H&K PSG1 Sniper Rifle Overview

The Heckler and Koch PSG1 has been touted at the most accurate semi-automatic rifle in the world, even decades after its introduction. The iconic gun has been seen in the hands of counter-terrorist groups the world over, and it was truly a trailblazer when introduced in the 1970s (as precision rifles had typically been bolt action). So what makes the PSG1 unique? How is it different than a regular G3 rifle? In this installment of TFBTV, we take a look.

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Transcription …

This looks like a pretty large, older briefcase. However, any man who ever toted this to work most likely had a very stressful and important job.

This is the Heckler and Koch PSG1, which is perhaps the most iconic semi automatic sniper rifle of all time, and often heralded as the most accurate semi auto in the world.

The PSG1 was developed after the German government’s failure at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

A terrorist act resulted in 17 people being killed due to a very bungled response, as The West Germans recruited marksman who were not professionally trained, but rather police officers and hobbyists who shot recreationally on weekends, and equipped them with G3 rifles with iron sights. The men selected even declared that they were not sharpshooters, but regardless they were placed several hundred yards away and a lot was expected of these individuals.

After the Munich Massacre, the Germans realized they needed to be better prepared for something like this in the future and out of the ashes of this tragedy, the PSG1 emerged.

Contrary to popular belief, the PSG1 was not developed as a military rifle, but rather a tool for elite counter terrorism units like GSG-9 or precision shooters in law enforcement. It was designed to be placed in a static position rather than be placed in the hands of someone who would run around with it.

When introduced, the price tag of $10,000 prevented all but the most elite and well funded organizations from acquiring them. Because of this, only about 400 of these rifles exist in the United States.

So what makes this rifle unique?

Well, for one, HK’s minimum accuracy requirement was 50 shots into a 3 inch circle at 300 meters (or 1 MOA). If even one of the 50 rounds fired deviated, the rifle was rejected.

You may also notice the large, steel reinforcement rails located on the sides of the rifle to reduce receiver flex.

The kit also includes a Garbini tripod that is easily assembled. It can be locked or unlocked to tilt side to side, and of course raised and lowered.

Bipods were also included, and it all comes down to the individual shooter’s preference.

The stock is fully adjustable. Included with the kit is a small key that allows the shooter to raise and lower the cheek rest, and alter the length of pull.

The PSG1 uses a permanently mounted Hensoldt 6 x 42 optic that even has “PSG1” in the model name.

The crosshair is simple, and distance settings range from 100 to 600 meters.

A button on the side of the scope also allows the reticle to light up for approximately 2 minutes before shutting off, and you can adjust the brightness.

The hand rest on the bottom of the rifle’s pistol grip is also adjustable.

There is a t rail under the handguard that will allow the user to mount a traditional bipod, or a sling if you feel like lugging around a boat anchor.

Controls are relatively similar to a regular G3 rifle, with the front mounted charging handle. However, if the user desires stealth, one can ride the handle forward and make use of the silent bolt closing device.

The barrel is 26 inches long and quite thick, and almost .9 inches.

It is also polygonally rifled with a stated barrel life of 15,000 rounds.

The trigger is unique in that it breaks at about 3 pounds, but has a second hammer spring that engages halfway through to allow it to move faster and cut down on lock time. This brilliant system allows for a light pull and an incredibly fast lock time.

The trigger also features a small adjustable shoe.

When stripped, the PSG1 has an incredibly beefy extractor relative to a run of the mill G3.

You will also notice the serrations for the silent bolt closing device.

Noting that roller delayed blowback does not allow for the most consistent lock up, HK created special crescent shaped titanium rollers that function a bit like flaps on a flapper locked firearm.

These of course fall into the recesses on a special extended trunnion that contains the firearm’s massive barrel.

So all of this results in an very heavy gun, weighing in at almost 16 pounds unloaded.

So we have given you a basic rundown on the PSG1, a gun that HK’s new sniper rifle cannot even match. I personally find it funny that on HK’s website, the new G28 rifle is stated as being capable of 1.5 MOA, but this relic from the 1970s is guaranteed to shoot 1 MOA or better. Of course it is heavier and more costly, but funny nonetheless.

The PSG1 was purpose-designed for accuracy and speed of engagement with no cost spared, and to many still represents the apex of what a sniper rifle should be with the newer PSG1A1 rifle.

We here at TFBTV promised you something special since we started doing these overviews of famous sniper rifles, and we hope that this one alongside its cousin the MSG90 we showed have you anticipating our upcoming shooting videos. I must say, I don’t think I have ever been so excited to get behind something with an optic.

This is Alex C. with TFBTV, special thanks to Ventura Munitions for providing our ammunition for our upcoming shooting videos, and a big thank you to you, our viewers for tuning in. We hope to see you next time.



Alex C.

