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The FEED

Cache Directory Unwriteable

HK41

 

The HK41
Precursor to the HK91
Cal. 7.62mm x 51

An HKPRO Exclusive Special In-Depth Feature

 

 

By Daniel J. Svihra

PREFACE

The purpose of this article is to clarify some of the misinformation that has been published regarding the Heckler & Koch model HK41 rifle.  In addition, it is the desire of the author to provide significant detail as to one of these lesser known variants in the HK line.  The information contained herein was derived from authentic H&K literature, publications by those who were directly involved with H&K, and individuals who have had the opportunity to own and examine this extraordinary rifle.

 

 INTRODUCTION

The Heckler & Koch model HK41 (not to be confused with the HK G41) is a self-loading, semiautomatic rifle that was first produced during the mid 1960s.  It is the civilian version of the renowned military and law enforcement G3 automatic rifle that was developed and manufactured by Heckler & Koch, GmbH during the mid to late 1950s, and is the precursor to the HK91 semiautomatic rifle that later gained popularity in the United States during the late 1970s and 1980s.  The HK41 employs the same G3 “roller delayed blowback system” that is known for its strength, reliability and low recoil.  At the time the HK41 was produced, the first digit “4” in Heckler & Koch’s model numbering system signified that it is a paramilitary-type semiautomatic rifle, while the second digit “1” identified the type of ammunition the rifle is chambered for as 7.62mm x 51 NATO or .308 caliber Winchester.  All HK41s were manufactured at the Heckler & Koch, GmbH plant located in Oberndorf am Neckar, Germany.  Only a limited number were produced for and imported into the United States.  And, unlike other models of Heckler & Koch small arms being produced at the time (i.e., the G3 and MP5), no other country was licensed by H&K to manufacture the HK41 rifle or produce any of its milled or stamped sheet metal parts.

DEVELOPMENT OF THE HK41

During the 1960s and early 1970s, besides being a manufacturer of military small arms, Heckler & Koch, GmbH also produced domestic and industrial sewing machine parts, machine tools, fixtures, jigs, various other tools, and precision gauges.  A commercial weapons division was founded in 1964 with the introduction of the HK4 handgun and semiautomatic G3 rifle.  During that year, H&K produced a small number of G3 semi-automatic variants, followed by several variations of the HK41 in 1966 and 1974.  Although these semiautomatic rifles were primarily development for use by West German reservists who were not allowed to own automatic military rifles (“Kriegswaffen-Kontrollgesetz”); their concurrent exportation to the United States and resulting commercial sales effectively demonstrated sufficient U.S. civilian interest in purchasing this type of “paramilitary” rifle for the purposes of hunting, sport shooting, and self-defense.

Initially, only a few design changes were made to the automatic G3 rifle to produce the semiautomatic G3 prototype.  So as to minimize the cost associated to setting-up new jigs and stamping presses, a small number of semiautomatic G3s were first produced with only the internal trigger mechanism and bolt head carrier being modified.  These early 1964 G3 semiautomatic variants with intact “SE” swing-down grip assemblies are considered very rare, and highly collectable small arms.  Although a few of these original prototype rifles may have ended up in private collections, most were purchased by enthusiastic Class II manufacturers and quickly converted back to and sold as registered “G3” automatic weapons.  Therefore, on the subsequent semiautomatic G3s produced, the locking-pin tabs were eliminated on the front end of the grip assembly, and the corresponding locking-pin hole and bushing at the base of the receiver were altered to prevent the attachment of an automatic trigger pack (more commonly referred to as an automatic “lower”).  Virtually all other characteristics on the resulting semiautomatic G3 model remained the same as that found on the automatic G3 combat rifle.  Soon after these semiautomatic G3 rifles were introduced, H&K changed the designation of the semi-automatic “G3” rifle to the “HK41” model number designation in what may have been an attempt to stay one-step in front of changing West German and U.S. gun laws.  At least two different variants of this new “HK41” semiautomatic rifle were then produced during 1966, with a third and final version being manufactured in 1974 along with two other rifles (the HK43 and HK300).  The production of these semi-automatic rifles (along with the HK4 handgun) led the way for Heckler & Koch to legally enter into the lucrative U.S. civilian small arms market and effectively compete with other commercial gun manufacturers, both foreign and domestic.

