Heckler & Koch G3
Country of origin

West Germany


Heckler & Koch


Heckler & Koch

Year(s) designed


Production began


Weapon type

Battle rifle


7.62×51mm NATO


Roller-delayed blowback

Overall length

40.3 inches (102.3 cm)

Barrel length

17.7 inches (45 cm)


9.9 lbs (4.5 kg)

Magazine/Cylinder capacity

20 round box magazine

Used by

See Users below

The G3 is a West German battle rifle designed by Heckler & Koch during the 1950s. One of the most well-known assault rifles in existence, the G3 is very widely used by many countries around the world. Its design can be traced back to old prototypes as manufactured by CEAM in France, such as the CEAM Modèle 1950, which evolved into the CETME rifle, which is what the G3's design is based on.


During the 1950s, West Germany was faced with the dilemma of rearming with the new 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge that was being fielded by NATO at the time. Initially, the Bundeswehr (German Army) tried to purchase manufacturing rights for the FN FAL from FN, but Belgium rejected the proposition. The Bundeswehr then bought manufacturing of the CETME Model A, transferred the design to Heckler & Koch, who then began modifying the design, eventually manufacturing the rifle as the G3.

Design details


The G3 rifle is a select-fire, magazine-fed, roller-delayed blowback rifle, developed by German engineers at Mauser Werke late in the 2nd World War 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). It is built around Vorgrimlers' roller delayed blowback system. This system employs a two-part bolt with two rollers. The front bolt part (bolt head) is relatively light and has a bolt face with extractor on it. It also has a hollow cavity at the rear, in which an inclined forward end of the rear part of the bolt is inserted. The system features two rollers, inserted from the sides into the bolt head and rested on the inclined forward end of the bolt rear.

Most military G3 rifles feature a green and gray parkerized finish.[1]


When the rifle is fired, the pressure begins to move the cartridge back against the bolt face. The rollers, which are extended into the recesses in the barrel extension, began to move inward into the bolt head, due to inclined shape of the recesses. This movement translates into the faster rearward movement of the heavier bolt body, so at the initial moments of the shot, when pressure in the chamber is still high, the bolt face moves relatively slow.

When the pressure drops to a reasonable level, the rollers disengage the barrel extension completely and the bolt head and the bolt body move backward at the same speed, extracting and ejecting the spent case and chambering a fresh cartridge on the way back.


The G3 is built using as many stamped steel parts as possible. The receiver is stamped from sheet steel. The trigger unit housing along with pistol handle frame, also are stamped from steel and hinged to the receiver using the cross-pin in the front of the trigger unit, just behind the magazine housing.


The earliest G3 rifles also featured stamped handguards and CETME-type flip-up rear diopter sights. In 1964, the original G3 was upgraded to the G3A3. These rifles had ventilated plastic handguards and drum-type rear diopter sights, marked from 100 to 400 meters.

Every G3 rifle can be equipped with detachable bipods and claw-type detachable optic mounts. Long-barreled variants can be fitted with a bayonet or used to launch rifle grenades from the barrel. The folding charging handle is located on the special tube above the barrel, at the left side, and does not reciprocate when the rifle is fired. The selector switch is located above the trigger guard on the left side of the trigger group housing and usually is marked "S - E - F" (Safe - Semi-auto - Full auto). Latest models could have selectors marked with colored icons. It holds 20 rounds in the magazine.



The G3A1 is a G3 with an experimental vertically-folding collapsible stock similar to that of the MP-40 or AKMS. Its excessive recoil caused it to be dropped from production.


The G3A2 is a G3 with new 'rotating drum' rear sight. The range settings remained the same, but the rear sight was more secure.



G3A4 top and G3A3 bottom

The most famous variant, the G3A3 was a fixed stock variant. It featured drum sights, a fixed polymer buttstock, and a polymer handguard. The handguard came in a slim, ventilated variant, and a wide variant. The latter allows for attachment of a bipod.

Late German production G3A3 models were built using new trigger units, integral with restyled pistol grip and trigger guard, made from polymer.

G3A3A1 models feature an ambidextrous selector switch.


The G3A3ZF is an accurized variant with top rails for optics. ZF means Zielfernrohr which means "telescopic sight" 



The G3A4 was a collapsible stock variant, with a retractable metallic stock with rubber buttplate, similar to the H&K MP5A3.

Late German production G3A4 models were built using new trigger units, integral with restyled pistol grip and trigger guard, made from polymer.

G3A4A1 models feature an ambidextrous selector switch.



The G3KA4 is a carbine variant of the G3, similar to the G3A4 but with a shortened 12.4-inch barrel. It uses drum sights and a retractable stock.

G3KA4A1 models feature an ambidextrous selector switch.


Danish variant of the G3. It is basically a G3A3 built to Danish Army specifications.


Iranian variant of the G3.



Turkish variant of the G3A3.

The G3A7A1 models are Turkish variants of the G3A4.


The HK91 is a semi-automatic variant of the G3. The '9' stands for semi-automatic export, and the '1' denotes the .308 Winchester chambering.[2] The HK91 has a slightly different trigger group than the G3; instead of the swing-down trigger group that attaches with a push pin, it has a clip-and-pin trigger group that sits on a receiver shelf. The selector switch prevents movement to the AUTO position, and the bolt carrier has a milled slot that will not engage an auto sear catch.

