HK Joins Lightweight Machine Gun Club with HK421

HK Joins Lightweight Machine Gun Club with HK421

Heckler & Koch has entered the reduced-weight machine gun market with its HK421, based on an MG5 7.62x51 machine gun. The new weapon boasts features such as an adjustable skeleton buttstock, a shortened barrel, and a lighter frame, all designed to reduce the gun’s weight and significantly enhance its user’s performance. 

The adjustable buttstock is simplistic and light, reminiscent of the firm’s MP7 personal defence weapon chambered in 4.6x30 mm. However, the HK416A8 assault rifle’s adjustable stock can also be integrated. The barrel options are 13” and 16.5”, significantly less than those of the MG5. 

The shorter barrel is among the main factors in the lowered weight from 10 kg to approximately 8 kg. However, shorter barrels with less muzzle velocity and likely thinner walls can be an issue in long-range and sustained firings. In addition to its mobility on foot, the weapon can be quickly mounted on vehicles with two-axis lugs for M240 machine guns with its compliant interface. In the end, HK421, like the other new reduced-weight machine guns that have recently appeared, aims to provide a highly mobile alternative with identical firepower to light or medium machine guns. 

While the carriage has been made easier, the disadvantages of a lighter barrel make the weapon more ideal for close-quarters combat than open-field. Quickly mounting is also advantageous for transport vehicles with multiple machine gun lugs. 

The soldiers can mount and dismount the weapon in transit scenarios. The potentially higher cost of the weapon due to the lightweight materials and the shorter effective range might lead to more interest from special forces than the regular ones. 

The reduced-weight light machine gun is a field of work in the firearm industry, and few countries are investing in it. Some examples are Belgium (EVOLYS), Turkiye (MFR56, KMG556CL, and KMG762CL), Russia (RPL-20), and the U.S. (MG68).