A grenade launcher or grenade discharger is a weapon that launches a grenade with more accuracy, higher velocity, and to greater distances than a soldier could throw it by hand. Grenade launchers can either come in the form of standalone weapons (either single-shot or repeating) or attachments mounted under the barrel of a rifle. Some rifles have been designed to fire rifle grenades, either from their muzzle or from a detachable muzzle-mounted launcher. Larger grenade launchers may be mounted on vehicles.
Carl Gustav recoilless rifle (M2GC): The basic weapon consists of the main tube with the breech-mounted Venturi recoil damper, with two grips near the front and a shoulder mount. The weapon is fitted with iron sights, but is normally aimed with the attached 3x optical sight with a 17 degree (300 mrad) field of view. Luminous front and rear sight inserts are available for the iron sights when aiming at night, and an image intensification system may also be used. The Carl Gustav can be fired from the standing, kneeling, sitting or prone positions and a bipod may be attached in front of the shoulder piece. An operating handle called the “Venturi lock” is used to move the hinged breech to one side for reloading. The weapon is normally operated by a two-man crew, one carrying and firing the weapon, the other carrying ammunition and reloading.
Mk 19 grenade launcher: The Mk 19 is a belt fed, blowback operated, air cooled, crew served, fully automatic weapon that is designed not to cook off. It fires 40 mm grenades at a cyclic rate of 325 to 375 rounds per minute, giving a practical rate of fire of 60 rounds per minute (rapid) and 40 rounds per minute (sustained). The weapon operates on the blowback principle, which uses the chamber pressure from each fired round to load and re-cock the weapon. The Mk 19 is able to launch its grenade at a maximum distance of 2,212 meters, though its effective range for a point target is about 1,500 meters, since the large rear leaf sight is only graduated to 1,500 meters. The nearest safe distance to launch the grenade is 310 meters in training and 75 meters in combat. Though the Mk 19 has a flash suppressor, it serves only to save the eyesight of its operator; it does not conceal the weapon’s position. For night operation, an AN/TVS-5 night vision sight can be fitted.
RPG-7: The launcher is re-loadable and based around a simple steel tube, 40 millimeters in diameter, 95.3 centimeters long and weighing 7 kilograms. The middle of the tube is wood wrapped to protect the user from heat and the end is flared to assist in blast shielding and recoil reduction. Sighting is usually optical with a back-up iron sight and passive infra-red and night sights are also available. As with similar weapons, the grenade protrudes from the launch tubes. It is 40-105 millimeters in diameter and weighs between 2.5 and 4.5 kilograms. It is launched by a gunpowder booster charge, giving it an initial speed of 115 meters per second, and creating a cloud of light grey-blue smoke. The rocket motor ignites after 10 meters and sustains flight out to 500 meters at a maximum velocity of 295 meters per second. The grenade is stabilized by two sets of fins that deploy in-flight: one large set on the stabilizer pipe to maintain direction and a smaller front set to induce rotation. The grenade can fly up to 1,100 meters; the fuze sets the maximum range, usually 920 meters.
RPG-29: The RPG-29 is a shoulder-launched, tube-style, breech-loading weapon designed to be carried and used by a single soldier. On the top of the launch tube is the 2.7× 1P38 optical sight. On the bottom of the tube is a shoulder brace for proper positioning along with a pistol grip trigger mechanism. A 1PN51-2 night sight can be fitted. The RPG-29 is unusual among Russian anti-tank rocket launchers in that it lacks an initial propellant charge to place the projectile at a safe distance from the operator before the rocket ignites. Instead, the rocket engine starts as soon as the trigger is pulled, and burns out before the projectile leaves the barrel. Since the projectile follows a ballistic trajectory, the weapon could be described as a smoothbore recoilless rifle.
XM25 CDTE: The XM25 CDTE fires 25 mm grenades that are set to explode in mid-air at or near the target. A laser rangefinder in the weapon is used to determine the distance to the target. The user can manually adjust the detonating distance by up to 10 feet (3.0 m) shorter or longer; the XM25 automatically transmits the detonating distance to the grenade in the firing chamber. The grenade tracks the distance it has traveled by the number of spiral rotations after it is fired, then detonates at the proper distance to produce an air burst effect. These features make the XM25 more effective than traditional grenade launchers at the task of hitting targets that are behind cover or dug into the ground (i.e. in defilade.) One of the weapon’s developers, Richard Audette, believes that the XM25 is a big leap forward because it is the first small arms weapon to use smart technology.
