H&K Does Not Hate You: Import and Export Laws Vs. The People

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One thing that never fails to amaze me on this blog is that whenever one of our writers (myself included) or a staff member either posts a review or product announcement from Heckler and Koch, said article generates 60 plus comments in a day and of course the inevitable wiseguy chiming in with “because you suck, and we hate you”. The fact is that nothing could be further from the truth, in fact the HK/American consumer relationship is like a long distance affair between two people that is being supervised by two sets of parents, represented here by the German and American governments (albeit you can substitute the American government with most gun friendly nations).

Anyways the old “you suck” thing can be dated back to 2007, when a poster on The High Road posted the classic, and admittedly funny “message from the H&K marketing director“. The message goes on to say how H&K refuses to sell to civilians, despises civilian sales, and more but after combining what I already knew and some exhaustive research I have discovered that nothing could be further than the truth. You see, in the 1980’s a brand spanking new HK93 was $550 while a Colt AR15 HBAR was $700. That is a pretty dang significant price difference. In fact, for a time in the USA the only military style semi-automatic rifles were the Colt SP1, available in 1963 and the H&K 41. However a little known fact is that H&K actually beat Colt to market with a rifle called the “G3 HK” imported by Golden State Arms in 1962:

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I realize these are different calibers, but they were modern military rifles nonetheless. I know what you are thinking, “hey, that has a hole for a swingdown lower, that is clearly a machine gun”. Well, believe it or not until 1966 all semi-automatic G3 variants brought into the US had the pin hole right there until the government made them crudely weld up the hole with some sheet metal, and later eliminate the hole all together. The rifles also got a name change to the H&K 41, and most of them have been converted legally to machine guns because of the simplicity of doing so. Here is where they got their first taste of the US civilian market. It was not long before H&K began to offer a slew of hunting rifles to compliment their military style semi automatics as well, and for a time they were quite popular:

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Pictured above is an individuals collection of all the hunting rifles H&K marketed! Below are a few advertisements.

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So H&K realized that there was a pot of gold across the Atlantic, and civilian sales were booming. Info taken from former 20 year H&K employee Jim Schatz’s wonderful slideshow not only contributes to my own research but is quite interesting. Mr. Schatz notes that in the 1970s when the G3 rifle was adopted by 80+ countries, the company was churning out 2,000 rifles a day! Nonetheless Heckler & Koch realized that there were profits to be had in the United States to they built what H&K employees called “The Palace”. The Palace was built on 12 acres of prime real estate in the 3rd fastest growing county in the US. Four buildings planned to provide full HK production capabilities, however only one was built as it was more cost effective to just import product from Oberndorf. Regardless the new facility had three underground ranges, a classified storage vault, and imported German furniture (even German trash cans!). Sales of H&K pistols were booming too, as well as their long guns. The HK4, the VP70z, and the P7 were all flying out the door (the P7 being the most iconic of the bunch):

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Call me old fashioned but I carry my trusty P7 every day. Anyways HK roller delayed blowback guns continued to sell, and the 91, 93, and 94 continued to pop up in action flicks and just about every police department had a locker full of MP5 submachineguns (Jim Schatz said that the MP5 was all the rage with LEOs and SWAT but that the onset of the 5.56 CQB rifle started making inroads to dethrone the sub-gun in the early 1990’s). However things were still going very well. HK was successfully marketing and selling pistols, rifles, and shotguns (FABARM team up) to the public. A little known company at the time even had an agreement with H&K where Heckler and Koch would handle all of their importation to the US. That company is known as Benelli. I have a pair of these old HK/Benelli M1 autoloading 12 gauge shotguns and they are fantastic:

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Anyways all this success hit a proverbial brick wall in 1989 when H. W. Bush by Executive Order reinterpreted the 1968 GCA’s “sporting purposes” provision to include the importation of foreign “assault weapons” (imagine if there was a ban on importing foreign high performance vehicles!). Andrew Tuohy of Vuurwapen Blog has also done his research, and discovered the following:

The ATF consulted magazine editors, hunting guides, state game commissioners, and competitive shooting groups to determine whether certain rifles were importable under the ’89 import ban, and taking into consideration the “sporting purposes” test. On multiple occasions, the ATF asked them if rifles such as the SG550, FN FAL, AK-47, etc. had any useful “sporting purpose.” When polled directly in 1989, 0 (zero) of 14 magazine editors responded in the affirmative. When polled directly in 1997, only 2 of 13 responded that such rifles were appropriate for the hunting of medium to large game (why the ATF decided to exclude the hunting of small game from their report is not stated). Of 70 magazine articles reviewed by the ATF (again, the selection process is not described), only one described what the ATF calls “large capacity military magazine rifles,” or LCMM rifles, as being “excellent” for hunting. Two others described 7.62×39 as being acceptable for hunting. The ATF also put down the idea of action competition shooting as being sporting, for the simple reason that it wasn’t “traditional.”

What else is interesting about this position paper? Well, of the manufacturers, trade groups, and so on that received letters from ATF seeking their input, exactly one company made an active attempt to stop what they saw coming. This manufacturer placed an advertisement in Shotgun News, attesting to how useful their firearms were for various sporting purposes, and encouraged owners of their firearms to write ATF with accounts of how they use their products as sporting arms. Which manufacturer was this?

HK.

That’s right. The one company to step up and say “This isn’t right,” was none other than the much-vilified Heckler & Koch (see page 115 of the PDF linked above). The magazine editors? A few attempted to tell ATF the truth – good for them. The rest were perfectly happy to watch “those other guns” get banned.

