Gun Review: Heckler & Koch HK416

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The venerable M16 rifle is a design so old that it qualifies for AARP membership. But nothing is perfect. In its fifty-plus years of U.S. military service, a few suggestions have been made as to how to improve on the old girl. Things like the original rifle being too large and awkward to tote around a battlefield all day long, the need for an adjustable stock, and a preference for an operating system that keeps things a little cleaner than the gas expansion system Eugene Stoner designed for it. In 2005 the Teutonic tinkerers at Heckler & Koch introduced their own updated and more perfect vision for the M16 platform: the HK416 . . .

In the 1990’s, H&K was busy perfecting and promoting their own answer to the modern battle rifle. The German Army had been using the old G3 workhorse since the 1950’s and was in desperate need for an update. What H&K designed as a replacement was an interesting combination of design features from many different platforms combined — the G36 family of firearms.

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Around the same time, the U.S. Army’s Delta Force was looking to have H&K make the same kind of improvements to their aging M4A1 rifles. The guns were okay, but the lure of a piston powered rifle and improved barrel were very attractive. Using what they’d learned from the G36 design process as well as some features from the yet-to-be-canned XM8 project, H&K developed the HK416 rifle.

There are a few major improvements that put the HK416 ahead of the standard M4A1 platform.

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Improvement #1 is the barrel. The military TDP for the M4 and M16 rifles call for a button rifling process, a manufacturing method that is quick and relatively accurate. However, the HK416 uses a cold hammer forging process for their barrels like that in the SCAR series of guns. The hammer forging process adds durability to the barrels, letting them last longer and endure heavier usage.

The second improvement has to do with the barrel as well, but is more about what surrounds it. The M4A1 platform still uses the plastic clamshell handguard design that shipped with the very first M16 rifles, a design that bolts the handguard directly to the gas block on the barrel. Not only does this limit the options for mounting accessories to the gun, but having handguards that directly touch the barrel tend to decrease the accuracy of the firearm.

The HK416 fixes this issue by using a free-floating handguard system that lets the barrel move independently of the handguard. It also features full-length Picatinny rails on all four sides. This setup not only makes for increased accuracy, but also greatly increases the options of how to mount accessories onto the gun. Some M4A1 rifles are getting the same style “quad rails” added as a replacement, but not the free floating variety.

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Another huge improvement: the front sight. With the M4 rifles, the front sight is a fixed affair that can get quite annoying and obscure part of your view if you’re using a red dot optic. With the HK416, the front sight is designed to fold down and out of the shooter’s view when not needed. I realize that a folding front sight might not seem like a major improvement to some people, but it really is. Not only does it improve the field of view, but it also makes the gun more compact for transport and movement.

There’s one more improvement worth noting, and it’s a big one: the operating system.

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Instead of using a gas expansion system like the M4A1, the HK416 uses a short stroke piston system. The design is similar to that used in the old M1 Carbine rifles: a gas piston kicks the bolt carrier backwards a short distance, and then the momentum of the moving mass carries it the rest of the way through the cycle.

The primary benefit of a piston system is that the action doesn’t get as filthy. With the gas expansion system, hot carbon gets everywhere and can take forever to clean every nook and cranny of the bolt and carrier. With the gas piston system, all of the gunk is contained within the piston system itself and never makes it into the chamber. The piston still needs some TLC every once in a while, but the action stays much cleaner. It’s a major benefit for those in the military who religiously clean their guns.

There’s another benefit as well, though. When you add a silencer to a gun, you also increase the back-pressure in the barrel. Increased back-pressure means more force acting on the moving parts and subsequently a higher cyclic rate of fire for the gun. That’s great if you want to put a ton of rounds downrange really quickly, but it also means more wear and tear on the parts.

The gas system on the HK416 is designed to allow the end user to change the settings, permitting more or less gas into the system depending on the configuration of the gun. That keeps everything humming along, makes the gun more comfortable for the shooter, and increases the life of the gun.

Out on the range, the gun feels pretty much like any other quality AR-15 or M16 derivative. The controls are crisp and clean, the trigger is excellent for a machine gun, and the firearm is extremely easy to control even on full auto. Minute of bad guy at the very least.

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There are, of course, just one or two issues.

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I’ve handled my fair share of HK416s, and one thing that they all share is a common hatred of PMAGs. I’m not sure exactly what it is about the design, but the only thing that reliably feeds in the HK416 are either the standard metal magazines or the special EMAGs that Magpul has had to manufacture to keep the guns running. Using the proper magazines the gun runs flawlessly, but if you slap in the wrong bullet buffet, the gun gags after a few rounds.

