Heckler & Koch has a rich developmental history involving many interesting and novel firearm designs. Of the arms developed by the firm, one of the most well-known is the G36 rifle family. Based off its select-fire counterpart, the SL8 is a U.S. import version of the G36 chambered in .223 Rem. Watch American Rifleman staff on the range with the semi-automatic SL8-6 in the video above.
Originally discontinued some time ago, the SL8 was brought back to the market in 2021 with noticeable differences right off the bat. H&K provides a polymer thumb-hole stock instead of the skeletonized folding stock found on the G36. The included SL8-6 stock incorporates an adjustable cheek riser, a rubber butt, a red H&K logo on the side as well as the use of spacers to change the length-of-pull measurement.
The SL8-6 is configured for a 10-round single-stack magazine rather than the double-stack unit used by the G36. The semi-automatic SL8-6 utilizes its own bolt mechanism to feed from its magazine, a longer barrel and handguard profile compared to its G36 sibling. The unthreaded barrel on the SL8 is 20.8 inches long and is cold-hammer forged for repeatable, precise accuracy results. The action is driven by a short-stroke, gas-piston design of H&K's. For controls, the SL8 has the same bilateral control features as its military counterpart, with a magazine release, bolt catch, charging handle and safety selectors that are easily accessed and used from both sides.
On the range, the H&K SL8 handles similarly to its G36 sibling. The controls of the SL8 are relatively straightforward and well thought out, with the charging handle being attached directly to the bolt carrier and folding forward out of the way when not in use. All other controls have the same manipulation from either side, which makes the SL8 fairly friendly to left-handed users.
Importer: Heckler & Koch
Action Type: piston-operated, semi-automatic, centerfire rifle
Chambering: .223 Rem.
Receiver: fiber-reinforced polymer with steel inserts
Barrel: 20.8" steel
Sights: none; Picatinny rail
Magazine: 10-round detachable box
Stock: fiber-reinforced polymer
Weight: 9 lbs., 6 ozs.