Norwegian soldiers having problems with HK416

Tanfo, a Norwegian soldier, reports at the forum that they have been having problems with their new HK416 rifles.

Norwegian configured HK416 with suppressor.

One of the problems is that the piston system locks up if the gun is taken outdoors from a warm building when the humidity in the air freezes in the Norwegian arctic conditions. The C8 (Colt Canada full-auto AR-15) that is used by the Norwegian special forces also has this problem but can be fixed in a much more timely manner than the HK416.

Apparently the gas regulator, which that controls the amount of gas flowing into the gas piston system, often switches modes during firing. The gun will not function properly if set to the suppressor mode if a suppressor is not being used.

Gas Regulator
HK416 Gas regulator

I imagine the Norwegian will have these problems sorted out in the next few years. It does seem odd that they did not identify the problems before purchasing the rifles.

Many thanks to Jay for the link.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Production equipment is often not the same as pre-production equipment – maybe they had no chance to figure it out earlier.

    It’s funny that a Canadian weapon has problems in cold weather.

    • Leiber

      This article is BS the 416 that had issues were 1in 10000 if that which had issue. Most of the problems had to do with the new environmental ammo. HK 416 is the gun that Seal team Six used to kill Bin laden. It was recently chosen again overall other choices in extensive test by the a unit that can and will only buy the best. The competition didn’t even cone close. This was stated by Larry Vickers on

  • Nick

    They should have bought a SG 550… they wouldn’t have had any problems.

    It does not surprise me that Canadian weapons malfunction in cold weather, our defence budget is a joke. it’s a wonder we even have rifles to shoot.

  • 22lr

    Funny how the original M-16 system still works better. Maybe its just a bug but I find it funny to see all the stories about how the M-16 is vastly inferior only to see at least one case were its better.

  • das

    @Nick there are other countrys in a lot worse shape than canada!

  • Well, you couldn’t expect bureaucrats testing weapons on paper to do it outside!

    And besides, no worries! I’m sure HK is all about helping this customer because their name starts with “ministry of” (vice “Mr.”, of course).

  • Timmeehh

    Back in the ’70s, we (CAF) used the FN FAL. We didn’t have any problems with it in cold weather, or hot weather, or sandy, dirty, muddy conditions.

    Should’a kept ’em.

  • It is my understanding that having a firearm freeze up is more common if you are outside first, go inside for a while, and then come back outside. Condensation forms on the cold firearm while inside the warm room in much the same fashion as a glass/can of a cold beverage on a warm day. Once you go back outside, the moisture on the firearm freezes. It can happen to any firearm.

  • jdun1911

    It’s good that Steve posted this because a lot of countries are thinking about adopting the HK416.

    Here the thing, all firearms will have trouble in extreme environments. What makes them different from each other is how well the firearms can handle it and how fast the problems can be solved.

    I don’t think I have touch on piston jamming on this Blog. Pistons does jam and a good piston design allows that kind of malfunction to clear easily.

    On the AK47 design, the piston is attached to the charging handle. So when the piston jammed or freeze up, all you have to do is either rack the charging handle backward or slam the charging handle into an unmovable object. This will clear the piston malfunction.

    In a piston AR15 this isn’t the case. The charging handle isn’t attached to the piston. That means if the piston jam or freeze up you’ll have a harder and long time cleaning the malfunction. The operator either have to slam the butt of the rifle on the floor or do a full disassemble.

    In a DI AR15, piston jamming is eliminated because the piston is part of the bolt.

    So it was not a surprise to me that the Norwegians are having trouble with their HK416 in cold weather. Any piston design that doesn’t allow an easy way to clear piston jamming is flawed.

  • I am not surprised a GP AR styled firearm is having problems.

  • Hayden

    What a poor excuse for German ingenuity. Why on earth did H&K take a step backwards (I understand it uses the newer gas system, but the layout is antiquated) with the design? Norway should have bought the Swiss SG 550, it’s proven to work in the harsh conditions.

  • JimN

    Canadian Arctic indoc and training stressed leaving the rifles outside the tents, in the cold, to specifically avoid this issue. No moisture from being in the warm, no freezing up in the cold. Its also the only scenario in which powder graphite lube was issued, to be used sparingly, and, the C1’s were also left with a live round chambered at all times, on the off chance that if the action did freeze it would be freed up by the round going off. Its surprising that the Noggies have to re-learn this.

  • I’m a norwegian soldier using the 416 and I’ve only hear of these problems with one gun in my entire company. It’s a new rifle, it hasn’t been broken in yet. Yes, there are some minor details and some rifles may have some deficiencies from the factory, but these things happen. Personally I have had more jams with my glock than my 416.

    Whats worse is that we can’t use our ammunition for the rifles, apparently the fumes are toxic. Article in norwegian:

    Symptoms include chestpain, couching, fever and sleeping disorders. Anyone heard of this before with similar ammo? The manufacturer is Nammo.

  • jdun1911

    I assumed Nammo is the main manufacture of ammo for the Norwegian military.

    Ammunition by its nature is toxic. However, I am curious to why the fumes is toxic when used in HK416 and not other rifles?

  • Mauken, thanks for the link. I have posted it here:

    I hope they sort it out soon. Not good for you soldiers!