Then there’s the price. The dealer whose HK416 I was playing with wouldn’t tell me the retail price for the full auto version, but when the list price for the MR556 (the semi-auto civilian version) is nearasdamnit $3,000, you know it isn’t cheap. Compare that price to the less than $2,000 PWS asks for their top-of-the-line 16″ gun or SIG Sauer’s $1,800 sticker for basically the same firearm and there does indeed seem to be a premium attached for the brand name gun.

Overall, there’s a definite improvement over the original. It’s not revolutionary, just evolutionary — taking the AR-15 platform about as far as you can with modern technology. That’s the problem though, this is probably the end of the line in terms of the M16 design. There isn’t much else that you could do to the gun without major design changes to the basic platform. Until those guns start arriving, though, the HK416 a pretty kick-ass solution.

Heckler & Koch HK416

Specifications:

Caliber: 5.56 NATO
Barrel: 11 inches
Size: 31.4 inches extended, 27.6 inches compact
Weight: 6.66 lbs empty
Capacity: 30 round magazines
MSRP: $???

Ratings (Out of Five Stars):
All ratings are relative compared to the other weapons in the gun’s category.

Accuracy: * * * *
Cold hammer forged barrels and free floating handguards make this automatic rifle a winner.

Ergonomics: * * * *
About the same as a standard AR-15. Pretty good.

Ergonomics Firing: * * * *
The handguards get extremely hot thanks to the gas system, but otherwise very pleasant to shoot.

Customization: * * * *
Tons of options, just not many involving the barrel.

Overall Rating: * * * *
Expensive, but I can understand why it’s the gun of choice for those who can own them.

comments

  1. avatar lolinski says:

    I like the HK-416 but I never understood, why so short barrel? Considering the barrel length, it seems as if this gun is perfect for 300 BLK.

    1. avatar seans says:

      .300 really wasn’t around when short barrel rifles were taking off. As for the short barrels, 10inch is plenty long these days with good ammo, the MK262 and Mk318 are amazing rounds. The 262 has had multiple first round hits/kills past 600 yard out of the Mk18 MOD1s.

      1. avatar lolinski says:

        You still had 7.62×39 which has the same ballistics.

        10 inches of barrel is only long in a handgun IMO. Maybe I am old-fashioned?

        1. avatar Jimbo says:

          Yes, you are old fashioned. 10.3″ of barrel might seem short(original Mk18 barrel length, which is the rifle the short barreled 416 was meant to compete with), but velocity gain is not linear. If you consider “maximum” velocity to be at 20 inches for 5.56NATO, the bullet is moving at 50% of maximum velocity within the first 3 inches of barrel. By the time it reaches 11 inches of barrel, it is moving at nearly 90% of maximum speed. By 16 inches it will have reached 98-99% of maximum velocity with most loads.

          Only the countries using AR-15/AR-15 based systems standardized 20 inch barrels(because that’s what Colt/Diemaco were putting out), except South Korea(Various Daewoo produced derivatives/variants). All other(major) countries standardized barrels shorter than 20 inches(I believe Germany’s longest standard barrel for 5.56NATO was 15 inches until the G36).

          If your gun is meant for defensive purposes(like just doing your thing providing water/energy to a region of your country), or brutally offensive purposes(like literally kicking in the door on your enemies), a barrel pushing 90% of the velocity of the long barrels is not only sufficient, it is absolutely superior for its more efficient size. The short barrel also leaves room for a full size suppressor without being terribly cumbersome.

  2. avatar Charles5 says:

    HK…meh.

    1. avatar TheBear says:

      +1

      They hate me so I will return the favor.

  3. avatar HK says:

    Our prices are high because civilians suck and we hate you.

    1. avatar Charles5 says:

      Now that is funny.

      1. avatar KB Dave says:

        It’s funny because it’s true. I like HK stuff, I have a USP Tactical which is awesome, but the fact that it’s so expensive means I may not ever buy another HK firearm.

    2. avatar Kid IQ says:

      Just because you can’t afford it or chose not to, don’t knock it. The market sets prices and there will be more than enough people in the world willing to pay for quality that HK won’t be going broke anytime soon.

      1. avatar lolinski says:

        I find it funny how much you hate HK. Especially considering they were the only ones willing to sell “assault rifles” to citizens for a long while (before the AWB).

      2. avatar Brian says:

        Actually from the same website, HK might be going broke soon:
        http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2013/07/foghorn/while-us-gun-markets-boom-hk-close-to-bankruptcy/

        If the above article is to be believed,the market is speaking and HK isn’t listening.
        To use my anecdotal example,I spoke with my wallet and paid 2200 for a lighter SCAR 16s that also has a folding stock. When it came time for a .308 I plunked down 2700 for a SCAR 17s because the weight and cost of the MR762 made me laughed.

