An Introduction to the Heckler & Koch G11 (2023)

Vic kicks off his series looking at the US Army’s ACR trials rifles with a look at, not one but two versions of, Heckler & Koch’s advanced caseless ammunition assault rifle – the G11. This video is an introductory overview, we’ll be delving into the G11’s insanely intricate and wonderfully complex action in later videos!

An Introduction to the Heckler & Koch G11 (1)

There are few experimental weapons that have cultivated myth and reputation like Heckler & Koch’s G11. The product of decades of research and development into what was hoped would be the next evolutionary step in small arms design. The G11 was Germany’s attempt to combine advanced caseless ammunition with a weapon system which could increase the average infantryman’s hit probability. The G11’s action has three distinct modes of fire and uses a complex action and buffer/recoil system to achieve a high rate of controlled fire.

The program began in the late 1960s as part of a NATO initiative, however, it became a primarily Bundeswehr project and over two decades the design evolved substantially. The project sought to increase the hit probability of the individual infantryman. Heckler & Koch’s approach to this problem was the most radical. Working with Hensoldt to develop an integrated optical sight and with Dynamit-Nobel to create a new kind of ammunition.

Numerous studies and theoretical designs were worked up but by the mid-1970s the base design of what would become the G11 was cemented. The design team includedGunter Kastner, Dieter Ketterer, Tilo Moller and Ernst Wossner – all of whom are credited in H&K’s 1976 patent protecting the G11’s rotary action.

The G11 went through dozens of iterations throughout the 1970s and 80s, with the first firing prototypes ready by 1974. Both the design and the ammunition also went through a number of changes.

(Video) TAB Episode 8: Introduction to the HK G11

An Introduction to the Heckler & Koch G11 (2)

The revolutionary ammunition was developed byDynamit-Nobel AG.

The 4.73x33mm round which was finalised comprised of a solid propellant material body which encased a primer, booster, projectile and a plastic nose cap. Dynamit-Nobel developed theHigh Ignition Temperature Propellant (HITP) in an effort to prevent accidental ignition (cook-off) of the ammunition’s outer propellant body.

The G11 fed from 45 or 50-round horizontal, single stack box magazines which fed rounds into the action at 90-degrees. The rounds were then rotated into alignment with the breech by the rifle’s action.

The rectangular shape of the Dynamit-Nobel ammunition was more efficient and better suited to storage than conventional circular rounds. The positioning of the magazine along the top of the weapon, parallel to the barrel, also in theory helped minimise the rifle’s profile and reduce encumbrance for the soldier equipped with the weapon.

The G11 is a gas-operated weapon with gas being tapped from the barrel, to cycle the rifle’s cylinder drive system, which rotated the breech through a series of cams and gears. At the heart of the G11 is a complex rotary action. Rotating actions themselves are not a new concept with the earliest dating back to the 17th century, such as theLorenzoni system.

The G11’s rotating breech was patented in late 1976 by Heckler & Koch. While our initial video does not go into detail on how the G11 operates, we will be covering this in later videos, this article will explain the action in more general terms.

(Video) Heckler & Koch G11 Assault Rifle

An Introduction to the Heckler & Koch G11 (3)

Below are two diagrams showing the internal layout and major components of the G11 from a March 1982 draft of the ‘Rifle, 4.92mm, ACR’ armourer’s manual (source). It shows the major assembly groups and also a component list for the breech assembly.

From the diagram we can see the various action parts which feed the projectile into the breech, lock the action and ignite the round. We can also see the counter-recoil system beneath the barrel.

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The G11 used a counter-recoil buffer mechanism to allow high rates of burst fire. When firing three round bursts the weapon send the rounds downrange at a rate of ~2,000 rounds per minute, only when the last round has left the barrel does the barrel and action begin to recoil inside the stock along a central guide. When in sustained fire the rate of fire is closer to ~460 per minute.

An Introduction to the Heckler & Koch G11 (4)

The buffer spring below the barrel is compressed as the recoiling barrel and breech assembly moves. In sustained fire the buffer spring is partially compressed with each round, but in burst fire the buffer is compressed to its maximum hitting before the buffer housing (which is when recoil from the burst is felt by the operator), this is described as having the barrel and breech assembly ‘float’.

To ready the weapon to fire a magazine was loaded into the magazine channel on top of the G11, a magazine dust door, which automatically closed when unloaded, was depressed as the magazine was pushed home. The cocking handle on the left side of the butt was then actuated. The operator rotated the handle 360-degrees counter-clockwise until the weapon was cocked (essentially like winding a clock). The same process will eject any rounds left in the chamber once the magazine has been removed.

