Alleged H&K G36 Accuracy Problems

Defense News and report that Germany has halted the purchase of additional Heckler & Koch G36 assault rifles pending an investigation into accuracy problems.

BERLIN — Germany’s defense ministry has temporarily halted new orders of its military’s standard assault rifle while it probes complaints the weapon doesn’t shoot straight, a news report said Sunday.

German troops in Afghanistan in recent years voiced concerns over the G36 automatic rifle made by Heckler & Koch, saying it became inaccurate when its barrel heated up in prolonged firefights.

The G36 has been in service for just over 20 years. It is hard to believe that it took twenty years for the Bundeswehr to notice that there was a fundamental design flaw preventing it from shooting straight when hot. My guess, if the allegations are true, that either the polymer used on recently purchased G36 rifles is performing poorly, or the original polymer is performing poorly after two decades of use and/or UV exposure. Either way, if the investigation concludes that there is a problem with the polymer, military sales of other polymer receiver rifles, such as the FN SCAR, may suffer.

Thanks to Manu and Rolf 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.


  • Babbyc1000

    Thought that was old news, that after prolonged heavy firing the g36 lost accuracy, was a report in a German newspaper (?) about it several years ago

    • U-Bahn

      That report you mention is from 2012.
      And the Reason was already found:
      The Barrel is bedded into a Metal-Bushing. This Bushing is surrounded by Polymer.
      If the barrel gets hot, the heat goes through the bushing right into the Polymer. The Polymer is getting a little bit weak, and the barrel is sinking down a little bit (the muzzle around 1mm -> 0,039 inch). And this leads to a drop of 1,20m (4ft) on a distance of 100m (109 Yards).
      (But only after 180 – 210 rounds on Full Auto with quick Mag Change).
      The G36 was never constructed for a use like this, rather for “burst” fire.

      • TV-PressPass

        And yet, it has a full auto switch

        • S O

          Hardly any Bundeswehr soldier carries that many 5.56 ready in magazines on patrol and there’s no good reason to expect them to shoot only full auto anyway.
          Doctrine is that the junior NCO controls the squad’s fires. It’s his fault if the bullet output is excessive.

          • LCON

            probably part of the reason the Germans dropped the long barrel Automatic Rifle version in favor of the HK MG4

          • S O

            Every ground forces agency does drop an assault rifle-derived bipod-based light machinegun / “automatic rifle” from its inventory sooner or later, unless it’s called “RP”something.

            The USMC had M16A1-based LMGs 30 years ago already, and dropped them. They will drop the M27 or reduce it to an ordinary assault rifle as well.

          • LCON

            Even the Russians dropping RPK for the Pecheneg a light weight version of the PK series.

          • Mark

            My kingdom for a $2000 PKM available in the US…

        • albaby2

          Your car has a pedal that will let you go full throttle too, but your car is not built to operate that way for extended periods.

  • vonzeitgeist

    Anyone who tried using them knew this 10 years ago. They are fine for a police patrol rifle, but not a battle rifle at all.

  • hydepark

    I don’t think the author has a very good understanding on the vast differences between the SCAR and the G36. I’d suggest spending some quality time on YouTube or go ask the real experts over at

  • Axel

    But the scar upper is extruded aluminum, not polymer. How would the plastic stock and lower receiver degrade in a way that caused inaccuracy?

    If I’d market a hunting rifle with the scope mount fixed to the wooden stock, my poorly designed rifle would indeed get a reputation of being inaccurate, but I doubt other wooden stocked rifles would suffer.

    • hydepark

      That was my point exactly. And the only reason I took the time to post these comments is because it’s important that new gun owners aren’t mislead or misinformed by such casual remarks. Lock it up guys.

    • Lance

      But its lower is plastic as other parts its a piece of junk SOCOM ditched (L version of course). Think HK just went too fast making them they need to buy more quality materials like they used to to make there own nations rifles. Or the HK-416 will be the nest Budenwher rifle???

      • Zachary marrs

        I can see them going with an ar platform, usa, Canada, and even Britain either have or are planning on switching to the ar/m16/m4 platform. It probably doesn’t hurt that they are dirt cheap

        • Anon. E Maus

          Doesn’t hurt that they’re lightweight or accurate either.
          I personally think they shouldn’t bother with expensive 416s though, Colt M16s and Diemaco/Colt Canada C7 rifles are a cheaper and just as good a choice.

  • hooper

    HK made an aluminum handguard(not rail) that fixes this

    • Dracon1201

      It’s not the handguard, it’s the receiver.

  • Dave

    Are we sure it’s not because of point of aim shift after the barrel gets hot due to the pencil width profile?

    • seans

      Yep, the problem has been known for years know. Its not POA/POI shift from the barrel itself getting hot. Its the design of the gun itself, the coupling of polymers and metal in a way that didn’t work well.

      • seans

        Should have meant nope, the problem has been known for years now.

        • FourString

          Ye cannae edit?o:

  • Johnny Rambo

    that’s why Tom Cruise couldn’t hit shit using one in MI.

