Infobox Weapon
name=M72 LAW

caption=The M72 LAW in extended position
origin=flag|United States
type= Anti-tank
designer= FA Spinale, CB Weeks and PV Choate
design_date= Patent filed 1963
manufacturer=Talley Industries and under license by Raufoss Ammunisjonsfabrikker A/S, Norway
unit_cost=670 € or 1,045$US (Converted)
weight= 2.5 kg
length= less than 1 m
caliber= 66 mm
velocity= 145 m/s
max_effective_range= 200m
The M72 LAW ("Light Anti-Tank Weapon", also referred to as the "Light Anti-Armor Weapon" or "LAW") is a portable one-shot 66 mm unguided anti-tank weapon, designed in the United States by Paul V. Choate, Charles B. Weeks, and Frank A. Spinale et al while with the Hesse-Eastern Division of Norris Thermadore, produced by Nammo Raufoss AS in Norway.

The LAW replaced the bazooka as the United States Army's primary anti-tank weapon after the Korean War. It was intended that it would be replaced in service by the FGR-17 Viper (which would also replace the FGM-77 "Dragon"), but this program was cancelled and the M136 AT4 was introduced in its place. It can be compared with the better-known Soviet RPG-7 rocket propelled grenade, which uses a booster charge in addition to a rocket.


The weapon consists of a rocket packed inside of a launcher made up of two tubes, one inside the other. While closed, the outer assembly acts as a watertight container for the rocket and the percussion cap-type firing mechanism that activates the rocket. The outer tube contains the trigger, the arming handle, front and rear sights, and the rear cover. The inner tube contains the channel assembly which houses the firing pin assembly, including the detent lever. When extended, the inner tube telescopes outward toward the rear, guided by the channel assembly which rides in an alignment slot in the outer tube's trigger housing assembly. This causes the detent lever to move under the trigger assembly in the outer tube, both locking the inner tube in the extended position and cocking the weapon. Once armed, the weapon is no longer watertight even if the launcher is collapsed into its original configuration.

When fired, the propellant in the rocket motor completely combusts before leaving the tip of the launcher, producing gases around 1,400 °F (760 °C). The rocket propels the 66 mm warhead forward without significant recoil. As the warhead emerges from the launcher, six fins spring out from the base of the rocket tube, stabilizing the warhead's flight.

Once fired the launcher is no longer useful and may be discarded. Due to the single use nature of the weapon, it was issued as a round of ammunition by the Canadian Army and the United States Army.


The M72 LAW was issued as a prepackaged round of ammunition. Improvements to the launcher and differences in the ammunition were differentiated by a single designation. The most common M72 LAWs came prepacked with a rocket containing a 66 mm HEAT warhead which is attached to the inside of the launcher by the igniter. The warhead is activated by an impact sense sensor in the nose cone which is connected to the fuse. The fuse then detonates a booster which sets off the main charge. The force of the main charge forces the copper liner into a directional jet that is capable of penetrating up to 0.3 m (1 ft) of steel plate, 0.6 m (2 ft) of Reinforced concrete, or 1.8 m (6 ft) of soil.

A training variant of the M72 LAW, designated the M190, also exists. This weapon is reloadable and uses the 35 mm M73 training rocket. A subcaliber training device that uses a special tracer cartridge also exists for the M72. A training variant used by the Finnish armed forces fire 7.62mm tracer rounds.

The US Army tested other 66 mm rockets based on the M54 rocket motor used for the M72, including the M74 and XM96. These rockets were used with the XM191 and M202 Flash 4 tube launchers.

Service history

Although generally thought of as a Vietnam War era weapon which has been superseded by more powerful and sophisticated designs such as the SMAW and AT4, the M72 LAW has found a new lease of life in the ongoing (2006) operations in Iraq by the US Army and Afghanistan by the Canadian Army. The low cost and light weight of the LAW, combined with a proliferation of lightly-armored targets, make it ideal for the type of urban combat seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. [ [http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/marines-fought-the-law-and-the-law-won-0151/ 10 March 2005 www.defenseindustrydaily.com - Marines Fought the LAW, and the LAW Won] ]

The M72 LAW is also extensively used in the Finnish Army (some 70,000 pieces), where it is known under the designations 66 KES 75 (M72A2, no longer in service) and 66 KES 88 (M72A5). The British Army used the Norwegian built version of the M72 under the designation "Rocket 66mm HEAT L1A1" which was replaced by LAW 80.fact|date=April 2008

