Britain's biggest-selling airgun magazine
UBC’s PADDY EGAN gives a brief history lesson on the H&K HK416 A5 rifle, before reviewing the new Umarex CO2 version
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Umarex have released their new, eagerly awaited, CO2-powered BB air rifle on the very popular AR-style platform in the guise of the Heckler and Koch 416 A5, but before we go on to the HK416 A5 air rifle itself, let’s have a brief history of the Heckler & Koch real steel model. The A5 model is an improved variant of the HK416 that came into service in 2004, replacing the older version from 2013 onwards. Noticeable changes were a tool-less adjustable gas regulator for suppressor use, and a repair kit in the pistol grip, although the latter is not included on the Umarex model. The stock has a fixed butt plate and sling hooks removed, and ambidextrous fire control ¬– these features are on the Umarex model. Finally, there are four different barrel lengths: 11”, 14.5”, 16.5” and 20”, the Umarex variant being the 11” version. The rifle has seen service all over the world; the USA, Ireland, Malaysia, Portugal, to name just a few.
So, back the Umarex HK416 A5 and as always, a quick look at the box. The design is the traditional black, with red A VERY ‘TACTICOOL’ RIFLE UBC’s PADDY EGAN gives a brief history lesson on the H&K HK416 A5 rifle, before reviewing the new Umarex CO2 version and white lettering, brief information is shown, including a picture of the rifle with pointers in various languages.
Inside the box, the rifle is held in place with a moulded plastic insert, together with the manual, which goes through all the finer details; from the novel way of loading the BBs into the top of the front hand guard, inserting the two 12g CO2 capsules into the magazine, to a schematic breakdown of the rifle itself.
When I took the rifle out of the box, I thought it felt a bit light – the real steel version weighs in at 4.470kg, whereas the Umarex model comes in at 1.8kg, and that’s a big difference in real terms. This rifle isn’t real, though, it’s mostly made out of polymer and the majority of controls are moulded to the polymer and non-functional.
I did feel a little despondent, but then I cast my mind back to when I got the Crosman M417 when it first came into the country in 2012. That rifle was built to the same specifications, and my youngest child who was only nine at the time, could use it perfectly due to the light weight and adjustable stock.
The HK416 A5 has six positions of stock adjustment, and I thought my 10-year old granddaughter would be able to use and enjoy it, too, so I carried on the overview with a more positive viewpoint.
As I said, the stock six positions for length, and all are solid with only a little lateral play, so once the rifle is in the shoulder it feels extremely sturdy. On the lower frame. the fire control has Safe, Single and ‘30’, but this is the UK model, and to abide to UK law, the ‘30’ is non-functional. In other more applicable markets, the ‘30’ setting is actual a six-round burst mode, but as fun as it sounds, you’d be using up your BBs in no time and we are more akin to controlled shots, are we not?
The ‘trades’ within the mag’ well, lower on the left side, are the original HK markings, and on the right, denote the correct calibre. The pistol grip is stippled as the original, just without the storage compartment.
Staying by the mag’ well, the magazine is already inserted into the rifle. To eject, you press the mag’ release button on the right side, then the magazine only drops a little as another release lever, situated on the magazine itself, needs to be pushed forward before you can remove the magazine completely. I believe this is a fail-safe so that the magazine cannot be ejected accidently, thus causing potential damage to it and the CO2 valve components. Once the magazine is out, take off the side cover to reveal two hex keys – one is a spare – and two CO2 ports. All you need to do is slacken off the two screws, insert two capsules, and then tighten – job done.
The hand guard is full length on all sides, with Picatinny rails. The top rail goes the length of the upper to the fore sight, to give you ample choice of accessories, which you will read about later in the article. For now, we will stick with the flip-up open sights; the front sight lies flush within the hand-guard rail, whilst the rear sight lies on a moulded block at the furthest point of the hand guard. Neither sight is adjustable for elevation or windage, so you will need to learn the point of aim to point of impact – remembering them is the order for accurate shooting.
There is a loading gate on top of the hand guard, just behind the front sight, and you push it open to reveal a reservoir, into which you can pour up 600 BBs. You have pull back and lock down a spring guide, then gently shake the rifle up and down, and this gets 36 BBs into the feed channel, ready for them to be fed into the breech and shot out.
I had some Black HK steel BBs, which complemented the HK416 A5 rather nicely, but I didn’t pour all 600 BBs into the reservoir – I reckon it was about 200; the additional BBs rattling round inside the rifle did annoy me a little, although I can see the benefit, and the reason this was designed in. On subsequent occasions, I just poured the right amount in and shook the BBs straight into the feed channel. I even opted for my black safety glasses, just to keep with the theme of the shooter on the box.
The HK416 was loaded, I had pre-set my range area, and placed our Speed Challenge Target at a distance of 26 feet. This target comprises a really big circle with rectangular box above. I aimed for the centre of the circle with five shots, and on examining the target, I could see that all the shots were just below the bottom of the actual target, but central, toward the point of aim.
