The G36 could easily be pictured in the hands of a police commando resembling a stormtrooper who’s escorting Snake Pliskin to some wall of a prison island that was once a chunk of the United States.

Instead, it’s finding its way into the hands of Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers on the front lines of a war where it’s muzzle thumping the Islamic State every chance it gets. Despite the German government insisting the weapon is catastrophically flawed, they keep sending them and the Kurds are putting them to use.

Personally I have found the G36 to be a reliable and accurate platform; it’s possibly one of the most versatile assault rifles in the world. With the capability to customize virtually any part of it with relative ease, the end user can cater to mission-specific demands on the fly so long as the parts are available. I also find it to be ergonomically pleasant in all areas of use with little to no difficulty attaining stability even in full battle rattle.


The G36 is nearly fully ambidextrous, sporting an easy-to-use safety lever on both sides of the trigger group/lower receiver. It has sling mounts at the end of the handguard and rear of the buttstock, and also has one on the rear left side of the receiver. A particularly rare feature, especially for its time, is the bolt-catch mechanism, which lies on the underside of the receiver in front of the trigger. Functioning a lot like the Magpul BAD lever, it enables the bolt to be locked to the rear with the lift of a finger, making clearing double feeds a breeze.

Another unique feature is its charging handle, which can be operated from either side of the weapon and locked into place on either the left or right side if so desired. This enables the user to operate the weapon with relative ease during malfunctions or a simple reload. Simply pull back on the charging handle to send the bolt forward from the rearward locked position.


The receiver is constructed of a thick polymer that carries the block of a bolt carrier group (similar to the SCAR’s BCG) on tracks. It’s hard to imagine integrity being truly compromised unless subjected to intensely hot temperatures, the kind achieved by hundreds of rounds being fired at a cyclic rate—not the way this firearm is intended to be employed. That being said, replacing it with a MIL-SPEC aluminum alloy receiver would be a huge improvement at the cost of a marginal increase in weight, in this author’s opinion.