It looks like H&K is finally moving their family of rifles into the 21st Century. For the last few decades H&K has rested on the laurels of their HK416/HK417 line of slightly improved piston-driven AR-15 pattern rifles while everyone else in the firearms industry has been pushing for a next generation design. Now it seems that H&K is updating, but is it too little too late?
Starting in 2004 we saw the emergence of “next generation” platforms with the Robinson XCR and the FN SCAR. The concepts were similar: rigid extended upper receivers, full-length Picatinny rail extending past the chamber, easier machined parts, and the ability for the end user to swap barrel lengths or calibers without armorer assistance. Since that time there have been a few more entries into the field, specifically the Magpul Masada (now the Remington ACR) and SIG SAUER’s MCX.
For me, the SIG SAUER MCX is the current mark to beat. In their new HK433 H&K think they have it in the bag.
Just like the other designs, the HK433 offers the ability to swap barrels in the field. Currently the only caliber available is 5.56×45 NATO, which is the same for the SCAR 16 and that’s about it — everything else has gone beyond. The ACR does 300 BLK and 6.8 SPC, and the MCX does 300 BLK and more to come. There’s a 7.62 NATO version coming (HK231) but that’s down the road. Right now what they do offer is a brace of different barrel lengths to suit your specific mission.
As for other details, it appears to have a slower cyclic rate of 700 rounds per minute compared to the blistering 850 RPM offered by the HK416 line. It weighs about as much as the other guns. And the stock folds like everything else. The rest is still a mystery to be discovered in the fullness of time.