Although the HK41 (and introductory HK43 rifle in 1974) was relatively expensive, and other comparable military-type small arms were being more aggressively promoted to the U.S. civilian market at the time (e.g., the Belgium FN-FAL semiautomatic rifle was similar in design, weighed less, and was cheaper to purchase), sufficient demand existed in the United States for Heckler & Koch, GmbH to continue with the development and commercial production of this type of rifle.  The introduction of a semiautomatic G3 rifle, further development of the HK41 rifle, and manufacture of the HK41/43 series of rifles--all led the way for the production of the HK91/93 series of rifles.  In 1975 H&K again merely changed the model number designations of their “HK41” and “HK43” to “HK91” and “HK93” respectively.  Although the exact reason for this change in nomenclature is unclear, it may have been a further attempt by Heckler & Koch to circumvent West German gun laws adopted in the early 1970s that now prohibited citizen ownership of the “HK41,” or at the very least to transform the designation of these rifles from a “paramilitary-type” weapon to that of a “semi-automatic sporting arm” that was more politically correct and eligible for importation into the U.S.  Notwithstanding, as a result of the high quality of materials used, traditional German craftsmanship, and more aggressive marketing and promotional strategies implemented by the newly formed “Heckler & Koch, Inc.” (established in Arlington, Virginia during 1976), the HK91/93 series of rifles continued to boom in sales until H&K’s entire line of “semi-automatic assault weapons” was banned by the Bush Administration in 1989.

U.S. IMPORTATION

A limited number of HK41s were manufactured at the Oberndorf/Neckar plant in West Germany, and even fewer were exported to the United States.  The Santa Fe Division of the Golden State Arms Corporation located in Pasadena, California imported all HK41s manufactured in 1966.  There was no importation of any H&K rifles from 1967 to 1974.  (During that time Harrington and Richardson, Inc. continued to only import the HK4 handgun.)  And, the Security Arms Company (more commonly referred to as “SACO”) located in Arlington, Virginia imported all HK41s produced in 1974 exclusively for Heckler & Koch, GmbH as “Title I, semi-automatic sporting arms.”

Although a few HK41s had already been legally imported into the United States during 1966, in 1974 (following the enactment of the U.S. Gun Control Act of 1968) additional changes had to be made to the rifle’s design before ATF would allow their importation to resume.  ATF was concerned that in spite of the previous changes made to the receiver, the rifle could nevertheless be easily converted from a semiautomatic to an unregistered machine gun.  They were particularly troubled with the remaining locking-pin hole and bushing (more commonly referred to as “push-pin” hole) located at the base of the receiver behind the magazine well.  The “push-pin” hole could still allow for the attachment of an automatic lower if either the width of the receiver’s base or tabs on an automatic grip assembly were altered.  Paramount in concern was that either of these alterations could be easily accomplished and remain somewhat undetectable to the untrained eye.

 
G3 "SEF" Automatic Grip Frame


HK41 "SF" Semi-automatic lower

As a result, engineers at Heckler & Koch, GmbH modified the design of the receiver used on the 1974 model HK41 by eliminating the “push-pin” hole altogether, thereby also removing the associated magazine paddle release lever (more commonly referred to as a “flapper”) that was an intrinsic part of the retaining-pin hole and bushing design.  The redundant pushbutton located on the right-hand side of the receiver remained in place and now functioned as the sole magazine release mechanism.  A solid U-shaped metal block was welded in place at the base of the receiver to prevent the attachment of a HKG3 “SEF” select fire, automatic trigger housing.  This change now offered a more visible gauge for ATF Field Agents to determine whether or not the weapon has been illegally modified to accommodate the attachment of an automatic “lower” trigger group, and is currently used by the BATF Technology Branch as the sole rule to differentiate between a HK semiautomatic and automatic weapon.  (Although the 1966 model HK41 with a “push-pin” design is grand-fathered as an approved NFA, Title I firearm; Heckler & Koch’s semiautomatic MSG90 sniper rifle introduced in 1990 is considered by the BATF to be a NFA, Title II “machine gun” based on this criterion.)  Additional changes were also made to the HK41 rifles manufactured in 1974 to prevent the attachment of a rifle-propelled grenade and fixed bayonet.  The mandated re-design of the receiver’s attachment point and removal of the snap-rings located on the barrel for the attachment of a grenade appears on all HK41s manufactured in 1974, and was subsequently incorporated on all civilian H&K semiautomatic rifles (and Hellenic SARs manufactured under a licensing agreement with Heckler & Koch, GmbH) produced thereafter for importation into the United States.  Heckler & Koch’s original “push-pin” design continued to be used exclusively on their series of select fire, automatic weapons that remained only available for sale to military, law enforcement agencies, and authorized Class 3 dealers licensed to import and sell NFA, Title II firearms.


