Gone by 2020: G36 Replacement Schedule Released by German Bundeswehr – New Rifle to Be Chosen by 2019

The timeline for the replacement of the troubled G36 rifle with a new yet-to-be-selected weapon has been announced by the Bundeswehr. The German System Sturmgewehr Bundeswehr (SSB)program was announced on February 3rd, 2016, with the solicitation itself being released on April 19th, 2017. According to Polish gun magazine MilMag, the testing and evaluation segment of the program was begun in July of this year, and is expected to be completed by November 2018. Between December of 2018 and April of 2019, the Bundeswehr will deliberate on the winner of the contract, which is expected to be awarded the following month in May. Final testing and troop trials will be conducted over the course of the next year, and fielding is expected to occur starting in September of 2020. Notably, it seems the new weapon is certainly not considered an “interim” item, as it is expected to serve through 2046.

The SSB program, interestingly, does not specify whether the new rifle should be in caliber 5.56mm or 7.62mm, instead leaving it to the decision of the manufacturers. Reportedly, entrants to the program include the H&K HK433, Steyr-Rheinmetall RS-556, and SIG Sauer MCX. None of these weapons are chambered for 7.62mm (although the HK433’s design suggests a 7.62mm variant may be in the works), and it’s yet unknown if any manufacturers will submit weapons in the larger caliber.





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.


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  • xebat

    Oh boy, good thing i’m going back to the Bundeswehr in October. Maybe i will get my hands on it. I will make sure to send TFB some photos and videos as soon as i get my hands on the potential new service rifle !

    • Shlom Shekelsteen

      >by 2020

      Man, German military standards really declined. They are so desperate, the take everyone with half a brain.

  • Gus Butts

    I think H&K will win this, considering they pretty much invented the HK433 specifically for these trials to replace their G36 in service.

    • Yeah I’m a Steyr fanboi, but I really can’t see the RS556 beating the HK433.

      The one really revolutionary feature of the RS was using the AUG’s quick change barrel and gas system in an AR – clearly an advantage over their perceived competitor – the 416.

      But they didn’t count on the 433 being the competitor, which integrates a similar quick change barrel, along with a folding stock, modular fire controls, integral shot counter, and is 100% made in Germany, vs the 51%-60% German, 40-40% Austrian made RS.

      The only real wildcard would be the influence at the military / political level of Rheinmetall Defense – which is a serious power house in Germany. Or if someone wants to slap HK’s wrist over the issues with the G36.

      • Renato H M de Oliveira

        The G36 issues have less to do with HK than with Bundeswehr.
        The G36 was designed to fit every single iota of the requirements of the time.
        Problem was using a rifle designed for conscripts in an European “Cold War becoming Hot” theater in a totally different theater – namely in the deserts of Central Asia – under a different fire regime to boot.
        Very few mechanical systems perform well in roles they weren’t designed to fulfill, and barebones G36 isn’t one of them.
        That’s why HK won the lawsuit – it does work as it was asked for. Bundeswehr is to blame for subjecting the rifles to situations not envisioned in the original plans.

        • But there are rifle designs that are capable of functioning in both extremely hot and extremely cold combat zones, and are capable of higher sustained rates of fire without a substantial decrease in accuracy. Which is overall a knock against the G36.

          The AK74, for example, serves in conflicts in every conceivable environment across the globe. Or for a more direct G36 competitor, the Steyr AUG, which competed against the G36 for the German Army trials. The AUG has been functioning fine in the Alpine Villages of Austria, to hot as balls Australia, to even hotter Iraq and Afghanistan when the Aussies were there.

          • Renato H M de Oliveira

            I’m fully aware of these facts.
            Problem is, Germany was searching the cheapest possible rifle at the time.
            The RFP leaked early to HK (that’s a different history), therefore when they were officially published, HK had a rifle tailored for them.
            The only G36s to show said problems were the German ones. Spain’s G36s reportedly work just fine in climatic conditions even more extreme than in A’than.
            Point is, the rifle is a perfect match to the RFP. And the Germans operated the rifles in conditions not envisioned in the RFP.
            Due to this fact, the German govt attempts to sue HK backfired.

          • iksnilol

            What you said, + wasn’t there something about it being desirable that the rifles aren’t too durable? So that they couldn’t wind up in different conflicts decades later (like the G3 has)?

          • Renato H M de Oliveira

            That may have been one of the factors that influenced the RFP, but I honestly don’t know enough to say if yes or no.

          • Max Glazer

            Australian AUGs are made entirely in Australia and there were a bunch of changes to adapt it to Australian climate and use. Plastic that the stock is made of is Australian designed and tested.

          • Renato H M de Oliveira

            Thanks for the info.
            So the AUG was adapted to Oz. makes perfect sense.
            Did the G36 pass for simmilar modss? I’d guess so.

