The Rifle of the West German Army - The HK G3 - CHK-SHIELD | Outdoor Army - Tactical Gear Shop

The Rifle of the West German Army - The HK G3

The Rifle of the West German Army - The HK G3

Made from the manufacturer Heckler and Koch, the G3 rapid fire rifle was introduced in 1959. Though initially a standard rifle for the German Armed Forces, this particular rifle has since been exported to many other countries over the years, becoming a well-known and well-used weapon across various armies.

To date, the total number of pieces built for this weapon has reached over 7 million, as the HK G3 has been manufactured under different licenses due to its export and usage across the world.

Many wonder why the HK G3 or the Heckler and Koch G3 has also been nicknamed the rapid-fire rifle. The reason simply being due to its caliber and its properties of being a battle weapon rather than an assault rifle.


To fully understand the capacity and the development of this rifle, it is essential to start at the beginning, when the concept of this battle weapon began. In the early Spring of 1942, a group of engineers under Ludwig Vogrimler were working on developing a new and improved rifle for the Wehrmacht. Initially, the weapon that was first developed was known as the Device 06H, which while advanced for its time, proved to have some flaws.

Black and white image of the HK G3 from when it was first developed

Advancing from the creation of the Device 06H came the Strumegewhr 44, a weapon which was quite different from others, as instead of a gas pressure loader, the rifle instead relied on a recoil loader and a roller lock. This prototype also did not last, as it wasn’t long before the group advanced their development onto another prototype, known as the MG 42.

Military grade gun, the HK G3, during the process of its invention in the 1940's

In 1946, parts of the engineer group left to visit France, while continuing their research and development on the ideal rifle that was to be used. It was here that the government reached out, requesting that the research on the newest rifle be conducted for them. This association led to the fourth prototype in the mix; the AME 49 which was ready for production 3 years later in 1949.

Unfortunately at this time the French Government experienced financial difficulties, halting production. Rather than waiting for the government to get their items sorted, Ludwig’s engineer group decided to venture off to Spain, in the year 1950. Upon arrival, the Spanish government reached out with a similar request for the team, as they were interested in having an assault rifle with a moveable roller lock developed.

Production and development continued and the first official contracts were initiated with Germany, in 1953. It was this year that the Federal Border Police began testing the newest rifle invention up until 1955, when the caliber was met with an uproar and objection. It was decided that rather than the short cartridges being measured at 7.92 X 3mm, the officials requested the change to 7.62 X 51mm NATO cartridges.

Black and white photo of the German military troops marching in 1950's

Further changes continued on until 1957, when the rifle was introduced to the Bundeswehr as the G3 rifle, which was set to replace their FN FAL. Production and licensing issues pursued after the release of the weapon, however, the Dutch were able to step in, expediting the delivery and launch. This allowed the G3 to become a standard piece of equipment for the German Armed Forces in the year of 1959.

Flat lay of the military grade HK G3 surrounded by bullets

Over the years the G3 underwent many additional changes and developments, remaining a vital part of the German Armed Forces. It was a standard piece of equipment for upwards of 40 years until December of 1997, when it was decided that the rifle would be replaced with the new G36. To this date, over several hundred units of the G3 rifles are in depots for the country’s national defense, and they will continue to remain there, being serviced, updated, and cared for, until another decision is made.

Claim to Fame

If you ask anyone, they will tell you that the G3 rifle was and is still known for its reliability and accuracy. Which is perhaps why so many armed forces and countries wanted to utilize this weapon as their standard rifle.

If we take a look at a comparable weapon, such as the FAL which was also known for its reliability, it is noted that it’s dependability was directly related to whether or not the soldier adjusted the rifle to the correct gas setting. While a simple task, it put soldiers at risk as they would have to adjust the gas and keep firing in order to reach the desired state of the weapon.

Man holding a HK G3 and reloading it in preparation to shoot

Since the G3 has an updated roller delayed system, it was never required that the user adjust the setting to increase accuracy. Instead, all that was necessary was for the soldier to keep firing at a consistent rate, even with dirt, debris, and grit being added into the mix.

The Design of the G3 Rifle

The G3 is an incredible rifle, with the ability to shoot either a single fire or a continuous fire depending on the shooter's instructions. Designed with a fixed barrel, the roller lock is actually moveable and the weapon uses aluminum or sheet steel rod magazines, with a capacity of 20 cartridges.

In terms of the rate of fire, the G3 is able to fire about 600 rounds in a single minute with the muzzle velocity at 800m per second. Of course, this is all with the utmost reliability and accuracy.

Like many other weapons, this rifle can be assembled and disassembled quite quickly without any tools. In fact, only 4 bolts need to be removed to disassemble the structure.

The stock on the G3 can also be swapped out as well, as the user would only need to push out two pins, which would then add a new stock in place. This would allow the gun to transform from a standard rifle to be manipulated into a marksman rifle, with the simple installation of more modern and up to date stocks.

Flat lay of bullets laying around a gun

Where is the G3 Now?

While the G3 has been used and then phased out by various armed forces throughout many countries, the G3 is still in use in Sweden, Germany, Turkey, Pakistan, Latvia and Lithuania.

However, each country relies on the weapon differently; as of 2019, Sweden and Germany were still relying on this weapon as a marksman rifle, the G3 was being used on the front line for Turkey and Pakistan and Lithuania and Latvia rely on them as service rifles.

To date, the G3 has been able to outlast all other weapons that were created and launched during the 1950’s. However, with that being said, it won’t be much longer until this rifle is phased out, as more and more armed forces turn to newer developments as their standardized weaponry.

Black and white photo of the HK G3 in the 1950's

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