TFBTV: We Test The G36’s Alleged Accuracy Problems!

The German government has claimed that the G36 service rifle suffers from severe accuracy problems after being heated up by as little as 4 magazines on full auto. We set out to try and see for ourselves how much the rifle’s POI shifts and how much the group size increases after some heavy use!

The rifle was not supplied to us by H&K and the video was produced without their knowledge.

For a comprehensive summary of the (in)accuracy problems, read Nathaniel F’s post on the subject here.



Full transcript below …

– Hey guys, this is Alex C. with

Today we’ve got an HKG36K.

These guns have made the news lately because the German government says they have a wandering point of impact.

What we’re gonna do today is basically test it out, versus an M4 and see how bad it is, but first, I think we’re gonna have a little fun.

(rapid gun fire) It’s gonna be a good day.

(rapid gun fire) – That’s good stuff.

– Alright guys, so here we’re gonna accuracy test the G36 before we heat it up.

We’re gonna use good brass case stuff to shoot a 10 round group and then we’e gonna heat it up with steal cased ammo, because that’s a little easier on the pocket book, but then we’ll re- test the group size with 10 rounds of brass again.

Now you’ll notice I’m wearing gloves and that’s because I intend for it to get very hot, so here we go.

(semi automatic gun fire) Alright, let’s go down range and check that out.

Alright guys, we’re down range after that group with the G36K and at about 50 yards, it grouped a one and a half, excuse me, one and a quarter inches, almost exactly according to the ruler on this multi- tool.

So, that’s pretty decent for a short rifle with a 10 inch barrel, so we’re gonna heat it up, which will be fun and then we’ll do the same test and see what happens.

Now’s the fun part.

I’m gonna run two magazines on full auto and then Patrick’s gonna run two magazine’s on full auto and we’re gonna re- test, doing the same 10 round group, just like we did and see how much of a differences it makes.

(rapid gun fire) (rapid gun fire) (rapid gun fire) (rapid gun fire) – Alright, now for the accuracy test.

– Alright, so we just ran four mags and we hastily set up the camera to get this done real quick, so I’m gonna bang out a 10 round group.

(gun fire) Alright, let’s go down range and check it out.

Alright guys, so we shot a 10 round group, we shot four mags on full auto, and then another 10 round group to see if that made any difference and what we’re seeing is that it actually didn’t.

I shot the exact same, if not a slightly better group.

It could be a fluke, but it looks the exact same one and a quarter inches.

You can see both targets have the same group in pretty much the same place.

Now this is a 50 yard test, versus the (indistinguishable) claimed a hundred meters slash two hundred meter.

I honesty thought the gun would deviate a lot more based on the reports, so maybe we’ll try again, but I don’t know.

It’s kinda strange, isn’t it.

So basically, since we didn’t see that much of a deviation between group size at 50 yards, we’d like to re do this test at a hundred yards and then maybe two hundred yards.

You notice we didn’t shoot the M4, because since we didn’t see any variance, we didn’t want to wast any ammo on basically that test as well, so what we will do is re do this at a hundred yards and see if then we can confirm the reports that this has a wondering POI and a significant shift versus a gun like an M4.

Anyways, subscribe and we’ll get that video done as soon as possible.

Thanks for watching TFBTV.

Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.


  • Vitsaus

    At the risk of sounding like some one who orders tin foil hats by the pallet, this G36 mess sounds a lot like the German government and HK finding an excuse to quickly adopt a new rifle with out going through the usual trials and testing. Think about it: the current rifle is inherently flawed, which opens the door for an “emergency” adoption to take place. HK offers whatever alternate (some are saying the 416) and they skip the rigged trials were Beretta and FN submit workable guns, get rejected in favor of a German man HK weapon the all the nasty accusations that would follow are avoided, not to mention time and money is saved. HK gets to stay afloat, a little egg on their face, but its the price they pay to be the fair haired boy of the German military industrial complex. In the long run, everybody wins.

    • LH

      This seems to be actually the Thing, since in the Trials, we only had one rifle better than the G36A1, wich was the HK416BW wich is an HK416A5 with an MG4-like Barrel. There is also very few Detail known about the tests, but what seems to be the case that our Secretary of Defense exptects an AR to be precize as a DMR after used as an LMG.
      I’m sorry for any mistakes, I’m just a german interested in defense politics.

