Toggles ‘Till We Die: The Heinemann Side-Toggle Sporting Rifle

Got enough of toggles yet? Of course you haven’t! Forgotten Weapons’ exhaustive coverage of the most interesting and significant auction pieces continues with a very interesting design from a German gun designer who should get more recognition, that being one Karl Heinemann, working for (at the time) Walther:

Heinemann’s rifle works in a remarkably similar way to the Japanese Nippon Special Steel rifle, except instead of a gas port it uses a gas trap, and the toggle opens at an angle instead of at the top (the former being much better for a scoped sporting rifle). However, the thin, forward-moving piston, and gas-unlocked blowback action are remarkably similar.

Heinemann was an accomplished designer, and also was responsible for an early German predecessor to the modern intermediate caliber, the 8×42.5mm Rheinmetall-Borsig, and a carbine that fired it.

If you want to see more of Heinemann’s work, you can check out the ForgottenWeapons page on the Rheinmetall-Heinemann rifle, a WeaponsMan article that deals with Heinemann’s work (if you want more on toggles, you can read the post that precedes that one, as well), and the page on the Heinemann (which excerpts Hatcher’s Notebook on the subject).

One of the original Rheinmetall-Heinemann rifles trialed by the US Army is on display at the NRA’s National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, VA, alongside a T3 .276 Garand. That museum is well worth the trip; you can take a look at part of the collection in two of TFB’s field trip posts here and here.

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


  • ostiariusalpha

    Happy now, Giolli? This is pretty near what you thought a toggle-lock should look like. ?

    • Tassiebush

      That motivates me to look for his comment

    • Giolli Joker

      Wow… apparently somebody reads my words and remembers them more than I do… I swear it took me a while to understand what you are referring to, apparently I’m getting old.
      I had to go back to the Pedersen thread to self-quote:
      “a modern interpretation of the system would be really cool: .308, fluted
      chamber, detachable magazine, action rotated clockwise by 90° to give a
      flat top to allow easy optics mounting.”
      I can’t watch the video now but, from what I read, well, we’re kinda there, although I would prefer a pure toggle-delayed (or retarded*) blowback, as the Pedersen, with fluted chamber as H&K roller-delayed (or retarded*) actions.
      Let’s give time to Ian and Nathaniel, they might soon find the perfect match hidden somewhere. 🙂

      *not a fan of the definition from Chinn, arbitrarily giving different meaning to two synonyms is to me more confusing than helpful; I don’t see this need, maybe because in my language there’s already a pretty clear distinction between a locked action and one that doesn’t really lock.

      • Tassiebush

        Well that sure spared me some time! 🙂

      • ostiariusalpha

        LOL! I doubt even Nate, Ian, & Max together could find your side-operating, toggle-delayed blowback, but never give up the dream.

      • RocketScientist

        May be a language difference, but I think the distinction between delayed and retarded is appropriate. Retarded has connotations of slowing down (retarding) a process that is already in progress. Delaying has stronger associations with prolonging the point at which a process starts. Fire -Retardants don’t necessarily prevent a fire from starting, or postpone the point at which it starts, they slow down rate of the fire’s consumption of the material. When you’re told the flight you’re trying to board has had it’s takeoff delayed, that doesn’t mean it will be a slower takeoff that starts at the same time, it means it has been postponed, but when it DOES start, likely will take the same amount of time. Maybe thats just me though.

        • Giolli Joker

          I can see what you mean. I’m not converted, but I appreciate your explanation as it sounds spot on.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Instead of delayed, it might be better to say deferred blowback; at least in English.

  • Kyle

    I kinda want a toggle lock rifle but there are none to be had.

  • iksnilol

    Who can I trust? Also, I want to add a wheel that’s connected to the toggle and a rod with a bayonet. So that when you shoot the bayonet stabs.

    • Pretty much everything is a better design than the R750.

    • Giolli Joker

      Nerd trolls, they’re the most dangerous ones. 🙂