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


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  • datimes

    I had a chance to buy one of these rifles in the early 90’s for $3600. I felt it a bit too pricey and spent $2000 on a new FAL. Learned a hard lesson.

    • Tahoe

      Wow, I think I saw one going for about 12 grand back in the early 90s…you absolutely missed on that deal!

    • RICH

      All of us gain “VAST EXPERIENCE’ from lessons hard learned….. !

    • BattleshipGrey

      Is it possible it was a home brew clone given the price difference?

  • plingr2

    holy grail of semi auto rifles

    • gusto

      no wouldn’t that be the WA2000?

      designed in response to the same tragedy

      • st4

        I’m getting all “Rogue Spear,” nostalgic now…

      • plingr2

        I talk about accuracy ,not about rarity

  • Don Ward

    Now you just need to learn how to ski while shooting this and you’ll have achieved full Bond Henchman status.

    Kidding aside, that is an impressive bit of kit.

  • TheMaskedMan

    I’ve wanted one ever since I played Metal Gear Solid when I was a kid. Sadly, I’ll probably never get closer than a tricked out PTR.

    • st4

      I saw one at a shack of a gunshop out in the boonies growing up during this game. Too bad I was too young… plus didn’t have the ten grand they wanted for it.

    • Kelly Jackson

      I feel like that game introduced people to all kinds of guns they hadn’t heard of.
      The PSG1, FAMAS, and Five Seven.

      • Vitor Roma

        Five Seven in the 1st MGS? Where? Snakes uses the mk.23, Meryl uses a deagle, Ocelot a .45 colt, Wolf a PSG1, Raven a Vulcan.

        • st4

          Maybe they confused it w/first Splinter Cell. MGS didn’t have the 5.7 till… 4?

          • Anonymoose

            Ghost Babel (the Gameboy game) had a 5.7, and they referenced this in MGS4, which confirmed that Ghost Babel was canon.

        • mechamaster

          Maybe the MGS Ghost Babel, or MGS 4. Those 2 has Five-seven handgun especially 4 where it is is sidearm for the FROG unit.

        • Kelly Jackson

          The gun wasn’t actually in the game, but during some of the dialogue Snake mentions the guards are armed with Five Sevens.

          No FN Five Seven, just Five Sevens

          • st4

            I think I remember the line now, it was something like, “They’re armed with pineapples and five-five-sixers.” So referencing grenades and the caliber of the FAMAS.

          • Kelly Jackson

            Yep that’s it
            I have no idea why I still remember that almost 20 years later

        • Anonymoose

          In Twin Snakes there was a tranquilizer gun (KAC M9 like in MGS2) and MP5SD, and in the novelization Solid Snake pulled a P7 and MAC-11(?) when Colonel Campbell’s troops showed up to take him to the submarine (which is referenced in the opening scene when Snake complains about the Colonel taking his guns), and the real Miller had a Glock (20?) when Ocelot came to kill him.

    • Anonymoose

      I had to settle for using the SVD in the sniper battle in MGS4. It didn’t feel the same, but then again, when I played MGS1 I put on the infinity bandana and just machinegunned Sniper Wolf in the first part and then blew her up with Nikitas in the rematch. Quiet is too easy to hit with (nonlethal) airstrikes or supply drops.

      • Uniform223

        I used the DSR-1. To me the best sniper duel so far has been between Snake and The End.

        • Anonymoose

          Don’t even get me started on that. I hunted him down with an M16 and plugged him.

          • Uniform223

            Try running him down with the tranq gun (mk 22 hush puppy). If you’re crazy and or lucky enough he you get The End’s rifle.

        • n0truscotsman

          I had to google that.

          Very interesting!

        • Rock or Something

          If you wait long enough in that fight between The End, he will die of old age/natural causes and you win.

          • Uniform223

            Where is the fun in that?

        • st4

          I discovered by accident you can kill him early in the game right after a cutscene while he’s still in his wheelchair. It might have been a good 15 minutes before my roommate and I at the time stopped dying from laughter.

  • Kelly Jackson

    You’re missing the most important accessory of all

    • TheNotoriousIUD

      Is that a camera?

      • Kelly Jackson

        The confirmed kill camera, it took 3 photos when the gun was fired

        • TheNotoriousIUD

          Seriously? I dont know if you are joking or not.

          • Kelly Jackson

            No, 100%, that’s what it is

            Used polaroid film

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            I thought it looked like a Polaroid back. I have two of them.

    • Those cannot fit a PSG1. Notice the pin on trigger group (whereas the PSG1 uses a clip on).

    • Xeno Da Morph

      I remember these for sale in Shotgun news quite a while back.

    • myndbender

      & a giggle switch on a G3 derivative doesn’t produce very many giggles!;-)

  • tony

    Damn…

  • Bob Villa

    All that info and I didn’t hear a caliber. Had to google it.

