“A German court ruled on Friday that the government has no right to compensation from Heckler & Koch for what Berlin has said were faulty assault rifles,” reuters.com reports, “handing a victory to the gunmaker.” The German government maintained that the H&K G36 rifles — issued to troops for the last 20 years — failed to shoot accurately in hot weather and/or after constant firing. The charge came after a particularly bloody battle in Afghanistan . . .

The first suggestions that the gun might be faulty date back to April 2010, when 32 Bundeswehr paratroopers were ambushed by Taliban fighters in northern Afghanistan. Three German soldiers were killed in a nine-hour firefight. The G36 was reported to have overheated, forcing the Germans to retreat . . .

Heckler & Koch said the rifles it had delivered complied with the specifications agreed with the government in 1996.

While the court did not comment in its ruling on whether the rifles shoot straight when they heat up, it said that they met the specifications set out in the purchase contracts. The rifles had also passed the quality and acceptance testing laid out in the contracts, it said.

The court had said in a June hearing that it was leaning towards backing Heckler & Koch because the government had, over the years, ordered rifles with the same specifications as in 1996 even though they were required for different environments.

In other words, the German Army’s objections came¬†too late. While the¬†German government says it might appeal the decision, the damage to H&K’s rep is done. And yet, despite the contretemps, the gunmaker still has its sights set on building the replacement for the lamented G36.

Heckler & Koch said it would not comment on the actions of its customers but affirmed that it plans to take part in the government’s tender for a new supply contract, expected to be awarded in 2018.

“We make the world’s best assault rifle. Many armies in the western world use our weapons. We are already looking forward to the German army’s assault rifle tender, in which we will again prove our performance,” the company said in a statement.

Don’t count them out. Like all military contracts, the political component often outweighs other considerations. Even the most severe.

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31 Responses to German Judge: Heckler & Koch Owes the German Government Bupkis for G36 “Issues”

  1. Off topic, but Merkel is not doing so well in some elections in Germany! Which I guess was a surprise just like Britex. We will have our own surprise when Trump is elected president this November.

  2. The G36 case is one of people who didn’t know their buttocks from a warm rock writing the specs on that contract.

  3. I’m still confused as of today.

    Is it a POI shift (shifting off zero),

    or is it a decrease in precision (groups opening up)?

    I looked everywhere and didn’t see anyone say it definitively.

    • I thought it was POI shift. Something about prolonged exposure to heat warping the plastic receiver enough to cause serious problems, but not enough for the naked eye to see on the weapon. Pretty sure the shifts were so pronounced at 25-50 meter zeroing that during firefights at 250+, common in Afghanistan, shots would have missed the enemy entirely. Not sure if this defect directly led to deaths in combat, but I wouldn’t put it past the German gov to make frantic attempts at keeping that under wraps if it were true.

    • It’s not a POI shift, it’s a shift to POS. What are they? 80% plastic? I’d rather have an AK in the deserts of Afghanistan than this plastic POS.

      • the ak rifle is not many things. but it is sturdy, reliable and makes anti-gun people lose sleep.

        edit: it was purpose built to be issued to uneducated conscripts and be a suitable weapon. It excels at this.

        Also cheap.

        • For uneducated conscripts? For the love of God, the Soviet Union had been running high equality education for 30+ years by the time the AK came about! Any by the time WW2 came about, the USSR’s literacy rate was >90%, and has been >99% since the 1950’s — not even modern America does that well!

      • Believe it or not, the German Gov’t was very sensitive of G3s and HK33s being used by guerrillas et al after they ditched them; one of the spec requirements for the G36 was a design requirement for the rifle to have a limited useful lifespan. The political aspect of this design is that they apparently didn’t really want a durable rifle, and required that when the service life was reached they were not going to mil surp them; or deal with the costs of having them recycled either, since they didn’t want to mil-surp them or sell them on the US market, or whatever. It was all about control, and HK was like “no problem”, because they wanted the contract and figured they could sell a lot more rifles this way.

        Additionally, the German Government tender in 1995-96 focused on light weight. The G36 was designed from the ground up by government request to be the lightest fire support automatic rifle available; interestingly, the MG36 was not selected and despite being a prime reason for the German government’s “wants” list. As such it was discontinued by H&K, as they felt it was too niche a gun to try and sell to other countries, and interfered with their sales and design of similar products such as the MG3 and HK21, and (then) MG43 project, adopted by the Bundeswehr as the MG4.

