German Defense Minister: G36 Has “No Future” With Bundeswehr

    The fate of the trouble G36 rifle has been revealed: German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen announced on Wednesday that the Bundeswehr would seek immediate replacement for the rifle. From

    Germany’s military will have to find a replacement for the current G36 assault rifle, according to Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen. Special Forces troops are to receive new weapons immediately.

    Germany’s military was likely to get a replacement for Heckler & Koch’s G36 rifles after Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen declared on Wednesday that the weapon had “no future in the German army in its current state of construction.”
    The Defense Ministry would now work towards replacing the gun as soon as possible, von der Leyen said after she met with representatives of the parliamentary Defense Commission in Berlin.
    Immediate replacement for soldiers
    Special Forces deployed in conflict areas were to receive replacement weapons immediately, the minister added. However, she did not exclude the possibility of the army adopting a new version of the G36, produced by weapons company Heckler & Koch.
    Problems with the assault rifle would be discussed within the Defense Ministry and initially there would be no parliamentary commission to examine the ministry’s findings, opposition parties said in Berlin.
    The Left and the Green parties would at some point in time question Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere on the G36 affair. De Maiziere served as defense minister in 2010, when problems with the weapon first came to light.
    Low accuracy at high temperatures
    The assault rifle’s capabilities came under scrutiny after a study commissioned by the German Defense Ministry last year claimed “the weapons system did not fulfill the requirements.”
    The weapon’s capacity to hit targets fell to 30 percent when the surrounding temperature reached 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) or when the weapon became hot through constant use, the report said.
    The reason for the gun’s poor precision was its “complete system,” the research revealed.


    Von der Leyen did not exclude the possibility that the next rifle could be from Heckler and Koch, nor even that it could be a variation of the G36 itself. However, the possibility of retrofit of older rifles -beyond re-using some mechanical components – seems distant; the Bundeswehr appears thoroughly dissatisfied with the weapon.

    What rifle will the Bundeswehr adopt to replace it? A month ago, I would have had a difficult time entertaining the thought of a German service rifle that was not from Heckler and Koch, but now the matter is much more opaque. Whichever rifle the Bundeswehr selects, the US adoption of the M4A1 and the German rejection of the G36 together signal a shift toward infantry weapons that can sustain intensive fire regimens and away from those designed for lightness uber alles.

    Our previous coverage of this controversy can be found here, here, and here.


    Thanks to Daniel for the tip.

    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. He can be reached via email at [email protected]