Alleged Corruption In German Military H&K G36 Rifle Acquisition

The German government is investigating a German arms manufacturer, Ministry of Defense employees and Bundeswehr general staff for corruption regarding a recent rifle acquisition. Apparently this unspecified  rifle, which the media report as being an assault rifle (but they can’t be trusted to get gun facts correct), was procured despite technical studies finding it had serious deficiencies, including poor accuracy.

The German government did not say what the rifle was, nor which company was being investigated.

I will point out that back in October 2010 TFB reported that a German government report criticized the HK417 for accuracy problems, which disqualified it from the German Army Designated Marksman Rifle competition, but that the civilian model, the H&K MR308, was still allowed to compete. In October 2011 the Army announced that they would adopt the MR308 (designated the G28 DMR).

UPDATE: German readers are saying that the German media is now openly reporting that the scandal involves the adoption of H&K G36 rifles, not the G28.

Many thanks to Axel for the tip.


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.


  • Marlonir

    I am pretty sure this is about the G-36 rifle, which has been reported to become innacurate after prolonged firefights due to overheating barrels. Not that that would surprise me, rifles =/= machineguns…

    • David

      I’ve seen this potential problem being raised over and over again. What’s interesting is that I’ve seen conflicting information and anecdotal evidence. I don’t know specifically how the barrel trunnion or extension or however the barrel mounts into the receiver, but it seems the trunnion or extension itself is somehow mounted in polymer. If that’s the case then I could see the barrel having movement if it gets really hot… the polymer receiver right around the trunnion/extension getting a little soft.

      However, and you’ll have to excuse me for not posting links, but on several internet forums, I’ve seen SL8/G36 conversion owners and even legitimate G36 machine gun sample owners claim that the problem is either non existent to grossly over exaggerated by the media and those who’s agenda it fits.

      Who to believe? Is the problem legitimate in that soldiers are complaining about it enough to make the brass wonder if its the rifle or their marksmanship? Are the American anecdotes legitimate? What about the media?

      I’m getting the same kind of vibe that I got from all the media/rumor hype about how unreliable the Stoner AR-15/M16 platform is/was because of training issues ages ago. What do you guys think?

      • schnuersi

        The thing is that not all G36 are the same.

        The G36 is German Army uses is not what HK sells as G36 nowadays. Like I mentioned the army specs are 20 years old. They haven’t been updated so they are basically still getting the same rifle as the first production G36. A new cusomer will get a rifle wich has evolved and improved by 20 years of use.

        The main problem with the accuracy drop is not the barrel itself. It does the same like the barrel of any other rifle when it gets hot. No suprises there. BUT the polymer frame on wich the sights are mounted behaves in special way. The glass fiber wich reinforce the polymer are alingend in a certain way. Therefor the polymer frame doesn’t expand like a metal frame would but it expands more in one direction/axis than in the others. This cause tension wich bends the frame wich forces the sights out of alingment. The really bad part is that it is not certain that once the guns cools down again the sights will realing by themself again. Most likely the gun will have lost its zero permanently and will need to be recalibrated.

        There still is a the rumor that for weight and cost saving reasons the Army G36 are not fitted with an aluminum heat shield as standart.

        Curiously the G3 rifle wich was made out of steel had one…

        The problem is exagerated by the fact that the polymer frame and handguard actually work as an insulation. The material has conciderable worse thermal conduction capacity than steel or aluminum has. Once the frame is heated up it will stay that way for quite some time. Waiting for it to cool is not a viable option under fire.

        Also no full auto fire is needed to overheat the gun. Continuous single shots at a higher rate than about one magazine (30 rounds) per minute will do the trick after three to four magazines.
        If full auto is used it will just happen faster.

        The specs of the G36 focus very much on light weight. Of course light means less durable.

        A gun with a weight of ~3,5 kg, lots of it polymer simply doesn’t have the mass to absorb much heat. And since most of it is plastic its also not paticulary good at shedding generated heat so there will be accumulation.
        That is mechanical engineering 101… every student learns these cause and effect relation in his first year.

        • David

          Interesting. I hadn’t considered the thermal expansion of the receiver affecting the zero of the weapon. Yeah, unlike metal alloys, plastic alloys have almost no “memory” or spring to them and so thermal expansion/warping is typically permanent.

          How are the newer SL8 G36KA4 and other export/newer rifles different? Is there a metal reinforcement or “skeleton” within the polymer to help rigidity under thermal load?

          Based on what you said it almost seems like the momentum of military bureaucracy could be more the culprit than definable or malicious corruption.

        • John

          The weight of the G36 makes me wonder if it was even worth making so much of the rifle polymer. 3.5 kilos is not far off from any of its contemporaries

          • schnuersi

            You have to keep in mind, that the empty weight of 3.6 kg for the German Army standard G36 is for a full sized rifle with 19″ barrel and it includes a 3x scope and a red dot sight.

  • schnuersi

    Got quite some media coverage in Germany allready.
    This investigation is definetly about the continued acquisition of unmodified G36 rifles even thought there has been serious criticism by the troops wich has
    been confirmed by the german MoDs technical department.

    Its important to note that it is not about the original acquisition of G36 rifles or the selection programm. The G36 fullfills the original requirement allmost perfect…

    but this has been allmost 20 years ago and it was designed during a ~50 years peace period for conscript use in the third world war.

