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Thread: So You Want To Buy A HK91/G3 Rifle...

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    So You Want To Buy A HK91/G3 Rifle...

    I was asked to do this topic some time ago in order to provide guidance to those who might be looking for one so they know what to look for and what to avoid. My problem in putting it together was to not simply write "Buy a preban HK 91 original and be done with it." The reality is there really aren't the same kind of options like there are with FALs and AKs where you have a variety of quality options to choose from. But there are a few so I will do my best.

    I have been shooting .308 Hk rifles from the time I was about 13 and I think I currently own about 20 or so including pre89 semi auto imports of HK and HK contract rifle, select fire HK and HK contract rifles that are conversions and a few factory original select fire HK rifles and HK contract rifles.

    Here are a few.



    Ok, first things first, I will be discussing four categories of rifles.

    1. Factory original - These are HKs made in Germany, or in the case of CETME rifles those made in Spain.

    2. Contract rifles - These are rifles made in HK contract factories set up by HK, using HK tooling.

    3. Builds - These are rifles built in the US using HK or HK contract receivers and mostly HK or HK contract parts with enough US parts for 922r compliance.

    4. Clones - These are aftermarket copies of rifles using non HK receivers and often using non HK parts.

    I'm not going to get into the history and development of the HK rifle, that could easily result in a four page post and the information is already out there. Here are the books you want to read.

    Full Circle: A Treatise on Roller Locking by Blake Stevens

    The official history of the Oberndorf company Heckler & Koch by Manfred Kersten

    Small Arms of the World by Edward Clinton Ezell

    I will also confine this topic to the subject of semi auto rifles. I will not be discussing pre 86 dealer sample, pre 68 transferable imports or any other "from the factory" select fire .308 rifles. I will also not be discussing semi auto rifles in the context of pre 86 Title II conversions.

    Obviously factory original rifles are your best option. But they are also the most desirable on most expensive option in most cases. The HK 91 (9 representing the 90 series of semi auto imports and the 1 denoting the .308 caliber) is basically a semi auto copy of the HK G3 (Gewehr 3) select fire military rifle. There have been a few versions from the early rare 1962 G3 semi imports, to the HK41 (40 series being the original semi auto classification used by HK) up to the 91 series and the later "sporter" post ban models.

    The HK 91 differs from the G3 in the following ways:

    1. Has a clip and pin trigger group that sits on a receiver shelf rather than a swing down trigger group that attaches with a push pin. Trigger group also usually has a block on the selector preventing movement to the third position (steel trigger groups).

    2. Has a trigger box mechanism specifically set up for semi auto function only.

    3. Has a milled slot in the bolt carrier that will not engage a sear catch.

    4. Has the grenade launching rings removed from the barrel.

    5. Bayonet mount has been removed.

    6. Lacks a paddle magazine release.

    7. Has a black (early imports are blue / gray) enamel finish rather than the green / gray parkerized finish encountered on most military G3 rifles.

    But other than those differences they are essentially the same in performance and function.

    For factory original rifles you have a few options.

    The HK91 (Oberndorf manufacture) imported from 1974 until 1989. Post 89 "sporter" import versions include the HK911, SR9. SR9T, SR9 TC. The sporter models are basically variations of thumbhole stock rifles.

    The Springfield SAR3/8 - Hellenic Arms (EBO) Greek HK contract imported by Springfield (beware there are many post 89 clones sold as SAR 8s which are NOT HK contracts but US clones). Pre89 versions include the SAR 3 and a SAR 8 (overstamp). Post 89 "sporter" versions are the SAR 8 with thumbhole stock and fake flash hider pressed on the barrel.

    US clone versions of the Springfield SAR 8 have aluminum receivers with a integral top scope rail and are marked Federal, not EBO Greece.

    The FMP G3S - Portuguese HK contract rifles imported by PARS. Post 89 imports such as the XG3S have clipped off flash hiders and are usually found in a thumbhole stock configuration.

    CETME "sport" models - Spanish rifles imported by MARS that were a forerunner to the HK rifles. Thus these are factory original rifles and not an HK contract rifle. Primarily different with respect to rear sight configuration, safety setup, bayonet mount and issued magazine.

