BREAKING: German Defense Minister in HOT WATER Over G36 Controversy, Koblenz Court Sides with H&K

On the heels of Heckler & Koch announcing their suit against the German government regarding statements about the company’s G36 assault rifle, comes news that the German court in Koblenz has issued a statement that the German gun manufacturer cannot be blamed for any problems the rifles may have, as the rifles were delivered conforming to government specifications. From Der Spiegel:

In the first assessment Richter Volckmann shared this view. He criticized the Bundeswehr sharp that you have the so-called “technical delivery” (TL) is not changed after the precision defects had been discovered. “If the requirements have changed to the gun, then they would have to make improvements,” he said in the direction of the three lawyers who represented the Ministry at Koblenz process.

For von der Leyen, the process is tricky. Away from the question about the contract criticized the judge’s political decision to phase out the G36, instead of negotiating with the manufacturer on a rework on the weapon.Heckler & Koch offered thus in 2015 a design change at the G36 for 600 euros per weapon. Several times they met to the Bundeswehr. Von der Leyen, however, spontaneously decided to break off the talks. Media effect, it ordered the end for the G36.

“The troops have to make do with the gun,” the judge said at the end of the trial, “the soldiers fighting with the G36 partly for their lives”.Consequently, the improvement would have been a “sensible way”. The Minister, he accused even to endanger its soldiers knowingly. “It can not be that the soldiers with a disabled gun against the Taliban need to defend,” he said, referring to the Afghanistan mission the Bundeswehr .

Political explosive force

The phrase has explosive force. Although there is to date no complaints of soldiers from the combat missions with the G36. Even the suspicion, however, that the Minister their troops not equipped to properly or hazards accepts the fact is a huge problem for Befehlshaberin von der Leyen. Your opponents even joked after her Ausmusterbefehl she wanted to get rid of the annoying G36 affair only rapidly. But the criticism also comes from a judge.

The delegation of the Defense Ministry left Koblenz alarmed accordingly, takes Berlin was informed of the criticism of the Minister. A little later her house announced that it would soon publish new studies, they should again confirm the accuracy deficiencies. What is unpleasant is that the auditor also tested the next flights from Heckler & Koch G36 repaired version. She shoots, according to the report, in fact much more accurate – even in heated combat scenarios.

Upon request by SPIEGEL ONLINE said the Ministry that the sharp criticism of the judge did not apply. A spokesman pointed out that they had arranged a so-called Waffenmix very early to better protect soldiers in dangerous foreign missions to increase the firepower in possible battles, this order has been updated several times. Nevertheless, the words of the judge expected to rekindle the political debate of von der Leyen handling of the affair.

The reason why H&K would not be at fault even if their rifles are exhibiting problems requires some explanation. Heckler and Koch has been delivering G36 rifles since 1996; since 2010 major complaints about the rifle’s accuracy began to surface. Despite this, the Bundeswehr ordered more G36 rifles since 2010, and did not request improvements at that time. This means fault lies not with H&K, but with the Bundeswehr for ordering rifles that conformed to their requirements, and then later essentially blaming the manufacturer for not conforming to standards exceeding those requirements.

For Defense Minister von der Leyen specifically, her comment that the G36 “has no future with the Bundeswehr” have backfired upon her: In short, if the rifle doesn’t measure up, it is the Ministry’s fault, not H&K’s. Beyond that, the manufacturer offered to fix any rifles that had problems for €600 per, an offer von der Leyen rejected. Quoth Der Spiegel:

Folglich wäre die Nachbesserung ein “vernünftiger Weg” gewesen. Der Ministerin warf er sogar vor, ihre Soldaten wissentlich zu gefährden.

Translated: Consequently, the improvement would have been a “judicious route [to have taken].” The minister can thus be accused of having knowingly put soldiers in danger. [emphasis mine]


Thanks to Tritro29 for pointing me towards the Spiegel article, and thanks to Mike for his help understanding the German text!

