Monday, August 16, 2004

The Lost Chance- HK's G11

At the moment I’m re-reading the Amtrak Wars series ( has a copy of the first book for the handsome sum of $0.01 if you’re interested), books that originally entertained me back when I was a teenager. They’re a good read and one of the most interesting facets for me is the technology and hardware involved- the Federation’s solar powered micro-light aircraft, their 35 foot high armoured wagon trains and air-powered, triple-barrelled rifles. Good stuff all round.

Anyway, it got me thinking, for some reason, about Heckler and Koch’s G-11 rifle- a revolutionary firearm if ever there was one. Chambered in 4.73mmx33 caseless, it was capable of firing a triple burst so fast (a rate of fire of 2000rds/min) that all three rounds would impact the target. Back on full auto the rate of fire dropped down to a much more sedate 460rds/min. It could have been a vast breakthrough, leading to a whole new era in firearms manufacturing. In addition to the standard G11 rifle there was also a Light Machine Gun version and the concept, at least, of a handgun or PDW. The very best site on the net about these remarkable weapons is HK Pro.

The latest the G11 got along the developmental cycle was the G11K2 version, which not only had a 45 round clip, but which allowed carry of 2 additional magazines on the body of the weapon (and it still weighed about the same as an empty Garand!). The weapon underwent testing by the US military under the designation HK-ACR but though the tests were carried out in the ‘90s the G11 concept seems to have been discarded entirely. Though the rifle was rumoured to have been fielded by units of Germany’s Special Forces, that’s all I can make it out to be- a rumour (but I’d sure like to hear differently).

The advantages of the G11 are obvious- short length, light weight, high capacity and light ammo. I have found no details whatsoever about the terminal ballistics of the 4.73mm round but even if it was comparable to the 5.56mm the G11 has the edge- the weapon can hold 135 rounds (inc. the spares), a bit of an improvement over the M16.

The fact that the G11 never went into production is a huge blow to firearms development- had it been adopted by the German or US Army it would have led to a slew of other caseless ammo firing weapons, and perhaps other firearms developments as other manufacturers sought to beat Heckler and Koch. In short I believe that it would have given the industry and the technology behind it a huge boost. Think for a second about the pulse rifle from the Aliens movie- one of the best imagined bits of Hollywood kit. The G11 is a real pulse rifle- a three round burst at 2000rds/min. Now think about where firearms development might be right now if the G11 had been adopted 10 years ago.

I’m all for the HK XM8- it looks to be a superb weapon- but I’d much rather the G11 or something akin to it was the US Army’s new weapon. If the technology is available to create such a weapons suite then why not use it?

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