Central War Gaming Blog

Central War Gaming Blog


Thursday, December 31, 2015

H&K G3 Rifles

Ardea issues 7.62 rifles almost universally to their soldiers and other forces. Using an FN FAL airsoft rifle has already been covered, but now let's talk about the second most common .30 caliber rifle, the G3.

Like a lot of mid-century technology, the basic technology behind the G3 started during World War II. Mauser continued developing the roller lock as used in earlier guns, like the MG42 for use in an individual rifle. It was never fielded, and the Nazis who worked on it went to France after the war to develop it for a rifle competition that never quite happened. They then moved to CETME (an arms development institute) in Spain where they got the opportunity to develop it more.
The wartime G-45

The story is very, very long and complex, but after the US forced the 7.62 cartridge down NATO's throat, the rest of the world still didn't resist pointing and laughing at the hilariously outdated M14. The Germans wanted the FAL like everyone did, and issued a bunch of Belgian-made guns as the G1. The German government wanted to get a license to make them in Germany but the Belgians turned them down. There are two versions of that story: The head of FN "rudely insulted" the German delegation, or that the Germans were insensitive clods in the negotiations with a factory they had a decade earlier been running with slave labor, blown up when they left, and sent rockets to blow up more after that.

Spanish sailors still occasionally use CETME model C rifles. In the back is a similarly old model Z62 SMG. 

After some more looking around, some rifle competitions and improvements by HK and DWM, the G3 was adopted. It should be noted that the first fielded German guns were different from what we're used to, in several ways. They were gray parkerized things, with wooden stocks and different sights, basically like the CETME model A. They evolved into the shiny black drum sighted gun we're used to, and all the early ones were arsenal refurbished, so German Army issue guns are all the same.

Eventually, Germany got equipped enough that HK sought export licenses, and by the late 1960s were competing with the FN FAL. Others who bought the gun bought it after the Germans had updated to the current A3/A4 spec so they all look the same, and mostly have plastic stocks.

The G3 was also turned into a whole series of rifles. The MP5 is a very small G3, and a 5.56 mm version (the HK33, or HK93 in civilian guise) was also made. There is an airsoft HK33 so don't be confused by that one when searching out ones to buy.

The G3 Today

Most 7.62 armies that used the G3 have switched to the 5.56 cartridge now. G3s are either relegated to second-line use, or are only used for specialty roles such as marksmen, or mountain troops that need the extra range. Naturally, they are also used by police and paramilitary forces.

The Swedes are a good example of current use. Their AK4 rifles were all arsenal refinished, and as part of that the sights were cut off, a rail was welded on, and they all wear a special Aimpoint. Every Home Guard (basically, everyone in Sweden) has one of these in a locked box under their bed or in the back of their closet, so keep that in mind if you try to invade them.

The Germany Army, despite going to G36s for their rifle, and automatic rifle, still use G3s for their designated marksman weapons. As you can see, in pretty unmodified format, with no rails or funny add-ons, it works fine for them.

The Ardeans are one of those countries that had enough battlefield success with the 7.62 rifles, and insufficient budget to switch over, so keeps them in front line use.

G3 Rifle Variants

Many G3 rifle variants are made but we only allow full size G3A3 or G3A4 rifles, with full or telescoping stocks, and the slightly shorter G3K (which is not produced but can be easily modified to). This does not include the HK51, MC51, SAS, or other SMG-sized versions. Those are not real, factory produced or issued guns. We also don't allow any side-folding stocks, M16 telefolders, etc. Only commonly-issued, real world variants are allowed.

Top to bottom, G3A3 (fixed stock), G3A4 (telescoping or retracting stock), G3K. Nothing shorter than the G3K was ever made by any arms factory or issued to anyone. 

The G3/SG-1, G3/SG-3, MSG-90, and PSG-1 variant sniper/marksman weapons are also not allowed. Note that many manufacturers and retailers list their guns as "sniper" rifles or call G3A3s "SG-1" variants. This is rarely true, The PSG-1 has special stocks, a bulky tripod instead of a bipod and a weird scope. The SG-1 has a prominent set trigger, and so on.

See, that's a tedious sniper rifle, not an infantry rifle. Pistol grips and stocks from this, while they just clip on, should not be on your G3 rifle, either. 

HK also made machine guns and automatic rifles based on the G3. The HK11 and 13 are magazine fed automatic rifles, so are not allowed. However, the HK 21 and 23 belt-fed machine guns are allowed, if you can find one of the few, or wish to make one, but only as machine guns. They cannot double up as your individual rifle.
Heavy, interchangeable barrels (for extended firing), belt fed, sights calibrated to 1200 yards for area denial, heavy bipod, and stocks for reverse grip to control it. These are normally actually used from the MG42 tripods, when not on the assault. Machine gun, not a rifle. 

This long thread has zillions of photos of the various parts of an HK21, so will be good to guide you, or to discourage you when you see how many parts are different from the rifle. You cannot fake a lot of this with PVC, but probably have to buy some real gun parts. Expensive ones. The rear sight is available, but is $400, the belt box, when available is $500! 

Under-Barrel Grenade Launchers

While not super-common outside the German Army, and no airsoft versions exist, HK made a grenade launcher for the G3 rifle, the HK79.

Norway only started replacing their G3s in 2010, so still used them heavily in Afghanistan, and still issue some. This guy has an HK79 under his dusty gun.

But that doesn't mean you cannot have a grenade launcher. Many countries just went ahead and put M203s under their G3s. Remember, these are guns from before the era of the RIS. M203s easily clamp straight onto any barrel, which is good since we do not allow rails. No army routinely issued rails on their G3s, and there's not a really good one. Certainly not one that can handle the recoil of a grenade launcher.

The Turks formally use an M203 setup on their G3 rifles. They have a domestically produced variant of the M203 they call the T-4, and use a handguard similar to the older USGI open-bottom one. 

HK also made a ladder-style grenade sight, calibrated from 50-350 m, as seen on the Turkish rifle above. This folds flat, but can be elevated for use, and is quite modular, clamping onto the rear optical sight mounting position. this does remove the ability to add optical sights, so is not always used. 

No, I've never, ever seen one for sale, but it wouldn't be too hard to fake one by cutting up a cheap bolt-on sight base and adding a suitable-looking ladder sight

Airsoft 3G Rifles

Airsoft G3s tend to be nominally stronger than other airsoft guns. They are harder to break than the typical AR-15 and Kalashnikovs that most players are familiar with. Obviously, they are still airsoft guns, so are not as indestructible as real guns.

They are also modular to a great extent, and the basic components are held together by pins, just like the real G3. This makes them much easier to disassemble than many other airsoft guns. If you are planning to learn how to work on airsoft gearboxes this would be a very good start.

Modifying your Airsoft G3

Real G3 and HK91 stocks and other accessories are readily available. Some, such as proper scope mounts are very expensive, but some such as surplus stocks are very cheap.

Real stocks and foregrips don't quite fit out of the box, but can be modified to fit airsoft versions. It requires careful removal of some material inside of the stocks, but is not complicated and does not require specialized equipment.

Here are a few examples of real steel parts and accessories:
The semi-auto commercial model of the G3 is called the HK-91. Numerous CETME model C rifles were also imported as parts kits to the US, and converted to semi-auto, civilian legal guns. These are both basically identical to the issue rifle as far as parts, accessories, mag pouches and the like go, so if you search on gun part dealers, or eBay it may be worth checking these model numbers as well.

A few things fit several or all models, but not all accessories. Slings are universal, bipods fit the 33/93 and the G3/91 (but not the MP5), but scope mounts fit all three.

Metal bodies are important if you want to attach the clamp-on HK scope mounts, or use them with heavy scopes such as night vision devices. Plastic bodies are more often out of spec, and will crack under the force of the mount clamping on.

Night sights often have to mounted very high, so you need a cheekrest or to simply have an odd pose. This is a good reason to invest in a real claw mount, so you can remove the night sight during the day. Also, another M203 under a G3. 

The G3A3 and A4 are not quite as long as the FAL, with barrels (on the real guns) around 18" long. The G3K is their "Para" equivalent, though it is never called that, with a shorter 12.5" barrel. It is most often seen in use by armored vehicle crews, or others who need the space.

While no airsoft G3Ks exist, they aren't that hard to make. You just have to remove the exposed barrel, so the flash hider and grenade ring come straight out of the end of the handguard retaining ring, and then reduce the length of the handguards. Of course, that's impossible, but G3K stocks are simply HK33 stocks, which you can find in airsoft guise or simply get a real steel one.

You can then either cut and re-attach, or simply buy the CA HK33 and combine with your G3 to make a convincing-looking hybrid.

A custom "G3K" airsoft gun Mac Schlosser made by merging a CA HK33 front end with a G3A3. 

Officially, a G3K should have a telescoping stock (why else would you bother having the short front) but since they are still modular, a full stock can be fitted if you really need the room for a battery. As long as it's a normal G3 stock, not a sniper stock, sidefolder, etc. we don't mind. 

As long as you have a good reason, such as a night vision sight, we'll even let cheek rest stocks from the G3/SG1 and MSG-90 fly. 

Getting an Airsoft G3 Today 

Naturally, Tokyo Marui was the first to make a G3 rifle. These were all plastic, but improved over time, and were (along with the MP5) one of the earlier guns for which aftermarket metal receivers were available.

The TM pattern has been followed by all those who cloned it, so most parts, and all magazines are interchangeable. That's convenient, unlike airsoft FALs, as you can safely borrow from anyone with a G3.

  • Tokyo Marui: Made the original airsoft G3s long ago, and is still sometimes in production and available. 
  • Classic Army: Off and on production over several years. Plentiful enough to find used options from the community.  CA offered a correct telescoping stock version (G3A4), as well as the fixed stock G3A3. All appear to have metal "bodies" (receivers). Currently there are no CA G3 available new US stores, but might be soon, as they are being released in Europe in the coming months. Uses TM magazines without issue, as well as real HK accessories.
  • JG: As is often the case, offers an inexpensive, functional option which is still in production. It's even readily available in the US currently. Many JG guns served for years at Eastwind, without a single issue in stock form. Correct specs, allow use of TM magazines, and real HK claw mounts for optics.

Some examples of CWG-acceptable G3 rifles currently for sale are:

You can't buy it, but this is the CA G3A4. Pretty...


  1. How does switching to wooden parts affect the battery situation?

    1. If you have a rear wired gearbox, you'll have to carve out a bit of the wood to fit. Good reason to get a MOSFET and small lipos, smaller batteries.

  2. You can get classic army G3s direct from Hong Kong from their website. You can also get metal bodies and cocking tubes for hella cheap. For the ones you allow:

    G3A4 - http://classicarmyshop.com/ca-a4-ca022m.html
    G3A3 (ignore the name) - http://classicarmyshop.com/ca-a3-sar-m41sg-ca021m.html
    G3A3 with infantry bipod and cheek rest, good if you plan on running optics (ignore name) - http://classicarmyshop.com/ca-sg1-taktik-rifle-ii-g3sg1-ca010m.html
    G3K - http://classicarmyshop.com/ca-a4-short-barrel-cacc005.html

    G3 Metal Body replacement kit - http://classicarmyshop.com/g3-metal-a090m.html
    G3 Metal Cocking tube replacement kit - http://classicarmyshop.com/g3-sole-metal-cocking-tube-assembly.html


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