The French are not wasting any time in selecting a replacement for their worn-out FAMAS rifles. The HK 416 has been selected as the new French Service rifle, beating out the other downselected rifle, the FN SCAR 16.
I came to a similar conclusion while back in my own HK 416/SCAR 16 head-to-head. So I totally called it.
Let’s review salient points in the 416’s favor, in case you’re wondering why the French picked a gun from La Boche. I’ve got some more thoughts on the 416 itself, but those will wait. This is about France.
1.) The HK 416 has been chosen as a general issue rifle already, by Norway. The SCAR 16 has not. While both were developed by American special operations units, and both are in service with a number of special operations groups around the world, including some in France, there’s a lot you can learn from a rifle by giving it to a bunch of grunts to use and abuse. Grunts can break everything. And the Norwegians have found some minor issues, which HK has fixed. So that’s a bunch of bugs the French won’t find. Picking something someone else has already issued generally means you’ll find fewer problems.
2.) The HK 416 is going to be the G36 replacement. Only a matter of time. I’ll have more on the G36 later this week, but given the problems it has in the heat (even if no one in cold-ass Germany thought to test in the heat), the Germans will be ditching the G36. The winner is going to be German, because they’re still secretly nationalist. And that means it’s going to be the next service rifle of Germany.
Why does this matter for France? Well, France is trying to cooperate a lot more with Germany on military matters. They’ve got a bunch of projects in the works with Germany, including a new tank project. Even if I think multinational projects like that are a terrible idea, and no multinational tank project has ever actually delivered anything, they’re committed. So choosing a common service rifle is a no brainer.
3.) The HK 416 is very automatic-rifle-like. Remember, in its off the shelf form (ok, they nicely put USMC on the side), the 416 was selected as the Squad Automatic Rifle for the US Marine Corps, in sort of a modern-BAR type role. I’m not sure if this is important to you, but if it is, if you’re worried about battles like Wanat (and can’t just fix your officer corps), the 416 is the rifle for you. It is also heavy. If you like heavy, it’s the rifle for you.
So there you have it. That said, I’d still prefer a more traditional direct impingement M4, maybe from Colt, or maybe Colt Canada (they actually have a somewhat different catalog than regular Colt), or LMT.