Heckler & Koch SL8 Making a Comeback

The SL8 is coming back for H&K collectors. (Photo: H&K)

Heckler & Koch is bringing back a ’90s-era standout to the American shores, the SL8, with some tweaks and updates. This rifle, designed to comply with U.S. laws and import regulations, was a bit of a compromise when it was first released in 1998, but over time, has developed a cult following of its own.

The features, or rather, lack of features, will make this popular with shooters living in restricted markets, but there are plenty of H&K fans everywhere who will happily add a new SL8 to their collection. H&K is launching the SL8 in two versions, a standard model and a California-compliant one.

As configured, the SL8 is set up for precision target shooting. It has a 20.8-inch barrel with a recessed target crown with a 1-in-7 twist for use with long and low-drag projectiles. The rifle is marked .223 Remington but it will also run 5.56 NATO.

The free-floating bull barrel is cold hammer-forged with a chrome-lined bore. It uses the proven G36 operating system, a short-stroke gas piston action.

A “compliant” rifle, the SL8 is also used as a platform for other rifles. (Photo: H&K)

The new SL8 comes with all-black furniture unlike the original two-tone with grey and has red and white markings. It’s fully ambidextrous with a top-mounted charging handle that can be used as a forward assist.

There are a few small changes from the original American imports, including a ventilated forend, a MIL-SPEC rail for optics, and repositioned sling mounts. But it does come with a 4.5-pound match trigger and adjustable stock with a cheekpiece and buttpad spacers.

With its heavy target barrel, the SL8 tips the scales at 8.6 pounds unloaded and measures in at just under 39 inches long. It feeds from 10-round SL8-specific magazines and ships with two mags.

See Also: Heckler & Koch Long SP5L Now Shipping!

It might seem odd for H&K to bring back the SL8, even for limited markets, but it also opens the door for new G36 conversions. Boutique specialists like TommyBuilt Tactical have earned a strong reputation for their SL8 modifications and this will give these companies new rifles to tinker with.

That being said, there are plenty of people who will want one of these updated SL8 rifles, and they’re priced competitively at $1,699, with the California-compliant models running an extra $50.

For more information visit Heckler & Koch online.

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About the author: Max Slowik is a writer with over a dozen years of experience and is a lifelong shooter. He has unwavering support for the Second Amendment and the human right to self-defense. Like Thomas Paine, he’s a journalist by profession and a propagandist by inclination.

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Scott Vandiver August 6, 2021, 7:41 pm

    4.5 lb match grade trigger. really
    Also who puts a red dot on a Match rifle?

  • Kelly Lee August 6, 2021, 2:51 pm

    If it would just accept double stack mags, and have a 16″ barrel with ability for a flash suppressor, I would be in for one. Otherwise… meh.

  • Angry A&P August 6, 2021, 2:00 pm

    Larry Correia’s rant still rings true over a decade later. H und Ks motto to civilians is “You suck, and we hate you” still to this day.

  • Mauser6863 August 6, 2021, 11:00 am

    Literally Yesterday, I just purchased a TG36K from Tommy Built, the closet thing to a REAL G36 for $3k that you can buy today. H&K is a stupid company, no one (except collectors) wants your watered down, politically correct crap like the SL8. Yeah you will sell them all of them and pat yourself on the back, but you could have sold 20 times that if it was a proper clone of the real G36.

    The fact that they use the German government as an excuse is laughable, The company is traded on a French stock exchange and has a US based operation as well. Germany is so anti-gun that SIG Sauer closed their entire German operation a few years ago and H&K should do the same. Just do what Glock did, change the ownership to a Panama Company and charge the German operations high royalty fees, so they never make a profit and have to pay taxes in Germany. Besides US production is cheaper and if you live by government contracts, you will die by government contracts, just ask Colt, now a division of CZ USA.

    The Germans are happy to sell G36 assault rifles to Libya and other despots, but heaven forbid a US Citizen owns one or a HK 416 in Semi-Auto.

    Ruger is the most profitable gun company in the world, likely followed by Smith & Wesson. The Global market for firearms is here in the US, ask FN, Beretta and CZ. HK is like Disney, out of their mind with profit not being their number one reason to exist, which is what business is all about. Engineers make poor business leaders.

    • Ralph Jakubik August 7, 2021, 1:23 am

      Great comment. Absolutely agreed.

  • Fal Phil August 6, 2021, 9:46 am

    Website says 223 Remington, not 5.56×45. I find that curious.

    • Mauser6863 August 6, 2021, 11:05 am

      The reason it’s labeled 223 and not 5.56 is that 5.56 is an “Evil” military round. You lowly peasants are not allowed to have that “powerful” ammunition and therefore we label the guns to let you know that. Just get on your knees and be grateful that H&K allows you to buy any of their products at all.

  • Leigh August 6, 2021, 6:27 am

    Going to assume it will take the old SL8 magazines .
    Might have to get my original SL8 a little sibling.

  • Mike V August 4, 2021, 7:24 pm

    Wow, $1699, honestly surprised. How hard would it be to mag swap to something else?

    • Mauser6863 August 6, 2021, 11:08 am

      The magazine is a single column 10 round to comply with US law. The rest of the world gets a double stack in their SL8 rifles. Yes the mag well needs to be changed to accept a double stack, but I believe the bolt and the receiver need to be modified as well?

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