        HK has identified numerous problems with the design over the years, and has openly admitted them and offered retrofit packages to the Bundeswehr at more than reasonable costs. The German government has refused each time.

  4. What? A select fire rfile capable of 750 rounds/min with a pencil barrel has overheating / accuracy issues? Short stroke piston firing from closed bolt at high cyclic does not mix with lightweight barrels. Of course HK did try to pin it on the ammo too. Funny M4’s don’t seem to have thus issue…

    • The barrel size could very well have been a specification set forth by the original contract. Don’t know for sure, just speculating.

      • That would be my guess too, most specs on military arms seem to be set by politicians with little actual knowledge of firearms, and not just in Germany either.

        • Just like the gun laws these idiots try to pass against gun owners, they have no clue about firearms but act like they know everything.

    • The original spec and acceptance tests never envisioned the sustained rates of fire the G36 has been subject to in Afghanistan.

      In reading the history and specs of the G36, it seems as tho the German military command never thought that the typical German solider would ever be involved in a modern firefight.

      • Thats too bad…. You never had these problems when the bundswher (sp?) was run by old wermacht guys. Now its all style over substance.

  5. There are plenty of options. If the gov will feed them now that they have been bitten is another question.

    I was under the impression this was a bait and switch. If they do sign another contract it will likely be written a lot more carefully.

    Probably what happens when you let lawyers and bean counters buy your war tools.

  6. See, HK hates you, and their own people too. At first read of the headline, I read BUMKISS, which is exactly what happened.

    • You sound as though you have no knowledge on the issue. If you are going to criticize, at least research a situation. That’s works out better than spreading your previous prejudice when there’s no need.

  7. If you’d ever handled a real, full auto, short-barrel G36, you’d like ’em.

    If they overheat after some insane firing rate, well, that’s the nature of the beast, and I hope H&K figures that out.

    Sweet, sweet guns.

  8. And how many influential politicians are suddenly driving new Mercedes Benz?

    The Bundeswehr exists as a welfare agency for Heckler und Koch.

  9. Sounds like a CYA moment from German procurement system! sorta like our own procurement of the M_16 in Alice in gook land (Vietnam)! Same story the unqualified doing the unnecessary so they can get war Jobs for their Constituents!
    bet the Poi changes on the Crapola 16 oh wait they are having a circle J**k over the M-4, best firearm made (” “) how many hrs of accurate sustained fire until the POS, POI changes,

    • Kinda off topic chief, but there are actually a lot of parallels between the early XM16 program and the G36. See my post above about the specifics of the G36 project, and addditionally:

      I hate to break it to you, but the M14 and M60 were actually the design-by-committee abominations of service weapons. The AR-10, modified to the AR-15 per Air Force request, was a far superior design to the M14, and even the T44/FAL; and I’d even point out the irony of the TR223, an HK33 (5.56mm G3) clone submitted by Harrington and Richardson for trials had a 20, 30, and 40 round mag in the 1960s, while it’s 2016 and people are all hot to trot for Magpul 40 rounders, and Surefire *even with George Sullivan* can’t make a working 60 rounder.

      All the deficiencies of the M16 were GOVERNMENT CAUSED, full stop.
      Issuing a mainline infantry rifle with no cleaning kit? Robert McNamara deleting chrome bores and barrels and nickel coated mags to save pennies on the dollar?
      Paired with something like 7 different TDP changes on military 5.56 specs, and many more waivers allowed, which didn’t finalize a specification until 1970 (that’s 6 years after the adoption of the M16) because the government was run by a bunch of cheapasses who kept on trying to recycle WWII reserves of powder from Naval guns, and later insisted they load 5.56 with the same powder used in 7.62 NATO regardless of the fact that such powders were never tested, or even discussed in the protoyping and feedback stages of the trial process.

      This is all settled ancient history, to boot. In October 1967, the Ichord Subcommittee (read as the US government itself) released its 51-page report on the M16’s troubles in Vietnam and found the Army and Department of Defense (DOD) were faulted on a total of 31 points.

      In summary: as usual, problems were cause by politicians and bureaucrats, not engineers, nor supposed design quirks or quality.

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