HK G11

A revolutionary new concept - perfected - with nothing comparable internationally

In the development of infantry small arms the fact that the problem of effectiveness could not be solved satisfactorily showed that the concept of a weapon/ammunition system such as the G11 meant tackling paths previously unexplored. Assault rifles in service around the world today are too heavy as individual weapons due to the caliber. Their recoil is excessive and it is impossible to keep them aimed on targets during sustained fire. Bullet trajectories today are also too high and do not fill current needs.

Today's combat conditions as well as lower training levels of the shooter have decreased hit probability under battlefield conditions. The advancement in today's tactical requirements has overcome the state of the art and therefore these requirements could not be met by current technology or ergonomic (man machine interface, human engineering) principles. This developmental stagnation has been overcome by the development of the new weapon/ammunition system (the G11 Rifle with caseless ammunition), which was only possible with innovative technology to meet the following requirements:

    High hit probability Quick readiness to fire Good ergonomic design Highest possible functional safety Simplified care and maintenance Caseless ammunition
  • i. e. owing to the elimination of the cartridge case
  • no case ejection
  • small dimensions
  • low cartridge weight
  • no consumption of critical material.

The most important requirement is the considerable increase of hit probability under realistic combat conditions. Relatively close battlefield ranges require an immediate readiness to fire. This requirement must be addressed in the weapons development at the very beginning. Therefore, it is imperative that the future infantry weapon be light, sturdy and easy to handle. This implies that it should be short in length in order not to be an impediment to the shooter who must also be able to deploy it immediately. The infantry weapon has to be well human engineered in order to give improved shooting results. The time necessary to prepare for an accurate shot can be shortened by a well designed and handy weapon that lies well in the hand and is somewhat shorter.

On these grounds the external design of the G11 Rifle was based on the ergonomic requirements advanced to assure an easy handling in all firing positions and modes. This requires that the receiver has minimum externally moving parts which protrude from the surface of the weapon. Therefor, even if the weapon is used improperly the shooter will not be handicapped due to its simple design. Firing the weapon from the shoulder or the hip is equally as easy and the shooter does not have to be concerned with expended hot cartridge cases flying around.

The requirements for functioning in all extremes were fuIfiIled in such a way that all mechanical moving parts of the rifle are enclosed within the gun in a completely sealed receiver or housing. Due to this configuration, the functioning will not be as easily impaired by external influences, and at the same time maintenance and care of the gun are simplified. This means that the G11 Rifle fully maintains its functionability under all climatic conditions after immersion into water, especially salt water in sand and sand storms and furthermore after immersion into mud of any mixture and texture.

By selecting the proper material used in the construction of the receiver, corrosion, fatigue and sensitivity to battlefield environments and chemical substances are reduced. The G11's smooth outer surfaces ensure easy decontamination.

High hit probability

The primary objective for the development of a new and highly innovative weapon/ammunition system is to achieve a considerable increase in hit probability under realistic combat conditions. Detailed analyses of the behaviour of soldiers under stress conditions showed that due to aiming errors the so-called "aimed" single shot generally misses the target. The hit probability of the shooter can be significantly increased by ensuring that the weapon itself has a dispersion which takes into consideration normal aiming error. A dispersion of such a significance would be ridiculous if it were allowed to occur in an uncontrolled manner during each single shot.

To achieve this the G11 Rifle allows an automatically limited burst with defined dispersion as an alternative to the single shot. The defined dispersion does not depend on the shooter and his training level nor the selected firing position. The result therefore is that at least one bullet of the fired burst hits the target and disables the enemy. This can only be achieved by combining a high rate of fire with a limited nearly free motion of the rearward moving parts of the weapon.

The advantage of being able to use automatic infantry rifles in the sustained fire mode in spontaneous attacks and against moving targets is especially achieved by the G11 Rifle. The design prevents the recoil developed when firing from acting directly upon the shooter's shoulder and converts the steepness of the recoil impulse into a curve of the longest possible duration with minimum pressure peaks.