(Video) Heckler & Koch G11 Disassembly & How It Works

Gas tapped from the barrel cycles the cylinder drive system with gas pushing a piston back to act on a series of gears which rotated the rotary breech from horizontal to vertical to allow a new cartridge to drop into the breech.There was a vent for high pressure gas underneath the butt stock this prevented pressure build up and mitigated some of the thermal build up.

An Introduction to the Heckler & Koch G11 (5)

The G11 K1 was tested by the German Army in the late 1980s with adoption planned for the early 1990s. Heckler & Koch continued to develop the G11, entering theG11 K2 into the US Army’s Advanced Combat Rifle (ACR) trials alongside entries from Steyr, AAI and Colt [all of which we will examine in upcoming videos]. However, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 meant that West Germany no longer had the huge amount of funds needed to field the G11. At the same time the ACR program ended inconclusively and the G11 project was finally abandoned.

The extreme complexity of the design, the inadequacy of the weapon’s ergonomics and its inevitably high production cost casts doubt on whether the G11 would ever have seriously been considered for widespread adoption. Regardless of this the G11 is a fascinating footnote in small arms history representing a false start along a technological avenue which, with theLightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) program, may still prove fruitful. Heckler & Koch and Dynamit-Nobel’s ambitious design marks one of very few serious and potentially successful attempts engineers to overcome the plateau that firearms technology is currently stuck on.

An Introduction to the Heckler & Koch G11 (6)

Matt recently had the opportunity to disassemble a G11 and get a look inside the action. In this special video and accompanying full-length article he explains how the rifle strips and how it works! Check out the video here.

If you enjoyed the video and this article please consider supporting our work here.

Technical Specifications (from 1989 H&K Brochure):

Length: 75cm (29.3in)
Weight (unloaded): 3.8kg (8.4lb)
Barrel Length: 54cm (21.3in)
Action: Gas-Operated, rotary breech
Feed: 45 or 50-round, single stack, box magazine
Cyclic Rate: sustained fire: ~460rpm / 3-round burst: ~2,000rpm

(Video) Kraut Space Magic: the H&K G11


Die G11 Story. Die Entwicklungsgeschichte einer High-Tech-Waffe, W. Seel, 1993

‘Shoulder Arm with Swivel Breech Member’, US Patent #3997994, 21 Dec. 1976, (source)

‘Automatic or Semi-Automatic Small Arm’, US Patent #4078327,14 Mar. 1978, (source)

From the Small Arms Review Archive:

HK G11- ACR. Armourer’s Manual for Maintenance of Repair of Rifle, 4.92mm, ACR, March 1989 (source)

‘Rifle, 4.92mm, ACR’ Operator’s Manual (source)

(Video) G11 Lore (Remastered)

HK G11 Caseless Ammunition Weapon System. The G11 Rifle. HK Factory Brochure, 1989 (source)

Our thanks to the collections that hold these examples of the G11. While one wishes to remain anonymous, we would like to thank the Dutch Military Museum for access to their G11.

Please do not reproduce photographs taken by Matthew Moss without permission or credit.©The Armourer’s Bench 2017.


Is the HK G11 a good gun? ›

By encasing its ammunition in a chemical propellant rather than a typical brass casing, the G11 was more accurate, efficient, and potentially deadly than any rifle of its time. But even after millions of dollars spent on research and development, the gun never saw combat.

Why was the HK G11 Cancelled? ›

Although the weapon was a technical success, it never entered full production due to the political changes of German reunification and lack of procurement contract.

What was the purpose of the G11? ›

The G11 was Germany's attempt to combine advanced caseless ammunition with a weapon system which could increase the average infantryman's hit probability. The G11's action has three distinct modes of fire and uses a complex action and buffer/recoil system to achieve a high rate of controlled fire.

What is the price of G11? ›

A: The average price of a BMW 7 Series - G11 is $56,688. Q: What years was the BMW 7 Series - G11 sold? A: The BMW 7 Series - G11 was sold for model years 2016 to 2022.

Does the US military use Heckler and Koch? ›

The HK416 has been tested by the United States military and is in use with some law enforcement agencies. It has been adopted as the standard rifle of the Norwegian Armed Forces (2008) and the French Armed Forces (2017) and is used by many special operations units worldwide.

Is Elon Musk making guns? ›

Musk says he's not interested in building weapons of any kind. Even war drones do not interest him, despite the technological advances of Tesla, which is developing Optimus, a humanoid robot. The billionaire made this clear on Twitter.

