High-Tech: H&K MR223

This a practical review of the H&K MR223 semiautomatic carbine, with an eye towards its performance in games like GURPS, Call of Cthulhu, and Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game.

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Describing the H&K MR223

The Match Rifle 223 produced by Heckler & Koch of Oberndorf, Germany, is a civilian semiautomatic version of the H&K HK416D165RS assault carbine. Manufactured for the European market, the MR223 is specified to the European CIP standard, meaning it fires the 5.56×45mm NATO cartridge. The otherwise virtually identical MR556 sold in North America is specified to the US SAAMI standard, meaning it is optimised for the .223 Remington cartridge. The former can fire both cartridges, but a true 5.56×45mm NATO cartridge should not be fired in a .223-calibre weapon due to its higher pressure. Weirdly, H&K took the ass-backwards approach to market the metric weapon as the MR223 and the US version as the MR556. While the original HK416-series was introduced in 2005, the MR223 became available in 2007. The MR233A1 followed in 2009, the MR223A3 in 2013.

The HK416-series has been famously adopted by a number of military and police agencies; the original HK416D10RS is prominently in service with the US Army CAG and US Navy DEVGRU, while the HK416A2 (HK416D165RS) has been adopted as the M27 by the US Marine Corps, the HK416A3 (HK416D165RS) has been adopted as the HK416N by the Norwegian military, the HK416A5 (HK416D145RS) has been adopted as the HK416FS by the French military, and the HK416A5 (HK416D11RS) is in service as the Gewehr 38 Compact (G38C) with some Federal law enforcement agencies in Germany. Curiously, the MR223, rather than the HK416-series, has been observed in the hands of the Russian FSB Spetsgruppa Alfa, presumably because they could not get the military version.

The HK416-series and hence the MR223 was designed to combine the ergonomics and overall configuration of the US service weapons, the Colt M4- and M16-series, with the reliability of the piston action of the H&K G36-series. The piston action makes it slightly heavier than the direct-impingement action used by the AR-15 based M4/M16. Some users also report an increase in felt recoil. However, since the piston action does not inject firing gases into the action, it is much cleaner running, which considerably improves reliability and user friendliness. The slightly improved HK416A2, HK416A3, HK416A5, MR223A3, and MR556A1 have ambidextrous controls, which this first-model MR223 lacks. Since I am right-handed, that is not an issue for me. Like all AR-15 style weapons, the MR223 has the charging handle at the top rear of the receiver. To my mind, this is all wrong ergonomically ‒ for a right-handed shooter, the charging handle should be on the top or on the left, slightly forward ‒ but the basic platform design requires it and it does work. Some people actually like it.

The main difference between the HK416-series and the MR223 is the latter’s heavy match barrel and of course the fact that it is semiautomatic only. The standard barrel is 42 cm (16.5”) long, but other lengths are available. With this barrel, the adjustable stock results in an overall length between 85 cm (33.5”) and 95 cm (37.5”). Due to the piston action, thick barrel, and sturdy accessory rails, the MR223 is a bit front heavy. It weighs 3.89 kg (8.58 lbs) empty.

H&K offers both steel magazines and clear plastic magazines for the MR223. The 10-round HRM steel magazines with which the carbine is delivered work fine. They are useful for prone shooting, but too short to grip comfortably during fast reloads. They weigh 0.26 kg (0.57 lb) filled with 10 American Eagle Tactical AE223 cartridges with 3.5-g (55-gr) projectiles. The 30-round clear plastic magazines by H&K are super sturdy. They are competitively priced, considering that they are H&K-branded. However, they are slightly thicker than those of other manufacturers, which can be an issue depending on the magazine pouches used. They weigh 0.51 kg (1.12 lb) filled. Normally I employ PMAG 20 AR/M4 GEN M3 plastic magazines by Magpul Industries of Austin, Texas. These are cheap, light, and reliable. They weigh 0.36 kg (0.79 lb) filled. I carry the PMAGs in an Ichiro Nagata 5-In-Line Single Stack nylon magazine holder by TUFF of Chula Vista, California, which holds five magazines yet requires little real estate on the belt. The magazine well of the original HK416-series and MR223 is slightly tighter than that of many AR-15s, meaning that not all aftermarket magazines will fit in. The ones mentioned all work. The current MR223A3 has a wider magazine well that accepts all kinds of magazines.

