BREAKING NEWS: H&K Admits To Asking MAD To Investigate Journalists

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Shocking news today, as German arms manufacturer Heckler and Koch has admitted to in 2013 attempting to use the German counterintelligence agency MAD to investigate negative press of its G36 rifle in the media. Deutsche Welle reports:

Heckler & Koch (HK) has admitted to using a Defense Ministry go-between to ask Germany’s counterintelligence service, MAD, to look into negative press coverage in 2013. HK higher-ups reportedly wanted to know who was responsible for negative press coverage amid worries of a hostile takeover. MAD reportedly refused the requests.

The Sunday edition of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has reported that in the summer of 2013 HK officials had become suspicious that a group of intelligence officers and foreign investors aimed to take over the company.

That year, the media began to look deeper into accusations from 2010 that HK’s G36 rifle – the Bundeswehr standard and popular with militaries worldwide – did not shoot straight when it gets too hot, either because of weather conditions or excessive firing. The Bundeswehr had made its last mass G36 purchase in 2005. The scandal has since roped in Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, the defense minister at the time the news broke, and Ursula von der Leyen, his replacement at defense. Von der Leyen said the G36 in its current form has ” no future” in the Bundeswehr.

With the revelations that HK attempted to use MAD to spy on the press, it might record more negative headlines this year. Company officials continue to insist that negative press coverage is the result of an orchestrated campaign against HK.

Heckler and Koch have repeatedly claimed that allegations of the G36’s unsuitability for war are part of an orchestrated political campaign to sink the company, and some have questioned whether the accusations are part of a bid for the chancellorship by von der Leyen – though in my opinion the G36 controversy is nearly as much a scandal for the German Defense Ministry as it is for H&K.



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 can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Joshua

    Good ol’ H&K.

  • Esh325

    I wonder can criminal charges be brought against H&K for something like that? I imagine the German military may not buy any H&K products ever again purely out of ethical reasons. I predict there may be some job resignations that will go on in H&K.

    • I am honestly not familiar enough with German laws to know.

  • KestrelBike

    Ja ok, das war mein Hand in die cookie jar.

    If American politics have taught me anything, nothing’s going to happen because of this. Maybe a monetary fine (haha Ger gov will pay HK for making them resort to such measures) but nobody’ll get fired or anything.

  • If someone was slandering a US defensive giant and said outfit asked our government to investigate, they probably would (and you would not hear about it).
    I’m not a German attorney, or German legal expert but a company that provides essentially all of your domestic firearms asking the government to investigate false (what they say) allegations would not be abnormal in the industry.

    • Asking the Bundeswehr, I could see. Tapping German counterintelligence certainly sounds more sinister, though.

      • Al

        It doesn’t sound particularly sinister if the unidentified source feeding the press is in the defense ministry itself…

      • Check your email. I know some things about some stuff.

  • mosinman

    this is getting better and better

    • guest

      Rule of thumb is, no matter the topic, that if any topic gets the “holy cow” treatment or the criticism “hits a soft spot” then you’re on to something good. And HK just rang all the bells of approval…

      Remember this next time the topic is the M4 🙂

      • Kivaari

        It seems that the M4 has won out over the G36. The M4 works.

  • Jing

    I am no German lawyer either, but from what I felt about German’s ethic about their politician and they businessman, I predict someone will go down with it.

    • billyoblivion

      There is often a much tighter connection between industry and government in Europe proper (I don’t know about England). France’s intelligence service was carrying out industrial espionage against American Airplane companies and passing hte info to Airbus etc.

      • DaveP.

        Yep… but that’s against outsiders. This is against their own.

  • john

    What do Mother’s Against Drunks have to do with a crappy rifle?

    • guest

      Mother’s what? MOTHER’S WHAT???

  • SP mclaughlin

    I’m surprised the moniker “Hitler & Krotch” hasn’t shown up sooner.

  • Azril @ Alex Vostox

    “HK officials had become suspicious that a group of intelligence officers and foreign investors aimed to take over the company.”

    – Welp. That seems legit. I say, anyone will do the same thing. If the American Colt or Belgian FN Herstal suddenly got a corporate-takeover from rich Chinese investor and turned into subsidiary of China Norinco, well. That ain’t be good. I’m agree with that measure to protect your national company from that.

    • Nick

      We could still see that happen with Colt. They’re circling the drain as is. It won’t be long before they file bankruptcy and get snapped up by some other company (hopefully one that will bring back the snakes).

      • Kivaari

        Probably Beretta, as they own just about everything else.

