BREAKING: Delays Beset German MG5 Program, 7.62mm GPMG May Lack Accuracy

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The woes continue for famed gunmaker Heckler & Koch. Apparently, the Bundeswehr’s procurement of the new HK121 7.62x51mm machine gun, designated MG5, has been delayed significantly, though the reasons why are vague. DW.com reports:

According to the Bundeswehr’s original plans, shipments of the MG5 (pictured above) were supposed to begin two months ago. A German military spokesman announced Sunday that the machine guns won’t be ready until next year, confirming a report in the “Bild am Sonntag” weekly newspaper that said “serious delays” were to be expected.

The MG5 is made by the defense manufacturing company Heckler & Koch, the most prolific German weapons maker, and is set to become the Bundeswehr’s standard-issue machine gun. The defense ministry has ordered 12,733 units, with a price tag of some 200 million euros ($222 million).

Issues with the MG5 surfaced in May, with reports of inaccuracy floating around German political circles.

According to Tobias Lindner, the Green party’s federal defense expert, a Bundeswehr appraisal said the machine gun was only “conditionally fit” for use in combat. The defense ministry rejected that claim, however, announcing merely that “requests for changes have been made and these must be addressed.”

Reports of the MG5 having poor accuracy may be due to a number of factors. Without further information, we can only guess that the “political circles” may be confusing one gewehr (the Maschinengewehr 5) for another gewehr (the Gewehr 36), that they may be confused as to the level of expected accuracy of a GPMG, or that, in my opinion the least likely case, the MG5 actually does have accuracy problems at this stage of development.

The HK121 was beat out in a Danish competition recently, losing to the US Ordnance M60E6, an updated variant of the Vietnam-era M60 “Pig” 7.62mm GPMG.



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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  • Vitsaus

    Polymer trunion? In all seriousness though, I like the HK pistols and rifles that I have, but I have no doubt that its a con, like Colt, they mark up their items to see how worth while it is for the consumer to be able to tell people that they own products from that brand. With all the modern engineering and production capabilities there is no reason their “military” grade weaponry should be plagued with so many problems.

    • Dracon1201

      This. I think HK sucks, but for different reasons now.

  • Lance

    Im with Denmark to go to the M-60. With its G-36 rifle having issues with German Army looks likes there could be issues with other products Maybe H&K bite more than it can chew.

  • NewMan

    Utter BS.. I think this is just another conspiracy against HK from the left (anti-gun) party within the German government. As far as I know, they’ve been trying to get rid of HK for years now.

    • Vitsaus

      HK has also done a good job of getting rid of themselves with short-sightedness, and ignoring large civilian markets. To use the Colt comparison, take a company like FN, who has focused heavily on the civilian market, been patient, and has now moved in on both Colt and HK’s former customers in the US and Europe.

  • Arno Nyhm

    According to a German source who is quoting the Ministry of Defence, the drop test was the issue. After failing HK has to overwork “safety related components”.
    The Accuracy problems reported in May based on discrepancys of the mean point of impact between the two barrels who belong to one weapon.

  • Blake

    Holy freaking run on sentence. That second to last paragraph needs to be fixed – badly.

    • There are not two independent clauses in that sentence.

      • Blake

        I think just about any English speaker can tell there are way too many commas in that sentence.

        • KP

          Too many phrases to be easily read, perhaps, but the sentence is sound and makes perfect grammatical sense which, in the opinion of this English speaker, indicates that there are decidedly NOT too many commas, a particular punctuation I enjoy using to combine phrases and appositives.

        • Should I, if I cared to, when it strikes my fancy, so as to, as everyone knows it’s most important to do so, enrich myself through good humor (of course the ambrosia of the soul), and regardless of what the laity thinks, they who stick their fingers in all pies, so long as their arms can reach, act with less-than-perfect seriousness, inscribing digitally a sentence, which one notes has more joy in the writing than of the reading, a sign of course that I write for myself and not for others, which through a certain obtuseness can’t be read, but equally through virtue of sound ideas and steady flow can be voiced with perfect clarity?

          • Chris Dooley

            I read that in a Christopher Walken voice

          • Joshua

            I did the same thing.

