May 18, 2020
Heckler & Koch Had A Newspaper 30 Years Ago???
What'chu talkin' 'bout, Willis?
I was digging through my 45+ years of gun brochures, magazines, flyers, photos, and other memorabilia the other week and I came across the HECKLER & KOCH SENTINEL Volume 1, 1990 newspaper. The year 1990 was a “black hole” in the firearms industry and the paper reflects that. If you weren’t in the industry, or not into guns, or not born back then I will give you a little taste of what we were going through.
We just suffered the largest gun ban (up to that time) with President George “No New Gun Laws” Bush’s 1989 “assault weapons” import ban. Yes, another Republican broke his oath of office and banned guns. Almost all modern semi-auto guns, which were military styled, were banned from importation. I was at the 1989 SHOT Show in Dallas Texas just weeks before “H.W.” pulled the plug on imports and I will tell you there was a black cloud over the show that year. The NRA was also having its problems, and I often said that their milquetoast response to gun control was going to turn them into nothing more than a national trap and skeet club. However, the import ban wasn’t as strict as it is today. In less than a year after the ban, gun manufacturers made plans to import thumbhole stock versions of military styled rifles, and if you look at page nine of this paper you will see the HK SR9 rifle which was the more “sporting” version of their HK91 (a semi-auto version of the G3 battle rifle). Basically, it was an HK91 with a thumbhole stock, no bayonet lug, no muzzle attachment, and came with a five-round magazine, although it would accept any “hi-capacity” G3/HK91 magazine. However, in a few years, the ATF would reinterpret the 1989 ban to include thumbhole-stocked semi-auto rifles which accepted “high-capacity” magazines if the models were derived from select-fire weapons. These new thumbhole-stocked “assault weapons” were grandfathered to own but banned from future imports. On pages six and seven, you will also see that HK still offered semi-auto versions of their HK33 and G3 rifles as well as MP5, but these were now for law enforcement sales only – very depressing. (Since I am writing about the 1990s, it's important to note that HK had the finest law enforcement training division in the industry during that time.)
Another interesting bit of history, you will notice is that Benelli was imported by the U.S. representative of Heckler and Koch as this was years before the Beretta Holding Group purchased them. The great P7 pistols were still the cream of the crop, and the company still had hopes for the caseless-ammunition-firing G11 rifle for military sales. The program manager for the G11 was the late Jim Schatz who spent decades with HK, and I would have the pleasure of knowing him in in the early 2000s when we were on the National Defense Industrial Association Small Arms Committee together.
Enjoy the photos in the slideshow below, and if you want to see what HK has today please visit HK USA.
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HECKLER & KOCH SENTINEL Volume 1, 1990 Cover (see slideshow)