1966 model HK41 receiver
with “push-pin” hole
 


1974 model HK41 receiver
without “push-pin” hole

COMPARISONS BETWEEN THE HK G3 AND 1966 MODEL HK41

As previously noted, several G3 semiautomatic variants were produced.  The modifications that were made in the production of the G3 semiautomatic rifle were subsequently incorporated on the 1966 model HK41 by virtue of a mere change in the rifle’s model number designation stamped on the receiver.  These alterations included functional changes made to the base of the receiver, bolt head carrier, internal trigger mechanism, and grip assembly.

While the push-pin hole and magazine release flapper remained functional on the 1966 model of the HK41, small strips of metal were welded on each side of the hole at the base of the receiver to effectively increase the width at the connecting point to prevent the attachment of an automatic, select-fire “SEF” lower (see red-circled areas in photograph of a 1966 model HK41 receiver below).


1966 Model HK41
Bottom-view of receiver


HK41 Semiautomatic
Bolt-head Carrier
 


G3 Automatic
Bolt-head Carrier
 

Additionally, a notch was machined on the end of the semiautomatic bolt head carrier to prevent the catch of the automatic sear (as seen in the picture above).  The internal trigger mechanism was changed to accommodate the “SF” (and rare “SE”) semiautomatic mode of operation, and a “cutout” was made on the front end of the trigger assembly “box” that corresponded to the dimensions of a metal block that was welded inside the front end of the grip assembly (see white arrows in pictures of HK41 internal trigger mechanism and inside view of the HK41 grip assembly below).


G3 Automatic Trigger Mechanism


HK41 Trigger Mechanism Assembly


G3
Grip Frame
Top View


HK41
Grip Frame
Top View

The placement of this metal block effectively prevents the insertion of an automatic “SEF” lower into a semiautomatic “SF” grip assembly.  Additionally, the “push-pin” and associated “tabs” were eliminated on the front end of the 1966 model HK41 grip assembly as illustrated in the picture below.


HKG3          HK41
Front-view of complete “lowers”

THE 1966 MODEL HK41

At least two different variants of the HK41 were developed and manufactured during 1966.  One version has a magnesium phosphate parkerized metal finish that was equipped with matching hardwood furniture.  Also in 1966, a second variant of the HK41 was manufactured with a matte black factory applied paint finish.  These “black gun” models were furnished with matching black plastic buttstock and slimline forearm.  (The black plastic composite used on the original buttstocks and cocking lever handles of the earlier models is much smoother in appearance and emits a higher sheen than those found on the 1974 HK41 and subsequent HK91s.)  Additionally, the “push-pin” design differs somewhat between variants, but the locking-pin hole and bushing remained present on both models manufactured during 1966. 

Although all HK41s manufactured in 1966 were imported by the Golden State Arms Corporation, some of the “black-gun” models do not have an import stamp imprinted on the left-hand side of the lower grip assembly as that seen on other HK41s produced during the same period.  However, all HK41s manufactured in 1966 (even those prototypes produced without an import stamp) will have the last three-digits of the rifle’s serial number imprinted on the left-hand side of the grip assembly.  This matching three-digit serial number authenticates the grip assembly as the original “lower” belonging to the rifle, and additionally can be found on the buttstock back plate, bolt head, and bolt head carrier as seen in the pictures provided.

The left-hand side of the receiver is stamped with two-lines.  The model number “HK41” designation appears on the first line followed by a six-digit serial number beginning with the three-digit sequence “10C___” or “101___.”  The date the receiver was manufactured is found on the second line, and is expressed in the numeric “month/year.”  There are no quality control stamp marks or “date codes” found on the exterior of the receiver.  However, various stamp marks appear on the barrel.  Although these stamp marks on the barrel will vary by nature of their individual identification, most barrels are stamped with a combination of/or all of the following marks:  a “N” symbol indicating that the barrel was manufactured for use with nitrocellulose base propellants, the barrel’s bore caliber, quality control “proof house” stamp (generally a “stag horn” identifying the “proof house” located in Ulm, Germany), the barrel’s lot number, “proof of firing” stamp, and individual manufacturing symbols.  These stamp marks are imprinted along the side and bottom, front part of the barrel as seen in the picture provided below.  Also, a single letter (e.g., “B”) often is stamped on the side of the barrel proximal to where the flash suppressor is attached.  (Note the difference between the stamp marks found on the 1966 model HK41 and the 1974 model HK41.)