          • LCON

            I did a Cheesy William Shatner Spoken word.

          • FarmerB

            List of items/ideas = Crying out for semicolons.

          • I think there are spots where semicolon/comma usage is ambiguous at best, but anyway analyzing that monstrosity kind of misses the point.

            I think it’d be really funny if someone diagrammed it.

  • JumpIf NotZero

    lol, $17,500 each 😀

    • KestrelBike

      I wonder how much is the actual weapon, and how much are repair parts, addtnl barrels, accessories, etc.

    • I don’t think that’s such an unusual price for an MG. It’s more expensive than a 240, sure, but it sounds like the typical HK markup to me.

      MGs are relatively low volume items, so they tend to be expensive.

      • jcitizen

        Civilian and Title II are averaging 7000 to 7800, last I checked. This is for M240 variants. Even FN has dropped their prices. However, people forget you are buying a system on government contract, so you are correct that it isn’t unusual. Each system probably comes with all spare parts bolts, spare barrels, tripods, t&e mechanism, carrying gear, etc. etc.

        • That sounds about right. Now compare that markup to the HK416 versus the M4, and it’s about the same. It seems like an HK thing.

          If I were in charge of procuring MGs, I’d buy 240s.

          • jcitizen

            I’m glad somebody likes that system. When they came out on tanks, we thought the world of them. Hated the M60! I’ve been thinking of getting the semi-auto 240 that can be converted to both calibers 7.62x51mm and 5.56mm. Naturally that variant is built way different than issue weapons.

    • Wait, aren’t you the guy saying FIREClean is worth $8/oz?

  • SP mclaughlin

    It runs in the family!

  • Hi DB,

    I looked for corroborating sources and did not find any. If you have one, I would be glad to update the article with the correct information.

  • Uniform223

    I’m always under the impression (from personal experience) that general purpose MGs or LMGs (like the SAW) are never really that accurate to begin with. They’re accurate enough to get the job done for sure but after a 5-7 round burst don’t expect to have all round hit an E type silhouette pass 200meters (even at prone with a deployed bipod… personally never shot the 240 or SAW on a tripod).

    I wonder how exactly they are measuring the HK121’s accuracy.

    I remember reading the Danish Military saying the M60E6 was more “accurate” than the HK121 because of its much lower cyclic rate. The shooter had an easier time staying on target…

    That is why I am becoming a fan of the IMI Negev. Its relatively light when compared to its contemporaries. Unlike the SAW, the Negev can use a STANMAG just fine and it has a safe, semi, and auto selector allowing the user to take more precise shots if need be or to conserve ammo. I haven’t shot one yet but everything I have ever read about it is good.

    • 6.5x55Swedish

      Like with all weapons, the main issue is the man behind it. LMGs can be heavy in recoil and that is where most of the problems come from. The barrels can get hot and the zero will change which is why tracers are a good idea.

    • Zebra Dun

      Well, Ya want to at least hit the barn once or twice in nearly the same place while aiming at the door doncha?

      • Uniform223

        Prone supported (bipod deployed) is accurate enough. I don’t expect the same accuracy of my M16/M4 after a 5-7 round burst from those machine guns. I am just wondering how the German Military and Government is judging the HK121’s accuracy to claim that it lacks accuracy.

        • Zebra Dun

          Off a Bi-pod the accuracy is the area of gunner expertise.
          True accuracy is obtained off a Tripod mount.
          If the MG cannot maintain accuracy suitable for a MG off the Tripod then it is inaccurate to the degree it becomes Combat Ineffective.
          I would say minimum at 300-500 yards should be every round goes inside a six inch circle off a tripod.
          I would expect though every rd inside a meter circle is what is normal.

          Anyone here know the exact number of rds inside what diameter of area at what range this MG shoots?
          Compared to other MG’s of the same type on a Bipod and Tripod?

          • jcitizen

            Any LMG manual should have the expected “cone of fire” statistics, I would think. I don’t remember what it was on the M60, which was the last LMG I was qualified on. Almost all my training was on the tripod.

