A sporting version of the Heckler & Koch G36 select-fire infantry rifle, the semi-auto SL8 is once again showing up in HK's catalog. 

The original Gewehr (German = rifle) 36 was a modular 5.56 NATO weapon designed in the 1990s by HK to replace the German military's aging G3 battle rifle. Produced in over a half-dozen variants for military sales and capable of firing 750-rounds per minute for as long as the magazine could keep up, the G36 was exported to over 40 countries besides its adoption by the German Bundeswehr in 1997.

The German take on the G36, in 60 seconds: 



Much as the HK91 was a civilianized version of the G3, soon after the G36 hit the market HK moved to give hungry fans what they wanted.

First introduced in 2000, the .223 Rem caliber SL8 used a short-stroke piston actuated gas operating system with a 20.8-inch cold hammer forged heavy barrel. Semi-auto with a grey carbon fiber polymer thumbhole stock-- it debuted during the Federal Assault Weapon ban-- with an adjustable cheekpiece and buttstock, the initial version of the rifle included a removable Picatinny rail, an ambi charging handle that folded into the centerline of the gun, and adjustable sights. Some models included a detachable carrying handle with a 1.5-3x optical sight. 


HK SL8-1 rifle
Originally imported 2000-2003 and then again in 2007-2010, the first generation model now known as the SL8-1 included 10-round mags and a grey thumbhole stock. This collectible beauty was recently in the Guns.com Vault of collectible guns. (Photos: Guns.com)


In 2010, HK updated the design to the SL8-6 which ditched the space cadet grey for an all-black format and added an elevated Pic rail/carrying handle. It also had a vented handguard, closer to the G36 original. Unfortunately, this model was only imported for a year. 


Now, the SL8 is back


HK dropped the teaser for the gun on their social media account Monday afternoon. The gun seems much like the SL8-6 and still features a 20.80inch cold-hammer-forged barrel with a recessed crown. The 6 grooved, 1:7 RH twist, the free-floating bull barrel is made with the famous HK cannon grade steel and the company bills the SL8 as an import-legal version of the G36 designed for precision shooting. 


HK SL8-6 rifle
The overall length of the current SL8 is 38.6 inches while the weight is 8.6 pounds. (Photos: Guns.com)



Although the SL8 in its current format still includes the AWB-era 10-shot magazine limit and wonky thumbhole stock, giving it a very 1994 aesthetic, there are lots of custom shops out there, such as Tommy Built Tactical, that stand ready to turn stock SL8s into G36, PSG8, and XM8 clones. 

Coincidentally, TBT posted a video this week on that very subject, further underlining that, for better or worse, the SL8 seems like its back. 


revolver barrel loading graphic