Heckler & Koch 416 A5

Minus a few drawbacks that some of us find in the AR-15/M4 platforms, I’m a big fan of the AR-15 platform, after all it is what we use in the military.  I recall on a few deployments working with SEAL teams, 1st SFOG, and our K-9 handlers, a few of the guys carrying the HK 416 before it was as highly publicized as it is today.  At first I thought that it was a chopped down M4 until I asked one of our K-9 handlers exactly what it was.

I had an amazing opportunity to operate one of these weapons over the course of two weeks recently and was extremely impressed.  I hadn’t had much work with a piston operated platform so I really didn’t know what to expect.  The HK 416 uses an HK-proprietary short-stroke gas piston system derived from the Heckler & Koch G36.  My first observation of the system that I learned to like, was the fact that you can purchase only the upper receiver and place it on your existing AR lower, instead of purchasing the entire system itself.

The US Army Delta Force has been using this weapon platform as early as 2004 to replace their M4 carbines for a particularly good reason.  The piston driven system design, prevents combustion gases from entering the weapon’s interior.  The reduction in heat and fouling of the bolt carrier group increases the reliability of the weapon and extends the interval between stoppages. It also reduces operator cleaning time and stress on critical components, something that becomes almost an inconvenience in the field for standard AR platform users.

When first placed in my hands, I drew immediate attention to the pistol grip of the weapon.  It almost felt as if it needed to be there.  The way that HK designed the pistol grip, it fits naturally in the operators hand, unlike the standard grip of the M4.  In my opinion, this directly increased my rapid engagement drills at close quarters distance due to comfort and the way the skeletal and muscular structure aligned when pushing the weapon out.

What I also liked about the weapon, was its extreme maneuverability.  The Heckler & Koch 416 A5’s  compact design would allow any user to easily “pie a corner” while staying concealed, and function it in a defensive combat posture.

While testing the weapon, we decided to drag it around the back of my jeep tied to a tether with the ejection port open through the sand for 5 minutes to test its boasted reliability.  After the 5 minute drive through the sand of South Texas, I had 7 magazines loaded and ready to go (standard load out for a Spec Ops Operator).  Firing all of the magazines as fast as I go manipulate the trigger, we came across only 2 malfunctions.  One of the malfunctions was a stove-pipe on the 5th magazine, and the 2nd being a failure to feed on the 6th.  If you’d ask me, this is extremely exceptional, especially when compared to the standard M4, there is a reason our nations tier 1 units choose this platform over the M4.

A few more key things that I noticed on the HK 416A5 were the winter trigger guard, two position adjustable gas system for use with suppressed fire and non-suppressed fire, extended and over-sized ambidextrous controls, free floated barrel, and the improved bottom angle on the magwell for easy feeding and acceptance of various AR magazines.

This article was originally published on the Loadout Room and written by Nick Irving