Jim Schatz – Paratrooper, AMU Instructor, Heckler & Koch Icon – Has Died

Jim Schatz performs a belt pull demo with an HK21E by lifting the 20lb+ machine gun over his head.

It is with a heavy heart that we at TFB bring news of the death of a true industry great: Jim Schatz has died. Jim’s career in the industry spanned four decades, and he served as a paratrooper (11B) with the 82nd Airborne, a shooter and instructor with the Army Marksmanship Unit, and most famously as an officer with Heckler & Koch. Through his time at H&K, he became known as the guru of all things HK, and many times he was recommended to me as the “go-to” personality whenever my research intersected with that company (which was often).

I knew Jim only briefly and by remote, having conducted a telephone interview with him earlier last year regarding the XM8 program with which he was intimately familiar. Though I did not build a strong relationship with him, Jim was an individual whose merits were known through his reputation. Regardless of professional or technical disagreements, all knew Jim as a man of character and substance, and as the man to talk to regarding Heckler & Koch’s history through the 1990s and early 2000s. In his later life, Jim carried the standard for a new armament program for the modern US Army soldier, and fought fiercely to get the best equipment in the hands of the infantry. In recognition of his substantial contributions to advancing the state of the art of the small arms industry, Jim was recognized in 2015 by the National Defense Industry Association with a Chinn Award.

Tonight, we pour one out for you, Jim. You will be sorely missed.

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 nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


  • Jesse Jasko

    Sorry for everyone’s loss, how did he die?

    • We don’t yet know, but it was too soon. He wasn’t that old.

      • Michael

        He turned 57 last december…
        He will be sorely missed. He forgot more on HKs, the history of the company, military/LE procurement than most people will ever get to know. A great source of information and education gone…

        R. I. P. and Godspeed

  • I really want to know what was in Jim’s gun safe…

    • Ballistic

      HK lost theyr innovation 2decades ago, HK will have NO place in the Rifle and LMG area in just a few years, now HK lost Jim. The only thing left for them is finally finishing the damn XM25 which did take way to long and did cost to much. The Sun is finally setting for HK, they only will sell Pistols etc. That came out of theyr own arrogance and becoming un-innovative.

      • TheChunkNorris

        We get it… you don’t like HK. Have some respect dude.

        • Ballistic

          I have respect. Its not if i like them or not, its just that theyr end is coming, by theyr own fault.

          • TheChunkNorris

            This isn’t about HK, it’s about a good dude that passed away.

          • Ballistic

            Im just referring to John, how much HK lost.

          • pvw20

            Type in your native language……we’ll understand what you’re trying to say better.

          • Ballistic


      • Michael

        “…now HK lost Jim”
        HK ‘lost’ Jim Schatz more than 10 years ago (although ‘losing’ might be the wrong word).
        He was quite realistic and critical about the development of HK as a company over the years. But recently he was quite optimistic given the (inside) information he had about things to come: consolidating the plants in Georgia, new HK433 assault rifle, (finally) listening to what the customer wants (VP9sk et al.)
        I wouldn’t be quite as fast as you writing off HK – OR Jim Schatz’s qualification.

  • xebat

    Rest in Peace !

  • noob


  • Phaedrus

    He was a giant in the community and a really nice, decent fellow. He will be sorely missed.

  • Tony Williams

    I was very saddened to hear this. I met Jim on many occasions over the past decade at conferences and other meetings both in the USA and the UK. I exchanged emails with him only a few days ago. He was always honest and forthright in his views, and I had great respect for him. He will be missed.

    • Mazryonh

      I heard he respected your work as well. Are you going to leave a tribute to him on your firearms info web page?

    • lostintranslation

      I only met Jim a few years ago, but quickly appreciated that he was passionate about ‘supporting’ the infantry to have the best possible tools. He was forward looking and deeply concerned that institutional small arms complacency could lead to ‘hardship and misfortune’ for those that bear the brunt in combat, at the tip of the spear.
      I believe he will be greatly missed.

  • Ballistic

    He certainly was an interesting personalitly. But overall, he had so wrong views (technical and external ballistic) that if the wrong people would have listened to him, he could have created an enormous waist of money and an even greater waist of potential with his limited external ballistic knowledge- Which didnt happen.

    • L Cavendish

      but he probably could spell…
      your post was a waste…just sayin’…

      • Ballistic

        Not native english, sorry.

      • imtoomuch

        It’s funny that your English is worse than Ballistic’s and it’s not even his native language. You look like a fool.

        • Jack daugherty

          And you look like a total a**hole. Guess you guys are even.

        • L Cavendish

          At least all my words were spelled correctly…which was my point.

    • Ballistic

      *(which does in not decrease my respect for a passing human)

      • Ballistic

        *which does not

  • Ruskie



  • Lou

    Very sad. I was on the NDIA Small Arms Committe with him from 2000-2007 and used to run into him at AUSA and other shows after that. Kind of a quiet guy and a great rep for HK. He will be missed in the small arms community for sure.

  • Graham Best

    ” Jim was recognized in 2015 by the National Defense Industry Association with a Chinn Award.”

    As there’s only one per year, the statement should read “… with the Chinn Award.”

  • HB

    I only met him once, but he really had a great insight over small arms as a whole… too sad a man like him gone too early. RIP.