    Actual combat experience showed some significant drawbacks and outright failures in the original concept. While these were discovered quickly and the technical department work several solutions and improvements out nothing ever came from it. The few people in charge of placing the orders for new rifles continued to purchase the original G36 in bulk for the army. Some have been refitted for extra cost after purchase.

    While it is still unclear and under investigation if there really is fraud or corruption going on the fact that neglect of duty has happend is more or less proven.
    If somebody gets punished and if something really and effectively done about it an entiery different matter though.


    They’ve just choosen the 5,56-mm assault rifle G26 (H&K HK416) for KSK and Feldjeager (MP). The protest could be announced by the competitor company i.e. Schmeisser.

  • 77

    this is about the G36.

    In German newspapers they talk about it openly…

    I say: ditch the fucking plastic guns and get some HK416A5s……

  • Marc

    The initial complaint about the G36 was that after “several hundred rounds” of rapid fire the hit probability at 300 meters is reduced to 1/3 (from what hit probability with a cool gun – no idea), or at least that’s what the media reported.
    This investigation is whether the Bundeswehr should have kept buying G36s after the aforementioned was known.
    The accuracy of the HK417 in the DMR competition is a totally different story. It has a long leade and chrome-lined barrel, it’s not designed as a precision weapon. The MR308 has a short, civilian match leade and the nitrided barrel is not chrome lined, resulting in greater accuracy.

  • Steve (TFB Editor)

    Thank you our German friends. I have updated the post to reflect that the rifle under investigation is the G36.

  • Laserbait

    Corruption in government!?

    I’m shocked and appalled.



  • Brick

    Same story about the G36 as years ago (didn’t you report about that, also?). Soldiers seem to be firing full auto all the time. The rifle gets hot and therefore less precise. There seems to be a believe that rifles can defy physics. Well they can’t.

    Two things have me puzzled though 1) Soldiers seem to believe, that they are John Rambo which is bad and should be addressed 2) immediately after spray painting the environment they all seem to want to fire single precise shots.

    The story pissed me off back when it first broke and still does today. i see 3 ways forward

    1) We could start training the soldiers on their rifle, so they stop confusing an assault rifle with a MG

    2) There is a LMG G36 version with a heavier barrel, which is therefore more idiot tolerant.

    3) All our soldiers could be eqipped with MG3s -> who needs precision if you have a ton of bullets flying

    It is not a scandal. Well, at least not in the sense it is portrayed. The scandal seems to be that our soldiers do not get enough training with their most essential equipment. So no, who ever ordered the rifles after 2011 did not do anything wrong if Spiegel is reporting the story correctly.

    • schnuersi

      “…Soldiers seem to be firing full auto all the time. The rifle gets hot
      and therefore less precise. There seems to be a believe that rifles can
      defy physics…”

      That is simply not true.

      The troops deployed in Afghansitan allmost never fire their rifles full auto. The SOP of the German Army is aimed single shots from rifles. It has been this since the Army has been reformed in ’55. The training reflects this.

      Full Auto rifle is only used in close combat (>75 m). If the rifle is ist to full auto only short and controlled burtst are to be used. This is what German soldiers are taught and trained to do.

      There is non evidence that the highly trained German troops who actaully get deployed to Afghansitan have any problem with their fire discipline.

      Do you have any evidence you can provide to support you claim?

      The G36 as used by the German Army will overheat without beeing set to full auto in a prolonged firefight. It was simply not designed to be used in such a scenario. Therefore it doesn’t work.

      The G36 “lMG” has never really made it into the German Army. For one its not an LMG in the German sense of the term LMG. Its an automatic rifle. While the barrel is better suited to absorb heat the polymer frame and sight mounting is the SAME as in the regular G36 rifle. So it would not only suffer the same fater but actually would become useless even faster since its fitted with a 100 round magazine and should be fired faster than the rifle.

      That was actually fouind out during the army trials in the ’90 and therefor the G36 LMG was never adopted. Insted the requirement for a true LMG was formulated and because of this the MG4 came into being.

      Adopting the G36 with the LMG36 barrel would have increased the weight of the weapon into the range of the G3 rifle and as such defied the main sellign point of its adoption in the first place. There are two main reasons for the adoption of the G36. The first one is amunition standardisation inside NATO… wich is complete BS since there is no such thing as fully standarised 5,56*45 mm NATO ammo. Furthermore the 7,62*51 mm is NATO standard and cross nation compatiblity is better than the one of its smaller cousin.
      The second and “official” main reason was weight reduction. Therefor a lot of effort went into making the rifle as lightweigt as possible and still work according to the requirement. Wich the G36 does.
      The G36 being more leightweight than its rivals in the army trials was the reason to adopt it.

    • sylvan

      To clarify your confusion. In combat, the initial action on contact is designed to gain fire superiority. Throwing tons of lead down range in the probable location of the enemy to reduce his efficacy by making him keep his head down when responding to contact. After the first minute or so, the fire dies down and the infantryman starts looking for individual targets to hit. When initiating contact (ambush or deliberate attack) your enemy is initially exposed and so you want to hit as many as possible as quickly as possible. Within seconds the enemy will take cover and reply in kind. So high rate of fire initially and then settling down to aimed shots is the standard firefight scenario whether initiating or responding to contact.
      I am an infantry veteran from Afghanistan, btw.