The search for a H&K G3 clone

Steve Adelmann of Shooting Illustrated discusses his quest to find a decent H&K G3 clone …

Though the heavily seasoned G3A3 I carried wasn’t accurized, a few simple modifications reconfigured it well enough for mountain fighting without sacrificing reliability. Clumsy, heavy and not exactly ergonomic—especially for lefties—the G3 family still managed to carve out a spot in the nostalgic section of my little brain. I decided to add a variant to my collection, but I wanted a solid shooter that wouldn’t set me back two months’ pay, so I turned to the replica market.

The article is well worth reading.

PTR-91F, a G3 clone.

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.


  • Burst

    What I got from the article:
    The CETME doesn’t really compare to a G3. (To be fair, I already knew this).
    The PTR-91 almost does, sometimes.

    It would have been more useful to me had it talked about some of the other botched clones (like the Springfield and Mitchell ones) as well as a comparison to a true HK91. While it’s reasonable to say that the PTR is a good value, I find myself curious what all that extra green would get you.

  • scurvy

    I <3 my PTR-91. It's more accurate than I am, which just means I need to spend more time at the range. No, it's not the best gun platform out there, but if you like it, the PTR-91 is a great choice amongst the other options.

    The author is right though, it absolutely destroys brass. That is, if you can find it. It usually throws spent cartridges about 15 yds down range at a 45 degree angle. If you've never seen it, it's quite a sight. 😉

    I've had some cycling issues firing old surplus ammo recently (Portuguese), but none with new factory loads. It's not like my life depends on this gun working 100% of the time, so I'll gladly save the dough and just work the very un-ergonomic charging handle. Ahh, the G3.

  • Lance

    If the reader get smart he’ll dump the G3\91 altogether and buy a M1A or L1A1!

    The M-14 and FAL where alot better than the G-3 anyway.

  • David

    Someone just stole one of those from a local gun shop here in Santa Fe, according to the police notes in the newspaper. Also, someone intercepted a shipment of M&P pistols to the other local gun shop earlier this summer. The second shop has been the target of at least two major burglaries over the past two or three years in which a number of handguns were stolen from display cases.

  • El Duderino

    I’m a lefty with a PTR-91F. Yes the mag change is much more labored than with an AR-10 or FAL but I didn’t buy it for 3-gun competition or combat duty.

    Used magazines are $.99 for aluminum 20 rounders. Stainless steel followers. While some PTRs have had ammo issues mine fires everything. Rifle is pretty indestructible (typical German/H&K over-engineering) and has no upper/lower “rattle.” There are actually quite a few aftermarket scope mounting options along with the original claw mount. Tons of options for fore-ends and stocks (adapters for M16 family stocks too). You could build one up to a faux PSG-1 or MSG-90 sniper rifle for a bank vault less than a German original. A lot of rifle for about $1200.

  • G3Ken

    Springfield a botched clone? Don’t think so. I have a pre-ban SAR-3 taht I had converted to G3K configuration. It has NEVER had a FTF, FTE etc, EVER. It is accurate and a pleasure to own. My only complaint would be they’re a bit heavy, even with a 12.4″ barrel and a 4″ four-pronged flash hider. It’s an awesome piece of equipment and I would, and the way things are going, likely WILL bet my life on it. Botched my ass.

  • Vladimir

    The time for a good clone has gone, but the manufacturers that made them may still be around. I write it this way because after having bought a good clone, my interest in their availability dispelled rapidly. To my knowledge the good clones were produced as late as the late 80’s. I bought such a clone that was made in Portugal under H&K contract. My very opinionated and critical gunsmith declared that it was one of the best he’d seen. I bought it around 1990 or so. It initially had some ejection issues, but that was also exacerbated by bad Argentinian ammo. All in all my G3S is a good product, and I would trust it’s reliability in a fight. It’s tight and efficient. I saw a comment as to it’s ergonomic qualities. I would add that it’s weight is somewhat more than one might wish for. However, having said all those negatives I still think it’s a quality manufacture, and it’s design is a sound post-war European design. I think the FN-FAL is tops, but the G3S is a stone cold killing machine… a traditional war weapon. The two step blow back and ease of maintenance is a very strong attraction. All in all I believe I didn’t waste my money. I couldn’t say that about the trash that’s sold these days.

  • M.G. Halvorsen

    While I was stationed in Germany in ’77, our unit had the opportunity to fire for qualification With the Bundeswehr. I quilified for the “Schutzenschnurr im Geld” (shooting award and lanyard in gold). Shooting the G3 made me aware of just how poorly armed I was with the M16A1…and a determination that “If the balloon went up, I would knock some poor German soldat over the head and take his G3.”
    Vladimir, you’re right: “An absolutely stone-cold killing machine”…and lookin’ cool while it works!

  • Hyok Kim

    I remember reading an article by a Navy SEAL that G3 was far easier to maintain than M16s in the field.