  • Another reason why the charging handle should be attached to the bolt. All the most reliable arms have it that way.. ak, sig,fnc,m1,m1a, SCAR etc.

    There is no substitute for positive user control over the bolt at all times.


  • jdun1911

    To be fair to HK, the HK416 charging handle can manipulate the BCG (which contain the bolt) just like a regular DI AR.

  • webmasterpdx

    I saw a video of the HK416 being tested on discovery channel recently and they did an incredible test. They took a stock rifle. Stuck it in the mud (completely submerged). Took it out, without cleaning and it shot in full automatic mode. Then they put it in sand. Took it out and shook it a bit and continued shooting in fully automatic mode. Then, (and this one amazed me), they completely submerged it and took it out. Gave it a quick shake and continued shooting in fully automatic mode.

    That last test would cause an m16 to explode in your hands.

    I’m surprised that a little condensation could cause any problem with this gun. I’d suggest the problem was something else…..maybe the condensation freezing???? shooting a single bullet through it should fix that problem.


  • woodfiend

    Ice is pretty strong, especially when you have it in your action. Bottom line is, this can and will happen to all guns if you put them in extreme arctic conditions. Some guns are just easier to fix though. The HK G33 seems to be a good player in this field.

  • tahDeetz

    Pee on it.

    That’s how US Soldiers unfroze the bolt group during the Korean War.


  • Rudolf

    Ever tested equipment under cold conditions? All have problems. Oerlikon Laser Modul – battery empty after 10 minutes. SIG X-Five (minus 8 degree Celsius) jammed after every shot. EOLad Holosight worked but Laser off after 10 minutes. SIG 550 … accuracy how far you can throw it … 5 meters?

    HK worked (MP5k, USP Tactical, Mark23, 45C), Steyr AUG worked, FN P90 (if you like the ammo), Glock 17 worked

  • The reason norwegian soldiers had problems with the ammo for HK416 was that they started now using the new 5.56 ammo from nammo (ammo without led or something, some enviromental bullshit), which the AG3 (norwegian g3) did not use.

  • chatchki

    the 416 really shouldn’t be rushed into service like that, the M16 when first introduced in vietnam jammed as soon as the war escalated to more jungle combat they didnt even issue cleaning kits because all of the tests which were pretty cushy back in the 60’s didnt address reliability as much as they do now, and they just assumed it was a self cleaning rifle. big mistake. with the 416 as great as a weapon as it is, uses a different piston setup that apparently hasn’t exactly been tested in the full range of conditions. i saw the water mud and sand tests but that doesnt test the piston because u can still load a pump shotgun if u put mud on the out side pump,you’ll just get ur hand dirty. and thats basically what they did, the piston its self wasn’t tested under the freezing conditions, as in if u would freeze the outside of a pump shotgun again using an analegy u probably wouldnt be able to load and fire the weapon correctly. so it was a great prototype, but they really need to take a good look at the piston and improve it. they fixed the accuracy internationals winter sniper rifle with grooves on the bolt so when you recharged it would cut off the ice.

  • chatchki

    sumthin along those lines im sure could fix the weapon right up. freezing condensation shouldnt be that much of a problem for such a qualified weapon.

  • Dale Kettern

    sorry to tell you but HK is german not canadian.

  • sevensixtwo

    I think its funny that any “journalist” would write an article on what ONE person, SUPPOSEDLY in the Norwegian Army, POSTED on a website.
    How about picking up the phone, making some calls and doing some real journalism and verify sources before you put more garbage on the net?


    The problem is not with the gun but with the way you clean it and keep it oiled. We experianced the same problem with the G3 if it was not cleaned according to conditions. Most Norwegian soldiers due still use hot water for cleaning which leaves the gun “clean”. In extreem low temperatures moister will condence on the metal and bind the frozen ice to the metal. Use a gun oil that prevent this and if you use hot water – relub the whole internal of the gun. You will experiance this problem from around minus 30 and lower. I served in the north of Norway, and the problem is not related to which gun you use – it is all how you maintain it and clean it. Remember also that most gun oils will get sticky at that low temperatures.

  • Response to UNIFIL

    I often use spirits mixed into the gun oil from stopping it to get “thick” at low temperatures.


    m16 are not problem proof .the m16 is prone with problems even today as complaints given by american soldiers in iraq and afganistan especially m16a4. i think hk416 is reliable weapon with relaible piston mechanism and promising modular system. it will just need minor tweaks like with any rifle at their debut . even ak47,insas,G3 had their share of debut problems

  • Buck Adams

    I think it’s a misconception that piston systems are perfect and direct-impingement systems are unreliable. Like any other rifle a 416 still needs a trained operator who understands the strengths and weaknesses of his weapon. There’s no such thing as a perfect weapon. All this becomes a nonissue when the operator knows to prevent the problem or immediately correct the problem.

  • Kjetil
  • Royal

    This is an old argument. I heard it a lot from some of the Vietnam Vets when i was in the Army in the 80s …Their point was a weapon made for grunts to be used under field conditions cannot be that sensitive to conditions. A grunts weapon has to be rugged and grunt proof. You can’t tell a grunt he has to be perfect in field conditions. I have seen a lot about this weapon on television and it seems like a great concept and if its an HK it must be well engineered and I might add that I would love to have one but if these concerns are true it is an issue that has to be addressed