When new rifles come on the scene, there is often a sound and fury about them. The HK 433 is no different, but unfortunately, I think it’s a very underrated rifle in the modern era. While people drone on and on about the MCX, the FN SCAR, and the newest NGSW rifles, the HK 433 gets barely any love. This rifle premiered in 2017. It blended the designs of two famed HK rifles: the HK 416 and the G36. Additionally, the HK 433 promised to be a more affordable option than the 416 and a more reliable and modern one than the G36.
Inside the HK 433
When I say HK combined the 416 and G36, I mean it. You can easily see the similarities between the two guns in the HK 433. The weapon uses the short-stroke gas system that HK utilizes in the 416 and G36 rifles; it fires the 5.56 NATO round. It’s a standard configuration rifle and offers an extreme degree of modularity, more so than most other rifles on the market.
First, there are six different barrel lengths ranging from 11 to 20 inches. These barrels can be replaced at the operator level. This allows the rifle to be converted for various tasks. It is easy to outfit a squad of riflemen with various-sized rifles. DMs can pack the 20-inch barrels; breachers can wield the 11-inch barrels, with the 14.5 being the general issue like the M4A1.
With easily interchangeable barrels, you could outfit a soldier for various tasks. For example, in an urban warfare setting, like the Iraq War, the shorter 11, 12.5, and 14.5-inch barrels would excel. On the other hand, in rural and more open conflicts, like the Afghanistan War, longer barrels from 16.5 to 20 inches grant soldiers extra velocity and a little extra range.
Like most modern assault rifles, the HK 433 can be outfitted with a grenade launcher, bayonet, and suppressor should the mission call for it. Further, it uses an integral round counter that does not require a power source and can be read via RFID. An armorer can keep track of maintenance requirements to a T with such technology.
On the Outside
First and foremost, the HK 433 utilizes a monolithic upper receiver with a full-length optic rail. Monolithic uppers allow the use of larger optics with ease and make clipping on night vision or thermal optics easy. Additionally, a monolithic upper ensures you have complete accuracy with a laser aiming device like a PEQ 15.
The handguard uses HK’s proprietary HKey modular rail system. This allows for the user to place rails and accessories right where they want them. It also helps keep the weapon light ad improves modularity. HKey is okay, but M-LOK is superior, and according to HK, they do outfit the rifle with M-LOK upon request.
The charging handle is mounted forward of the receiver and allows for a very intuitive design. It can be reversed with ease for lefties and provides a more ergonomic charging handle than the AR 15 or HK 416. It is nonreciprocating, as well.
At the rear of the rifle, we get a modular stock that can both collapse and fold. The stock also offers options for sling mounting and an adjustable cheek riser.
The Modular Lower Receiver
When we get to the receiver, we have a very fascinating design. HK designed the lower to drop in and out of the gun with ease and be easily replaceable. Why? Well, remember how I said the HK 433 combined a 416 and G36? Well, the lower can be swapped for an HK 416 configuration or a G36 configuration.
The 416 and G36 feature different controls, and the modular lower allows the end-user to match the lower to what they are more comfortable with.
As a German firm, the HK G36 compatibility makes it an easier sell to the notoriously picky German government. Additionally, several police forces across Europe use the G36: its controls make the rifle more appealing.
The HK 416 controls are actually AR 15 controls. The AR 15, M4, and M16 series are widespread rifles that are used not only in the United States but across the world. Being able to mimic AR controls would reduce training requirements and simplify logistics.
The lower receiver also opens up multiple accepted magazines. The HK 416 lower allows the use of standard STANAG magazines — you know, AR 15 mags. The use of the G36 lower predictably allows the user to wield G36 magazines. Again, from a logistics standpoint, proprietary magazines suck. For an army or police force, the ability to use a store of magazines makes the rifle more appealing.
However, the fact that they didn’t make an AK-compatible 7.62×39 model is a bit surprising.
Regardless of which lower you use, the controls are completely ambidextrous. This can be valuable to shooters of various orientations but also useful when needing to switch shoulders or when wounded.
An HK 433 for Us?
HK gets a lot of flak for being so anti-rifle for civilian gun owners. Not that they are anti-gun, they just don’t seem keen to sell us their rifles outside of the MR556/HK 416. Why they wouldn’t sell G36 and HK 433s to us in the States is beyond me and downright silly as a business decision. The HK 433 is just too cool to say no to, and maybe HK will show us some love. It’s an incredibly modular rifle that would provide an awesome alternative to the AR-15.
Modularity matters and the HK 416 has it in spades. It’s perfect for use as a rifle, short-barreled rifle, or even as a braced pistol. Until then, all we can do is gawk and want.