HK G36K clone by Engage Armament

My XM8 clone project was my "gateway drug" into the world of polymer HK rifles. I thought roller-lock guns were expensive. Hah. These quickly ratchet up the cost pressure. I started to hanker for a G36. Now, I know that's ridiculous. My XM8 project had only just begun. At the time I had some parts, an SL8 for conversion, and a submitted Form 1. I also felt the pressure to get SBRs and suppressors before 41F became effective. And then I saw a post about some G36K clones being finished up by TommyBuilt Tactical and available for sale at Engage Armament. And they were "reasonably" priced for what they are. I did some quick math and realized I couldn't build a conversion for less, and I'd still have to source everything. I reached out to Carlos Rabanales for more info and wound up ordering one. He had some in-hand, but let me know there was another batch coming with HK markings on them. He gave me dibs to choose, so of course I picked one with the HK markings.

The major downside to liking rare or off-the-wall stuff is you can't readily get any experience with them before buying. I can't just run over to a local gunshop and pick one up like I could for more common arms. At that point, my experience with this platform was limited to the one HK SL8 I had. When the G36K clone arrived at my FFL I was truly excited. I had no idea what to expect. My transfer dealer handed me the rifle and I was struck by how light it is. It was quite surprising. I filled out the 4473 so the shop can do my paperwork and NICS check and then I really get to looking over the details on the rifle. It seems to have a C style top rail and the sights are better than I expected. The action seemed smooth enough. I wasn't too fond of the 4 inch flash-hider, but that's just to keep it Title 1. I knew I'd file a Form 1 for it soon, probably the same day. Slick. And then I looked for the serial number. I know on the SL8, the serial number is in a metal plate embedded into the plastic. That's actually something great care has to be taken with when doing the fuse conversions. That number can't be messed with. On this rifle, the number plate was missing. That confused me. How can a conversion be like that?

I knew I they wouldn't have inappropriately removed that serial number plate, but I started to suspect I had something a bit different. Tom was known to have been working on his own G36 type receivers. I wondered if he was quietly releasing them. I found out that these were being made from re-built G36 receivers. They managed to get a bunch of de-mil'd G36 receivers with enough variation and overlapping in the de-mil process to build new receivers out of the old receiver pieces. Very cool. Kinda scary considering the forces they need to handle, but they worked with Tom Bostic of TommyBuilt Tactical on this. He's the guy that came up with fused conversions of HK SL8 and USC rifles into G36 and UMP clones. That kind of conversion sounds crazy, but he has over a decade of experience doing conversions like this and some of his builds have been run through the ringer, even full-auto as rentals. If they weren't safe or reliable, the fused conversions would have been a flash in the pan. So that's why I got a choice to have HK markings, some of the re-built receivers had complete original HK markings still on them. The official manufacturer is Engagement Arms and the official model is G36KE1. They are marked that way. They just happen to still have the original HK markings on them as well.

Months later, when my approved Form 1 came back, I sent it off to Tom to install an extended bolt release, remove the pinned flash-hider, and install a SilencerCo ASR mount flash-hider so I could mount my SpecWar 556. Tom said he had to relieve a bit of material on the handguard to clear the new flash-hider. Glad I didn't try that myself. I also bought a more traditional, dual-optic handle with the 3x scope. It looks really authentic to me now. Collector's disorder soothed again.