Heckler & Koch G41
The G41 is a German 5.56×45mm NATO assault rifle introduced in 1981 and produced in limited quantities by Heckler & Koch. It was designed to replace the 5.56mm Heckler & Koch HK33 in service providing a more modern weapon compatible with contemporary NATO standards. It is chambered for the 5.56×45mm NATO cartridge and can use both SS109 and M193 ammunition. Assembly of the G41 has been discontinued by Heckler & Koch, however, production rights to the rifle were acquired by the Italian arms manufacturer Luigi Franchi.
|Heckler & Koch G41|
|Place of origin||West Germany|
|Used by||See Users|
|Wars||Lebanese Civil War|
2007 Lebanon conflict
|Designer||Heckler & Koch|
|Manufacturer||Heckler & Koch|
|Mass||G41/A1: 4.1 kg (9.04 lb)|
G41A2/A3: 4.4 kg (9.7 lb)
G41K: 4.3 kg (9.5 lb)
|Length||G41/A1: 997 mm (39.3 in)|
G41A2/A3: 985 mm (38.8 in) stock extended / 800 mm (31.5 in) stock folded
G41K: 930 mm (36.6 in) stock extended / 740 mm (29.1 in) stock retracted
|Barrel length||G41: 450 mm (17.7 in)|
G41K: 380 mm (15.0 in)
|Width||72 mm (2.8 in)|
|Height||214 mm (8.4 in)|
|Action||Roller delayed blowback|
|Rate of fire||850 rounds/min|
|Muzzle velocity||G41 using SS109: 920 m/s (3,018 ft/s)|
G41K using SS109: 880 m/s (2,887.1 ft/s)
G41 using M193: 950 m/s (3,116.8 ft/s)
G41K using M193: 910 m/s (2,985.6 ft/s)
|Effective firing range||100—400 m sight adjustments|
|Feed system||Various STANAG magazines|
|Sights||Rotary rear diopter drum, hooded front post|
The G41's engineering origins lay in the 7.92×33mm Kurz StG 45(M) Assault rifle, and later the 7.62×51mm NATO G3 battle rifle. It is a selective fire automatic weapon that employs a roller-delayed blowback system of operation. The two-piece bolt mechanism consists of a bolt head that contains two cylindrical rollers and a wedge-shaped locking piece, attached to a heavy bolt carrier. When fired, the build-up of gas pressure generated by the ignited powder charge exerts rearward pressure on the bolt, which is then transferred onto the rollers. The rollers are cammed inward against appropriately shaped walls in the barrel extension, displacing the locking piece. The geometry of the camming ramps on the wedge-like locking piece ensure a rearward velocity that is greater than that of the bolt. This ensures that the bullet has left the barrel, allowing bore pressures to drop to a safe level before the rollers are fully retracted, clearing the barrel extension notches and releasing the bolt, which is then engaged by the bolt carrier and withdraws together with the entire moving assembly.
The spent cartridge casing extractor is installed inside the bolt head, while the tilting lever ejector is contained in the trigger housing. The rifle is hammer-fired and has a trigger group with a fire control selector that enables semi-automatic, burst and continuous fire. The fire selector's positions are marked with bullet pictograms and it also serves as a manual safety against unintentional discharge. The selector is ambidextrous and its lever is mirrored on both sides of the trigger housing. In the "safe" position, the trigger and sear are disabled.
The weapon incorporates a manual forward assist that can be used to positively close the bolt, similar to the one used on the American M16A1 rifle, and a side-folding heavy-gauge wire carrying handle which resembles that of the FN FAL. It also has a "hold-open" bolt catch which holds the bolt open after the last round in the magazine has been fired (the bolt release button is just above the magazine release) and has a spring-loaded dust cover that seals the ejection port from debris.
The cold hammer-forged barrel has a hexagonal polygonal bore. It comes rifled for either the NATO-standard, Belgian SS109 62 grain bullet with a twist of 178 mm (1:7 in) or in a 305 mm (1:12 in) twist for use with American ammunition with the M193 55 grain projectile. The bore chamber is fluted to assist in the extraction of spent cartridges. The barrel is equipped with a flash suppressor that is also designed to launch rifle grenades.
