Bundeswehr Narrows Rifle Choice: Heckler & Koch vs Haenel

    HK433 & Mk556

    The Bundeswehr's Choices: The HK433 & Haenel Mk556

    The Bundeswehr have narrowed their choice of rifles to replace the Heckler & Koch G36 down to two. The Heckler & Koch HK433 and the Haenel MK 556 are the final rifles competing for adoption.

    Previously, it had emerged that the Rheinmetall RS556, Heckler & Koch HK433 & HK416, Haenel Defence MK556, SIG MCX, and FNH SCAR were in the running to replace the G36. Now, according to reports from MilMag, the Bundeswehr has narrowed the contenders to Heckler & Koch’s HK433 and Haenel’s MK556.

    Rheinmetall and Steyr Mannlicher appear to have withdrawn their RS556 due to undisclosed economic reasons, possibly the Bundeswehr were unwilling to pay what Rheinmetall needed to make the RS556 a profitable undertaking.

    SIG Sauer withdrew from the competition in November 2017, complaining that the Bundeswehr’s specifications for the new rifle has been written to cater to Heckler & Koch. US International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) would also have caused issues.

    The Contenders

    Haenel Defence MK556

    Haenel MK556

    Haenel Defence MK556 (Haenel Defence)

    Interestingly, Haenel’s entry seems to have dropped off the radar with most publications over recent months with HK’s entries and Rheinmetall’s RS556 taking centre stage. Haenel Defense’s MK 556 Gen2 is a short-stroke piston operated AR-based design available in 10.5, 12.5, 14.5 and 16 inch barrel lengths with a STANAG 4694 quad rail or 3 and 9 o’clock keymod mounting points and ambidextrous controls – a 45-degree rather than AR-pattern selector. The MK556 with a 16 inch barrel weighs in at 3.6kg or 7.9 lbs.

    Heckler & Koch HK433

    HK HK433

    Right side profile of the HK433 (Oliver Louven)

    The HK433 was unveiled back in February 2017 and was likely designed with the Bundeswehr in mind. Building on the G36’s tried and tested action and introducing a new extruded receiver design and modular trigger pack. The HK433 couples a HK paddle-style magazine release with STANAG magazines. According to recent reports HK is now up to developmental ‘version 4’ of the rifle.

    Available in 11, 12.5, 14.5, 16.5, 18.9, and 20 inch barrel lengths and weighing 3.25kg or 7.2 lbs the HK433 also has the advantage of a folding stock which reduces its overall length to 22.4 inches. While German Special Forces opted for the battle-proven HK416 over the HK433 it appears that the regular German army is edging closer to adopting HK’s newest rifle.

    With the selection of the German Army’s next rifle fast approaching The Federal Agency for Equipment, Information Technology and Use of the Federal Armed Forces (BAAINBw) recently published a request for proposals for optics for the new service rifle. The specification calls for reflex sights with 3x magnifiers with 15,000 round lifespans.

    While it seems increasingly likely that Heckler & Koch’s rifle will be selected in recent months the Suhl-based Haenel Defence have seen success with their RS9, chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum, adopted by the Bundeswehr as the G29. The new sniper rifle will give German snipers the ability to reach out up to 1,500 metres.


    ‘Two G36 successors’, MilMag, retrieved 04/04/18 from source

    Matthew Moss


    TheFirearmBlog.com – Managing Editor
    OvertDefense.com – Managing Editor

    Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. He also runs Historical Firearms, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of The Armourer’s Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms.

    Here on TFB he covers product and current military small arms news.

    Reach Matt at: [email protected]