      • MR

        NEIN! NO POLITIKS! Just kidding, I think you’re entirely right, this whole story will likely disappear after election season.

      • MPWS

        I’d say your presence is invaluable. You can capture the local political ambience more than any of us non-Germans.

    • MPWS

      Now, you put your finger on it. This is what I suggested in different wording in one of previous debates. H&K in financial trouble? Not any more.

  • LH

    Another thing: The G36 in the video is a G36KA0 with a G36KA2-like handguard. The one used in the tests of the German Defense was probably a G36A1 or a G36A2(Afghanistan Version with different sighting and Aluminium handguard)

    • LH

      The difference is about 7 Inches in Barrel length.

    • This is a KE.

      • LH

        Okay then đŸ™‚ At least, it is set up with the HKV (Main Battle Visor), which is the set up that was used in the early G36-Days in the Federal Defense, besides the handguard, of course.

        • It’s not the same variant. Frankly, it’s pure serendipity that we got access to any G36 variant at all while this storm was overhead.

  • Vitor Roma

    Im actually glad that the G36 is at least suitable for civilian use. Im
    quite fond on the design and operation of the gun, nice rof.

  • Allen Herd

    Of course, this whole created “controversy” is because the current German defense minister wants to be seen as chancellor material. This rifle has been in fairly problem free service for 20 years. The rifle was not designed for sustained, continuous fire. Neither is the M4, it fails in the same circumstance.

    • Allen,

      Von der Leyen has only been Minister since 2013. There have been rumors of this problem since at least 2010. So she did not manufacture the issue, though I wouldn’t discount that she’s riding it for political gain.

      • Allen Herd

        The “rumors” you reference derive from the 04-02-2010 German firefight in Afghanistan. Three soldiers were KIA in a very long sustained continuous gunfight. Von der Leyen is a career politician vieing for higher office that wants to keep her name in the press. I suspect that this is her vehicle for just that.

        • It could be. Regardless, the word was out before she entered office, so she didn’t invent it out of whole cloth.

          • Allen Herd

            Nathaniel, I never said she invented it. I said it was a created controversy. That she’s apparently using for political furtherance. If there’s an actual real existing problem with the G36, you should be able to easily replicate it with your tests. And I imagine the other countries that field this rifle would have done this and also be aware of this reported defect. Please keep us advised.

          • It depends exactly what the problem is. We still have more testing to do, so we don’t know whether it will fail those or not.

  • Brody

    If Deutschland does dump the g36, I wonder if the US of A would get any g36 parts kits coming out way

    • thmsmgnm

      Current G36 parts kits run $2k at an HK fanboy page. You should not have a tough time buying one.

  • WillLeach

    This was hardly a well controlled test. I feel like I wasted my time watching this.

    • Hey Will,

      This was a quick baseline test to try and see if we could at least see something right off the cuff. We will continue to refine the testing parameters, increase strain on the gun, and test at longer distances.

      • Hokum

        Just to bring testing even closer to the different conditions (and complicated of course), can I suggest to fire the first 10 “cold” rounds from the “cold” rifle. I’m not talking about the fridge but keeping it somewhere near 60-65F. And after the “cold” set letting the rifle to heat up under the hot Texas sun and then fire the “hot” set. I think that would make deviation (if there will be any) more visible.

    • MR

      Was hoping to see some more mag dumps. Other than that, seems like this whole deal is shaping up to be political nonsense, in the same league as complaints about the M4.

      • That would be really strange. Currently, my money is on the polymer doping theory, but since I don’t know enough about German military/industrial politics, I cannot say it’s unlikely to have been a political hit!

      • KestrelBike

        I also wonder if 4 mags gets the temperature high enough. Perhaps one of those laser thermometers on the barrel after a multiple mag dump, then another 4 mags and see how much hotter the barrel gets.

    • Hi Will,

      It is not a controlled test, because a re-test is coming. The results surprised both Alex and I, and we agreed that we had to get these results to our readers/viewers as soon as possible.

      • WillLeach

        Well, I wish I would have expressed myself better, but I could have easily waited another day or two for this. I really like what you tried to do here, and the effort is appreciated, but if there’s any hurry, its because people want to see some good independent testing for themselves. That might take longer, and I know cost must be a consideration, but I hope you guys can learn from this one and do better next time.

