More details of the Heckler & Koch HK416F for France

Eric B
by Eric B

As TFB has reported before France will phase out the FAMAS rifle, of which they have about 400,000 pieces of in the F1 and upgraded G1 variant. The FAMAS has been in service for over 30 years.

For a period of over 10 years France will phase in the Heckler & Koch HK416F, in two different versions, to soldiers in the Army, Air Force and Navy.

The HK is referred to as the “ Arme Individuelle Future (AIF)”, which roughly translates to Individual Firearm for the Future.

According to the French Ministry of Defense 93 080 pieces of Heckler & Koch 416F will be delivered between 2017 and 2028.

By 2022 half of the H&K firearms should have been delivered.

The total contract with Heckler & Koch is worth EUR 168 million (USD 177 million)

The breakdown of deliveries is as follows:

38 505 units will be the HK416F Standard version.

54 575 units will be of the HK416F Short version, with the note; “Will have the same performance as the standard version up to 200 meters. No possibility to use a 40 mm grenade launcher.” (there’s no space)

So the majority will be the HK416F (Court) Short, with an 11″ barrel, which might come as a surprise.

The picture mentions that out of the 38 505 HK416F Standard, 14 915 pieces will be “Felinaized“.

“FÉLIN” (Fantassin à Équipement et Liaisons Intégrés) translates to about “Integrated Infantryman Equipment and Communications”, which is the French Infantry Combat System. I’m not sure exactly what that means in terms of specification for the HK416F, but my understanding is that this is a higher grade, potentially with Night vision capability, or a batch going to special units.

5 000 units are supposed to be delivered in 2017.

Other accessories and various components, as well as training and services will run for some 15 years as well.

Above: Magazines, bipod, sling, bayonette, protection cap, blank firing parts etc. is part of the package from HK.

H&K 416 Française – Specifications in short:

Based on the HK416 A5 with a cold-hammered barrel, six grooves and a right hand spin

HK416F Standard


In terms of optics, the information states that it will be possible to re-uses the current optics used on the FAMAS rifles.

In other words, like many other armies, the French also have to run lean and re-use what is already available.

That would be the French Scrome J4 optic, which is a 4× magnification scope. More details here.

“The J4 F1sight is designed to equip the FAMAS and MINIMI assault rifles used by the French Army.
The integrated NATO interface and the large eye relief provide ideal shooting configurations using
either rifle, in any situation. The reticle allows for both types of shooting, instinctive and precision,
up to 600 metres, and bears markings to facilitate observation. Optionally, the reticle can be illuminated.”

The Aimpoint for the FAMAS is also mentioned. I’m unsure which version, but looks C4 COMP like.

There’s also an optic called “Pirat”, but I’ve been unable to find any details. There’s also pictures of the FAMAS with EOTechs on them.

Unknown optical sight on the FAMAS.

HK416F Short 11″ barrel.

HK416F Standard 14.5″ barrel.

The stock is available with the concave recoil pad as well.

The other candidates for the French tender apart from the HK416 A5 were the FN Herstal SCAR-L, the VHS and VHS K-2 from HS Product (Croatia), the SIG Sauer MCX and the ARX from Beretta.

I think the reason why the French Army went for the shorter 11″ barrel is because they’re used to the smaller size, having lived and fought with the bullpup FAMAS for over 30 years. With the picture below as a reference it’s perhaps easier to understand why. I have never shot the FAMAS, but I have a feeling that it’s not the best rifle on the market for distances over 200 meters, so even the HK416F Short will outperform it.

From the HK Press Release in 2016.

With France (HK416F), Germany (G36), Great Britain (SA80), Norway (HK416) Spain (G36) and Lithuania (G36), Heckler & Koch supplies many Armies across Europe with their standard assault rifles.

As noted in the Press Release, things seem to develop rather well for the HK sales department.

What surprises me is the long delivery time for the HK 416F. Without insight it’s impossible to know, it could be the wish of the buyer to be able to phase in a new system.

I have no idea of the capacity of HK and their factories, but one speculation is that they are close to maximum production. If true, it could be an issue for other countries looking to buy the HK 416 and other HK rifles.

With some math, the figures stated above give us that HK will deliver 23 270 rifles per year in the first 5 years which sounds more than doable. But that’s just one customer.

What happens if Germany also choose the HK416? The rumor is that at least the German Special Forces are out looking for a new carbine, more about that next week at TFB.

Possibly Sweden and other countries as well. For instance, the Swedish Ak5 has been in service for over 31 years and there is a program to replace it.

Eric B
Eric B

Ex-Arctic Ranger. Competitive practical shooter and hunter with a European focus. Always ready to increase my collection of modern semi-automatics, optics, thermals and suppressors. TCCC Certified. Occasionaly seen in a 6x6 Bug Out Vehicle, always with a big smile.

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  • Mike Mike on Jan 17, 2017

    Will it be a case of infantry only that will get the longer barrel and all others the short barrel? A bit like US army WW2 Garand + Carbine?

  • Bland Samurai Bland Samurai on Jan 19, 2017

    Did I miss something? They plan to replace 400k rifles with fewer than 100k??