|Full text name||Heckler - Koch G3|
|Caliber cartridge||7.62x51mm NATO / .308 Winchester|
|Overall length, mm||1023|
|Barrel length, mm||450 mm (315 mm on G3KA4 model)|
|Weight empty, kg||4,5|
|Magazine capacity, rounds||20|
The Heckler & Koch HK G3 Rifle was adopted by German Armed Forces as an adaptation to the new standard 7.62x51mm NATO caliber. Initially the Germans were interested in the Belgian FN FAL, and adopted it in 1956 under the designation of G1.
Due to obvious security reasons though, Germany wanted to control the manufacturing of its own military rifles. It therefore attempted to buy a manufacturing license for the FAL. Belgium however, rejected the deal. So Germany turned to another design, available from the Spanish company CETME. It was known as the CETME mod. A Rifle.
Germany bought the manufacturing license for the CETME rifle and transferred it to the Heckler und Koch (HK) company, located in Oberndorf, Germany. Heckler & Koch slightly modified the CETME design, and in 1959 the Bundeswehr (West Germany Army) adopted the CETME / Heckler & Koch rifle under the designation G3 (Gewehr 3 – Rifle, ‘Model’ 3).
Since that time until 1995 the G3 served in various modifications as the general issue shoulder weapon not only for German Armed forces, but also for many other countries. Those included Greece, Iran, Mexico, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal, Sweden, Turkey among others. A total of more than 50 countries during the last 40 years issued the G3 to its forces. The G3 was or still is manufactured under license in countries like Greece, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Portugal and others.
The key reason for the strong popularity of the G3 is that it is much simpler and cheaper to manufacture than its major contemporary rivals – the Belgian FN FAL and US M14. To the best of my knowledge, HK itself continued to produce and offer the G3 until the year 2000 or 2001, when it finally disappeared from catalogs and websites. However, HK still manufactures a wide variety of firearms, based on the G3 design but for different purposes and calibers. For instance the 9mm MP-5 submachine guns, 5.56 mm HK 33 assault rifles, 5.56mm and 7.62 mm HK23 and HK 21 machine guns, and the PSG1 sniper rifles.
In general, the HK G3 rifle can be described as one of the best 7.62 mm NATO battle / assault rifles – reliable, versatile, controllable, inexpensive and last but not least – very popular. For the civilian markets, H & K produced the semi-automatic only versions of the G3, initially known as HK 41 and later – as HK 91.
The G3 Rifle is a selective fire, magazine fed rifle, utilizing delayed blowback action This operation itself was developed by German engineers at Mauser Werke late in World War Two and refined in Spain, at the CETME company. Initial models of the G3 rifle were quite similar to CETME rifles, and even had “CETME” markings on the receivers (until 1961 or so).
The roller-delayed blowback action is described under CETME Rifles, so I will not repeat it here. The G3 is built using as many stamped parts as possible. The receiver is stamped from sheet steel. The trigger unit housing along with pistol handle frame are also stamped from steel and hinged to the receiver using the cross-pin in the front of the trigger unit, just beside the magazine housing.
The earliest G3 rifles also featured stamped handguards and CETME-type flip-up rear diopter sights. In the mid-1960’s the initial design was upgraded to the G3A3 and G3A4 configurations. These rifles had ventilated plastic handguards and drum-type rear diopter sights, marked from 100 to 400 meters. The G3A3 was a fixed butt version, with buttstock made from plastic, and the G3A4 was a telescoping butt version, with retractable metallic buttstock and rubber buttplate.
Late German production G3A3 and G3A4 models were built using new trigger units, integral with restyled pistol grip and trigger guard, made from plastic. The shortest version of the G3 was the G3KA4, similar to G3A4 but with shortened barrel. Every G3 rifle can be equipped with detachable bipods and claw-type detachable scope mounts. Long-barreled versions can be fitted with a bayonet or used to launch rifle grenades from the barrel.
A folding cocking handle is located on the special tube above the barrel, at the left side, and does not reciprocate when the gun is fired. The safety / fire selector is located above the trigger guard on the left side of the trigger group housing. It’s usually marked “S – E – F” (Safe – Single shots – Full auto). Latest models could have selectors marked with coloured icons instead.