BREAKING: Court Rules H&K NOT AT FAULT for G36 Rifle Controversy; Owes German Gov't No Compensation

Nathaniel F
by Nathaniel F

In the ongoing controversy about the G36 assault rifle, German gunmaker Heckler & Koch have won a major victory against the German federal government, as the Koblenz court where the company’s lawsuit against the government was tried ruled that the company was at no fault for the G36’s design. Reuters reports:

A German court ruled on Friday that the government has no right to compensation from Heckler & Koch ( IPO-HIK.L) for what Berlin has said were faulty assault rifles, handing a victory to the gunmaker.

Berlin has said that the G36 rifle, which is standard issue for militaries across the globe and has been used by the German army for nearly 20 years, does not shoot straight in hot weather or when it heats up through constant firing.

The first suggestions that the gun might be faulty date back to April 2010, when 32 Bundeswehr paratroopers were ambushed by Taliban fighters in northern Afghanistan. Three German soldiers were killed in a nine-hour firefight. The G36 was reported to have overheated, forcing the Germans to retreat.

Berlin, which has bought about 180,000 of the rifles since 1996, eventually decided to replace the G36 as the German army’s standard rifle from 2019 and sought compensation for some rifles it had received from Heckler & Koch.

Heckler & Koch said the rifles it had delivered complied with the specifications agreed with the government in 1996.

While the court did not comment in its ruling on whether the rifles shoot straight when they heat up, it said that they met the specifications set out in the purchase contracts. The rifles had also passed the quality and acceptance testing laid out in the contracts, it said.

The case centered not on whether the G36 experienced point of impact changes in extreme conditions, but rather whether the rifle met the initial requirements laid out by the German government during its development. The court, which favored Heckler & Koch’s case as early as June, ruled that the rifle did meet these requirements, and that therefore the company owed no compensation to the German government.

Both Heckler & Koch and the German defense ministry made statements on the court decision:

Germany’s defence ministry said it would appeal against Friday’s ruling, depending on the reasons given by the court.

“If the court bases today’s decision on the same dubious arguments as it gave before the summer, then the relevant government office will appeal,” a ministry spokesman said.

Heckler & Koch said it would not comment on the actions of its customers but affirmed that it plans to take part in the government’s tender for a new supply contract, expected to be awarded in 2018.

“We make the world’s best assault rifle. Many armies in the western world use our weapons. We are already looking forward to the German army’s assault rifle tender, in which we will again prove our performance,” the company said in a statement.

Starting last year, the company has come under fire for the alleged problems with the G36 rifle, but now seems poised to make a comeback. In June, H&K won another court battle against the German government, in that case about sales of the tooling needed to make G36 rifles to Saudi Arabia. Just this past week, H&K reportedly won the French Army contract to replace the aging FAMAS rifle, although that has not yet been confirmed.

Thanks to Axel for the tip!

Nathaniel F
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

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