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Heckler & Koch G3

Gewehr 3


Heckler & Koch G3A3

G3A3 battle rifle with slimline grip. This Norwegian variant is known as AG-3.
Source: Harald Hansen - © Public domain

Battle rifle
Entered service
In service
Germany - Heckler & Koch
1958 - present
Germany - Heckler & Koch
Germany - Rheinmetall
France - MAS
Greece - EBO
Iran - DIO
Mexico - SEDENA
Myanmar - Ka Pa Sa
Norway - Kongsberg
Pakistan - POF
Portugal - INDEP
Saudi Arabia - Al Kharj
Sweden - Carl Gustav
Turkmenistan - MKEK
United Kingdom - Royal Ordnance Factories
Number produced
Over 7 million
Ak-4 (Swedish service)
AG-3 (Norwegian service)
Dinar (Sudan)
Gevaer M/66 and M/75 (Danish service)
m/961 and m/963 (Portugese G3 and G3A3)



The G3 is an early Cold War era battle rifle of German origin. It was developed in the 1950's by Heckler & Koch to supply the West German military with a new rifle after World War 2. The design of the G3 is based on the early developments of the Spanish CETME Model 58 rifle, which itself was based on German development at the later stages of World War 2. The G3 is the grandfather of a wide range of Heckler & Koch weapons such as the famous MP5 sub machine gun, HK 33 assault rifle, the PSG-1 sniper rifle and the HK 21 machine gun.


The G3 has a conventional layout and features the roller delayed blowback mechanism. Early models had wooden stocks and handguards. These soon changed to a light green or light brown plastic stock and slimline handguard. Later on the wider "tropical" handguard was fitted, which was available in green and black. The G3 uses diopter sights with a rotating drum rear sight. The stamped receiver and delayed blowback mechanism makes the G3 a cost-effective design.


The G3 fires the 7.62x51mm NATO round from 20 round metal or plastic magazines. The G3 fires semi-automatic and fully automatic at a rate of fire of about 550 to 600 rounds per minute. The G3 is a very reliable rifle that functions well in arduous terrain. Since several sniper rifles were based on the design of the G3 it has gotten an image of being very accurate. In practice the accuracy is not spectacular, being on par with similar contemporary battle rifles.


The G3 was the standard issue rifle of the German army for several decades. It was adopted by many nations as their standard issue rifle and was nearly as successful as the Belgian FAL. The G3 remains in active use today, although nowadays the G3 is more and more replaced by lighter and more modern assault rifles.



The first version of the G3 thas was introduced in 1960 featured a wooden stock and handguard. The G3A2 model introduced the rotating drum rear sight in 1962. The G3A1 was developed in 1963 and was an early attempt at a retractable stock variant. This would later result in the G3A4.


Most common variant of the G3 battle rifle, introduced in 1964. It is a full size rifle with fixed stock. The first G3A3 rifles were fitted with thin handguards, often referred to as the "slimline" models. Later the wider "tropical" handguard was introduced.


Variant of the G3A3 with retractable stock. This makes the full size rifle more convenient to use in confined spaces, although it is a bit heavier and less ergonomic. It can be found with the same slimline and tropical handguards as the G3A3.


The G3-K is the carbine version of the full size G3. K stands for 'Kurz', which is German for 'short'. All G3-K are fitted with a retractable stock, resulting in the designation G3-KA4, although in theory a fixed stock could be fitted as well. Since the G3-K is a somewhat newer development virtually all G3-K are fitted with the wide tropical handguard.


The G3ZF or G3A3ZF is designated marksman rifle based on the G3 for use up to 600 m. ZF stands for 'Zielfernrohr', German for 'scope'. The G3ZF is simply standard G3A3 model that has been handpicked for accuracy and fitted with a Hensoldt 4x24 scope. Sometimes a cheekpiece and bipod are fitted as well. The G3A3ZF is not to be confused with the G3SG/1, which is described separately.


Facts G3A3 G3A4 G3-KA4
Battle rifle
7.62x51mm NATO
Feed system
20 round detachable box magazine
Barrel length
450 mm
4 grooves, 305 mm right hand twist
Muzzle velocity
780 - 800 m/s
Gas operated, roller delayed blowback
Roller locking
Fire selector
0 - 1 - F
Rate of fire
500 - 600 rpm
Stock type
1.023 mm
45 mm with slimline grip
58 mm with tropical grip
220 mm with magazine
4.4 kg empty
Hooded post front, diopter rear
Range adjustment
100 to 400 m with 100 m increments
Sight radius
572 mm
Optional, uses proprietary claw mount system
Grenade launching
Rifle grenades
Optional HK 79 grenade launcher


Firearms based on G3 design

Note: incomplete list

Heckler & Koch MP5

Sub machine gun based on the G3 design and its rolled locked delayed blowback mechanism. The MP5 is an iconic design that was produced in many variants.

Heckler & Koch G3SG/1

Military sniper rifle based on a regular G3 rifle. Of all the sniper rifle variants based on the G3 design, this one is closest to the regular G3A3 battle rifle.

Heckler & Koch PSG-1

Sniper rifle specifically developed for counter-terrorism operations.

Heckler & Koch MSG90

Military sniper rifled derived from the PSG-1. It is a lighter and more rugged design than the PSG-1.

Related articles

Heckler & Koch HK 79

The HK 79 is an underbarrel grenade launcher. It was specifically developed for the G3 battle rifle.


The Belgian FN FAL was a direct competitor the to G3. Both designs were adopted by dozens of nations.

Springfield M14

The American M14 is a battle rifle contemporary to the G3, but with a more classic look.

Kalashnikov AKM

The Kalashnikov AKM is an assault rifle often used by opposing forces to those armed with the G3. As an intermediate caliber assault rifle it has a shorter range, but is also a more practical weapon at combat distance.

Heckler & Koch G36

In German military service the G3A3 was replaced by the G36 assault rifle.