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The HK MSG90
Precision Semi-Auto Sniper
Cal. 7.62 x 51 NATO

The MSG90 is a sniper rifle that was designed and introduced relatively recently.  A close relative of the PSG1 and descendant of the G3, the MSG90 was designed as a lower cost alternative to the PSG1.   Many have often wondered if the MSG90 is ownable by civilians.  It is not, for a simple reason.  You can see from the above photo that the trigger group of the MSG is attached with a front push pin, like most of the automatic firearms from HK.  This precludes it from civilian sale.  The PSG1 has a shelf and clip on trigger group, like the HK 90 series rifles imported until 1989.

The abbreviation MSG stands for "Militärisches Scharfschützen Gewehr" in German or Military Marksman Rifle in English.  "90" is for the year of initial production.

The MSG90 features a PSG1 trigger group, with light 3 lb. trigger pull, stock adjustable for height and pull, though smaller and lighter than the PSG1 buttstock.   Also, unlike the PSG, the scope mount is removable and the rifle can be purchased with or without the standard scope offered by HK.  It features a newer scope mount that is found on only a few of the HK rifles, as compared to the more conventional claw mounts.   You will find this mount on the MSG90, the HK21E and 23E and the now out of production G41 series.  The muzzle of the barrel features a weight to aid in the harmonic stabilization of barrel whip for enhanced accuracy.

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)
7.62 x 51 NA 5/20 Semi 2.56 10.23 14.11 23.62 45.87
7.62 x 51 NA 5/20 Semi 65 260 6.40 600 1165


msg90rt.jpg (43126 bytes)

MSG90 from right.   Visible is the ambidextrous safety lever and forward assist that HK markets as a silent bolt closing device.  This is probably more accurate, since HK firearms rarely get so dirty that the bolt won't close.  To silently close the bolt rather than using the famous "HK slap," the shooter would ride the cocking handle all the way forward, then use the forward assist to get the bolt group into battery.  It would be much quieter that way.

msg90.jpg (43261 bytes)

msg90butt.jpg (20659 bytes) Detail of the fully adjustable buttstock.  This buttstock is attractive to HK collectors for several reasons.  The stock is fully compatible with the HK91 series, and weighs and costs less than the PSG1 Buttstock.


Herr Günter Schäfer  in promotional pose with the MSG90 likely somewhere in the woods surrounding the Oberndorf plant. msgwoods.jpg (38855 bytes)


The newest variant of the MSG90 is called the MSG90A1.  Originally the MSG90-DMR for Designated Marksman Rifle, this newest version was commissioned by the United States Marine Corps in 1997.  They took delivery of six prototype rifles in 1998.  The DMR program is intended to be deployed by designated marksmen within Marine Corp Security Force and FAST teams.  The gun was ultimately not considered by the Marines because it is not retrofittable to .300 Win Mag caliber.

The MSG90A1 is now made for the U.S. Department of Defense.  The only differences from it and the standard MSG90 are the threaded barrel and flash hider, (which will also accept a sound suppressor) and open sight capability.  The rear iron sight is the 1200 meter variety, as on the HK21E and 23E series machine guns.  The scope must be removed to use the open sights however.  The A1 also has an improved MSG90 buttstock with rubber buttpad, indexing lines on the buttpad and cheekpieces.  The photograph below is an MSG90-DMR and is from the Grey Room tour at HK.  The DMR was the transition between the standard MSG90 and the newest production MSG90A1s.