Firearm Showcase: The Heckler & Koch G11K2, 1989 Caseless Hyperburst Wonder – HIGH RES PICS!

In May of this year, I got the rare opportunity to travel to Heckler & Koch’s headquarters in Ashburn, VA, to take a look at some of the experimental and prototype firearms they have located there in their famous “Grey Room”. It wouldn’t be worth as much for me to just tell you about it and to snap a few foggy cell phone pictures, though, so I brought along Othais of C&Rsenal to help me take high resolution light box photos of these unique and rare firearms.

Today we’ll be taking a look at one of Heckler & Koch’s most rare and iconic firearms: The caseless, hyperburst G11 rifle. This weapon was the result of a massive effort on the part of Dynamit Nobel and Heckler & Koch to develop a weapon that could fire advanced caseless ammunition at high rates of fire, a concept that – if perfected – would produce the most advanced and effective individual weapon ever developed in the world. The G11K2 variant, shown here, was the first of the “perfected” weapons, using the final ammunition iteration developed with its bullet fully telescoped into the combustible propellant block.

Caseless rounds, left to right: 7.62x34mm Frankford Arsenal caseless, 5.56x24mm FA caseless, 5.56x25mm Hercules caseless, 4.7x21mm H&K/DAG early caseless, 4.7x33mm HK/DAG G11 caseless.

Caseless rounds, left to right: 7.62x34mm Frankford Arsenal caseless, 5.56x24mm FA caseless, 5.56x25mm Hercules caseless, 4.7x21mm H&K/DAG early caseless, 4.7x33mm HK/DAG G11 caseless.


DSC_0880mod DSC_0882mod DSC_0879mod DSC_0884mod

Unfortunately, financial difficulties caused by the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reconstruction and reintegration of East Germany forced the cancellation of the G11 and its innovative caseless ammunition. However, the design would get one last hurrah before finally riding off into the sunset…

If you want to download all of these photos in their full resolution, you can follow this MediaFire link to a zip file containing them.

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


  • Sid

    I vividly remember this along with several other proposals (duplex ammo) being presented in Army Times in 1989. Have wondered since what became of it.
    All of the ideas had to clear the hurdle of offering enough innovation to justify the cost.

    • The Irredeemable Raven

      Don’t be surprised to see someone else give this concept a go before too long…

      • Andrew Miller

        Don’t be surprised if people are using Case Less Ammo in the form of Flintlocks first.

  • 11b

    Can we Kickstart this thing? I’ll throw down 5 bucks.

    • Arathar

      It has no future for dozend reasons. There are way better systems possible.

  • LazyReader

    HK fiddled with this thing for 25 years…………so let’s put less emphasis on it. It’s a failed gun. Cool maybe, but impractical for military matters. It’s a fun oddity. But let’s not forget it’s bigger Brother, the HK LMG11 light machine gun with 300 rounds stored

    • mechamaster

      Don’t forget how “cyberpunk-ish” the reload method is…

      • Green Hell

        Not like that on the later models, you just push the mag on the rail from up front, there’s also a place for two spare mags there.

        • ostiariusalpha

          Lazy and mm are talking about the LMG11, not the G11. They are two very different guns.

      • Anson Shurr

        Wow, it’s just like the rifle in the new Deus Ex games.
        You aren’t kidding.

    • Michael R. Zupcak

      That looks like a P90 magazine made by the Borg.

    • iowaclass

      That is a heck of a mechanism if it does indeed work. I see no reason it could not work with cased ammo. Maybe it’s patented and once it comes into the public domain we will see it adopted further.

  • Blue Centurion

    That Gray room is something else. I spent almost 2 hours in there and still couldn’t get over the Teutonic wonder.