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The MR223 was originally sold without iron sights, an outrageous policy which H&K has abandoned with the MR223A3. My early-production carbine lacked them, but as I already owned an EOTech XPS2 reflex sight and EOTech 4× magnifier, I simply mounted those. The EOTech XPS2 weighs 0.26 kg (0.56 lb). The EOTech 4× magnifier on a quick-detach fold-away mount weighs 0.47 kg (1.03 lb). While purists may scoff at the lack of iron sights, my eyes are not up to them at extended ranges anyway and I am not worried about the sustainability of electronic sights in case of the zombie apocalypse … The EOTech sights have caught a lot of flak recently due to sub-par performance in specific conditions, but I have not had any issues with them.

The retractable stock has six positions and is thus easily adjusted for length of pull. Twisting off the shoulder piece reveals compartments to hold batteries and spare parts. There are usually a couple CR123 batteries stored in there, as spares for the EOTech. This carbine has been fitted with an optional H&K back plate with sling eyelets and an optional H&K vertical front grip.

The MR223 is an accurate weapon, much more accurate than I can take advantage of. Due to my lack of interest in long-distance shooting and the configuration of my favourite shooting range, I seldom shoot at distances over 50 m (55 yards). The following target was shot at 100 m (109 yards) using the optics listed above. The black centre is 20 cm (7.87”) across. Without the flyer, the four-shot group measures 1.87 MoA; the five-shot group with the flyer measures 3.76 MoA. For target-shooting, this is not a good group, but it was fired unsupported in less than 10 seconds. For practical shooting, this is quite enough.

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In Gaming

To date, I have covered the H&K MR223 in Investigator Weapons 2: Modern Day (pp. 109-110). Its military equivalent, the H&K HK416-series, appears in GURPS Tactical Shooting (pp. 63-64), Investigator Weapons 2 (pp. 109-111) , and the Cthulhu Waffenhandbuch (pp. 130-131).

In GURPS, the Very Reliable Malf. assigned to it (Tactical Shooting, p. 63) is well deserved. I have not had a single malfunction in three years, firing thousands of shots. The EOTech XPS2 reflex sight gives +1 to Guns (GURPS High-Tech, p. 156). The EOTech 4× magnifier provides +2 Acc (High-Tech, pp. 155-156). The reflex sight can be used without the magnifier by simply folding the magnifier to the sight, but the magnifier cannot be used without the reflex sight. All the magazines mentioned above are probably Quality Magazines (Tactical Shooting, p. 74).

Rifles Table

See pp. B268-271 for an explanation of the statistics.

GUNS (RIFLE) (DX-4 or most other Guns at ‑2)
TL Weapon Damage Acc Range Weight RoF Shots ST Bulk Rcl Cost LC Note
8 H&K MR223, 5.56×45mm 5d-1 pi 5 770/3,200 9.7/1.1 3 10/20/30+1(3) 9† -5 2 $3,000 2 [1]
Note:

[1] Very Reliable. Won’t malfunction unless lack of maintenance lowers Malf. (p. B407).

 

In Call of Cthulhu, the MR223 has good Malf compared to similar weapons. The EOTech XPS2 reflex sight gives +3 DEX and +5 percentiles to Rifle skill, and improves “Shooting in Darkness” (Investigator Weapons 2, p. 196). The EOTech 4× magnifier triples Base Range to 270 (Investigator Weapons 2, pp. 49, 195).

Rifles Table

For an explanation of the statistics, see Investigator Weapons 2, pp. 47-51.

Make/Model Calibre Skill Base Chance Damage Base Range ROF Capacity HP Malf Year Price Avail
H&K MR223 5.56×45mm Rifle* 25% 2D8 90 2(3) 10/20/30+1 10 99 2007- $3,000 R

 

In Delta Green, the MR223 does not differ in any way from other Light Carbines except for being more expensive. The EOTech XPS2 holographic sight gives +20 percentiles to Firearms skill (Delta Green: Agent’s Handbook, p. 102). The EOTech 4× magnifier doubles Base Range to 200 (Delta Green: Agent’s Handbook, p. 102).

Firearms Table

For an explanation of the statistics, see Delta Green: Agent’s Handbook, pp. 32, 54, 57, 60, 84.

Weapon Skill Base Range Damage Lethality Ammo Capacity Armour Piercing Expense
H&K MR223, 5.56×45mm Firearms 100 m 1D12 10% 10/20/30 3 Unusual

At the Picture Show

The MR223 has so far not been appeared anywhere. My favourite movie scenes involving the H&K HK416D10RS appear in Skyfall (2012), in which it used by Commander James Bond (Daniel Craig). The H&K HK416D145RS is highlighted in Terminator Salvation (2009), in which it is used by Captain John Connor (Christian Bale).

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