The flow of the popular 90 series immediately stopped coming into the USA after ’89. What stinks even more is that the company had inventory sitting in port worth an incalculable amount of money. Crates of H&K 91 rifles were suddenly unsellable, and while some were crudely remarked “H&K 911″ and had a thumbhole stock put on and whatnot, many would have to be shipped back to Germany… on H&K’s dime. So this was the first time the US government crippled H&K, but it would not be the last. H&K quickly tried to drum up more business with a pistol called the “SP89″, a civilian semi-auto MP5k. However that also got banned in 1994 with the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. So twice in five years H&K got screwed over by my government.

This understandably left a sour taste in H&K’s mouth but they continued to sell their new polymer handguns and the P7, as well as some politically correct sporting rifles that were exempt from both the import ban and the Assault Weapons Ban. But it’s 2013, hasn’t the Assault Weapons Ban been expired for over a decade? Well yes, but the ’89 import ban is still in place. But doesn’t H&K have a domestic manufacturing facility so they can make semi auto G36 rifles, MP5 variants, and maybe even an MP7 pistol or SBR stateside where they make the MR556? Well no, and here is where it gets extremely complex. First of all, German export laws are just as if not more complex than our import laws. You see, the German government effectively owns the patents and export rights of all firearms made in Germany, and it takes years to get approval for the exportation of even military rifle designs to H&K USA! For example, the HK 416 was in production in 2005, but it took six years to navigate the bureaucracy of two governments and tool up here in the USA to make some of the guns components. If it were not for the ’89 ban and the German governent’s export laws, H&K might have a complete and total stranglehold on the whole piston AR15 market (mind you this is speculation).

I got this information from an employee at The Craft (the outfit that employed Chris Kyle before his passing) which is located not far from me. I had wondered how the MR556A1 I tested had German proof marks on the barrel despite the 2005 barrel ban. The man told me that they are imported as partially machined blanks and then finished here in the states, so the rifles are an amalgamation of US and German parts that increase the cost of the rifle significantly due to trans-Atlantic shipping and the cost of export permits for designs, parts, and more. The fact is that if Germany would let H&K export the G36 rifle and the US allowed them to import it, there would be plenty of civilians with semi automatic G36 rifles if a cost analyst determined there was a market and the company could turn a profit on them (we live in the world of $2,000 Tavor and AUGs that sell like crazy). Even if the German government let the plans be exported for guns like the G36 and MP7, the factory here in New Hampshire would have to be expanded, retooled, etc. to sell firearms to us normal folks who just have a good time shooting. If you live in a country like Canada where there is no such import ban (and you lucky Canucks can walk into gun stores and buy brand new Sig 550s from Switzerland) the German government is your road block and I imagine this is quite irritating to H&K, a company that employs over 600 good people and wants to make sure they all make a good living. The man at The Craft also showed me a nice post-sample G36c but explained how to meet governmental standards, H&K now requires an end user certificate on all such firearms (perhaps due to cases like in Canada where some civilians have ended up with semi automatic G36 rifles and MP7s, not to mention all those 416 uppers that popped up on the market here in the US).

So that’s that. H&K doesn’t hate you, in fact they want your business despite having been crapped on twice by the US government and even the German export restrictions in place. In my experience their customer service has been phenomenal (I asked for an O-ring for my mark 23 and they sent me a bag of five, no questions asked), their employees are incredibly easy to deal with (not many companies send you expensive rifles after you tell them “I am going to put 1,000 rounds through this and abuse it”), and they just make good stuff… that I wish I could buy.

Sources

The HK Decades

Sporting Purposes: How HK Really Does Not Suck Or Hate You

 


Alex C.

Alex is the Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog who was born and raised in Texas with years of experience in hunting, shooting competitions, and general collecting. A degree in History from Baylor University has contributed to his love of both early and modern firearms technology, but Alex is most fond of machineguns. Alex also owns a firearm consulting business licensed to produce title I and II weapons.
You can reach Alex at [email protected].


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  • Andrew Tuohy

    sourcing is one thing, copy/paste from other articles is another… :/

    • WPlank

      Holy shit, you’re not kidding.

      Large sections of this article were copied directly from Andrew’s blog. Nice job, TFB.

      • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

        It’s taken care of between ourselves.

    • Tommy Cheatham

      It’s almost like reading The Truth About Guns.

    • Alex C.

      Sorry Andrew, I have named you in the article to give due credit. If you would like me to remove/revise the content that reflects your research I will do so. Please contact me if you would like that.

      • Andrew Tuohy

        Thanks for fixing it.

    • Nicks87

      Blah, blah, blah, get the sand out of your vagina it’s not that big of a deal.

      90% of everything on the internet is plagiarized, so get over yourself.

      • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

        Nicks we don’t use that kind of language here.Take it down a notch. It’s been resolved between us.

  • Frank

    Because you suck……
    I jest, great article!

  • Doom

    If they dont hate us then they should front the cash from their massive reserves and get started on expanding the facilities and getting all their designs sent over. hell just send over the old equipment, do they even make large batches of G3’s still? same with the MP5, get cracking on a semi auto variant, I want the HK name without spending 3-5k on a 20+ year old gun. heck couldnt they just buy out PTR then just send over all the german components and put them together on the newly acquired machines? I dont know man, Im desperate…..

    • Alex C.

      The G3 lives on with the PSG1 and MSG90 but HK no longer makes a base G3 to my knowledge. That being said, H&K does not have “massive reserves” of cash; They currently have more debt than assets.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      Do you have any idea how much what you suggest would cost just to make guns they consider to be old designs that wouldn’t sell enough to even recoup the cost of moving all the equipment here. That’s not to mention the money it would cost to jump through all the government regs from both the US and Germany.
      It would be a terrible business move. As Alex stated they don’t have unlimited funds to please a small market for these older designs especially when other companies already make quality copies.

