Heckler & Koch HK43
|Heckler & Koch HK43|
|Place of origin||West Germany|
|Manufacturer||Heckler & Koch|
|Produced||March 1974 - 1989|
|Variants||A2 and A3|
|Weight||8.4 pounds (3.8 kg) (empty magazine)|
|Length||36.2 inches (920 mm)|
|Barrel length||16.975 inches (431.165 mm)|
|Height||8.26 inches (210 mm)|
|Rate of fire||Semi-automatic|
|Feed system||5, 20, 25, 30 or 40-round double column, detachable box magazine|
|Sights||Protected post front, rotating diopter rear sight|
In the mid to late 1960s, Heckler & Koch developed the HK33, which was a scaled down version of the Heckler & Koch G3, but chambered for 5.56x45mm NATO. The HK33 entered production in 1968. In 1974, a semi-automatic version of the HK33 was introduced by H&K and was designated the HK43. According to H&K’s numbering nomenclature, the “4” indicates that the weapon is a paramilitary rifle, and the “3” indicates that the caliber is .223. An original HK43 can sell for around $5000 due to rarity. HK43s were sold with 25 round steel magazines. Of the approximately 377 HK43s produced, it is estimated that about 200 were imported into the U.S in 1974.
The HK43, which was the precursor to the HK93, was for the most part identical in appearance to the HK33. Instead of a “push-pin” grip housing, it came with a clip-on style grip housing marked “SF.” In order to save money, H&K used the same fire control group that went into the HK33 models, but with some modifications. The auto-sear was removed from the fire control group, as well as the trip lever, to prevent automatic fire. Moreover, the grip frame housing was modified to prevent the selector lever from going into the full-auto position. The one other modification H&K made for the HK43s was to mill off the trip ledge on the bolt carrier assembly.
Early HK43s were made from the same barrels used on the HK33 rifles, which were 15.35 inches in length and had a 1 in 12-inch twist. In order to bring the barrels up to the legal length of at least 16 inches in the United States, a flash suppressor, which adds about 1 3/8 inches to the overall length, had to be permanently attached. H&K also omitted the grenade launching snap rings on the barrel, as they had for their HK41 models, because the Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibited such features on imported rifles. The HK43 also lacked the "flapper" or paddle magazine release making the redundant push-button magazine release, located on the right side of the receiver, the only way to eject a magazine.
Like the Heckler & Koch HK41, the HK43 had a NATO black finish, which differed from the black phosphate or blue-gray finish of the later HK91/93 series, and came with a short slim forearm grip. Moreover, there were no proof marks on the receiver. Only the rifle’s model and serial numbers, as well as date of manufacture were engraved on the left side of the receiver. The date code indicated the month and year the rifle was produced. The HK43 was also fitted with an all-plastic MP5 style butt stock with the recoil buffer attached to the bolt carrier.
Before Heckler & Koch had their own importing operations in the U.S., Security Arms Company (SACO), located in Arlington, Virginia, imported and distributed all HK43s (as well as HK41s and HK300s). The receivers were marked:
"Made in Germany
excl. for SACO
Arl. Va. 22 209
As previously mentioned, some of the early HK43s were sold with 15.5-inch barrels that had splines on the end instead of threads. SACO issued a recall for those already sold so they could have the flash suppressors permanently attached to them. This was done by either welding them on or securing them with a blind pin.
It is not entirely clear why Heckler & Koch re-designated the HK43 as the HK93 later in 1974. Part of the reason could have been to change the public’s perception of the rifle from a paramilitary-type weapon to a semi-automatic sporting rifle, which is indicated by the "9". After 1975, Heckler & Koch took over their own U.S. importation, which might have prompted the change in name to HK93. In any case, the HK43 and the HK93 are pretty much identical and all the parts are interchangeable.
The major difference between the HK43 and the HK93 is that the HK93s came with 16.125-inch barrels (17.5 inches of overall length with an attached flash suppressor). Moreover, the barrels were threaded, as opposed to the HK43 barrels which had splines, so that the flash suppressors could be screwed on and welded.
Up until around 1980, the HK93s came with buffered bolt carriers and an all plastic A2 stock just like the HK43s had. The stock had a urethane insert in the back for the buffer on bolt carrier to strike during recoil. After 1980, H&K switched to the non-buffered bolt carriers.
There were only 52 HK93s produced in 1974. For these, H&K dropped the month from the date code and replaced it with the number "19" in order to completely spell out the year of manufacture. Since they were built on surplus HK43 receivers, the end result was "19/74". For the 1975 models, they stamped the year without the "/" in the middle.
In 1976, H&K began stamping proof marks on the receivers and started using the following alpha-numeric date coding system on all their firearms:
A B C D E F G H I K
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Also in 1976, the right side of the receiver was remarked to say:
"Made in Germany
Arl. Va. 22 201
Starting in 1982, H&K dropped the "Kal. .223" from the right side of the receiver and "Cal. .223" was added to the left side of the receiver just below the serial number. Also in 1982, the steel grip frame housings were changed the new "0-1" style markings and the A2 fixed stock came with a metal end plate.
By 1988, when H&K moved their importing operations to Chantilly, Virginia, the receivers were remarked once again to say:
"Made in W-Germany
HK Chantilly VA"
The last few HK93s that were imported in 1988 and 1989 were marked "HK 93 Cal 5.56 X 45" on the left side of the receiver. Furthermore, the new serials numbers had an "42-" prefix. These rifles had 1 in 7-inch twist barrels and were marked "178" on the underside of the barrel underneath the hand guard.
Select fire HK93 conversions
The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibited the import of HK33 (as well as HK53) rifles for civilian ownership in the U.S. because of their status as machine guns. As a result, a number of HK93s (and possibly a small number of HK43s) were used as hosts for full-auto conversions for civilians who wished to own an HK33/53 select fire rifle. Up until the passage of the McClure-Volkmer Act, a Class II manufacturer could convert an HK93 in one of two ways. He could either drill a hole in the receiver to accommodate the attachment of a push-pin style "S-E-F" grip frame housing, or he could modify a semi-auto trigger pack and use a clipped and pinned "S-E-F" grip frame housing. The flapper/paddle magazine release was usually installed on these rifles at the time of their conversion for added authenticity. Sometimes, the receivers were even remarked or restamped to say "HK33" or "HK53". For an HK53 conversion, a gunsmith had to cut the barrel of an HK93 down to 8.3 inches and re-thread the muzzle.
The Hughes Amendment in the Firearm Owners Protection Act prohibited the ATF from accepting any new registrations of machine guns for civilian ownership after May 19, 1986. Due to their scarcity and the fact that no new HK33/53 rifles can be produced for the civilian market, the value of these Title II firearms keeps going up year after year. The average price for one of these HK33/53 conversions is about $18,000. Those that have the push-pin style grip attachment are considered to be the most authentic reproductions of factory HK33/53 rifles and thus command a premium.
- The HK33E at HKPro.com
- The HK93 at HKPro.com
- Buddy Hinton Collection / HK
- Semi-automatic rifles banned from importation in 1989
- HK 93 Instruction Manual