During the early- to mid-1950s West Germany, like the other NATO countries, faced the need for rearming its army for the newest common7.62x51mm NATO caliber small arms. Initially Germans preferred the Belgian FNFAL rifle, and adopted it circa 1956 under the designation of G1.
Due toobvious reasons Germany wanted to manufacture its military rifles, and attempted to buy a manufacturing license for FAL, but Belgium rejected the deal. So, Germany turned to the another design, available from Spanish company CETME, and known as the CETME mod. A rifle. Germany bought the manufacturing license for CETME rifle and transferred it to the Heckler und Koch(HK) company, located in Oberndorf. HK slightly modified the CETME design, and in 1959 the Bundeswehr (W.Germany Army) finally adopted the CETME / Heckler -Koch rifle as G3 (Gewehr 3 – Rifle, [model] 3). Since that time and until the 1995 the G3 in various modifications served as a general issue shoulder weapon not only for German Armed forces, but also for many other countries. Those include Greece, Iran, Mexico, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal, Sweden, Turkey and many other countries. Total of more than 50 countries during the last 40 years issued the G3 to its forces. The G3 was or still is manufactured in countries like the Greece, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Portugal and others. The key reason of high popularity of the G3 is that it is much simpler and cheaper to manufacture,than its major contemporary rivals – Belgian FN FAL and US M14. To the best of my knowledge, the HK itself continued to produce and offer the G3 until the year 2000 or 2001, when it finally disappeared from HK catalogs and web-sites. However, the HK still manufactures a wide variety of firearms, based on the G3 design but of differentpurposes and calibers, like 9mm MP-5 submachine guns, 5.56mm HK 33 assault rifles, 5.56mm and 7.62mm HK23 and HK 21 machine guns, PSG1 sniperrifles etc. In general, the HK G3 rifle can be described as one of the best7.62mm NATO battle / assault rifles – reliable, versatile, controllable,non-expensive and, finally, very popular. For the civilian markets, HK producedthe semi-automatic only versions of the G3, initially known as HK 41 and later -as HK 91.
The G3 rifle is a selective fire, magazine fed rifle, built using delayed blowback action, developed by German engineers at Mauser Werke late inthe 2nd World War and refined in Spain, at the CETME company. Initial models of the G3 rifle were quite similar to CETME rifles, andeven had “CETME” markings on the receivers (until 1961 or so). The roller-delayed blowback action is described under the CETME Rifles, so I will not repeat it here. The G3 is built using as many stamped parts as possible. The receiver is stamped from sheet steel. The trigger unithousing along with pistol handle frame, also are stamped from steel and hingedto the receiver using the cross-pin in the front of the trigger unit, just behindthe magazine housing. Earliest G3 rifles also featured stamped handguards and CETME-type flip-up rear diopter sights. In the mid-1960s the initial design wasupgraded to the G3A3 and G3A4 configurations. These rifles had ventilated plastic handguards and a drum-type rear diopter sights, marked from 100 to 400meters. The G3A3 was a fixed butt version, with buttstock made from plastic, and the G3A4 was a telescope butt version, with retractable metallic buttstock withrubber buttplate. Late German production G3A3 and G3A4 models were built using new trigger units, integral with restyled pistol grip and triggerguard, madefrom plastic. The shortest version of the G3 was the G3KA4, similar to G3A4 but with shortened barrel. Every G3 rifle can be equipped with detachable bipods,claw-type detachable scope mounts. Long-barreled versions can be fitted with bayonet or used to launch rifle grenades from the barrel. Folding cocking handleis located on the special tube above the barrel, at the left side, and does notreciprocate when gun is fired. The safety / fire selector is located above the triggerguard on the left side of the trigger group housing and usually is marked”S – E – F” (Safe – Single shots – Full auto). Latest models could have selectors marked with colored icons.
Caliber: 7.62mm NATO (.308 win)
Overall length: 1023 mm
Barrel length: 450 mm (315 mm on G3KA4 model)
Magazine capacity: 20 rounds