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We have been reporting on Germany’s break-up with the G36 rifle, and the initial indications were that the HK417 would be the go-to replacement gun. Apparently, much like the G36, that isn’t 100% accurate. The HK 417 is only a stopgap measure while a wider search for a permanent replacement weapon is found. There’s no word yet about which manufacturers will be in the running for the new guns, but as dw.com details it looks like the goal is to have something selected and distributed in three or four years . . .

Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday confirmed that the G36, the German army’s main rifle of the past 20 years, will be phased out and replaced by a “new generation” weapon from 2019.

“We have decided in consensus with military command to make a clear cut,” she said in Berlin, adding that tenders for a modern replacement for the Bundeswehr’s 167,000 G36s would be called Europe-wide.

At the same time as Germany moves forward with the replacement of their G36 rifles, manufacturer Heckler & Koch are doing their best Sergeant Schultz impersonation and suing the German government over their results. I’m not entirely sure what they hope to accomplish, since that’s like shouting at your newly ex girlfriend and demanding that she go out with you one more time.

The heart wants what the heart wants, and Germany’s gaze has obviously drifting away from H&K.

41 Responses to Germany Launches Competition to Replace G36 Rifles

  1. The Kurds have received both G 36 and G 3 rifles from Germany and they love them
    realcleardefense.com had an article where a Kurdish officer praised the G 36 for its range due to its integral optic.
    He was thrilled to get rid of his Saddam era AK 47
    The Kurds are chronically short of ammo so they do not overheat their guns.

    • Most (not all) G36 rifles for export do not have the flaw which those sold to the German army possess. That flaw (for domestic consumption) was to mix a weaker polymer mix to mold the upper. The plastic upper directly holds/surrounds/secures the key attachment point of the barrel extension. When very hot the upper bends just a little due to the cheaper plastic. The sight, however, is mounted to the upper, not a receiver/barrel unit. Therefor the sight can end up off zero by more than 2 yards.

      In brief, the Kurds my well have export models with the more robust upper plastic mix.

      I’d rather have an export G36 than an AK47, certainly. Or a SCAR with a good sight. Or an M4 with a good set of sighting devices.

    • Ironically, I have heard the original integrated sights was the worst part of the rifle. No coincidence that it was largely gone in favor of a regular rail system in subsequent upgrade models.

  2. Nick, did you see the last couple paragraphs of the DW where they touched on the mexican government recalling G36s because police were killing citizens with them?

  3. Here big issue gone be big thorn for gun manufacturers over in Germany. The government in Germany been on major tear close local firearms manufacturing plants down there . All,s been busy try run company’s like Sig Sauer out business right now there use any scandal happen with company there to do that. Hk as report in this story is on Germany government Christmas card list right now over this event other thing been scandal for company put them on Germany government we hate you list like see you gone from country list to. So major chances there not gone be expect any offering from both this firearms company try run out business in there own country. Question than become witch gun manufacturer gone pick make there rifle out side there country sent German government so hell bent close firearms manufacturing in there own country???

  4. I can’t see H&K being surprised at the choice to fully open up the search.

    They already screwed the Bundeswehr once with the cheaper polymer, that *should* be enough to get them DQ’d on any future procurement bids, at least for a good period of time.

    • The Bundeswehr exists as a welfare agency for Heckler und Koch. Whatever decision is made, it is guaranteed it will be a H&K product. And I’ll bet the selection committee are suddenly driving new Mercedes.

      Will H&K submit a G51, a G11 with some picatinny rails added?

    • They probably could.

      I’d read this not as a mistrust of H&K’s technical ability, but rather as a mistrust of H&K to not “value engineer” something else out of compliance somewhere else.

      Having had a supplier who routinely did this sort of thing, I can tell you it leaves a real bad taste in the mouth, and a desire to not use them again if at all possible.

  5. Wow, that girlfriend metaphor was a stroke of pure genius. Seriously.

    I wonder what they’ll pick. Maybe a sig or an fn? That’s where I’d look. :p

    • Given that H&K exists simply because the Germans didn’t want to pay royalties to the Belgians for the FAL, somehow I doubt much will change.

      • So far as I know, it wasn’t about royalties, actually. Germans wanted to be able to manufacture the rifle themselves, and FN flat out denied such licensing terms regardless of the price. Hence, after buying Belgian-made FALs for a while, Germans went and purchased a license to manufacture CETME from NWM, and thus G3 was born.

  6. It seems to me that that much like the ancient/already perfect C-130, B-52, and ma deuce, there just isn’t a whole lot of improvement to be made on the small arms front, at least for government buyers. They would be more interested in ease of service than anything else. The guns are already about as reliable and accurate as they need to be, or can be without rapidly diminishing marginal returns.

    • You’re right. All of the “problems” that modern infantry weapons are trying to “solve” are invented problems, or they’re problems of perception by MBA’s looking at the cost of competently made classic designs.

      There was nothing wrong with the G3. Nothing. It was a competent rifle, executed competently. It worked and worked well. OK, some would say “but it was too heavy, it wasn’t in 5.56!” Yea, OK, blah, blah, blah. To mollify these wankers, all that would have been needed was to make a down-scale version in 5.56. Done. You’d know the design was proven, and it would work.

      • G3 was an excellent rifle for it’s time. Today it’s too heavy and too expensive to manufacture. It’s also arguably not as accurate as more modern military rifles.

      • >> To mollify these wankers, all that would have been needed was to make a down-scale version in 5.56.

