I’m really influenced by the European 416 right now.
But what does European 416 really mean?
The 416 was designed by Germany’s Heckler and Koch, specifically for CAG (Combat Applications Group) who, if you don’t know, are a Tier 1 United States Special Operation Forces (USSOF) unit.
The original designation of the 416 was HK M4 and there’s much more than a passing resemblance between it and the M4. The M4 is as American as apple pie.
So, how European can a 416 actually be?
I wrote a blog back in 2013, just as I was warming up to the 416. Reading it back, quite a lot has changed; particularly since the roll out of the HK416A5.
The HK416A5 is designated as the G38 by the Bundeswehr (Germany’s armed forces, example above), but lets call it the A5.
In one way, the A5 looks even more like an M4. Check out the magwell in the pics below:
Sadly, the A5 has lost one of the 416’s most defining and ergonomic features: the flared, extended magwell.
However, in many other ways it’s really quite alien to the M4.
And I’m not just talking about its gas-piston system, the function and reliability of which helps define the entire 416 family; and is possibly why both CAG and DEVGRU use the HK416D.
A few key A5 points:
- Colourway: available in RAL8000
- SBR: 11.0″ as standard, as opposed to the normal 10.5″
- Stock: a newer slimline variant of the venerable HK clubfoot-style; apparently fits both com and mil-spec buffers, via a spring system
- Castle nut: extended
- Rail: 9.5 as opposed to the usual 9.0, which covers the gas block; available with or without integrated front BUIS; instructional gas block markings also present
- Rail retention bolt: hexagonal, slotted
- Gas block: easily adjustable between Normal and Supressed modes
- Top rail: still heightened, but extends further aft than earlier versions
- Rear BUIS: a tool-less QD flip-up sight
- Upper receiver: includes a fairing near the bolt catch, to prevent accidental operation
- Trigger guard: curved and oversized, which is pinned at the front as well as the rear
So, aside from Germany’s Bundeswehr, who else is using the A5 to help make it so European? Well, it’s really quite popular.
A few examples from France, Ireland, Poland, Portugal…
But let’s not forget the true and original European HK416. The HK416N (and K – for karbine, which I learned from Mr. Roar Stene) as used by Norway’s armed forces:
That A5 lower, though. Really – no!
Even if it was available for PTW, it’s not something I’d consider using. Why go backwards? I get why Heckler and Koch decided to optimise for greater mag compatibility, but brands like Magpul had already adapted their designs to suit the extended, flared 416 magwell.
However, like I said to begin with, the European 416 has influenced me.
And, while I don’t want to go ‘full retard’ I have bought a few A5 bits, most notably a rail in RAL8000. I blogged about that, in an update of my own 416.
Together with my contrarian nature and my current interest in militarised LE hardware, I can very much see a themed ‘Euro Blaster’ emerging.
But why settle for one look? While the 416 isn’t an M4 in terms of aftermarket modularity, what you can swap out swaps easily – most significantly, the rail.
So, I picked up an A5 rail in black, with integrated front flip-up BUIS, for those days when black is the new RAL8000:
As Heckler and Koch themselves say: Keine Kompromisse.