The HK416A5 Is Now The G38

The HK416A5, the latest version of H&K’s successful AR-15 pattern short-stroke piston rifles, has been type classified by the German federal government as G38, according to Strategie-Technik. An unknown federal agency has already procured the rifle, and its 11″ barreled carbine version, classified G38C.

The bigger brothers of the 416, the fully automatic HK417 and a variant of the semi-automatic MR308, have already been type classified as G27 and G28, respectively, the former being currently in service with the Bundeswehr. Most likely, the HK416A5 is not being procured for the Bundeswehr, as it is not the first 5.56mm assault rifle to be type classified since the G36 (the SG 551 is type classified as G37, and is used by GSG 9).

It’s not difficult to imagine, however, that the type classification of the HK416A5 opens the door to a lucrative contract to replace the Bundeswehr’s somewhat troubled G36 fleet. Eventually, those rifles will need to be replaced, and it’s likely that Germany will indulge the home industry in doing so.

H/T Remiguiz of Broń i Amunicja

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • Zachary marrs

    It needs more markings on the receiver

    • USMC03Vet

      Leave it to the Germans to make something mechanically sound, but awfully hideous.

      • Kevin Harron

        I actually really like the look of the 416. Always have, especially with a vert foregrip on it.

        • Zachary marrs

          Be honest, do you like the way it looks, or that it says H&K on the side?

          • Honestly, the finish is very nice compared to the other makes. From an aesthetic perspective, I can see how it might attract a few folks who didn’t previously think the AR was very good looking.

          • Zachary marrs

            Ive held a few, I wasnt really impressed with the finish, it felt solid, as do 90% of ar 15’s out there. Seriously, if it wasn’t for H&K fanbois and video games, hk wouldn’t be half as big as it is today

          • Matt

            Sure, Military procurement agencies based there decisions on videogames and suggestion from “fanbois”.

          • Zachary marrs

            Military is only 1 slice of the pie, h&ks arrogance has shut them off from a lucrative market, theyve already gone bankrupt once, yet even when h&k drops some mortal abomination on us for $3,000, people go crawling to them, why? Well h&k, thats why

            Are you an fanboi? Whenever I talk to fanbois thay sound exactly like you “omg ur just jealous that you aren’t tactical enough to load your mags wrong”

          • AK™

            They are reliable. They are worth a premium in my opinion.

          • Jeff S

            H&K (Germany) is bound by extremely restrictive German laws regarding exports to the civilian (hell, LEO and MIL too) markets. That being said, I don’t know what’s stopping HK in Sterling from making more “affordable” models in the US.

          • How about the VP9? By H&K handgun standards, it is affordable.

          • Jeff S

            I was thinking more along the lines of a long gun… not a pistol. Regardless, the VP9 still commands a premium over plastic guns from Glock, S&W, Springfield, etc.

          • Zachary marrs

            This again, do you know they have a factory in the usa?

          • I meant the anodizing job they do is very deep and good looking compared to most other guns.

          • [0311] Rocket Fiend

            Looks, oddly enough. I have a similar look on my personal AR.

      • [0311] Rocket Fiend

        Gotta disagree with you there, brother. The 416 family are some of the sexiest rifles I’ve seen. We recently got ahold of the M27 and the hype is absolutely founded in reality.

        • Zachary marrs

          It really looks no different than any other ar with elephantitis

          • mosinman

            i agree, looks like an AR-15 with different furniture.

  • Thracian Beast

    “An unknown federal agency has already procured the rifle, and its 11″ barreled carbine version, classified G38C.” Damn the A -Team gets all the cool shit!!!

    • Thracian Beast


  • Jeff S

    GSG9? One of the tactical teams for BKA? ZKA? Bundespolizei?

  • Vasco

    It would be nice to have that upper… I just saw the other day a 10 inch (~26 cm) one sell for $4000 on gunbroker.

  • dp

    Therefore, after many decades of independent and often ingenious developments (e.i. roller locking) HK is giving up on their own school. One more gun company down to history.

    • dp

      Worth of noting: even one time plast-sticky and ‘innovative’ G36 was outdone by Beretta 160 – so nothing else is left to them and that’s what they do – copy.

      • Lol, I have an upcoming review on Beretta’s new plastic fantastic rifle and I can tell you this: it does not even come close to the G36.

        • Joshua

          That is not a compliment to the G36 either as it has paled in comparison to other designs in different trials.

        • Ouch. For many the Beretta was the Great Plastic Hope.

        • n0truscotsman

          Thats a bad sign.

          The G36 is, at best, a marginal rifle.

          • Own one?

          • n0truscotsman


            Never had a desire to. When I first handled one and trained with it, I was underwhelmed considering the amount of hype that surrounded them in the late 90s.

