Representatives of the German gun manufacturing company Heckler & Koch confirmed today that the company has submitted both the HK416 assault rifle and the new HK433 modular assault rifle to the Bundeswehr’s System Sturmgewehr Bundeswehr (SSB) rifle trials, which are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018.
The decision to submit both rifles to the trials makes some sense, as there is some pressure for the German government to adopt a common rifle with the French, who just selected the HK416F as the winner of their AIF rifle program. This means that, if the HK416 performs well in trials, it could potentially have an additional edge over other competitors in the eyes of German politicians. If the race is a close one – and it seems like it might end up being one – that advantage could prove decisive for Heckler & Koch.
The HK433, though, offers some other potential advantages versus the HK416. It is ergonomically much closer to the existing G36 than the HK416, having been designed from the ground up with the Bundeswehr in mind (the HK416 was not). Also, it is reportedly more reliable than the HK416, which could prove important as – for all its faults – the G36 is widely considered to be a tremendously reliable weapon. The Bundeswehr is unlikely to be happy with a new weapon that is less reliable than their existing rifle, and if there is concern that the HK416 may not meet this standard the HK433 may be a hedge against that possibility. Finally, the HK433 is supposed to be much cheaper than the HK416, and more likely to win in a competitive bidding war between similarly-performing candidates.