  • hikerguy

    And the plot thickens…..
    The whole thing has more twists and turns than a mountain road. No matter how it ends H&K will have a black eye, and If it does turn out to be a hostile takeover attempt by a foreign company through political channels, it’s going to make a great Netflix movie.

  • THE_SE7EN_SINS

    But the media aren’t saying HK is screwed over anybody the media is saying HK guns suck, which in HK’s eyes is a lot worse.

  • Wetcoaster

    I guess they had some time to spare from not stopping their co-workers from helping the NSA bug their own bosses

  • Yallan

    More worrying is how the military counter-intelligence groups calls itself MAD, they’d make a great Bond villain.

    • Marc

      It’s an acronym for military shielding service. What it means in a different language is obviously not of concern.

      • Rock or Something

        I think the United States Office of Navel Intelligence (ONI) still takes the cake in that foreign language meaning. In Japanese mythology, an Oni is a ghost or spirit. Later iterations turned them into trolls or demons of sort.

        • Michael

          Navel Intelligence – some sort of gutt feeling?

    • ostiariusalpha

      MAD is the adversary organization of Inspector Gadget. It was probably Penny and Brain that leaked the information about the G36.

  • Grindstone50k

    Jeez, I hope this doesn’t shink H&K. I really like where they’re going with the VP9.

    • Paul J

      Check out the Walther P99, it’s approximately the same pistol but 18 years ago. 😉

  • Henk76

    Doesn’t seem that shocking to me, not so strange that companies ask around to investigate when they are in trouble. I bet they asked a few more high profile institutions and companies to investigate the negative press too. I see why you would post this as “shocking” since it’s a nice sensational post that will undoubtedly attract readers but I hoped for a more objective and realistic analysis on the situation from TFB.

  • Travis

    I can understand HK’s desire to stand by their product, but say the Bundeswehr does dump the G36. What’s really the worst that can happen? They’d just replace it with another HK rifle, right? So maybe instead of complaining about fairness, bad press, or alleged hostile takeovers, they could buckle down and come up with a fix for these issues? It would seem to me to be the better, more profitable course of action to me.

    But what do I know, I’m not an operator who loads his ammo backwards.

    • Zachary marrs

      Depending on how this roles out, the next bundeswehr rifle might not be from h&k

      You have lots of possibilities, FN, colt canada, styer, and a few others

      If they plan on dropping the G36 anytime soon, will they be willing to pay the price for the 416 (G28)? That is really the only other option h&k offers

      • Cynic

        It won’t be FN the German gov hates FN for what they did back in he 50’s

        • Kivaari

          FN hates the Germans for what they did between 1939 and 1945. FN being taken over for the Nazis was a pretty nasty event. Two times in the last century Germany took over Belgium. Selling them licenses for the FAL made sense to FN. Germany buying licenses for the Uzi was a little payback. Remember most Walther pistols since 1945 have been French. Your treasured 1955 PP with the “Made in Germany” on the grips, shows where the grips were made. The pistols came from France. War reparations.

          • Cynic

            FN pretty much refused to sell the Germans the FAL post ww2 which is why the west German army went for the g3. FN didn’t want to arm the country that dominated and invaded their country and so asked a ludicrous price for the license.

            Not knocking FN for that at all bit thw German gov hold grudges.

          • Kivaari

            Germany had already adopted the FAL as the G1. FN refused to sell the German a LICENSE to build the FAL in Germany. FN was quite happy to sell the Germans rifles that were built in Belgium. Like Walther pistols they were primarily made in France after the war. Germans also adopted the Israeli Uzi SMG.

      • Travis

        I was under the impression that there was some kind of law or other measure that severely limited the procuring of foreign-made small arms? I know I remember reading somewhere that German SOF had to settle for 416s because the government wouldn’t let them get M4s like they wanted.

  • nordmetal

    This news is actually a relief for HK. Asking german counterintelligence is free for every company in Germany. Each agency has there own department to consult companies.

    So I only know this for the civilian counterintelligence Verfassungsschutz. Asking MAD may be Ok for a defence industry company.

    It seems that you only get half of the stories over the pond. This „scandal“ becomes more an issue for the defence minister itself. Some Generals already informed the troops that the G36 stays in service for the time being, maybe modified. „Keep calm, it’s a nevertheless a trustworthy platform.“

    The next whistle blow from the minister could become the MG5 deal to attack HK again.

    She thought this small company is an easy victim to bolster her career to become the next chancellor candidate.

    The newspapers are already more interested in her not HK any more.

    It’s really a great entertainment so far.