            The SL8 also never impressed me worth a damn. Anymore, something better be the holy spear of destiny before it steers me away from the AR or AK family.

          • It seems heavy for what it does, but otherwise sound, to me.

    • Gallan

      The HK416 was a U.S funded project for a more reliable AR. They got exactly what they wanted but didn’t purchase it. Now HK is selling this more reliable but overpriced and heavier AR-like rifle to alot of european nations.

      • If something is selling well is it overpriced?

        • Zachary marrs

          If people started buying pet rocks for $500 each, would that not be overpriced?

          • Economics 101: If your product is selling well and demand exceeds supply, your price should reflect this. Expensive =/= overpriced.

          • Zachary marrs

            Ok, so its ok if I sell usgi ar mags for 100 dollars?

          • You can ask whatever price you want for what you are selling. This is not a difficult concept.

          • valorius

            Hk fanboys will ensure it sells at any price point.

          • Thracian Beast
          • iksnilol

            If it sells then it isn’t overpriced. Like Alex C. said, expensive =/= overpriced.

            Consider this, in Norway an AUG magazine (though bastards those mags) costs about 120 USD while in the US they are 45 USD. Would you call them overpriced? Sure, for American standard of living they are since you can’t sell them in America for that price (with any success) but for Norwegians they aren’t overpriced (expensive yes, overpriced no).

            EDIT: P-mags cost 30 USD in Norway.

          • guest

            People keep forgetting that Hk has intentionally established its brand as high-end/luxury. For them to change their highly profitable and working business model now, would make as much sense as if Mercedes Benz started matching prices with Toyota.

          • Zachary marrs

            They started out making cheap stamped steel guns, and thats how they found success

          • FALster

            “Cheap HK’s,” is a privilege to bulk sales to military and police which is their success.

            Civilian sales, totally different business model. Maybe you were too young to buy guns 1980’s, but I remember HK’s still costing a lot back then too.

      • Joshua

        That’s because of time period things.

        The HK416 came about because one specific unit wanted a 5.56 rifle in a SMG size package.

        At the time SOCOM was fiddling with the MK18, but it was having some issues at that time and instead of waiting they got with HK after seeing some of their other ideas and in a matter of little less than a year HK had a reliable SBR, even if it is expensive.

        It was not until 2007 or so that the Mk18 really got matured(same could be said for the M4A1), what really helped was the new buffer and extractor assemblies got through testing and started being issued.

        Now days there is little to no difference between our Mk18’s and the HK416 in terms of performance. Back in 2004 though the HK416 was far superior to the Mk18.

        • Commonsense23

          Wow, somebody actually knows what they are talking about.

        • Frank

          They still tend to be overgassed with suppressors, which is where the 416 has a niche. Though there are designs for gas adjustments for DI guns now, but none of them have taken off. Not sure if something like the noveske switchblock has found it’s way into military use.

          • Commonsense23

            MK18 has no problem running a suppressor. Absolutely none.

          • HNIC

            Try saying that while firing suppressed with all the blowback gasses spurting into your mouth.

          • Joshua

            Been there, done that ran suppressed almost 100% of the time during deployments. Frankly all the fouling and blow back from suppressors comes down the bore and is there with the HK416 as well.

          • JumpIf NotZero


            The action opens early on piston guns just like DI, the gas still in the barrel and suppressor now has an alternate exit point of low pressure, comes back down the barrel.

            You would THINK this would be a well-known fact. As it only takes about 100 A to B comparison rounds to realize. Instead idiots keep on parroting the line that piston guns run clean suppressed.

          • Joshua

            It’s same reason tanks have bore evacuators……though I bet most don’t kow what the hump in the barrels is there for lol.

            Once the action opens any remaining fouling in the bore is going right back into the rifle and suppressors hold a whole lot of burnt powder in them when the action begins to cycle.

          • Commonsense23

            I shoot around 15,000-20,000 rounds out of my Mk18Mod1 a year, probably 90% is suppressed. And I am a lefty, its not a problem.

          • Guy Slack

            Exaggerate much? Brag much? Troll much?

          • Joshua

            It’s called training, and SoF put a lot of rounds down range. It is not uncommon to burn out our rifles in a couple of months. I don’t know him so that is just a guess, could be wrong….

          • Shot mine for the first time w/ can the other day and on auto it was outrunning the magazine’s ability to feed new rounds. How have you solved this?

          • Joshua

            What magazines? Pmag’s and Lancers do not seem to have an issue keeping up.

            I should also ask what is your gas port? Proper gas port should be .070, if you have a DD MK18 it has a gas port of .083 to accomidate cheap wolf ammunition and Tula.

