Military, Modern Day, News

Germany to use the HK416 as its next Assault Rifle

  • The German government took a massive step and announced a new standard rifle for its army.
  • Starting from 2024, the German military will use the HK416 instead of their existing G36 rifles.
  • The German Federal Ministry of Defense recently announced that the country’s budget committee approved the initial funding of the Bundeswehr Assault Rifle System.
  • The German government is expected to purchase a total of 118,718 HK416s for 209 million euros.

The HK416 Assault Rifle

The HK416 is a gas-operated assault rifle. The German company Heckler & Koch first manufactured this rifle back in 2004.

The Norwegian Armed Forces currently use the HK416 as their standard assault rifle. Interestingly the French armed forces will also start using it soon. In addition, the Irish army ranger wing and the US Navy’s SEAL Team Six uses the HK416 as well.

The HK416 has an adjustable multi-position shutter stock enabling six different lengths of pull for the rifle. The pattern of the HK416 series is highly similar to the U.S. designed AR-15/M16 but with some improvements.

Dutch Marines with the HK416
Dutch Marine corps frogmen, armed with the HK416 D10RS during an exercise.

For example the HK416 differs substantially from that parent design’s use of a physical gas piston. Instead, the rifle uses the more reliable propellant gas and cycles the bolt via a mechanical piston system.

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Some variants of HK416 have an outstanding service life of between 10,000-20,000 rounds without malfunctioning. In addition, the HK416 features a proprietary firing pin safety in the bolt to reduce the risk of slam-firing.

HK416 as the future of the Bundeswehr

The German government recently took an important step towards delivering a new standard service rifle to the country’s armed forces Bundeswehr. In 2024, the German government will replace its existing G36 rifles with the new HK416 A8s.

Heckler & Koch – Germany’s prominent arms company – manufactured both of these rifles.

On 14th December, the German Federal Ministry of Defense announced that the country’s budget committee approved the initial funding of the Bundeswehr Assault Rifle System.

The HK416A5
The HK416A8. The German Army’s new assault rifle. Photo: Heckler & Koch

Germany is expected to purchase 118,718 HK416 A8 rifles for approximately 209 million euros. According to a German outlet Soldat Und Technik report, Heckler & Koch was set to receive a contract worth around 273.3 million euros.

The configuration of the Bundeswehr’s future HK416 A8 rifles remains vague. Pictures of A8 variants show rifles with relatively different handguards than the general ones. However, the handguard in the photos is identical to the preceding HK416 A7 used by German Special Operations units.

The German military’s preceding A7 rifles contained iron sights consisting of a quick-detach rear sight and a fixed flip-up front sight attached to the barrel. However, the latter part is absent in the new A8 rifles.

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In October 2021, the Bundeswehr announced that all their service rifles would contain a 1-4x adjustable optical sight. The new A8s will possess a different style of pistol grip compared to earlier variants and include an adjustable cheek rest attached to its sliding buttstock.

The style of the A8 magazine is similar to that of the HK416 polymer magazines, which the German military currently uses. Undoubtedly, the decision to approve and fund HK416 A8s holds immense significance for the German army.

A Norwegian soldier in Afghanistan, armed with the HK416N

The G36 has successfully served the Bundeswehr since the 1990s. The rifle has even dodged mainstream criticism all of these years. However, the rifle exhibits low accuracy if extensively used in warm conditions.

German authorities have acknowledged this problem but responded that it has caused no harm to its troops. Whether the new rifle will fix the problem or not, only time will tell.

The Controversy of C.G. Haenel

The German military announced the replacement of the Bundeswehr Assault Rifle System back in 2017. At the time of the announcement, it created an argument that soon erupted between the rival companies.

C.G. Haenel, a German gun manufacturing company, initially won the Bundeswehr Assault Rifle System tender in September 2020. However, Bundeswehr canceled the surprise initial contract with C.G. Hansel due to legal issues.

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According to the allegations, the MK556 and related designs infringed on Heckler and Koch’s patents. Hence, government officials selected Heckler and Koch the following year, saying they made the decision after thoroughly analysing the offers.

Haenel sent a lawsuit attempting to overturn the new decision in June. However, the court denied Haenel’s case due to infringement laws. So very soon now, we will see HK416s all across the German military.