In the course of my military career, I was “blessed” with the opportunity to train with, and serve with, many of our international allies. Since I was part of a Long Range Surveillance Detachment, the units we trained and worked with tended to be very interesting, and very well equipped with a variety of weapons. Whether they were German Paras, British Ghurkas, or Japanese Intelligence troops, these soldiers were highly trained and I took every opportunity to become familiar with their weapons, and to learn from their experiences with those weapons.
Because of this, I have had the opportunity to work with the three main battle rifles found on battlefields around the world: The FAL, the M14, and the HK G3. While all are very fine weapons, the G3 offers some major advantages for both the Guerrilla Sniper and the Insurgent Rifleman and unlike the other rifles; an excellently built and priced example of the G3 is available now in the form of the PTR91.
Accuracy: The G3 is very accurate for a battle rifle. Most FALs are typically a 3 MOA rifle with NATO ball, and the M14 is about the same. My G3 (PTR 91) will shoot 1.5 MOA with NATO spec ball ammo and match ammo will cut that almost in half. The lack of moving parts that affect the barrel harmonics is a serious advantage for those who prefer an accurate semi auto for sniping or DMR work.
Modularity: Stocks, forearms, trigger packs, pistol grips are easily interchanged. As the mission or your desire dictates you can have a folding stock, a set trigger, a stock that is adjustable for length of pull, railed forearm, etc. MILSPEC optical sights that are both QD and RTZ can be added very easily. If MILSPEC is not your preference, there are a wide variety of excellent scope mounts that can be added that will let the end user take advantage of the large array of optics that take advantage of MILSTD 1913 interface. Variants with the rail installed from the factory are now available and if you have a rifle without the rail, the rail is easily added by a skilled gunsmith. The FAL, and especially, the M14 are more difficult to set up for optics than the G3, and the G3 is the only battle rifle that has quick detachable optics that are truly rugged and reliable.
A G3 can be configured as a battle rifle, DMR, or have a grenade launcher attached as the mission requires and all of these modifications can be made by the end user, while they are sitting on their haunches with the parts are spread out on a poncho in front of them.
Compactness: Compared to other battle rifles the G3 is very compact. The overall length is just over 40 inches, which is the same length as an M16! By comparison, the FAL is 43 inches long and the overall length of the M14 is almost 45 inches! And even though it is just a matter of a few ounces, the G3 is the lightest of the three rifles.
Rugged Sights: The front sight is very well protected; the rear sight is mounted very low and has a minimum number of moving parts. Once zeroed, it stays zeroed and there are not any “tempting nobs” to be spun in boredom and curiosity. The sight picture provided by the issue sights is very precise for long range shooting and in a CQB setting, there is nothing better than the “ring of death” that is the HK pattern front sight housing. Just put the target in the ring and work the trigger. It is the simplest version of “meat and metal” aiming that one will encounter.
Excellent magazines: LIGHT, rugged, and inexpensive! A lifetime supply of new HK magazines can be purchased for the price of a basic load of brand new FAL or M14 magazines. The magazines will be lighter too, which means you can carry more ammo for the same weight penalty.
Simple design: The roller delayed blowback action is simple and the design eliminates many parts and manufacturing steps as compared to other designs. This leads to increased reliability under harsh conditions as compared to The FAL or M14. The G3 is used by both regular and irregular forces in the harshest environments on the planet. Whether it is arctic warfare conditions (Norway, Denmark, Sweden), the sand and rock of the Middle East/SW Asia (Pakistan, Iran, Turkey), the jungles of Central and South America (El Salvador, Paraguay, Chile, etc.), or the harshest environments of Africa (Angola to Zaire!) a G3 will keep running after other rifles have failed. The ONLY rifle that matches or exceeds the reliability of the G3 is the AK, and it is nowhere near the precision, do it all, weapon that is the G3.
The roller delayed design can also compensate for minor variations in the dimensions of the cartridge, and as the weapon system wears the rollers are able to be replaced at the end user level, unlike the bolts of other weapon systems that must be fitted or checked by a gunsmith or armorer.
Systems Approach: One of the hallmarks of the HK weapon system is that the weapon designers took a true systems approach to how the weapons operated and how they were designed to be operated. Quite simply, if you can run a G3, you can run a HK33 (5.56mm) or the MP5 SMG. The same goes for basic disassembly of the weapons. The bolt handles, safeties, triggers, and sights are IDENTICAL.
The importance of this advantage cannot be emphasized enough. It cuts the training time for users dramatically. Case in point: the first time I was trained on the MP5, I already had experience running the G3 and the HK33 in their civilian versions. I picked up the MP5 and I immediately knew how to run the SMG, as everything was identical.
Some might not believe that this has any application in the civilian world, but consider the following. It is possible to purchase high quality civilian variations of each of these weapons. It is entirely possible for one build a complete long gun solution: a battle rifle (PTR91), a SBR assault rifle (Vector V93K) and a SBR SMG/carbine (Vector V94) that all operate identically. All your muscle memory and training will transfer between the weapons!
Final Thoughts: The advantages of the G3 system are numerous and in the form of the PTR91 it is the best rifle deal on the planet. There is no other rifle that gives the skilled user the combination of features for the money that this rifle does. Something to consider: before the PTR rifles were available, people willingly paid $2500 to $3000 for a used HK91 in good condition because IT WAS WORTH IT. Now, you can purchase two rifles that are the same quality, with a lifetime supply of magazines, for the same price. Is that an advantage? You be the judge.