Identifying marks on 1966 model HK41 barrel

On the “parkerized” models with serial numbers starting with “101___,” “Santa Fe Division, Golden State Arms Corp., Pasadena, Ca.” is stamped on the left-hand side of the lower trigger housing.

THE 1974 MODEL HK41

All HK41s manufactured in 1974 were painted black with a semi-gloss finish (not the deep, matte black as seen on the earlier 1966 model HK41s, or various shades of dark gray as seen over time on the HK91/93 series of rifles).  There is minimal color deviation between the stamped sheet metal parts found on the receiver, barrel, cocking lever tube, lower trigger housing, buttstock, and forearm.  The only exception to this rule is the alloy end-cap located on the cocking lever tube that appears similar in color to the alloy magazines and darker black in color than the rifle’s stamped sheet metal parts.

The left-hand side of the receiver is stamped with the model number “HK41”.  A six-digit serial number beginning with the three-digit sequence “101___” is located to the right of the “HK41” designation.  The date the receiver was pressed is found below the serial number and is expressed in the numeric “month/year.”  There are no quality control stamp marks or “date codes” found on the exterior of the receiver.  “Made in Germany excl. for SACO Arl. Va. 22209 Kal. .308” is stamped on the opposite, right-hand side of the receiver.  The letters “HKHH” are stamped on the underside of the barrel where it is mated to the receiver.  The latter two-letters “HH” may either be an individual’s manufacturing initials or a date-code signifying that the barrel was manufactured in 1966.  Using surplus, pre-dated stamped parts within a common caliber group of weapons is a common practice at Heckler & Koch, GmbH, and not unusual especially with prototype rifles like the semiautomatic G3s, HK41s (and early “SACO” imported HK91s) to be assembled with parts that were manufactured in advance of the date stamped on the receiver.  Unfortunately, many uninformed (or misinformed) gun purchasers mistakenly pass on the purchase of these factory authentic HK rifles incorrectly reasoning that if the parts aren’t all dated the same the rifle must be a “parts-gun.”  Conversely, numeric dates expressed in the “month/year” or “date codes” that appear on the barrel (e.g., “HKHH”), bolt head (e.g., “HK 11/73”), bolt head carrier (e.g., “HK 10/66), buttstock (e.g., “2/73 H”), and forearm (e.g., “HI”) may all have different dates stamped on them than the date that that appears on the HK41’s receiver manufactured in “1/74.”  Further evidence of this practice by H&K of using different dated parts in the final assembly of their rifles is seen on the 1966 model HK41 that although has matching, three-digit serial numbers imprinted on the bolt head and bolt head carrier, the actual dates stamped on them are different and earlier than the month/year the rifle was manufactured.


Left side of 1974 HK41 Receiver
 


Right side of 1974 HK41 Receiver


Left side retaining hole of cocking tube
end-cap found only on 1974 HK41s


The letters “HKHH” stamped on bottom
of the barrel of a 1974 HK41

COMPARISONS BETWEEN THE 1966 MODEL HK41 & 1974 MODEL HK41

The appearance and configuration of the HK41s manufactured during 1966 and 1974 varied somewhat in appearance and function.  The earlier HK41s produced during 1966 in outward appearance are clones of their G3 counterpart, and a number of surplus G3 parts were used in its development and early production.  The HK41s produced in 1966 have a “SF” (or the rare, semi-automatic “SE”) trigger group, “push-pin” receiver (two different variants that I am aware of) with a magazine paddle release lever, and dual snap-rings located on the barrel for the purpose of attaching a rifle-propelled grenade (exactly as that found on the G3 rifle).  Unlike the HK41s produced in 1974, all HK41s manufactured in 1966 have the last three-digits of their serial number stamped on many of their associated parts (see example in photo below).


