Raffica Special: March 1999 - SAR ID Guide to the HK Machine Guns, Part II

By Dan Shea

In Part I of the Guide (SAR Volume 2 Number 5) we covered the pistol caliber machine guns imported by HK into the USA. In this Part, we are covering the rifle caliber machine guns imported by HK. In part 3, SAR covers the semi-automatic models imported by HK. Just so you don’t go into a panic that we won’t do the HK51, the MP5K-SD, etc, we wanted you to know that the HK machine gun models manufactured in the USA, as well as aftermarket copies and semi auto variants are also being covered, along with HK guns imported before HK had a presence in the USA. Any reader with an exotic variant is encouraged to fax, email or mail SAR about it, and maybe you can help “Fill in the blanks”. SAR would like to thank Jim Schatz of HK for his help in bringing this series of articles to the readers.


The HK 33 is the 5.56mm (223) caliber rifle that has anchored the NATO caliber line for them. Operating system is the same as that of a G3 rifle. Markings on the HK’s: “E” signifies “Export” models. The “restricted” warnings are on the right side of the magazine well, indicating a firearm that was imported for law enforcement use only. Note the “Sterling VA” marking at right bottom.

ROF 750 rpm
Weight: 8.40 lbs
Length: 36.20 in
Barrel Length: 15.35 in


Shortening the HK33 E to the “K” variant basically involves a shorter barrel length. The forend length is the same, keeping the same sight radius as the rifle variant. The “K” in the HK series of machine guns signifies “Short” from the German word “Kurz”. Typically the HK 33K E is seen with the retractable stock, making it a making it more of a carbine type rifle.

Weight (A3): 8.40 lbs
Length: 26.38 / 34.06 in
Barrel Length: 12.68 in
ROF: 700 rpm


Designed for entry team work in today’s tactical environment, the HK53 is typically seen in the A3 variation with retractable stock. The forend length has been changed to that of the MP5 series, affording the operator with a submachine gun sized weapon that has 5.56mm power.

Weight (A3): 6.73 lbs
Length: 22.17 / 29.72 in
Barrel Length: 8.31 in
ROF: 700 rpm


The HK 33 SG1 is sort of a mythical beast. SAR has never been able to capture factory markings on one. HK did not have an example, and what record checking they were able to do did not turn any examples up. We put one together as an example for the photo. The HK 33 SG1 was offered on HK literature. There have been some reportedly sold, that were pre 1986 dealer sample guns, that had the markings. Ours included a light bipod, Hensoldt scope, claw mount, set trigger, and a raised cheekrest.

Weight : 8.98 lbs (w/o scope)
Length: 36.9 in
Barrel Length: 15.32 in
ROF: 750 rpm


Weight : 8.04 lbs
Length: 39.25 in
Barrel Length: 17.72 in w/o flash hider
ROF: 800 rpm


G41 out of production in 1994. Designed to directly compete w/M16. Used M16 magazines.

Weight (A3): 8.5 lbs
Length: 30.10/ 35.65 in
Barrel Length: 14.9 in
ROF: 850 rpm


With German army dual sighting system w/3x optical sight and electronic red dot sight on top.

Weight : 7.28 lbs
Length: 29.84 / 39.29 in
Barrel Length: 18.9 in
ROF: 750 rpm


W/ “export” 1.5x optical sight. HK’s G36 series is their newest lightweight rifle line in 5.56mm (.223) caliber.

Weight : 6.62 lbs
Length: 24.21 / 33.78 in
Barrel Length: 12.52 in
ROF: 750 rpm


The MG36E is typically seen with the Beta 100 round “C-Mag” ans folding bipod. Has heavy barrel.

Weight : 7.87 lbs
Length: 29.84 / 39.29 in
Barrel Length: 18.90 in
ROF: 750 rpm


Changing the HK21E to the HK23E requires a barrel, bolt group, and feed mechanism. Feeding the belt fed 5.56mm (.223) caliber HK23 is done with the same disintegrating metallic links that are used by the Minimi / M249 system.

Length: 40.55 in
Bbl length: 17.71 in. without flash hider
W eight w/ bipod: 19.18 lbs.
ROF: 800 rpm


Changing HK23E to HK13E requires a bolt group and box magazine adapter. HK13E utilizes 25 or 30 round HK magazines, or M16 magazine with an adapter.

Weight: 17.64 lbs.
Length: 40.55 in
Barrel length: 17.71 in. without flash hider
ROF: 700 rpm

G11 / ACR

The German version of HK’s caseless ammunition firing rifle was called the G11 and was 4.73 x 33 caliber. The US version was called the ACR, and was in 4.92 x 34 caliber. Same round, just measured differently. (German - land to land, US - grove to grove.) Original version had one 50 rd magazine. Later models had 3) 75 rounders. Ammunition had a muzzle velocity of 2800 fps.

Weight: 8.04 lbs
Length: 29.6 in
Bbl Length: 21.2 in


7.62 NATO (.308) caliber battle rifle. The G3 series was the earliest of HK’s offerings in battle rifles. It was born from the post WWII CETME designs.

Weight : 9.70 lbs
Length: 40.38 in
Barrel Length: 17.71 in
ROF: 600 rpm


The G3 K variation is typically seen with the retractable stock. The shorter length is accomplished by shortening the barrel, and the forend. This example has the HK dual mag clamp, holding two magazines together for convenience.

Weight (A3): 9.00 lbs
Length: 28.00/ 35.25 in
Barrel Length: 12.40 in
ROF: 600 rpm


One of the premier “Sniper” / marksman/ tactical rifles of it’s day, the SG1 featured a factory tested accurate barrel, set trigger, light bipod, cheekrest, and a claw mount with Hensoldt scope. The package was usually in a green wooden case.

Weight : 9.98 lbs (no scope)
Length: 40.56 in
Barrel Length: 17.71 in
ROF: 700 rpm

HK 11E

The HK 11E feeds with any of the HK 7.62 caliber box magazines, but had a special 50 round drum made for it. Changing the HK 21 E to the HK 11 E variant requires a barrel, bolt carrier assembly, and box magazine feeder. The HK11 E uses a quick change barrel, a heavy bipod, and an HK21 E style buttstock.

Weight : 17.97 lbs
Length: 40.55 in
Barrel Length: 17.71 in w/o flash hider
ROF: 700 rpm


HK’s beltfed HK 21 E can utilize either the metallic belts or can be ordered with a feed mechanism to utilize M60 standard disintegrating metallic links.

Weight : 20.5 lbs
Length: 44.88 in
Barrel Length: 22.05 in
ROF: 800 rpm

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V2N6 (March 1999)
and was posted online on July 15, 2016


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