This is intended for people interested in the subject of military guns and their ammunition, with emphasis on automatic weapons.
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I wonder why HK designers interfaced directly the polimer receiver with the metallic trunnion instead of using more metallic mass in an internal cage or rails like AUG or Tavor
I imagine cost was the primary factor. Injection overmolding the receiver over a metal trunnion is a lot less machining and material then having a solid aluminum receiver.
I imagine that H&K, having spent the last 30 years working on the G11 only to have it canceled, was also a bit sapped $ and R&D wise in 1990-95 when the G36 was designed.
Its a shame that Germany went with the G36 vs the AUG, which was its direct competitor in the competition. The AUG not only has more thermal stability, its so modular that it can be very easily upgraded and modernized while retaining compatibility with legacy parts.
That said, hindsight is 20/20. The G36 certainly looked super cool and modern in its introduction, and I doubt many in 1990-5, when 'history had ended' imagined Germany would be fighting sand people in hours long rifle battles thousands of miles from home.
First, G36 was a political selection and not a technical one. Technical was inclined to AUG
But second, G36 in Spanish service has work just right. Remember that we have scorching temperatures during summer, specially in the South but not only. During Spanish Army deployments in NATO missions there haven't been significant issues AFAIK
As I answered to Renato, AUG was the chosen one by the Spanish Army testers. But politics.
The very interesting development of all this story is that G36 didn't suffer any problem close to what it is said that happen with the Bundeswehr.
The new program is motivated in Germany by political reasons. A politician (Von der Leyen) and its group prefer to sacrifice taxpayer money and endanger HK reputation rather than lose face and admit that the process was conducted shittily.
Some years after that, Von der Leyen is presiding the EC, which has managed the European vaccination effort as shit again
I seem to recall Spain spent the extra money for the "more temperature extremes tolerant" version of the G36. HK offered that version to the German government, but they didn't want to spend the money.
I recall a similar rumor, that a different polymer was used in the Spanish and Export G36's. Another variation of the rumor was that Spain simply built a better, no expense spared, G36 at their Spanish factory.
It all seems weird that there would even be a cheaper grade of plastic option used in the receiver vs simply using the best plastic all the time.
Using a lower grade plastic for the stock and handguard and magwell, whatevs. But the receiver that holds the barrel? Its hard for me to imagine that was a thing.
Heres what a TFB commentator had to say:
After the German G36 issue was made public the Spanish Army conducted its own tests on the Spanish G36 rifles, which had been manufactured at the public Spanish firearms factory (Fábrica de Armas de La Coruña). A task force was appointed by the Army to make the analysis, and they replicated the German tests which conditions were already of public domain. They didn't find the shifting effect. Some army units also conducted their own individual tests, since the claim of the zero shifting was of high concern. They found no problem. My two cents: The Spanish factory strictly followed the original G36 polymer specifications by HK, while others may have cut some corners.
Yet another comment mentions the G36's used by Germany were fine, and the issue was actually caused by a faulty run of ammo with jackets that were too thin.
Since Spain and Lithuania are not having issues with their G36's, it seems like ammo would be the more likely culprit, but who knows at this point.
I'd say having the aluminum receiver + new barrel + modular STANAG magwell offered by Steyr would be a good 'mid life upgrade' regardless, especially if paired with a MLOK handguard and lowered picatinny top rail.
Especially if they use a 16" barrel vs the standard 18.9". Shave a little weight and length off the rifle and make it a bit handier. Or use a 16" barrel that is the same weight as the 18.9", so that its beefier at the base allowing more rigidity / thermal resistance ala M4A1/HK416.
Here is Steyr's official 'G62' G36 Upgrade page:
-Magwell that allows AR15/Stanag mags
-New relatively low aluminum picatinny rail
Notably their upgrade page makes no mention of the Wilcox Fusion system.
In France, most of our elite police forces (GIGN, RAID, BRI...) are equiped with the G36, manufactured at the Oberndorf factory by HK, and we also never managed to replicate the "thermal drift" found by the German Army.
The story I was been told was that when the CBC group acquired MEN, they "rationalized" the procurement process of the tin plated steel jacket used to manufacture the DM11 ammo (among other) for the German Army and used some jackets with too thick tin plating.
Tin is a metal with a pretty low temperature melting point (~230°C) and was fooling the barrel of the G36, producing the "thermal drift" found only by the German army, because other forces using the G36 are probably using 5.56 mm ammo with gliding (copper alloy) metal jacket...
Oh there's a part that makes it even weirder still.
There was a short time where the g36 was practically the go to gun for American swat teams...
That is until they stopped holding zero and etc and then one department paid someone to saw a couple open and see what was going on.
Needless to say, when he sawed the first couple apart he found that the trunnions were basically melty and remelted messes.
And then more departments sent a couple guns in. The same thing was found again!
And then in the space of a couple years you didn't see american swat teams running g36's anymore...
Now the interesting thing about that is that HK didn't want those guns getting out into the public market or being resold so the same guy got paid by many many departments to render the guns inoperable once they decided to stop using them.
Being a curious sort this guy cut all the guns he demilled open at the trunnions and at one point the pictures of what he found were available online a few places.
What did he find?
Stacks and stacks of barrel to receiver interfaces that had melted remelted flowed and became internally misshapen!
So either HK was selling american swat teams all the QC reject guns, or maybe the reason some armies don't seem to find this issue is because their accuracy standards aren't nearly what american swat team accuracy standards are. At which point those g36's in various armies that "don't have a problem with them" could very well be just as thermally beaten mangled and misshapen internally but because their accuracy standards are different etc it's escaping detection.
Another thing to keep in mind is that militaries can do fun things like decide to change the "service life requirements" and allowable sustained fire rates in order to be able to look you in the eye and say oh there's no problem here. (We know for a fact the German army did the second one quite a few years ago during GWOT so I don't see why the first would be off limits either)
And another thing to keep in mind is that the g36 was designed to be amazingly cheap to manufacture/the receiver isn't expected or designed to outlive the factory barrel!
What you get when you combine all this is a situation where when the rifle can't hold even most armies lax accuracy standards is a situation where very cheap guns just get wrote off as having reached end of life and replaced. And since the guns are cheap(especially if you're harvesting all the other parts and just essentially buying new barreled uppers or etc) it would be nigh on impossible to prove one way or the other without a much more complete information pool than people would give you access to!
The one thing this guy pointed out WRT the entire situation was that when he got the guns to demil they were still functional and safe to fire. They just couldn't hold a zero or etc to save their lives.
Regardless of what various groups are saying in an effort to cover their asses, I've seen the pictures of entire stacks of these receivers with obviously continuously melted remelted and etc trunnions. They definitely exist, and it's the only pool of guns that have been systematically sawed open to be examined we have. In some ways I have to give the Germans props for blaming it on the ammo.
That said, as we've seen in another case recently, as a gun manufacturer when in doubt blame it on the ammo is pretty much how you can successfully avoid responsibility for your fuckups.
Blaming it on the ammo is a gun company favorite for avoiding responsibility.
I have been told that story: Fábrica de Armas de La Coruña retained the original polymer composition of G36 design, while G36 built for Bundeswehr used a different, cheaper one. Who knows. After that, zero losing and shifting effect were derived for just one contested report and a few events in which finding a culprit was just too convenient.
But I agree with what you point out: how much can be saved with changing polymer formula?
Maybe the problem that launched the replacement problem was highly exaggerated, to the point that it didn't justify rationally all the fuss
I don't believe that local american swat have higher accuracy standards that elite Spanish units like GAR, BOEL, etc. And they use G36, although with external modifications such as low profile rails. But no metallic receiver AFAIK