    • LCON

      No that’s because Tom Cruise is a Piss poor actor

      • Risky

        Hate him for his ‘beliefs’ if you want, but he’s far from a poor actor. Ever seen Collateral?

        • FourString

          ^twas a boon for USP 45 sales ;D

      • albaby2

        Not a piss poor actor, but a piss poor person with a greatly inflated ego-like the entire Obama cabinet.

  • ClintTorres

    Guess I’ll cross the G36 off my shopping list now.

  • wetcorps

    So plastic is giving you a hard time?

    Switch back to wood! 😀

    • LCON

      “HK has reported Burning and Fire issues with the HK G36 after testing the new Wooden Receiver”

    • FourString

      Many retro B)

      • wetcorps

        Did you know? The French experimented with an assault rifle with the handguard made of asbestos. Great for heat shielding, but (un)fortunately too brittle.

        • Vernon682

          I like having cancer free lungs thank you very much.

  • Rusty Shackleford

    If HK could fix the SA80 then they sure as hell can fix the G36, or they can step up the XM8 with its quick change barrel.

    • LCON

      XM8 had even more polymer construction. the issue is the upper. If they can replace the Upper receiver say with a light weight aluminum or Magnesium alloy They might be able to fix the issue

    • scw

      There are many who believe that HK already has solutions to these problems. This is a 20 years old design. Its more than likely that the problems has been known for a long time but no one want to fix it. Only because of A-stan where the german soldiers actually have to use these guns then the problem became a problem that must be fixed.

  • sianmink

    I think they haven’t been performing 6 mag dumps in a row with it until now, and they’re realizing the barrel in the things is way too skinny and prone to warpage. I’ve heard of the things starting to throw rounds after only 2 mags of rapid.

  • Lance

    No more G36s! be i t they replace them it be the HK416 issued. they have the 417 in service already.

    • Lance

      I they replace them I mean

    • John Sjöström

      417? Don’t you mean G28?

  • n0truscotsman

    Like I said before when this subject came up: replace the polymer receiver with a lightweight alloy one, just like with the SCAR’s lower.

    The problem can be solved. They should just replace them with 416s anyways.

  • Kevin

    Pencil barrels lose accuracy when very hot? Who would’ve thunk it?

    • seans

      Its not the barrel thickness, has more to do with the trunnion than anything else.

  • guest
  • To Tin Fung

    sorry steve johnson, but “Either way, if the investigation concludes that there is a problem with the polymer, military sales of other polymer receiver rifles, such as the FN SCAR, may suffer.” you’re gonna draw flak for that statement.

    • hydepark

      Too late. Flak activated by me long ago.

  • John David Stutts


    • dude

      And, yet, Dieudonne Saive was able to effectively break that rule….

  • I’d like to point out that Steve’s comment about the SCAR’s polymer receiver was pertaining to the perception of the rifle. Even if the SCAR’s upper is aluminum, the lower is polymer and if the G36 leaves a bad taste in the mouths of some, it could possibly have negative repercussions for the SCAR.

    Though, personally, I would think the ARX-160 would be more at risk.

    • colin

      Yeah, but beretta made a big deal out of having ceramic’s to stop the polymer from shifting. As a news outlet shouldn’t it be TFB’s responsibility to point out that not all polymer weapons are the same?
      It comes across more like “polymer bad blah, blah”.
      Not intending to have a go, love the site. Just sometimes the articles could be worded better.

      • No, I don’t think it’s our responsibility.

        We are talking about a publicity problem, not a mechanical one, with these other firearms.

  • addict360

    it’s an article about the G36 Problems… The title is: “Clarified heat problem”. The article is in german but i’m sure google can translate it (if there is a huge interest, i can translate the most important parts for you) to sum it up, the problem was not the gun, it was the ammunition (Layer thickness of the tin coating of the shell casing…) the ammunition was ordered from different producers and they used different manufacturing methods

  • Alex. A

    Myth busted last year? TFB Finally learns of the initial accusation! GG, TFB. Please, keep up to date or don’t bother posting “news”.

  • GVD

    Such as the SCAR? Really? How little knowledge of the G36 and the SCAR does the editor have?
    The G36 has a trunion that is embedded in polymer. When overheating, the trunion heats the surrounding polymer to the point of where the polymer loses structural integrity or even melts. This causes zero shift as the surrounding polymer is supposed to hold the trunion (and thus the barrel) in place. There are pictures available of a dissected trunion, showing how the plastic around it had slightly changed shape under fire.
    The SCAR has a steel barrel construction and an aluminium upper receiver. The lower is polymer. How the hell can this be considered remotely similar?

  • John Sjöström

    One article here about some problems about a weaponssystem that isnt an AR-plattform, and all the AR-fanboys in here pulls out the “I told you so” card.

    • Fegelein

      I have not seen much of that. I see instead people critiquing a weapon system which was poorly designed and then recommending superior alternatives, such as the HK416. Please do note that I am deeply in love with Kalashnikov. The G36 is just finally being revealed to be crap.

