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Haenel MK 556 assault rifle and Haenel CR 223 carbine (Germany)

Haenel MK 556 assault rifle was developed by German company C.G.Haenel from Suhl for military and law enforcement use. In 2018 it was entered into Bundeswehr (German army) trials for a new 5.56mm assault rifle to replace older HK G36 rifles of same caliber. In September of 2020 it was announced that Haenel MK 556 rifle has won the trials and German army is intending to buy as much as 120,000 of these rifles at total price of about 250 million Euro. Official designation (“Gewehr something”) has not been yet announced for Haenel MK 556 assault rifle. Major contenders to this weapon were HK 416 and HK 433 rifles from another well-known German company. Heckler und Koch. It must be noted that decision is not yet final, as the losing contender, Heckler & Koch, has an option to challenge decision through legal means. Official adoption also should be further finalized by German government to take effect, so actual fielding of the new system by German infantry may be delayed until 2022.


Haenel MK 556 assault rifle
Haenel MK 556 assault rifle


C.G.Haenel company originally existed in Suhl between 1840 and 1945, and made its name in particular by developing and manufacturing the famous Sturmgewehr – Stg.44 assault rifle during the WW2. After the war this factory existed in East Germany as VEB “Ernst Thalmann”, and manufactured Kalashnikov AK-47 type rifles under Soviet license. Haenel company resumed its operations under old historical name in 2008, and today it is owned by a Caracal International from UAE.


Haenel CR 223 semi-automatic carbine
Haenel CR 223 semi-automatic carbine



Haenel MK 556 assault rifle is based on the Haenel CR 223 semi-automatic carbine, originally developed for civilian and police use. Haenel CR 223 carbine is already in use by some German police forces. It is based on the old American M16 / AR-15 platform, with some updates such as short-stroke gas piston system with manual gas regulator. Other updates include aluminum alloy quad-rail monolithic forend, which can be removed during disassembly without use of tools. Otherwise if is a fairy standard AR-15 type rifle, available in semi-automatic and select-fire versions.  Military version, the MK 556 assault rifle, is available with several barrel lengths ranging from 266 to 408 mm (10.5” – 16”). It is fitted with M4 carbine style retractable shoulder stock and iron sights on folding bases. Optical sights for day and night use, as well as other accessories, can be mounted using integral Picatinny rails. Rifle is fully compatible with 5.56mm STANAG magazines.


Haenel CR 223 semi-automatic carbine
Haenel CR 223 semi-automatic carbine disassembled


Specification Value
Full text name Haenel MK 556 assault rifle and Haenel CR 223 carbine (Germany)
Caliber cartridge 5.56x45 NATO, .223 Remington
Action type select-fire
Trigger type sa
Overall length, mm 838 – 933 (with 408mm barrel)
Barrel length, mm 266, 318, 368, 408
Weight empty, kg 3.35 – 3.6
Magazine capacity, rounds 30
Cyclic rate of fire, rounds/min 900