While every year some manufacturer comes up with "HK416 killer", this child of M4 and G36 seems to still be alive and kicking. HK416 is in worldwide use by military (including or mostly by special forces units) and law enforcement. Those users give HK feedback or request some features. What HK want to accomplish is to put most of this requirements in one, standard package, called HK416A5. Most of this features come from M27 IAR, HK416"Norway", G28 or IC candidate, but of course has all previous features like firing pin safety and Over The Beach capability. In next paragraphs I will try to describe this features.
Color scheme - look at pictures. I kind of like it, even with every part in different shade.
Stock - lot of users wanted slimmer and lighter stock. New HK416A5 shares this stock design with G28 in Patrol configuration. Battery compartments are gone, buttplate is fixed in place. Also to sling loops are gone, because some users complied about loops preventing good cheekrest. Stock is comfortable and actually allows lower eye placement. I could comfortably use Aimpoint CompM3 mounted without riser (plain 30mm low ring).
Receiver extension nut (castle nut) - one of easily spotted additions is big castle nut. When HK developed G28 DMR rifle, they had problem with Bundeswehr drop test. G28 is very heavy rifle, with bull barrel and steel upper receiver and receiver extension interface with lower receiver was weak spot. Developing larger (longer) castle nut helped to reinforce this area, as new nut takes some stress of receiver extension. For sake of uniformity and to not make several kind of same part HK incorporated this solution to HK416A5 and to HK417A2.
Charging handle - already known from M27 IAR, MR556A1 and MR223A1 charging handle is now standard. Easy to use with modern weapon manipulation techniques it is strong and comfortable. For me works as good as BCM/Vltor Gunfighter charging handle. Good thing is ability to setup it for left handed (or better "left eyed" - I'm left handed, but I use right shoulder for rifles and shotguns) shooters. Worth noting is that HK makes those charging handles by CNC machines from billet aluminum to increase their strength and stiffness when charging by hand from the side.
Grip - new variant of V2 HK Battle grip integrates great feel of V2 grip with storage compartment of V1 grip. Inside is special tool to assist maintenance.
Trigger guard - new, rounded triggerguard allows use with rather heavy gloves. But still it opens up in traditional way to allow use of fingerless gloves in extreme winter condtions. Nice touch.
Safety and trigger- HK416A5 uses "Euro" safety system that allows to put weapon on safe with hammer down (known from MR556A1 and MR223A1). It also has new, slim line, polymer, ambi safety levers. Levers are easy to use and do not interfere with trigger finger in semi-auto position. Trigger uses new, captive trigger pins with c-clip on one end to prevent pins walking out of receiver. There is option of using new HK 2-stage trigger.
Front handguard - stays same, but uses new cross bolt. No more using of bolt locking lug to loosen or tighten it. Now it has hexagonal shape to use wrench or tool provided in pistol grip. It also has wide slot that allows use of big screwdriver or even knife blade.
BCG - uses captive firing pin safety already known from M27 and MR556A1 and MR223A1. Other that that, standard HK416 BCG with firing pin safety.
Gas block - one of most prominent changes is new, adjustable gas block. It was spotted earlier on HKs IC candidate. Gas block have front mounted, rotating switch with gas dump holes in it. Also no more sling loops on gas block and no more gas block mounted sights (instead there is sight base for folding sight mounted closer to muzzle). From "Jack of all trades" gas block of original HK416 only one additional function remains - mounting interface for AG416 40mm grenade launcher. New gas block is held in place by single roll pin (spiral type) instead of two in old design. Gas block adjustment valve is easy to use by hand, but can be also manipulated by bullet tip or by tool from pistol grip. It has two positions; N for normal use and S for suppressor use. It also uses flat spring for locking to prevent accidental setting changes.
Overall I thinks those new features (and those to came soon) shows that HK is not dead in place with HK416, but works to adapt it to customers needs. This is good news.
Next will come write up on G28 and HK417A2.