What was the problem with the G11? ›

Without a brass barrier between the heat and the gunpowder, more heat was transferred quicker to what was supposed to be a combustible substance. A reformulation of the propellant fixed the problem. By far the greatest problem with the G11 was its excessive complexity.

What country made the G11? ›

G11 is a German assault rifle. It was invented by Heckler & Koch in the years between 1968 and 1990. It is able to shoot in semi automatic, or single shot, 3 round burst, or full auto. The magazine held 45 or 50 of the 4,73mm caseless rounds.

What makes a gun a carbine? ›

A carbine (/ˈkɑːrbiːn/ or /ˈkɑːrbaɪn/) is a long gun that has a barrel shortened from its original length. Most modern carbines are rifles that are compact versions of a longer rifle or are rifles chambered for less powerful cartridges.

How does caseless ammo work? ›

Modern caseless ammunition typically uses a configuration in which the primer and projectile gets integrated into a solid mass of external propellant (originally nitrocellulose), cast to form the body of the cartridge. Cavities exist in the body to accept the bullet and a primer (both of which are glued into place).

Is caseless ammo possible? ›

The use of caseless ammunition by criminals may complicate the work of criminal investigators; whereas in standard ammunition the propellant is contained in metal casing with the bullet at its front end and the primer at its rear, hardened chemical propellant replaces the casing in caseless ammunition.

What military uses H&K? ›

HK provides firearms for many military and paramilitary units, including the SAS, KMar, the US Navy SEALs, Delta Force, HRT, Canada's Joint Task Force 2, the German KSK and GSG 9, and many other counter-terrorist and hostage rescue teams.

What is the capacity of G11? ›

Losmandy's G11 Motorized EQ Mount provides users with a powerful platform built to support and move larger optical tube assemblies (OTAs). With a total payload capacity of 100 pounds, the head will comfortably carry 40 pounds of counterweights, leaving a hefty 60-pound capacity for OTAs and accessories.

What is the difference between G10 and G11? ›

G-10 is slightly Stronger while G-11 is a better insulator and can withstand higher temperature G-11 and similar fibreglass reinforced thermosets are sometimes known as Garolite.

What is G11 material? ›

G-11 High-Temperature Glass Cloth Epoxy is a thermosetting industrial fiberglass composite laminate consisting of a continuous filament glass cloth material impregnated with an epoxy resin binder; it is usually identifiable by its natural color, ranging from a yellow-green shade to an amber shade.

What is G11 plastic? ›

Glass Epoxy (G11)

G11 grade glass epoxy laminate offers improved mechanical strength at higher temperatures than G10. Because epoxy resins such as G11 laminate are virtually impervious to moisture, this material is a good choice of thermosets for fabricated components used in electrical and mechanical applications.

What guns do the Navy SEALs use? ›

The M4A1 carbine is the primary weapon used by SEAL operators. A shorter, more compact version of the M16A2 rifle, it was specially designed for U.S. Special Operations Forces.

What rifle does Delta Force use? ›

Delta Force traditionally relies on the M4 assault rifle along with the HK416 Carbine and M3A1 Grease Gun. Sniper rifles, shotguns, pistols, and explosives provide additional means for defense along with protective gear like camo and armor.

What rifle does Swat use? ›

A glass-bedded, scoped, bolt-action rifle with a heavy free-floating barrel is the most popular weapon used by teams. The 40XB, the Remington 700BDL, and the Ruger 77V are among popular makes. Members not required to carry a specific weapon because of their position often favor semior fully automatic weapons.

Does Angelina Jolie own a gun? ›

Jolie told the Daily Mail in 2008 that "I bought original, real guns of the type we used in Tomb Raider for security. Brad and I are not against having a gun in the house, and we do have one.

Does Brad Pitt like guns? ›

In 2008, Jolie revealed that a love of firearms is one of the things she and Pitt share. "I've gone to the range with sniper rifles and things like that. Brad and I both like it a lot. That is something we have in common."

Which call of duty had the G11? ›

The G11 is a three-round burst assault rifle featured in Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Do police use 9mm carbines? ›

The 9mm cartridge still has a place in a law enforcement carbine due to its low recoil and accurate fire. For the average officer, the Ruger PC Carbine is intuitive to carry, sight and fire.

What carbines do police use? ›

Patrol Rifle - AR-15 Colt or Bushmaster – the AR15 is the most commonly observed rifle in police patrol. The weapon system is safe, accurate, reliable, effective, and easily deployed by officers of all stature due to its lightweight, low recoil, and general ease of operation. IV.