The Turkish Army uses a Turkish built version by Makina ve Kimya Endustrisi Kurumu, called HAR-66, which has the performance and characteristics of a mix of M72A2 and A3. Turkey also indigeneously developed an anti-personnel warhead version of HAR-66 and called it "Eşek Arısı"(HORNET)fact|date=April 2008

The Australian Army uses the M72A6 as an anti-building and secondary anti-armour weapon. It is carried by regular riflemen (including on operations in Iraq), while the heavier 84mm Carl Gustaf and Javelin are generally equipped by dedicated anti-armour troops.fact|date=April 2008

The Republic of China Army (Taiwan) uses the M72 as a secondary anti-armor weapon. It is used primarily as a backup to the Javelin and the M136 (AT4) anti-tank weapons.fact|date=April 2008

The Light Anti-Structures Missile (LASM) is the name of the L72A9 in UK service [cite web|url=http://www.army.mod.uk/equipment/support-weapons/1465.aspx|title=LASM|quote=The Light Anti-Structures Missile (LASM) is an Urgent Operational Requirement order which has been fielded to fill a capability gap until ASM comes into service.] The main difference is the warhead, the LASM contains about 1Kg of an enhanced blast explosive, whereas the LAW contains about a third of a kilo [cite web|url=http://www.strategypage.com/dls/articles/200791220521.asp|title=Oh, the Horror, the Horror|publishe=www.strategypage.com] [cite web|url=http://www.inetres.com/gp/military/infantry/antiarmor/M72.html|title=M72 Light Anti-tank (sic) Weapon System (LAW)|publisher=Gary's U.S. Infantry Weapons Reference Guide] . The United States armed forces may refer to the LASM as a LAW (Light Assault Weapon) [cite web|url=https://www.fbo.gov/index?tab=core&s=opportunity&mode=form&id=6aea0552c87c7c9afb20167e1b193acc|title=Light Assault Weapon (LAW)|publisher=FBO.gov] .

Surplus demand and replicas

* Expended LAW tubes may be found on the US military surplus and gun show market, and purchased by militaria collectors.

The LAW has been replicated for airsoft games, with metal and plastic launchers available. All fire 40mm shower grenades, and most official ones are made by Deepfire. It is a popular DIY project and a Chinese-made model is on its way.


* A fairly accessible demonstration of the use of this rocket (including a good reason for not standing behind one when it goes off) is featured in the Clint Eastwood film The Enforcer.

* The M72 can also bee seen at work in the 1993 film Falling Down.

Other variants

US variants

International variants and designations

pecifications (M72A2 and M72A3)


**Extended: less than 1 m (35 in).
**Closed: 0.67 m (24.8 in).
**Complete M72A2: 2.3 kg (8.1 lb).
**Complete M72A3: 2.5 kg (8.5 lb).
*Firing mechanism: Percussion.
*Front sight: reticle graduated in 25 m range increments.
*Rear sight: peep sight adjusts automatically to temperature change.


*Caliber: 66 mm (2.6 in)
*Length': 508 mm (20 in)
*Weight: 1.8 kg (4 lb)
*Muzzle velocity: 145 m/s (475 ft/s)
*Minimum range (combat): 10 m (33 ft)
*Minimum arming range: 10 m (33 ft)
*Maximum range: 1,000 m (3,300 ft)

Maximum effective ranges

*Stationary target: 200 m (220 yd)
*Moving target:165 m (180 yd)
*Beyond these ranges there is less than a 50 % chance of hitting the target.

ee also

*Rocket propelled grenade
*Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon

Similar weapons



External links

* [http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/m72.htm FAS]
* [http://www.inetres.com/gp/military/infantry/antiarmor/M72.html Gary's U.S. Infantry Weapons Reference Guide]
* [http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/2005/03/marines-fought-the-law-and-the-law-won/index.php Article on the reintroduction of the LAW in Iraq by the USMC]
* [http://www.army.forces.gc.ca/lf/English/2_0_43.asp?uSubSection=43&uSection=5 Canadian Military Page] On the M72. Click More Information for stats
*http://www.freepatentsonline.com/4689910.htmlPatent for sights of M 72. Patented by Paul V. Choate of Milton, MA.

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