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I've been thinking lately...(I shouldn't be :wink:), but with Sig's obvious blunders in US manufactured weapons, what is it specifically that our US plant has sustained from their German friends?

I always read about quality control this and QC that, but where in the manufacturing process does Hk shine? Assembly, tooling, machining, training, etc.? I know you can't just find some amateur garage fiddling gun smith and send him/her to school and train them and now you've got an Hk certified machinist. That's just not what our German counterparts would do. I've read on previous threads that Hk engineers and machinists have a storied tradition of work ethic passed down through generations...I get it. But, there must be something specific that Hk Germany has done to insure this quality control be recognized by our American plant. Sig blew it and I'm sure most would agree that the early German made Sig's were extremely well made guns and just as reliable.

Can anyone shed some light on the specifics of Hk's quality control?
 

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The issues with Sig QC have only been recent. Ordinarily, there is just a mentality in Germany (and most other European ... emphasis on "most") that if your going to do something, do it right. It's an overall commitment to produce a high quality product, regadless of cost. American business models are completely different.
Beretta is another fine example. Get an Italian 92/96 vs. an American made one, and they are worlds apart.

HK USA Inc. will continue to produce weapons of the same quality, as long as HK GMBH continues to maintain enough control to keep that German attitude applied to the company. SIGArms in the U.S. became an independent company in 2000 and has fallen victim to the "minimal cost, maximum profit" attitude of American big business.
 

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I don't know about the quality control but, way better engineering.

Panzer tank = light years better than the Sherman tank.

Mercedes Benz = way better than the Ford and Chevy.

HK's = better than the godforsaken M&P.

I guess you could call it a trend! :-0 LOL
 

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I've seen a post almost identical to this one before and one of the responses went like this :)....

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Why HK?

1. Most are designed, built and tested to NATO MIL specs (ACC-225), not commercial specs. NATO specs includes tests not conducted by many commercial makers such as drop tests, obstructed bore tests, extreme temps, ice, static sand, OTB, elevated/depressed, etc.

2. All (100%) of HK firearms are test fired and zeroed at the factory. In some companies only a % are tested.

3. HK materials (steel, barrel, etc.) are of the highest quality available and it shows in long-term or worst case scenarios. The superior barrel performance is a good example, though you may never see it in casual use.

4. HK pistols are not assembled by armorers’ students and then sold to customers. Some companies have been known to do so.

5. The average German worker is paid at a far higher rate than the equivalent US worker. Part of the reasons why includes the mandatory training they must receive and tests they must pass before receiving the position. The cost of living in Germany is also higher and HK contributes to a substantial “Pensioner Fund” for its retirees. Many also work at the same company for decades and not uncommon are 40 year employees!) and therefore rise high on the pay scale for their extensive hard-earned skill and experience.

6. HK barrels are made by a cold hammer forged process using a material that is unique to HK guns. Many barrels get special HK-unique steps added such as a tapered, poly, hybrid poly bore profile or induction hardening and all long-gun barrels are straightened. As an example, Stelite liners are not used in HK MG barrels – they are simply not needed and perform as well or better.

7. Compare the polymer molding and machining of say an HK P30 and a SIG P229. It is RARE to see machining marks on an HK.

8. HK rigorously tests their products to destruction in a "Firing Lab" manned with very senior test personnel before the design is frozen. This reduces the incidence of post-release issues. HK also takes and test its products at remote environmental test facilities to include desert (Yuma Proving Grounds, Saudi Arabia), arctic (Norway, Alaska), jungle (Brunei, Panama). That costs BIG bucks but pays off in hard core performance.

9. HK guns are imported for the most part (or the parts used to assemble them in NH) are imported. That results in mandatory FET, freight and exchange rate subsidies being added and passed on to the customer. HK as a German gun maker and importer they also have to comply with stringent export controls and that too costs money, which gets passed along in sale prices.

10. The cost of the production tooling (and materials) used by HK to produce, assemble and QA product is high as it includes QA tests and steps not conducted by many other makers. HK cut its teeth as a mass producer and still today builds the production tooling with that in mind –high volumes with a lot of automation. That tooling and gauging costs money as does the high hourly rates of the skilled workers and the additional time required to conduct it.

11. 10-20% of HK’s annual operating budget is spent on its extensive “Technique” departments to include Design, Prototype Fabrication and the Firing Lab. These are the highest paid, most skilled workers at HK and that costs money as well. They are best of breed and always have many more projects up in the air then you might think, or know of (Phased Plasma Rifle in the 80 watt Range).

