German Regulations Force H&K to Stop Selling to Non-NATO Countries


H&K was in hot water last year because after delivering firearms to Mexico, a location designated a “crisis zone.” One might think that providing aid to law enforcement and the military to maintain law and order would be a mitzvah — discounting the inevitable “seepage” to cartel members — but the German government took a different view. In the fallout from that kerfuffle, H&K has decided to stop shipping firearms to any non-NATO countries. From Reuters:

The company, one of the world’s best-known gunmakers, will in future only sell to countries that are democratic and free from corruption and that are members of NATO or NATO members’ partners, DPA said, citing company sources.

It said this change in strategy would rule out deals with countries such as Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Brazil, India or even NATO member Turkey . . .

German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel has sought to curb sales of tanks and small arms in particular since taking office late in 2013, arguing that guns such as assault rifles were the weapons of choice in civil wars all over the world.

No doubt this will impact the bottom line of a company already flirting with bankruptcy, as reports.

Lengthy restrictions imposed by the German government on arms sales abroad have led to serious profit falls for Heckler & Koch, one of the world’s largest weapons manufacturers. The company saw a 90 percent decline in profits last year, exacerbated by Berlin’s blocking of a major sale of G36 assault rifle parts to Saudi Arabia over human rights concerns in the Gulf kingdom. The deal had been previously approved in 2008, but Germany later toughened its already strict regulations on arms sales to foreign countries.

Just as here in the United States, Germany’s political class are using their power to impose their anti-gun beliefs and opinions on otherwise law-abiding companies (and citizens). Rather than fighting the prevailing opinions of the ministry, H&K has decided not to fight city hall and will simply restrict their sales to “good” countries. Assuming they can stay in business to do so.


  1. avatar dph says:

    “will in future only sell to countries that are democratic and free from corruption”, please let me know when they find that unicorn.

    1. avatar Boba Fett says:

      That’s exactly what I was going to say. Best of luck to H&K.

  2. avatar A Brit in TX says:

    It would be funny if the US withdraws from NATO (unlikely I know!), H&K would have to think of other products to manufacture!

    1. avatar anonymoose says:

      They should just move production over to the US.

      1. avatar A Brit in TX says:

        Sounds like a great plan! The first handgun (well, non air pistol) I ever shot was a H&K USP (9mm), seemed very nice at the time but I didn’t have much to compare it with. I think that you can get something equally as nice (if not better!) for way fewer shekels though.

        Have always hankered after an MP5 though……

      2. avatar Gerbs says:

        They are.

  3. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    “only sell to countries that are democratic and free from corruption…”

    Dang! Well, strike the U.S. off the list. No MP5 for me!

    1. avatar Cole says:

      I was thinking the same thing when I saw that line, no more H&K in the USA. H&K won’t even be able to sell to their own government going by that business plan.

  4. avatar pwrserge says:

    So we’re considering blocking weapons sales to third world dictators a BAD thing now? This has nothing to do with the civilian right to keep and bear arms. None of those weapons were going to end up in any hands other than the ones attached to the boots stomping on the necks of their people.

    1. avatar anonymoose says:

      Yeah, really. Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and Turkey can go screw themselves.

    2. avatar Dan in CO says:

      This was my thought as well. If HK could not be counted on to make that judgment, someone else would make it for them.

    3. avatar Curtis in IL says:

      This is more about German government boots stomping on the neck of H&K, restricting international commerce and choking the revenue of a corporation struggling to stay solvent.

      Think of everything stupid about gun control and apply it on an international scale. Criminals will always be able to get guns. This interference by the German government won’t save any lives.

      1. avatar Dan in CO says:

        Lives will not be saved because I choose not to support drug dealers with my money. This does not mean that it is right for me to involve myself in their commerce.

        “Providing aid and comfort to the enemy” springs to mind.

      2. avatar pwrserge says:

        So by your logic it would have been ok for Winchester to ship freighters full of rifles to Nazi Germany? Really?

      3. avatar James in AZ says:

        The dynamics of a violent crime is very different from those of a war. Criminals don’t need guns to dindu nuffin. But we sure as hell need our weapons to maintain freedom, justice and democracy, when it comes to guerilla warfare against a tyrannical regime.

        As a libertarian I’m not sure how I feel about any govt restriction on HK’s business. But I’d say it’s a MORALLY deplorable thing to sell weapons to tyrants anyhow.

    4. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

      I agree. I don’t doubt that these vile regimes will get their guns elsewhere, or make them themselves, but other options will necessarily cost them more. Otherwise they would already be pursuing those other options. Let’s ratchet up the cost of keeping people down.

    5. avatar JasonM says:

      Sadly, it’s not “we”, as in the USA that’s contemplating this. The USA will continue to export weapons to any dictator who’s willing to pretend to be an ally.