Milkor MGL: The MGL is a low-velocity, shoulder-fired 40 mm grenade launcher with a six-round spring-driven revolver-style magazine capable of accepting most 40x46mm grenades. The spring-driven cylinder rotates automatically while firing, but it must be wound back up after every reloading. The MGL grenade launcher consists of a lightweight, progressively rifled steel barrel, sight assembly, and frame with firing mechanism, spring-actuated revolving cylinder magazine, and a folding stock. The weapon has a fire selector safety switch just above the rear pistol grip which can be operated from either side. The launcher cannot be accidentally discharged if dropped. The launcher is loaded by releasing the cylinder axis pin and swinging the steel frame away from the cylinder. The rear of the cylinder (including the pistol grip) is unlatched and pivoted counter-clockwise to expose the chambers during reloading. By inserting the fingers into the empty chambers and rotating the aluminum cylinder it is then wound against its driving spring. The grenades are then inserted into the chambers, one-by-one (because the cylinder cannot be removed), the frame closed, and the axis pin re-engaged to lock. When the trigger is pressed a double-action takes place and the firing pin is cocked and released to fire the grenade. Gas pressure on a piston unlocks the cylinder and allows the spring to rotate it until the next chamber is aligned with the firing pin, whereupon the next round can be fired. If a misfire occurs the trigger can be pulled repeatedly.
Daewoo Precision Industries K4: The Daewoo Precision Industries K4 is a 40 mm high-speed Automatic Grenade Launcher in use with the South Korean Army. It is very similar to the American Mk 19 grenade launcher. It was developed as a complement to the K-201 hand-held grenade launcher (attachable to the K2). It has a weight of 65.9 kg and can fire up to 325 rounds per minute with a firing range of 1.5 km.
PIAT : The PIAT was 39 inches (0.99 m) long and weighed 32 pounds (15 kg), with an effective direct fire range of approximately 115 yards (110 m) and a maximum indirect fire range of 350 yards (320 m). It could be carried and operated by one man, but was usually assigned to a two-man team, the second man acting as an ammunition carrier and loader. The PIAT launcher was a tube constructed out of thin sheets of steel, and contained the trigger mechanism and firing spring. At the front of the launcher was a small trough in which the bomb was placed, and the spigot ran down the middle of the launcher and into the trough. Padding for the user’s shoulder was fitted to the other end of the launcher, and rudimentary aperture sights were fitted on top for aiming; the bombs launched by the PIAT possessed hollowed-out tails, into which a small propellant cartridge was inserted, and hollow-charge warheads.
DP-64: The DP-64 is a Russian special-purpose double-barreled over/under grenade launcher designed to protect ships, dockyards, water development works, and other coastal installations from combat swimmers and naval Special Forces. The weapon is breech-loading and operates much like a large shotgun with a side-break breach, utilizing both direct and indirect iron sights. The weapon is capable of firing grenades indirectly at ranges up to 400 meters; however, these grenades act much like small depth charges, attacking submerged swimmers like true depth charges attack submersibles. A large polymer stock and the barrels themselves makes up the bulk of the weapon. The barrels are selected by turning a lever accommodated above the trigger guard. A front pistol grip is equipped for support and is out of alignment with the rear grip and trigger mechanism, providing a more natural grip while firing indirectly. The butt is fitted with a springy rubber pad used to diminish recoil. Direct fire sights are also provided for use from a helicopter allowing for large areas to be patrolled and protected from enemy combat swimmers.
Heckler & Koch AG36: As in many modern weapon systems including the G36 series, extensive use of polymers and high-strength aluminum in the AG36 launcher contributes to its low mass and durability. It is capable of firing almost all 40x46mm grenade rounds, including plastic training cartridges, flexible baton rounds, CS gas, and OC (oleoresin capsicum, the same chemical used in pepper spray) gas cartridges, white phosphorus, and HE ammunition. Once attached, the AG36 does not affect the accuracy of the rifle or its handling and operating functions. The AG36 is a part of Germany’s Infantryman of the future program.