      • Doom

        All the HK copy guns seem to sell like hotcakes, I have a hard time believing people wouldn’t buy new HK guns by the droves when people are willing to spend 3-5k on a 20+ year old gun when they can get a brand new PTR for 1/4 the price. people are also more than happy to spend 1k for a poor Turkish copycat HK94. you act like there is no interest in the gun when the opposite is true, its just that people either A. want the little HK stamp of quality, or the gun isnt widely available and good quality in the case of HK94’s / clones. they dont have to move equipment, they could just buy out PTR. its not like they need special milling machines for the gun anyways, they are stamped steel guns and take much less tooling to make the receiver and then rivet or weld the barrel trunion etc on. every other gun manufacturer is more than happy to make “sporter” guns to be imported then converted, or move production to the US to make their guns, So HK can do it, or they can keep the saying that has been put on them. as far as financial problems, they are doing something really wrong then, they constantly have millions and millions of dollars thrown at them.

        http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2013/07/25/germany-buys-hk121-samples-55000/

        and DHS buying millions of dollars worth of guns as well. if they arent rolling in cash then they must have some poor business practices…kind of like not pursuing a big market in the US for guns other than pistols and 3 thousand dollar target rifles.

  • FourString

    This article was very fascinating and informative, historically, and I appreciate it being brought to my attention—but please do put Andrew’s passages in block quotation and cite him properly…

    • Alex C.

      Edited to give Mr. Tuohy more recognition. His research was instrumental in helping me write this article and his spectacular blog deserves a look (shameless suck-up).

  • Kyle Sarver

    Because you suck, and we hate you. XD

  • Greg

    This article is freaking awesome. Being old enough to have been keeping up with the gun world the 80s I am familiar with this stuff. I am sick of snotnosed kids who don’t know what they are talking about explaining to me what HK should be doing.

  • Mike

    One thing about Canadian gun control is that it is odd. I can own a Travor or but not a but not a g3 or any variant. Or any military rifle.

    • Alex C.

      Canadian gun laws are very odd. I.E. it is odd how a VZ58 is not even restricted, where as all AK variants are prohibited.

      • dp

        Answer: Canada is basically a ‘tribal environment’ that has good-old-fashioned ‘tribal’ thinking, allegiances and preferences coming down right from the top level. This projects into politics, economy and life of country as whole. On face it is of course just the opposite.
        So as a result, you get to such ‘anomalies’ as viewed from technical stand point. This cannot be understood based on simple logic alone.

      • Tuulos

        VZ58 is different beast from AK while it looks somewhat similar. And some Valmet rifles are not prohibited so not all AK variants are prohibited. And by not all I mean 1 or 2.

        The prohibited weapons list was basically made by leafing through Jane’s Infantry Weapons and banning all the guns that looked scary. That’s why you can even find H&K G-11 on the list.

        • Alex C.

          Interesting stuff tuulos. Still, I do not feel too bad for our neighbors to the north. You guys can get some cool hardware that we can’t!

          • Tuulos

            I’m actually from Finland but I have friends in Canada who have told me about their situation.

            Valmet Hunter, Hunter Auto and M78 are the three AK variants that are allowed by exception written in there. If I recall correctly it’s because Canadian government bought a big load of them for the natives.

          • Alex C.

            Ah, I apologize. Assumptions can be a dangerous thing! Thank you for your input, I always enjoy reading the thoughts of our international readers.

          • Tuulos

            It’s quite fine, it’s hard to tell where someone is from through the internet, especially if they have knowledge of the laws of different countries.

            I’ll continue to pop in and share my knowledge and knowledge from Finnish shooting forums in matters relating to the great articles you guys continue to publish.

          • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

            Thank you for sharing the information with us

        • mikewest007

          A G11? YGBSM. Seriously.

    • DW

      Gun control does not make sense anyway

    • Roger Mao

      I dont know much about Canadian firearm importation law, but i do know theres a long list of prohibited weapons by the criminal code.

      Which by the way even lists crossbow unfoldable shorter than 1 meter is illegal.

      And many other stuff

  • Lance

    I wouldn’t say HK been trying to help our gun owners here in the states in order in there minds to get BIG government contracts they kicked American gun owners to the curb. SO like many BIG military makers they kick us to the side when they see more gov money so I dont trust them

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      Lance it doesn’t have anything to do with picking government sales over civilian.

      The problem is crippling/expensive gov regulations from both the US and Germany. Before all these regulations H&K’s were fairly inexpensive. I purchased an H&K 91 in 1985 for $400 brand new and an H&K 93 with a set trigger group for $475 new.

      The majority of the blame, if you want someone to blame, lies with government bans and regulations on imports and exports.

  • Lance

    Also your wrong Colt AR-15A2 Sporter 2s were not made till 1985/86. SP-1s where norm in the early 80s. HK did have a following then till the Sporter 2s came in the mid 80s.

  • BryanS

    If anything it gets you even more pissed about how another 2nd Amendment friendly president screwed over the people.

    • Eric S

      If I recall, Reagan proposed an assault weapon ban and let the expansion of the NFA through. And I believe Bush was his VP at the time. So I think it’s safe to say those two were not friends of civilian firearm owner. Course I always maintain they just did that to protect the sales of American companies. Competition is unAmerican, dontcha know.

      • sturm44

        The Firearms Owners Protection Act (FOPA ’86) that you are referring to is 90% positive for gun owners. It clarified many problem from GCA ’68, allowed re-importation of C&R’s & added the safe travel clause. The Hughes amendment by an anti-gun representative from NJ got jammed in there at the last minute. That was what closed the full auto registration.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FOPA

      • jamezb

        For all the good things about Reagan, he still hailed from California and had been infected with their brain worms.

        • PARAMEDIC70002

          And banned open carry as Governor.

      • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

        Lets drop the politics guys

        • jzep789

          Fuck off nazi

  • schizuki

    George H. W. Bush. Reagan didn’t want him but he caved to establishment pressure and made him his VP. Thus not only strangling the Reagan Revolution in its crib but setting in motion an unbroken string of catastrophes.

    • Blake

      “firearms, not politics” please :-)

      • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

        Yes lets stick with the article.

  • schizuki

    The hunting rifles on the far right look like modernized Gew43’s. Neat.

  • Martin

    Even in Switzerland, where we have no restrictions on importing “Assault Weapons” or everything similar, HK refuses to sell their semiautomatic G36s and MP5s to civilians.
    They just don’t want to sell their “War weapons” (Kriegswaffen) to any civilian in any country although they could.
    HK is not the great company you think it is, deal with it.

    • Tuulos

      Maybe you should have finished reading the article before making a fool out of yourself, especially the part about German Export laws & regulations.

      • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

        Thank you Tuulos–It does help if you read the whole thing.

  • Bjoern

    I would like to buy a look-a-like G36K here in germany… but nope… HK will never make anything like that, because they are not interested in civilian sales, thats it.

    Buy a crappy SL-8 or die…

    Oh, and btw: vice versa it isn´t better. I really would like to see more US made gun accessoires here in germany, which are not overpriced, but ITAR is a fun killer ;-)

    • Eurocopter

      Amen to that… Not that ITAR can stop me as I´m often in the US, and just mailing myself the shit I need with no return address. But why the hell does HK not allow you to buy a civvie G36, when you can buy a civvie 416? I don´t get it.

      • Ren

        My guess its because German government owns the design to G36 but not to 416?

        BTW, when does design patent on G36 expire?

        • Eurocopter

          The G3s has been in production by other manufacturers for a rather long time, and the design is what, 50 years old? My guess would be 20 to 40 years, but don´t quote me on that.

          Also, thinking about it, I think you are right. The 416 is based on the AR/M16 after all so it makes sense that they don´t own the patents for that.

          • Bjoern

            What´s about the new semi only “MP5″ models, which HK send to the Bundeskriminalamt a few weeks ago? They killed the pin hole at the trigger group… Why? There is no need for that. There are million other ways to make safe that no one wil convert it to fullauto. The had the chance to make a good looking semi only MP5, but they failed…

        • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

          No idea but maybe one of our German readers could answer that.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      It would be nice if you could!

  • Troy

    I still feel like they hate us. They could build there designs in the USA. There is a way to get around the restrictions on both side. Yet they do not do it, and consequently lose respect money and new markets. When they make a semi mp7, g36, and true 416. I will buy one.

    • Tim Pearce

      I was of the understanding that they were planning to build a big factory in the states, and then Obama, whose campaign website and early white house website both said he was planning to bring back the Scary Looking Guns Ban, got elected. They promptly decided not to waste the money until the waters were a little warmer over here.

    • Tim U

      Mark my words: there will NEVER be a semi-auto, publicly available MP7. There just isn’t a market for it, even if there were no import bans or 922r to worry about. The NFA plus proprietary ammunition kills it.

      • 2wheels

        I think the P90 proved there could be a market for such a firearm.

        Now that said, do I think we’ll see a civvie legal MP7 here in the states? Probably not.

        • Tim U

          The PS90, being a bullpup design, can get you the same compact package with only a little extra length.

          The MP7 is not, and would be very awkward to use with a full 16″ barrel on it.

          • 2wheels

            The Kriss looks a little funky with a 16″ barrel, but it’s still on the market.

            I can see people buying both 16″ and SBR versions of the MP7 if it were made available, even if only in limited numbers and at a very high price.

      • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

        Agreed and any market would be a very small one which doesn’t justify the cost.

      • Jeremy Star

        Yeah, I think you are wrong. I think plenty of people would buy a civvy MP7. 2wheels is right, if the PS-90 can make it, so can the MP7.

        • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

          As I said below the market isn’t large enough to warrant the expense. I’d love to have one as well. Even the older designs like the MP5 with the longer barrel I’d buy.
          H&K just doesn’t have the millions it would take to sell to what would be a relatively small market.

          • Sergeant Cockdiesel

            And yet a handful of “non-industry” small investors were able to scrape together the capital to build a successful company that is making the same product that H&K “just doesn’t have the millions it would take”?

            The reality of PTR trumps your theories about why H&K craps all over the American civilian market.

          • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

            One little problem with that assertion. These small companies are in the US. H&K has to jump through both German and US hoops plus build a large factory. One reader mentioned moving the equipment over here–well that cost won’t work.
            There’s a big difference between a small or startup company operating here and a large company.

          • Sergeant Cockdiesel

            H&K has a US presence already. No US hoops to jump through for domestic production, and no German ones either.

            Somehow German companies like SIG were able to do it. But then SIG actually wants to sell firearms to mere civilians.

            H&K had no problems from either the German or US government when they exported their G3 tooling to Todd Grove in Ohio.

            A handful of small investors at JLD/PTR managed to come up with financing from scratch, get permits for importation of both parts and tooling, lease facilities, begin production and sell so much product that they’ve got orders backlogged for months to come.

            But that’s too hard for H&K to do?

            If there’s an excuse besides “H&K hates civilians” we’re all still waiting to hear it.

          • SD

            Where are you getting your information? Source please. It sounds like conjecture on your part rather than sound information.

          • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

            The majority comes from H&K USA. Discussions about products and why they aren’t imported or made over here was the gist of the conversation.

      • Blake

        For the civilian market, something like the SIG MPX is a heck of a lot easier to market than the MP7. 16″bbl option & normal ammo are the key to subgun sales success. As the article states, there’s likely to be far too much expense involved in designing such a beast in Germany & bringing it over.