Due to this design feature, a considerably smaller dispersion is achieved when firing in the sustained fire mode (instead of a burst) than conventional weapons could deliver. This enables the shooter for the first time to control and correct his weapon within a certain target area or to track a moving target while firing.

Optical sight

The handle located above the receiver near the weapon's center of gravity contains the optical sight. This piece of equipment allows quick target acquisition and binocular observation of the battlefield without tiring the eye. An illuminated reticule with automatic, electronic shut off time-element ensures optimum target display in twilight conditions. No special training of the shooter is required.

Technical data of the optical sight:
Image 1:1
Entry pupil 10 mm
Exit pupil 10 mm
Pupil clearance 35 mm
Field of view 200 mil
Eye piece adjustment - 0.5 dpt (constant)

Constructional features

The pistoI grip is ideally placed very close to the center of gravity of the weapon which reduces the weight that would be placed on the supporting arm holding the front of the weapon. This then guarantees quick readiness to shoot in any position. The trigger group contains the trigger mechanism, the safety mechanism, and the selective fire indicator that can be switched from safe to single shot to three round burst to fully automatic. The burst mechanism fires at greater than 2000 rounds per minute, and the normal automatic rate of fire is approximately 600 rounds per minute.

The operating device to load and unload the weapon - designed as a turn lever - is situated behind the grip. Three features are especially notable:

1. Contrary to the loading mechanisms of conventional weapons, it
is impossible to feed a second cartridge when one cartridge is in the
2. The entire loading process is controlled ensuring that the weapon
can be loaded and unloaded automatically with little noise.
3. While firing, the turn lever and the entire loading and unloading
mechanism is motionless.

The magazine positioned parallel to the bore axis above the handguard is taken out toward the muzzle for reloading. It is spring driven, single-stacked and holds 50 cartridges. The approximate number of cartridges is visible from the outside even when the weapon is ready to fire. The magazine can be manually reloaded with individual cartridges or directly from the packing unit, which can be used as a loading device.

The detachable plastic handguard situated in front and fixed onto the receiver encloses the interior free-floating barrel. Upon request it is possible to equip it with a bipod support or with a fixed bipod. It is also possible to equip it with a bayonet mount. In either case the free-floating barrel is not affected.

At the rear, the receiver is water tight and dustproof with a closed butt cap. The butt cap is not required to absorb any significant recoil forces. After unlocking and removing the cap, the entire interior mechanism can be taken out of the receiver from the rear.

The graphical representation of the bolt mechanism (cylinder bolt) shows that it is a completely new and simple breech concept. A cartridge is fed by means of positive control from the magazine into the chamber within the cylinder. At this point the cartridge is perpendicular to the firing direction. The cylinder then turns clockwise 90°; the cartridge is now in line with the barrel and can be mechanically ignited and fired. The cylinder and chamber are again turned 90° by gas pressure and brought back into the feeding position. When firing bursts and during sustained fire this action is repeated continuously. The main advantages of this system are:

  • simple design with few components
  • very short overall length of the weapon with a long barrel
  • elimination of the rearward travel of the bolt
  • shortest possible and absolutely straight cartridge feeding
  • high rates of fire due to extremely short bolt movements.

The entire mechanical part of the weapon, excluding the trigger, safety and fire selector mechanism is mounted in a floating manner within the sealed receiver. After mechanical ignition of the first cartridge and after the bullet has left the muzzle, the entire mounted part of the weapon moves to the rear and compresses the mount spring.

When firing a 3-round burst, the hammer ignites the second and third cartridge as soon as they are in firing position upon completion of the cylinder rotation. During all three rotation or firing cycles, the mounted part of the weapon moves to the rear at an increased velocity, though it transfers only minimal recoil to the shooter's shoulder. The weapon remains steady in the aimed position; no conventional weapon can achieve these same firing results.

