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Heckler & Koch G11

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Country of origin



Heckler und Koch

Production began


Production ended


Weapon type

Assault rifle


4.73×33mm HK caseless


Gas operated, rotating breech

Overall length

750 millimeters

Barrel length

540 millimeters

Weight empty

3.6 kilograms

Magazine/Cylinder capacity

45 or 50 rounds

Cyclic rate

600 rounds per minute

Maximum effective range

400 meters

The G11 was a prototype assault rifle made by Heckler and Koch. It uses caseless ammunition, which is a rarity among firearms.


The G11 project was first created by Mauser GmbH in the 1960's. The Mauser G11 fired 4.75mm caliber caseless rounds from an internal 10-round magazine. It was trialed and rejected by NATO, but the project was overtaken by Heckler and Koch shortly afterward. Another entrant made by Industriewerke Karlsruhe (IWK) developed in the early 1970s had 3 vertical staggered barrels. Simplicity of the IWK G11 was ensured by the fact it used interchangeable revolving 51-round drum magazines. Such a system, in addition to ease power supply circuit, high stability and provide ammunition to both mechanical stress and overheating when shooting, in fact the rifle was chambered in so much as there were leftover rounds in the magazine. The price paid for this simplification, is that the weapon has become a big dead weight and the dimensions of the drum magazines, as well as the three barrels and the impossibility of automatic fire found in assault rifles, the IWK G11 rifle shot either single shots or volleys in three instant shots.

The Heckler and Koch G11 was originally slated to replace the aging G3 rifle. Production began in the 1970's and field testing began in the 1980's. It was modified further, and in 1989, the G11K2 carbine was developed. Around 1000 units of this weapon were made, to be used by the German military. However, in the 1990's, the German government shut down the program, most likely due to defense budgets getting slashed from the reunification of West and East Germany. The G11 was then altered slightly to participate in the Advanced Combat Rifle program in the United States of America, along with three other contestants. The winner would replace the M16. However, none of the four contestants were "good enough". It is believed that the USA Army was looking for 100% improvement, which is perhaps too lofty a goal for such a program.



The rifle features a unique cylinder breech/chamber system that rotates 90 degrees. The cartridges in the magazine are located above the barrel, bullets downward. Prior to each shot, the first cartridge is pushed down from the magazine into the chamber, and then the breech/chamber rotates 90 degrees to align the cartridge with the barrel. After that, the cartridge is fired and the breech/chamber rotates back, ready for the next cartridge to be chambered. In the case of the cartridge ignition failure, the failed cartridge is pushed down from the chamber by the next cartridge. The breech can be manually primed by the rotating handle at the side of the rifle, located beyond the pistol handle. The priming handle does not move when gun is fired. Another interesting detail is that the barrel, rotating breech, feed module, and magazine are mounted in the housing that can move back and forth in the rifle. When firing single shots, the housing moves back and forth after each shot. When firing in full-auto, the housing moves back and forth during each shot, resulting in moderate rate of fire of around 600 round per minute. But, when firing in three-round bursts, second and third cartridges are fed and fired as soon as the chamber is ready for it, and third bullet leaves the barrel prior to the moment when the housing comes to its rearward position. This results in a very high rate of fire with the three-shots bursts - around 2000 rounds per minute. Also, this results in the actual recoil affecting the rifle after the last bullet in the burst is fired, thus increasing accuracy and making for tighter groupings.

See AlsoEdit


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