Book Reviews: July 2003

By Jim Schatz

“HK Heckler & Koch”
(English version)
Copyright 1999 by Verlag Udo Weispfennig,
Wuppertal, Germany
Written by Manfred Kersten
& Walter Schmid
Reviewed by Jim Schatz

The opening page to this comprehensive work accurately summarizes the contents of this book as “The official history of the Oberndorf Company of Heckler & Koch, Historical Insights, Descriptions of Weapons and Technology”. For anyone interested in modern small arms this book would be a good addition to your reference library. For anyone even remotely interested in the products and history of HK, it goes without saying this book is a must.

In general the book, released in late 2000 in the German language to commemorate HK’s 50th anniversary, is visually impressive. A black glossy sleeve showing HK’s newest weapon system, the 4.6mm PDW, protects the HK-red hard cover. Inside the pages are packed full of studio-grade color and black and white photography, illustrations and exploded diagrams, to include numerous color cut-away drawings of both production and prototype HK’s. While many of the photos are from the extensive HK archives much of the best photography was created just for this book.

The 11 by 11 1/4-inch 383-page journey through all that is HK is very complete. It confirms and clarifies the many stories of HK’s beginning days in post-World-War-II Germany rising from the literal ashes of the Mauser plant destroyed and disassembled by the French occupation troops. Even for the well-versed HK fanatic there is a great deal of information in this new book not previously available in print elsewhere.

The coverage of the product line over the past 50 years of HK’s existence is extensive and includes details on many items never before released by HK into the public domain. The Table of Contents includes large sections on History, Pistols, Rifles, Shotguns, Submachine Guns, Machine Guns, Special Weapons, Outlook (the future) and an Annex with detailed esoteric data such as G3 delivery orders and modifications. Many of the lesser-known activities at HK, to include the Machine Tools, Electronics, Ranges and so-called “Civil” activities are mentioned, as are HK’s financial problems in the 1980’s that lead to the buy-out by Royal Ordnance in 1991.

The authors were able to assemble the many different subjects in a chronological order, which is quite helpful when searching for where each piece of the HK puzzle fits into place. Those readers interested in the country specific HK models and their markings will find this book indispensable. Each weapon section includes specifications of the item covered; though only in metric terms.

It is people and personalities that control the destiny of organizations. This being said the HK Book contains detailed information on the firms founding members, Messrs. Heckler, Koch and Seidel. Those in the know will recognize key company members, such as the lead designer of the P7, USP, MK23 and PDW, Helmut Weldle, the current Chief of HK’s Design Department, Berthold Weichert, and probably the world’s best and most experienced military small arms demonstrator, Gunter Schaeffer.

“HK Heckler & Koch” is the official work, blessed and complied with the full cooperation of HK GmbH. Though many have attempted to open the steel curtain that has previously hidden much of HK from the world’s view, Kersten and Schmid have succeeded in documenting the rich, colorful if not relatively short history of HK to date. Though originally written in German, the English translation is quite good though not perfect. There are the occasional typos and reversed photograph but the certified HK fan will brush off these imperfections and find this book hard to put down.

Nearly each weapon covered includes in the descriptive text the year the item came to be. Many of the weapons include descriptions of methods of operation and disassembly and assembly procedures. The book takes the reader from the year 782 with the first recorded settlement in Oberndorf through the pre-G3 Gerot 06H and CETME rifles through the very latest OICW and PDW prototypes. The more recent HK creations that have materialized just over the past year or so since the book was completed, such as the USP Elite and P2000, are not included. Series production weapons, such as the famed MP5, G3, USP and G36 are given the attention they deserve.

But the icing on the cake is the coverage of the prototypes and one-of-a-kind creations. The many prototypes of the HK G11 are covered, as is the rational for the acronym “G11.” The still classified P11 “underwater” or “Submarine” pistol and the MP2000 submachine gun, of which less than 10 were fabricated before its development was cancelled, are included. There are extensive sections on the VP70, P9 and P7 pistols showing special versions only seen previously by visitors to the unofficial pattern room at HK GmbH in Oberndorf. How about a P9 with shoulder stock and burst fire capability? Or the CAWS shotgun, the US M9 pistol candidates or this authors favorite, the 1960’s era HK36 assault rifle? It’s all there. Gun mounts, flare launchers, port firing weapons, electronic sights and lights; it’s there also. Very few things are not covered. What isn’t included in these pages can’t be.

