Heckler & Koch

Heckler & Koch GmbH (HK)
GmbH, Private
Industry Defense
Founded 1948 (1948)
Founder Edmund Heckler, Theodor Koch, Alex Seidel
Headquarters Oberndorf am Neckar, Germany
Key people
Andreas Heeschen (Chairman)
Products Firearms, weapons
Owner Andreas Heeschen
Keith Halsey
Number of employees
654 (2013)


hk-usa.com(United States)

Heckler & Koch GmbH (HK) (German pronunciation: [ˈhɛklɐʔʊntˈkɔx]) is a German defense manufacturing company that manufactures handguns, military rifles, submachine guns, and grenade launchers. The company is located in Oberndorf in the state of Baden-Württemberg, and also has subsidiaries in the United Kingdom, France and the United States.

The Heckler & Koch Group comprises Heckler & Koch GmbH, Heckler & Koch Defense, NSAF Ltd., and Heckler & Koch France SAS. The company motto is "Keine Kompromisse!" (No Compromise!).[1] HK provides firearms for many military and paramilitary units, like the SAS, KMar, the US Navy Seals, Delta Force, HRT, the German KSK and GSG 9 and many other counter-terrorist and hostage rescue teams.

Their products include the MP5 SMG, the G3 battle rifle, the HK33, G36, HK416 assault rifles, the Heckler & Koch HK21 general-purpose machine gun, the MP7 PDW, the UMP SMG, the USP series of handguns, and the high-precision PSG1 sniper rifle. All firearms made by HK are named by a prefix and the official designation, with suffixes used for variants.

HK has a history of innovation in firearms, such as the use of polymers in weapon designs and the use of an integral rail for flashlights on handguns. HK also developed modern polygonal rifling, noted for its high accuracy, increased muzzle velocity and barrel life.[2] Not all of its technologically ambitious designs have translated into commercially successful products (for instance, the advanced but now abandoned G11 military rifle, which fired caseless high-velocity ammunition). In its extensive product range, HK has used the following operating systems for small arms: blowback operation, short-recoil, roller-delayed blowback, gas-delayed blowback, and gas operation (via Short-stroke piston).


With the fall of Germany at the end of World War II, Oberndorf came under French control, and the entire Waffenfabrik Mauser AG factory was dismantled by French occupying forces. All records in the factory were destroyed on orders of the local French Army commander. In 1948, three former Mauser engineers, Edmund Heckler, Theodor Koch, and Alex Seidel saved what they could from the factory and what they salvaged was used to start a machine tool plant in the vacant factory that became known as the Engineering Office Heckler & Co.[3][4]

On December 28, 1949, the Engineering Office Heckler & Co. changed its name and was registered officially as Heckler & Koch GmbH. Initially the new company manufactured machine tools, bicycle and sewing machine parts, gauges and other precision parts.[5]

In 1956, Heckler & Koch responded to the West German Government's tender for a new infantry rifle for the Bundeswehr (German Federal Army) with the proposal of the G3 battle rifle, which was based on the Spanish CETME rifle.[3][4] The German Government awarded Heckler & Koch this tender and by 1959, declared the G3 as the standard rifle of the Bundeswehr.[6][7] In 1961, Heckler & Koch developed the 7.62×51mm HK21 general-purpose machine gun, based on the G3 battle rifle.[8]

In 1966, Heckler & Koch introduced the HK54 machine pistol, which eventually launched in 1969 as the MP5 machine pistol.[9] Two years later, the company introduced the 5.56×45mm HK33 assault rifle, which is a smaller version of the G3 battle rifle chambered in 5.56mm NATO.[10][11]


In 1974, Heckler & Koch diversified into the following two business areas: HK Defense and Law Enforcement Technology and HK Hunting and Sports Firearms. Since then HK has designed and manufactured more than one hundred different types of firearms and devices for the world's military and law enforcement organizations as well as sportsmen and hunters.[12]

In 1990, Heckler & Koch finalised over two decades of development with their revolutionary case-less weapon system and produces prototypes of the HK G11. In addition, the company produced prototypes of the HK G41 military rifle intended for the Bundeswehr. Due to the international political climate at that time (East and West Germany uniting and defense budget cuts) the company was unable to secure funded contracts from the German Government to support production of either weapon system and this resulted in the company becoming financially vulnerable. In the following year, the Heckler & Koch company was sold to the British Aerospace's Royal Ordnance division.[1]

