The Heckler und Koch Gewehr Model 36 (company designation G36, Bundeswehr designation Gewehr G36, Kaliber 5.56 mm x 45) is a modular weapon system designed in West Germany in the 1980s and 1990s. It has been the main infantry weapon of the Bundeswehr since 1995 and has been used by the Ejercito de Tierra (Spanish army) since 1999. The kinetic energy component of the US OICW and the XM-8 are also derived from the G36.
Heckler & Koch started designing the G36 in 1990, when the Bundeswehr asked them to develop a new weapon system to replace the 1950s vintage G3 rifle, which fired the older 7.62x51 mm round. Two earlier HK replacements were both rejected in the 1980s, the unusual G-11 and the more conventional G-41. Initially called the HK50 (or Project 50), the company based the weapon on its previous HK36, VP70 and G11 designs. The firing system may have been influenced by the Armalite AR-18, although parts are also similar to M-16 and AK-47 parts. Whatever the origins, the G36 is widely recognised as a very reliable weapon. In 1995 it was adopted by the Bundeswehr after competing with similar rifles. It is also used in Spain, and is used by law-enforcement agencies in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The rifle fires the NATO standard 5.56x45 mm round at a maximum rate of 750 rpm, the gun can also fire semi-automatically, or in two- or three-round burst. The firing mechanism is based on the gas piston and rotating bolt, which uses gas pressure of the fired projectile to reload new rounds, rather than HK's own roller-delay blowback system. This allows the barrel to float freely, increasing accuracy. The design and materials used also help to keep the receiver very clean and jam-free, making the rifle able to fire 10,000s of rounds without cleaning.
The weapon comes in three main variants, G36, G36K (carbine) and G36C (compact, or commando). The full-size rifle is fractionally under a metre long with a folding skeleton stock, with a 480 mm barrel, and has an empty mass of just 3.4 kg (7.6 lb). Most of the rifle structure is composed of carbon fiber reinforced polymers, the first production rifle to use such material in the receiver, with steel parts where needed. The weapon can be stripped and re-assembled without tools through a system of cross-pins. The distinctive translucent plastic magazine holds 30 rounds, weighs 400 g, and is fitted with studs to allow magazines to be clipped together easily, a 100 round drum magazine can also be fitted (together with a bipod this is designated the MG36). The weapon is fitted with a small telescopic sight as standard, 3.5x on the Bundeswehr weapon and 1.5x on export versions, the sighting 'bridge' is also a carrying handle. A semi-automatic, 10-round capacity, distinctly different civilian version is sold as the SL8.
The sights system is relatively unique: the rifle comes with a built-in dual sighting system, one being the classic telescopic sight mentioned above. The other is the so-called 'reflex sight', a special system projecting a red dot into the sight alone, not using an infrared source to pinpoint the target. This sight is operated with both eyes open, and if used correctly, the operator will have his normal field of view with a red dot projected into it, displaying the aiming point.
The layout of the controls is ambidextrous and user friendly, although the cartridge always ejects to the right-hand side of the weapon, and the carrying sling can only be used effectively when carrying the weapon right, as the rear socket for the sling is mounted on the left side of the weapon. The rifle can be fitted with the AG36 40mm grenade launcher and an AK-74 bayonet (many of which are left over in Germany from stocks of the former East German army). The tactical light of the HK USP can also be affixed to the front easily.
- The forearm can overheat, making the gun uncomfortable to hold in early versions; this problem has been corrected with a heat shield in newer models.
- The integral sights of the export version are claimed to shift when the weapon is knocked heavily against the ground.
- The lack of a firing pin return spring could lead to accidental discharge upon loading of ammunition.
- Red Point aiming device relies on ambient light at day and battery power in zero light environment, since tritium, which is usually used to illuminate weapon sights, is illegal in Germany.
For the G36K/C/KE versions the standard safety/trigger group has three possible safety positions:
- S: safe, E: single shot (Einzelschuss), F: continuous (Feuerstoss)
For the G36/G36E there exist four different trigger groups:
- S: safe, E: single shot, F: continuous (standard in the Bundeswehr version)
- S: safe, F: single shot
- 0: safe, 1: single shot, 2: two shots
- 0: safe, 1: single shot, 2: two shots, 3: three shots
- Caliber: 5.56 x 45mm NATO
- Muzzle velocity (v0): 920 m/s
- Rate of fire: 750 rds/min
- Maximum shooting distance: 2860 m
- Range (reflex sight): 400 m
- Range (telescopic sight): 600 m
- Rifling: 6 grooves, spin right
Barrel length mm
|G36, Standard || |
3.5x optical, reflex sight
|G36K, Kurz || |
|G36C, Compact || |
|G36E, Export || |
|G36KE, KurzExport || |
|SL 8, civilian || |
(telescopic sights available)
- Length: stock extended (stock retracted)
- Mass: empty magazine (full magazine)
- Modern Firearms & Ammunitions: G36 (http://world.guns.ru/assault/as14-e.htm)