      I found the line about the Mexican military providing law and order being a mitzvah a bit disconcerting after reading so many articles on this site about how the Mexican government is working with the cartels to disarm and terrorize the Mexican people.

    6. avatar int19h says:

      Sky has fallen. Hell hath frozen over. I 100% agree with pwrserge on something!

  5. avatar Nigel the Duelist says:

    H&K is welcome to dump reduced-price items on the US market to clear out their inventory.

    Yes, yes, even less likely than honest politicians and unicorns.

  6. avatar Jp says:

    They make excellent equipment. Just way too expensive. Wouldn’t spend the money.
    And good luck finding a government that isn’t corrupt.

    1. avatar anonymoose says:

      If you are a government buyer, HKs are not much more expensive than competing designs from Colt, FN, Remington, etc, and the G3 was proliferated because it was cheaper than the FAL and M14.

      1. avatar Lotek says:

        You said “FAL”. Excuse me for a moment I need some “me time” with my “Right Arm”.

    2. avatar Vhyrus says:

      Their handguns have come way down in price lately. I bought 2 in the last 2 years and both of them were below 600 new.

  7. avatar Jack says:

    “One might think that providing aid to law enforcement and the military to maintain law and order would be a mitzvah”

    Not in Mexico. The Mexican government is too corrupt to even maintain control of their guns. Lots of their guns go to the cartels. Holder is a liar, most guns at Mexican crime scenes to not come the US. I also object in principle to the Mexican government having guns when their citizens can not.

    All that said, HK should be able to sell to whoever they want. Bad governments will get guns, whether they get them from HK or not.

  8. avatar neiowa says:

    The French can be counted on to step in and sell to despots and dictators, and Islamists

    1. avatar Vhyrus says:

      Considering the reputation of French arms that might be a good thing for us.

      1. avatar James in AZ says:


  9. avatar Ralph says:

    Not to worry. Russia and China will be thrilled to provide non-NATO countries with all the arms they can possibly use.

    1. avatar Vhyrus says:

      I feel like I’ve seen this movie before… is this a remake from the 60s?

  10. avatar Libertarian says:

    Markets must free not regulated !

  11. avatar BierceAmbrose says:

    “Crisis Zone” – A place where bad people are doing so many bad things, govt officials someplace in less of a mess decide they’re not going to help good people who buy guns legally to help themselves.

  12. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    Good. It’s nice how H&K’s blind, bootlicking fealty to governmental policy has now come ’round to bite them in their posteriors.

    This couldn’t happen to a nicer or more deserving bunch. Hopefully, it eventually puts them out of business.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      But consider the fact that the German government can enforce its edicts with criminal penalties, and has now investigated H&K twice for allegedly improper sales. I’d bet their executives would rather lose the company than go to jail for arms trafficking.

    2. avatar James in AZ says:


      Don’t need their crap anyway.

      Heavy, unergonomic, complicated, unreliable and expensive. No, thanks.

  13. avatar Southern Cross says:

    If looks like if H&K want to maintain their corporate welfare by being the Bundeswehr’s favoured (ie: sole) supplier, they will not only have to bend over backwards to appease the government, but bend over forwards as well.

    But isn’t H&K already controlled, if not owned, by British Aerospace?

    And Turkey has a long-standing production license from H&K anyway.

  14. avatar formerwaterwalker says:

    Meh…there are no perfect and non-corrupt countries. Lots of wailing from the gun community about Odumbo banning Russian stuff. Welcome to Realpolitik…

  15. avatar Joe R. says:


    W H E R E

    D A

    F O O K

    I S

    I T A R ? ? ?

    Too busy collecting fees to do the fing job??? The ATF&E would love to regulate it but they are stuck with US, Belgium, and “collaborating” on basic-detective police-work and entrapment with the FBI, DEA, DHS, DHHS, EPA, DIN, Treasury, State, IRS, CIA, the UN. . . (it ain’t libel if you read their own fing newsletter, you ought to subscribe to their email updates. Sh_t, talk about double-dipping.)

  16. avatar lowell says:

    There’s an easy way around this. Form an American subsidiary and then HAVE THEM DO IT. While you’re at it, have them build a factory here and start manufacturing the things that Americans want to buy, like MP5s, G36s, 416/417, etc. I’m not an even an HK fan, but I realize you’re sitting on a gold mine for reasons I cannot fathom.

  17. avatar Hannibal says:

    Let’s be fair… selling guns to Mexico is problematic. Guns don’t just ‘seep’ to bad guys there, they pour. That’s assuming you don’t consider the government itself to be part of the bad guys.

    But the NATO designation is odd. So… Sweden is screwed I guess?

  18. avatar int19h says:

    “Whatever happens, we have got
    The Maxim Gun, and they have not.”

    But, this is only true if you don’t sell them your Maxim Gun.

    Well, why would you? Right? Right?..

  19. avatar SheaButter1588 says:

    I guess Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, and Israel can all screw off.

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