          • Commonsense23

            Are you shooting a actual MK18MOD1? Cause the key to the MK18 was the increased gas port. So that would be my first thing to check, next going to ask what buffer you are running and the ammo. Personally feel the buffer is the more important of a factor. Guessing you ran multiple good mags. So big two problems would be incorrect gas port size or wrong buffer weight.

          • Yes, proper mk18 using pmags and a gemtech G5. H2 buffer. M193 ball ammo, LC 2013 production.

          • Commonsense23

            I would suggest trying a H3 buffer. Its what we did on guns that had eroded ports and were doing the same, and we couldn’t send the gun back yet. Normally solved the problem, but this was on guns that the upper was past its service, so curious how many rounds you got through yours. And just to clarify yours is a DD MK18MOD1 or a actual military model.

          • Colt contracted upper and everything.

          • Commonsense23

            Let me know if switching out buffers solves the problem.

        • dp

          “At the time SOCOM was fiddling with the MK18, but it was having some issues …”
          This is what is called “having your fingers in pie”. Very popular, rarely productive. It depends WHO it is.

          • Commonsense23

            Well it was productive cause the navy ran it. MK18 and the resulting buffer/extractor really solved all the DI problems.

    • UnrepentantLib

      I can only surmise that, as ingenious as it is, the roller locking system has inherent limitations that make further development unprofitable. It’s probably going to fade away as an interesting technology that ultimately dead ended.

      • It’s very rough on the guns, with major integral parts replacements required after several thousand rounds. It is also ammo sensitive.

    • LCON

      THey gave up on Roller lock when they created G36 back in 97. This is just the latest flavoring of there AR18 derived Short stroke piston. The last of the Classic Series HK was G41 and some MP5 variants all the latest products have been blowback (UMP) and Short stroke piston (G36, HK416/G38, HK417 and MP7A1)

      • What about the psg1, msg90, and 21?
        Also they still make more non-piston firearms.

        • LCON

          yes Legacy systems. continuing production of systems that at there root predate the G36, Like the 50+ MP5 The World Premiere Counter terrorist SMG upgrades to the 70’s Vintage PSG1, MSG 90 HK21 who take there roots in the classic G3. but the majority of there new development post G36 is that of non G3 based non Roller locking systems

  • iksnilol

    H&K ARs are so expensive. I can get them here in Norway and they cost double that of a regular AR (Stag Arms). It costs 25k NOK (4k USD) compared to the 10-16k (1.6k-2.5k USD) of the different Stag Arms ARs.

    Then again is it the only AR I want.

  • mosinman

    shorter barrel? +1000 dollars

    • Patrick Mingle

      I swear “Less is more” was coined by a German. Look at Porsche, they will sell you a light weight 911 with the back seat, radio, AC, and other items removed and charge you tens of thousands of dollars for it.

      • mosinman

        Elite drivers have no use for such trivial items such as AC!

        • Yellow Devil

          150 mph on a stretch is the AC.

        • Ivan


      • Ishbane

        “they will sell you a light weight 911”
        So, only two seater planes then?


    I know the SEALs have used HK416s before, but are they going to keep using the older model or switch back to something else?

    • Commonsense23

      Damneck uses the HK416, the rest of the white side seals use the MK18MOD1. And the German government just gave it a designation, didn’t actually change anything.

      • Joshua

        Another of the we want it now groups who adopted before the Mk18 matured.

        • MANG

          If I had a dollar for every m4 apologist comment in every gun forum… 😉

          • Joshua

            I’m not sure I fall into that category. I try to speak only from personal experience.

          • MANG

            I value your experience & appreciate that you share it. That’s one reason I read these comment threads, sometimes somebody has what appears to be firsthand knowledge.

            My thought here was that Damneck uses the 416 because it was a mature & reliable system *first,* right? I read an implication into your comment that the MK18 is superior and would be their issue weapon if only it had been more reliable, sooner. I’m sure they would switch if the MK18 offered them an improvement.

            I don’t view the M4 as a paperweight, but since you mention it, I see a system being used for fifty years as proof that it’s pretty good – not that there’s nothing better. The M16 has had *52 years* of product improvement. The ’62 Edsel might be the greatest car in the world today if we were still working on perfecting it.

          • MANG

            Woah, just checked – the 1962 Edsel doesn’t exist. You get the gist of it, though.

          • Joshua

            As for improvement the M16 has had 52 years, but the Mk18 hasn’t and that is a totally different beast. Both the Mk18 and HK416 have had pretty much the same amount of time to mature and both have kept a pretty even pace with each other.

            It really wasn’t until Afghanistan that we got serious about upgrading the M4. It was not until 2007 that we actually got much needed upgrades for the M4A1 that greatly decreased stoppages and bridged the gap between the M4A1 and newer rifles.

