Nowegian military ammunition making soldier sick!

Steve Johnson
by Steve Johnson

In my recent article about the Norwegian H416 rifle, Mauken, a Norwegian soldier, posted a link to this article at (I have translated it into english using google):

Soldiers may have been sick of the military’s new rifle

Army turns the alarm after a number of officers and soldiers have health problems after the shooting with the military’s new standard rifle, “HK 416”.

Gun are heirs to AG3, and is about to be phased in for all Armed Forces branches. Some departments, including the Norwegian soldiers in Afghanistan, has had the gun in about a year, writes

Hærstaben have been in three different concern from messages incidents where about 40 skyttere have experienced various health problems. It has been reported that strong discomfort in the chest, neck and munnhule after the shooting, unpleasant cough for several hours after the shooting, nausea, fever, headache, joint and cold svetting after the shooting.

Chief of Staff in hærstaben, Brigadier Rune Jakobsen, have now initiated full investigation to find out what it evokes the most serious problems. It has already been initiated medical examinations of the involved personnel.

One of the main theories in the military is now working on the basis that it is the gunpowder gas from the ammo, and not the weapon, which causes problems. HK 416 uses a smaller caliber, and thus a different type than the old munitions AG3.

Norway has been using the H&K G3 which is chambered in 7.62x51mm NATO. The HK416 that is being adopted is an AR-15 derivative and chambered in 5.56x45mm NATO.

H&K G3 rifle. Photo from Wikipedia.

It is not uncommon for an ammunition producing country to develop a new powder specifically optimized for the a new cartridge / rifle combination when it is adopted by the nations’ armed forces. It is possible that this powder used in the Norwegian 5.56mm ammunition is toxic. Maybe the lubricant they are using reacts badly with the gas from the powder? Maybe plastic parts are melting and releasing a toxic vapor? It will be interesting to see how this story develops.

Thanks to Mauken for the link.

Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson

I founded TFB in 2007 and over 10 years worked tirelessly, with the help of my team, to build it up into the largest gun blog online. I retired as Editor in Chief in 2017. During my decade at TFB I was fortunate to work with the most amazing talented writers and genuinely good people!

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  • Templerel Templerel on Nov 13, 2009

    Thank you for a very instructive article

  • Endl3ss Endl3ss on Mar 30, 2010

    Without trying to shortcut any investigation by the Norwegian military, I think it is safe to say that it is the environmently friendly ammo that causes these ailments.
    I fired the exact same ammo from my issue Diemaco (now Colt Canada, I think) C8 SFW and C8 CQB in 2007, and my entire team had the same issues. Felt like we had the worlds worst flu, everybody was in bed after 4 days of shooting. It has nothing to do with the weapon at all, just the bloody ammo. Specifically it is the propellant used, the gunsmoke laid thick, and it felt like friggin' CS-gas, so no wonder we got sick. Guess I could've told them in 2007 already that the propellant is crap...
    Heh...the ammo in total is crap as well, shoots good enough, precise and all that, but as has been mentioned already, the steel cores does no good to certain weapons, the Glock-17 being a good example. Barrels get worn out, I've even heard of at least one Glock with a cracked slide, due to the higher pressure caused by the steel cored ammo.

    As for trouble with the HK416... not much. Gas pistons sticking in low temperature is resolved very easy, 1 part alcohol per 2 parts of Breakfree CLP oil, sorts it out good. Alcohol works as anti-freeze, as well as making the oil less viscous. Anybody that has used weapons over time in Norway SHOULD now about that trick. Used to be a problem on the AG3, same with the MG3, even seen AK-74's misfiring due to cold and gummed lubricant. Been in the army for 20 years by now, and never had trouble after learning that trick back in my conscription year in 1989.

    The only trouble I've seen on the 416 is that if you're a lazy dude, and don't flip up the folding front BUIS (even if you're using optical sights), it will get stuck after a good days shooting. This is because the gas exhaust from the gas piston system is located beneath the front sight, and if it is folded down, the locking mechanism for the sight will coke up with crap. Not a big issue really, just open up the sight when you go shooting...

    Apart from that, the 416 is a brilliant rifle, and shoots all day long, with no problems whatsoever. Have used it back home, summer and winter, have used it in Afghanistan, summer and winter, no issues at all.

    Having said that, I never ever had any issues with my C8 SFW (roughly similar to the M4, same direct gas impingement mechanism, but slightly heavier barrel, I think) either, even after doing 3-week combat recce patrols (open vehicle) out in the Helmand desert, dusty as hell, but my rifle worked flawlessly, as long as you took the 30 seconds required to blow the dust out of it every now and again, with the on-board air compressor. :P