- Not to be confused with the Heckler & Koch G36
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 the 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 was based on. The G3 was the standard rifle of the Bundeswehr between the late 1950s and late 1990s, and has since been replaced by the G36.
During the 1950s, West Germany was faced with the dilemma of rearming with the new 7.62×51mm 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. The G3 was first used by Portuguese military during the Portuguese Colonial War in Africa and is still used in modern conflicts.
Initial models of the G3 rifle were quite similar to CETME rifles, and even had "CETME" markings on their receivers (until 1961 or so). It is built around Vorgrimler's 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 model G3 rifles feature a green and gray parkerized finish.
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.
Standard variant with wooden handguard and buttstock.
The most famous and well-known 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. In 1996, the G3A3 was replaced by the G36 and are not sold in Heckler & Koch stores except the MP5 (submachine gun based on the G3's design).
The G3A4 is a collapsible stock variant, with a retractable metallic stock with rubber buttplate, similar to the MP5A3.
Late German production G3A4 models were built using new trigger units, integral with restyled pistol grip and trigger guard, made from polymer.
Carbine version of the G3A4 with a shorter barrel.
Accurized G3A3 with a wide forearm and bipod with a sniper stock and a scope. Semi-auto only.
The HK91 is a semi-automatic variant of the G3A3 and G3A4. The '9' stands for semi-automatic export, and the '1' denotes the .308 Winchester chambering. 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.
These rifles were discontinued in 1989 after the importation ban on "non-sporting" firearms. The rifle was banned by name.
Norwegian variant of the G3A3 introduced in 1967.
Swedish variant of the G3A3 used by Sweden between 1965 and 1985. The Ak 5 entered Swedish service in 1985 and the Ak 4 is currently used by Estonia and Lithuania.
American semi-automatic variant of the G3A3 manufactured by PTR.
7.62×39mm variant of the PTR 91.
- Heckler & Koch HK33
- Heckler & Koch HK41
- Fleming HK51
- Heckler & Koch G41
- Heckler & Koch MP5
- GRAM 63
- Heckler & Koch PSG-1
- Heckler & Koch MSG-90
- Heckler & Koch HK21
- Weapons of Comparable Role