    Like the Springfield SAR 8 there are many US clone versions of the CETME, factory original rifles are marked Made in Spain.

    Any of the above HK or HK contract rifles would be a quality and reliable firearm. HK contracts generally sell for less than HK factory rifles. Ironically HK factory "sporter" imports now command prices higher than HK 91 rifles due to rarity.

    In addition to the above factory original and HK contract rifles there are many builds done in the US. Semi auto HK contract receivers were imported during the 1990s from Portugal. There were two importers Interport Delta, UT (receivers marked Portugal) and Century Arms (Receivers marked Indep/Portugal). These were usually built using one of the surplus HK or FMP parts kits that flooded the market in the late 90s. Condition of kits ranged from New/Excellent condition to Fair/Poor. The resulting rifle would depend upon the quality of the parts kit used and the competence of the gunsmith who did the build.

    Most of these were built during the Clinton Semi Auto ban and can be identified by permanently mounted muzzle brakes for compliance. 922r compliance parts were generally low quality and were usually manufactured by Special Weapons, FAC, CAI or Heese. Nearly all of them were built with factory original barrels (except for Special Weapons SW3 rifles) and if the build is a quality one the brake can usually be removed and replaced with a flash hide and better grade 922r compliance parts substituted. That said, these rifles can be a gamble and builds, like the parts kits used, ranged from excellent to poor.

    There are also reports of Portuguese sporter rifles which were brought it by Inter Ordnance (and a few other importers) who then added 922r compliance parts to make them legal semi autos. You have to be very careful with such claims. Century Arms for example offered a Portuguese "import rifle" that was nothing more than a low grade kit build on one of their imported receivers. It can be exceptionally difficult to distinguish a rifle that was imported and brought into compliance from an imported bare receiver that was built into a compliance rifle.

    US clones are rifles using non factory and non contract receivers. For the most part these are not made to HK spec and most clone parts are also not HK spec. The quality has improved since they were first introduced in the late 90s. That said they are still the most problematic of all the HK type rifles. For customers looking for cheap HK rifles in the $500 range I usually recommend they give me $200 to let me hit them with a metal folding chair for 5 minutes and it will be the same frustration as owning a HK clone rifle for a lot less money.

    The exception to the rule are the JLD/PTR rifles. These almost qualify as US contract rifles since they purchased the tooling and presses from FMP (Portuguese HK contract factory). The problem is they don't produce a correct contract rifle but their own version of the HK contract rifle. These differences are usually intended to improve inherent accuracy and things like that. The problem is there is a cost to using non spec parts and early JLD guns were notorious for function issues as a result. From many accounts things have greatly improved but I don't have any first hand information to support that assessment.

    Other .308 HK clones from Century Arms, Federal Arms, Special Weapons are all consistently problematic and should be avoided.

    Sadly, unlike AKs and FALs there is no "just as good as the original" currently available option. There is a currently imported MKE (Turkish Contract) .308 rifle but it has severe configuration changes to make it importable such as a modified magazine well to accept a 10 round ONLY magazine and a trigger group that is attached to the buttstock. You could correct this with 922r compliance but the gunsmithing would be bit too involved for most people and you could buy an early contract rifle for the same money invested.
    Last edited by SteyrAUG; 04-11-11 at 22:23.
    It's hard to be a ACLU hating, philosophically Libertarian, socially liberal, fiscally conservative, scientifically grounded, agnostic, porn admiring gun owner who believes in self determination.

    Chuck, we miss ya man.

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    PTR "GI" rifles supposedly have the correct number of flutes and the right contour now. They still lack the grenade ring on the triple frame and the paddle release, which only the early HK and CETME imports had.

    My earlier production JLD/PTR fed everything well and I've read that the early CETME's didn't even have flutes, but were put in some time during the model C run. PTR's other US parts (the fire control group and navy housing) are universally well regarded in quality. The receiver is made on FMP semi-auto tooling and is the only in-spec G3 receiver on the market.

    The BATFE changed their mind and banned all MKE carbines from import (no 9mm, 5.56 or 7.62), the pistols will continue to be imported. MKE pistols and carbines started life as military spec weapons (possibly used in some cases) and were modified before import.

