First Orders of AIF HK416F Rifles Delivered to French Army

Image source: French government

The French government has received the first production units of the Heckler & Koch HK416F as part of its long awaited Arme Individuelle du Futur (Future Individual Weapon). According to the French government Ministry of Defence website, the first 400 HK416F rifles were received by the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) on May 3rd. The rifles are the first batch of an expected total contract of more than 100,000 weapons, grenade launchers, training, and accessories worth up to about 400 million Euros.

The HK416F (for “France”) differs slightly from the standard HK416 models, primarily by the addition of a grenade launching ring for firing muzzle-launched rifle grenades, as per the practice of the French Army. Interestingly, the rifles lack an integral grenade launching sight, which could perhaps be provided via an attachment. In addition to the 38,505 units of the standard infantry rifle model which has a 14.5″ long barrel, the French government will also be procuring at least 54,575 units of an 11″ barreled compact model, which is presumably destined for echelon troops and special units. Also, 10,767 HK269F 40mm grenade launchers (an improvement on the model that became the US M320) are to be procured as part of the deal.

Procurement of the new rifles is expected to last for 10 years, ending in the late 2020s. 5,000 rifles are expected to be delivered to the French government during 2017.

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


  • jae34

    Does France still have a huge stock pile of rifle grenades from the FAMAS-era or it’s just a special request?

    • Major Tom

      A little of both. France has been very much a firm believer in rifle grenades long after other countries adopted things like the M203, GP-25 and more.

      • Anonymoose

        Japan is the same way.

      • snmp

        For asymmetric warfare, each soldier an platoon have with it 1 or 2 Rifles grenads, When you are ambush by adverse beligerant, each team memebers could launch a grenade, not just the defunct wearer of the grenad launcher

      • Aurélien Morel

        The issue some armies have with underbarrel launchers is that while they’re pretty good against personnel and non-armored targets, they have next to no anti-armor capacity. Rifle grenades (like the AC58) can go through 350mm of armor, which can be useful in some scenarios.

    • Just Sayin’

      Don’t you need a gas cutoff switch to make those work (so the action doesn’t cycle)?

      • Major Tom

        The most modern rifle grenades are bullet trap types.

        • Q

          Doesnt still the pressure increase because the grenade takes so long to accelerate? Or do they have some vents to drop pressure.

          • Aurélien Morel

            The rifle grenade is basically a mortar round, so most of the pressure flying back into the barrel is the grenades propellant, not the bullet propellant.
            It’s usually considered harmful to gas pistons to just let the rifle cycle . I’m guessing there is a cutoff on the HK416F.

          • redsr

            Modern grenades the bullet (or rarely pressure if blanks required) is sufficient to move rifle grenade off the muzzle before the ignition of the grenade’s propulsion charge.

    • LostIntranslation

      Article at DefenseNews; photograph ‘apparently’ shows 416F.
      However, does this look like a rifle grenade 416F version?

      Article available at: DefenseNews
      Gun manufacturer Heckler & Koch delivers first batch of assault rifles to French
      By: Pierre Tran, May 9, 2017 (Photo Credit: A.Thomas-Trophime/DICoD).

    • Aurélien Morel

      The French Army doctrine is huge on rifle grenades, especially AP ones.
      Basically the point is having anti-armor capabilities for every soldier without the need for special equipment like specific launchers.
      Plus before the interoduction of NATO rifle grenades small units would usually have a curved shooting weapon like a 60mm mortar, the rifle grenades took that role over.

      • Isaiah Johnson

        Just curious, do rifle grenades work on 11.5 in HK 416s? The article states that the majority of rifles (54,000) of the short barrelled models are being procured. Could the French be fielding the 11.5in guns in major cities in light of recent terror attacks for security forces?

        • Aurélien Morel

          Rifle grenades need a certain lenght of uncovered barrel, so it would basically depend on where you put the gas block. As is, the 11″ HK416 can’t fire rifle grenades.
          The 11.5 are to be fielded to rear-echelon and tank troops, the 14.5 to infantry.

          The Army doesn’t work much in cities besides standing guard. The Police and Gendarmerie are already equiped with automatic weapons for that role (HK416s, SCAR-L, G36 and UMP9).

  • SP mclaughlin

    It’d be wierd to see that EOtech GL sight used in conjunction with a rifle grenade.

  • Athr

    Haha soon they will really regret it hahahahaha.

    • TonyP

      >regretting a gun purchase
      >buying an HK

      pick one

      • CJS

        Not keeping to the bullpup concept 😃

        • Rob

          Most seem to be moving away from bullpup rifles. The HK rifles will serve them well.