12. HK places itself purposely in the “higher end” of the market. Like BMW and Mercedes HK knows it rates are higher and always will be compared to say Colt, S&W, Beretta, etc. So they go after superior performance and quality at a higher price point to fewer purchasers versus a cheaper, lower quality product to more buyers.

13. @ 15% of HK annual revenue is reinvested in new products, and infrastructure. While that may not seem like a lot it is and the state of the factory at in Oberndorf shows it. Look at the state of their competitors factories. There are few that compare to HK GmbH in the eyes of those who have been to many others. HK spends the revenue it makes off of both commercial and Government sales on new product so in a way the US commercial buyer who purchases an HK45 pistol helps fund the development of the MG4 LMG or XM25.

14. HK builds much of the weapon parts in house to maintain quality control. While cheaper subs are available one loses some control in doing so. HK’s goal has always been to minimize cost but maintain quality and to do so it keeps many items in house that in many others companies go to the higher bidder (magazines, small piece parts, etc.). HK also has some of the very best MIM and molding capabilities and can thus up the quality of their product by using their own, superior product.

15. Like HK, HK’s subs are of a higher quality for the same reasons and with the same end results. You buy the very best frame mold in Germany, it will cost you but the end product is superior.

16. Interchangeable parts – very few HK parts are not fully interchangeable without hand fitting. Even in a gun like the GMG, there are no parts that require hand fitting. This requires that each and every raw material and finished part, and each tool that fabricates the part, is dimensionally and exactly the same and maintained the same at all time by constant checks by skilled personnel with high dollar measuring devices and gauges. Again something you may never see but it insures when you replace a part it both fits and works w/o modifications.

17. HK has voluntarily developed, tested and included in their product unique features like USP firing mode modularity, MK23 barrel O-rings, special high performance finishes, unique G36/HK416 gas systems, drop-in LEM trigger systems, side-loading 40mm grenade launchers, GMG’s with extruded aluminum receivers and HK211’s with Ti receivers, unique cartridges for things like MP7 and P46, etc. HK also makes over 100 models of HK firearms currently and 1000’s of modular variants for users the world over speaking many languages, which costs money to build, inventory, document and record these countless production variations.
 

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This is not a simple question to address. There are MANY interrelated elements involved.

HK GmbH employs a document called the "Technical Terms of Delivery". It is an overarching "build plan" that lays out what the materials, production, gauging, testing, QA steps, specs, minimum performance, pre-delivery prep, etc. MUST be for each and every HK made. One of these TTD's exists for each model. HK protects these because they are an insight into the P&P's as to how HK makes the product and what minimum performance must be for 100% of the items made. From these TTD's there are various other assorted documents that go into greater detail on material selection and testing, tolerances, etc.

One thing you see right away at the HK plant in Oberndorf is the massive amounts of special tooling and gauges that HK makes to properly produce and QA almost every item made there. There is a high upfront cost for these gauges and tools and fixtures (which is why HK is resistant to go down the “gun of the month” road like SIG or S&W) but it helps HK make items exactly the same to spec each and every time even if the worker is not the most experienced gun maker. Remember, this is what got HK started - series production and LOTS OF THE SAME THING - making high precision FULLY INTERCHANGEABLE machine tools and parts, sewing machine parts to begin with. The movement to gun parts was a simple and somewhat natural transition from the tolerance and quality standpoint especially when you have various former Mauser workers in your company and the world community told your Government to stand up a modern Army to fight the new threat in Europe - the Warsaw Pact.

There is also a big difference in Germany in worker training and retention. It is common for a man's father and grandfather to have worked in the same job or section after going through a 3 year or more apprenticeship program, and that is after he has shown a talent for the mechanical arts in junior and high school. I recall the guy who was the master barrel straigthener for HK, before that his father was and learned the skill at Mauser (same town) from his father. Very common trend there and they often stay at the same company for life unlike here in the US where there is a lot of movement and mostly OJT versus the more formal progression through a mandatory apprenticeship program.

HK also has had a very talented Design, Prototype and Test (Lab) Departments in Oberndorf for some decades whose many talented and highly compensated members have come from this process and that plays a major part in their overall product quality. That is not easily transitioned to the US because that concept simply does not exist here in most cases, though there are exceptions thankfully. The Germany engineering school near Stuttgart (Esslingen) was once and may still be a school for learning weapons design. Try finding such a college in the US these days.