During sustained fire, the hammer remains cocked after the first rotation or firing cycle until the rearward motion of the mounted part of the weapon is completed and the mount spring has driven the mounted part into its forward initial position. Thus, the rate of fire is not determined by the rotation cycle of the bolt, but by the cycle of the mounted part of the weapon. Again, there is no notable recoiI on the shooter's shoulder. As mentioned above, the weapon can be easily controlled in the aiming position to track moving targets, i.e. for the first time ever aimed sustained fire is possible.

The G11 Rifle, which is only 75cm long and weighs only 3.6 kg, can fulfill all requirements for a future weapon/ammunition system in all tactical roles, either as a submachine gun, rifle or a light support weapon. Therefore, the significant technical progress is complemented by the logistic advantage of reducing the number of different types of weapons and ammunition.

Technical data
Designation G11 Rifle
Caliber 4.7 mm (.185 inch)
Type of cartridge caseless
Length of weapon 750 mm (29.5 inch)
Width of weapon 58 mm (partially 65 mm)
Height of weapon 290 mm (11.4 inch)
Weight of weapon
including 100 cartridges
3.6 kg (7.9 lbs)
4.3 kg (9.5 lbs)
Barrel length without chamber 540 mm (21.3 inch)
Muzzle twist 155 mm/twist (6.10 inch/twist)
Bore profile polygon
Modes of fire single shot
3-round burst
sustained fire
Theoretical rates of fire:
3-round burst
sustained fire
> 2000 rpm
approx. 600 rpm
Magazine capacity 50 cartridges
Combat range > 300 m (984 ft)
Steel helmet penetration up to 600 m (1 969 ft)
Operating principle gas operated
cartridge in the chamber
Bolt principle cylinder bolt

Caseless ammunition

The realization of a truly innovative weapon/ammunition system also called for new ammunition technology. Therefore, the only solution is: Caseless Ammunition. Only by combining of small arms with caseless ammunition could real technical progress be achieved. The main features of this cartridge are:

  • the elimination of the cartridge case
  • compact design
  • increased cook-off temperature.

The ammunition's general components are similar to those of conventional cartridges: bullet, propellant charge and ignitor. Configuration and functioning, however, are unconventional as the exterior shape has been adapted to the weapon and its functional requirements.

Contrary to the round cartridge cases, the geometry of the propellant body is rectangular so that wasted space which was previously unavoidable when the cartridges were placed in magazines or packages has been eliminated. Moreover, the friction which exists in conventional magazines between the individual cartridges and the walls of the magazine no longer exists. It is not uncommon for this friction to be the main cause of malfunctions in conventional weapons.

The smaller dimensions of the cartridge ensure reduced packing volume and high magazine capacity. The elimination of the case reduces the cartridge weight considerably. The high rate of fire is possible in the 3-round burst due to the combination of a short cartridge and a minimal feed distance.

The propellant body, consisting of a mixture of a crystalline energy medium and binders is designed as an extremely solid and compact block. The burning behaviour of the propellant charge, i.e. the gas pressure curve, is similar to that of conventional ammunition. The average maximum gas pressure is defined as less than 4000 bars (58,000 psi), the muzzle velocity is 930 m/s (3051 ft/s). All elements of the propellant body and the primer of the cartridge are completely combustible or consumable so that only a minimal amount of combustion residue remains. There is no need for ejection of cartridge cases or anything else. Due to the cook-off temperature of the new propellant charge, approximately 100°C higher than for nitrocellulose powder, a cook-off point meeting the requirements of a new infantry weapon can be achieved.

