[Review] HK416: H&K’s Magnificent Rimfire

If you are into rimfire guns, .22s, then you should definitely take a look at this one. There – I said it. I have always liked .22s, preferably of the handgun persuasion. Sure, I’ve got the obligatory Ruger 10/22, and an accurate thing it is. I even painted mine camo for the squirrel woods. With its scope, it’s a tack driver. But, I tend to shoot more short guns than long ones. One of my favorite, long-ago-traded-for-some-stupid-reason rimfires was a 4 5/8”-barreled Ruger Single Six. With its adjustable rear sight, it could adapt to whatever brand of ammo I fed it. I took a squirrel out of the fork of a tree, standing, at about 35 yards with it. My brother, with me at the time, could not believe it. He had his Winchester 9422 lever rifle and could literally take the whiskers off a gnat at 50 yards with the thing. He was impressed, as was I. I am not known for stellar marksmanship – read most any of my reviews for proof of that – but that one shot just worked. I have since gone through a few other rimfires like a Ruger Mk. II .22/45, a Charter Arms Pathfinder revolver among others and am really looking forward to getting a S&W Victory .22 to test. I just like the caliber – its cost, availability and lack of noise are all factors that help contribute to its popularity for me. The accuracy of some brands of ammo is just a plus. So it was with great anticipation that I accepted the offer from a friend to try out his wife’s HK 416. I was certainly eager to shoot it, and disappointed, I was not.

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The HK 416

This gun looks like the front half of an AR-15, as you can see from the photos. I am not usually too kicked in the head about such pistols, as I have a tough time getting them lined up properly when I shoot them. This gun was different. Part of the difference had to do with the weight – being a .22 LR, it doesn’t weigh much at all. Another factor that allowed me to shoot this thing a little better than other AR pistols is the way it’s built – no buffer tube sticking out to have to deal with. It just sat on the bag and was easily aimed.

Based on the famous HK 416 assault rifle, this rimfire version allows the shooter to at least experience a bit of what it might feel like to hold one of the “real deals.” From the non-functional forward assist to the muzzle’s flash hider, this gun resembles its more-powerful cousin a good deal. In addition to the forward assist, there is another 5.56-related feature on this gun that doesn’t function, the bolt release. Adding a couple of features to the “functional” column, we have the dust cover, magazine release and safety – they all work as they do on the centerfire version. Obviously, no rimfire is going to replicate a centerfire semi-auto to any real extent, but it is one fun gun to shoot – there is something to be said for that. Also available in rifle guise with buttstock, the 416 pistol proved to be one accurate gun as the targets will show later.

Here’s a quick look at some specs…

Height:10.7 in.
Width:2.5 in.
Barrel Length:8.5 in.
Weight:4.5 lbs.
Sights:flip-up
Rear Sight Aperture Height:1.3 in.
Rear Sight Aperture Width:2.1 in.
Front Sight Width:0.7 in.
Receiver:Aluminum
Rail Interface System:M-LOK® / Mil STD. 1913
Other:Pistol grip storage compartment, last-round bolt hold-open
MSRP:$469
Real-World Price:~$370

H&K – The Company

In order to understand a bit about the gun, we need to have a bit of background on the company itself. Heckler & Koch is a company known for its military and law enforcement firearms and related products. From submachine guns and grenade launchers to everyday concealed-carry pistols, H&K products tend to be of very high quality and last a long time. I reviewed their excellent P30L pistol earlier and wrote a bit about the company’s history in that review – you can read that history here. I really liked the P30L, especially the European-style magazine release paddle at the rear base of the trigger guard. Being left-handed, I appreciated the ability to drop the mag easily with my left hand and not have to move the mag release button to the other side of the frame or to have to break my grip to drop it with my shooting hand.

Not that a pistol made by H&K has much to do with our “AR pistol”, but the company is the same. But is it… as we notice on the side of the gun, we see this:

Made By Umarex

Made by Umarex? Huh? Who is Umarex? Umarex (Umarex Sportwaffen GmbH & Co. KG) is a German manufacturer of famous-firearm-branded airguns, paintball and airsoft guns made under license. The company also makes firearms. In 1993, Umarex acquired Carl Walther GmbH Sportwaffen, otherwise known to us as Walther. Both Umarex and Walther’s American headquarters are in Fort Smith, Arkansas. (In case you are wondering, GmbH is essentially the German equivalent of our limited liability corporation, LLC. It drove me crazy until I looked it up…). So we have a gun that has two manufacturers’ names on it…HK and Umarex. The main point is that, no matter what is branded into the plastic, the gun is a shooter and is built well.

Photos

Let’s look at some photos. This is one photogenic gun, if there is such a thing – clean lines and quality construction.

HK416 left

HK416 right

HK416 safety
HK416 Safety.
Picatinny rail on the HK416
Picatinny rail.
HK416 rear sight
Rear sight.

HK416 rear sight side

HK416 front sight
Front sight.
HK416 front sight side
Front sight.

HK416 front sight side close-up

HK416 sight picture

HK416 muzzle

HK416 buffer tube hookup
Buffer tube hookup.
HK416 bolt handle back
Bolt handle.

