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G36 Series

The G36 Series
Cal. 5.56mm x 45 NATO


G36K with new 40mm grenade launcher called the AG36.  The launcher opens to the side.  At the time this photo was first published, I shamelessly hailed it as a "World Exclusive."


G36 as compared to the father of all HK rifles, the G3.


It has often been said by weapons experts that there are very few new developments on the small arms horizon that are truly revolutionary; that we have reached a plateau.  Though the G11 project is dead, and was certainly a harbinger of what is possible over the horizon, the G36 is a combination of old and new, tried and true that when combined makes for the further refinement of the small arms maker's art.  Instead of starting from scratch with totally new design, the engineers at HK, led by the young and rising star Ernst Mauch, through the early years of the 1990s made what was internally called the HK50.  It now carries the Bundeswehr designation G36.

A first departure from the signature HK operating system, roller delayed blowback, the G36 is gas operated.

Caliber Cyclic Rate Mag Capacity Modes of Fire Width (in/mm) Height (in/mm) Weight (lb/kg) bbl. length (in/mm) Overall
Length (in/mm)
5.56 x 45 800 30/100 S/2/F 2.44 12.6 7.28 18.90 39.29
5.56 x 45 800 30/100 S/2/F 64 320 3.60 480 998
Caliber Cyclic Rate Mag Capacity Modes of Fire Width (in/mm) Height (in/mm) Weight (lb/kg) bbl. length (in/mm) Overall
Length (in/mm)
5.56 x 45 800 30/100 S/2/F 2.44 12.6 6.62 12.52 33.78
5.56 x 45 800 30/100 S/2/F 64 320 3.30 320 860
Caliber Cyclic Rate Mag Capacity Modes of Fire Width (in/mm) Height (in/mm) Weight (lb/kg) bbl. length (in/mm) Overall
Length (in/mm)
5.56 x 45 800 30/100 S/2/F 2.44 11.02 6.28 8.98 28.27
5.56 x 45 800 30/100 S/2/F 60 280 2.80 228 720

View Patent Information about the G36 Rifle here.

They borrowed from other tried and proven designs.  There is the short gas system reminiscent of the Kalashnikov and FAL designs.   The rotating bolt of the M16 series.  The bolt carrier of the AR18.  The folding stock of the FAL and SIG 550 series.  But in the newest refinement of the gunmaker's art with respect to military rifles, the extensive use of polymer throughout the rifle makes it lighter and more corrosion resistant; two qualities essential to the soldier.

The G36 is a reliable rifle, much more so than the M16 series.  Though hard core M16 and AR-15 aficionados will have a difficult time accepting what they might describe derisively as 'Euro-Trash,' there is no denying the fact that the G36 rarely, if ever, jams.  The most desirable departure from the M16 design is the fact that the gas used to operate the action is vented in the forearm, and not blown back into the action like the 'exhaust pipe' of the M16 gas tube.  The G36 jams so rarely that HK has said that they have a G36K that has been fired more than 25,000 rounds without cleaning and no failures.  I defy an M16 to duplicate that.

Though it would be doubtful that the G36 would ever replace the M16 for the U.S. military, it is taking off in the U.S. law enforcement community.  Why not?  Quality is in high demand.


In these two company promotional photographs, the G36 is demonstrated in the assault rifle role and the light machine gun role.  With bipod and 30 round translucent magazine, the 'soldier' models the rifle for prospective buyers.  Get that finger off the trigger! g36woods2.jpg (41743 bytes)
g36woods.jpg (42582 bytes) The MG36 with American Beta Co. CMAG double 100 round drum in the light machine gun role.  HK apparently opted for this in lieu of a drum design of their own, or belt feeding.


MG36 with Beta CMAG 100 round drum magazine in the Light Machine Gun role.


The G36 stripped into its component parts.  The entire rifle can be stripped in less than a minute without tools using the time tested pushpin design.


Cutaway of G36/SL8 gas piston showing gas port in barrel, vent and op rod.


The May, 1996 Issue of Deutsches Waffen-Journal (German Weapons Journal)  The header for the G36 says:   "Brandneu-- H&K Sturmgewehr für die Bundeswehr"  Brand New-- H&K Assault Rifle for the Army

The G36 is a very light rifle.  It is surprising how light it is when you first pick it up.  As stated above, most all parts of the rifle, with the exception of the barrel, bolt assembly and the internal rails are polymer.   The G36 is available with either a dual sighting system (Pictured) or with a single 1.5 power reticle.  The dual system has a red dot sight above a three power reticle.   This red dot sight is battery powered, but with a sliding window on top of the sight, ambient light can be used during the day for battery conservation.



The design of the gun allows the night vision sight to be
mounted and used with the existing optics without rezeroing.


g36night.jpg (24889 bytes)

Zeiss/Hensoldt NSA 80 passive night vision device with periscope reticle made for dropping right onto carry handle of G36.  Reportedly in the $7000 U.S. range, a quality German night scope for the G36 that requires no re-zeroing after installation.


Above:  The G36K with single reticle 1.5X weaponsight.   Note four prong flash hider reminiscent of the HK53 series.  Very effective at mitigating muzzle flash. What is not obvious from this photo is the rough pistol sights that can be used at close range instead of the reticle.  They are molded into the carrying handle.  These sights cannot be used on the gun below, which has the optional red dot sight piggybacked on the handle.  It blocks the rough open sights.
g36kfold.jpg (20978 bytes)

One of the most promising aspects of the G36 system is the cost.  The G36 series costs roughly $950 for the basic rifle to U.S. LE agencies.  This is significantly less than the roller locked rifles which start at about $1200.  Dual optical sighted models are about $400 more.


G36 Bolt and Carrier.   This picture above might as well have been pulled from a rifle that has had 5000 rounds shot.  This is what the bolt carrier will look like.  The gun just does not get dirty.  A huge attraction for even die hard M16 fans, whose greatest design flaw is that the gas used to operate the rifle is vented directly back into the receiver and to the working parts.  Not so with the G36.  The forearm is where the gas is vented.


HK's U.S. Law Enforcement Catalog lists a number of accessories for the G36 system.  Interestingly, though not surprisingly, the USP Universal Tactical Light fits perfectly on the forend of the G36.  Too bad for collectors, the G36 will be the hard piece to add to the HK collection!

g36internal.jpg (35480 bytes)