Matching 3-digit serial numbers
found on 1966 model HK41s


Bolt-Head and Bolt-Head Carrier
(View from magazine well)

All HK41s manufactured in 1974 were painted black in color and were only furnished with a black plastic buttstock and matching slimline forearm, “SF” trigger group, and receiver with a side button magazine release.  Unlike the HK41s manufactured in 1966, the ones produced in 1974 do not have receivers with a “push-pin” hole and magazine paddle release lever, or grenade launching snap-rings located on the barrel.  And, the location of the retaining hole for the end cap on the cocking lever tube was also changed on the 1974 HK41 model from the right-hand side to the left-hand side thereby effectively preventing the attachment of the early-style HKG3 bayonet and adapter.  All other physical characteristics of the HK41s produced in 1974 are essentially identical to the HK41s manufactured in 1966.


Grenade launching snap-rings on barrel of all 1966 HK41s


Right-side retaining hole of cocking tube end-cap
found on all 1966 HK41s (and HK91s)
 

COMPARISONS BETWEEN THE 1974 MODEL HK41 & THE HK91

Although the 1974 model HK41 appears similar to the successive HK91s that followed, there are a number of characteristics that set them apart.  In addition to the “HK41” imprint appearing on the left-hand side of the receiver and variations in color and finish as previously noted, all HK41s have an “SF” trigger group.  The “S” imprint is painted white and signifies that the rifle is in the “Safe” position.  The “F” imprint is painted red and indicates the aligned position for semiautomatic “Fire.”  Only those HK91 receivers that were manufactured in surplus from 1975 to 1977 with the “SACO” import stamp have a “SF” trigger group.  All remaining HK91s that were manufactured after 1977 have a “0” and “1” designation imprinted on their trigger housings and are painted red and white respectively to indicate the selected mode of fire as described above.  The original end-caps found on all HK41s are alloy and have a flat facet with the release pin located on the left-hand side of the cocking lever tube.  The end-caps found on most HK91s are steel and have a circular groove on the cap’s face with the release pin located on the right-hand side of the housing thereby allowing for the attachment of many of the HKG3 bayonets.  Also, during the mid 1970s, numeric dates indicating the month and year of manufacture were replaced on the receivers by specific H&K “date codes” and subsequently appear on all HK91 rifles manufactured after 1975.

ACCESSORIES

Generally, each HK41 was sold with a “Self-Loading Rifle HK41” operations manual, test target, warranty card, one 20-round alloy magazine, leather sling, and plastic muzzle cap.  The only additional accessories available in 1966 and 1974 that were identified in the HK41’s operations manual were a retractable buttstock, heavy bipod, bayonet with adapter (1966 versions only), blank firing attachment, rear sight adjustment tool, and Hensoldt/Wetzlar 4x24 telescopic sight with STANAG claw-type rail mount.  Although not specifically developed for the HK41, Heckler & Koch’s existing G3 5 and 20-round steel magazines, dual magazine pouch, cleaning kit, .22 subcaliber conversion kit, carrying handle, and Carl Zeiss 1.5-6x sniper telescopic sight with STANAG claw-type mount and 30mm rings were also commercially available.

Additional aftermarket items subsequently developed for the HKG3, HK91, PSG1, MSG90, and other H&K weapons systems within this common caliber group are generally interchangeable among H&K weapons systems and will fit on any of the HK41 rifles.  A list of these accessories that were/are commercially available over time include: the wide target forearm (three design variations), light bipod (two design variations), 1200 meter sight (two design variations), magazine loader and unloader, dual magazine clamp, multi-purpose web sling, ejection port buffer (two design variations), rubber buttstock extension, 5-round alloy magazine, cold weather trigger extension, SG1 buttstock with adjustable cheek piece, MSG90 adjustable buttstock (two design variations), PSG1 adjustable buttstock, PSG1 adjustable pistol grip, PSG1 trigger mechanism, Hensoldt/Wetzlar ZF 10x42 MSG90 telescopic sight, Hensoldt/Wetzlar Aiming Point Projector, Hensoldt/Wetzlar ZP infrared aiming and observation device, and HK aircraft and grenade launching aiming sights.


HK Blank Firing Adapter
and plastic Muzzle Cap


HK Rear Sight Adjustment Tool


Early-Style HK Bayonet and Adapter


HK 41 Operations Manual


HK 7/67 Retractable Buttstock


HK41 Heavy Bipod

There are a few accessories that are not interchangeable among these rifles.  HKG3 bayonets (the commonly available, early-style HK bayonet with adapter and the later “Soligen” model that does not require an adapter) will not fit onto the 1974 HK41 model because of the orientation of retaining-pin hole.  Nevertheless, “Eickhorn-Soligen” manufactures G3 bayonets for a number of countries that require different release button orientations, and I am told that the Danish HKG3 bayonet (with a crown and “HMAK” markings) has the correct orientation necessary for attachment onto the 1974 model HK41.  Also, there are no snap-rings located on the barrel of the 1974 HK41 model (or subsequently produced HK91s) to secure a rifle-propelled grenade.