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


  • Kevin Harron

    German procurement makes Canadian procurement looks sane and rational.

    • Twilight sparkle

      At least they can pick something unlike the us individual carbine, future handgun system, joint combat pistol, and probably the mhs program

      • Bullphrog855

        To be fair the US picked the M4 in the ICC 😉

        • Evan

          That’s punting, not picking.

          • Joshua

            Except the M4A1 had the pest parts life of any entrant.

            No way were we going to select any rifle that needed maintenance sooner than the M4A1. It doesn’t matter how reliable it was when it’s MRBEFF was only 4,500 rounds.(for the best entrant).

    • MPWS

      Can you elaborate (on Canadian procurement)? What was involved? Thanks.

      • Kevin Harron

        Canadian military procurement is a mess of cancelled projects, then buying something else and paying more for it or taking forever to get it. Google the Sea King replacement, our current ‘National shipbuilding’ program and a bunch of other projects. That’s what happens when you cut back all of your trained procurement people and project managers.

        • Raven

          Small arms stuff goes to hell too, because (entirely reasonably, in my opinion) it’s stipulated that the winning bidder will give Diemaco/Colt Canada a TDP for production of the winning design. S’why all the bidders on the pistol competition a few years back pulled out.

      • Matt Wilder

        One of the best known and earliest examples; just google Avro CF-105 Arrow. It could have been a game changer for the RCAF as an interceptor, but it inexplicably got shelved at the last minute after development had already been completed. For an aviation guy like myself, it’s one of the greatest tragedies in cancelled projects as far as I’m concerned, right behind the Brits cancelled Miles M.52. Had that M.52 not been cancelled, it’s dubious us Americans would have won the race to supersonic. Poor old Miles was constantly shunned by his government.

        • NoDakNative

          The Arrow was scrapped because it was NOT complete and already obsolete, by the introduction of SAM systems.

          Many similar aircraft from that time period were also scrapped when SAMs proved to be a more cost effective system than one-trick ponies like the Arrow.

  • Anon


  • vwVwwVwv

    the soldiers have not coplied about the gun, i am often arund calw and
    know some KSK soldiers, they say the rifle is ok, beter than what they ever
    have been confronted with….

    its not a magic wand, but it does it job.

    • UninfringedTech


    • MPWS

      Users has rarely corresponding position with official places, on anything. Each have their own views and agendas.

      • vwVwwVwv

        thats a fakt, you are right about it, nothing to add.

  • KestrelBike

    That 8″ height over bore optic, though…

    • kyphe

      Used only for CQB and often without the dot turned on. Brits do the same though not as high over the bore

      • MPWS

        Speaking of Brits I recall reading some years back that due to high located sights on standard SA80, there were occurrences (at least one) when fellow squaddie was accidentally shot in head. This was to happen on patrol duty in N.I.

        It was said that the soldier who pulled the trigger did not see the other one in his high mounted scope. This knowledge puts high mounted sights summarily under question.

        • kyphe

          The number of live fire incidents on patrol in NI is close to zero for the past 20 years and none of them to my knowledge resulted in friendly fire.

        • Vindice

          There have been more than enough cases of people using ARs and shooting something they didn’t intend to because they didn’t see it in their scope. Even with a low mount, it still comes down to a shooter properly checking not only what is behind the target, but in front, to make sure their muzzle is clear.

    • Major Fret

      Must be even worse in cold weather.

    • DIR911911 .

      you know it starts to confuse the ladies when you call something 8 when it’s really a 4

  • Evan

    It seems kinda pointless to mount those EOTechs on top of the optic built into the rifle, like those guys in the picture did. As far as those things are from the bore, I doubt they’ll do much good.

    And if the soldiers in the field aren’t complaining about it, than the problem is likely overblown. Soldiers complain about bad gear.

    • iksnilol

      Well, the optic built in is like 3.5x magnification. Maybe that red dot is zeroed for close range like 25 meters or something?

