The Heckler & Koch G36 has been the German military’s principal select-fire, 5.56mm NATO battle rifle for 20 years, as well as the platform for two other military versions, the G36C and G36K, but now there is a .22-caliber version from Walther Arms.
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Built under license from Heckler & Koch—like four other .22 LR HK models available from Walther, including the 416 D145RS, a .22 LR version of the 5.56mm HK416 in use with U.S. Navy SEALs—the rimfire G36 shares just about every feature of the larger-caliber military model with the exception of being select-fire. The fifth HK model to be offered in .22 LR by Walther, the G36 is perhaps the most interesting thus far for modern military rifle enthusiasts.
Recreating Heckler & Koch military rifles in .22 LR has become an area of expertise in which Walther has excelled. Walther’s various .22 LR replicas, including Colt, HK and Smith & Wesson models, are all designed to closely duplicate their centerfire brethren’s weight, balance and operating features. The new G36, however, is 1.88 pounds lighter than the centerfire version because of its lightweight polymer construction (6.04 pounds versus 7.92 pounds), but it is extremely well balanced and very easy to handle as a .22 LR. The 18.1-inch barrel is also about 0.8 inches shorter than the centerfire G36, including the flash suppressor.
This is a truly ambidextrous weapon, as the safety/fire selector operates from either side of the receiver and the spring-loaded, reciprocating charging handle, which rests in a vertical over-bore position until needed, can swing out to either side to chamber the first round or clear the weapon. There is also a bolt-hold-open feature at the front of the triggerguard that operates when the magazine is removed, and for ease of maintenance the magazine well can be easily removed by pulling a single retaining pin, and rotating the well down and off of the receiver. For field-stripping, one additional receiver pin is pushed out, the stock is folded, and the pistol grip with the trigger group is detached, allowing the bolt, mainspring and backplate to be removed for cleaning. Reassembly is just as quick, making the G36 a very easy firearm to maintain.
While using a blowback action, the gun still operates like the 5.56mm military version with a reciprocating charging handle (thus its over-bore position), but unlike the majority of .22 rimfire tactical models from Walther, the G36 is almost entirely constructed from composite materials, like the military version. The rifle features a folding skeletonized stock (of a different design than the military model), a detachable sling swivel (sold separately), and a carry handle/top rail for mounting optics. This is the standard G36 configuration, a distinctive looking and highly functional weapon design.
The .22 LR comes with one 20-round magazine, and both 10- and 30-round magazines are available, with the 10-round magazine as standard where required. While the 5.56mm NATO G36 has a distinctive transparent 30-round magazine, the rimfire models get a very traditional black plastic magazine that is very easy to load.
The rimfire G36’s sights are rail mounted: a hooded, fixed front blade and a rear sight with apertures for 100/200-foot and 300-foot ranges. The rear sight is also windage and elevation adjustable in click-stop increments. But for the range test I upped the ante by fitting the G36 with a Walther PS55 red-dot sight, an ideal option for this rifle.
Rimfire Range Time
For the shooting evaluation, I selected three 40-grain, round-nose .22 LR loads from CCI, Federal and Winchester. All three clocked in the 1,150- to 1,180-fps range, with Federal’s solid Auto Match rounds clearing the ProChrono traps at 1,110 and 1,205 fps for an average of 1,161 fps. Winchester’s lead Wildcat rounds posted the highest velocities, 1,141 and 1,219 fps, for an average of 1,182, and CCI’s copper-plated AR Tactical load clocked 1,131 and 1,176 fps for a 1,151-fps average.
The rimfire G36 is an excellent rifle to shoot with a very crisp, consistent trigger that broke cleanly at 7.22 pounds on average. The reset was almost instantaneous, and the wide trigger allows plenty of room for the first joint of the finger to rest. This would also be good for training with tactical gloves. With the Walther PS55 sight dialed in at a distance of 100 feet, I tested the Walther G36 from a rested position. All three loads created five-shot groups measuring between 0.78 and 1.25 inches, and they were all in the 10 and X rings of a standard Law Enforcement Targets B-27 silhouette.
There were zero malfunctions. The rifle’s blowback-operated action snapped from round to round, perfectly ejecting spent cases and rapidly feeding from the magazine. Magazines swap out with ease, and the ambidextrous charging handle makes chambering the first round effortless regardless of how you are holding the rifle. With every center-mass hit earning five points, I scored a 75 with the G36 for 15 shots, with 10 bullseyes and five hits in the 10 ring. Of all the HK .22s I have tested thus far, the G36 rifle is certainly the easiest to shoot.
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As for the Walther PS55 sight, this is a perfect fit for .22 LR rifles (as well as air rifles and pistols), as it features a brilliant, brightness-adjustable, red duplex crosshair reticle; 1X magnification; a large 30mm objective lens diameter; and a weight of only 0.67 pounds. The sight generally retails for less than $100.
Making The Grade
From a standpoint of training exercises, the HK G36 in .22 LR can really get the job done because all of its basic operating features are identical to the military version. For sport shooting, small-game hunting or target shooting with low-cost .22 LR ammo, this rifle is an out-of-the-park hit with its straightforward operation, light overall weight, folding stock for ease of carry and storage, and the ability to mount optics on a raised rail, which enhances sight alignment. For $640, you can’t get a better .22 LR rifle wearing the Heckler & Koch name.
For more information, visit waltherarms.com or call 479-242-8500.
- Caliber: .22 LR
- Barrel: 18.1 inches
- OA Length: 37.8 inches
- Weight: 6.74 pounds (empty)
- Stock: Folding
- Sights: Fixed front, adjustable rear
- Action: Semi-auto
- Finish: Matte black
- Capacity: 20+1
- MSRP: $640