H&K and Backwards Bullets

You know that running gag on the web where if someone buys a Heckler and Koch product, they show the rounds loaded in the magazines backwards? Well it’s almost a “must do” if you buy a new HK gun, but still a lot of people ask why or snicker and tell the poster that they have made an error. In this video, we try to tell the real story behind the notorious catalog blunder.

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Transcript …

– [Voiceover] You know that running gag, on the web, where is someone buys a Heckler and Koch product, they show the rounds loaded in the magazines backwards? Well, it’s almost a must do if you buy a new HK gun, but still, a lot of people ask why or snicker, and tell the poster that they’ve made an error.

This is an actual Heckler and Koch brochure from the 2004 Shot Show.

As you can plainly see, the rounds are loaded into the magazines backwards.

I’ve managed to collect three of these catalogs over the years from various sources, because I think it’s pretty damn funny that not only this happened, but that they made it all the way to the Shot Show before someone realized something was wrong.

Now, getting to the bottom of exactly how and why this happened was pretty hard, but a lot of this is first hand information from an HK employee.

Basically, at the 2004 Shot Show, the catalogs got shipped directly from the printer to the show.

Obviously, the photographer Heckler and Koch had chosen was not a gun guy, as the most inexperienced shooters can probably figure out after looking at a magazine loaded backwards that something just isn’t right.

Hilariously, nobody at Shot even noticed, and the HK booth was soon set up with their new products, some swag, and these catalogs to hand out and showcase their wears.

An unknown number of these made it into the hands of attendees until someone, not an HK employee, mentioned that the bright and shiny stack of glossy catalogs featured a spectacular blunder.

It could have just been a typo somewhere in the middle of the slickly printed pages, or even something out of whack in a photo near the end, but no.

This magnificent failure was featured right on the cover of their catalog at their booth at one of the world’s largest small arms expos.

To add insult to injury, the old HK slogan is featured prominently to the right of the backwards bullet.

An unknown number of the catalogs made it out before the order came down to destroy the remaining boxes.

The corrected catalog is much less interesting, by the way, as everything is the same, except the cartridges are inserted correctly.

All in all, it’s hard to estimate how many of these catalogs have survived.

Who knows how many Shot Show attendees kept theirs, as I know I’d usually discard any printed material I’d get, but I have heard anywhere from as low as 50 to as high as 300 or so.

So, the backwards bullets are not a photoshop, or some H and K hater’s concoction; but a very real gaff that somehow made its way into circulation, and will forever haunt Heckler and Koch.

So, that’s it.

The real story behind the backwards bullets.

Next time you see an enthusiastic poster on a message board who has taken photos of their Heckler and Koch firearm with the bullets inserted backwards, you’ll know exactly why.

Big thanks to Ventura Munitions for helping our program out with its ammunition costs.

We hope to see you all next time.

Alex C.

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


  • TheNotoriousIUD

    “And that is…The Rest of the Story”

    • BattleshipGrey

      I miss that radio segment.

    • Anomanom

      And now you know… The Rrrrrr-est of the Story.

  • USMC03Vet

    Why is there a price listed on it if it was a marketing booklet for shot show?

    • ostiariusalpha

      HK doesn’t give stuff away for free. No compromise.

  • DancesWithGlock

    The printer would have provided a digital proof before printing. This is still an HK design/print team goof up.

    • HKGuns

      Because you were there. Gotcha gLoCker.

    • cs

      I’m going to guess the photography team did this on purpose to prevent an accident.

    • JumpIf NotZero

      It’s pretty much this. Someone had made a stupid error, and at least one more person didn’t catch it in the proof.

      The only reason it’s such a notable goof is because of HK’s world renown arrogance.

    • Thump_rrr

      Were digital proofs used by most companies 12 years ago?

  • Kelly Jackson

    My very first handgun was an HK USP Compact in .40 and I loaded the first magazine backwards too. There’s something about it, they fit perfectly and it looks like be should be that way

  • SirOliverHumperdink

    ‘That’s a real Boberg’.

  • Bigbigpoopi

    “Don’t be such a Kochsucker” -Ichiyon

    I can’t find the image.

  • HKGuns

    I have one of those brochures. Add my copy to the list if you are counting.

    • hkryan

      I had one. Threw it away after a quick laugh.

  • Dave

    So in Brussels the cops responding to the mass murder by suicide bombers that I’ve seen are armed with a) Steyr AUGs, b) HK UMPs that only shoot one bullet per trigger pull, and c) HK MP5s, doubtless with the awkward-to-switch-on-to-full auto. Glock handguns. Where the “local” Herstal FN firearms…? Oh. Wait. The soldiers in the weird Belgian camo outfits have FNCs… Backwards bullets. Derp.

    • Jonathan Ferguson

      There were also P90s & plenty of FN-made Uzis.

  • John

    So just to be clear, if you load the bullets backwards the gun WON’T work?

    Couldn’t you just turn the magazine the other way?

    Just spitballin’ here.

  • Consultingdoc

    People make mistakes and typos. One, otherwise fine writer, Alex, informs us H&K was “showcas[ing] their wears” [sic]. I hope they weren’t showcasing their underwears [my sic].
    They were probably showing off their wares.

    • noob

      next door was a pirate gun company showcasing their warez

      • DaveP.

        …and walking around near there was a team from MHI who were were-casing the ehow.

        • Pete Sheppard

          At least they didn’t destroy the place H’ing the M’s… 😀 😉

    • Budogunner

      To be fair, there is a big difference between a modern blog post and Carly crafted marketing materials for SHOT.

      But yes, editing here has been lacking for quite some time. I try to do better than the articles but sometimes the autocorrect on my phone makes me about par.

    • I actually dont do the captioning.
      My record is still flawless ?

      • ostiariusalpha


      • consultingdoc

        by the way “gaffe” is spelled with an”e” at the end of the word. It’s misspelled in the article (w/out the “e”). No big deal. Jes sayin.

  • DW

    HK should have featured a G11 on the next Shotshow and said : HK. We also load magazines sideways. PS: FN wasn’t first.

  • Pete Sheppard

    The first explanation I read was that HKs were so reliable, they’d chamber rounds backwards…

  • john huscio

    This was a ad for the p2000 if I’m not mistaken

  • Sulaco

    The old HK slogan? They actually had “You suck and we hate you.” in the catalogs? But fyi I remember getting a call from one of my techs after a large purchase of .40 cal pistol ammo arrived and they were unboxing it. They were fine till they opened one box and looked at the ammo and found that a few of the rounds, JHP had been loaded with the HP down inserted into the brass case with the bullet base up!

  • Kevin Lotsberg

    Personally, I’d be far more embarrassed if I were the narrator of this video. He incorrectly used the term “bullets” instead of “cartridges” on four occasions. Oops. Oops. Oops. Oops.

  • Scott Wagner

    Did this really deserve an article? “Someone messed up” is that video summarized. I was hoping for an actual story here, not some click-bait BS.

  • Bigbigpoopi

    Found it.