      • Cal S.

        Yep, and at 26m you shoot over their head… 😉

  • Jose

    I knew it; I knew it; I knew it!!! All this time it was the German government who screw up the G36. Now it’s payback time for Heckler and Koch. BTW, if the U.S. military doesn’t need the HK 416 to replace the M4, then why the U.S. Marine Corps use the M27 IAR? It’s an HK 416 that replaced the M249, and it’s the modern version of the classic Browning Automatic Rifle. Say goodbye to Mrs. von der Leyen, as Minister of Defense; it’s the beginning of her political downfall.

    • randomswede

      In my experience “unemployed politician” is practically an oxymoron, they always seem to land on their feet somehow.

    • The IAR was ordered more as a light machine gun than an infantry man’s rifle. Thus the piston is helpful.

      • McThag

        There’s going to be books written about the games the Corps played with designations to get that rifle in their inventory and comparing those designations to its actual employment.

        Something hinky was going on.

        • Joshua

          When they decided to try and fleet the M27 it gave away the fact that something was hinky.

          However it came back to bite them because then they figured out that in order to fleet the M27 H&K would have to open a US facility to keep up with demand, and that in the end it would take 10-20 years to fleet the M27 and the cost was far more than they had expected due to this.

          Now the M27 is moving to more of a DMR role like the Mk12 SOCOM has.

          • CommonSense23

            And since the Scar killed the MK12 the M4 is now filling the MK12 role with the free floated barrel and 18x optic.

          • Joshua

            Plus the new SSF that was recently adopted they get a trigger with a crisp break.

          • Uniform223

            a little off topic I still think/believe the US Army should have adopted the M110K1s.

          • CommonSense23

            Yes and Socom Socom should have never adopted the MK20.

          • 40mmCattleDog

            What do you think of the new HK CSASS? I thought they were just gonna issue more of the K1 conversion kits?

          • Joshua

            The H&K still has field trials it must pass. Given some of the past performances of H&K .308 rifles it has a chance it won’t pass them.

            Not to mention the proprietary magazines and proprietary mounting system. If they change the rail it will then be over the max allowable weight for the CSASS.

            Then even if the Army does end up using it SOCOM will still do their own field trials and the teams may just stick with the K1’s we have.

          • Uniform223

            why not just piggy back off of the SOCOM’s K1 kits? Wouldn’t that save more money and be quicker for adoption (just thinking “out loud”)? Of course some times common sense in the US Military can be a rare and precious commodity…

          • Joshua

            Because no one gets a cushy job on retirement by doing a PiP on a system.

    • 40mmCattleDog

      What kind of logic is that? Because the USMC wanted a piston driven automatic rifle that means we need to replace all of our M4s that were perfectly happy with? Way to put that all together bud. Didn’t you post this same drivel last article? And the M27 didn’t “replace” the m249 either its supplementing it, M249s are still in use with the USMC and can be issued by the company commander if needed.

    • Anon

      “Modern version of the Browning Automatic Rifle”, What? You… do realize that comparison makes no sense, right? And you know that wouldn’t be a good thing, right? Because if it was, it would operate by the same mechanism (or have ANYTHING mechanical in common with the BAR, which it doesn’t.

      Give us ONE good reason that we should replace the M4 with the HK416, other than “Ermahgerd HK”, like “What does it do better?” “How does it justify weighing more”, because it seems to me that you’re just a H&K fanboy.

      You should stop shilling, I’ve heard that they poison your doritos to ruin your libido.

      • Dan Atwater

        I don’t think he meant that they’re mechanically similar, simply that the M27 serves the same purpose at the squad level that the BAR did before it was replaced by light machine guns being shunted into the role of automatic rifle.

        • Anon

          Was the M27 designed for “walking fire”? I don’t think it was, that and it fires an intermediate cartridge, not the full-powered 30-06, so, no, it absolutely doesn’t fulfill the same role.