During 1994 and 1995, the German Government awarded Heckler & Koch with contracts for producing an updated standard assault rifle and updated standard sidearm for the Bundeswehr. As a result, Heckler & Koch developed and produced the Project HK50, a lightweight carbon fiber–reinforced polymer assault rifle, which became the HK G36 assault rifle. In addition, Heckler & Koch produced the HK P8 derived as a variant based upon its Universale Selbstladepistole (USP) series of handguns (which had been in production since 1989). The P8 was adopted as the standard issue handgun for the Bundeswehr in 1994 and the G36 was adopted in 1995.[13]

As the result of a 1999 merger between British Aerospace and Marconi Electronic Systems, Heckler & Koch was then owned by BAE Systems and was contracted to refurbish the SA80 rifle for the British Army.[14] This contract entailed a modification programme to the SA80 series of rifles to address a number of reliability issues with the SA80. Three years later in 2002, BAE Systems restructured and sold Heckler & Koch to a group of private investors, who created the German group holding company (HK Beteiligungs-GmbH).

In 2003, the HK Beteiligungs GmbH group's business organization restructured as Heckler & Koch Jagd und Sportwaffen GmbH (HKJS) and its business was separated into the following two business areas (similar to the 1974 business mission areas): Defense and Law Enforcement and Sporting Firearms.

In 2004, Heckler & Koch was awarded a major handgun contract for the DHS, worth a potential $26.2 million for up to 65,000 handguns.[15] This contract ranks as the single largest handgun procurement contract in US law enforcement history.[16]

Heckler & Koch facility in Oberndorf am Neckar.

HK was contracted by the United States Army to produce the kinetic energy subsystem[17] (see: kinetic projectiles or kinetic energy penetrator) of the Objective Individual Combat Weapon, a planned replacement for the M16/M203 grenade launcher combination. The OICW was designed to fire 5.56 mm bullets and 25 mm grenades. The kinetic energy component was also developed separately as the XM8, though both the OICW and XM8 are now indefinitely suspended.

Heckler & Koch developed a Colt M4 variant, marketed as the HK416.[18] HK replaced the direct impingement system used by the Stoner design on the original M16 platform with a short-stroke piston operating system.

At this date, there is no indication that the rifle will be adopted by the United States Armed Forces; other than use in the Marine Corps as the IAR or M27. However, the elite Delta Force and other special operations units have fielded the HK416 in combat,[19] and Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn has called for a "free and open competition" to determine whether the army should buy the HK416 or continue to purchase more M4 carbines.[20] Incoming Secretary of the Army Pete Geren agreed in July 2007 to hold a "dust chamber" test, pitting the M4 against HK's HK416 and XM8, as well as the rival Fabrique Nationale's SOF Combat Assault Rifle (SCAR) design. Coburn had threatened to stop Geren’s Senate confirmation if he did not agree to the test.[21] The HK XM8 and FN SCAR had the fewest failures in the test, closely followed by the HK416, while the M4 had by far the most.[22] In 2007, the Norwegian Army became the first to field the HK416 as a standard issue rifle.[23]

HK sells its pistols in the United States to both law enforcement and civilian markets. The company has locations in Virginia, New Hampshire, and Georgia.

Trafficking allegations

HK has been accused of shipping small arms to conflict regions such as Bosnia[24] and Nepal,[25] and has licensed its weapons for production by governments with poor human rights records such as Sudan, Thailand and Burma.[26] It has been argued that the company effectively evaded EU export restrictions when these licensees sold HK weapons to conflict zones including Indonesia,[27] Sri Lanka[28] and Sierra Leone.[25]

According to the Stuttgarter Nachrichten papers (31.8.11), as well as the state broadcaster ARD, a large stockpile of G36 assault rifles fell into rebel hands during the attack on Colonel Qaddafi's compound in Tripoli in August 2011, reporting that pictures proved the rifles carried the company's trademark. It was unclear exactly how many or who exported them to Libya.[29]

HK abbreviations

Format: Abbreviation = German Text ("English Text")

