The Steyr Arms company of Austria, in collaboration with US-based Corax Defence and Wilcox Industries, introduces the G62 assault rifle – or, more precisely, upgrade kit for the existing Heckler & Koch G36 rifles, conceived to solve the well-known overheating issues that plague the platform's accuracy
The new Steyr Arms G62 5.56x45mm NATO assault rifle / upgrade kit, introduced earlier this week by the Steyr Arms company of Austria – previously known as Steyr Mannlicher GmbH – makes its debut on the global markets among the ongoing controversy concerning the replacement of the Heckler & Koch G36 as the standard service rifle for the German military (Bundeswehr).
As we mentioned as far back as three years ago, Germany has long been looking for a new assault rifle to replace the Heckler & Koch G36, which was originally adopted in the mid-to-late 1990s as an "interim" assault rifle. The G36 is still well regarded and appreciated by the German military and international customers alike, but in the past few years it has been at the center of a controversy triggered by overheating issues reported by troops fielded in Afghanistan and other theatres of operations.
More specifically, issues would stem from the fact that the Heckler & Koch G36 features a full metal trunnion that's embedded in a Nylon 66 polymer receiver; in case of high-intensity use in hot environments (think a firefight in the middle Eastern deserts!), the polymer surrounding the trunnion would apparently be prone to losing rigidity, causing the barrel to wobble and thus resulting in significant loss of accuracy at 100 meters or less.
Steyr Arms had previously taken part to the selection for a replacement rifle to the G36 with their peculiar AR-15 variant – dubbed the STM-556 – which, if adopted, would have been manufactured under license in Germany by Rheinmetall as the "Rheinmetall-Steyr RS-556" rifle.
The Steyr Arms G62 upgrade kit was developed in close collaboration with two American companies – Corax Defence and Wilcox Industries – specifically to replace the components that are prone to overheating and to be cause for accuracy loss: more specifically the lower receiver (which, in the G62 upgrade kit, is entirely manufactured out of metal!), the trunnion, and the upper rail.
Also new for the Heckler & Koch G36 in the Steyr Arms G62 upgrade kit are a new, better metal barrel for improved accuracy and thermal stability, and a replacement magazine well that converts the rifle from the use of Heckler & Koch's proprietary translucent polymer magazines to STANAG 4179 compliant magazines (AR-15 / M16 / M4 mags), for better compatibility with other rifles used by NATO forces.
G36 rifles converted to the Steyr Arms G62 standard can still use any accessory rail and handguard compatible with the original Heckler & Koch G36 specs, including the Wilcox Industries Fusion powered rail system – an interesting single-piece component that includes a handguard, a top accessory rail, a red dot sight with a flip-up magnifier, a laser pointer, a tactical gunlight and an IR illuminator in a monolythic assembly with a single, replaceable, common power source, eliminating the need to carry spare batteries for each separate accessory.
The use of a full metal receiver and Wilcox Industries' Fusion powered rail system is bound to significantly increase the weight of the G36, but that's a fair price to pay if the other side of the medal is a final solution to the reliability, versatility, accuracy and overheating problems that allegedly plague the G36 platform: military units that field the G36 today could retain a perfectly good rifle in service, solving its issues at a fraction of the cost of a full replacement with an upgrade kit that can be installed on existing rifles at depot level.
And as a matter of fact, according to Corax Defense and as reported by The Firearm Blog, "G62" is not merely a commercial name that Steyr Arms, Corax and Wilcox came out with for their upgrade kit, but an official military denomination from the Bundeswehr.
Should this really be the case, the logic conclusion would be – as many analysts have been speculating for quite some time – that the Bundeswehr may just want to cut the replacement procedure short without adopting a new rifle, opting instead to retain the Heckler & Koch G36 in service and to solve the well-known issues of the platform by upgrading them to a new, more accurate and reliable standard. Only time will tell.