    Don’t take the news from Germany so seriously. ;o)

    • John

      We wouldn’t take the news from Germany seriously, except that currently the German armed forces has a standard-issue rifle that becomes seriously inaccurate after more than a few magazines worth of bullets, and instead of fixing the problem HK is looking more and more like they’re trying to silence critics.

      So, that gets taken seriously.

      • toms

        They also recently deployed an advanced NATO response unit to joint training armed with wooden sticks to sub some of their recently scrapped GPMGs. The current defense minister could possibly be diverting attention over the German militaries complete unpreparedness for deterring current Russian aggression. Classic political maneuvering to cover up incompetence. Lots of shady sales (gas storage facilities to Russia), demobilization of MBTs, lack of gp machine-guns, that all earilie coincide with the first ever real threat to western europe in 50 years. Throw in leftist greeenies and I’d be paranoid if I were HK too. Not saying the G36 insn’t bunk but I don’t believe in coicidence, why does this emerge now after 20+ years of service?

    • Al

      Great write up, thanks! Sadly, it’s over what I expected – political drama. As soon as I saw that the Green Party was outraged over this “scandal”, I knew it was all BS. They could care less about the army, and would probably prefer they were issued faulty weapons.

  • John

    When is The Firearm Blog planning on testing the G36 again?

  • Ethan

    *pops popcorn*

  • Kivaari

    What amazes me is HK was so invested in this terrible design, that no one in the chain of engineers had the balls to stand up and say this is a piece of crap. We can fix it by doing XYZ, with a minimum of cost. This will set back HK sales for decades to come. As I’ve said many times, just because it says “Made in Germany” on it, doesn’t mean it’s a good design.
    The superiority of German engineering, is a myth that started before WW2.

    • Nick

      When it comes to guns, Germany has always excelled. They were by far the most technologically advanced at the start of WW2, however slacked off as the war progressed. This coupled with the use of slave labor to build highly complex machines spelt their downfall. The V2 could possibly have won them the war had more of them functioned properly. The majority of them however exploded on the launch pad or fell out of the sky before reaching their target. Those same designs got us into space thanks to project paper clip.

      Don’t forget about their monster artillery either. One supposedly could shell Paris from within the German border (where it was at the time).

      • Kivaari

        Nick, You have fallen for the German superiority myth”. Germany did have some advanced designs. German guns excelled? Why did they not develop a RELIABLE semi-auto rifle that could be fielded in decent numbers? Even the Stg43/44 which was a good idea, was done too late and in small numbers. It also had distinct design defects. Mostly small but, dumb mistakes. Like the sling swivel being on the RHS, no heat shields under the metal hand guard, no bolt hold open, in a very short range cartridge. The huge artillery was a joke. Hitler liked big. But just think had they put all that effort into better small arms and field medicine they would have gotten somewhere. The supper guns required huge number of troops to build rails and assemble and load the gun, took time. It also did it while recon flights were following the construction. Like the super missile launches, where a bombing raid made it useless. The V2 missiles killed fewer British civilians than were killed at the building , assembling and launching sites. WE killed more slave laborers than the Germans killed Brits.
        Thanks to Germany wanting bigger tanks, they made super machines that couldn’t even make it to battle without burning up. They could have shielded wiring so field mice wouldn’t have stopped entire units from advancing or retreating. They took on Soviets well beyond the ability to supply their own men. Stalingrad chewed up Germans that were starving to death. Soviet soldiers were eating good American SPAM.
        The primary weapon of the WW2 German was still a M98 bolt action rifles. Had they not wasted so much money and effort on non-functional arms they would have done better. Had Germany not been so greedy for living space, stolen food and oil, there would have been no need for a war. Like WW1 Germany bit off more than they could handle. Over confidence in what they thought they could do, ended up killing millions of people for no good reason. WW2 Germany was run by lunatics.

  • Paul J

    Let’s just hope we’ll see cheap g36 parts kit in a near future.

    • Kivaari

      ATF wont allow even barrels, the guts or anything significant into the country. That’s why we have American AK makers now. Parts kits with cut barrels and receivers.

  • Brian M

    Topkek. I nomiinate H&K for their own Encyclopedia Dramatica article.

    H&K, halten sie jetzt. Das end wird bald kommen. Diese ist Ungezogenheit, die kommt aus 14-Jahre alt Jungen. Auf wiedersehen, oder nicht. Ich glaube, dass wir wirden bald wiedertreffen, trotzdem ich nich hoffe so.

  • walter12

    Es ist ein grosse Schande.