    • John

      Should be 7.62 NATO, right?

      • Bob Villa

        That’s what google says. But you can see where when you do a whole piece on a firearm you should at least mention the caliber, yes?

        • Anonymoose

          It’s kinda common knowledge, although HKParts has what they bill as a 5.56 “PSG1” style barrel for an HK33 build (it’s only 1:9, though).

  • G0rdon_Fr33man

    The G28 is purpose built for a different environment. Military, not police.

  • Blake

    Here’s a question for H&K geeks out there (I don’t have the answer, I’m genuinely curious as to what the action can handle):

    – what’s the highest-power caliber roller-locked weapon available?

    • Anonymoose

      HK used to make a .30-06 hunting rifle based on the G3 mechanism. I think they have one in .300 WinMag, available in Europe now. They also prototyped a .50BMG version of the HK21 called the HK25.

    • Kelly Jackson

      The MG42 was chambered in 7.92×57mm

  • me ohmy

    I worked at a gun store back in the early nineties and we HAD a PSG-1, it NEVER came out of the case and it was $10K, the included 200 meter target showed ten shots and a dispersion of about an inch and half.. we had one of the better ones…it eventually sold.
    but I knew we had something special.

  • Lance

    Hay do a run and gun with this 9lb rifle, Alex!!!!

  • Unrelated, but this 127 error stuff is seriously annoying; I can barely access half the sites new articles now.

  • MrEllis

    Did you order one of everything? Sweet bit of history there, man.

  • BattleshipGrey

    For some reason, 400 in the US seems like a lot.

  • Anonymoose

    Snake approved!

    • Uniform223
      • Anonymoose

        I posted that same image in the thing about the new German G29 rifle. 😛

        • Uniform223

          Great minds think alike

          • Anonymoose

            All my other Sniper Wolf pictures are 2lewd.

          • Uniform223

            She has more clothes on her than The Quiet.

          • Anonymoose

            Yeah, but she’s been a video game sex symbol for much longer than Quiet.

      • Tassiebush

        Cripes imagine the debris and insect issues she’d have dressed like that! The horror!

        • Uniform223

          You think thats bad… you should see the new femme fatale in the metal gear solid series… The Quiet. To be honest… it was that character that was one of the reasons (among many) why I just fell out of the whole Metal Gear Solid series.

          • Tassiebush

            Haha yeah i looked that character up. Basically catastrophically exposed to the hazards of insects, sun, thorns and nettles.

          • Szymon

            There is something special about her, that’s why the environment doesn’t affect her. But I agree, MGS turned into a soap drama and they kept layering the story turning it into garbage.

  • Anonymoose

    What kind of barrel did you use?

  • Martin törefeldt

    Where on earth do you find these rare birds?

  • Giolli Joker

    In the upcoming shootout I hope the silent bolt feature will be extensively tested… I’m really curious it it works or it is a jam inducing feature.
    I’m definitely excited to check the next video.

  • Hedd Wyn John

    You can make almost any rifle accurate if you add enough weight. The PSG1 follows this philosophy.

    • Tassiebush

      Not really true. Things like inconsistent lockup, chamber alingnment, condition of bore all are pretty significant factors. Weight mostly just makes it easier to shoot well.

  • David Dayne Roberts

    Great overview Alex, as always informative, concise and entertaining. Look forward to more of these overviews and seeing the PSG1 in action.

  • Zenchan

    Funny, Alec, so the PSG 1 ” is perhaps the most iconic semi automatic sniper rifle
    of all time, and often heralded as the most accurate semi auto in the
    world” ?

    Tell that to my colleagues from the German SEK and GSG 9 snipers who had to work with this contraption for decades. It might be a nice gun, when it comes straight from the factory, but it does not react kindly to being used much in the field. From the word “go” the PSG was a stop-gap-measure. HK did not have a decent bolt action sniper rifle in their inventory back in the early 1970ties when the Germans were running to catch up with the rest of the worlds SpecFor units after the Munich fiasco. So the people in Oberndorf adapted their assault rifle design (which had a DMR-Version for the army) to make it look and work like a sniper rifle. Very similar to what the US Army did with the M 14/M 21 transformation. Some fired decent groups, others didn’t . Personally, having fired and worked with the PSG 1 and the M 21 and a host of other semi-auto or bolt action sniper rifles, I would rather go into action with an M 21 than with this huge, heavy klunker of a “precision rifle” . Actually, the same company, now under different directorship repeated the same mistake with their G 28 DMR for the Bundeswehr, a highly overpriced and overweight variation of the HK 417/MR308 series. Just because it has HK stamped on the receiver and is “Made in Germany” doesn’t mean german technical ingenuity had anything to do with it.
    And Alec, stay away from company PR broschures and gun writers who had been “on the take” or were too much wined and dined during gun shows.