  • Zapp Brannigan

    “Unfortunately, financial difficulties caused by the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reconstruction and reintegration of East Germany forced the cancellation of the G11”

    If the G11 was intended to be a battle rifle, it would not have had any buyers because it was way too complicated for any soldier to service in the field. Keeping them functioning in a harsh environment like the Middle East would have been near impossible. The G11 is an amazing bit of engineering but that is all it will ever be.

    • ostiariusalpha

      The G11 was the F22 Raptor of rifles (and the G36 is the F35 ?); it wasn’t designed with the intent to be easily serviced in the field, it was meant to kick as much ass in the least amount of time possible. If it wasn’t for its Achilles’ heel of caseless ammunition, it would have fulfilled that role very competently.

      • Mall ninja hater

        Actually the M16 is the F-35 of rifles. Only works with a bunch of work arounds that no other weapon requires.

        • What?

          • iksnilol

            Comrade, after all these years, you realize we could make a killer drinking game out of these comments?

            I mean, one shot everytime someone falsely mentions the M16 being crap? We’d die from one TFB page.

          • Zachary marrs

            Have you ever gone so far as really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?

        • ostiariusalpha

          Same was said of the F-16, which the M16 parallels rather more closely. And you should probably specify which “work arounds” you are vaguely referring to, otherwise you just come across as just another bomb thrower that has no intention of defending his baseless complaints.

        • Kivaari


  • Swarf

    Yes, we are all still heartbroken over the fall of the Berlin Wall…

    • iksnilol

      Well, couldn’t they have kept it up a couple more years so that the G11 could be finished?

      • Hahah, no probably not. It would have needed at least another decade.

        • iksnilol

          I just want that LMG version so bad.

          besides, in regards to oppression a couple of years or decades is the same, right?

    • john huscio

      Well it helped Merkel out….

      • Anonymoose

        That’s even worse.

  • Warren Ellis

    I never realized how thin the rifle was. For some reason I always thought it was like a 3d rectangle, or like a box instead of being more like a board.

  • mechamaster

    I imagine about G11-style caseless / cased-telescopic assault rifle, without the 3-rounds hyper-burst capability ( thus eliminate the reciprocating body inside ), with “100% electronic-motorized chaingun” mechanism …

    ** Basically it’s miniaturized 40mm Bofors Chain Gun- CT40 cannon inside the G11 body-style aesthetic.

    It’s just pure imagination of course. LOL.

    • iksnilol

      That would simplify the mechanism and make for a good trigger pull, good idea.

      • Iggy

        If we’re getting rid of hyper-burst and want to simplify it, I’d go for a modified Dardick setup myself, it’d isolate the chamber from the mag, which would help prevent cook-offs/improve cooling and triangular ammunition feeds nicely while utilizing all of it’s material unlike the original cartridge. Also allows for ejection of duds, and you could rotate the cylinder electronically if you wanted it fancier. Main issue would be some kinda moving sleeve to seal off the chamber prevent gas leak while firing.

        • mechamaster

          Revolver-cannon setup.. Interesting.

          • If I’m not mistaken, the HK LMG11 design intended to use a 3-chamber cylinder.

    • Johannes von’ Strauch

      As an engineer in this area i did heavy research and development on this rotating chamber mechanism a year long (2years ago). But it got verry clear that there are way better options that will greatly outperform it.

      • iksnilol

        Mechanisms such as?

  • Sianmink

    Freaking German Space Magic.

    • Sunshine_Shooter

      It’s not magic if it never worked.

      • Sianmink

        It worked in laboratory conditions, but was too complex for field maintenance.

        • iksnilol

          Just make it out of carbon fiber, the whole damn thing. Only keep the barrel out of metal and replace the trigger unit with an electric trigger.

          And throw out the regular version, give everybody the LMG version.

          • DW


      • ASDF

        They had it working enough that they deployed a few hundred to men in the field, then the wall came down, and the axe fell.

