Grenade launcher

Grenade launcher

A grenade launcher 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. Alternatively, many rifles have been designed to fire rifle grenades from their muzzle. Larger grenade launchers may be mounted on vehicles.


Most grenade launchers are man-portable, shoulder-fired weapons, usually mounted on a rifle such as the AK-47 or M16. However, many can be used independently, such as the M79 and AG36. These are almost always single shot, manually reloaded weapons firing 30–40 millimeter caliber high-explosive ammunition. The most standard grenade round today is the 40 mm grenade, which has a wide variety of applications in man-portable and vehicle mounted weapons systems. With this standardization, there are many new 'specialty' grenades available, from rounds that can be used as less-lethal sponge grenades; as a flare; infrared flare; or even a video camera that surveys the battlefield from a bird's eye view.

There are also heavier examples, including automatic grenade launchers for ground and vehicle use, such as the American Mk 19. Capable of a relatively high rate of fire, these automatic grenade launchers are used for suppressive fire and to destroy or disable light vehicles and buildings. Some armored fighting vehicles also mount grenade launchers as a means of defense, usually firing smoke grenades to conceal the vehicle behind a smoke screen, though can also be loaded with chaff, flares, or anti-personnel grenades to repel infantry attacks.

houlder-fired grenade launcher

The man-portable grenade launcher can come in the form of either a single-shot or repeating weapon, the latter usually resembling a large revolver. Examples include the M79 (single-shot) and the Milkor MGL (repeating).

Attachment grenade launcher

Grenades can also be fired from an underbarrel weapon attachment which is permanently mounted on the rifle. In underbarrel systems, the rifle portion and launching portion of the weapon can both be carried loaded and ready to fire. Underbarrel tubes generally have their own trigger and use the rifle's magazine as a grip for the firing hand. To fire, one simply changes grips, disengages the safety and pulls the trigger. In Western systems the barrel either slides forward or pivots to the side to allow reloading, while Soviet/Russian launcher is loaded from muzzle and does not require spent case extraction (as the case is fixed to the projectile). For aiming, the M203 mounts either a flip-up rear sight, which is notched for different ranges and utilizes the rifle's existing front sight, or a "quadrant" sight which mounts to the side of the carrying handle.

Examples of modern man-portable grenade launchers are the M203 and GP-30, which mount to service rifles.

Muzzle-fired grenades

Many rifles have been designed to fire grenades from their muzzle, using either a special blank propellant cartridge or a central hole through the grenade allowing the bullet to pass through. This system has two key advantages: the grenade can generally be made larger and more powerful as compared to underbarrel or standalone weapons, and the rifle's weight and handling characteristics are not affected as with underbarrel systems. The disadvantage of this method is that when a soldier wants to launch a grenade he must unload the weapon and then load the propellant cartridge and grenade. If he is surprised by a close-range threat while preparing to fire the grenade, he has to reverse the above procedure and cannot immediately react with rifle fire.

Multiple grenade launchers

Another type of man-portable grenade launcher is the M32 'six shooter' grenade launcher and similar types, which is able to fire six grenades in quick succession from a cylindrical chamber, this classification of firearm is often referred to as a Multi Shot Grenade Launcher, or MSGL. Automatic launchers include the Mk 19, AGS-17, and the HK GMG, which all fire at a higher velocity than related shoulder-fired grenades. Modern developments tend toward smaller, faster, and massed grenade fire. The XM25 is a shoulder-fired, magazine-fed semi-automatic launcher firing 25 mm projectiles. It was originally a component of the XM29 Objective Individual Combat Weapon program, but modified to a larger caliber.

Multiple grenade launchers are also installed on armoured fighting vehicles as a means of generating small smoke screens.

Automatic grenade launchers

The heavy equivalent of the XM29 is the XM307 ACSW automatic grenade launcher that is easily convertible between the 25 mm grenade ammunition and standard .50 BMG cartridges. Both are intended to fire programmable "smart" grenades capable of being set to explode at a certain distance from launch or at a certain height above the ground. This gives the ability to hit targets inside of rooms or behind hard cover that would normally not be reachable by small arms fire.

ee also

* Mortar
* Rocket propelled grenade
* Tear gas
* Smoke grenade
* Recoilless rifle

External links

* [ Modern Firearms & Ammunition grenade launcher intro]
* [ MF&A page on the AICW]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • grenade launcher — noun : a device attached to a rifle or carbine to permit the firing of a grenade * * * Mil. a device attached to the muzzle of a rifle, permitting the firing of rifle grenades. [1955 60] * * * grenade launcher, = launcher (def. 2a). (Cf.… …   Useful english dictionary

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  • grenade launcher — grenade′ launch er n. mil any of various devices allowing a single soldier to launch small projectiles, as a shoulder fired 40 mm weapon …   From formal English to slang

  • grenade launcher grenade — granatsvaidžio granata statusas T sritis Gynyba apibrėžtis Granatsvaidžio granatą sudaro granata ir šaunamasis (parako) užtaisas (reaktyvinis variklis). Skiriamos prieštankinės (kumuliacinės), priešpėstinės (skeveldrinės, skeveldrinės ardomosios… …   Artilerijos terminų žodynas

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  • XM148 grenade launcher — Launcher, Grenade, 40 mm, XM148 The XM148 grenade launcher. Type Grenade Launcher Place of origin …   Wikipedia

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  • grenade launcher — noun a weapon that shoots grenades from a device …   Wiktionary

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  • M203 grenade launcher — Infobox Weapon name=Launcher, Grenade, 40mm, M203 caption= (dismounted) origin=Flag|United States type= Grenade launcher is ranged= yes is bladed= is explosive= is artillery= is vehicle= is UK= service= used by= See Users wars= Vietnam War and… …   Wikipedia

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