I then aimed above the top portion of the circle, and all five shots were within the centre area of the circle. The trigger pull is not heavy at all, and rather nice, so a big tick there! Happy that I knew where my point of aim and point of impact were, I carried on with some Double Taps, Speed Shooting, one of my favourites, Can Shooting, and finally, the Police Assault Rifle Competition.
All in all, it was a great initial shooting experience, and the lightness of the rifle just went out of my head. What I didn’t do, was get the shot count per two CO2 capsules; the power stated on the box states ‘3 joules’, which seemed about right with the way it was hitting the cans, and it’s ample enough for your garden range.
One thing I wanted to rectify was being unable to adjust elevation on the sights, so I needed to put a red-dot sight on. I had two available; the Walther PS44 and PSS22, and this gave me a perfect excuse to get back out there and try out the HK416 A5 again, whilst conducting the best sight and shot count. For calculating the shot count, I placed 30 BBs into ten individual tubs, and loaded one tub at a time – smart, eh? Tubs ready, CO2 ready, sights ready, I opted for the PS44 fi rst.
The testing went really well, and for the fi rst 60 shots, I used the PS44. I had no need to zero the sight because it was pretty much bang on at 26 feet. I swapped the sights over to the PS22, even though the zero was off because the grouping was low and right, I could raise the open sights and use them clearly, whereas on the PS44, the bottom of the focal ring obscured the rear open sight.
Red dot sorted, I just needed to continue shooting until the CO2 ran out. I didn’t do any speed or rapid shooting because I wanted a natural usage of CO2. In the end, there was a total of 330 shots fi red until the CO2 completely ran out, but having said that, I wouldn’t shoot that amount in one set of capsules because the last 30 BBs, at least, don’t come out of the barrel quickly or accurately enough, and I’d just be wasting BBs.
I mentioned the weight issue and whether or not my 10-year-old granddaughter would be able to shoot this rifl e comfortably. Well, yes, she could, and she thoroughly enjoyed it. We shot at various fun targets; from the Terminator, Dalek and even the Covid Virus, to a proper Bisley Roundel Target, and of course, tin cans either resting on the shelf or dangling from Gr8fun Targets Can Hangers.
My appreciation for this air rifl e went up, and seeing her shoot all the cans and hitting the targets, with a big grin on her face, was priceless. Seeing her natural safe-handling skills, getting her own safety glasses, and knowing the safety application made me very proud, too!
Okay, you would think I’ve covered pretty much everything by now – well, no I haven’t. I couldn’t leave the HK416 A5 with just a red dot, now, could I? I had to make it ‘Tacticool’, as the term goes – plus I have all those rails to fi ll! So, next on the agenda was fi tting a fore grip. I have in my possession, a varied mix of fore grips; fi xed, folding, slanted and one with a bipod inside, so I tried them all whilst shooting, not only to see which one looked cool, but also functioned the best. The most stable and comfortable for me was the ‘fi xed fi nger groove’ type, but it didn’t stop there. I put a green laser on the underside rail, and positioned my hand so that my knuckle could switch it on/off without coming out of stance; a fl ashlight on the right-hand side rail, again positioned so my thumb could switch on/off also still in a shooting stance, and fi nally, I made a strap to go into the slot in the stock, and attached a single point sling.
Granddad was in the garden and he asked me if I wanted to come and shoot a new rifl e with him. I have done shooting with Granddad many times, so I picked up my safety glasses and he showed me the rifl e and told me how it works. We put up paper targets of robots and cans to shoot. The rifl e was a little heavy, but I could hold it whilst standing. The rifl e had a red dot that I could see on the target, and I was hitting the cans and really liked seeing the cans swing and fall. Granddad told me where to aim, and how to put the safety on when I’d fi nished, which was very easy to do.
The next time I went to Nanny and Granddad’s, he had put another handle on the rifl e and a laser, too, so this time, I could see a green dot, and that was fun. I was pleased that the stock could go smaller for me, so I could put the rifl e to my shoulder better. I can’t wait to shoot this rifl e again, next time I visit.
I can honestly say that I’ve really enjoyed spending time with the HK416. I got to tinker and put all the little add-ons onto the rifl e; working out the best ergonomics of where to put the accessories, making it my own, so to speak, which is what I used to do way back. With that said, all those add-ons put the weight up, which made it feel sturdier, and I noticed that the rear butt stock can be unscrewed, so there’s a possibility to put some weight into the tube, perhaps.
I loved having my granddaughter shoot with me, happily hitting the targets, seeing her smiling face and asking when she could shoot again with it, which was a few days later with all the added extra accessories and yes, she loved the green laser.
Finally, a big thank you to John Rothery Wholesale for sending me the HK416 A5 to test, and well done to Umarex for bringing out yet another fun rifl e so that kids and very big kids (namely me) get to shoot something FUN!
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