Heckler & Koch HK43

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Heckler & Koch HK43
Type Semi-automatic rifle
Place of origin West Germany
Production history
Manufacturer Heckler & Koch
Produced March 1974 - 1989
Variants KA1, A2 and A3
Weight 8.4 pounds (3.8 kg) (empty magazine)
Length 36.2 inches (920 mm)
Barrel length 16.975 inches (431.165 mm)

Cartridge 5.56×45mm NATO, .223 Remington
Action Roller-delayed blowback
Rate of fire Semi-automatic
Feed system 5, 20, 25, 30 or 40-round double column, detachable box magazine
Sights Protected post front, rotating diopter rear sight

The Heckler and Koch HK43 is a semi-automatic rifle based upon the Heckler & Koch HK33 rifle and is the predecessor of the Heckler & Koch HK93 semi-automatic rifle.


In the mid to late 1960s, Heckler & Koch developed the HK33, which was a scaled-down version of the Heckler & Koch G3, but chambered for 5.56×45mm NATO. The HK33 entered production in 1968. In 1974, a semi-automatic version of the HK33 was introduced by H&K and was designated the HK43. According to H&K’s numbering nomenclature, the “4” indicates that the weapon is a paramilitary rifle, and the “3” indicates that the caliber is 5.56 mm.

A HK43 version KA1 with a shorter 322 mm barrel was used in 1977 by the German RAF terrorist group to assassinate general attorney Siegfried Buback and two policemen [1].


The HK43, which was the precursor to the HK93 , was for the most part identical in appearance to the HK33. Instead of a “push-pin” grip housing, it came with a clip-on style grip housing marked “SF.” In order to save money, H&K used the same fire control group that went into the HK33 models, but with some modifications. The auto-sear was removed from the fire control group, as well as the trip lever, to prevent automatic fire. Moreover, the grip frame housing was modified to prevent the selector lever from going into the full-auto position. The one other modification H&K made for the HK43s was to mill off the trip ledge on the bolt carrier assembly.

Early HK43s were made from the same barrels used on the HK33 rifles, which were 15.35 inches in length and had a 1 in 12-inch twist. In order to bring the barrels up to the legal length of at least 16 inches in the United States, a flash suppressor, which adds about 1 3/8 inches to the overall length, had to be permanently attached. H&K also omitted the grenade launching snap rings on the barrel, as they had for their HK41 models, because the Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibited such features on imported rifles. The HK43 also lacked the "flapper" or paddle magazine release making the redundant push-button magazine release, located on the right side of the receiver, the only way to eject a magazine.

Like the Heckler & Koch HK41, the HK43 had a NATO black finish, which differed from the black phosphate or blue-gray finish of the later HK91/93 series, and came with a short slim forearm grip. Moreover, there were no proof marks on the receiver. Only the rifle’s model and serial numbers, as well as date of manufacture were engraved on the left side of the receiver. The date code indicated the month and year the rifle was produced. The HK43 was also fitted with an all-plastic MP5 style butt stock with the recoil buffer attached to the bolt carrier.

Select fire HK93 conversions

The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibited the import of HK33 (as well as HK53) rifles for civilian ownership in the U.S. because of their status as machine guns. As a result, a number of HK93s (and possibly a small number of HK43s) were used as hosts for full-auto conversions for civilians who wished to own an HK33/53 select fire rifle. Up until the passage of the McClure-Volkmer Act, a Class II manufacturer could convert an HK93 in one of two ways. He could either drill a hole in the receiver to accommodate the attachment of a push-pin style "S-E-F" grip frame housing, or he could modify a semi-auto trigger pack and use a clipped and pinned "S-E-F" grip frame housing. The flapper/paddle magazine release was usually installed on these rifles at the time of their conversion for added authenticity. Sometimes, the receivers were even remarked or restamped to say "HK33" or "HK53". For an HK53 conversion, a gunsmith had to cut the barrel of an HK93 down to 8.3 inches and re-thread the muzzle.

The Hughes Amendment in the Firearm Owners Protection Act prohibited the ATF from accepting any new registrations of machine guns for civilian ownership after May 19, 1986. Due to their scarcity and the fact that no new HK33/53 rifles can be produced for the civilian market, the value of these Title II firearms keeps going up year after year. The average price for one of these HK33/53 conversions is about $24-36K. Those that have the push-pin style grip attachment are considered to be the most authentic reproductions of factory HK33/53 rifles and thus command a premium.


  • Buddy Hinton Collection / HK
  • Semi-automatic rifles banned from importation in 1989
  • HK 93 Instruction Manual
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