  • .45

    Well, that’s a bummer. What’s with waving the machine gun over his head though?

    • Zach

      Caption says he’s demonstrating strength of the belt pull

  • Joshua

    Most of his stuff was biased.

    His recalling of the XM8s performance and many other HK things did not line up with what I witnessed in first hand testing.

    He also had a habit of altering historical facts to fit his narrative.

    He was however a good man, who had a strong opinion in what he believed.

    And my feelings on him from a professional level do not tarnish him as a person.

    • D

      100% true, extremly based and completly misinterpreting historic facts. Also he said SCHV FMJ would make tiny wound because it yaws too late but all of a sudden his 6.5mm FMJ projectile is duperduper good even tough it would yaw even FAR LATER.
      Yes some SCHV FMJ has fleet yaw, and expecally with too tight twist for tracers this problem occurs more often, but its stupid to critizice it and at the same time fully ignore his 6.5mm would yaw even far later and icepick more often.

      (and its solved since 6-7years due to the EPR construction anyways)

    • Keyzer Soze

      Schatz was also at the heart of one of the worst scandals in the firearms magazine business, known among insiders as “SARgate”.

      Back in 1998-9. he wrote glowing “reviews” of H&K firearms under the fake names of “Charles Sweda” and others for _Small Arms Review” and at least two other magazines. With the full knowledge and connivance of the editors.

      This went on for over a year and almost a dozen “reviews” before the scandal was outed.

      In a fit of history-revision worthy of George Orwell, _Small Arms Review_ in its index of articles changed the attribution of all Schatz’s articles to reflect the true author. Effectively denying that the deception ever took place.

  • Mazryonh

    This is a real bummer. But I also can’t find the interview with Jim Schatz that the author is referring to. Is it posted somewhere other than on this blog?

    I’ve only read a few of his papers and presentations. But it was clear he had strong convictions and a quirky sense of humour. His presentation cautioning against the hidden weaknesses of caseless ammunition had a line that went “Okay, stuffed animals WERE hurt during the compilation of this presentation” showing a crudely-photoshopped photo of a teddy bear “crushed” by a large boulder.

    I suppose he did it to impress upon the audience about how much easier it was, in his view, for caseless ammunition to cause kaBOOM! type malfunctions or other kinds that cannot be repaired in the field. Not a nice surprise for the trooper on the receiving end.

    • The interview has not yet been released.

      • Mazryonh

        Then I’m looking forward to seeing that interview released. His knowledge needs to be passed onto others.

  • Roger D. Parish

    Jim Schatz’s funeral service will be at 4pm on March 25 at Saint Peter’s Episcopal church. 37018 Glendale St. Purcellville VA. A reception will follow in the hall at the church

    • Thank you, Roger.

      • Mazryonh

        Perhaps some of the HK forum members and some of this blog’s staff could attend and pay their respects, as well as tell this blog’s readers how it went for those of us who can’t go.

  • Jack Daugherty

    Chinn Award. Would that be USMC Colonel Chinn of Mercer County Ky? The man who fixed the m-16? Used to drive by his house on the way to Lexington. Another Kentucky hero.

  • William Bart Bartholomew

    Words cannot express how said it was to hear about the passing of a great individual known to the firearms industry as well as being a great friend for many years. He was Mr. HK and helped a lot of groups throughout his great career in many ways. Jim made it a point to support the men in blue as well as the military branches for many years. He was a true American and had a great sense of humor and lived an exciting life as well. He will be missed by many and remembered for his achievements for many years. RIP my friend and Godspeed. S/F Bart

  • Phillip Cooper

    FFS, get it right, TFB…

    11B is a straight leg.
    11X is an Airborne Infantryman.

    • Alex Jay

      Actually 11X is Infantry with no defined specialty. This is a pre- ship (before basic training) designation. 11B is the right designation with an additional skill identifier of P is correct for Airborne Infantry.

      • Phillip Cooper

        Must have changed. I remember very clearly the Airborne guys a week before graduation being told they were 11X, unassigned Airborne. Granted, this was back in 1989, and before the Turning Blue ceremony by about 4 days.

      • Phillip Cooper

        Additionally, I was 11B, no further specialty, and on my papers pre-ship,. it said 11B.

    • LilWolfy

      I was 11B and Airborne, which adds the P additional skill identifier. It first starts with the numerical CMF, then skill level 1 (E-1 through E-4) 2, E-5, 3 E-6, etc.

      Then any ASIs are added to it. An 11B3PF7 would be an Infantryman, SSG E-6, Airborne Qualified, Pathfinder Qualified, for example.

      There is nothing wrong with the way TFB described his MOS that sticks out to me.

  • Roger D. Parish

    Funeral services for Jim Schatz will begin at 1730 on 25 March. This is a one hour slip from my last post, and an hour-and-a-half from my original post.

    The service will still be at Saint Peter’s Episcopal church, 37018 Glendale St., Purcellville, VA. A reception will follow in the hall at the church.

  • RetiredSOFguy

    Sorry to hear. I met Jim a couple of times through my old org when he was in town and the armorers introduced us. Classy guy.

  • Broz

    R I P, My friend…

  • Mazryonh

    Thanks for the link. Let’s hope that site archives those articles of Jim’s for a long time yet.