          • Zebra Dun

            My memory is foggy with time and age, I believe the cone of fire, beaten zone is about a meter diameter at 500 yards with the M-60 off a tripod, larger off the bi-pod.
            Last time I shot an M-60 was 43 (+/- 1) some years ago in Vieques PR. I recall it was fun.

          • jcitizen

            You must be an old dog like me, I recall being assigned M60 training to our crews in 1980. Oddly enough I always ended up actually shooting the M2 HBMG more often myself.

          • Zebra Dun

            Machine guns wasn’t my basic specialty MOS but my particular MOS was one most likely to get handed anything as a carry/duty or to be fired for familiarization weapon and assigned a wide variety of mundane to boring jobs.

            Assaultman, Terminal Lance, USMC 70-74

            I’ve even Fam-fired a .50 BMG, I recall it was fun as hell but extremely loud.

          • jcitizen

            Yeah, there’s just nothing like a Ma Deuce! 🙂

          • Zebra Dun

            I shot it, loaded it and was shown how to mount it and such but never did understand the mechanics of headspace and don’t even ask me how to field strip it LOL I stood a lot of guard and cleaned heads for the most part, nothin’ to write home about.

            I volunteered to shoot just about anything they would allow me to shoot.
            Back then the MOS was The M-40, the M-20 and M-72 and the M-2A1-7.

          • jcitizen

            Sounds exciting to me – there were always boring periods in any man’s service life. 😀

  • derfelcadarn

    With all the doo-dad BS on there you may as well add a blender for daiquiris.

  • Uniform223

    During weapons familiarization and training the PKM surprised me about how light it is. Because I was so used to SAW and 240’s I always found myself over compensating during a 5-7 round burst. So I agree the proficiency of the user would have a great deal of dictating accuracy. I am just skeptical of the keeping all 10 rounds from a burst on an E type silhouette at two hundred yards, even for the PKM. We had people from the AWG train us and even they couldn’t keep all 5-7 rounds on target at further distances.

    I don’t know why you’d think the SAW’s “accuracy” would be hampered by the 5.56. Doubting the effective range of the 5.56 I can understand (post M855A1) but not its accuracy.

    • CommonSense23

      The Saws accuracy problem with 5.56 isn’t cause of it being 5.56 but using the crappiest 5.56 possible. Have you seen belts of M855A1? Cause that would be awesome if there were some. We put a request in to try and get belts of MK262 but it never happened. Even did a proof of concept and linked couple hundred rounds of it together and it greatly improved the weapons accuracy close and long range.

      As for the PKM, no offense to the AWG but its easily doable at 200. I spent a entire deployment training foreign partner forces, and some of our better partner force could pull it off at that distance.

      • Uniform223

        Unfortunately I ETSed before Army wide M855A1 adoption. The SAW always used standard NATO green tip which isn’t bad nor good. Currently (from my understanding) the US Army uses M855A1 wholesale. The M855A1 wasn’t just tested and qualified for M4, but also M16 and M249. It wouldn’t make sense to have a specific ammo for just the M4 and all other 5.56 platforms unable to use that ammo.

        I agree that proficiency of the user greatly effects accuracy.

        • CommonSense23

          M855 is a horrible round. Horrible external and terminal ballistics. We tried seeing how tight a group we could get with multiple 46s firing one shot at a time and the best we could do was around 4 to 5 minutes. It was why we trying to get linked 77 grain so hard. If they are able to get M855A1 in belts in going to drastically improve the 249/46s ability in accuracy, range, and lethality.

      • Uniform223

        Unfortunately only shot the SAW and 240 from either bipod or mounted on a HMMWV. Personally I wouldn’t know the accuracy of either weapon on a tripod. Never seen a SAW on a tripod… I don’t believe it was ever intended to be deployed in a fixed tripod position.

        • CommonSense23

          Never shot it from a tripod either, but have tried getting zeros from a RWS and Socom snipers shooting single shots with a 10 power optic and it just can’t group well. Which is what you would expect from M855

  • PaulG

    What the hell is this? Is it a quality control issue or a matter of HK’s becoming complacent due to it’s success over the last few decades?

  • necron99

    you have the MG3, what more do you want…