        • Honestly, Will, we both thought the G36 would fail even this simple test. Since it didn’t, we’re back to the drawing board.

    • MPWS

      I would not go up to your level of critique, but feel similarly. Not much of worth, really. Other than having fun, that is.

  • I would like to state that as more information comes available as per how the Germans conducted their testing, we will alter our tests accordingly.
    Thank you all for watching and stay tuned.
    Also a subscription to TFBTV thrown our way would help us out more than you know!

    • wildman0708

      Alex, in the comments section of a separate TFB posts
      (The G36 Controversy Intensifies), you mentioned that you had seen a
      substantial POI shift in your own personal gun. Is this the gun you are using
      in your test? If not, would it be a good idea to compare this one also?

      • Not the same gun, but rather a gun that was converted from an SL8 (supposedly to exacting specs). I thought it would be best to use a real-deal G36 for bonafide testing. While the conversion process of an SL8 is great and involves sonic welding and receiver strengthening steel bits, it no doubt magnified any potential deviation that is there.

        • THULE_NORD

          I really respect the fact you didn’t just pull out your personal rifle and claim to do a series of test on a converted weapon for click bait. I appreciate that you went all the way and purchased an issue G36.

          • This was actually not purchased for personal use. Several months ago, before this was even really in the news I had a local police department and ask me to obtain a sample G36 for them to test. They wrote me a demonstration letter as required by the ATF, and I will perform a demonstration for them so that they can evaluate it.
            It was very serendipitous.

          • THULE_NORD

            Either way, you obtained a legit model. However, do you know if the LE model you have acquired meets the same material grade as the polymer used in the german military version? Is it even possible to obtain that information?

          • HKmaster

            I second Thule. I’m very interested to see if there’s a difference in the material between the two rifles.

  • First, I’m very happy to see that Alex put his Hensoldt dual-optic on the G36. That makes this test about as valid as you can make it. The re-test I think will help give some substantial data on what exactly is going on with this rifle.

    Like Alex, I was expecting the G36 to fail. Both of us have read what’s been released of the EMI report so far, and it is very convincing.

    It’s a bit of a pleasant surprise to see the G36 pass this initial test. Though I have been covering the controversy surrounding the rifle, I never like to see rifles fail, especially not if there are soldiers out there who have to rely on them.

    What this does seem to suggest is that the polymer doping theory may be the correct one. We’ve known for a while that G36 receivers are supposed to be made of polyamide (mostly likely Nylon 6/6), but the EMI test report says that at least some of the rifle receivers were doped with polyethylene (the stuff milk jugs are made of). Polyamide polymers can be much, much more heat resistant than polyethylene, and so if Alex’s rifle is made of the proper Nylon, then we would not expect to see much deviation due to heat (this does not mean there could not be other issues).

    That raises the question, though, of why Alex’s rifle would not be doped, if even the Bundeswehr contract rifles were. Unfortunately, there may never be an answer.

    • AlbertEinstein

      To Alex C: Thanks for the empirical information gathering. To Alex C. and Nathan F: I wonder if someone who reads the blog and who works in the field of plastics/polymers might be able to perform a test upon a small (non-destructive) sample of Alex’s receiver to determine if it is actually free of polyethylene?

      • I was musing over that idea myself. It’s up to Alex.

    • Esh325

      I think it’s probable the German army tests were more extensive and tested a lot more variables involved to bring up the heating issue. Like for example, it’s possible the rifles might need a lot more rounds down the pipe for the accuracy issue to pop up.

      • I certainly hope they were more extensive!

  • Dave

    You can sure hear the harmonic resonance off that flash hider!
    They should do what they did on the silencerco flash hider and make them unequal lengths you you don’t get that ringing.

    • World’s coolest tuning fork!

  • LCON

    I have been wondering it Perhaps the German G36’s were somehow made from a odd batch? Or if they are using some odd Ammo. G36 is in service with Spain, Mexico, Malaysia, Jordan, the Kurdish section of Iraq and Licensed builds in Saudi Arabia
    as well as a number of others in some hot places And Alex if I am not Mistaken lives in Texas, a state which is also known for high heat.