    3. avatar Noishkel says:

      Larry Correia is that you?

    4. avatar full.tang.halo says:

      For those who don’t know the origin of this meme

      http://monsterhunternation.com/2007/10/09/hk-because-you-suck-and-we-hate-you/

      1. avatar OakRiver says:

        That was awesome. Thank you for that, I had to suppress some chuckles in work

      2. avatar lolinski says:

        I know about the meme, just don’t find it funny anymore. It has far surpassed the “zombie horse” stage now.

      3. avatar John Phelps says:

        Cool. And I really enjoy his book.

    5. avatar Todd S says:

      Ve are Heckler und Koch… you mere… civilians… should mind your ubers.

      1. avatar lolinski says:

        Wow so funny
        such new
        Wow

    6. avatar D.E.Wilson says:

      Well, look at who owns them, NUFF SAID.

  4. avatar Powers says:

    HK makes some really refined stuff. The semi-auto 416 would be a great rifle to have in the collection. But the price, for me, is not worth it. There are other AR platform rifles that are top notch as well and cost less. I am simply a collector and plinker. I am not an operator or in in any kind of position where an agency could justify the expense for my use. But for my playing around on the range, it’s just too expensive. Still would love to get my hands on one.

  5. avatar SigGuy says:

    I’ve always thought of HK as the Apple of the firearm world. Premium products at a premium price that accomplish the same thing in a marginally better way with the compromise of using only proprietary accessories like the Thunderbolt port or not being able to accept PMAGs

    1. avatar B says:

      I’ve found the iphone not accepting pmags to be a major failing.

  6. avatar Matt in Idaho says:

    Great review! As far as msrp there were about 40or so semi 416’s recently imported, removed from the mg registry and sold for 10k each. These are not the same as the semi auto mr556 which is about $2,500. Beyond that there are uppers out there available from 3-6k.

  7. avatar Taylor TX says:

    What HK said, I dont mean to be rude, but there seem to have been a lot of reviews lately on Legendary items that most of us will never see let alone get to equip. Although I cant hate on the g36 pool shot.

  8. avatar ken says:

    One minor error; “The M4A1 platform still uses the plastic clamshell handguard design that shipped with the very first M16 rifles”
    Not quite. The original clamshell design was in two different halves, a left and a right. They combined when installed to form a handguard shaped like a rounded triangle. These were only made for the 20 inch barrel, and have been gone for decades now. The A2 model changed out the clamshell design in favor of a top and bottom half, both of which were interchangable, slightly simplifying the inventory of spare parts. These form a cylinder shape when installed, and are made in different lengths for different barrel sizes, complicating the inventory back to more than before. But, both of these sytems ARE attached at the gas block, correct.
    The piston system is not nessessarily always an improvement, as presented here, but carries its own set of disadvantages. Namely; greater weight, a reciprocating mass that creates more movement of the firearm under recoil, and greater heat buildup in the handguard area, as opposed to the DI’s putting the heat into the action where the off hand is not exposed to it.
    Like most things in life, one must do one’s best to choose the set of advantages and disadvantages that apply to the particular situation…

    1. avatar Dan A says:

      Good post

  9. avatar Noishkel says:

    You know… every so often you’ll see a HK 416 part on Gun Broker. In fact not too long back I saw a lower up for auction. That thing went for over 6K. Just…. the…. lower. A STRIPPED lower at that.

    http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=400411143

    That’s right. For the price of one stripped HK made lower you can almost buy TEN complete low end AR-15s.

    HK fans… are messed up.

    1. avatar full.tang.halo says:

      It’s not all the HK fans fault. HK loves to make, interesting, decisions with regards to their products, even on the LEO side. A post sample UMP, that should run under 2k sells for 3x that because HK refuses to sell to any dealers, they will only sell to departments. So even a gun that has an even smaller pool of potential buyers, dealers with a current SOT, commands an insane price.

      1. avatar Noishkel says:

        That so? Hmm…. well I wonder why in the hell are PDs and organizations buying HK then at all. There’s got to be far better options for high end LEO firearms.

        1. avatar Todd S says:

          But HK is so tactical and elite!!!! Besides, it kills dogs dead.

        2. avatar TCBA_Joe says:

          The prices for actual agencies aren’t as obscene as the civilian market since there’s no market restrictions on gov agencies purchasing them.

          HK416 uppers are difficult to find because they can’t be sold directly to civilians. Supply and demand.

          The $6-10K lowers are a similar matter. 10.5″ HK416 semi-autos imported as MGs when they were in reality SBRs. An SOT worked with the ATF to get them reclassified as SBRs, then stripped them of parts (making them Title 1 receivers and thus legally transferable) and sold them. Less than 100 of these exist, and not all of them in private hands. The ones that are are collectors items.