In order to ensure optimum properties in exterior and terminal ballistics, an extremely slim ogive shape and a high sectional density have been selected for the bullet. The exterior ballistic performances are summarized in the following ballistic table:

Range Barrel
Cross wind
drift (wind
(m) (mil) (m/s) (j) (s) (m) (m)
0 0 930 0 1,460 0 0
100 0.6 837 0.11 1180 0.02 0.003
200 1.3 752 0.24 955 0.07 0.025
300 2.2 670 0.38 755 0.17 0.058
400 3.1 595 0.54 595 0.35 0.110
500 4.3 523 0.72 460 0.62 0.182
600 5.7 455 0.92 350 1.02 0.275

Especially noteworthy in this table is the maximum height of trajectory of 17 cm at a range of 300m and the corresponding time of flight of only 0.38 s. Because of the flat trajectory of the bullet, changing the sight setting on the weapon for ranges upto 300 m is not necessary. The sensitivity to cross wind is less than that of other comparable bullets. For example, the drift is only 27.5 cm at a range of 600 m and a cross wind velocity of 3.28 ft/s.

Due to the slight air resistance coefficient of the new bullet, its decrease in velocity is very low so that the bullet of the 4.7 mm cartridge of the new G11 Rifle still has a very high specific energy on the target, even at longer ranges. The terminaI baIIistic effects on soft targets are in line with international conventions. Even at extremely short firing ranges, there is no fragmentation of the bullet within the target medium.

Penetration capability through hard targets has been fully achieved. A German steel helmet (NATO test medium) is penetrated at distances up to 600 m. The 4.7 mm bullet penetrates approx. 30 pine boards (1 inch thickness, spaced at 1 inch). The penetration capability through steel and concrete is comparable with conventional ammunition.

Types of ammunition

Beside the combat cartridge with jacketed soft-core bullet, the following types of ammunition have been developed:

  • combat cartridge with jacketed soft-core tracer bullet
  • practice cartridge with plastic training bullet
  • practice cartridge for manoeuvres and
  • dummy cartridge.

The ammunition is available in a pack which serves also as a reloading unit. Unpacked ammunition maintains its serviceability after long term storage under normal atmospheric conditions, even after 1 hour immersion into water. The 4.7 mm caseless ammunition is absolutely safe. Due to the elimination of the case, contact with a flame or impact from a bullet creates no overpressure in the cartridge, so that in these circumstances there are no cartridge case fragments or flying bullets to cause injury.

Packed ammunition is classified in safety class 1.4.2 S of the IMDG code, page 1240 or U.N. No. 0012.

Advantages of the system

G11 Rifle

High hit probability in all firing positions and modes of fire

  • Mounted (rearward moving) weapon system with
    extremely low and delayed recoil
  • Extremely high rate of fire in the burst fire mode
  • Low rate of fire in the sustained fire mode
  • Rapid target acquisition and binocular battlefield

Sealed receiver
Integrated high-capacity magazine

  • Full functional capability under severe conditions
  • No impediment to the shooter from propellant gases
  • Simplified maintenance and training
  • Increased combat capability

Rotating chamber without linear moving bolt

  • Short weapon length with maximum barrel length
  • Short in-litie cartridge feeding
  • Minimumfrictionforcestothefedcartridge
  • Minimum stress on components in all firing modes

Optimized ergonomic design

  • Quick readiness to fire
  • Left or right hand shooting
  • Ideal center of gravity (located near the grip)
  • Smooth exterior shape
  • Minimum overall dimensions

Caseless ammunition

No cartridge case
  • No ejection port
  • No consumption of expensive metals
  • No signature by ejected cases
  • Noimpedimenttothenear-byshooter
  • No need for policing spent cases

Low cartridge weight, small cartridge dimensions

  • More ammunition portability by the shooter
  • Greater ammunition capacity in the weapon
  • Simplified logistics

Small caliber, high sectional density of the bullet result
even at extreme ranges in:

  • Flat trajectory
  • High penetration power
  • Good stability
  • Minimum cross wind sensitivity

High ammunition dependability

  • High mechanical strength of the cartridge
  • Reloading directly from packing units
  • Fully automated ammunition production
  • Mechanical ignition

First Published by HK in cooperation with Dynamit Nobel

Information courtesy of Heckler and Koch