The HK416 Assault Rifle is similar in appearance to the various SOPMOD variations of the M-16 and M-4. The handguards have four MILSTD-1913 rails for accessories, and the top of the receiver has another such rail for optics or other accessories. Heckler & Koch’s first step was to dump the Stoner direct gas operation system, which basically contributes to the fouling of the rifle (it has been described as the system which “craps where it eats”). It was replaced by a HK G36-style of operation, which uses a sort of two-stage method of gas tapping known as “short recoil piston and pushrod,” that prevents most of the carbon from being dumped in the barrel, and which can be cleaned by the operator, unlike the M-16’s system. This operating system also comes in a kit which can be used to modify existing M-16s and M-4s. The locking system and bolt carrier group have also been improved, as has been the recoil spring system, the barrel attachment system, and the buffer group. The rifle is also deliberately made heavy to further reduce barrel climb.Despite the suit by Colt, and despite its having been disqualified from the SCAR competition, the HK-416 is being used by US and even some British and Australian special operations units in Afghanistan and Iraq. Most of these weapons were bought by the members of those units with their own money, and they say they are worth every penny. Though Heckler & Koch has been aggressively marketing the HK416 Assault Rifle in the 5.56mm NATO chambering, they were also for a time quietly testing an HK416 Assault Rifle chambered for the 6.8mm SPC cartridge. Though their work with the 6.8mm SPC-chambered HK416 has apparently put on hold (they are possibly investigating different weapon designed to fire the 6.8mm SPC cartridge), the rumor mill says that there is some interest in this version of the HK416 Assault Rifle from members of the special operations communities of several countries, and especially of the US. Figures are given below for this possible future version of the HK416 Assault Rifle, but they are provisional, educated guesses on my part, and should be used only for the Twilight 2000 game and
not taken as definitive information.The HK417 Assault Rifle is essentially an HK-416 up-scaled to fire 7.62mm NATO ammunition. The intended market is the US, though Heckler & Koch has also had interest from other countries; US special operations units as well as some from other countries have reportedly combat-tested the HK417 Assault Rifle in Afghanistan and had favorable reviews. The HK417 Assault Rifle uses the same buttstock as the M-27 below, with the same controls as the HK416 and same general operation. Though Heckler & Koch makes dedicated magazines for the HK417 Assault Rifle in a variety of materials (including translucent plastic), the HK417 can also take G-3 magazines, or any magazine compatible with the G-3.
supported by the German government (it is not) and thus not eligible for the competition.
There is a strong sense that NIH (not invented here) is rearing its ugly head, and that the US government is rigging the competition in favor of Colt. In any case, the future of the HK416 Assault Rifle is in serious doubt at present. (By the way, the XM-8 has also been barred from the SCAR competition, for the same alleged reasons.)