The Heckler & Koch SL8 is a sporting rifle manufactured by H&K. It is the civilian version of the HK G36.
The rifle fires the .223 Remington or 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge and feeds from a 10, 20, or 30 round detachable magazine (depending on the variant of the rifle). Unlike earlier types of HK rifles, it is not a roller lock bolt but rather a lug type rotating bolt system as seen on the AR-18. The SL8 was originally developed for the German Bundeswehr, to provide a weapon for training reservists similar to the G36 and able to provided to reserve organizations not able to provide military grade armaments.
To adapt the SL8 for the civilian market, the pistol grip and folding stock of the G36 have been replaced by a fixed stock with a thumbhole, and the receiver has been modified to prevent attachment of the G36 folded stock. In addition, to comply with the Gun Control Act of 1968, SL8 rifles imported to the United States have been modified so that they will not accept staggered, normal-capacity 20 and 30 round G36 magazines. US SL8 rifles accept only a single-column, 10-round magazine. Other modifications have been made to the SL8 including a lightened trigger pull, adjustable cheekpiece and buttplate to customize the fit to the user, and a heavier, more accurate barrel. The SL8 does not come with the carry handle and built in optics of the G36, although these can be purchased aftermarket and fitted to the weapon.
Many parts from the G36 series can be fitted to the SL8, but the pistol grip and folding stock cannot be used without modification. At least one US company (Black Market Parts) has manufactured a folding stock that will fit the SL8, and another US company manufactures a specialized mounting block that allows attachment of the G36 folding stock.
Many American SL8 owners have modified their SL8s to accept normal-capacity magazines and/or to resemble the G36 by incorporating a pistol grip and folding stock. American SL8s will not accept normal-capacity magazines unless the single-lug SL8 bolt head is replaced with a double-lug G36 bolt head, the magazine well is replaced, and the receiver is modified to permit insertion of a wider magazine body. However, such modifications to SL8 rifles (or indeed any imported rifles) have significant implications under the 1968 Gun Control Act, which prohibits (inter alia) the assembly from imported parts of rifles that could not be themselves imported. Persons contemplating such modifications should consult the Firearms Technology Branch of BATF, located in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Many US made components such as G36-style bolt heads and other parts are available on the aftermarket.
As of July 28, 2010 the SL8-6 has been discontinued within the USA, with an MSRP last listed as $2,499.00 USD.
SL8 (no #)Edit
This is the grey EU and Canadian version that has a double-stack magazine, non-vented forearm and a short sight rail.
The SL8-1 is the grey US-import version of the rifle. It has a single-stack magazine and its sighting system consists of a long rail with ironsights. The forearm is not vented.
Very rare, this version was designed as the new DMR for the German Bundeswehr, although in the end it was not adopted. It was to be issued with bipod and G36-type 3.5x optic.
The SL8-4 is a black standard SL8 with vented forearm.
The SL8-5 differs from the SL8-4 only in that it uses the same long rail with ironsights as the SL8-1.
This is a black SL8-1 with short sight rail and vented forearm. This is the most popular version of the SL8 on the US market.
A new model with short rail chambered for the .222 Remington cartridge to respect laws that prohibit certain countries' inhabitants from owning weapons in military cartridges. Mostly made for export to Spain, but it is also available in .223 Remington like previous models, to replace the SL8-4