Examples of a few of the accessories commercially available to H&K enthusiasts are illustrated in the following photographs.


1966 Model HK41 with early-style G3 fixed Bayonet


1966 Model HK41 with a fixed “Soligen” Bayonet


75mm Practice Grenade mounted on a 1966 Model HK41


HK Rifle Tear Gas Grenade-launching Device

Rifle propelled grenades can be fired from any of the semiautomatic HKG3s and HK41s that have snap-rings located on the barrel.  “Energa” and the Belgian “Mecar” rifle grenades reportedly are the most commonly employed.   The “Energa” grenade requires a special propellant cartridge, while the “Mecar” is fired using standard ball ammunition.  These rifle-propelled grenades mount directly over the flash hider, abut against the front sight holder, and are retained in place by tension from the snap-rings located on the barrel.  The rifle-propelled grenade pictured above is a non-explosive, 75mm practice grenade that utilizes a blank .308 cartridge as its propellant charge.  A HKG3 tear gas grenade-launching device was also manufactured.  It is mounted on the barrel and attaches to the flash-hider, and can be effectively used on any of the HK41/43/91/93 series of rifles using a blank cartridge.  (Empty beer or soda cans are the preferred projectiles used by civilians.)  The one pictured above is identical to the one on exhibit in the “Grey Room” at Heckler & Koch USA.  Although inert practice grenades and tear gas launching devices are not considered to be “Class 3, destructive devices,” they are rarely found commercially available for civilian purchase, and when obtained are coveted by many collectors of H&K accessories.

The nomenclature following the “HK41” model number designation is somewhat confusing, and since it specifically identifies the configuration of the rifle by the type of accessories employed, a brief explanation is provided.  One set of nomenclature refers to the HKG3 rifle series, while the other describes “all other roller-locked bolt systems” developed by Heckler & Koch.  Legitimate arguments can be presented as to which classification is correct in describing the HK41.  Some individuals believe that since the HK41 is a clone of the G3, the G3 nomenclature should apply; while others argue that the HK41 falls into the category of “all other roller-locked bolt systems.”  Or perhaps, should the G3 nomenclature only apply to those HK41s manufactured in 1966?  Albeit, examples from both tables of nomenclature are provided below, and when applicable, both designations are used to describe rifle configurations pictured in the photographs appearing within this article. 

HK “ROLLER-LOCK” NOMENCLATURE

G3 RIFLE SERIES NOMENCLATURE

 

A2  -   Fixed Stock with Semi or Full-auto Lower

G3A2  -   Folding Stock with Rotating Rear Sight

A3  -   Retractable Stock with Semi or Full-auto Lower

G3A3  -   Fixed Stock with Rotating Rear Sight

A4  -   Fixed Stock with Burst Group LowerG3A4  -  Retractable Stock with Rotating Rear Sight

A5  -   Retractable Stock with Burst Group Lower

G3A3Z -  Fixed Stock with Rotating Rear Sight & Scope


1966 HK41 “A3” in a “G3A2” configuration


1966 HK41 “A2” in a “G3A3Z” configuration

The “fixed stock” pictured above is from a G3 SG1 sniper rifle.  It was manufactured with an adjustable “cheekpiece” for better telescopic eye alignment and is installed with an improved internal, heavy recoil buffer system.  Also pictured is a “rubber buttstock extension” that was added to this stock as an aftermarket accessory to provide further recoil cushioning and enhance shoulder placement of the rifle.  A STANAG 30mm ring claw mount attaches the Carl Zeiss (Diavari-DA) 1.5-6x sniper telescopic sight to the rifle.  And, although the ventilated “target” forearm (similar to the wide forearm developed for the HK93) and bipod with plastic feet are also aftermarket items, they are appropriately dated as being the first style of these particular accessories made commercially available for use with this HK41 in the mid- to late 1970s.

