The G41 is a German 5.56 mm assault rifle introduced in 1981 and produced in limited quantities by Heckler & Koch. It was designed to replace the 5.56 mm HK33 in service providing a more modern weapon platform compatible with NATO standards. It is chambered in the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge and can use both SS109 and M193 projectiles. Currently G41 assembly has been discontinued at Heckler & Koch; however production rights to the rifle were acquired by the Italian arms manufacturer Luigi Franchi.
The G41’s engineering origins lay in the 7.62 mmG3 rifle. It is a selective-fire automatic weapon that employs a roller-delayed blowback system of operation. The two-piece bolt mechanism consists of the bolt head that contains two locking rollers and the bolt carrier. The case extractor is situated inside the bolt head, while the lever ejector is contained in the trigger housing. The rifle features a hammer striking mechanism and a trigger group with a fire control selector that enables semi-automatic, burst and continuous fire. The fire selector is marked with bullet pictograms and is also a manual safety from accidental firing. The selector is ambidextrous and its lever is mirrored on both sides of the trigger housing. In the “safe” position, the trigger and sear are disabled.
The firearm uses aluminum box magazines (from the M16 rifle) with a capacity of 30 rounds. The magazine release was placed on the left side of the weapon, above the magazine well.
The G41 has mechanically adjustable iron sights with a rear rotating drum. The rear sight has 3 apertures of different diameter calibrated for firing at distances of 200, 300 and 400 m and a triangular notch used at 100 m. The receiver housing has recesses in the top cover that permit the use of clamping mounts and adapters for NATO standard optics (such as the Hensoldt 4x24 telescopic sight).
The cold hammer-forged barrel has a 6-groove polygonal bore. It comes rifled for either the NATO standard, Belgian SS109 62 grain bullet with a twist of 178 mm (1:7 in) or in a 305 mm (1:12 in) twist for use with American ammunition with the M193 55 grain projectile. The bore chamber is fluted to aid in initial extraction of spent cartridges. The barrel is fitted with a flash suppressor that is also used as a rifle grenade launcher platform.
The weapon incorporates a manual forward assist that can be used to positively close the bolt (similar to the one used on the American M16A1 rifle), a folding carry handle (like on the FN FAL), bolt catch which holds the bolt carrier open after the last round in the magazine has been fired (the bolt release button is found just above the magazine release) and a spring-loaded dust cover that seals the ejection port from debris. The weapon can be fitted with a barrel-mounted bipod (like the one used with the M16), bayonet (from the G3) and an optical sight. The G41 can also mount a detachable 40 mmHK79grenade launcher that replaces the synthetic forearm – this configuration is known as the G41TGS.
Heckler & Koch has offered the G41 in a number of configurations: G41 – base rifle with fixed plastic stock and a barrel with a 178 mm (1:7 in) twist rate, G41A2 – featuring a telescopic metal shoulder stock and a 178 (1:7 in) twist barrel, G41A1 – fixed stock and 305 mm (1:12 in) twist barrel, G41A3 – telescoping stock and barrel with a 305 mm (1:12 in) rifling twist rate and the G41K (Karabiner) carbine, that is a derivative of the G41A2 and has a shortened barrel (reduced in length to the base of the foresight), which cannot be used with rifle grenades.
LF G41: Luigi Franchi made a sample run of the G41, G41A2 and G41K in 1988 for possible production under license; these were later modified for trials by the Italian Army. It differed from the Heckler & Koch model in that it had a polygonal 4-groove barrel with a chromed bore. When the G41 was rejected by the German Bundeswehr in 1989, it was dropped from consideration and the improved Beretta AR 70/90 was chosen instead in 1990.