          • Max Glazer

            WOuldn’t know about German G-36 as I served with the aussie AUG designated F88S A1 AuSteyr

          • Renato H M de Oliveira

            Did you like the rifle? have you used its F90 “offspring”?

          • Max Glazer

            It was ok. Smooth and never caught on things. Trigger was a bit abrupt and plastiky in feel.

            Didn’t get to play with F90 since it was introduced for trials after I discharged. What I DO like is that they made it a lot lighter and got rid of that stupid barrel change that I never heard anyone bother with in the field.

            I wouldn’t expect F-90 to shoot differently to F88 since the gas system and bolt carrier mass would remain similar. Weight reduction would mostly be from lightening the receiver. Recoil would probably increase very slightly since the weapon is lighter while the recoil from the shot itself and secondary recoils from bolt carrier hitting full-back position and then slamming forward again into the battery. But that would not be felt that bad since the stock is nice and wide.

          • Renato H M de Oliveira

            Thanks for your input.
            Lefty shooting was ok, or a case deflector was a must have?

          • Max Glazer

            I’m a lefty. It doesn’t have a deflector but rather swappable ejection side. Set by armorer. It’s a bullpup after all. Which means when in a bind you can’t just swap shoulders to lean from both sides of whatever cover you are behind because your face will cover the ejection port.

          • Renato H M de Oliveira

            Thank you for your patience!

        • CommonSense23

          How is using a rifle in a 90 degree environment and shooting a couple mags outside any modern rifles capabilities.

          • forrest1985

            Spot on! A rifle in this day and age should be able to function in any environment a solider is required to go!

          • Renato H M de Oliveira

            Any military system is a set of compromises.
            The G36 was tailored for conditions x, but was taken to conditions y.
            If you want a more versatile system, be prepared to carry a heavier and/or costlier system.

          • CJS

            I think that’s the crux of the matter, it wasn’t developed in this day and age. It’s primary customer was late 80’s / early 90’s Germany, a nation that was still affected by WW2 and had no intention of going outside its own boarders…
            Having said that, HK fudged up big time not designing / testing it to work (from day one) in all environments, no matter how harsh and abusive they may be.

          • Renato H M de Oliveira

            These conditions are normal for military operations, I’m fully aware of that.
            But even these relatively benign conditions weren’t specified in the RFP that resulted in the G36. That’s why attempts to sue HK backfired.

          • CommonSense23

            I agree. Yes the HK met all the specs cause somehow dispersion testing after a couple mags was not a requirement. But that still doesn’t give any excuse to the fact that a rifle designed for combat can’t actually provide combat accuracy past a couple quick mag dumps.

          • Renato H M de Oliveira

            Fully agree – no excuses.
            But gives them legal basis to survive lawsuits.
            Thing is, HK isn’t the same it once was – rolling lockers rock!

          • Ken Bradford

            That is actually wrong the a1 version wasnt suited for afghanistan and mali bit a2 and idz i never had a problem. The problem is that the german government just took more and more money from the defensebudget so that new updated rifles werent acquired.
            As someone who used it in combat its sad to see all the hate the rifle gets.

          • CommonSense23

            Can you please link me any sources to that?

          • Ken Bradford

            On wich topic ? The rifle comments are based of my and teammates experience. The budget cuts are well documented, since the end of the cold war the budget and army size is shrinking.

          • MeaCulpa

            Well if you’re doing public procurement and makes “the rifle must be constructed out of ice” and a company wins the contract with a great ice rifle, is it then really the fault of the company that the rifle melts in the desert?

            Anyways the G36 issue is seriously overblown.

          • CommonSense23

            How is the issue seriously overblown? The rifles experience sever POI shift after a couple mags.

    • Joshua

      H&K will likely win this no matter what because they need the German government’s money,and the German government want their own weapons manufacturer.

      • snmp

        SIG SAUER is german compagny

        • 411.48 R

          So is Rheinmetall.
          The Problem with Sig Sauer are their dubious management and, it is 95% American at the moment. There are absolutely no production capabilities for a major military contract in Eckernförde or Isny left.

          HK got the capabilities and is a known Partner for the Bundeswehr.

          • snmp

            HK have not that’s capabilitie, cause of French contract & USMC Contract in same time

          • 411.48 R

            Most of the French rifles will be manufactured in France. That was part of the deal.
            HK proofed more than once that it is able to handle some big government contract simultaneously. Sig is an unknown player in this realm. Rheinmetal as well, because their small arms business did not work so great since end of the cold war.
            Don’t get me wrong. I am absolutely not an HK fanboy, but I know really good how German authorities work. “We know you and we have done serious business together” is half the work done.