I have always said that it is the German's stubbornness that is both their best and worst trait. Once they are on the right track you get the very best product possible. But getting them there can be difficult to impossible (German resistant to the Picatinny rails, the USP, a belt-feed GMG come to mind).

SIG has grown by leaps and bounds over the past two decades because they have opened up their markets in the world by setting up a US-based design and production base. They do make far too many variants (more than HK but HK makes too many items as well from pistols to GMG's) but they have that ability to do so quickly and without having to "move" IP back and forth over the pond as HK does. That is a huge advantage over where HK is at the moment in the US. HK should have gotten there in the early 2000's with the planned Columbus plant and Sterling design center but that is another long sad story.

The trick in all this is being able to design, prototype, test and build here in the US to sell to other markets that Germany prohibits and yet still maintain that German production quality. Neither company has obtained that at this point IMO. HK has maintained its quality but has little access to the world wide markets that SIG now does. SIG has the access but struggles somewhat in the QA arena in the opinion of some. Time will tell how it plays out. SIG will/is definitely going to win out in the revenue arena because the entire world is their market now from the US base not just the restricted places the Swiss or German governments allowed them to compete due to the German “War Weapons Act”. Recent big wins overseas by SIG where HK was “another ran” indicate SIG quality may not be the issues some have made it to be.

G3Kurz
 

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Thanks for the great reading DBLAction545 and G3Kurz. Makes me proud to be an HK owner.
same here, thanks for the info...

man I wish I could work for HK, not because I like guns and love HK guns... maybe it's my German lineage, but from what others have said I can see that HK does things the way that I think many things should be done, stuff that just goes way over the head of American corporations I've worked for... :(
 

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Don't forget to include that unlike most manufacturers the tolerances and attention to the detail work is what sets theirs apart--the torture tests and real-world combat lineage of most of the designs means nothing if those tolerances are loosened and QC standards are lowered (hmmm....Kimber? SIG?Ruger?)

As stated in both of the extremely informative posts above ( thanks G3Kurz and DblAction454 for the lengthy and well written posts!) German manufacturing and US Manufacturing are just totally different in every regard--It was evident to me before I bought a USP--my 98K Mauser is a work of genius and convinced me that a German Pistol was the way to go....the SIG I tried was overcomplicated and didn't go *bang* everytime...my HK does and ALWAYS will....that's good enough for me
 

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I don't know about the quality control but, way better engineering.

Panzer tank = light years better than the Sherman tank.

Mercedes Benz = way better than the Ford and Chevy.

HK's = better than the godforsaken M&P.

I guess you could call it a trend! :-0 LOL
Panzer is not one specific tank, it's the German word for tank. For the record, most German tanks of WWII had horrible engineering design issues that definitively contributed to them losing the war....an awesome 88mm gun and thick, sloping armor doesn't matter for **** when only 48-60% of your tanks are operational. German tank superiority revolved around a doctrine of heavy tanks as the war progressed, as opposed to the American doctrine of light tanks. Light tanks just can't fight heavy tanks....even today, with active defense measures, sending light tanks such as a CV90120 against a MBT such as the Leopard 2, Challenger, Merkava, Abrams, ect is a suicide mission. It had nothing to do with QC or engineering....the Sherman was an excellent tank for what it was...a light tank...not a heavy tank. What slaughtered our tankers was an ill-conceived doctrine of using light tanks to fight heavy tanks.
 

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Panzer is not one specific tank, it's the German word for tank. For the record, most German tanks of WWII had horrible engineering design issues that definitively contributed to them losing the war....an awesome 88mm gun and thick, sloping armor doesn't matter for **** when only 48-60% of your tanks are operational. German tank superiority revolved around a doctrine of heavy tanks as the war progressed, as opposed to the American doctrine of light tanks. Light tanks just can't fight heavy tanks....even today, with active defense measures, sending light tanks such as a CV90120 against a MBT such as the Leopard 2, Challenger, Merkava, Abrams, ect is a suicide mission. It had nothing to do with QC or engineering....the Sherman was an excellent tank for what it was...a light tank...not a heavy tank. What slaughtered our tankers was an ill-conceived doctrine of using light tanks to fight heavy tanks.
The comment was supposed to be taken with grain of salt. But thanks for the history lesson. I think.
 
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