          The prices for SOTs are much higher than the price for gov agencies. In fact, HK has given away free 416s to PDs.

  10. avatar Padawan says:

    USSOCOM has been issuing M4A1s and Mk18(Mod1s) with free-floated Daniel Defense RIS II rails under SOPMOD Block 2 for a while.

  11. avatar PhoenixNFA says:

    The new 416s will use pmags.

    1. avatar Matt in Idaho says:

      This is correct. The 416 a5’s are also the ones with the adjustable gas block. The 416 pictured above does not have an adjustable gb but it has a vent hole on the front to help regulate pressure.

  12. avatar Peter says:

    Why do we keep trying to improve the AR platform instead of going with a different design?
    Get rid of the receiver extension and use a system that allows the entire stock to fold out of the way and not collapse a few inches.
    Something like an update of the FN FNC would do nicely, gas piston that is quickly adjusted for adverse conditions, folding stock and a lot fewer parts in the design.

    1. avatar Hal says:

      Folding stocks are overrated.

    2. avatar Mike says:

      Its called an XCR

    3. avatar int19h says:

      Or just switch to SIG 55x – essentially an AK design, slightly modernized and with significantly improved packaging and ergos, while being every bit as accurate as any non-accurized AR.

  13. avatar Accur81 says:

    Any reason why this would be better than my Ruger SR-556 with a cold hammer forged barrel, short stroke piston with adjustable gas flow, and Troy folding sights?

    1. avatar Hal says:

      Have you experienced carrie tilt with your Ruger? I had some and a friend had some but some people swear that they haven’t had any.

      1. avatar Accur81 says:

        No carrier tilt in over 3,500 rounds. It works great with Pmags, and even feeds a Korean Beta-C clone 100 round mag just fine.

        1. avatar int19h says:

          The rumors that I’ve heard are that if you want to avoid carrier tilt in a piston AR for sure, get either LWRC or SIG 512 (the latter being an, ahem, appropriation from the former).

    2. avatar over-educated economist says:

      Or an equivalent PSA DI rifle? CHF CL barrels are now pretty easy to find for ARs, which wasn’t the case a few years ago. Piston rifle? Big deal, we’ve had excellent options from LWRC and POF for a long time, and for much cheaper.

      The HK416 is at best 3.5 stars. It is HUGELY overpriced for what it is, and it doesn’t even take pmags. I really question the circumstances of this review, because it reads like a PR piece for HK.

      1. avatar Mike says:

        Does it matter though? Sure its a review of a gun I’ll never own, and possibly never shoot, but thats what reviews are for; They let us know if those guns we salivate over and see in every movie and videogame are all they’re hyped up to be.
        I doubt this is a PR piece for HK, they’re getting all the PR they could want because “The Navy SEALS use them”.

        1. avatar over-educated economist says:

          It sure as hell reads like the typical gun mag review. TTAG can do better.

  14. avatar Hal says:

    I own both DI and piston guns. So far I am a solid “meh” on piston guns.

    I’m not saying they are bad. They are definitely lower-maintenance guns and I like that. I like the adjustable gas blocks.

    They are also, generally speaking, heavier guns and I DON’T like that. Furthermore, lack of standardization means I can pretty much kiss replacement parts goodbye in many cases (SCAR 16/17 excluded because parts have slowly become available).

    Another issue I have with many piston guns is heat. With DI, the entire upper receiver seems to heat uniformly. Heat is distributed across the gas block, gas tube and BCG. With my piston guns, any type of CQ, higher volume shooting results in a VERY hot gas block/piston head. At times it can produce a heat mirage effect right over the gas block. It significantly interferes with target identifcation/aiming.

    Finally, opening up your gun to find metal shavings where the front of your receiver extension used to be is never fun. Bigfoot and chupacabras may or may not be out there but carrier tilt is for real. It’s not in all guns though. Guns that seem to be designed from the ground up as piston guns (SCAR) are fine but the AR piston guns are a mixed bag. Some have it, some don’t.

    For me, DI gets it done. The caveat is that it must be run wet. A dirty gun will run all day long as long as its wet. I prefer milcom, lubriplate and slip 2000 greases but YMMV.

    1. avatar VF77 says:

      I think you nailed it here. Weight and Heat distribution seem to counter any real ‘gains’ achieved over DI. For me at least…. DI is simple, it works, is very light in comparison, I know how to mitigate the heat and I can quickly and easily replace almost anything short of the barrel without being a gunsmith – (which is even an advantage over the venerable AK!). And I can find the parts pretty much anywhere. So yeah, I’m just not head over heals for Piston AR’s yet. But I know everyone seems to fawn over the 416. In the end, I don’t see it as a major improvement over a good DI gun.