There are no bayonet mounts on these rifles, the grenade launcher rings have been removed from the barrel, it lacks a paddle-style magazine release, and it has a black enamel finish instead of the green and gray parkerizing. Early imports had a blue and gray finish.[3]

These rifles were discontinued in 1989 after the importation ban on "non-sporting" firearms. The rifle was banned by name.


NATO users

  • Albania: Used by the Albanian Special Police (RENEA) and the Albanian peacekeeping force in Afghanistan.
  • Belgium: Used by police.
  • Croatia
  • Estonia: Uses the Norwegian AG-3 and Swedish Ak 4 variants.
  • France: Produced by GIAT and is currently used by the French as a marksman rifle and is also used by the National Gendarmerie Intervention Team.
  • Germany: Used by the German Army from 1959 until 1997 as the standard service rifle. Originally to be replaced by the G41 and G11, post-reunification budget cuts forced the procurement of the G36 instead. Many G3s are still in storage, and are used in overseas deployments as a designated marksman rifle. Some variants are still in use by border guards and police forces.
  • Greece: Manufactured under license by EBO.
  • Iceland: Uses Norwegian AG-3 variant.
  • Italy: Used by the Italian special forces as a marksman rifle. Some special police also have been equipped G3SG/1s.
  • Latvia: Uses Swedish Ak 4 variant.
  • Lithuania: Uses Swedish Ak 4 variant.
  • Netherlands: Used by the Close Combat Force (BBE).
  • Norway: Used the AG-3 variant until 2016 as its service rifle. Was slowly phased out from 2008 with the introduction of the HK416 as the Norwegian service rifle.
  • Poland
  • Portugal: The G3 and G3A3 variants are made under license by Fábrica de Braço de Prata as the FMP m/961 and FMP m/963 respectively.
  • Romania: Uses the G3SG/1 variant.
  • Slovenia
  • Spain: The G3SG/1 variant is used by the Spanish army.
  • Turkey: Made under license by MKEK as the G3A7 and G3A7A1, but is slowly being phased out and replaced by the MPT-76.
  • United Kingdom: Has been authorized in the Royal light weapons factory production, which G3KA4 was the British named L100A1, and was used by the special air crew, the London Police Department of the armed police (CO19) also uses G3K semi-automatic version. Also G3SG/1 and MC-51 variants are used by the British Special Forces.
  • United States: Used by the US Navy Seal and US Army Delta forces. Portugal later sold the production line to a US gun factory, which later introduced the semi-automatic civilian HK91. The HK91 has since been banned from importation into the United States, but clones of it have since been made available.

Non NATO users

  • Algeria
  • Argentina: Uses the G3SG/1.
  • Australia
  • Austria: Was authorized to produce approximately 40,000 G3s from 1965 to 2000.
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh: Locally manufactured.
  • Bolivia
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Bhutan
  • Brazil
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi
  • Cambodia
  • Cameroon
  • Cape Verde
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • Chile: Used for artillery units and for training; also held in reserve.
  • Colombia
  • Cyprus
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Dominican Republic
  • Djibouti
  • Ecuador: Used for wars.
  • El Salvador
  • Ethiopia
  • Gabon
  • Georgia: Approximately 1,500 G3A3s were obtained from Turkey.
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Hong Kong: Used by the Police Force and Special Duties Unit.
  • Indonesia: Formerly used by the Korphaskhas in the 1960s. Now held in reserve.
  • Iran: Locally manufactured, with a locally manufactured bullpup variant known as the G3-A3.
  • Iraq
  • Iraqi Kurdistan
  • Ireland
  • Ivory Coast
  • Jordan
  • Kenya
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon: Used by the Internal Security Forces in small numbers.
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Macau: Used for training and ceremonial purposes.
  • Macedonia
  • Malawi
  • Malaysia: Used the G3/SG1 variant as their standard issue marksman rifle until the 1990s. It has since been replaced by the PSG-1 and MSG-90.
  • Mauritania
  • Mauritius
  • Mexico: Manufactured by Departamento de la Industriá Militar and Direccion General de Fabricas de la Defensa. Slowly being replaced by the FX-05 Xiuhcoatl assault rifle.
  • Morocco
  • Myanmar: Locally produced as the BA63 by Ka Pa Sa.
  • Nicaragua
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Northern Cyprus
  • Oman
  • Pakistan: Locally produced as the G3P4.
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Qatar
  • Rwanda
  • Saudi Arabia: Made under license by the Military Industries Corporation, General Organization for Military Industries in Alkharj.
  • Senegal
  • Serbia: Used by Special Forces.
  • Somalia
  • Somaliland
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan: Locally produced.
  • Sweden: Designated as the Ak 4.
  • Tanzania
  • Thailand
  • Togo
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Uganda
  • Venezuela
  • Yemen
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Former users

  • Denmark: G3A5, as the Gevær Model 1966 (Gv M/66). Another variant, designated Gevær Model 1975 (Gv M/75) was leased from the German government. All G3s in Danish service are being replaced by the Diemaco C7 (Gv m/95), and Diemaco C8 (Gv m/96).
  • Luxembourg
  • Rhodesia
  • South Africa: Was the standard rifle used by the South African Defence Force, replaced by the R4 assault rifle in 1980. (South African derivative of the Israeli IMI Galil).
  • Sri Lanka: Replaced by the Type 56 assault rifle (Chinese derivative of the Soviet AK-47).
  • West Germany
  • Zaire

See also


  2. "The HK 91 (9 representing the 90 series of semi auto imports and the 1 denoting the .308 caliber) is basically a semi auto copy of the HK G3 (Gewehr 3) select fire military rifle."
  3. List of features