The magazine that comes with the 416 is proprietary. It looks, from the outside (at least from one side) like a .223 magazine – until you pop it out and look at it up close. There is, also, the slot in the sides of the magazine with the pull-down loading buttons. You can see how HK designed the .22 LR “into” it. Pretty clever, really. You can buy extras for about $28 from various online sources.

HK416 magazine side
Magazine.

HK416 mag top

HK416 mag well
Mag well.

HK416 branding

Shooting The 416

targets shot with HK416

The 416 was a dream to shoot. After I figured out how to place it on a shooting bag, it was all go. The distance was about 20 yards. I mounted a red dot sight I’d gotten from Amazon to really test accuracy…my eyes have a tough time lining up the rear and front sights on the target any more so I just bought an inexpensive red dot to use in testing guns. At least this gun’s sights are fairly easy to acquire – it uses the tried & true rear aperture and front post. But, even so, it was easier for me to put one bright green dot on the target center rather than framing the post in the rear “peep.” Before we look at individual targets, let’s look at the item that helped me be a bit more accurate – the red dot sight.

A Quick Look At This Sight

As for this sight, it is an inexpensive, $25-or-so “generic” red and green dot sight. The one I bought is branded “Pinty” but there are several companies that import this sight and put their name on it. It came with a year warranty and five batteries, which is a good thing. It also included a rubber glass cover for when it is in storage, two Allen keys and a cleaning cloth. It has either a red or green output, with 5 intensity settings for each. The CR2032 battery compartment is on the top so you don’t have to remove the sight in order to replace it.

red dot on HK416

There are five different reticles available via a switch located on the rear of the unit…

HK416 with red dot sight

You just move the selector to the one you want. I simply used the dot, on intensity level 3 – that was plenty good enough for the bright daylight I shot in. The red is equally bright. This sight is not bad – the dot doesn’t have much “shadow” at all so you don’t have to try to figure out which dot to aim with. Another thing I liked was zeroing this thing – I popped the “iron” (plastic) sights up and, using the included Allen key, moved the dot to where it was just sitting on the front post. I believe the term is “co-witnessed.” I quickly figured out that the direction arrows were backwards but that was no big deal. Once I put the dot there, it stayed. That was all it took – I shot four different types and brands of .22 ammo and each one was centered, to point of aim on the target. I don’t EVER recall having that happen before, with any .22 gun and any ammo…I was truly impressed! I usually have to haul my ammo out, put up several targets and bang away until I find “the” brand that shoots to the point of aim. Not this time…this gun was at least fairly accurate with all four of my test brands. Let’s look at the targets.

targets shot with Fed and CCI
(L-R) Federal Champion, CCI Mini-Mag
targets shot with Rem and Win
(L-R), Remington Thunderbolt, Winchester Super X

As you can see, the CCI shot the best of the four, but barely. I was truly impressed, given my propensity to shoot patterns, not groups… I would not hesitate to take this gun behind the house into the woods in search of bushytails. You would need some sort of a rest, though, whether natural (tree limb) or artificial (shooting sticks). With a little more experimentation and practice, this thing could be a squirrel’s worst nightmare. Attach a shoulder brace and your odds of connecting just went up.

I must admit that I had more fun than should be allowed, shooting the HK. My friend said his wife just likes to take it out, load it and just blast away from the hip – I can definitely see that, knowing both the gun and his wife. You had better load up on your preferred brand of .22 if you go out for an afternoon with this thing – it’s addictive. This is definitely the most fun “AR pistol” I’ve ever shot.

We’ve seen that the gun is accurate, and that it might make a decent squirrel or small game gun…how else could you use it? Well, how about in .22 Steels competition? I’ve shot that course with the above-mentioned Ruger Mk. II…I think it would be even more fun with this one, especially if you could use the red dot. Another use is pest reduction. Keeping this thing handy around the homestead would sure help cut down on the raccoon/rat/possum/whatever else you define as varmints population. Of course, there’s always the old standby, plinking… probably more cans, bottles (never a good idea), dirt clods, static clay pigeons, old laundry detergent containers, etc. have been “done in” by the lowly .22 than by all other rifle and handgun calibers combined. There’s no end of possible plinking targets. Just take enough ammo.

Summing Up

If you are looking for a new range toy or something to keep behind the ranch’s kitchen door, you might want to give this gun a look. When gun supplies start returning to more-normal levels, this gun should be towards the top of your list if you want to invest in an AR-style plinker. Although some of the controls are not functional, that shouldn’t stop you from having a ton of fun with it at the range or plinking field. Whether you add a shoulder brace or not, this gun should serve you well. I was well and truly impressed with its accuracy – that eight-and-a-half inch barrel does a great job and the sights are good all on their own. Add a red dot and you just extended your range a bit. Put some hollow points in it and take to the woods… switch to target loads for a real eye-opening experience at the range. Even if you already own a dozen rimfire guns, it never hurts to have one more. As always, keep ‘em in the black and stay safe!

Written by Mike

Mike has been a shooter, bullet caster and reloader for over 40 years. Never one to be satisfied with the status quo, he is often found at his reloading bench concocting yet another load. With a target range in his backyard and after 40 years of shooting, his knowledge of firearms and reloading is fairly extensive. He is married, with four sons and daughters-law and 9-and-counting grandkids.

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