    Century rifles usually have two problems (or a combination of two problems), US barrels and improperly set barrels. They try to fix the latter in the build process by doing everything except the only thing that will actually correct the problem they created (IE putting the barrel in correctly). They ship a lot of rifles with next to no bolt gap, bad barrels, the wrong size rollers, crap receivers, or improperly ground bolts. Fixable? Errr, sort of. Sometimes a competent gunsmith can fix them, and sometimes the smith will tell you they're going to beat the pavement with your wondermonkey rifle. The HK33's century rebuilt seem to have been on average much more serviceable than all the good G3 and CETME kits they butchered.

    Oh yeah, one last thing with the century guns, the sights are regularly crooked, reaaally crooked, unadjustably crooked. In short, I've never known anybody who ever got a working century CETME, but I don't know too many people stupid enough to buy one either.

    I love the G3, it makes the AK look overly compex. Godless teutonic killing machine.

    "Life is short, but the years are long." - Robert A. Heinlein

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    Excellent thread, thanks Steyr.

    Love that pic of Col. Hoare, Armakraut.
    Employee of colonialshooting.com

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    This is an example of an HK Contract Rifle....

    Springfield Armory SAR-3/8 that was built in Greece by Hellenic Arms on HK tooling. The original preban Springfield G3 type rifles were marked G3 (very rare), SAR-3 and when the import ban hit in 1989, the remaining rifles in the country but still in the bonded warehouse were overstamped with an 8, so as to allow the sale of the banned "SAR-3".

    This is a rifle that I purchased originally in 1990. Back then, Springfield could sell the SAR-3/8 with a thumbhole stock, and muzzle nut over the threaded muzzle, AND then advertised an "accurizing kit" that included the original buttstock, pistol grip, and flash suppressor. There was nothing in the executive order that said you couldn't refit those items to the rifle. Mitchell Arms did the same thing with their Yugoslavian AK's. Times were different as were the regulations.

















    I'm very much with SteyrAUG on this, buy a preban Kraut HK91, Greek Springfield Armory SAR-3, SAR-3/8, or SAR-8 (make sure it's a Greek stamped steel receiver, avoid the aluminum receiver with the integral rail), or Portuguese G3S or XG3S.

    A build by a known HK centric smith on a HK contract receiver with an excellent parts kit is worth owning if you can save some money on it.

    I still don't trust the JLD/PTR rifles as a whole, but if their line is improving with the new G3 GI rifle, which can be had for just under $1K, then that would be a great option.
    Employee of colonialshooting.com

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    Arrow

    Great article! I had both a pre-ban HK91, and later a 911 post-ban import back in the day - wish I had BOTH back.

    I have a late JLD gun, which I bought new, but dumb-lucked into just because of WHEN I bought it. It has the better barrel, and honestly, I can't tell the difference between it and my old HK's, performance-wise. The aluminum forend is an interesting development, but I'd still rather have the wide HK forend with factory bipod.
    - Either you're part of the problem or you're part of the solution or you're just part of the landscape - Sam Vincent (Robert DeNiro) in, "Ronin" -

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    Some cool pics of German soldiers with their early German G3s.





    Note the CETME style rear sight on these early series HK rifles.

    And if you are interested in the early evolution of the HK semi auto rifles into this country, see this topic.

    The HK G3 Semi Auto Rifle...
    Last edited by SteyrAUG; 04-11-11 at 12:56.
    It's hard to be a ACLU hating, philosophically Libertarian, socially liberal, fiscally conservative, scientifically grounded, agnostic, porn admiring gun owner who believes in self determination.

    Chuck, we miss ya man.

    كافر

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    Steyr, if you have any of the Portuguese imports, it would be helpful if you could take some pictures of the markings so people know what they're looking at.
    Employee of colonialshooting.com

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    http://gastatic.com/UserImages/10898...wm_2624550.jpg

    Will be marked on the right side of the receiver INDEP PORTUGAL, or MANUFACTURED BY INDEP PORTUGAL.
    "Life is short, but the years are long." - Robert A. Heinlein

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    A little seen variant:

    GetAttachment-3.jpg

    Greek licensed produced SAR 3/8
    RDTS mod'd
    HK-33/93 length handguards
    16" barrel (17.7" regular)
    Picatinny rail welded atop, can co-witness aimpoint
    Paddle release

    These rifles are esp reliable in cold/arctic weather as compared many military rifles.