  • Weaver

    I still think at 50 yards you would have seen a potential POI shift. I think if you did it at 100 yards the results would be the same.

  • PaulG

    Correct me if I am wrong but hasn’t the ensuing problems with the G36 been due to the use of lower quality materials in the receiver of later generation weapons?

  • Darkpr0

    I would be interested to see how much mass of metal there is inside the gun itself. It is possible that the problem is related to heat soak in all the parts. The reports noted that the problem was also seen when ambient temperatures increase, which suggests to me that you may not see the issue crop up just by running a few mags through it. You may have to put heat into the gun gradually and allow it to soak through the whole firearm, receiver, shell, and all. 4 mags quickly will definitely heat up the barrel and gas system, but it probably won’t get to a lot of the parts.

    Keep in mind polymer won’t heat up as readily as steel, and if the problem is suspected to be the polymer warping with heat then the test may require considerably more time.

    • I suggested this to Alex, and he agreed that could also be a factor. That’s why we’re going to construct a more sophisticated test.

      • Darkpr0

        I was pondering this problem again yesterday, and a quick breakdown suggested that the problem is somewhere between three points: The receiver itself, the sights/user’s eye, and the user’s shoulder. If the barrel is free-floated (which I believe is the case on the G36) then the problem could be anywhere from the receiver bedding in the stock to the way the sights are mounted, to something in the buttstock itself not giving proper support to the weapon.

        I had an SKS which had a terrible stock, and the whole thing was flexing for the first day I shot it. The groups were horrendous and not consistent anywhere. A stock change (Tapco, sadly) and it shot like a dream. A lot of people are pointing fingers at the polymer warping the sights off, but it is possible that the heat is changing something in the way that the weapon is supported in the stock, and by the user. It’d be weird, but this whole G36 thing has been strange anyway.

        Just some food for thought. Trying to attack the problem in a different way.

  • Steve_7

    The Bundeswehr seems to be saying that the problem is due to crappy plastic, so unless you’ve got one of the ordinary production run G36 assault rifles to hand, I doubt you’ll be able to duplicate the MoD results. If anything, using a LE market G36K sold in the US and getting different results seems to indicate the stuff sold to the Bundeswehr was inferior. Or at least had bad QC. It’s like comparing a commercial Colt AR-15 Sporter from the 1980s to a 1968-vintage military issue M16A1.

    • EHW2

      Surely H&K wouldn’t give their own military crappier rifles than what we have? What if they did so they would adopt the hk416 down the line?
      Just a thought.
      I don’t know what to think of them anymore.

      • Steve_7

        Well it’s the difference between a big contract and a small contract, it’s always more likely corners get cut on a big contract because you start using subcontractors. So H&K may have sourced crappy plastic. Look at a GM Hydramatic M16A1 and compare it to a 1980s-era gun made by Colt’s, difference between night and day. But those 1980s-era guns were for smaller contracts. Look at the SA80 – what a joke that was, but the H&K retrofit was for only half the guns. Look at a military G3 and compare it to the commercial H&K 91s. Look at a commercial 1911A1 from the 1930s and compare it to the guns turned out by Remington-Rand during the war. And the list goes on. You can even do it with Chinese guns, look at a Type 56 supplied to UNITA and compare it to the pre-89 guns sold in the US.

  • Tyler

    Nylon is a hygroscopic material, meaning that is is very susceptible to absorbing moisture. Wall thickness and part gemoetry are critical in controlling warp over time in parts injection molded with Nylon materials. I am willing to bet they use Nylon 6/6 with about 30% glass fiber reinforcement. Since the trunnion is overmolded in the polymer, there has to be a cam that indexes this this part to the injection mold, every shot cycle that the operator has to install. If the features of this cam are worn (depending on the mold, sliding steel, etc.), I could see the trunnion shifting slightly when the rifles are manufactured. This doesn’t really have anything to do with the shift in POI, just another theory on production of the G36.

    I am willing to bet the highest deviation in the accuracy problems comes from a faster climate change, (i.e. dry dessert to humid environment within 24 hours), followed by long firing cadences. Material inconsistency can also be a contributor. I would imagine a firm as big as HK would have a custom material compounded for them ( I work at a much smaller product development company, and we do this), so they should essentially know exactly what is compounded in the material blend. These are only my assumptions,

    • Tyler,

      What I’m hearing from folks I know who know way more about polymers than I do is that assuming the correct fiber-reinforced Nylon 6/6, the lack of POI shift in this test is not surprising.

