Critical tactical situations call for specialized products designed to meet unique demands. Heckler & Koch has developed an extensive line of special purpose products that includes precision marksman rifles, light and general purpose machine guns, grenade launchers, and signalling devices. All have been operationally tested and combat-proven. - HK
One of the more recent and versatile additions to HK's lineup of special applications products is MSG90 sniper rifle. The MSG90 bears a close resemblance to - and indeed borrows its basic design from - the battle tested G3, a weapon with a successful track record of almost 40 years. It is a box-magazine-fed, semi-automatic rifle chambered for the NATO-standardized 7.62x51mm cartridge. Like most of HK's rifles and submachine guns, it uses the robust and reliable delayed blowback roller-locked bolt operating system that has a well-earned reputation for delivering amazing accuracy and reliable performance. Most of the rifle's internal components as well as its stock, magazine, and fire control mechanism are interchangeable with those of the G3.
The MSG90 also incorporates a number of features borne out of the PSG1's development which render it suitable for the more dedicated role of a sniper rifle. For instance, reinforcing ribs are welded onto both sides of the MSG90's receiver directly over the slide rails. These reinforcements enhance the receiver's structural integrity and lend support to the barrel/receiver interface. A 23.6-inch barrel is press-fitted into the receiver in the same fashion as that of the PSG1. This barrel is lighter than the PSG1's because it is 2 inches shorter and tapers slightly, but consistent barrel whip is induced by a special harmonic stabilizer. For quiet loading, the MSG90's receiver is equipped with a foward assist. The absence of fixed sights on the MSG90 further indicates the specialized (though not necessarily limited) role that it is designed to fulfill.
The MSG90 further shares with the PSG1 certain modular components that enhance its utility in the counter-sniper role. It is equipped with the specially-honed PSG1 trigger mechanism which tends to break at a crisp three pounds. The rifle's fully adjustable buttstock and cheekpiece allow the shooter to customize it for proper fit and eye relief, which is especially ideal for a marksman's weapon. This stock is also lighter than the PSG1 stock, and its reduced weight contributes to the 3.8-pound difference between an MSG90 and a PSG1. Special brackets integral with the MSG90's receiver accept a quick-detach STANAG-based scope mount; this mount is compatible with all NATO-standard optics and ensures 100% zero retention even after repeated mountings. The MSG90's forend is fitted with an Ashchutz T-way that will accept one of HK's newer adjustable bipods. The unit that HK offers for the MSG90 is more streamlined than the PSG1's tripod but considerably more versatile than the G3 light bipod.
Another salient feature of the MSG90 is the push-pinned trigger housing. By first removing the stock, the shooter can quickly replace the semi-automatic trigger group and housing with a unit that facilitates fully-automatic firing. Essentially, the MSG90 differs from the the PSG1 in its ability to be deployed as a support weapon. Of course, it is not as ideal in this role as is a more dedicated weapon like the 21E, which is equipped with a belt-feed mechanism and a quick-change barrel. Nonetheless, the search for faster follow-up shots ends here.
In short, the MSG90 is a multi-purpose weapon that offers an unparalleled balance of precision and firepower. Other G3 variants, including the PSG1, are more application-specific for various reasons. The PSG1's size and weight certainly enhance its astounding accuracy at distances previously deemed beyond the capabilities of a semi-automatic rifle, but these attributes have an inverse affect on mobility. The MSG90, on the other hand, sacrifices neither accuracy nor mobility at normal engagement ranges in, say, an urban environment. Even a fully-automatic G3 or 21E can be fitted with quality optics, but battle rifles and machine guns (like their users) are perhaps best confined to their intended roles. The idea behind the MSG90 is that it transcends these boundaries while providing law enforcement and military units with the utmost in tactical flexibility.