    This reminds me.. Been a few yrs since checking the roller gap.

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    Quote Originally Posted by armakraut View Post
    http://gastatic.com/UserImages/10898...wm_2624550.jpg

    Will be marked on the right side of the receiver INDEP PORTUGAL, or MANUFACTURED BY INDEP PORTUGAL.

    That would actually be one of the CAI receivers brought in after the ban. The FMP G3S were marked differently and imported by PARS. I need to dig one out and get a picture.

    Here are the correct markings on a FMP G3S. This one actually being a post ban XG3S but brought in before they nipped the flash hider. You can identify them easily from the "receiver builds" as the correct imports have a green / gray park usually not found on the gunsmith builds. Additionally the CAI and INTERPORT markings tell you it is a receiver build gun, complete rifle imports were brought in by PARS.



    I made mine into a Swiss Army Rifle.



    I also failed to mention the Springfield (Hellenic Arms - Greece) Counter Sniper rifle that was briefly imported.



    Was once the poor mans PSG1, not really an affordable alternative these days.
    Last edited by SteyrAUG; 04-11-11 at 15:41.
    It's hard to be a ACLU hating, philosophically Libertarian, socially liberal, fiscally conservative, scientifically grounded, agnostic, porn admiring gun owner who believes in self determination.

    Chuck, we miss ya man.

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    Great post AUG! You are a wealth of knowledge on the subject! I had considered getting a PTR, but now I am rethinking the issue.
    The opinions expressed on this board are mine and mine alone. They do not represent any departments or organizations I may be a member of.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Killjoy View Post
    Great post AUG! You are a wealth of knowledge on the subject! I had considered getting a PTR, but now I am rethinking the issue.

    I'm constantly on the fence about the PTRs and would love to check out the GI barrel models. They really do have the ability to become a US contract rifle if they wanted.

    That said, you can track down the Greek and Portuguese rifles for slightly more money and they are completely dependable.

    I just wish PTR would knock out a semi G3 complete with paddle magazine release and military spec barrel. Then they'd have something most of us would be very interested in.
    It's hard to be a ACLU hating, philosophically Libertarian, socially liberal, fiscally conservative, scientifically grounded, agnostic, porn admiring gun owner who believes in self determination.

    Chuck, we miss ya man.

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    Dano, can you post a bigger picture, please?

    May I ask why did you go with the shorter handguard (which involves cutting the recoil spring tube) instead of just chopping 1.7" from the barrel?

    Can you show the welded on picatinny rail? It is a great idea to cowitness the iron sights (great cheek weld as well).

    What do you use with magnified optics? Can you use relatively low mounted see-through rings?

    Any other mods? Rail glued/riveted to the handguards, o perhaps sling swivels mounted on them?

    What is the weight with the RDS, sling and loaded aluminium magazine?

    Thanks in advance

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    Thumbs up

    Great thread, deserves a sticky.

    My father has a HK 91 he bought back in the day. I always enjoy learing about this rifle.


    “When you tear out a man's tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you're only telling the world that you fear what he might say.”
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteyrAUG View Post
    I'm constantly on the fence about the PTRs and would love to check out the GI barrel models. They really do have the ability to become a US contract rifle if they wanted.

    That said, you can track down the Greek and Portuguese rifles for slightly more money and they are completely dependable.

    I just wish PTR would knock out a semi G3 complete with paddle magazine release and military spec barrel. Then they'd have something most of us would be very interested in.
    About the only thing my countrymen have done right in the past century...Damn those Greeks. I'll need to find one for myself eventually
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    Great thread!

    Makes me want to dig out my unfired HK911 & fondle the planet of the apes thumbhole stock!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Templar View Post
    This is an example of an HK Contract Rifle....

    Springfield Armory SAR-3/8 that was built in Greece by Hellenic Arms on HK tooling. The original preban Springfield G3 type rifles were marked G3 (very rare), SAR-3 and when the import ban hit in 1989, the remaining rifles in the country but still in the bonded warehouse were overstamped with an 8, so as to allow the sale of the banned "SAR-3".

