By now, almost everyone has heard of the HK417 and any serious gun owner and enthusiasts know about the MR762 civilian version of the same rifle. Over the weekend I got to test out the MR762A1, which I will refer to as the HK417 or just “417” for the rest of this review. The gun was tested for accuracy at long range with match ammo and shorter ranges for uses that are ore fitting a ‘battle carbine”, to see how it handles and how easy it is to control when using more speedy and violent manipulations.
The rifle used the extended rail to give the gun more space to mount equipment. It has a harris bipod and Leupold tactical 3x-9x optic in ADM mounts, For the shorter range, the gun was equipped with a Trijicon SRS and the bipods removed.
The rifle was shot at 800 and 300yards using Federal Gold medal match ammo. The 800 yard target was a steel man shaped target with the 300 yard target being a Q target made of cardboard for testing accuracy.
Above picture shows the 417 while firing at the 800 yard target. I found the recoil of the 417 a lot stiffer than I expected. The gun torques when fired and is very noticeable. I had not encountered this amount of recoil and torque from a semi auto AR pattern type rifle from any other models before and was surprised. It was something that took me a couple of mags to get used to. The muzzle blast was also surprising. Being a 16 inch barrel, I expected a certain amount of blast, but it was more than I was ready for. I was told it was partly due to the muzzle device design on the rifle.
The target is man shaped, but obviously considerably smaller than a real person. But once I zeroed the optic for 800 yards was able to keep 8 out of 10 rounds out of the ten round magazine, on target. Both of us shooting it, had the same result. The trigger of the 417 is a two stage trigger and though I would not call it a real “match trigger” like the SSA, it is a lot closer to it than a typical milspec trigger. It gave no problems. It had a little creep in its second stage but it was very useable. Owner intend to replace it with a SSA trigger and I think that is a good idea. If the gun is to be used in the DMR or long range role in a dedicated way, it would be an improvement.
After shooting close to 100 rounds at the 800 yard target I move to the 300 yard target for some accuracy testing to see what kind of groups it would give with the Federal Gold medal match 168 grain ammo.
This target above is representative of the other groups fired at 300 yards. I fired multiple 10 round groups and all looked pretty much the same being 2-2.5 MOA. Other than the two sighting shots, the “record” group is the cluster I circled in the black marker. It is the best group I shot at the 300 yard target. Sorry to say the other pictures blurred, but this is the best group. The three shot clover leaf is obviously pure chance.
Lastly was the close range more rapid firing of the H&K417. This is where I started to have some problems with the gun. I found the gun very hard to control during rapid fire drills. The torque was back in a major way and it just plain kicked. It was hard for me to control and did not just lay flat and let me run it like an M4 carbine like the Colt 901 will let you do. My friend who had more time on the gun got a handle on it much better than me, but still there was no tight little impact zone. He also mentioned the torquing of the gun and the effort it takes.The red dot of course helped, but even with the large view of the SRS, I just plain had trouble keeping it in tight on target. I am by no means new to shooting full power battle rifles and carbines, but this one was a handful. I have never liked the feel of the piston operated AR patterns and this rifle did not make me rethink that in any way.
Above is my friends shoulder after 60 rounds with the 417 doing rapid fire drills. I also suffered bruising from the HK. I had not had this kind of experience with any other 762 AR pattern rifle. I honestly found the gun unpleasant for off hand rapid drills when used in the battle carbine role. I would keep it strictly as a long range rifle.
Now here is the part that will cause many to gasp and call for my head while calling me a liar.
The gun experienced at least 6 instances of failure to feed or other malfunctions. The ammo used was NATO 7.62 spec.
We speculated on the causes of the malfunctions as they only appeared during rapid fire. Mag problems or ammo problems, I do not know for sure. as the gun started to run fine after this happening within 40 rounds fired. After it decided to work fine, the gun was fine. A few time we got it hot enough to smoke the barrel and become to hot to hold even the VFG.
It was a great chance to test the much vaunted HK417 AKA MR762A1 today, and it is an interesting piece. I think for the full on H&K fans they would be happy with the 417, but for its price, I would never buy one or even really recommend it. If it was 2,000 or maybe 2,500 I could maybe see it. It is not as accurate as a Larue by any means, and it just simply can not be run as fast and softly as a Colt LE901. Accuracy of the gun is fine. From what I understand, this is not intended to be a sniper precision rifle, so the performance of the rifle’s accuracy is all you could expect from something without a match barrel. It does very well with the federal gold medal like most quality rifles. If I had to personally rank the 7.62 battle carbine/rifles, I would go in this order. 1. Colt 901. 2, SCAR H and 3. the 417 The OBR and KAC guns I consider more precision guns so they are not on the list of “battle carbines”. That is all my personal opinion and it may be different than yours, so you do not have to get bent out of shape. Like I said above. the 417 is a fine gun, and I am sure the feeding issues may not be the guns fault, but the price asked for it is just not justified. I am sure any real HK fan will be willing to pay for it, but if that does not describe you, but you want a serious 7.62 battle carbine of the new gen, I would take a hard look at some of the other offerings right now until the prices come down on these, Regardless I would never opt for a piston rifle if I had a choice.