        Spain did pretty much exactly that with CETME Model L, but it didn’t exactly receive glowing reviews, from what I heard. There’s also HK33, but I don’t know much about how well it did in service.

        Anyway, there’s no shortage of more modern firearms based on reliable, time-proven actions. E.g. for a modernized AK action, you can choose between Galil ACE, SIG 550 and FN FNC.

  7. I have owned three HP products over the years and will not buy another. First was an HK91 which was fine until you tried to mount an optic, ugggg. Next was a P9S which functioned well but was a bit too big. That was followed by the P7 which I soon learned to hate: when you released the squeeze cocking lever on the front of the grip, it made a loud CLACK! so much for OpSec!

    Oh yeah, their newest line of pistols? Why not buy a Walther since they clearly copied a design from a good company.

  8. Considering how little the Germans spend annually on defense, and the deplorable readiness state of their armored forces, Air Force, and Navy, why are they even bothering now with a new service rifle? And if they really think they need one, why not fix the existing rifles, even if it means replacing the receivers? Has anyone followed the decision making and the money trail?

  9. And here I thought the German government was just going to use the 416 or 17 as an immediate, temporary solution. A competition makes things much more interesting. I’m also curious as to whatever happened to the semi-auto G36 green lighted for import by the ATF. I’ll be keeping an eye on this saga for sure.

  10. Two things will go either they stay with a fixed G-36 or they adopt the HK-416. Face it They will stay with 5.56mm NATO and they will stick to a German design so in the end they stick to there gun and fix the problems or goto H&Ks tried and true 416.

  11. Honestly and frankly speaking here, what is Germany going to use their rifles for? The German military doesn’t deploy that often. If they purchased one durable rifle system that’s well proven, they could probably be using the same rifles in 50 years.

    Until people started getting a case of the stupids with polymer materials in guns, you could make a wood-n-steel battle rifle last forever with proper care. Look at any armory maintained Garand. They’re still laying ’em in there, 70 years later. Mauser 98’s in good repair and maintenance are able to shoot well 100+ years later. How many people here on TTAG are raving about their Mosins, all these decades later? Lots. Enfields aren’t any slouch of a rifle either.

    What happened? The western nations have allowed MBA’s into the weapons acquisition process. Now we (the US taxpayers) are being pickpocketed every eight years or so, funding yet another “Future Rifle” study, run at great expense and hilarity (to those of us who know our buttocks from any warm rock about guns) and without any result. The English have been through how many new rifles in the last 30 years? The Germans appear to be following them down the same road.

    Meanwhile, the Russians, Commie Chinese and their third world vassals keep plugging along with a steel-n-wood contraption from 1947.

    If I were advising Germany on this situation, I’d tell them to rebuild the Obendorf plant, give them a couple of K98s in good repair for examples and say “build 400K of these with spare parts,” and then they could mothball the factory for the next century.

    • Where do you clowns come up with this nonsense? The Brits have used the same main battle rifle for their troops since the ’80s. It’s been improved since then but so what – name another battle rifle that hasn’t evolved.

      No one is going back to a wood and welded steel rifle as a main battle rifle simply because they are too expensive, too fragile (wood is more fragile than plastic), and generally too heavy.

      The next German rifle will most likely be an AR- variant unless they go to a bullpup of some sort.

      • The L1A1 served in the British armed services until the 90’s. The SA80 replacement has been an infantry rifle system fraught with so many problems, it makes the G36 look like a dream.

        The SA80 didn’t have a few upgrades and updates in the first revision in the late 90’s. It had a lot of parts replaced, changed and upgraded. In effect, what the MOD effectively did was have H&K remanufacture the SA80’s.

        For what the British MOD has spent on the SA80 per weapon, they could have purchased two going or three M16’s or M4’s. And for the second time in several decades, the Brits sacrificed the correct, proper cartridge they should (and even we should) have been using for the wishes of the US DOD.

        • OK. For once we have an ammosexual that isn’t totally wrong. Although the argument about the .223 is wrong for the majority of 21st Century battlefields.

          .223 isn’t perfect but from a weight, accuracy, deadliness, and cost perspective it covers 90% of modern requirements.

        • Agreed. .223 isn’t the end-all, be-all round, especially when considering kinetic energy at distance, but it more than makes up for those downsides in other areas, like weight and recoil.

    • Dyspeptic,

      Glock proved to us that plastic just screams quality. We need more plastic and less metal for all things. Not just guns.

      Lol.

    • >> Until people started getting a case of the stupids with polymer materials in guns, you could make a wood-n-steel battle rifle last forever with proper care. Look at any armory maintained Garand. They’re still laying ’em in there, 70 years later.

      Yeah, and they also weigh ~5 kg. The finest battle implement ever made, indeed – if you run out of ammo and have to resort to clubbing them to death.

      (Which would likely be the case, in fact, if you pitted a squad armed with Garands vs another one armed with pretty much any modern 5.56 rifle, simply on account of the latter being able to carry 3x more ammo.)

  12. Well if Angie keeps annoying her allies and sucking up to the little clerk in Moscow they can replace it with AK-74s along with their uniforms and planes and….

    Seriously though look to the EU see what works no need for yet another system that won’t have the buying power behind it, or worse have the manufacturer need constant government lifelines to keep them afloat.

    • Because they want to know which working design is best for their needs. And which ones are crap.

      I mean, the present incarnation of SA-80 is also technically a “working design”, but…

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