    This is a rifle that I purchased originally in 1990. Back then, Springfield could sell the SAR-3/8 with a thumbhole stock, and muzzle nut over the threaded muzzle, AND then advertised an "accurizing kit" that included the original buttstock, pistol grip, and flash suppressor. There was nothing in the executive order that said you couldn't refit those items to the rifle. Mitchell Arms did the same thing with their Yugoslavian AK's. Times were different as were the regulations.

















    I'm very much with SteyrAUG on this, buy a preban Kraut HK91, Greek Springfield Armory SAR-3, SAR-3/8, or SAR-8 (make sure it's a Greek stamped steel receiver, avoid the aluminum receiver with the integral rail), or Portuguese G3S or XG3S.

    A build by a known HK centric smith on a HK contract receiver with an excellent parts kit is worth owning if you can save some money on it.

    I still don't trust the JLD/PTR rifles as a whole, but if their line is improving with the new G3 GI rifle, which can be had for just under $1K, then that would be a great option.
    I'm torn between going for an original German hk91, the Greek sar, or the ptr 91 GI. Pretty significant differences in condition and price out there. I found some decent late 70's HK91's going for low 2k range and some early 80's versions with some wear for the same price. Problem with the Greek stuff is I have no idea how old they are but some of them appear to be almost new. Are the SAR barrels threaded under that ridiculous fake hider or do I need a good smith to bring them into their original configuration? Are the fake hiders pinned on and can the stock/grip be removed? I would like it as true to the original as possible which is what keeps me from going for the PTR in the first place. What is the PTR missing that the originals have? And did any models except the factory or converted machine guns have the paddle release? Every original hk91 I've seen for sale doesn't seem to have the paddle. If PTR actually made it true to spec I would not hesitate.
    Leave the guns...bring the cannolis.
    Give me but one firm spot on which to stand and I will move the Earth. -Archimedes

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    Oreaopla

    I am just building mine.
    So far I have a new FMP CHF barrel.
    New HK trunnion
    New HK cocking tube
    Anti rattle paddle release
    Like new HK BCG with tungsten weights in the carrier
    New HK recoil assemble
    New HK steel weld on shell deflector.
    I still have a ways to go but when I am through it will have all the newest HK G3 updates with a CHF barrel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oreaopla View Post
    Are the fake hiders pinned on and can the stock/grip be removed? I would like it as true to the original as possible which is what keeps me from going for the PTR in the first place. What is the PTR missing that the originals have? And did any models except the factory or converted machine guns have the paddle release? Every original hk91 I've seen for sale doesn't seem to have the paddle. If PTR actually made it true to spec I would not hesitate.
    The fake flash hider is pressed on. It is a pain to correct. One of the best solutions is the faux 91k where a correct flash hider is permanently attached to a shortened barrel.

    http://www.arizonaresponsesystems.co...esmithhk.shtml

    The thumbhole stock is removed as simply as a standard stock.

    None of the early imports had a paddle magazine release. You will either have to have one gunsmith installed or opt for something like the Tac Latch.

    http://www.taclatch.com/
    It's hard to be a ACLU hating, philosophically Libertarian, socially liberal, fiscally conservative, scientifically grounded, agnostic, porn admiring gun owner who believes in self determination.

    Chuck, we miss ya man.

    كافر

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteyrAUG View Post
    The fake flash hider is pressed on. It is a pain to correct. One of the best solutions is the faux 91k where a correct flash hider is permanently attached to a shortened barrel.

    http://www.arizonaresponsesystems.co...esmithhk.shtml

    The thumbhole stock is removed as simply as a standard stock.

    None of the early imports had a paddle magazine release. You will either have to have one gunsmith installed or opt for something like the Tac Latch.

    http://www.taclatch.com/
    Probably best to find an SAR that already has the flash hider installed, even if it's pinned then. Or just buy an hk91 and have it refinished and have the paddle installed I suppose. I'm not too concerned with affecting the collector value since I'm not going to sell it off.
    Leave the guns...bring the cannolis.
    Give me but one firm spot on which to stand and I will move the Earth. -Archimedes

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