    • Tritro29

      It’s more complicated. H&K are sons of guns. They did the strict minimum. And ironically have offered “better” variants for export..
      However the fault lies with the German Armed Forces (GAF) which didn’t exactly tested both claims and rifles. It’s more of a 50/50 issue. But indeed, the G36’s the Germans have, are to spec. Their specs. As she’s CDU I wouldn’t fear for her. And basically the “revolution” has started. The 416 will more than probably replace the “active” guns in German inventory. And then a “better” rifle will be (re)designed.

  • Friend of Tibet

    Wow EOTECH mounted on G36? we are talking about 200 km POI shift at 25 meters here……… 😛

  • [citation needed]

    • Joshua

      He read it at military times.

  • Tritro29

    No problem Nath! Always a pleasure.

  • forrest1985


  • Joshua

    I take it you don’t have any actual use with the 416 or the M4A1 right?

    • Anon

      They probably watched Future Weapons or something equally asinine, therefore they know best.

  • Anon

    With the doritos comment, I was referencing that infamous “Doritogate” incident.

    In all seriousness though, the problem with what you’re proposing is that switching over to the HK416 doesn’t provide enough of a benefit to justify the cost of replacing the M4.

    • Joshua

      It doesn’t provide any benefit outside of a better barrel over the M4A1.

      The only place it provides a minor improvement overall is in the 10″ barrel category, and those same improvements could be had by just going to a 11.5″ barrel on the CQBR.

      Plus Picatinny is getting insane results with their new BCG coating they are developing. Most recent bit they showed off was showing an improvement of MRBS of 200% and wear reduction of 96%. They had a couple of BCG’s with 15,000 rounds on them all in full auto that looked practically brand new.

      • CommonSense23

        It doesn’t provide better reliability than the MK18s. I got to work with guys who had it on my last deployment and the majority want to go back to the MK18s. They just break more and are more finicky.

        • Kivaari

          I don’t know if I followed this. Were your friends armed with the 416 after using the Mk18 and now want to go back to the Mk18? I have a Colt M4 Commando (LW) and it is very handy. It’s basically a Mk18 without the quad rail.

      • Kivaari

        Is the HK barrel better than an FN hammer forged tube? I can’t see it being better.

        • Joshua

          It is. However it’s also much more expensive than FN barrels.

      • Uniform223


  • CommonSense23

    What you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I’ve ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response was there anything that could even be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul

    • Anon

      Future weapons, not even once.

    • 40mmCattleDog


    • Bubbleheadscout

      LOL! A simple wrong would have sufficed.

  • Brett

    Mall Ninja, please!

    • Gecko45

      hello friends,

      Last year I made the decision to trust my life on the street to Second Chance body armor. I got the level IIa because it stops the most rounds. plus I got the Trauma Plate for the front.

      What scares me is that, although I can fit an extra trauma plate in the front, I cannot fit a second one in back. As of late I have taken to duct-taping a second trauma plate to the area of my back where the heart and vital organs are located. Then I put my vest on.

      Here is the questions. The ducttape solution, although tactically sound, is hot and painful to remove. I would like to go to the single-plate solution in back. What I am worried about is repeated hits to that area with .308 ammunition. I have a high-risk security job and I fear that I would be the target for repeated long-distance shots to my back.

      Are any of you aware of a thicker plate that could stop, say, .338 Lapua or something like that? Is there a better way to do the second plate?

      BTW, I am, of course, usually carrying a pair of ceramic plates in my briefcase so that I can shield my head. My SO (we work as a team when necessary) has a similar accessory containing a breakdown NEF single-shot 300 WinMag with an 18″ bbl. The plan is that I shield us with my body and “catch the rounds” while she assembles the NEF. I lay down covering fire with my 23 (Bar-Sto .357 Sig barrel) and she makes the long shots. I will then throw smoke grenades to obscure the area while continuing to lay covering fire. The problem, of course, is when I have to turn my back to run, and then the problem crops up.

