued a $25M contract to KAC for 5.56 NATO suppressors for their M4/M4A1s and M27 IARs. 

When it comes to suppressor-use by its warfighters, the Marines have been consistently striving to make them the standard rather than the exception. In 2016, the expeditionary-focused service moved to equip every element of a test battalion, from combat engineers to headquarters units, with suppressed weapons after company-level trials yielded results.

By 2017, they were exploring the option of picking up enough to outfit all of their battalions. The new contract will go a long way towards that if all the options are used.

NGSW? Don’t Hold Your Breath

The current NGSW field 

The U.S. Army is full-speed ahead on an initiative to select a new series of innovative 6.8mm-caliber Next Generation Squad Weapons to phase out its 5.56mm platforms for combat troops. However, it would seem the Department of the Army is hedging their bets with traditional systems just in case things don’t work out like planned such as in past ambitious programs for futuristic small arms.

In April, FN won a 5-year $119 million contract for new M4/M4A1 Carbines from the company’s South Carolina factory– where 500 of the shorty 5.56s roll out every, single, day.

And this week, Big Army likewise issued a $78 million award to FN for more M249s, the squad-level U.S-made variant of the FN Minimi light machine gun that has been standard since 1982.

Just google the Individual Carbine (IC), Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW), or the Advanced Combat Rifle (ACR) programs to see why keeping the legacy infantry arms in production until things work out is a good idea.

The army advanced combat rifle ACR prototypes.

HK’s First Handgun, the Fab Four

Reborn from the ashes of Mauser in 1949, Hecker & Koch started off as a simple machine shop and factory in an old fire station that made tools and bicycles before moving into the firearms trade a few years later. It came easy as the H in HK was Theodor Koch and the K, Edmund Heckler, both former Mauser engineers. Left out of the initals but no less an important founder was Alex Seidel, the inventor of the HSc pistol for Mauser.

The HSc

While the company’s first rifle, the G3, was wildly successful, and their first sub gun, the MP5 amplified this, their first production handgun, the HSc-inspired HK4, was a little different and is often forgotten.

More in my column at Guns.com.

After SPIW, ACR, and OCIW, is NGSW the charm?

Despite past programs such as SPIW, ACR, and OCIW that left the U.S. Army still fielding successive generations of Eugene Stoner’s AR platform at the end of the day, today’s NGSW program could be different. The new Next Generation Squad Weapon program is moving right along and its competitors read like a who’s who of modern rifle, ammo, and optics makers.

Names like Beretta, Heckler & Koch, Leupold, Sig Sauer, Vortex, and Olin-Winchester are enumerated among the current vendors of what could end up as the most revolutionary small arms award of the 21st Century thus far.

The current field

More in my column at Guns.com

Guns of the U.S. Army, 1775-2020

While you may know of today’s standard U.S. Army infantry rifles, and those of the 20th Century, how about those present at Lexington and Concord or the line of Springfield muskets from 1795 through 1865? What came after?

For all this and more, check out the easy 2,000-word primer I did for this last weekend at Guns.com.

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