        Now a 16″ MP5 OTOH…

      • snmp

        HK MP7 are in semi only for LE in manies countries, (Like UK …)

        • Tim U

          You seem to be missing the key words “publicly available” in my comment.

  • Some Jerk

    Spot the blogger with some nice H&K ad revenue coming his way!

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      Please—you have to be kidding. If not you should be.

  • Tim U

    I guess I just don’t see what makes a USP so special as to command $300 over the price point of all their competitors (polymer frame pistols, such as Glock, XD, M&P, Walther, etc).

    I also don’t see how the 416 on the US market can command the price tag it does compared to the other piston options out there (SCAR, LWRC, etc).

    Just a few modern examples.

    • DW

      ^This.
      They could also license US companies that make/made G3 pattern rifles (Vector, PTR, etc) and benefit. People would much rather have HK-brand G3s even if they cost a bit more.

      • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

        From day one they have always said they will never do that. They are dedicated to the quality standards they have and don’t trust another company to meet those standards.

        • KansasGunner

          Except for all the ones made under license in Sweden, Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, France, Greece, Mexico, Portugal, Sudan, the UK and Iran. But aside from all those they would never allow for licensed production as the quality would surely suffer. The fact that seemingly only H&K is unable to exploit the 922r loophole speaks volumes, and what it says it that somewhere near the top there is a belief that civilians should not be allowed to own such weapons and they behave accordingly. Until they start to actually make an effort to offer military style semi-autos in the US I will remain firm in my belief that H&K’s management is anti-gun at heart on some level.

        • DW

          They have Walther build .22s carrying their name. Why can’t they have centerfires built by others carrying their name?

          • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

            They just don’t. I mean there are companies that can make rifle up to their standards. They just won’t entertain the idea.

          • Sergeant Cockdiesel

            Like the plastic and pot-metal crap Umarex makes?

            You’re a funny guy.

          • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

            I try:-)

          • SD

            So you’re admitting your post above is bullsh*t?

          • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

            You mean am I admitting my comment above was incorrect?

            Nope not at all. My comment was about H&K’s outlook on it. The above comment was my take on it. I feel like there are companies that can make them up to standard.

          • Not Stupid as a Rock

            And as Sgt Cockdiesel pointed out, H&K licensed their name and trademark to Umarex who has been manufacturing a shitty .22 MP5-shaped turd for several years now.

            So let’s not pretend that your post was anything other than fanboi bullshit.

    • FourString

      Well, to be fair, a USP fires underwater with no modification, performed exceedingly well in extreme temperature torture tests, and doesn’t jam even when limp wristed, which cannot be said for ALL of the other pistols, from what I understand. Furthermore, if I recall correctly, the service/barrel life of the USP is quite a bit longer than its peers. The USP is built like a Tank. That’s why it’s been a legacy since the 90’s mate.

  • Mark

    Except HK has had 24 years to make the MP5/G3/93 in the US. The gun community has begged and pleaded for more than two decades and the pleas have been ignored. To make matters worse HK hires the largest axxholes on the planet to work Shot Show. If you go ask when you can expect to be able to purchase xyz rifle they look at you like your head’s on backwards when they find out you’re a civilian.

    So after all these years of being put off we make the joke that they think we suck and they hate us. After all if you ignore the world’s largest consumer firearms market for 20+ years you must think they suck and hate them.

    • Alex C.

      Form 1994-2004 they were banned, and the ’89 ban stopped the 90 series importation. And now since they built a factory here in the USA, all the old roller locked stuff is obsolete (hell, even HK ditched them in favor of Johnson multi-lug designs). Also if you want any of those guns, there are domestic manufacturers because the patents have expired. Go to PTR for a 91, Vector for a 93/94, or specialty gunsmiths for stuff like a 21/23/51/53 etc.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      The usual H&K bash about them hating us is something I’m very tired of.I’ve had emails from readers who feel the same way. I advised a few post ago I will delete a post with that content.

  • Denderwuz

    As soon as some one bashes H&K or spouts one of the tired “they hate you” lines it tells me a lot about them, primarily that they have little to no experience with firearms

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      Well the I hate you lines will be deleted as soon as I see one. Just because a company won’t spend tons of money to make 93’s and 91’s here some think they don’t care. It’s not that it’s just good business sense.

      • Tom

        You have to spend money to make money. I guess they didn’t pass ECON 101.

        • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

          That’s true unless the product won’t sell enough to get that money back much less make money.

  • Patrick Henry,The2nd

    The 89 import ban has done more to harm to gun owning than anything other than the NFA.

    Its time to challenge the “sporting purposes” language- which is not relevent to proper Second Amendment jurisprudence.

  • Gabe Suarez

    I have always liked HK firearms…specially the “Legacy Weapons”. I carried an MP5 into harms way as well as the Italian Benelli Super 90.

    I think that the gun laws from the late 80s, and early 90s, soured the European Gun Companies on the entire US market. The average US gun buyer has no idea of the amount of capital necessary get a firearm to market, and specially a military styled one. Couple that with the seemingly bi-polar attitude of the US on firearms and you get a great deal of reluctance by companies like HK to devote much time to civilian sales.

    That notwithstanding, the US Civilian market is one of the strongest in the world and I said as much to Mike Cabrera, an HK Sales rep I worked SWAT with. He listened, but whether anything will change I don’t know. What I do know is that if we had a pallet of HK-93s or HK-94s, we would sell them out in an hour.

    Gabe Suarez

    CEO-Suarez Group

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      Gabe that’s one thing that seems to be almost impossible to get across and that’s the tremendous cost involved. The size of the market would never offset those cost.
      H&K did get burned badly by the US and for the amount of money that cost them I’d be a bit reluctant also.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      Off subject Gabe but I sure like the Kompressor I’m reviewing.

