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History Lesson: Heckler & Koch G3/HK91

By Friedrich Seiltgen

The Heckler & Koch Company got its start in post-war Germany in 1948. At the end of WWII, the Mauser factory in Oberndorf am Neckar was in the French sector. The factory was dismantled and all design paperwork, blueprints, etc. were destroyed by French occupation forces! Three Mauser engineers, Edmund Heckler, Theodor Koch, and Alex Seidel together salvaged what they could from the Mauser Factory and formed what is now H&K.

Initially, the trio designed and manufactured bicycles, machine tools, and precision parts. They got their first shot at building weapons again in 1956 when the reformed German army could arm up again, and the Bundeswehr needed a new battle rifle. The first rifle created by the team in conjunction with the Spanish arms manufacturer CETME was the G3 or Gewehr-3. The original CETME rifle was designed by a German engineer Ludwig Vorgrimler.

The H&K motto is “No compromises,” and the founders illustrated their dedication to detail when they were awarded the contract, and production began in 1959. Chambered in 7.62 X 51 NATO, the G3 is one robust, reliable rifle that has seen service around the globe. The G3 and its semi-automatic version, the HK 91, are made primarily with plastic furniture, stamped receivers, a hammer forged barrel, and use the Roller-Delayed Blowback operating system.

Initial production models had a problem with fired cases sticking in the chamber. The problem was solved by adding flutes in the chamber. This allowed gases to free up the cartridge, allowing easier extraction. Take a look at a case ejected, and you’ll see the marks on the case as well as a dent from the round striking the ejection port. A case buffer is a must on this rifle! The recoil is harsh, and if firing a full auto burst, you better “lean in and hang on.”

The G3 is the basis for several variants, including the belt-fed HK21 light machine gun with quick change barrel, and the MSG-90, PSG1 Sniper rifles. One variant had a collapsible stock for Fallschirmjaeger (airborne) units. The original stock was beloved, but was changed to allow it to be set on the ground when using the G3 to launch grenades. Firing the G3 with the gen 2 collapsible stock was so punishing that German soldiers called it the “Fleisch Klopfer,” or Meat Tenderizer!

The rifle has an atrocious 12-pound trigger pull, but remember what this rifle was designed for. This can be remedied with money by installing a PSG1 trigger pack with a 4.5-pound trigger pull!

The Bundeswehr used the G3 for more than 50 years until its replacement by the HK G36 rifle system, but there are hundreds of thousands of G3s still stored in reserve.

Specifications
Caliber: NATO 7.62 X 51
Effective range: 400 meters with iron sights, 600 meters scoped
Operating System: Roller Delayed Blowback
Rate of Fire: 600 Rounds per Minute
Weight: approximately 10 pounds
Total Production: Approximately 8 Million

The G3 is produced in 18 other countries under license from HK and used by too many countries to list. I remember seeing Turkish forces providing base security toting G3s as a Senior Airmen deploying to Sivrishar AB, Turkey.

In the states, there are a few companies importing CETMEs, but if you’re looking for American made, the PTR Company makes a great copy of the HK91. They also produce about 30 other HK variants, including their 51P pistol in .308 – that’s got to be a handful! PTR purchased HK licensed tooling from FMP in Portugal and have been producing guns in South Carolina for 15 years now!

If you’re looking to rock and roll with a .308 battle rifle, give this one a try. Parts are available, magazines are aplenty, and no serious patriot should be without a .308 battle rifle!

Friedrich Seiltgen is a retired Master Police Officer with 20 years of service with the Orlando Police Department. He is currently a part-time policer officer with the Starke Florida Police Department. He conducts training in Lone Wolf Terrorism, Firearms, First Aid, Active Shooter Response, and Law Enforcement Vehicle Operations in Florida. His writing has appeared in The Counter Terrorist Magazine, Homeland Security Today and The Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International. Contact him at polizei22@msn.com.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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