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The GR Series of Automatic Rifles and Machine Guns
Cal. 5.56mm x 45 NATO

The GR Series of HK rifle and Machine Gun variants are quite rare.  So rare in fact, that I don't believe that they are in production in any significant quantity.  They are variants of other existing guns like the HK23E, as well as variants of the HK33 and 53 series.  These guns are all chambered in 5.56 NATO caliber.  According to the only reference available on these guns, a short description in the comprehensive 50th anniversary HK book by Kersten and Schmid, GR stands for "German Rifle."  The C and S suffixes stand for "Colored" and "Sand" respectively.  This denotes either the woodland or desert camouflage paint schemes.  They are most distinguishable as having a permanent optical sight, and no open sight capability.  These examples are also done exclusively in HK's woodland or desert camouflage paints.  The guns are beautiful.  

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The GR9S Belt Fed Machine Gun--  5.56 x 45 NATO

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The GR9C -- 5.56 x 45 NATO

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The GR9C on shock absorbing tripod

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HK23E in woodland camo with removable 4X scope

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This is the GR6S.  It is essentially an HK13E (HK23E with box mag adaptor installed.) 

This is the GR6C.  Same as above, only in woodland camouflage.


From top to bottom:   The GR3E A2S automatic rifle, essentially an HK33E with optical sight and desert camo.  A2 refers to the fixed stock.  Middle:  HK33ESA3.  Conventional HK33E with retractable stock and desert camo.  Bottom:  GR3KS, essentially an HK33K with integral sight and desert paint.

The GR2C is an HK53 variant in Woodland Camouflage with a permanently mounted optical sight and no provision for open sights.   These rare guns are perhaps prototypes and not actually in production.  I have never seen these offered for sale in the United States.

GR2S in Desert Camouflage.  This paint scheme is sometimes informally referred to as "baby poop camo."  Any idea why?

The Top of the Line
Cal. 7.62 x 51 NATO

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The PSG1 (Präzisionsschützengewehr 1) Precision Shooting Rifle. This appears to be the standard by which other semi automatic sniper rifles are measured. Ringing up at roughly $10,000 U.S. when they were still importable, the PSG-1 is a rifle system that if in your HK collection would rank you with the best.

Sporting a 25.6 inch cold hammer forged polygonal rifled barrel, the PSG1 has a strengthened receiver to minimize torque, the famous (and heavy) PSG1 fully adjustable buttstock, and a clip on trigger group with wooden handle adjustable for hand size. The gun comes as a package in an aluminum case as pictured below. The Garbini tripod is the final accessory, though many also came with a bipod.

For optics, the PSG1 uses a permanently mounted Hensoldt 6 x 42 with lighted ranging reticle for distances to 600 m. This gun is not for the slight of build. The rifle weighs nearly 20 lbs. It is sometimes incorrectly mentioned that the PSG1 was featured in the movie Sniper, being carried by Billy Zane. It is not.

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Visible from right side is the forward assist or silent bolt closure device, standard on most HK precision rifles.   Also present is the Garbini tripod, cumbersome I would think.  A standard bipod would be more useful.
psg1gsg9.jpg (35648 bytes) GSG9 Sniper with PSG1 and rather antiquated communications headset by today's standards.  This photo is close to 13 years old.  It comes from the book GSG9, German Response to Terrorism.   It is out of print.

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Former HK employee and son of former HK president Jim Woods, Jeff Woods mans the PSG1 while former employee Chris Staub acts as observer.   This photo was taken on the roof of the Sterling, VA facility for a catalog photo.   Staub is now a young deputy with the Loudoun County Sheriffs Department, the county where Sterling, Virginia is located.   Barely visible straight above the front of the trigger guard is white lettering.  This says, "HK T&E Only."  HK has an extensive demo and T&E program for police agencies wishing to try their firearms before purchasing them.

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The Mark 23 Mod 0

Cal. .45 ACP

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In August, 1991 a request was made for the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) for an "offensive" handgun.   Dianne Feinstein, Charles Schumer and President Clinton would probably tell you that all handguns are offensive, but  SOCOM had something different in mind.   Termed the OHWS, for Offensive Handgun Weapon System, it was a pistol designed within certain specified parameters that would be sufficient for conducting "offensive" operations, as opposed to the more tradtional role for the handgun, for "defensive" operations.  HK and Colt were chosen to compete against each other for the new pistol.  HK eventually won out, and the contract was awarded to them.  It has undergone many changes from its birth in 1991.  Some are obvious, some are not.  The official name for the pistol is Mark 23, Mod 0.  Not very catchy.  That is why it is more popularly known as the SOCOM.

The SOCOM was designed by the great HK engineer, Helmut Weldle.  The gun holds 12 cartridges of .45 ACP ammunition.  In a move that the above folks would surely find offensive, HK offered a limited number of SOCOM pistols to the citizenry of the United States, and left the threaded barrel intact.  The suppressor sold by HK with the gun is made by Knight's Armament Company of Vero Beach, FL.   It is usable wet or dry, with wet knocking even more dB from the already quiet can.

Insight Technology Inc., the maker of the UTL series for the USP pistols, was chosen to provide the Laser Aiming Module.  It had a dual laser, one visible light, and one infrared, visible only with night vision.  Wilcox Industries Corp. has the LAM featured in the Ichiro Nagata photos that start this page.   I have not heard that this is the new unit that SOCOM adopted over the one made by Insight, but it appears to be the case.  If anyone has the definitive answer or dates, please advise.

The SOCOM pistol has reportedly met with tepid enthusiasm on the part of the operators it was ultimately issued to, due to its huge size.  It feels like a Desert Eagle, and rivals it in size.  The introduction of the USP Tactical seems to have answered the size questions, and may prove to be more popular in the long run.   One of the uncompromising attributes of the SOCOM pistol, however, is the extreme accuracy.  It is an absolute tack driver, with groups possible under two inches at 50 yards.

No matter what you think about a handgun replacing a shoulder fired weapon as an offensive arm, the staff at HK produce what they are asked to produce.   This was a request from the U.S. government.  They were provided with a list of what they wanted, and as usual, HK delivered.

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No one takes firearm photos better than the great Ichiro Nagata of Guns and American Handgunner magazines.   These first images represent some of his work.  He is an accomplished competitive shooter in his own right.

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Early production diagram of the SOCOM pistol.  Incorporated into this early prototype is the "Schieber," defined literally from the German as a "sliding safety."   This is in actuality the slide lock that was dropped from the latest production models.  The slide lock functioned to keep the slide from opening upon firing, which allowed the firer to retrieve the spent casing for added stealth, and added to the quietness of the fired shot by eliminating slide movement.

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Early prototype with early rectangular suppressor and LAM unit.  (LASER Aiming Module).   This suppressor and LAM were dropped for the current units as described above.
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Ad bragging on the SOCOM for civilian USP sales that clearly shows the common lineage of the two handguns.    This ad, though not clearly readable, announces that limited numbers of a civilian version of the SOCOM will be available.


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Cover of now defunct HK Sentinel magazine/catalog from 1996 with catchy photo of the SOCOM pistol with the USP45, its little brother. Photo also shows some of the +P Black Talon rounds from Olin/Winchester made for use with the SOCOM.


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