What is the best 9mm carbine rifle? ›

9 Best 9MM Carbine Rifles For 2023
  • #1. PSA Gen4 16” 9mm 1/10 Lightweight M-Lok MOE EPT Rifle.
  • #2. PSA Custom PX-9 9mm 16” Nitride 15” Rail PCC Rifle W/ 3.5lb Trigger & Ambi Safety.
  • #3. Ruger PC Carbine 9mm Rifle, Fluted/Threaded, American Flag Cerakote.
  • #4. Kel-Tec Gen2 Sub2000 9mm Rifle Fits G17 Mags.
  • #5. ...
  • #6. ...
  • #7. ...
  • #8.
6 days ago

Can you carry 1 in the chamber? ›

The basic design of almost every popular self-defense firearm made today is what makes them also inherently safe for carry with one in the chamber. Almost without exception they are equipped with redundant active and passive safeties that keep them from firing unless the trigger is deliberately pulled to the rear.

Can you silence a 9mm? ›

Yes, you can most definitely suppress a 9mm. While handgun and pistol suppression is less popular than say, suppressing a hunting rifle, it is still a great option. If you're using it for home defense, a pistol suppressor greatly reduces the deafening sound of a gun going off indoors.

Can a Bible stop a 9mm bullet? ›

Miracle of Bible stopping bullet was a myth, police say | CNN.

Why can't humans dodge bullets? ›

Regardless of your speed and finesse, no human can dodge a bullet at close range. The bullet is simply traveling too fast. Even the slowest handguns shoot a bullet at 760 miles per hour, SciAm explains.

Can a Smartphone stop a bullet? ›

Yes, but only in pretty marginal cases. A bullet that's already lost some energy (likely due to long range, prior penetration through something, or perhaps a ricochet) might just still have enough energy to be fatal if it hits a person just so, but without enough energy being left over penetrate a modern phone.

Is H&K better than Glock? ›

Overall, the quality of the HK VP9 just seems better. The slide finish and polymer on the frame seems better, but that's not to say that the Glock is any slouch when it comes to quality. Both these guns are well-made firearms. I think the HK just has a slight edge.

Which is better SIG or H&K? ›

The HK VP9 is completely ambidextrous. So again, this is a personal preference. If you prefer a push-button style magazine release, you're going to like the Sig P320 better. But if you like being a little bit eccentric, then the HK VP9 magazine release is probably going to be for you.

What pistol do Navy SEALs carry? ›

The P226 MK25 is identical to the pistol carried by the U.S. Navy SEALs, the fleet's special warfare operators. The railed P226 chambered in 9mm and engraved with an anchor on the left side of the slide is the official sidearm of the SEALs.

Are HK guns worth the money? ›

It's a tough pistol and no doubt worthy of such a price. The P30 is definitely a worthwhile purchase for any serious gun owner. Its high price may be a turnoff, but when compared to cheaper firearms like S&W, Taurus, etc. the quality and reliability are easily superior.

Are HK guns reliable? ›

HK is a famous firearms manufacturer that is probably most commonly known for its MP5 series of firearms. They are known for their military and police use throughout the world and building bombproof, reliable firearms. Their handguns are no exception.

Is HK better than a Glock? ›

Both of these popular gun models will provide you with a great deal of precision and smooth shooting. But if you are looking to add accessories like a light or laser to your pistol, the HK VP9 is the better choice.

Is HK or Glock gun better? ›

The Glock has a slightly faster cyclic rate, but the HK VP9's just a little smoother on the recoil impulse. It's going to depend on what type of gun you prefer. I personally really like the way a Glock shoots. It seems a little bit faster and snappier to me, which I like, whereas the HK VP9 has more of a slower push.

Is HK or SIG better? ›

The HK VP9 is completely ambidextrous. So again, this is a personal preference. If you prefer a push-button style magazine release, you're going to like the Sig P320 better. But if you like being a little bit eccentric, then the HK VP9 magazine release is probably going to be for you.


1. Heckler and Koch G11 Prototype
(Monotrematic Studios)
2. Ultra Rare Heckler & Koch G11 Rifle Military Demonstration
(HKPRO Video Vault)
3. H&K G11/HD
4. G11 LORE
5. Stripping an HK G11
(The Armourer's Bench)
6. The Ultimate Lore Friendly Weapon Mod - The HK G11
(Degenerate Dak)
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