Is it back to the drawing board for the M468 and XM-8? Heckler & Koch's newest creation -- the HK416 -- is a worthy opponent, and a serious contender to be the next generation of assault carbines.
HK 416: The Skinny
Heckler & Koch 416 System
Type of Equipment:
.5.56mm Enhanced Carbine
Little to no heat transfer to bolt -- significantly lower chance of discharge from a "cook-off"
Unique free-floating rail system
HK cold-hammer forged barrel
Heckler & Koch
By Michael Merrill
With many of our M16/M4 rifles reaching the end of their service lives, we have to find an affordable, acceptable solution, now. Utilizing this inspiration, Heckler & Koch (HK) has been working on an enhanced carbine that would outperform all current competition grade 5.56mm carbines in effort to provide superior performance after the incredibly successful mid-life upgrades to the British SA80 (L85/L86) Weapons System. And now, HK has stepped up to the plate with their newest enhanced carbine -- the HK416.
The HK416 operates on a short-stroke piston gas system that does not introduce propellant gases back into the weapon's interior, therefore reducing carbon fouling and cleaning time. This gas system is not sensitive to barrel length or ammunition changes, and has user-removable components. The HK416 also has a free-floating fore end with an innovative 4-quadrant rail system designed by HK. This enables all current accessories to be fitted to the weapon. The fore end can be removed and reinstalled without tools, and with no loss in zero. This weapon utilizes one of HK's famous cold hammer-forged barrels, which provides a substantial increase in reliability, service life, and operator safety. These barrels are forged with the highest quality steel in a unique manufacturing process. This produces a product that provides superior accuracy for greater than 20,000 rounds with minimal degradation of accuracy and muzzle velocity.
HK has produced a new high-reliability steel magazine, which is designed to fit any of the STANAG-compatible rifles. Originally developed for the British L85 and L86 weapons, the performance of this curved, 30-round magazine was tested by select U.S., UK, and German forces in three different environments during the firing of more than half a million rounds. These tests showed a 30 to 50 percent improvement over the existing aluminum and polymer magazines currently in the U.S. inventory.
After evaluations by both German and U.S. forces, it has been determined that the HK416 is definitely a contender to become the next generation of assault carbines. There are reports that a number of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are already using HK416 carbines. Initial reports from the field show the HK416 performs superbly.
The HK416 made its first appearance at the Armed Forces Journal's 2005 Shootout at Blackwater. Evaluators were nearly unanimous in their praise for HK's newest creation. One evaluator had this to say -- “I was amazed at the cleanliness of the bolt and chamber. It's a solid, reliable platform -- a combination of tried-and-true technology with new innovations … keeps the gun cooler, reducing prospects of an inadvertent full auto. And the new MP5 sights are adjustable for range -- a long-overdue improvement.”
It was also noted by another evaluator that after one and a half cases of ammo, there was very little heat transfer to the bolt and the bolt face was still clean. Yet another evaluator commented, "An absolute joy to shoot. More reliable, accurate, clean, cool -- what is there not to like? This upper and this magazine should be the replacement for the M-16/M-4 right now. The steel magazine, closed gas system, and short-stroke piston solve many of the current problems with the M-16/M-4 series, and represent a more effective, better and much less expensive solution to our weapons needs than the XM-8 ... At a time when many of our rifles and carbines have reached the end of their service lives, replacing the uppers and magazines with H&K's M416 components would seem to be a very logical move."
One evaluator paid the HK416 the ultimate compliment -- "Fantastic. If I could take any weapon out of here today to combat, it would be this one."
How do you think the HK416 compares with the M468 and XM-8?
5.56 x 45mm NATO
Heckler & Koch
7.3 lbs (D10RS model)
27.0" (D10RS model)
10.5" (D10RS model)"
Rate of Fire:
Cyclic: 700-900 rpm
Rate of Twist:
1 in 7 inches
20,000 rounds mininum
yet another solution in dire need of a problem, especially those kraut uber mags
but its HK which will increase the fragmentation range of the M855 round by at least 4980%
It an amazing feat of engineering and reliability but I cant have one so...
Uhh, make more M16/M4's?
Didnt Leintner-Wise and/or POFs system go further in military trials than HKs gas piston AR?