  15. avatar TCBA_Joe says:

    The reason HK416s don’t work with Pmags is because it was designed before the Pmag and it was designed around USGI mags and British SA80 mags (which require a specific geometry in the magwell for their blank mags).

    Also, the fact that the 416 lowers use a “zero-tolerance” magwell helps with its reputation for reliable feeding. An HK lower with a USGI mag is probably significantly more reliable than a standard <$100 budget lower with the latest wonder-mags. During testing at an old job we found this to be the case with feeding 7.62×39 from AR mags. 7.62×39 mags that wouldn't run with standard lowers ran perfectly with an HK lower.

    As for the freefloat rail, Daniel Defense is currently providing freefloat rails for the M4A1 and CQBR uppers in use with SOCOM and AWG.

    1. avatar Accur81 says:

      Hmmm. It doesn’t work with the best polymer mags available because it is more reliable and engineered to tighter tolerances?! I’ll choose to spend my money elsewhere, thanks. POF, LWRCi, and Ruger piston guns work great with Pmags. So all do *all* of my 5.56 and 300 BLK DGI ARs.

      1. avatar TCBA_Joe says:

        You completely missed the point. Good job.

        1. avatar jay1987 says:

          uhh blank magazines?? I never remember changin mags to run blanks we just put the BFA on and yes some of us did use Pmags we bought rather than the steel USGI ones.

        2. avatar Accur81 says:

          What would that be? That the overpriced, underperforming HK doesn’t work with Pmags because its so “awesome”?

          I’ll stick to better guns like the POF, Ruger SR-556, and LWRCi which do work with Pmags. As does the standard AR / M16. My olde school patrol rifle M16A1 – from Vietnam – works well with Pmags.

    2. avatar int19h says:

      >> 416 lowers use a “zero-tolerance” magwell

      What happens when dirt or dust gets onto the magazine or into the magwell?

  16. avatar Eric S. says:

    The reason the 416 doesn’t take PMAGs is because the profile of the magwell is different. Look at the lower from the side. Notice the upward angle (aft to front) the magwell has. If you compare a 416 to any other AR lower you will notice that the profile of the 416 is flatter. PMAGs get a bit fatter where they hang out of the magwell. Since the 416’s magwell comes lower in the front part of the receiver this fattening of the PMAG gets jammed up.

    MagPul made the EMAG for a while and has also fixed this issue with the M3 PMAGs. Additionally, due to complaints from the Special Forces community, the newer 416s have a more standard magwell profile.

  17. avatar Paul McCain says:

    It is a very high quality rifle. The civilian version has some irritating quirks such as the takedown pins requiring a tool to move. It is also quite heavy. Plus the price tag.

  18. avatar Eric says:

    There is another downside to the H&K416, and that is the weight. This article incorrectly lists it as 6.66 lbs, but in reality the gun weighs much more than that. They weigh 7.21 lbs (10″ barrel), 8.24 lbs (14.5″ barrel), 8.4 lbs (16.5″ barrel), and 9.05 lbs (20″ barrel). If you absolutely *have* to get a high end gas piston AR-15, I’d recommend a PWS, since they weigh significantly less (ie. 6 lbs 9 oz for a 14.5″ barrel, 6 lbs 13 oz for a 16″ barrel, & 7 lbs 2 oz. for an 18″ barrel). I don’t know where they got the weight of 6.66 lbs, maybe that’s trigger pull?

    1. avatar int19h says:

      Holy f*ck! 8.6 lbs for a 16″ rifle chambered in 5.56, really? That’s as heavy as my Arsenal AK in the same caliber, and that thing is all steel and has the monster-sized AK bolt carrier and piston…

  19. avatar Mike says:

    Fired one and liked it. I have only two comments. 1. Like all piston weapons all the parts are proprietary and not interchangeable. 2. It is a might bit top aka front heavy. Frankly the DI guns have their issues but overall I prefer the DI weapons due to my two comments listed above. Oh TTAG please get better about proof reading your postings. You mentioned it has a “silencer”. Point of fact you are wrong it is a suppressor. Please correct your uneducated nomenclature.

    1. avatar Gyufygy says:

      Hiram Maxim, who invented them, called them silencers. The ATF calls them silencers. No, they don’t silence the shot. Whoop-die-do. Quit getting your panties in a wad over interchangeable words.

      At least clip/magazine refers to completely different devices.

      1. avatar Mike says:

        It is too bad you are actually helping the antis by using a term that describes a non-existent function. you need to pull your panties out of your wad.