      This pushes me heavily in the direction of it being a doping issue.

  • Riot

    One thing I thought about during the test is that your mag dumping and “better shoot it before it gets cold” would make you a slightly worse shot.

    Yet it did marginally better – impressive.

    • Ha, thank you but it is not rapid fire that gets to me, but heavy recoil sure will.

      • Riot

        The rifle held up aswell.
        I’m inclined to blame polymer mixing.
        I have to engineer materials – doping can make a huge difference.

  • Thomas Gomez

    Those are some pretty decent groups! Thanks for getting this to us quickly.

  • Timothy G. Yan

    It’s not too late for the German .mil to re-adapt the StG-44 and FG42…..yes, both are still being made as fully functional reproductions. Just kidding…..

  • HKGuns

    There is a lot of merit in HK’s response to this situation. I am a bit biased, however, a rifle isn’t in service for 20 years, then suddenly turns into a POS. There is more going on here than is obvious.

  • Rasq’uire’laskar

    Sigh… it’s been up for ten hours, and nobody has commented on the misspelling in “Auccurate or Not?”

    Other than that, guys, great video!

  • PeterK

    Admittedly I’ve not been following this, but I have to say I think it’s crap, haha. It just feels real convenient. Not your work, the Governments reasoning.

    I’d expect any reasonably well made gun to pass this test.

  • Brian M

    Perhaps the issue does not lie with every G36 made, or perhaps it is only with certain versions, or perhaps your gun is a good lucky pick?

  • Core

    As I said before Nathan its politics. Did you notice a shift in shot placement due to side solar radiation?? Hahaaa. đŸ˜‰ But like Cosby always says proof’s in the puddin..

  • Agitator

    You say you’re using a 10″ barrel; I thought the K variants of the G36 had a 12″ or 14″ tube, and the C models were the 10″.

  • New Man

    The G36K has 12.5 inch barrel, NOT 10….

  • Julio

    If the alleged problem with the G36 is one of POI shift, I don’t understand why this test focussed on group size. Were the MPIs for the groups also measured and compared?

  • Chatterbot

    Or at least that’s what they said.

    • LH

      No. They went to court and lost.

  • Zebra Dun

    I hate to see a rifle destroyed for nothing but a test but it seems a G-36 will have to be obtained and tested to destruction by continuous rapid and auto fire….just to be sure.
    No I don’t have that kind of money.

  • MoPhil

    First, thank you Alex for this test! We in Germany are following the G36-story with special interest, since our MoD thinks about waisting taxpayers money on a whole new rifle (“wasting” is correct, if it becomes clear, that the G36 itself performs well).

    But like someone said before: I would do some real world testing on your G36 under conditions, like the German Army faces in A-stan.

    German soldiers are on patrol for several hours and they carry their rifle most time with one side towards the light/sun/heat and the other side towards their body, which means less light/less heat.

    If possible, you should simulate this by placing the rifle with one side up into the full sunlight for about 1 or 2 hours. Then you should simulate an intense fire fight with the normal ammo load out of a German soldier on patrol, which would be up to 6 magazines. Also you should shoot in intervals, since dumping a whole mag in full auto down the range is not realistic.

    I am definitely curious about the results. đŸ™‚

  • ghost930

    I can only speak from personal experience on this one, and some what limited. But had the case to carry G36 K’s on several jobs in Iraq in the past 5-6 years. Never had a functionality issue with any that I carried or shot. They always battle zeroed fine, and stayed on target even at the range in the summer where it could be well North of 120 degrees at times. While I personally am not that enamored of the ergonomics and high cyclic rate (which may attribute some of the heat issues) of the G36, I never felt I wasn’t armed well while carrying it. The Brits I worked around were carrying them also, and I never heard them bad talk the rifle that I remember, and they had been carrying them for a number of years.

  • ixlr8

    It may have been better if you shot the barrel with an optical pyrometer so we could see what the actual barrel temperatures were. Extra points if there was a thermograph of the rifle after the mag dumps to show the heat concentrations.
    Great effort. I like the report.