      • Gabe Suarez

        Thank you. Since we are very much HK fans (me and my GM carried MP5s and another couple of staffers a HK53 and a G3 respectively) we will have one available in the HK threading very soon.

        Gabe Suarez
        CEO-Suarez Group

        • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

          Yea one of my issued team guns was an MP5. Excellent weapon.

    • Blake

      Interesting to note that the French & Italians stopped importing cars into the US market around this time as well…

      • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

        Fiat sells in the us

        • Blake

          since 2011 after they rescued Chrysler from the bowels of bankruptcy :-)

      • Gabe Suarez

        Having examined the Import issues as a business model at one time I will say that importing guns into the USA with a democrat in office is very risky. I have a friend that lost a container filled with Norinco AKs when the Exec order was signed. The container was in transit as the pen was put to paper and Customs would not release it. Norinco, of course was already paid and did not want it back. Not a concern for the casual buyer perusing a possible buy at Cabela’s for the tenth time as his wife decides whether to “allow” him to buy it or not, but quite a concern for the gentleman that fronted the money to the Chinese, and that now has neither money nor rifles.

        Gabe Suarez
        CEO-Suarez Group

        • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

          I hate to even think what a cargo contains full of Norincos would cost!

  • jamezb

    Thank you for publishing this information. An HK93 probably saved my life once. I too have a permanent fondness for HK.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      Thank you sir

  • Mark

    TFB is now actively deleting posts that could be seen as negative to HK. Guess this is the new direction for criticism of companies that sponsor articles.

    • Alex C.

      I am sorry but I have never seen an HK add on the site before. I do not believe that they have ever sponsored this website, and The Firearm Blog’s policy on paid reviews is very strict: if someone gets caught doing them, they get fired, end of story.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      No you haven’t read what I’ve posted over and over again. I along with a lot of readers are sick of that tired old phrase. I’ve warned that this was coming several times apparently some weren’t paying attention or didn’t believe it.

      That phrase has nothing to do with contributing to the conversation of the article content it’s just a tired phrase that contributes nothing.

      Mark that’s just plain garbage. H&K doesn’t advertise with us sponsor articles or anything else. I’m the one who has direct contact with H&K to obtain guns for review. I don’t recall any spooky conspiracies in my request for review guns.

  • Jeremy Star

    H&K makes some cool firearms (I would love to own a G36 of any type) but they are crazy sue happy and that alone kills the company image. When you have a design that you co-created with another company but sue everyone when they make anything that even looks close, yeah. They pretty much shut down clone manufacturers to prevent US buyers from getting any form of the rifle design, even though they cannot sell it here anyway. They sued ATI for making a .22LR gun that looked similar to a MP5, and then started making their own through Walther when they saw how popular it was. If they don’t hate us, they have a funny way of showing it.

    Not to mention my Sig P229 came with night sights and a full metal frame and costs less than a polymer framed H&K pistol. You can pretty much buy 2 Glocks for the price of 1 H&K. I know they are nice, but they are not THAT nice.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      I know the ATI lawsuit but most industry lawsuits I’ve heard are from Glock?

      • Jeremy Star

        http://dockets.justia.com/search?q=HECKLER+%26+KOCH%2C+INC

        They have sued paintball marker makers, airsoft makers, toy gun makers, anybody they think is infringing on their trade-dress. While it is normal for people to try to keep their IP by suing people for using it, it’s a bit ridiculous the extremes that H&K goes to, especially considering their trade-dress is based on another rifle anyway.

        • Blake

          Well, as much as I hate the current lawsuit-happy corp culture…

          …the lawsuits may be a response to all the hoops they have to jump through in order to register their IP in Germany and the pain associated with the export process.

  • Raoul O’Shaugnessy

    The guys at PTR had the right idea..
    1)find a country that equipped its military with an HK product and demanded the product be built in their country.
    2) Take the factory apart and move it to the US
    3) ?????
    4) Profit!

    That annoying little ‘shallow flute’ issue aside, PTR does a bang up job on their 91 copies. If they’d start making a 94 I’d be all over it in a heartbeat.

    I always thought the fast track to being a millionaire would be to buy an SKS factory from the Chinese, bring it to the US, modify it to use M16 stripper clips and shoot .223. There’d be one in every pickup truck from sea to shining sea.

    • Blake

      you wouldn’t even need to modify it to shoot .223, they sell 7.62×39 at my local hardware store (erm, used to anyway when they still had stock). It’s the “Russian 30-30″ (so why can’t I get a levergun chambered in it? :-).

      your idea sounds like a great kickstarter project

    • Peaceful Shooter

      Loving my PTR G1. Accessories are a killer, though!

  • Thomas Acton

    as i recall it, British Aerospace purchased H&K in 1991, and under pressure from the British government…THAT is when imports of any type rifle stopped coming to the US. Not even thumbholes. We saw Greece and Portugese for a while but even those soon ceased.
    at least today, company is back under german private ownership and control.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      And I’m glad of that!

  • Drake

    What cause H&K down fall in USA. Is cost of there product and the quality product fail live up to that cost. USP guns have been plague with issues from start like broken safty fall right off gun in your hand with hardly in use that H&K had recall fix which they have. A polymer plastic fame that would break in half if slam hard in ground witch happen to board patrolmen in Arizona. Customer service deparment that never live up to what Sig Saure provides. Speak of Sig Saure they came long did ever thing better than H&K had done like make guns people want to buy provide better custmer service for there guns at reasonable price point. Offer general public ever gun that they make not tell ever one well you can have only what H&K offers you off there civilian prove gun list. H&K was only company to do this Colt firearms was doing this to only make guns for military police market untill the profit for doing so start run dry than they return to civilian market. The biggiest thing that hurt H&K was companys like Sig Saure and Glock beating H&K at owen game.