PACKAGING

The Packaging Corporation of America located in Baltimore, Maryland provided standard cardboard boxes used by SACO to package the HK41s that were sold during 1974.  The boxes measured 48x10x3 ¼ inches.  Each rifle was enclosed in a black plastic sleeve that was tied in an overhand knot at both ends to prevent the rifle’s exposure to moisture during storage and shipping.  An additional cardboard insert was used inside the box to provide stability and identify which rifle was contained within (see photograph below).


Identifying cardboard insert packaged with 1974 model HK41s

[I haven’t yet been able to determine what packaging material was used with the 1966 model HK41.  The only “original box” found with a 1966 model HK41 so far was identical to the same one described and pictured above.]

VALUE

Thomas T. Hoel best stated in an article appearing in Small Arms Review and reprinted on the HKPRO.COM website that “H&K models remain the most favored and desirable amongst those collectors of firearms of the modern, post World War II era.”   The various models of HK41 rifles are no exception to this tenet.  They are considered to be highly collectable among HK enthusiasts, and are often overlooked by the uninformed gun purchaser--especially if the buyer is unfamiliar with the rifle’s model number designation, or incorrectly regarding different date-stamped parts as belonging to a composite parts-gun, and/or wrongly considers the age of the piece to reflect poorly on its overall operational condition.  Less than 400 of these semiautomatic rifles were produced, and even fewer were reportedly imported into the United States and sold commercially.  In summary, the HK41’s “Gewehr 3” design by a preeminent small arms manufacturer, sustainable quality as a precision rifle, limited production, low number of developmental variants, historical significance as a HK91 prototype, and relative obscurity as an identifiable firearm, all contribute to its intrinsic value as a collectable small arm.


1966 HK41 “A3” (or “G3A4”) with dual 20-round magazines


1974 HK41 “A3” (or “G3A4”) with single 20-round magazine

Earlier “black-gun” models of the HK41 manufactured in 1966 with a “push-pin” design and original, matching serial numbered pieces are highly regarded by collectors and gun owners alike.  Original 1966 models are considered to be more rare and therefore more valuable than the HK41 model produced in 1974.  Their increased scarcity is somewhat a result of the same fate as many of the G3 semiautomatic rifles in that an unknown number of them were used as host guns in the conversion to registered NFA, Title II automatic weapons.  Aside from owning a rare semiautomatic G3 rifle, civilian gun owners and collectors prize the 1966 model HK41s for being the most authentic, semiautomatic replicas of the G3 combat rifle legally produced for NFA, Title I (sometimes incorrectly referred to as “non-NFA”) ownership in the United States.  The 1966 model HK41 depicted below clearly illustrates this “G3” likeness, and is pictured with a HK Hensoldt/Wetzlar Aiming Point Projector (“ZP”) mounted on a STANAG rail, a modified MSG90 grip assembly, newer-style retractable buttstock, and two 20-round alloy magazines held together by a HK dual magazine clamp.


Upgraded 1966 "Tactical" HK41 “A3”

Collectors also revere the 1974 model for its historical significance as being the prototype used in the development of the popular HK91 series of semi-automatic rifles.  Additionally, a number of gun owners sought to purchase this less expensive HK41 model while living in States and Territories that either didn’t specifically identify it on their list of banned H&K rifles, or failed to adequately describe its appearance as an “assault-type” weapon in their statutes regarding banned firearms.

HK41s in good condition generally sell between $3,000 and $6,000 depending on the economy, year the rifle was manufactured, configuration, accompanying accessories, corresponding date stamp on accessories, and any original documentation that may be included within the sale price (e.g., operations manual, test target, warranty card, bill of sales, shipping box, etc.).  As can be expected with the number of HK41s available for purchase being particularly small, their value is likely to increase over time (supply and demand).  A 1966 model HK41 in 90% condition with a significant number of appropriately dated accessories and documentation could easily sell for well over $7,500 to an informed H&K gun collector or shooter wanting to acquire it for its “push-pin” originality.  The value of the 1966 HK41 pictured above with additional Tactical accessories (e.g., including a Hensoldt/Wetzlar ZF 10x42 MSG90 telescopic sight, newer style MSG90A1 buttstock and interchangeable MSG90A1 rear sight) would be commercially priced somewhat higher.

CLOSING

This article was researched and authored by Daniel J. Svihra and edited by Tom at HKPRO.COM.  Although the information contained within is believed to be accurate, you are encouraged to submit any validated corrections or additional information regarding the HK41 or semiautomatic G3 prototype rifles to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it