Only produced between 1998 and 2011, the Heckler & Koch SL8 has been all but forgotten.
The semi-automatic version of the H&K G36 was in high demand on the civilian market, but sales suffered as the design was modified to meet the requirement of various gun laws. The Gun Control Act of 1968, the 1989 assault weapon importation ban, and the 1994 domestic assault weapon ban that was ultimately changed in 2004 all contributed to changes that ruined this popular rifle.
Civilian G36 Features And Changes
Unlike other roller lock bolt H&K rifles, the SL8 featured a lug-type rotating bolt system similar to the AR-18.
The SL8 was chambered in 5.56x45mm NATO and could be fed by 10, 20, or 30-round magazines. A 100-round drum was also available for the civilian version, but the US versions were modified to accept only 10-round magazines in compliance with the Gun Control Act of 1968.
Furthermore, the pistol grip and folding stock shown in the image above were removed in favor of a fixed stock with thumb-hole seen in the video below.
As more and more features were removed, the rifle became a shell of what most shooters actually wanted. Eventually sales plummeted and the rifle was discontinued.
Today, US shooters now have the option to modify existing SL8s to accept larger magazines. To do so, the shooter must replace the SL8’s magazine well and swap the factory bolt head with the double-lug bolt head of the G36. The receiver must also be modified to accept the wider, staggered 20 and 30-round magazines.
Hear more about this rifle’s sad demise in the video below.