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Heckler & Koch HK 33


HK 33A3

HK 33A3 with bipod and optical sight in use with French GIGN operators.
Source: Unknown author - © copyright lies with original owner

Assault rifle
Entered service
Late 1960's
In service
Germany - Heckler & Koch
1968 - 2001 (German production)
1998 - ? (Turkish production)
Germany - Heckler & Koch
France - MAS
United Kingdom - RSAF
Turkey - MKEK
Type 11 (Thai production)



The HK 33 is an assault rifle of German origin. In the 1960's Heckler & Koch wanted to capitalize on the success of the G3 rifle by developing a version for the upcoming 5.56mm market. The result was the HK 33 rifle which differs only slightly from the G3. One of the unique variants of the HK 33 was the HK 53 sub machine gun. It was the first 5.56mm sub machine gun to be widely adopted by law enforcement units.


The HK 33 is a derivative of the G3 rifle firing the 5.56x45mm round. Besides the different caliber the HK 33 is virtually identical in design to the G3. It uses the same roller locked delayed blowback mechanism. This makes the HK 33 very accurate and reliable but also heavy and expensive. The fixed stock models are designated A2, while the retractable stock versions are called the A3. Unlike the MP5 the HK 33 family never received different denominators for burst fire trigger groups. During its production life it has been improved on several occasions. The newer production models are called the HK 33E.


The HK 33 fires the 5.56x45mm round. The original M193 round was used in early models and later models use the NATO version with faster twist rate. The HK 33 uses very reliable 25 round metal magazines. Later on 40 round aluminum and 30 round steel magazines were introduced, but they never became as common as the 25 round ones. The cyclic rate of fire is 750 rpm. The effective range of the HK 33 is 400 meters.


The HK 33 was mainly intended for export sales and was not adopted by German forces. The HK 33 was a successful design but did not sell as much as the G3. Since 2001 the HK 33 is no longer in production, except for license production in Turkey. The HK 33 was widely exported to Asia and South America and remains in service with many of its users. Especially law enforcement units still like it for its accuracy and reliability.


Heckler & Koch HK 53

The HK 53 is the short carbine variant of the HK 33 rifle. It is often classified as a sub machine gun due to its compact size.

The HK 53 is described in a separate article.

HK 33-K

The HK 33-K is the carbine version of the HK 33 rifle. Except for the shorter barrel it is completely similar to the full size version. Most HK 33-K models are fitted with the retractable stock, making them the A3 model. With a fixed stock it would be an A2. A bipod and 4x scope are optional, but uncommon on the carbine model. Over time it received the same changes as described in the full size model.

HK 33

The HK 33 is the standard full size rifle model of the HK 33 family. It is available with a fixed stock in the A2 model and a retractable stock in the A3 model. During the production lifetime the HK 33 received several upgrades. These included ambidextrous burst fire trigger groups, new concave retractable stocks and the twist was changed to a faster one for use with NATO ammunition. The improved versions were sometimes sold as the HK 33E, with the E demeaning Export. A bipod and 4x scope are optional. Scoped rifles should not be confused with the HK 33SG/1 model that delivers better performance as a marksman rifle.

HK 33SG/1

The HK 33SG/1 is a similar sniper development of the HK 33 as the G3SG/1 is of the G3. Most of the rifle is similar to the full size HK 33. The barrels are handpicked for accuracy, a cheekpiece and bipod are fitted and a 1.5-6x Zeiss or Schmidt & Bender scope was fitted as standard. The trigger group is replaced by a set trigger group that allows for semi automatic and full automatic fire. In semi automatic fire a button behind the can set the trigger for a very light and crisp trigger pull.


Facts HK 33A2 HK 33A3 HK 33-KA3 HK 33SG/1
Assault rifle
5.56x45mm M193 or NATO
Feed system
25, 30 or 40 round detachable magazine
Barrel length
390 mm
6 grooves, right hand 178mm or 305mm twist
Muzzle velocity
950 m/s for M193
Roller locked delayed blowback
Fire selector
0-1-F or 0-1-3-F
Rate of fire
750 rpm
Stock type
920 mm
58 mm
210 mm without magazine
3.65 kg
Iron sight, post front and diopter rear
Sight radius
480 mm
100 to 400 m
Optional using claw mount
Grenade launching
Muzzle grenades
HK 79 underbarrel grenade launcher

Related articles

Heckler & Koch G3

The design of the HK 33 is derived from the G3 battle rifle. Both rifles look very similar and are most easily distinguished by the curved magazine as used on the HK 33.

Heckler & Koch G36

The G36 replaced the HK 33 as the 5.56mm assault rifle in the portfolio of Heckler & Koch.