        1. avatar int19h says:

          I don’t know about your suppressors, but my silencers do, in fact, make the gun so silent that the only sound you can hear is the bullets flying and hitting.

          Of course, I’m shooting a bolt-action .22.

    2. avatar Nick Leghorn says:

      The inventor of the device calls it a “silencer.”

      The ATF NFA forms refer to it as a “silencer.”

      The law calls it a “silencer.”

      AAC calls it a “silencer.”

      I’d say the nomenclature is dead accurate.

      1. avatar TCBA_Joe says:

        Nick, PLEASE do an article on this. I’m getting really sick of being corrected by people arguing this “fact”.

      2. avatar Nighthawk says:

        I wish I could like this post here on TTAG. The nomenclature nazis need to get a hobby.

      3. avatar Mike says:

        Sadly if you had a clue you would be out in front of the issue in correcting a centuries old mistake. But as I and many others already knew you are NOT up to the issue. You are only concerned with reading your own press and listening to the sound of your own voice.

  20. avatar VF77 says:

    Have to say the weight alone shied me away. I shot a very nice LWRC piston AR the other day and man was it heavy. Then add the additional heat up front and I sure was happy to get back to my DI gun. Of course I am not participating in running day-long gun battles in the ‘stan though lol

  21. avatar Shire-man says:

    I find all these brand-name AR’s coming out lately strange. We’ve had free-float handguards and hammer forged barrels and piston uppers/conversions forever.
    So why is it special if somebody stamps a brand name on it?
    It’s like if Dell tried to be cool and hip by sticking a NVIDIA Titan in a production computer. Dell isnt new or special and it’s not like you can’t just go buy a Titan to stick into your own PC. It’s just marketing what was once a custom build as a ready-made package. Nothing special or worth the jacked up price.

  22. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    HK is such an onerous company to work with, if someone came into my shop with an HK anything, I’d say “Nope, won’t take it in.”

    There’s a reason why HK has a horrible consumer rep (ie, the whole “Because you suck and we hate you.” meme is one part of it). They’ve earned it. They’ve gone out of their way to earn it. They earn it not only with the consumer, but with FFL’s and stocking dealers.

    1. avatar Hal says:

      A while back I made the mistake of purchasing a HK45. While I loved the gun, it would lock up (i.e. so tightly that I had to rip the slide back, destroying the casing) with any hornady 45 ammunition. It turned out to be a problem with all of the guns, but at first I assumed it was a fluke. When I went to HK about it, they were exceedingly helpful. They offered to take the gun back, replace the extractor (because of the amount of force involved to extract the stuck round) and measure my chamber.

      Now… they DID blame it all on Hornady, stating that it was their ammo that was out of spec and not their guns. However that ammo works great in a whole host of other guns without issue. In hindsight, it was probably a fib designed to distance themselves from such a dumb mistake (German engineering… HA!). Still, they were very kind and helpful. It surprised me given their reputation. I certainly got the impression that they were making an effort to change their culture.

  23. avatar PPGMD says:

    Hmm I see nothing about the horrible recoil pule. I’ve fired a handful of 416s and every one of them felt like a ton of bricks cycling back when shot despite being a heavier rifle. I’ve shot 308 ARs that had less recoil than a 5.56 416.

    Also a lot of the issues with the M-4 have no longer been issues. Even the US military is routinely changing out the plastic handguards for free float rails.

    1. avatar Hal says:

      They are direct replacement rails from KAC. They are not free-floated.

  24. avatar jh says:

    This was the firearm i really wanted but i have never seen one in real life.I was on the wait list for 3 years still no rifle. I got tired of waiting and got Wilson Combat instead.As a owner of multiple HKs i am so sick and tired of the waits, Never any magazines available, Never any rifles in the gun store. Just a whole bunch of stuff that never shows up. I have some mags on order for 4 years! I have no idea why HK makes everything so hard. Wilson combat had no problems taking my money for a pair and at least i know they were real not some dream i see in a magazine and wilson Combat loves my money. As a HK fanboy i don’t even look for HK any more i just go to Sig or something else they are almost always in the LGS,you can get mags,you can order something and it actually arrives. Sig may be a step down but at least it is there. than is more than i can say for HK. I would love to have a semi HK416 but i will never see it because it would never arrive it is vaporware I will just slum with my wilson combats for now. HK i hope you are listening A Once loyal customer

  25. avatar Pashtun6 says:

    The 416 is configurable with many barrel lengths, just like anything else.

