H&K Troubles Continue: MG5 Under Scrutiny By German MoD

H&K’s troubles are mounting, as the German Minister of Defense is now investigating the MG5, the Bundeswehr’s designation for the 7.62mm HK121 machine gun. Spiegel Online reports:

Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) for a device approved by their multi-million dollar arms deal with the manufacturer Heckler & Koch in Erklärungsnot. On demand of the Left Group their house had to concede that there is a problem with the shot accuracy and the new machine gun for the Bundeswehr. Nevertheless, appointed by the Leyen department on 15 March 2015, the first major tranche of 1215 MG5 for around 20 million euros.

(This message comes from the mirror. The new mirror can be found here.)

The weapon is to be used in the coming years as a new standard machine gun. For this, the planning ministry a budget of 200 million euros.According to the response, however, turned to the left-faction the Bundeswehr Technical Center 91 in tests with the MG5 “exceeding the contractually agreed meeting point distance in the Middle” firmly.

In summer 2014, the Ministry had described the MG5 as a “very functional and reliable weapon.” “Now all weapons must Heckler & Kochunder the microscope to be taken, “says the left-defense expert Jan van Aken – overlooking the G36 assault rifle , which had become the obsolescence due to precision problems.

The Ministry of Defence has admitted that had been negotiated for the scattering at MG5 “a contract amendment with price reductions” with Heckler & Koch. Other defects such as “housing cracks, resistance to salt water, Shooting of hard core ammunition” were now resolved.

Original text below:

Verteidigungsministerin Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) gerät wegen eines von ihr genehmigten millionenschweren Waffendeals mit dem Hersteller Heckler & Koch in Erklärungsnot. Auf Nachfrage der Linken-Fraktion musste ihr Haus einräumen, dass es auch beim neuen Maschinengewehr für die Bundeswehr ein Problem mit der Schussgenauigkeit gibt. Trotzdem bestellte von der Leyens Ressort am 15. März 2015 die erste große Tranche von 1215 MG5 für rund 20 Millionen Euro.

(Diese Meldung stammt aus dem SPIEGEL. Den neuen SPIEGEL finden Sie hier.)

Die Waffe soll in den kommenden Jahren als neues Standard-Maschinengewehr genutzt werden. Dafür plant das Ministerium ein Budget von 200 Millionen Euro ein. Allerdings stellte laut der Antwort an die Linken-Fraktion die Wehrtechnische Dienststelle 91 bei Tests mit dem MG5 “eine Überschreitung des vertraglich vereinbarten Abstandes des Mittleren Treffpunktes” fest.

Im Sommer 2014 hatte das Ministerium das MG5 noch als eine “sehr funktionsfähige und zuverlässige Waffe” beschrieben. “Jetzt müssen alle Waffen von Heckler & Koch unter die Lupe genommen werden”, fordert der Linken-Verteidigungsexperte Jan van Aken – mit Blick auf das Sturmgewehr G36, das wegen Präzisionsproblemen zum Auslaufmodell geworden war.

Das Verteidigungsministerium hat eingestanden, dass wegen der Streuung beim MG5 “eine Vertragsanpassung mit Preisreduzierung” mit Heckler & Koch ausgehandelt worden sei. Andere Mängel wie “Gehäuserisse, Beständigkeit gegenüber Salzwasser, Verschuss von Hartkernmunition” seien mittlerweile behoben worden.

Given that the MG5 was procured under von der Leyen’s watch, it’s difficult to think that this investigation, which follows on the heels of an EMI report identifying accuracy problems with the Bundeswehr’s standard G36 rifle, is an orchestrated attack on H&K by the MoD. What’s clear is that the trust that has been fostered between the Bundeswehr and H&K is in question, and as the article says, all H&K products in use by the Bundeswehr are now under the magnifying glass.

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 nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


  • Weekend Kommando

    Ya see ‘ear, this shoota ain’t cut out four da boyz. ‘Hem Gitz only put one sodding barrel, when da ministry of WAAAAGH ‘iad dat all heav’ shootas ‘eed moar dan ‘hree. Wat dem mech boyz playin’ at wit this fing.

    • Cal S.

      You are my hero.

    • Dracon1201

      You have won the internets. This warms my little Tyranid heart!

    • Martin M

      Squats forever!

    • mosinman

      Dis ‘Ere “umie Shoota ain’t Even fit fer Da Snotlings!

    • C77A1

      ‘Ow any self-respetin boy’d be caught ‘alf dead wiff this bloody fing in ‘is hoomey killas don’ make a lick a sense ta me. If it ain’t got more dan tree boom tubes on it, it can’t git enuff Dakka floyin, and that jus ain’t Orky!

  • Vitor Roma

    So, what is exactly the hypothetical problem with the MG5?

    • J.T.

      From what I can tell by reading that poorly translated mess, I think what it was saying was that when they went back and looked at the procurement process for the MG5, they discovered that the gun wasn’t meeting the accuracy requirements set in the contract so the Defense Ministry agreed to re-negotiate the contract to lower the accuracy requirements in exchange for a lower price per gun from H&K.