  • Raoul Duke

    Use your search-fu to find the presentation HK alum. Jim Schatz gave about the real technical gremlins that haunt G11 (and all caseless firearms, to a degree), at NDIA, a few years back. Since he actually _worked_ for “The Heckler” during that timeframe, it is likely pretty accurate.
    Still a cool concept though, and if you grew up in the ’80’s, it still represents the future. Kind of like jetpacks and flying cars in the 1960’s.

    • Giolli Joker

      That poor Teddy bear, though…

    • kyle893

      It could still work, it just wasn’t the right time. If we ever start using ETC propellant the caseless design would be a great way to cut down weight and help in reducing moving parts to stop the recoil that type of design would produce in a weapon of today. They should make a sabot grasp the tip of the bullet while the rest slides down the sides of the propellant to provide a little more resisitance to heat and cycling etc. The sabot would eject out of the muzzle booster/break and require no ejection, leaving any cycling parts to attentuate the recoil, and maybe the heat as well because those guns would most assuredly be getting hot as hell.

  • Mmmtacos

    Every time I see this I wonder what it would look like today if it had actually entered into mass production in the 90’s.

    I mean there’s so much space for rails…

    • iksnilol

      So much industrial shelving you mean? 😉

  • A bearded being from beyond ti

    Oh wow, those are some slick photos, could i get permission to use them on imfdb? Or atleast one of them?

    • Email me and I’ll send you bigger ones if you want.

      • A bearded being from beyond ti

        I sent a mail.

        I would gladly take the bigger pics!

  • vwVwwVwv

    they hardly KILLED H&K with the canselation, it was disturbing

  • KestrelBike

    Wait, I’m confused… The safety selector is located conveniently close in to the grip, and not a mile away where only king Kong’s finger can reach…

  • Max Popenker

    I had a chance to examine an G11 ACR, and it was as far from being “perfected” as the Windows 97, and probably even further 😉
    It has a very fragile polymer casing, with very weak “wind-up” charging handle (the rifle I’ve handled had this rotating handle broken off), and that not mentioning extra-complicated mechanism and a number of incurable problems inherent to caseless ammunition.

    • That is why “perfected” was in quotes. 😉 The rifles weren’t perfect, but H&K felt they were ready for trials at least.

  • jimmy craked corn

    I read some time ago they never figured out away to stop cook offs after a magazine was fired was part of the reason they cancelled it.

    • Blake

      Yeah that’s the major downside of using caseless rounds: no brass heat insulation. I’m extremely interested to find out how they figured out how to accurately fire rifle rounds that aren’t seated in a chamber. That round going off must wreak havoc on the walls of the beginning on the barrel.

    • Arathar

      Pure bullshit. The weapon would melt down before the developed High Ignition Temeratur Propellant would cook off.

      There are way diffrent problems with it.

      • Arathar


  • DanGoodShot

    It looks like someone bought a rifle case that was too small and instead of returning it n getting the right case they cut a hole for the pistol grip.

  • I was hoping you got some photos of the internal mechanism, but to be fair, you’d probably need a 2,000 megapixel camera with a microscope attachment to have enough resolution to even see all the parts.

    • I do. They will come with the next G11 post.

      • Cottersay

        Can’t wait to see the post, because if the comment above showing the “innards” of the G11 is for real, then I see big reasons against its adoption!

  • ArjunaKunti

    Can this rifle be made in a cased telescope version in order to avoid the problems with the caseless round? Maybe an unloadable bag attached under the rear of the rifle that collects the used plastic cases? That would keep the rilfe’s reliability even under harsh conditions.

  • Uniform223
  • SD

    The recoil on that thing looks brutal for keeping shots on target.

    • Giolli Joker

      That should be the recoil of the 3 round* “hyperburst”.
      The system is meant to transfer the recoil on the shoulder only after the last bullet left the barrel.

      *or shall we say “square”? 🙂

  • Rock Island Auction
  • Keith Taylor

    I’ve been looking for a decent picture of this gun for years …. then i get several, many many thanks