    • Bert Reynolds

      In English, please.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      I’m having trouble understanding you but that aside the idea of a polymer frame being broken on concrete sounds like the usual internet fantasy rumor.

    • Justin

      Board Patrol will maybe buy guns from Sig Saure that will not break in half if slam on ground. No safty to worry will fall right off side of gun in hand. Bad HK! Yay Sig Saure!

  • bill thomas
    • Marcus

      I hate to be overly critical, but the entire thing down to the writing style and phrasing reads like fiction. Fiction written by someone who really doesn’t know all that much about guns.

  • Drake

    H&K like Sig Saure has gun manufacturing plant in USA. Could very well make there guns here there like they do with H&K 416 that made here. H&K excuse to why they well not sell some there guns people who want them just bad excuse. You do not see Sig Saure offer up H&K excuse becuase make all there firearms USA now. PTR smaller company than H&K have no trouble make selling some same H&K rifles that you pay twice for from H&K. If H&K was serious about fix issue buld gun custmer want hear like FNC Sig Saure bunch other companys do.

    Manufacturing (USA)

    27 Piscataqua Drive
    Newington, NH 03801 USA

    • Alex C.

      Did you read the article?

      • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

        Doesn’t sound like it—-

      • Bert Reynolds

        Drake your post reads like someone with a third grade education wrote it.

  • RootC

    Nice job writing an objective article, which thoughtfully explored and analyzed all the relevant issues.

    The issue is not that HK doesn’t actively market and sell guns in the US. The issue is that it is highly selective about what it sells, doesn’t sell some of the most sought after items, and expects you to pay twice as much (or more) for the items that they do decide to market and sell, as compared to other equally functional guns. Or in the case of a 417 mag, you can pay 5 times the price or more or other 7.62 mags. Oh I forget, all those other 7.62 mags (like Magpul 20LR) are total garbage that don’t feed a single round backwards (I mean “correctly”). Don’t complain to HK about the price, just count yourself lucky they even bother selling something as sophisticated and perfect as the 417 to lowly civilian commoners.

    Oh, but the HK employee (I mean “author”) points out that they did build a place in the US called “The Palace,” so they must love you. You are such lowly idiot for even thinking that HK hates you. You stupid civilian.

    Some tags might have been left out.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      An author says something you don’t agree with then it’s time to bring out the insults. Insults of this nature tell me one thing–the one commenting in this manner doesn’t know jack about the process or how the industry works.
      Insulting the staff is insulting TFB and that won’t be tolerated. If you don’t like it then make intelligent points rather than useless noise.

      • RootC

        What insult was made? The only thing that could possibly be considered an insult is that I do not believe that article is objective. Nor does it even address the real reason why people say the whole “HK hates you” thing. That was my point. Everything else is simply tongue in cheek.

        You running around and trying to rebut every single comment is silly. It’s funny that you whine about insults, and then toss out zingers like “doesn’t know jack”, “make intelligent points” and “useless noise”. Nice moderating.

        • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

          Thank you

  • Limonata

    I don’t hate H&K but I see in this article a lot of excuses which probably has a lot to do with poor management. If Sig, Glock, FNH and others can be successful in the USA providing products people want to buy, I see no reason H&K cannot. Much of it may be simply due that they have been in the red for too long. I find it hard to believe there are not creative and engineering ways around the many restrictions. I blame management. Also, as many have said, I find it hard to justify the H&K price against the competition and their high price point makes it hard to get many to consider their pistols.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      Rather than the design it has more to do with the gun type

  • Tom

    The level of H&K Fanboyism is ridiculous on this site. You should rename it theHKblog.com. Maybe they’d have more cash reserves if they stopped paying you to advertise for them. I’m sorry I don’t feel the need to spend 40% more just so I can have a gun with HK on the side. I’m sure their pistols are great, but if I wanted a giant pistol to use as a range toy I’d buy a Beretta 92FS for 2/3 the price of a USP.

    • Steve (TFB Editor)

      H&K is, as far as I know, one of the few large gun companies that does not advertise on this blog. I am the Editor I am never told who advertises so that we are not influenced by our advertisers.

      But anyway, even if they did, we are not H&K fanbois, anymore than we are SIG, Steyr, Mossberg, Remington etc. fanbois. We love most gun companies and dislike very, very few.

      When we write a positive article about X we are always called X-Fanboys.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      What you buy handgun wise is your business. There are no fanboys here unless you count our liking about 99% of the guns we get hands on with at the range.
      Like Steve said somebody like yourself always pops out of the woodwork.
      If you read the article it’s factual not undue praise.
      I know you just joined TFB but if you search H&K articles here there aren’t a huge number of reviews. Your comment is unwarranted.

    • DW

      Have you read the MR556 review on this site? It is quite critical of the rifle.
      No way is this site biased toward HK, and the fact that there aren’t many HKs to get hold of doesn’t help either.

      • Alex C.

        Thank you, that was my article too. You are the first person to even bring it up.

      • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

        Earlier I asked that people with that opinion check our H&K articles apparently your the only one who remembers or checked.

  • Clint Notestine

    ive always liked the look of HK hunting rifles… they look like a continuation of the G43

  • Jeff Smith

    HK – because you’re pretty cool and we like you.”

  • Jesse P Weaver

    Thought it was “Firearms not Politics”. If I want to get upset about the .gov i can go a dozen other places. Still interesting that they imported the G3 in ’62 before Colt.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      It is and I’ve been very lenient today but I must insist the political comments must stop. I don’t enjoy deleting comments but everyone should know it is indeed firearms not politics

  • Zius Patagus

    This article sounds like an HK publicist wrote it. In the end HK sucks and we hate them, ok not really, just has to say that ;)

  • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

    Any comment containing the H&K hate phrase will be deleted

  • SH

    I can’t support H&K for having the German delegation c*ckblock the NATO standardization of FNH’s 5.7x28mm after it was proven superior to their copycat 4.6x30mm.