The G41 has mechanically adjustable iron sights with a rear rotating diopter drum and hooded front post. The rear sight drum has three apertures of different diameter calibrated for firing at distances of 200, 300 and 400 m and a triangular notch setting preset for firing at 100 m. The receiver housing has recesses in the top cover that permit the use of H&K's proprietary clamp mounts and adapters for NATO-standard optics (such as the Hensoldt 4×24 telescopic sight).
Many accessories are based on NATO standard or previously issued items.
The rifle can be fitted with a barrel-mounted bipod based on the one issued with the M16A1's cleaning kit. It also uses the bayonet from the G3. It also can mount the FERO Z24-G 4×24 optical sight on a proprietary detachable bracket on the receiver.
Note: the 1:178mm (1:7 in) rifling was compatible with the European-standard SS109 round and the 1:305 mm (1:12 in) rifling was compatible with the US-standard M193 Ball round.
- G41: This is the standard model with a fixed stock and 1:178 mm (1:7 in) rifling.
- G41A1: This model has a fixed stock and 1:305 mm (1:12 in) rifling.
- G41A2: This model has a telescoping shoulder stock and 1:178 mm (1:7 in) rifling.
- G41A3: This model features a telescopic stock and a 1:305 mm (1:12 in) rifling pitch.
- G41K: This is a carbine (K—Karabiner) variant of the G41A2 with a shortened 380 mm (15.0 in) barrel (reduced in length to the base of the foresight), 1:178 mm (1:7 in) rifling twist rate and a telescopic stock. The G41K is too short to accept the HK79 or fire rifle grenades.
- G41TGS: The "Tactical Group Support" model adds a HK79 grenade launcher.
- LF G41: Luigi Franchi made a sample run of the G41, G41A2 and G41K in 1988 for possible production under license; these were later modified for trials by the Italian Army. It differed from the Heckler & Koch model in that it had a polygonal 4-groove barrel with a chromed bore. When the G41 was rejected by the German Bundeswehr in 1989, it was dropped from consideration and the improved Beretta AR 70/90 was chosen instead in 1990. The LF G41 however entered use with the Italian commando frogmen (COMSUBIN).
- LF Mod. 641: A modified variant of the G41 also intended to replace the BM59. It lost out to the AR70/90.
Denmark: Small quantity purchased with optics and used by the Danish Special Operation Forces’ Frogmans Corps of the Royal Danish Navy. (Søværnets Frømandskorps) Used until the adoption of the Colt Canada C8 and SFW. In Danish service the weapon was known as the Gevær M/85 (rifle of 1985) and was in Danish Naval service prior to adoption by the Bundeswehr. Italy: Small numbers of the LF G41 model were procured as part of a weapons trials to select Italy's NATO-standard replacement for the Beretta BM 59. It was eventually rejected in favor of the Beretta AR-70/90 in 1990 after West Germany cancelled their order. The few sample models were issued to Italian special operations units like COMSUBIN until they were replaced by the HK G36. Spain: Small quantities in service with the Spanish Special Intervention Unit (Unidad Especial de Intervención - UEI) and the Spanish National Police force's GEO counter-terrorist unit who employ the G41TGS. Turkey: Used by the Turkish Gendarmerie. License-built copy by MKEK. United States The G41 was considered as part of the US Armed Forces weapons trials in the early 1980s, but was rejected in favor of the M16A2. It was purchased in small numbers by various police departments before the Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989 and the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 blocked further imports. A lack of civilian and Law Enforcement sales in the United States and lack of military sales in Europe led to the G41 being dropped from the HK catalog in 1996. West Germany The G41 was originally set to replace the aging G3 rifle as the front-line issue weapon of the Bundeswehr with the caseless G11 carbine designed for service with special operations units like the KSK. The reunification of West and East Germany and the budget crisis that followed forced the German authorities to cancel the order in 1989.
- Woźniak, Ryszard. Encyklopedia najnowszej broni palnej - tom 2 G-Ł. Bellona. 2001. pp22-23.
- Web Del Grupo Especial De Operaciones (G.E.O.) Archived 2008-12-13 at the Wayback Machine
- Rare H&K G41 Rifle In The Wild The Firearm Blog by Steve Johnson March 21, 2013
- Ian V. Hogg, Modern Weapons of the 20th Century