Available from: Heckler & Koch Inc. Web store: www.hecklerkoch-usa.com. Price: $100

Rogue Warrior: Violence of Action
By Richard Marcinko
Hardcover, 277 pages
Atria Books $26.00 US
ISBN: 0-7434-2246-5
Review by Timothy Kast

“Let’s face it, it’s never been f_ _ king politically expedient to prepare Americans for the reality of evacuation.” Richard Marcinko not only has a hard-hitting novel this time, it is a gripping rendition of what could easily happen given our current politically unstable situation. Very few people are qualified to write fiction as close to the bone as this is; with the added bonus that Captain Marcinko has actually lived most of which he writes of.

Richard Marcinko began a dialogue with readers of military volumes with his first and second books entitled Rogue Warrior and Red Cell respectively. These books gave the reader an operator’s view of counter-terror operatives in the U.S. Navy’s elite SEAL Team Six. Despite the fact that the Teams were started in January 1962, the Navy didn’t have any real response to terrorist activity until October 1980 when SEAL Team Six was created from the beginnings of Mobility Six shepherded by Dick Marcinko. Admiral “Ace” Lyons saw the need for United States installations to meet a systematic series of guidelines for security that enabled them to ‘harden’ these objectives against possible terrorism. Red Cell was the spin-off from SEAL Six, again with Marcinko at the helm. Given the unenviable task of finding the soft white underbelly of military bases, nuclear facilities, and the Navy’s deep water fleet, Red Cell proved that even when you’re the good guy, you’ll somehow wind up with the black hats if only by dint of doing the unpopular. Not until the September 11th attacks did the Navy truly understand that what Red Cell had done was genuinely necessary.

While there is only the casual mention of firearms in this book, it is the sort of information that all gun owners need to steep themselves in to better understand the changing political climate. We cannot simply stick our heads in the sand, and vow not to participate; we have to enrich our minds with the knowledge of terrorist operatives. This is fundamental, not only our liberties are at stake here, but our entire country has been left nearly defenseless from eight years of liberal policy. If we are to survive into this new millennium, we must grow more educated in order to combat this Democratic plague that besets our nation. Think fast, why would anyone want to continue in their anti-gun rhetoric when the entire globe seems poised on the brink of war? Indeed, their political ends are not only suspect, they become completely transparent.

This new book deals with what is known as the “Christian Identity Movement.” A recent issue of The Journal of Counterterrorism and Security International (Volume 6, Number 3) highlights this recent domestic terrorist organization. Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh are two of the more well known operatives. Nichols is rumored to have had ties with Islamic fundamentalists to gain expertise with explosives. The tactics used by these domestic terrorists are much the same as their Middle Eastern counterparts. In Violence of Action, Marcinko offers the scenario of a large American city threatened with nuclear destruction by domestic terrorists. Designed by the terrorists to be a lead-in for continental chaos, they plan to detonate a stolen suitcase nuclear device in the city of Portland, Oregon. While the text in Marcinko’s fictional books is exciting, the real education comes from listening to the only true counter-terror expert that I know of. Terrorism is terrorism, plain and simple, no matter who is pulling the trigger. Many muddled Americans are astonishingly eager to rush to the aid of Islamic fundamentalism and apply their own particular spin. Since the attacks on the USS Cole, the Twin Towers, and the Pentagon, the average American citizen needs a situation report they can rely on. While Marcinko punctuates with plain speech, his insight is impeccable and any reader can find valuable lessons in his books.

In the realm of military classics it is not uncommon to find a number of volumes about counter terrorism, however it is extremely rare to discover a book written from the viewpoint of a hands-on CT shooter. Think it a privilege then to be able to pick up one of Dick Marcinko’s series and read of the tactics, weapons, and even foibles of real world counter-terror operatives. Well worth the price of admission by anyone’s standards.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V6N10 (July 2003)
and was posted online on November 1, 2013


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