          • Get over it Fanbois

            Only countries that don’t fight an actual army are moving away from Bullpups. A few are just meat shields for their Air Force.(like what the marines are doing for the F-35)

    • GetoveritFanbois.

      The butthurt of the DI fanbois is up in full force.

      • Joshua

        Not really.

        No DI gun was submitted. Solicitation was limited to EU companies.

        USA/Canada are the only ones making DI ARs.

  • Ευστάθιος Παλαιολόγος

    On the rifle grenade sight comment in the article, most “modern” rifle grenades have some sort of aiming method or sight built into them or attached to them. So no need for a sight on the rifle. Such a sight would be grenade type dedicated as rifle grenades have very different ballistics depending on type

  • 8166PC1

    Op rod AR’s suck should have went with DI

    • Vitor Roma

      Not all op rods are the same. HK has done their homework on that. Maybe it’s not the best ar ever, but saying it sucks when it has such a nice record of adoption is silly.

      • 8166PC1

        I was poking fun at the op rod haters

    • I personally think the HK416 is the best weapon that was in the running for the French contract, possibly tied with the SCAR.

    • GetoveritFanbois

      Di is a dying system. Get over it.

      • Joshua

        No it’s not. However no DI rifle was submitted as it was a EU solicitation only.

        I take it you missed where CRANE is asking for a new DI upper for the M4A1?

        Like specifically requesting DI, op rod need not apply type of thing.

  • feline74

    You mentioned in another article that the Marines are testing a rifle based on HK416. As long as the military is looking at updating designs for its new rifle, have they looked at a more direct update of the HK?

    • The Marines currently use the M27 (which is based on the 416) as a fire support weapon for the squad.

      What do you mean by a “direct update”?

  • John

    They’ll probably lower the request for 11′ barrels in favor of 14.5′ when reports come back. More range, just as compact, no ballistic problem with sharing NATO or U.S. ammo.

    • Aurélien Morel

      11′ barrels are likely for rear-echelon troops that would be mostly bothered by longer rifles and don’t shoot much, even in the event of a war. And they’ll probably be the very last to get new rifles anyways.

  • pieslapper

    Were they extensively drop tested?

    • Iggy

      Hurr hurr hurr.

    • mazkact

      Too soon ? nah

      • Friend

        What’d I miss?

        • mazkact

          The ” never fired only dropped once” never gets old and I am French. My family left in 1785 though.

  • KentuckyProud

    I’m kind of thinking that purchasing such fine rifles will be a waste, why?
    Because their government will prohibit them from using them agains insurgents
    in their beautiful country.

    • Aurélien Morel

      1/ You’re an idiot.

      2/ The Police and Gendarmerie are already using G36s and HK416s insode the country.

    • Rob

      You don’t know much about French military history or foreign policy do you?

  • Joe Schmo

    They’re gonna need em now…

  • mazkact

    sa·cré bleu, says Captain Renault.

  • Jojo

    – For rifle grenade, the sight system is built in the grenade itself.
    – no gaz cut off for rifle grenade. But the upper has been mechanically adapted to handle the blow back.
    – the upper will be the same for short and long version.
    – no the short version won’t be able to launch the rifle grenade since it needs to fit on the barrel. On the short HK 416 you barely have the flash hider which extend from the handguard.
    – if you look for French Army in Afghanistan you will see that rifle grenade seemed rather popular on Famas.

    Even if the HK 416F seems to be good weapon, the gun length with 14.5″ barrel is between 830mm and 931mm compared to 757mm for the Famas.
    The weight is the same despite 5″ shorter barrel. So the 5.56 round will have lower initial velocity. (it’s quoted at 850m/s with 62gr ball compared to 950m/s+ for Famas)

    Gendarmerie Nationale has G-36, and it is in delivery for the French Police too.
    I have seen Gendarmerie Nationale patrolling with HK UMP too.

    For all the “drop gun” jokes, it comes from ignorant people whit short memory and who should learn history.
    And for modern times, France was the first allied to fight with US in Afghanistan after 2001 attack. The same French president decided not to go in Iraq in 2003 and he was right because:
    – the war was based on bullshit (nobody found Chemical weapons)
    – it’s such a mess even 14 years later.

  • CA

    Would have been cheaper to deliver white flags. France is done.

  • Steve_7

    100,000 sounds a bit light, their armed forces are larger than that.

  • CavScout

    No money left over to mount optics?

    Was a dumb buy anyway. The German army said NO to the 416, so HK quickly made a new gun that’s tons cheaper and supposedly the next greatest thing. The 416 is already old tech.