          • A4

            Nope. All French weapons will be manufactured in Oberndorf. HK just need too increase, if needed, their manufacturing capabilities.

          • Samuel Millwright

            And because they take FOREVER fulfilling tiny contracts

        • john huscio

          Sig sauer manufactures next to nothing in germany anymore and i doubt theyd want anything from cohen-run sig usa…..

          • Steve_7

            SIG-Sauer make a lot of stuff in Germany but they can’t export because they’re under investigation over the SP2022 transfers to Colombia in violation of German export law, which is why they moved the SP2022 production to NH. There’s no particular reason why they can’t make a rifle for the German military.

  • john huscio

    Hope steyr’s aug in AR clothing wins. They need a big win, HK? Not so much….

    • Ryfyle

      Sounds like an AR-18

    • wicapiwakan

      Especially given that HK selling a defective rifle and then lying to the German government is why they’re replacing the rifle in the first place.

      Of course, given the state of arms acquisition, lying and grossly overcharging for defective product probably makes HK MORE likely to win the next contract, not less. After all, they still have the generals and politicians they had to buy to get the last turd out of the gates.

  • Brett baker

    Shouldn’t Beretta be trying? The Germans have lots of experience with Italian guns. Oh, yeah, maybe That’s why they didn’t try.

    • snmp

      Beretta MAB38/44 (one better SMG of Axe) => in post WWII MP1 for the Bundesgrenzschutz

  • RoPa

    when they are replacing the rifle they will choose in 2019?

    • Renato H M de Oliveira

      The article mentions that they want to start fielding the rifles soon after troop trials, which should be sometime between 2020 and 2021.

      • Rich LPS

        Wow,
        The G36 experts chime in….does anyone here own one or have they ever used one operationally?
        1. The German Defense minister hates HK, Germany exporting “weapons of war” and guns in general. This is what led to much of the HK / G36 / Crisis. There is lots to this “story” over in Germany.
        2. I own a G36. I’ve shot a test group cold at 200 meters (10 shots). Then immediately got the gun hot by pounding 200 rounds as fast as I could on semi-auto, then quickly shot another group at 200 meters. My group did not shift and was a bit tighter the second time round. The Firearm Blog guys did a similar test and found the same results.
        3. When HK tested the G36 at he Yuma proving ground they fired 24000 rounds, that is not a typo 24000 rounds, without any lubing or cleaning. No malfunctions were experienced and there were no parts breakage. No other combat rifle in the world can match that performance.
        PS: Many AR FOW’s endurance testing included no cleaning but does include adding lube during the testing. When you lube it can offer a benefit of washing away debris / carbon to keep a gun running. Still waiting for an AR FOW’s test to make it to 24000 rounds without adding any lube what so ever…..and get a result of no malfunctions or parts breakage.
        4. Big outfits like HK often test competitors products (believe it or not they are very concerned about competing products). They have not found any combat rifle that can match the G36’s reliability not even the AK Family or Swiss Arms Family.
        5. When US Capitol Police complained about impact shift of their issued G36’s, HK took the complaint very, very seriously. A detailed investigation and testing took place. The complaints could not be duplicated by HK.
        6. The original sighting system provided with the G36 to the Federal German Armed Forces was linked to a low price point. It did not perform very well. Much of the “inaccuracy” “shifting impact” complaints can be linked back to the problematic issued sight.
        When one changes the G36 sight rail to a low profile solid aluminum rail and mounts a good quality sight (Example Aimpoint Micro, Trijicon) these issues often quickly go away.

        The G36 is far from perfect. The original mags were massive!!! but very reliable. The fore grip / end is flimsy / flexes and it’s only design parameter was to keep the shooter from burning his hand on a hot barrel.
        The rear stock did not offer any adjustment….but newer options do.

        The bolt is 6 large lugs instead of 7 smaller ones. Don’t hear of G36’s breaking bolts very often.

        Rich

      • Rich LPS

        Wow….all the G36 experts here. Does anyone who is commenting actually own a real G36 or have they every been issued one?

        I own a real G36. I’ve shot 10 shot test groups at 200 meters then immediately burned 200 rounds as fast as I could in semi-automatic fire then immediately shot another 10 shot test group at 200 meters. I did not experience any shifting zero of the group and my group was a bit tighter than the first group. This is similar to the results experienced by the guys here on the Firearm Blog when they tried it.

