Heckler & Koch Reboots The SL8 Rifle


Civilian variant of Heckler & Koch's G36, the SL8, is making a comeback after a more than 10-year absence from the American market.

What's The SL8 Hitting The Market Like:

  • Chambered 5.56 NATO/.223 Remington
  • Sports a 20.8-inch cold-hammer-forged barrel
  • Similar in appearance to the SL8-6, including elevated Picatinny rail

Welcome back, old friend. It’s been a spell since the Heckler & Koch SL8 graced gun store shelves, but expect to see the late 1990’s star make another appearance sometime soon. The civilian version of H&K’s famed G36 select-fire infantry rifle is once again in the company’s catalog and the German gunmaker has dropped a video heralding its return.

Heckler Koch SL8 3

Despite being a compromise to meet onerous import laws, the SL8 developed a dedicated if not sightly cultish following. It was later updated in 2010 to the SL8-6 that jettisoned the original gun’s grey stock for all-black while tacking on an elevated Picatinny rail/carrying handle and vented handguard. Nice update, somewhat aesthetically bringing it closer to the G36, but one that only made it to U.S. shores for a year before H&K called it quits. And while there’s a certain charm to the original’s ultra-modern lines, that’s not the iteration the gunmaker is bringing back.

SL8 Reborn

For all intents and purposes, the newly unveiled SL8 pretty much fits the SL8-6 pattern, which might prove a blow to throwback fans. Still, it appears a solid setup, even if it lacks in some nostalgia.

Overall, the SL8—chambered 5.56 NATO/.223 Remington—features a 20.8-inch cold-hammer-forged barrel with a recessed crown. The barrel is a free-floating bull, bored with 6 groves and a 1:7 RH twist and is crafted from H&K’s renowned cannon-grade steel. Also, the bore is chrome-lined for improved corrosion resistance and longer life. Additionally, the rifle is still operated by a reliable short-stroke gas piston, which has always improved its appeal with many shooters.

Heckler Koch SL8 2

Heckler Koch also maintained the somewhat odd SL8 thumbhole stock, as well as adjustable comb and length of pull. They’ve also included a match-grade trigger, with a snappy 4.5-pound pull. It feeds from 10-round SL8-specific magazines and ships with two mags.

Perhaps most intriguingly, Heckler & Koch kept the new SL8 relatively competitive in price, with an MSRP of $1,699, with a $50 premium for California-compliant models.

SL8 Specs
Caliber: 5.56 NATO/.223 Remington
Barrel Length: 20.8 inches
Overall Length: 38.6 inches
Weight: 8.6 pounds
Magazine: 10 round
MSRP: $1,699

For more information on the SL8, please visit hk-usa.com.

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