          • MNOR

            Well, having used the HK416 for about 6 years now(Norwegian armed forces), I can safely say that the 416 wasnt a trouble free/answer to everything-rifle from the getko.
            There where noumerous infancy-querks that needed to be adressed:

            BCG would freeze stuck in the receiver in zubzero temperatures.
            (new type of lubricant solved that)

            Such as wobbly E1-stock thats to wide when using body armor.

            On some weapons we experienced problems with the gas-block(it would switch from “Normal-mode” to “supressed-mode” during range drills, thus leading to FTF’s.(corrected early in Norway’s adoption prosess).

            The freefloating handguard was marketed to have the ability to mount optic and retain zero during disasembly/assembly, it didnt.

            Some complaints about the trigger were registered also.
            + HK’s factory 3-point sling sucked balls and still does..

            The truly matured HK416 is what we’re seeing in the HK416A5,
            the A5 came to be as a result of direct user input from Norways on-site PIP at HK’s US-plant. As well as input from other users.

          • Joshua

            I wouldn’t call the Mk18 superior, it is cheaper and has parts commonality with the M4A1, but performance wise the 10.4″ HK416 and the MK18 both perform pretty similarly.

            You may be able to get an extra 800 or so rounds before the bolt breaks on the HK416 but that is about it.

            But yes the HK416 was adopted because back in 2004, the Mk18 was just getting started and took another 3 years to be a reliable system, and then another 2 to get the RIS II giving it the FF capability the HK416 had in 2004.

            Since they have the supply chain for the HK416 now there is not a huge reason to change since the Mk18 doesn’t offer anything over the HK416 aside from weight(Same for the HK416 over the Mk18). It gets the job done, and did it 3-5 years before the Mk18 did.

            As for improvement the M16 has had 52 years, but the Mk18 hasn’t and that is a totally different beast. Both the Mk18 and HK416 have had pretty much the same amount of time to mature and both have kept a pretty even pace with each other.

          • I don’t really feel you can call someone an “apologist” for a system with half a century of worldwide service. I mean sure, you can argue which rifle is best, etc, but those guts who would have you believe the M4 is a paperweight just might have another rifle to sell you.

      • I think they ordered it in a specific configuration, but I don’t think it was one that changed production at all.

  • Secundius

    Was any reason given for the designation change? Or was it purely political.

    • “HK 416” is the manufacturer’s designation. “G38” is the government designation.

      Exactly the same as “AR-15” and “M16”.

      • Commonsense23

        You are slightly off, there were differences between the original M16 and original AR-15. AR-15s were tested and evaluated, the military wanted changes (forward assist among others), which when changed made the model the XM-16 instead of the model XM-15, which was what was standardized and adopted into the M16.

        • Joshua

          Ugh the forward assist……..completely should have left that off.

        • That is not actually so. The initial batch of rifles designated “M16” were Colt 601s, without any of the modifications. The Army did request the forward assist among other things, but many of the rifles delivered initially were bone stock AR-15s.

          • Commonsense23

            601s that were in the inventory were just renamed M16s, even though they lacked the modifications, but that doesn’t change the fact that the M16 as adopted had different specs than the 601s.

          • This isn’t really correct, either. The Army M16s with the bolt closure device were designated “XM16E1”. The original plain-jane “M16” was the Air Force rifle with relatively minor modifications from the AR-15s then in production.

  • valorius

    The hk 416 series are vastly overpriced weapons.

  • adverse

    Another tinker toy. Lethal as it might be. Do not get me wrong, pretty can kill. I just like basic rifles without all the bells and whistles.

  • M

    In the link you provided…. umm…

    • I do not have control over the content of other sites. Those errors are funny, however.

  • Gallan

    Surprised a budget AR maker hasn’t emerged in the military market. Maybe Remingtons recent big sale of AR’s to Phillipines will get them a big chunk of the AR-like market. (HK416 included).

    • Anonymoose

      Bushmaster, Stag, and few other companies have been supplying budget semi and select-fire ARs to various governments’ agencies and PMCs for many years now.

    • Joshua

      The M4A1 only costs the government $678 per rifle, it doesn’t get much cheaper then that.

  • Secundius

    The G27 is the MILITARY model and the G28 is the CIVILIAN model.

    • I am fairly certain the G28 is the Bundeswehr DMR. The G27 is the designation given to HK 417s in government service.

      The G28 is based on, but not the same as the HK 417/G27.

  • Ferrus

    To author
    Dont spread “lie”. Problem with G36 in A-stan was cause by low-quality ammunition.

    • I didn’t say otherwise. The G36 has had a couple of hoo-has associated with it, including a procurement scandal.

    • Yellow Devil

      Sarcasm (?)

  • Futz

    In 1903, the U.S. Army adopted an American-made iteration of the Mauser rifle. Now, it looks like the Germans will return the favor.