TFB Review: American Tactical GSG-16

    The GSG-16 is the latest version of American Tactical Inc’s popular GSG-5 .22LR plinker. It is based off the same internals as a GSG-5 but has a new exterior housing to update the GSG into the GSG-16.

    GSG-16: The New GSG On The Block

    Just like the popular GSG-5, the GSG-16 has the same feel and overall look to the rifle. It is chambered in .22LR and has a barrel shroud over a 16.25″ barrel. The original GSG-5 was modeled to resemble the H&K MP5. If you recall ten years ago H&K sued ATI for infringement and won a settlement. However GSG/ATI countersued in 2014.


    Regardless of the outcome, the GSG-5 went through some cosmetic changes. They changed the polymer housing and added a full-length Picatinny rail and changed the handguard for a railed forend.

    The railed handguard has polymer rails. In fact, the top rail is made of the two of the same rail segments on the handguard. Just screwed down on in front of the other.

    You can remove the rails for a smaller profile handguard and surprisingly there are two MLOK slots underneath each rail segment.

    One issue is the plastic nubs sticking out the side of the handguard. Those are what the rail screws actually screw into. I would have preferred a slick sided handguard. I suppose if you do not want to ever use the rails you could shave those plastic nubs off.

    The GSG-16 charging handle functions just like the MP5 but with an added bonus. You can now swap the handle to either side of the gun. You have to remove the top rail in order to access the screw that holds the charging handle in place. Once removed, you just swap the handle to the other side and reinstall the screw and top rail.

    Taking a closer look at the GSG-16 top rail, there are iron sights and they are adjustable for elevation and windage. The only problem is that they sit extremely low so it will be difficult to cowitness a red dot. Another issue is that they are just made of polymer and are rather thin. They seem like they could be fragile and ATI send a spare set of screws and iron sights in case you break them.

    At the rear of the GSG-16 is the strangest upgrade. The GSG-16 uses a collapsing stock. It is in the style of the H&K collapsing stock but has taken some liberties with artistic license. As you can see from the image below, the GSG-16 stock features a built-in spare magazine holder and a short Picatinny rail molded into the top of the stock.

    I was unable to figure out what that rail segment was intended to be used for. So I added an Atlas bipod to make the “shoulder thingy that goes up”. Sort of like the flap found on M14/M1A stocks. Other than a rail mounted QD sling I cannot figure out why this would be necessary. If it was intended for a QD sling mount why not just mold one into the stock? Some people think it could be for a cheek rest but I have yet to find a cheek rest or riser that will fit this short rail segment.

    I took the GSG-16 and added it to my MPX stock for a tactical tomahawk. (joking… kinda). Has technology gone too far? Stock Inception!!!. Even more shoulder things that go up.

    On a serious side, I have a spare GSG-522 fixed stock that I picked up a couple years ago that I was planning on using for another project. It fits the GSG-16 perfectly and I prefer it over the collapsing stock.

    With the rails, you can attach a number of accessories. The HERA Arms CQR grip works for the GSG-16. I would like to SBR it and chop the barrel to just the end of the front sight.

    With the rail removed, I used a short M-LOK rail segment to mount an offset M300 Scoutlight and an old-timey SureFIre L72 weapon laser.

    The Good And Bad Of The GSG-16

    The GSG-16 is a fun plinker. It has last round bolt hold open and you have to pull the charging handle to close the bolt. The GSG-16 also has a magazine safety so if the magazine is removed you cannot pull the trigger. It is compatible with all the GSG magazines like the drum mags and stick magazines. It is lightweight at just 5.84 lbs compared to its predecessor the GSG-522 at 6.6 lbs.

    While the GSG-16 delivers everything I could want in a fun .22LR plinker the overall feel and finish of the housing leaves much to be desired. The entire gun is wrapped in plastic. Sure some of our most favorite guns are polymer like Glocks and CZ Scorpion Evo3. But the plastic used in the GSG-16 feels cheap and flimsy. I have felt airsoft guns that feel more robust than this. Not to say that the GSG-16 will break if you sneeze at it but the rails are hollow molded thin shells. They are held on to the housing with two small screws per rail. They flex a lot as does the housing. So do not expect rigidness for great accuracy.

    The collapsing stock with integrated mag holder and Picatinny rail is pretty useless. Sure storing an extra mag is neat if you are going to ninja the mall but just like other magazine storing stocks, it is a gimmick. The old fixed stock is more solid and feels better to shoulder and shoot. The only real benefit I get from the collapsing stock is that it can fit into a smaller rifle bag.

    At $399.95 MSRP the GSG-16 is not terribly expensive.  For more information check out their website.

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    Nicholas C

    Steadicam Gun Operator
    Night Vision & Thermal Aficionado
    Flashlight/Laser Enthusiast
    USPSA competitor

    Any questions please email him at [email protected]