      • Joshua

        OMG Ghecko you are my HERO!!!!

        • Gecko45

          thanks freind, good too know someones got my back.

          (Am I doing this too well?)

          • Joshua

            I always got your six. I know how dangerous those malls can be.

          • Kivaari

            What color duct tape is recommended?

          • Gecko45

            What my RTF team has found is that orange is the most tactically sound color, it worked when we saved the life and possibly the virginity of the Mayor’s nephew.

          • Kivaari

            Excellent, a life saving recommendation.

      • 40mmCattleDog

        Oh my god. 10,000 point reference there dude. Brilliant.

      • Kivaari

        Have you tried it yet. I always lose sight of my partner when he throws smoke. Do thermal glasses work?

        • Gecko45

          Yes, despite what those SWAT prettyboys would have you believe.

      • n0truscotsman

        Please be real.

        I want to be friends with you so bad!

  • Anon

    Oh, and I forgot to address your points about “superiority”, first of all, have you ever taken a HK416 apart? It’s not simpler to field strip, if you’ve ever handled or seen a short-stroke piston gun, you would know it’s more complicated than DI guns, secondly, better accuracy? What the HELL are you talking about? I think that I just killed off a lot of neurons by reading that BS.
    Firing control? Uh you know that more mass moving does not mean better controlability, right? “Familiarity? You’re so retarded, because guess what? If you use the M4, then that’s what you will be familiar with, idiot.

  • datimes

    Perhaps Fraulein von der Leyen has never fired a rifle and can not articulate the difference between a ‘clip’ and a ‘magazine’.

    • Tritro29

      I can tell you that this has nothing to do with the rifle or her being proficient with firearms itself. Had the Bundeswehr been armed with those immortal Mausers, she would have still found a reason to ditch them for the new thing. That’s why the drama from both parties.

      • datimes

        My point (almost) exactly.

  • billybob

    Would be nice to have an actual context translation instead of direct translation as the arrangement of the words in a sentence is so different between German and English.
    Got the gist though.

  • Herbmiester

    I am keen to see the “Full Details” come out. The G36 is not flawed it’s built to a specification and when used as per the specification it’s fine. It’s a rifle not an LMG.The question that needs to be asked is what about the ammunition? Specifically was it RUAG or MEN that it was tested with and was there an issue with the ammunition?

  • MichaelZWilliamson

    “Because you suck, and we hate you.” Wait, is that HundK or the Defense Minister?

  • John

    “Hey, we did what we were told. If it was wrong, we can fix it foe a price.”

    I expect an appeal in the process, especially as Nuremberg is invoked.

  • Ghost930

    I’m still waiting to see that mass of complaints on accuracy that the Germany Army is attesting to. I served with military, and contracting teams in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan over the years that were armed with G-36 rifles and variants. I can’t ever remember hearing anyone complain on the accuracy, although some didn’t particularly like the standard factory optic arrangement. Anyone seen a website or seen any of the actual letters or reports of complaint? Not the German Army’s, but from troops, or organic units? Just wondering.

  • CJS3

    I know it’s a direct translation from the original German, but some of the quotes are completely incoherent. Please stop relying on computer programs to translate, and have someone who actually speaks german do the translation. It’s the one thing that I miss about print media. They, at least, had the journalistic integrity to get the quotes right. Even if they were horribly biased.

  • n0truscotsman

    you’re a monster! 😉

    • Anon

      Hey, I was just answering the request from when Brett said “Mall Ninja, please!”, because if that wasn’t a good way to roast someone like Jose, I don’t know what was, and I’d be damned before I let that opportunity go to waste. Hope you got a good laugh out of that. :). And, yes I did see the ;).

      The internet seriously does need more of Gecko45 though.

  • CavScout

    Maybe the defense minister there is nothing but the common middle management lady type. Get in, try to make a name for yourself to put on your next resume, and mess stuff up for the blue collars/soldiers.