  26. avatar Nighthawk says:

    What’s with the HK hate? They tried hard to resist the bullshit of “sporting purpose” being required for importation of their firearms, bans that Bush Sr. and Clinton made sure would kill off the civilian market HK served faithfully. They were the only one to stand up for gun rights when all this shit was starting and they lost against the tax-dollar financed juggernaut that is the Federal Government. HK’s pricing and goofy looking civie models of the UMP and G36 reflect the fact that they got burned bad going out on a limb to protect our gun rights: simply put they will make their money off the civilian market by small volume, high dollar sales and make 50-state compliant firearms that can’t attract regulator attention. USCs and SL8s enjoyed relative ease of conversion to their UMP and G36 cousins which HK had no issue exporting parts to us. As for the MP7, they saw FNH get a lot of shit from idiotic legislators, including the Five-seveN being NAMED specifically for a ban by some dumbass Left wing kool-aid slurper, so why bother risking it with the 4.6×30 MP7? It’d be a novelty at best, and another “cop-killer” targeted by the braindead likes of Feinstein and co; HK isn’t going to get burned again. You can get an HK 416 and 417, it’s called the MR556 and MR762. An MR556 is around the top end pricing of notably overpriced ARs like Salient Arms and Daniel Defense, but it has the coveted title of being *battle deployed* unlike the other two which only have their accessories being fielded. MR762 is a few hundred more than an FN SCAR. So yes, they are limited supply, and we know why. They are expensive, but plenty of gun enthusiasts can afford them should they so desire, and we know why. And we also know why HK doesn’t bother importing civie versions of the MP5 or MP7. Why hate on the company?

    1. avatar jh says:

      I wouldn’t describe it as Hate . Good luck seeing an Mr556 in real life i have never seen one. I offered to pay 100% for a 416 upfront still no gun. Maybe if HK acted like they actually cared about the end user and got some product out there people would think differently. I don’t like the pricing but i have HK stuff so it isn’t a surprise. When i order something from HK in my heart i know it will never arrive. Wilson you order and it shows up.

      1. avatar seans says:

        HK is indifferent to the civilian market. They are first and foremost a military supplier. And even then they don’t just rush stuff. The reason the majority or SOF doesn’t get the 416 was due to HK couldn’t support manufacturing enough barrels at the time, and could lower quality. So the Mk18 was adopted (the better choice overall in my opinion.)

    2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      Why do I dislike HK?

      1. They make quite the wad off the US and local taxpayers with their sales of vastly over-priced products to public agencies, when that money could be staying here in the US, going to US companies and US workers. They’re masters of gaming the big processes for products, as many European companies are. They’ve been milking the US taxpayer on “potential replacements” for the M-16 for, cripes, 15+ years now.

      2. They’re jerks to not only the consumer, but businesses who would serve the consumer sector. Get an FFL, call up HK and ask them “what does it take to become a dealer of HK?” Bring your wallet. Last time I talked with them, they wanted their stocking dealers to stock stuff that cost $8K+ that you would most likely never, ever move – ie, dead inventory.

      3. In general, my experience with Germans in their firearms industry is that while they make excellent products, with attention to detail and craftsmanship of a commonly very high order, they look down their noses at the US in general, and the private sector firearms users specifically. The Germans are quite fond of thinking that they’re vastly superior to Americans, despite having been given a rather harsh lesson some 70 years ago to the contrary.

      See, it’s one thing to be among German gun makers when you’re experienced in guns, but cannot speak German. It’s another thing to be among German gun makers when you can speak German, but know nothing about guns.

      It is quite another thing altogether to be a “dumb American” who knows quite a bit about guns, and who can not only speak German, but also keep a straight face when moving amongst Germans when they’re conversing amongst themselves at shows where they are displaying their wares. You learn quite a bit about the Germans then, and almost nothing you learn is complimentary to the Germans.

      The best thing we could do to straighten out the Germans is to close all our bases in Germany, bring our military home and leave the Germans to the Russians. When they suffer their first really cold winter and Vlad Putin starts playing games with the master valve on that gas pipeline, we should send them a little Christmas postcard asking “Nun was denken Sie?”

      1. avatar DJ says:

        We pretty much are out of Germany. When I left there we had an entire mech infantry brigade in Schweinfurt. I looked up the old barracks on google earth the other day and all that is left is a single motorpool with some knackered out vehicles that we left behind.

        Here’s what’s left:

        https://www.google.com/maps/search/ledward+barracks+schweinfurt+germany/@50.0518942,10.2119338,104m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en

        And this is abandoned:

        https://www.google.com/maps/search/conn+barracks+schweinfurt+germany/@50.053119,10.173077,1009m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en

  27. avatar Kent says:

    The M1 Carbine is a carbine, not a rifle.

    1. avatar int19h says:

      These two terms have lost any meaningful distinction a long time ago. If a 16″ HK416 is a rifle, then an 18″ M1 Carbine better be, as well.