        1. The G36 controversy has much to do with the German Defense minister. She generally hates guns, hates HK and the exporting of “Weapons of War” by German Companies. There is lots more to this angle / story over in Germany.
        2. The G36 is the most reliable Combat Rifle in the world. The G36 was tested by HK at the Yuma Proving ground. A G36 rifle fired 24000 rounds (that’s not a typo, yes 24K / 24000 rounds) with out any cleaning or lubing. With no malfunctions or parts breakage. There are many AR 15 FOW’s endurance tests with no cleaning but there is lubing. Adding lubrication offers benefits of washing out debris & carbon which is a bit advantageous sort of like the benefits of cleaning. I’m still waiting for an endurance test of a DI AR 15 FOW’s that makes it to 24000 rounds without cleaning or lubing!
        3. Much of the problems of inaccuracy / shifting impact of the G36 can be associated to the originally issued dual sighting unit and similar sights. They were developed with a low price point. When one attaches a solid low-profile aluminum sight rail and then goes with a good quality sighting system (Aimpoint Micro or Trijicon ect.) these issues tend to disappear.
        4. The US Capitol Police complained about a “shifting point of impact”. These allegations were taken very, very seriously by HK USA. A through investigation and testing was done. The “shifting point of impact” could not be replicated.
        5. HK is actually pays close attention to competitors products. Bigger companies like HK extensively test competitors products. They have never found a competitors’ combat rifle that is as reliable as the G36, this includes even the AK Family of Weapons and the SIG Swiss Arms Family.

        The G36 is far from perfect. The mags are huge!!! (but very reliable). The stock does not offer any adjustability (although new versions now do). The original sighting system was low quality and problematic (but new low-profile, solid aluminum sighting rails are available now). The fore grip is flimsy and flexing. It’s only design parameter was to keep the operator from burning their hand on a hot barrel.

        G36 bolts are 6 large lugs, not 7 smaller ones like the AR 15 FOW’s. As a result you don’t hear of G36 bolts breaking very often (I’ve never hear of one breaking).

        * If one shoots enough rounds out of any rifle in rapid succession you will find POI shift….and gas tubes melting and failing….and other problems…
        There are customers with G36’s all over the world including very hot tropical and desert areas. Don’t hear many complaints from them.

        Rich

        • Renato H M de Oliveira

          Thanks for the account.
          I’m not bashing the G36. I do think it is a great rifle.
          What I am saying is that the Bundeswehr version had issues – I don’t know if it was the sights, the barrel, the handguards, whatever – because it was used in a scenario not envisioned it the original RFP.
          I’m no aware of any other country complaining about it.
          Therefore, it is a German Army issue, not a G36 issue.
          And it was exactly what the German courts found out – HK isn’t to blame.

          • Rich LPS

            Renato,

            Sorry I mean to reply to others commenting not just you. I am very skeptical about this being
            “Just a German Army Issue…only with their guns and no-one else”
            I really don’t think there is a big difference in the production of the guns over the years.
            Plus many German Soldiers love the gun and are confused by all the negative press.
            Reminds me of all the negative press on the M4 carbine. Actually a pretty good gun, performing pretty well.

            Rich

          • Renato H M de Oliveira

            Which reinforces my point – only some guns, used in some areas, had any problems.

          • Rich LPS

            Haha Samuel, another G36 expert. Please advise what your experience with the weapon system is? Have you ever owned or carried one?

          • Renato H M de Oliveira

            I’m no expert. I’ll readily admit it, and I never claimed otherwise.
            Since you are THE EXPERT™, please share with us your scientific torture tests made with A1 rifles simmilar to those that had issues.

          • Samuel Millwright

            You can think whatever you want, you can even feel free to believe that hilariously stupid g36 24k round yuma story (though it does indeed make you look stupider for believing it than hk is for spouting it), but you’re wrong and I’ve heard whzt are frankly much more credible stories from much less gullible people that say you’re a rank fanboy apologist…

  • Herr Wolf

    I hope this means the prices of Walther G36 22LRs will drop.

    • Renato H M de Oliveira

      I’d not hold my breath.

  • john huscio

    The g36 will soon be one of the third world’s service rifle of choice…

  • rychastings

    we all know the german govt will buy hk again even if they got bitten once. its not like they will buy foreign guns…

  • Docduracoat

    The Iraqi Kurds have received thousands of G 36 rifles from Germany
    By all accounts they are happy with them
    I see lots of videos and photos of G 36 rifles being used by them against Isis
    They Seem to be working fine in the Iraqi desert

  • Klaus Von Schmitto

    Maybe we’ll see some G36 parts kits. That would be nice.

    • Brett baker

      Buy the CAI clone in a couple years and tell us how it works.

  • Steve_7

    This is all ridiculous IMO, there’s no real problem with the G36. No-one outside the German military has reported a problem which to me indicates that H&K did the minimum necessary to stay to spec for the German contract. It’s absurd to replace the G36 when the UK for example is still slogging on with the infinitely crappier SA80. The 416 is basically the AR-15 with a few bits from the G36. And yes I have used the G36, I’ve even played around with some of the prototypes.