    • Joshua

      It can’t meet the MOA requirements, S
      so they want the guns for cheaper and agree to loosen the accuracy requirements so that the MG5 can pass.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Ursula Von Der Leyen can thread my barrel.

    • Schwing

      I concur. She can audit my gun’s performance anytime.

      • mig1nc

        I think you guys just coined the term “grandmilf”

    • SCW

      You go right ahead…

  • Trey

    Does anyone see a greater pattern growing in the firearms industry in Germany and their government? First of all, I will acknowledge that there are constant news stories out there some with or without credible content, that seem to come out of the wood work when the spotlight is on a certain person or subject, thus creating the perception that the whole situation is blowing up. That being said however, the German government has been in the news raiding SigSauer on more that one occasion, and that along with other pressures, has caused Sig to decide to move the majority of their operations to the USA facility. HK has provided weapons to the German government for decades, has been regarded as the elite leader in infantry small arms to the point that their designs have been copied and sold in several countries. Now there are problems? One could argue that the new generation of designers along with the use of modern plastics and cast parts just are not proving to be in tune with HK’s history of quality, or is something else going on here? I am not a conspiracy theory type, but I do wonder if the modern politically correct stances coupled with a new generation’s opinion of “German guilt” is not what is really leading to an effort to push out the firearms industry.

    • Dracon1201

      Germany is just politically horrible to their arms industry in general. H&K crapping the bed just aggrivated it.

    • Zachary marrs

      Germany wants nothing to do with the arms industry

  • mechamaster

    I like this MG5 concept, as one of the GPMG that capable to rival M240 platform.
    It’s hurt to read this kind of news, but well… a political drama.

  • MPWS

    What a bunch of balooney.
    Dze machinegun is an area weapon; point of aim and deviation off of it is not of prime importance. Ability to carry on with sustained fire is. Function of MG for most of time is to keep heads down. It is silly device; there is hardly any grunt who would love to carry it.

    • S O

      Actually, there’s a considerable school of tactical thought that emphasizes accuracy as critical to suppressive effect.

      The “area weapon” description is simply outdated, whether one subscribes to the accuracy-based school of suppression or not.

    • Joshua

      Popping rounds 10 feet from a guy doesn’t equal suppression.

      You need the rounds close enough that they hear the bullets streaking by their head and popping the ground right in front of them.

      Accuracy is very important in a LMG.

  • I heard some HK t-shirts made an MoD person itch a little. Von Der Leyen is launching a 2 year investigation that will only cost the government a few million. Daily press conferences scheduled already.

  • UCSPanther

    Gotta love government botch-ups that cost money and drag on into the next geological eon…

  • toms

    I have a hard time believing that anything is wrong with the MG5. Its basically a minimi gen2. The g36 fiasco is having a ripple affect it seems.

    • toms

      OOps was thinking of the MG4 not the 121. Still it did well in limited number of tests its been through.

      • Joshua

        And lost competitions other countries have run, being beat out by LEGs like the M60E4 and others.

        The German MoD buys anything H&K wether it be good or bad.

        • Jägerlein

          Some details from Krautland here:
          First about the M60E4: Dk searched for a lightweight infantry Machinegun. The HK121 was the only gun besides the M60E4, which came through the initial phases. And no suprise that it lost to the M60E4 since it is something like a perfect match for what the Danes searched for. The GPMG HK121 not so. (Yes, yes: It has a kind of modular design which offers a light weight assembly but its still GP vs. specialised light weight)

          It seems all to be about the tiny misalignments between the “primary” barrel with which the sights are perfectly matched and secondary barrel. Aside from press releases the “endusers” are speculating that the fuzz around it might have something to do with the fact that MG3 barrels could be adjusted with rather primitive “in the field” methods ( talks of copper coated spikes in the wall and chin-ups got confirmed by several active duty and retired BW armory ppl.).

      • Kivaari

        Isn’t. the HK M21 the G3 based LMG? Not this newer M121. Years ago I used M21 and found it to be the worst LMG I had ever fired. It took two men to charge the thing. It took two to change the barrel. It was deadly accurate if fired single shot. It couldn’t stay on target using the bipod. It would probably do OK if the bipod were set in concrete. It wasn’t long before the gun self destructed.

  • Kusani

    Stop defending HK They are total liar!.

    I’m sick of this stupid excuse from Hk fanboyz

    • Chi Wai Shum

      HK may have its faults but the german MOD is clearly not the good guy here.

      • Kivaari

        In what century has Germany been the good guy?

  • Anonymoose

    It’s too late now.


    Go back to the MG-42 then. Re-live those glory days.

  • jcitizen

    I never had any problems hitting a target with the MG3, but give me that PKM anyday when the SHTF!!

  • Kivaari

    I wonder why Germany doesn’t just buy what others design. It seems the German Arms business doesn’t have a clue. Let the Belgians do it in Liege without having the German Army overrun the country on its way to Paris.