  28. avatar ggrimes2 says:

    Boy could we have some fun with this one. I guess I qualify as an HK fanboy I own the infamous civiy HK 91 been my favoriite hunting rifle for deer and elk for the past 20+ years. I also have a VP70Z a couple of USP’s and the USP match .45. The price for all but the VP qualify as overstuffed and overhyped.
    I completely agree with the old letter about HK sucks, as a battle rifle the goofy charging handle, difficult mag changes and no bolt hold open. It’s also heavy and condidering how long they made this thing I suspect the tooling was paid for in about 1963. Battle rifles and plastic pistols were supposed to be low cost and easy to manufacture so I will never understand why so expensive. since the purpose of a battle rifle is high production numbers at minimum cost. The same applies costwise to the AR platform, UZI and the AK why preimum dollar?
    So this thing is greater than sliced bread? Does not a company named Ruger have a piston operated version of the AR for a fraction of the cost. Several other companies also mfg a piston operated AR so why is this one so much better. This is from the company that developed a floating chamber which bleeds gas pressure around the case for better/rapid ejection. Try cleaning the HK fluted chamber after a couple hundred rounds of cheap ammo and yes yor’re using cheap ammo because the thing usually rips the brass apart anyway.
    You have a adjustment sleeve so you can vary the gas delivery Oh! I have one of those on my old FN FAL. It might be better than the original AR gas impingemnt system but not enough that I’m gonna buy one anytime soon.
    I’m not sure about the weight issue during WWII Marines carried a Garand then, in Korea they carried the M14 I have one of each and the original M-16 does feel like a Mattel toy after carrying those. The current M4 is smaller and lighter than that, the issue I see now is all the accessories folks hang from the rails. A lot of these items stick out, tend to get in the way and need batteries. If you’re not on Seal Team Six that stuff gets in the way. Seal Team folks usually carry a minimum of gear and they plan for mission specific activities and equip accordingly.
    I do love my HK’s but i am over myself, I’d buy a pair of Ruger’s lots of mags and more ammo.

  29. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

    There’s quality, and then there’s ridiculousness. This sounds like a great rifle, but one which offers solutions to problems which virtually no civilian has. Athough, the cleaner design is appealing. Overall, sounds like you’re buying bragging rights more than anything that makes much practical difference to 99% of shooters.

  30. avatar FortWorthColtGuy says:

    Dear Members of Congress and the United States Senate,
    OPEN UP THE DARN MACHINE GUN REGISTRY AGAIN!! I want one!

  31. avatar Yngvar says:

    There’s no practical difference in durability/longevity between a barrel that’s button rifled or hammer forged, Both methods compress cold steel but bashing at a billet over a mandrel is a lot simpler and less time consuming. A barrel never wear out, it burns out. Super-hot gas doesn’t care what forging method was used.

  32. avatar JT says:

    Hey, look, another Nick Leghorn review for a gun none of us can own.

    Hey, Nick, how about you do some reviews on guns that we can actually go out and buy?

    1. avatar ggrimes2 says:

      JT had not thought of it that way. It seems like TTAG keeps reviewing stuff most of us cannot own. I keep having the same problem with the AR platform in general. I’m now 60 and remember buying my first AR15 for a grand sum of $235 plus tax. I now own 4 different AR rifles, all are different configuration but all based on the same gas system.

    2. avatar defensor fortisimo says:

      Or maybe a compromise. Do a review of something like the FAL and then do a side by side review of it’s civillian equivalent, I.E. the DSA 58 as a compare and contrast.

  33. avatar Vernon682 says:

    A solution for the M4s sight problem! Take the whole thing, gas block and all, go to the nearest river, and throw it all in. Who needs gas blocks when you can dolphin dive?

  34. avatar Len Mattsen says:

    After having read all these comments, I pause. I traded a new Windham Weaponry AR 15 for a new Sig 556 SWAT.and think I got a good deal.
    The Sig cost about $600 more than the AR and the Sig has everything I wanted in a rifle. Yes, it is a little nose heavy gut at 6′ 2″ and 250 lbs, I can ignore the extra weight.
    Best wishes to all.

  35. avatar Ed Richardson says:

    Improvement #1 is a cold hammer-forged barrel? That’s an “improvement”? The Bushmaster XM15 at Walmart right now for $499 has the same thing. Seriously, what is so special about the HK 416 for that price? If I’m going to pay that price I want the pinnacle of evolution for the AR 15, I want some exotic metals, I want it to NOT WEIGH just under a 30-cal SCAR 17, this should be the AR made by a Formula 1 team. Three-grand for six pounds of metal? Negative.

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