  • Fegelein

    This is exactly why plastic rifles have never taken off. There is a large difference between having plastic accessories and furniture on a rifle, or having a plastic frame and slide on a handgun. and making critical components on a rifle out of plastic. The truth of the matter is that plastic does not take heat in the same way that metals such as steel and Aluminum do. As knows anyone who has ever made the mistake of using a cheap plastic spoon in checking pasta while it boils, plastic melts when it gets hot. The demands on rifle parts which are in contact with the hot aspects of operation, such as the bolt, chamber, extractor, barrel, piston, and gas tube, are extremely high, especially with regards to the heat. That is why even “plastic” handguns have metal operating parts.

    On to the G36… I have been aware of alleged issues for a few years now. I did some research into this issue some months back. I think it was in April. What I found was that these complaints about wandering zeroes and overheating are not new phenomena, but not much was said about them until around 2010, I think. Upon doing some additional research, I found that the overheating allegations were answered by what was in effect a bureaucratic extension of the Bundeswehr, and that no external source I could find had done any sort of testing to either validate or contradict their claims. However, the numbers of complaints I ended up finding, as well as the fact that they all had so many consistent core elements, seemed too weighty to dismiss.

    Now, the germans admitted that there are problems with the G36 and that the numbers massaged and that there as a coverup. It was quite a scandal. They admitted that, indeed, firing did impact accuracy at ranges of, IIRC, starting at about 200M, and that the guns were losing their accuracy due to overheating. They said that the maximum fire rate for the G36 should be 30RPM, or one shot every two seconds to avoid overheating, otherwise soldiers must take out time during fights to let their rifles cool. However, their actions after these admissions absolutely infuriated me.

    They fixed nothing. No adjustments to include a heat shield. No modification to add a burst fire feature or remove fully automatic fire. No heavier barrel. No barrel fluting. No design changes to facilitate either greater sturdiness or enhanced cooling. They instead changed the army rules so as to shift all blame for problems away from the weapons and onto the users. They originally claimed that the G36 could effectively engage targets out to 600M. Now they claim that it is meant for engagements of, IIRC, ~250M maximum, which they then claimed was approximately the greatest common engagement distance in Afghanistan. So if soldiers are shooting at enemies >200M away and missing, it’s their fault that they can’t hit anyone, because the rifle isn’t meant to engage out that far. They then said that soldiers should limit their fire to a maximum of a single thirty round magazine per minute, and that they should only fire at certain, visible targets in range. Keep in mind that modern military tactics depend upon being able to maximize firepower, especially when responding to an ambush as the soldiers often were when they fired on fully automatic and missed. So now soldiers have to make a choice between keeping their rifles function and putting out enough fire to not get murdered. This is absolutely despicable and unacceptable for any company or institution.

    The Bundeswehr also seems to be behaving as though the G36 is a flashier G3, given how they are proscribing that it be used and also when they described its capabilities in terms of range and power.

    H&K earned a lot of respect and clout for their stellar G3 and MP5 and USP. However, they cannot be given a free pass for this. They are knowingly equipping soldiers with a weapon they know to have severe design flaws which prevent it from being utilized in the way that its users need in order to complete their objectives and stay alive.

    So, in conclusion, the G36 has crucial, heat-sensitive parts made of plastic that melts whenever any sort of real demand is placed upon them, which makes getting any sort of precise performance out of them impossible except at the beginning of an engagement, neuters the firepower the G36 can project, and demands that weapons constantly be rezeroed. H&K and the Bundeswehr both know about this problem, but they prefer to ignore it, cover it up, and hope that people lose interest. They redefined what the G36 is capable of doing as well as what the proper methods for handling it are to be so conservative as to make it a virtual impossibility for any problems to occur if used within guidelines.. Therefore, if anyone has a problem with the G36, it is because they were using it improperly to do things it was not intended to do and it is all their fault.


    * The G36 melts and loses accuracy very easily.
    * Both B7K and the Bundeswehr know.
    * Neither of them care about fixing it.
    * They changed their lines rather than fix anything.
    * All problems are now the fault of users misusing the G36.

    • Anon. E Maus

      Because there’s only one kind of plastic, right?
      Plastic can be used for furniture and lower receivers without issue, and has been for years. The G36 being poorly devised is not evidence of plastic not being viable for use in firearms.

      • Fegelein

        Did you read my post? I said that plastic cannot take the heat of the operating areas of the rifle. I said that it was okay for pots that do not usually get too hot, like the furniture and the lower recievers, to be made out of plastic. It is parts in the upper, the bore, and the gas system that get too hot to be made of plastic. Metals are superior to any plastics technology we have in terms of handling thermal stresses.

  • USC45G3

    “polymer receiver rifles, such as the FN SCAR” well someone needs to pick up a scar and touch the upper receiver.

  • r4b3

    A German newspaper made fun of the situation today by declaring that the bundeswehr is going to use the K98 rifle again – at least it worked under African sun and in russian winter…

    • Anon. E Maus

      To be fair, a Mauser Karabiner is quite accurate, and the trunnion doesn’t shift from heat buildup.

  • Acecool

    I was issued this when I was in the service. There is no issue with the rifle shooting straight at all. The issue is with the ammo from one supplier.