  • Ryan M.

    I have to agree. I sent my HK P7M13 to HK for servicing and they were a pleasure to deal with. Very professional and a wealth of knowledge. The phoned me twice during the process.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      Thanks for passing along a first person experience Ryan

  • Michael Zeleny

    By German law, German proof marks placed on the barrel witness its test firing with proof loads. Accordingly, they cannot be placed on partially machined barrel blanks.

  • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

    Approx 1982—- 1985 dealer cost Things change!

  • Greensoup

    I always wondered if one of the reasons for certain import restrictions was to protect domestic gun jobs. The chinese and soviet bloc countries can drive prices down to essentially nothing on a lot of stuff. And the Chinese regularly sell at a loss to put their competition out of business.

  • Blake

    Perhaps a silly question, since I’m not much of an H&K follower (but this article has piqued my interest):

    Aren’t there any companies manufacturing complete H&K weapons (not airsoft) under license in the USA? They seem to be fine with that for plenty of other countries; I was in Athens recently and all the police/paramilitary around the protest areas carry Greek license-made MP5s. There’s practically one on every downtown block on strike days.

    See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heckler_%26_Koch_MP5#History

    Perhaps then the issue is more around the design modification to comply with US civilian sales requirements than the license manufacturing itsself?

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      That’s certainly part of the reason. There are no licensed makers.

    • Sergeant Cockdiesel

      There are no “US civilian sales requirements” that would prevent H&K from manufacturing their roller-locked guns in the US.

      Exact clones of all of the HK9x rifles are being legally made in the US today.

  • JaredN

    When it comes to HK, I can only go by personal experience. About 10 years ago, my gunsmith needed to replace a spring on my USPc. The spring was only available from HK – Brownells did not have it. When he called HK to get the spring, they would only sell him the spring if he ordered $10,000 in HK guns. He had me call HK to order the spring. It took 3 calls over the course of two months to get the spring.

    IMO, this article is incorrect – HK really does think that we suck and they do hate us.

  • KarlJ

    One thing not mentioned was HK’s attitude towards service for non-govt buyers. I used a P7M8 on duty for many years, and it finally broke. When I called HK to arrange to get it fixed I was essentially told I was on my own, even though there were no private P7 smiths around by this time. When I called a few days later IDing myself as the cop I was then, they fell all over themselves to fix it free and fast. That’s annoying, and if their CS attitude hasn’t changed I wouldn’t consider buying from them again. Not that there is anything in their current lineup that interests me, but I sure liked the P7 and MP5 I used as a cop and the G3’s I used as a contractor overseas.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      They tell me police officers have priority because it may be a duty/personal off duty gun and of course they need that gun back as quickly as possible. That’s not only an H&K policy it’s also S&W, Glock and I believe Sig’s policy.
      When I setup our department with H&K USP’s we had one go down and being an officers gun they got it back quickly.

      • Phil Hsueh

        I think KarlJ’s issue was that not so much that he got priority service when ID’d himself as a cop so much that they wouldn’t do anything for him when they thought he was just Joe Civilian and that he was on his own. It wasn’t until he ID’d himself as a cop were they all of a sudden willing to service his P7.

  • SD

    You keep spouting “no politics please”, but this article is full of politics.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      Yes there are several political comments that I asked to be stopped. They did. You can talk about laws all you want just not the political aspects. There is a difference. I’m not spouting anything just saying what the rules are and ask them to stop.

      Would you rather I ban them or warn them? I prefer to warn first. I do keep track and a pattern over time of ignoring that most basic of rules eventually will get a person banned.

      I try to be fair about it rather than arbitrarily ban people.

  • HK hates me, PTR does not

    And yet they have no problems getting HK’s to criminals around the world. From the archives of your own: http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2011/11/11/hk-raided-by-german-police/

  • Matthew

    From a UK perspective, I shoot civilian service rifle (which is mainly shot with straight pull AR15s) and I looked into getting a HK R8 (which is a straight pull G36). It was designed for the Australian market; but was effectively banned before it could be sold.

    I contacted HK and they were really helpful. The guy I dealt with did some investigation for me and got back to me pretty quickly to say that due to the costs involved and the fact that they were likely to sell only very limited numbers, it wasn’t viable.

    He was even good enough to send me a goodie bag full of promotional material: pen, hat, brochures, t-shirt etc etc

  • Paladin

    We actually can’t import SG550s in Canada, they’re on the prohibited weapons list. What we CAN import are the Swiss Arms Classic rifles, which are based on the SG540, not the SG550.

  • luckystrikemike

    until I see a letter from HK expressing their love for the civilian market, I am still under the presumption they “you suck, and we hate you”

  • Calvinius

    If Germany export laws are so bad, I have to wonder why H&K doesn’t just pack up and move their operations to another country. I’m sure Switzerland or Austria would be happy to have them.

  • Andy Marcell

    Really? I have a P7M8 that needed to be factory overhauled. They would only accept it if was shipped from an FFL with a storefront (my FFL holder has been quietly legally working for over 50 years from his home based shop; he was refused. The weapon was returned to another FFL in my State and I had to both pay for its shipping and fight to get it back. Did I mention they did nothing to my weapon but lose the magazine?) Calls to HK was like talking to a wall. You can praise them all you want but every importer was screwed by Bush and the “sporting purpose” policy. Maybe American companies needed the heat of the competition off their backs like the did in 1968. BTW how much did HK pay for your soul ? If your point was accurate why are there so many USP pistols floating around ? Maybe you should see HK’s bond rating is in the junk class ; during a firearms sales boom ?