Two Letters Re: SAR-8 HK91 Clone Rifles

A note on you post of 12/15 about the SAR-8. I wish I could point you to a single place on the Web where you could verify this, but there isn’t one. I gathered this info from a number of gun discussion boards after my (opportunistic) purchase of an SAR-8 at a gun show.
There are two distinct SAR-8s, both handled by Springfield Armory. One is a steel receiver, made in Greece on original HK tooling. Known there as the SAR-3, it was changed to the SAR-8 by over striking the markings on the gun. Being an import, there are some restrictions on what you can do with it, such as adding flash hiders.
[JWR Adds: See the correction on that point, below.]
There is also another SAR-8, built in the US on an Imbel aluminum receiver. It qualifies as a US manufactured gun, and since the 1994 ban is dead, are pretty much able to be modified as you wish.
[JWR Adds: Actually, being built on an imported receiver, it still needs to have 10 U.S. made parts.] It has some minor differences from a “real” HK, but nothing that can’t be dealt with fairly easily. You can recognize these by the aluminum receiver, green furniture and rail machined into the top of the receiver. As I mentioned earlier, I bought an SAR-8 a couple of years ago for a song, NIB. Mine is one of the Imbel aluminum receivers, so I view myself as fortunate (although many would disagree–the Imbel receivers seem to have a bad reputation). After some initial teething problems that I was eventually able to trace to bad magazines (lesson learned–stick to steel), it’s been a reliable performer. If anything ever goes wrong with it, Springfield has a lifetime warranty, and there are quite a few stories of folks being offered M1As as direct swaps or as a “swap plus small amount of boot”.
I’d like to find one or two more of these, but interestingly enough, the few I see are commanding prices above what I paid for mine. Make of that data point what you will. I enjoy your blog, even though I don’t get to stop by as much as I would like. Keep up the good work.- The Freeholder


Mr. Rawles,
I have read and enjoyed both your book and the Survival Blog. I have found them very useful and thought provoking. Whether I agree with something or not is of no consequence EXCEPT when the information is factually in error and might mislead some folks who depend on it. Such is the case with the following:

The SAR-8 (Springfield Armory’s clone of the HK91) are well made (much better than the CETME). Their only serious shortcoming is that they lack a flash hider. Be advised that a large number of SAR-8s were illegally retrofitted with flash hiders. (The 1994 ban expired, but the original import ban that bans flash hiders is still in effect!)

I am an 07- FFL/SOT so I keep up on these things. The 1994 ban DID restrict flash hiders and threaded barrels along with folding stocks, high capacity mags and bayonet lugs. Of course, it is gone. The 1989 import ban DID NOT forbid flash hiders, threaded barrels or the other “evil features”. What it DID do was mandate not more than 10 imported parts on certain guns. Therefore, the addition of a flash hider to an SAR-8, FAL, HK, AK etc will require that the gun be in compliance with section 922 and have NOT MORE than 10 imported parts. If the gun was originally equipped with 10 or fewer imported parts you can add all the “evil features” you wish so long as you do not thereby exceed the limit of 10 imported parts. I hope this clears up a common misconception that might lead folks to think they can’t add a flash hider or other feature to their SAR-8 or other gun. Sincerely, – M.G.

JWR Replies: My most humble apologies for the error. Thanks for pointing that out. I will go back and will correct my original post. Assuming that the fake (unslotted) pinned-on pseudo flash hider that these rifles came with counts as one of the ten requisite U.S.-made parts, then removing it and replacing it with an original German, Greek, Pakistani, or Portuguese-made flash hider would be a violation of the Federal law, unless you substitute an American-made part to “keep up the parts count.”  Ditto for removing the original goshawful-looking thumbhole stock.  I recommend T. Mark Graham of Arizona Response Systems as a source for the replacement U.S.-made parts, as well as some great gunsmithing and refinishing services. See: