H&K 416 – Chuck Pressburg’s Perspective

H&K 416 D SF, Surefire M300, B.E. Meyers MAWL….and a purple Lancer.

For a platform that’s now several years old, we’re hearing more and more questions about the H&K 416 lately. Specifically, “Is it worth the huge cost to build (from recently released parts kits) or buy the piston-driven H&K 416 or MR556?”


Well…it MIGHT be, depending on the situation you find yourself in. For some very specific circumstances, it could be the platform of choice. For more details on one such situation, we turned to Chuck Pressburg.

Chuck Pressburg of Presscheck Consulting is one of the industry’s most knowledgeable and experienced voices, having served the United States Army for over two decades in a variety of roles, both in operations and in acquisitions.  We discussed his background, his opinions on the AR-15, and more in an article we recently released.

H&K 416 and rifles like this have their place.
This is a recent build by a friend of the author. It is a 14.5″ H&K 416 upper on a KAC SR-15 lower…topped off with a Surefire M300 and B.E. Meyers MAWL. This is a great firearm that shines in some very specific environments. We discuss one such environment below with Chuck Pressburg of Presscheck Consulting.

In part two of our conversation with Chuck, we wanted to ask him about his experiences with the piston-driven H&K 416.

A pair of the author’s H&K 416 D SF rifles…ideal for a very specific purpose.

Q: Chuck, we’ve been getting a fair share of questions about the H&K 416 and the H&K MR556. I have a few H&K 416 D SFs, as well as a MR556. In my time spent with them, I’ve not seen a compelling reason to prefer them over my DI rifles. Can you share any experiences you’ve had with the H&K 416?

Chuck Pressburg: I loved it.  A lot of people didn’t like the weight.  I’m certainly not a fan of the recoil impulse.

But, here’s the deal…people back here in America will say: “man, my DI gun can do anything that your piston gun can do.  All I have to do is keep it lubed and that thing will run for days.”

Yes, but the mission profiles of the people that were using the H&K 416 platform were such that they didn’t always want to perform maintenance every day.  Back here in America, just because you put oil on your gun does not mean you have to clean your gun. 

Now…go cover your entire bolt carrier group in oil, and step into a rotor-wash, brownout situation which is your ride to work every single day.  Then, don’t fire a shot…and go home. 

H&K 416 shines in these conditions
“…step into a rotor-wash, brownout situation which is your ride to work every single day…”

Just imagine the grittiness of working the bolt to get the round you chambered when you jumped off the chopper out of your gun because you are going to secure it. You need to secure it because you are going to go to bed, or you’re going to do hours of post-mission paperwork.

You then realize:  “Man, I can’t leave this gun full of sand just sitting here.  I must clean it.”

Running an H&K 416 Dry (within reason)

Chuck Pressburg: The H&K 416 allowed users to “run it dry.”  And I’m NOT talking about eight-hour gunfights with no lubrication.  People always take things people say on the internet out of context.  I’m talking about if I’m only shooting my gun one out of every six times I am getting off of a helicopter. Then, the other five times that I had to pull all of that lube off…well, that was wasted sleep time.  That was wasted FaceTime with my children.  

So, I learned that by having a piston gun of the H&K variety, I could absolutely, 100 percent, without fail, get through a mag or two, even dusty and dirty. I knew I was going to be able to get through a mag or two with a bone-dry rifle.

H&K 416
One of Chucks personal H&Ks…

Lubing Up ‘Old Bessy’

I also noticed that when I did use my rifle, the vast majority of the times I used it, I was only engaging one or two dudes.  I was firing less than 30 rounds…not even conducting a mag change. 

Very few…one out of 20 or something, was “the whistle of the RPGs flying overhead…” where I’m like “wow, the whole neighborhood decided to show up…this is going to be sporty.”

Chuck Pressburg

And so, by carrying a small bottle of lube, I was able to decide, when I listened to the sights and sounds of the battle…l’m looking and seeing the tracers and everything and I’m realizing…”huh, this kind of went from a killing to a gunfight real quick.”  I could, during a programmed mag change behind cover, be like, “yep…time to lube up ‘Old Bessy’.”

I’d then reach out and grab my little bottle of Slip2000 and douche it right in the ejection port of the H&K 416.  I’d rack that thing a couple times, and then put a fresh mag in. I was good for hundreds of rounds after that.

But again, I only needed to apply the lube when I was in a real fight.  When I was just shooting my gun a few times, the gun worked just fine. 

Chuck with his HK 416 in Mosul, Iraq while serving with Asymmetric Warfare Group circa 2005…

Blowing Away Sand and Grit

And then, when I came off of those missions, and I had fired just a few rounds through my gun, I would drop the mag. I’d pull the bullet out, go over to the Dewalt Air Compressor…(mimics blowing sound)….the gun is clean in 30 seconds.  I could blow all that sand and grit and rotor wash out of there. I could then throw the H&K 416 in the corner, and go about my night’s work of paperwork and statements and whatever else.

So..that ability to have a gun in a high sand environment that did not need to be wet all the time to work was absolutely priceless to me.

New to the H&K 416 or MR556? This is a good overview of H&K 416 and MR556 basics from Larry Vickers.

A great thanks to Chuck Pressburg for speaking with us about his experience with the piston-driven H&K 416. Look for our final part of this interview with Chuck where we discuss the real world realities of the 7.62 “battle rifle” and his take on 300 Blackout.

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