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German Heckler & Koch assault rifle – HK416 [review]

The HK416 is an assault rifle from the weapons manufacturer Heckler & Koch. The variant HK416A7 with 14.5 ” pipe length was introduced in the Bundeswehr under the designation G95K for the special forces. The German customs use the variant HK416A5 with 11 ” pipe under the model name G38. The rifle is used by the Hessen police and various special forces and was selected by the Norwegian and French armed forces as an orderly weapon.

HK416 entered our ranking of the best assault rifles in the world, ranking fifth.

History

The weapon is a successor to the discontinued XM8 project. It was designed to replace the M16 and M4 rifles.

The idea for this weapon came about at Heckler & Koch after the revision of the British SA80 weapon system of the Royal Small Arms Factory, at a time when both companies were part of the British Aerospace / Royal Ordnance group. The development and testing took place in cooperation with the US special unit Delta Force.

The original name of the weapon was “HK M4” – probably a reference to the M4. After a lawsuit from Colt Defense, the rifle was renamed “HK416” – a renewed allusion to both the M4 and the M16.

Technology

The HK 416 is a gas pressure charger with a short stroke and rotating head lock. With this system, the impulse required to unlock the rotary head lock is taken from the gas extraction hole on the barrel and transmitted to the lock by a pulse piston. This means that there is hardly any contamination of the mechanics from powder gases and combustion residues, which significantly improves the functional reliability compared to systems with direct action on the bolt carrier such as the M16. The recoil is slightly increased by this piston system and the barrel cannot swing completely freely. The gun has a cold-hammered barrel. The fore-end is free-swinging and equipped with four Picatinny rails arranged all around to accommodate accessories.

The shoulder rest can be pushed in by about 10 centimeters so that the weapon can be adapted to the shooter’s arm length or is less of a hindrance in confined spaces.

The magazine well is widened at the bottom to make it easier to insert a magazine.

On the right side there is a dust protection flap, which is tensioned by leg springs and which opens when the shutter moves backwards. The flap can then be closed again manually. A sleeve deflector is located behind the ejection window. This is to prevent the ejected cartridge cases from hitting the face of left-handed shooters.

Behind the case deflector there is a closing aid that can be operated manually by the shooter (forward assist). This is pushed forward if the lock does not move forward by itself.

The magazine release button is on the right hand side in front of the trigger. So that it is not accidentally pressed, it is surrounded by rounded ribs. If the button is pressed, the magazine falls out of the magazine slot by itself when the weapon is in the normal position.

The two-handed cocking slide is located on the weapon housing. This does not move when shooting. The weapon has a slide catch. The slide catch lever is on the left.

For the weapon, double-sided controls, a pressure point trigger and other barrel lengths are available on request. The 40 mm AG36 grenade launcher can be attached under the barrel.

Heckler & Koch offers an additional economic incentive to procure this weapon with the so-called “Minimum Upgrade Package”. Existing components of other assault rifles are integrated here.

Reliability

At the end of 2007, the US military subjected the HK416 to an intensive dust and sand test. The background to the test was the announcement by the US Army that it would procure the unreliable M4 in certain situations up to and including 2009 for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The American House of Representatives then ordered this test, in which the FN SCAR and the HK XM8 also participated, in order to prevent the extension of the M4 procurement.

In the test, the HK416 came in third behind the XM8 (127 jamming) and the SCAR (226 jamming) with a total of 60,000 rounds of a total of 60,000 shots from 10 identical weapons. All three rifles thus proved to be far more reliable than the M4 with 882 jamming. The pistonless gas pressure charging system (direct impingement) is cited as the cause of the poor performance of the M4.

Model variants

There are 9 variants of the HK416:

VariantTotal length, mmBarrel length, mmHeight, mmWidth, mmWeight, kg
HK416 D10RS797 (701)264240783,02 (3,64)
HK416 D14.5RS900 (804)368240783,49 (4,11)
HK416 D16.5RS951 (855)419240783,56 (4,18)
HK416 D20RS1037 (941)505240783,855 (4,475)
HK416C690 (560)280236782,95 (3,57)
HK416 A5 – 11″805 (709)279240743,12 (3,74)
HK416 A5 – 14.5″893 (797)368240743,49 (4,11)
HK416 A5 – 16.5″944 (848)419240743,56 (4,18)
HK416 A5 – 20″1030 (934)505240743,85 (4,47)

The newer HK416-A5 models use a shoulder rest without a storage compartment and without a side cheek rest. This made the weapon 4 mm narrower compared to the HK416D with shoulder rest with lateral cheek rest on both sides.

Changes to the new model series HK416 A5:

  • The assembly for the folding front sight on the barrel is independent of the gas consumption, has been moved further forward towards the flash hider and has a bayonet boss.
  • The gas take-off has been modified so that it can be adjusted without tools for use with silencers.
  • The hand protection was extended beyond the gas take-off. This should improve the fall resistance.
  • Fire selection, slide catch and magazine release levers are available on both sides. This means that the weapon can be used equally well by left and right-handed shooters.
  • The upper Picatinny rail is continuous.
  • The trigger guard has been enlarged so that the weapon can also be operated with thick gloves.
  • The magazine compatibility with the M16 / M4 has been improved.
  • The original handle variants V2 (with extended hand rest) and V4 (ergonomic handle with storage compartment for tools) became the handle V7 with extended hand rest and storage compartment.

Changes to the model HK416 A7:

  • Slim-line handguards;
  • Cerakote coating;
  • Safety lever with 45 ° notches.

Licenses

Turkey: MKEK, Sarsılmaz and Kalekalıp have acquired licenses. Allegedly the Turkish armed forces want to replace the HK G3 with the HK416 or HK417 manufactured under license under the name Mehmetçik-1. Since its presentation in 2008, there has been no new information on the status of the Mehmetçik-1 project. In 2014 the MKEK Mehmecik MPT-76 was introduced, also a possible G3 replacement.

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