H&K 512 Old-School Tactical Shotgun

In the late 1970s, H&K decided that it wanted to offer a tactical shotgun for the police and security market. Having no experience with shotgun manufacture, they turned to Franchi in Italy – for whom they already handled sales outside Italy. Franchi produced a  gas-operated semiautomatic shotgun for HK, who brought in the parts and did the final assembly themselves, in order to legally identify the guns as H&K products. About 1500 were built, and most of these were sold to security agencies in Germany, Austria, Spain, and Portugal. A small remained of unsold ones were imported into the United States in the late 80 and early 90s, apparently between 250 and 350.

The most interesting element of the H&K 512 to  me it the inclusion of an A&W Diverter as an OEM part. The Diverter changes the shot pattern from a circle to a roughly rectangular shape between 3:1 and 4:1 height to width. On the  512, the Diverter was mounted vertically, to create a tall and narrow pattern – that is, a pattern ideal for hitting a target without pellets straying onto potential hostages right next to the target.


  1. Thanks for the interesting video of a rare “HK” gun. I am not sure about the assembly of Franchi parts by HK due to legal requirements. The HK512s I saw here in Germany clearly had the rather big Italian CIP proof marks on them. This makes assembly in Germany quite improbable in my view. The gun in the video is without proof marks of course, as was possible for exports to non-CIP countries.
    I also see no contemporary German legal requirement to this effect. For example, Walther after 1945 for decades had its entire PP/PPK production completely done by Manurhin of France, without the slightes hint on the guns.

  2. The Bundesgrenzschütz “offizier freundlich” image is funny since “Manfred” literally means “Man of peace” not “man of piece.” Cool shotgun!

    I remember being positively baffled watching the armored car guards in Cuba roll up to take the hard currency from a tourist establishment (back then there were three currencies in circulation, later two, most recently–and experimentally–a single one). They had some sort of box-fed magazine shotgun. I assumed it was Italian made. Between Italy and Turkey, that’s gotta be the bulk of riot gun/ defensive shotgun manufacture outside the USA? In the U.S., of course, shotguns were ubiquitous in police/ law enforcement use until relatively recently, when police armament abandoned it. The FBI began using just slugs, since there is a lawsuit attached to every buckshot, and then to just familiarization only training with 870s. It’s been largely superseded in police use world wide, although in Europe carbines and SMGs were always in abundance.

    • I saw that very same thing in Cuba! It was quite a sight, having a big armoured truck parked in front of a small, run-down shop, big burly guards with serious shotguns waving everyone away, while one guard wet in and got a small bag of money not containing more than a hundred bucks. At the very most.
      Who would bother robbing *anything* in Cuba?
      I thought their shotguns were cool, though.

      • “- I remember being positively baffled watching the armored car guards in Cuba roll up to take the hard currency from a tourist establishment (back then there were three currencies in circulation, later two, most recently–and experimentally–a single one). They had some sort of box-fed magazine shotgun. I assumed it was Italian made.
        – I saw that very same thing in Cuba! […] I thought their shotguns were cool, though.”

        Valtro PM-5?

      • I have seen guards of a money transport in China who wielded box magazine shotguns. Norinco makes the YJ12-2, and I would not be surprised to find it in Cuba as well.

      • Hard currency as opposed to then-worthless CUP would make a robber wildly wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice? There was, in fact, an armed robbery in Cuba carried out with PMs stolen from either the police or perhaps from the so-called MTT militia. Rather a lot of small arms walk off after mobilizations and military exercises apparently? In any case, before his retirement, Raúl announced an attempt to register such firearms, and noted that sums of money might be forthcoming for people to turn them in, or that if the person was politically reliable, they might be able to keep them? The aforementioned robbery ended badly, I recall. People shot. So the Cuban state added armed robbery to the growing list of offenses that could result in execution. The death penalty, once carried out rather frequently, remains on the books, but all of the death sentences were commuted to life prison terms. Even the Salvadoran mercenary who planted the bomb in the tourist hotels in 1997.

  3. It’s no surprise that it didn’t catch on with the police.
    Shotguns have evolved over the centuries into the most sophisticated and highly specialized means of killing. Which does not correlate very well with the main tasks of the police.
    And trying to give them new, different to the opposite properties, to put it mildly, is shortsighted.

    • GSG 9? Hardly the typical “polizei…”

      You may not be up on “current events” in the United States, but the police are well-armed with ARs and hi-capacity handguns and other gear, and rather notoriously trigger-happy. Not Brazilian-levels, say, but some troubling indicators of late? Police Departments in the U.S. usually recruit and hire ex-military because they find such officers are used to discipline and comfortable with hierarchy… But the “job” of soldiers is to close with and destroy the enemy by fair means or foul… Not the job of a civilian police force. The U.S. ain’t the UK in this regard… U.S. police used to use shotguns all the time. Now it is all carbines all the time, not just for SWAT or the tac squad, but standard equipment.

      • Notoriously trigger happy? I just love people who make blanket statements like that. 30 years as an LEO, 15 Years as a Firearms Use of Force Instructor and please post some actual stats, not just media hype, as to how Police as a whole are Trigger Happy. More people are shot in a busy drive by weekend in Chicago than by Police that same weekend.

    • The bodyguard, counter-terrorism, police weapon expert Leroy Thompson reported that the Ithaca 37 equipped with a “duck-bill” choke was merely turned by the user to place the ovoid pattern on a vertical or horizontal plane… Perhaps it was the same with the HK/Franchi?

  4. Though doubtless still in many arsenals worldwide. Shotguns are rather out of fashion recently – largely due to wide-serial ‘misuse’ (seeing who use them often says it all) and found to be too area a weapon for most situations. Noting that the diverter, though it works, is more a sop operationally. Where its advantages rarely applicable.

  5. I have a collection of 1:6th Scale action figures and DML’s Manfred is in my collection. Now I have a better idea of Manfred’s shotgun.


  6. The Dragon Manfred thumbnail.
    (Touches beard Obi Wan style)
    Now that is a name I have not heard in a very long time.

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