Heckler & Koch G11
Any firearm with the Heckler & Koch (H&K) moniker affixed to it is gold. That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it. When German arms maker H&K was tasked with developing a special assault rifle for the German Armed Forces, the Bundeswehr, in the 1970s and 1980s, engineers went after the project with a vengeance. The result, the H&K G11, is a cutting-edge prototype that utilizes caseless ammo, specifically 4.73x33mm.
Caseless ammo is a concept that has been around since the breech-loading rifle.
Most modern small arms use a brass or steel case in which to package the primer, propellant and projectile as a single unit. Caseless ammo does away with the expensive metal casing, eliminating weight, reducing cost and doing away with the repetitive extraction and ejection process. In theory, caseless ammunition is the wave of the future.
In reality, problems must be addressed, namely the issue of “cook off.”
A traditional metal shell casing expels heat from the host weapon when it is ejected, heat that can prematurely discharge rounds with non-metallic casings.
Caseless ammo has made great advances since the G11, but it’s not there yet.
The H&K G11 is a gas operated, rotating breech assault rifle in the bullpup configuration with an elongated, boxy look. It weighs eight pounds empty, 9.5 pounds loaded. Overall length is 29.5 inches with the 21.25-inch barrel accounting for much of the weapon’s length. The magazine mounted atop the G11 has a capacity of 50 or 45 rounds of 4.73x33mm CA (caseless ammunition). Muzzle velocity is an impressive 3,050 feet per second, and the effective range of the G11 is 1,312 feet or 400 meters.
The heart of the G11, its ammunition, weighs half what the standard NATO 5.56mm (.223) round weighs, and its volume is roughly 40 percent that of the 5.56. The G11 has three firing modes: semiautomatic, full auto and three-round burst.
Ballistically, the 4.73mm ammo used in the G11 is less likely to tumble upon penetration, like the 5.56mm, lowering the caseless round’s lethality. That said, the G11 and other auto-loaders like it should be around for some time.
In fact, they are likely to be the future of modern warfare.