Words and Pics: Milsimminded


First of all, why a tan HK416D?

The real rifle is a variation seen only with CAG/Delta Force. Its ‘tanodized’ finish and use of top notch parts makes it – in my eyes – the most beautiful service weapon in use today.

As regular readers will know from my previous blog about this 416, it has been on a long journey. I bought the HAO V2 HK416D kit at a time when I had little clue what was legit for a CAG build.

However, at a later date I got help from Tan_Rifle: someone who knows a great deal about the CAG 416. He gave me a lot of intel to help with my build; some open source and some more ‘specialist’.

Now, bear in mind that I started out with a black HAO V2 HK416D. I had to make it appear tanodized…


I had very few options to get the tan-look right. To actually have the receiver anodised tan would be fraught with difficulties. HAO released a limited “CAG” run of the HK416D receiver set, but with all due respect their tan game wasn’t as on point then as it is now.

So for me, at that time, the best alternative seemed to be Cerakote.

Now, what to do about the HAO applied trades which would be obscured by paint? The solution presented itself as a white undercoat. A friend who owns a laser engraver envisaged the plan: his laser would burn away the top coat of paint, leaving the white undercoat showing thorough in the form of HK trades.

The choice of Cerakote brought some issues with it. First and most obvious, there is a clear difference between anodising and paint. Secondly the white layer made the completed coating too thick. As such, some of the engravings are less sharp and the coating chips easily.

Another key learn is that I filled the fire selector indicators with enamel. I should have used acrylic.

I also made the error of asking for “Sterling” instead of “Ashburn” on the right side of the mag well. For a details oriented guy, it’s the sort of mistake which can eat your soul if you let it. I’m not 100% happy with how things turned out, I freely admit. I was hoping for a green or grey tinged metallic tan. I ended up with a stodgy brown.


Back in the day – before I got hooked on EOTechs – I favoured red dots. In the early days of the build I used a Holosun HS403G. I had one lying around and it was compatible with Aimpoint Micro accessories which was a big win for me.

After seeing Tan_Rifle’s 1.93″ Geissele Super Precision mount for the Aimpoint Micro on his real steel 416 clone, I decided to do the same – but with a lower 1/3 Geissele mount on a clone Wilcox .410 riser. This was as an alternative to the EOTech XPS setup, synonymous with recent CAG reference pics.

The problem with some modern Aimpoint Micro mounts – Geissele included – is that they have two recoil lugs – not one. So I had to have additional slots milled in the clone Wilcox .410.

Looking back it was a huge amount of effort for a something I didn’t use for very long, because pretty soon I went EXPS and I have not looked back! It’s all good learning and experience, though.

There was just one small bump in the road. My clone Wilcox kept losing zero when removed. This isn’t a problem with the RS and you can read a review which inspired me, back in the day, from Joe Jensen of STAS (formerly of HHK):


The zero issue was resolved when I did a deal with Rich from The Reptile House and an RS Larue 5/8″ LT101 was on its way to me.

It’s a great bit of kit and it’s also thanks to upp3rz_d0wn3rz for ID’ing the mount in this iconic tanodized 416 pic:

Using a 5/8″ riser and high optic, I’ve become a big fan of heads-up shooting. Target acquisition is faster and more natural. Also, it really improves the ease of transitioning shoulders and puts less strain on my neck. Another advantage is that I never get any interference from my stock on my Peltors.


I ‘burned’ a number of areas to get that grimy, carbon exposed look – using my top secret recipe.

I got some help from Tan_Rifle again, when he gave me a picture which showed how a suppressed 416 throws back gas.

The result:


I still have my kosher old gen surefire M600C flashlight, but it’s seriously under-powered when compared to modern lights.

So, I bought a tanodized surefire M600DF and at an almost nuclear 1500 lumens of flooding light, I like it a lot!


I used to run an Element LA5 PEQ15 clone, since it was the most kosher thing I could find that had an IR laser that worked. However it was unable to maintain zero, had no IR light and the housing texture was not 100%.

Instead – purely for functionality – I bought the new FMA UHP. The controls are solid, the IR pointer is just perfect and it has an actual IR illuminator. Sadly, the latter is of no use since it strobes. So I will probably be looking for a real PEQ15 in the future.

Dual Switch

After a while I got tired of the Surefire remote coming undone from the rail all the time, so I switched to a Dual Switch. And, with the change to the FMA PEQ I could finally run a real dual switch.

Charging Handle

I swapped out the stock Systema charging handle for a Geissele Airborne Charging Handle (ACH) clone, but since I saw pics of Rich from The Reptile House’s RS one I am tempted to buy one myself.

Here’s a pic of Rich’s RS handle – sublime:

According to Geissele’s website, the ACH is a good choice for RS SBRs, since it has a gas-busting lip/fence – which you can see in the pic above. This directs gas away from the shooter’s face, when a can is in use. Apparently SBRs have a reputation for being over gassed when suppressed. So, while this isn’t strictly necessary for a replica, it would be a cool personal touch.

Ejection Port Cover

My first cover was just a Systema one, painted to look like the authentic RAL8000 HK polymer cover. The TM CAG utilises a similar solution, but this is a mistake.

Rich from The Reptile House tipped me off about the VFC clone of the RAL8000 HK polymer cover, so now I run this and it’s way more authentic. HAO also now offers its own version.


Recently I bought a used VTAC MK2 sling in Multicam. It’s old gen, so I think it gives the whole a more personal touch. It’s good to have some ‘operator preferences’ on board and not look too cookie cutter – right? Plus, you need a sling which works for you.

A parts list follows.

Parts List

  • Systema PTW
  • Tackleberried Systema 490 motor
  • Orga flat hop
  • Orga 6.10 inner barrel
  • HAO V2 HK416D kit
  • HAO V7 grip
  • HAO 10.5 steel barrel
  • HAO Surefire flash hider
  • HAO Geissele SMR
  • KAC micro buis
  • RS LaRue LT101
  • RS EOTech EXPS3-0 tan
  • Wilcox .410 riser
  • Wilcox FTS
  • EOTech G33
  • RS Surefire old gen M600C Tan
  • RS Surefire M600DF tan
  • FMA PEQ 15
  • RS Surefire dual switch
  • HAO SF556 can
  • VFC RAL8000 polymer HK dust cover
  • New and old gen VTAC MK2 slings in Multicam
  • RS Magpul CTR stock
  • Geissele ACH

RS = Real Steel



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