See also


  1. 1 2 "www.heckler-koch.de". www.heckler-koch.de. Retrieved 2014-03-17.
  2. Hogg, Ian V.; Weeks, John (1992). Pistols of the World: The Definitive Illustrated Guide to the World's Pistols and Revolvers. DBI Books. p. 161. ISBN 978-0-87349-128-0.
  3. 1 2 Lee, Jerry (2011). Standard Catalog of Rifles & Shotguns. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. p. 1143. ISBN 1-4402-3014-5.
  4. 1 2 Lee, Jerry (2013). The Official Gun Digest Book of Guns & Prices 2013. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications. p. 490. ISBN 978-1-4402-3543-6.
  5. Firearms: An Illustrated History. DK Publishing/ Smithsonian Institution. 2014. p. 256. ISBN 978-1-4654-3089-2.
  6. Schwing, Ned (5 November 2005). Standard Catalog of Military Firearms: The Collector's Price and Reference Guide. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications. p. 174. ISBN 0-87349-902-6.
  7. Tilstra, Russell C. (21 March 2014). "HK G3". The Battle Rifle: Development and Use Since World War II. McFarland. pp. 38–50. ISBN 978-1-4766-1564-6.
  8. Cutshaw, Charles Q. (28 February 2011). Tactical Small Arms of the 21st Century: A Complete Guide to Small Arms From Around the World. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. p. 368. ISBN 1-4402-2482-X.
  9. Musgrave, Daniel D.; Oliver, Smith Hempstone (1971). German Machineguns. MOR Associates. p. 345.
  10. Gander, Terry J. (1995). Hogg, Ian V., ed. Jane's Infantry Weapons 1995/1996 (21 ed.). Jane's Information Group.
  11. Willbanks, James H. (1 January 2004). Machine Guns: An Illustrated History of Their Impact. ABC-CLIO. p. 138. ISBN 978-1-85109-480-6.
  12. Shideler, Dan (2009). The Gun Digest Book of Modern Gun Values: The Shooter's Guide to Guns 1900-Present. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. pp. 322–326. ISBN 0-89689-824-5.
  13. Heckler & Koch Global. "Pistole P8". Retrieved 2008-07-28.
  14. "British Army Website information page on the SA80 A2 rifle". Archived from the original on 28 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-28.
  15. "Industry arms Homeland Security". Shooting Industry. 2004. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
  16. "HK Australia website". Archived from the original on 19 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
  17. "The Gun Source - HK". Archived from the original on 22 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
  18. "Modern Firearms". Retrieved 2008-08-30.
  19. Cox, Matthew (March 1, 2007). "Better than M4, but you can't have one". Army Times. Retrieved 2007-03-15.
  20. Lowe, Christian (April 30, 2007). "Senator Tells Army to Reconsider M4". Military.com. Retrieved 2007-06-16.
  21. "M4 to face new rifles in dust-chamber test".
  22. "Defence Technology Website". Retrieved 2008-08-30.
  23. Bentzrød, Sveinung Berg (April 13, 2007). "Arvtageren til AG-3". Aftenposten.no. Retrieved 2007-06-16.
  24. Abel, Peter, Manufacturing Trends: Globalising the Source in Lumpe, Lora (ed.) (2000), Running Guns: The Global Black Market in Small Arms, London: Zed Books.
  25. 1 2 A Catalogue of Failures: G8 Arms Exports and Human Rights Violations (2003-05-19), Amnesty International.
  26. Out of Control – The loopholes in UK controls on the arms trade (1998-12), Oxfam GB.
  27. Wright, Steve (2001-01), A Legal Trade In Death, Le Monde Diplomatique.
  28. Undermining Global Security: the European Union’s arms exports (2004-02-01), Amnesty International.
  29. The Local, Germany's Online English News
  30. "Translation : gewehr". Dict.cc. Retrieved 2014-03-17.
  31. "Translation : karabiner". Dict.cc. Retrieved 2014-03-17.
  32. 1 2 "Translation : maschinengewehr". Dict.cc. Retrieved 2014-03-17.
  33. "Translation : werfer". Dict.cc. Retrieved 2014-03-17.
  34. "Translation : maschinenpistole". Dict.cc. Retrieved 2014-03-17.
  35. Translation : präzisions-schützen-gewehr
  36. Translation: P7 Pistol Wikipedia entry
  37. Translation : schalldämpfer
  38. Translation : schützen-Gewehr
  39. "Translation : Selbstlader". Dict.cc. Retrieved 2014-03-17.
  40. "Translation : universal-maschinenpistole". Dict.cc. Retrieved 2014-03-17.
  41. "Translation : universal-selbstladepistole". Dict.cc. Retrieved 2014-03-17.
  42. "Translation : Zielfernrohr". Dict.cc. 2005-09-14. Retrieved 2014-03-17.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Heckler & Koch.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/4/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.