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Fleece’s Faves – Grenade Launcher Edition

December 12, 2010

I am going to cover a few weapons here, all of them in the class of American 40mm (mm is pronounced mike-mike) grenade launchers.  The beauty of a man-portable grenade launcher is it allows a soldier to project explosive damage much farther than he could with his arm, out to about 300 meters.  This is excellent for disabling machine-gun emplacements or dug in opposition from a  much safer range than is traditionally necessary.  On the defensive, grenade launchers can lay down pin-point suppressive fire that can usually seal a whole flank – most humans won’t charge explosions, bullets yes, crap exploding, no.


I never got to carry this weapons as it had been phased out of the majority of our units by the 1990’s.  The M-79 is a single shot, break type 40mm grenade launcher.  It was primarily used in Vietnam where it was referred to by troops most often as the “thump-gun” due to the sound (it sort of) makes when fired.

The problem with this weapon if you are a grenadier is that it is your primary gun, you have no long-range fallback weapon if a grenade launcher does not suit the situation – usually you are stuck with a side-arm.  This has led us to field the next weapon on the list.


The M-203 is not exactly a standalone weapon, it is an underslung 40mm grenade launcher fitted to an M-16 assault rifle.  Like the M-79, it is single shot, but more difficult to load, so rate of fire with this weapon is lower than that of the M-79.  The obvious advantage is that the squad does not lose an assault rifle by adding a grenadier – with this weapon the squad gets both.

Having been a grenadier, I can tell you we treat the M-203 more like an M-16 with an attachment than a dedicated grenade launcher.  That means we think assault rifle first and grenade second, which is a better mentality for the squad.

Mk 19

The Mk 19 (pronounced “Mark Nineteen”) is the big daddy of them all.  She is an automatic grenade launcher – think of it like a grenade machine gun.  The Mk 19 can fire at a max cyclic of 375 rounds per minute, but we usually shoot in short bursts that would bring the actual rate to around 40-60 rounds per minute.  Unlike the two launchers above, the grenade fired from the Mk 19 is high velocity and longer, allowing the round to be fired out to 2200 meters.

While this weapon is considered man-portable (as in men can carry it and set-it up on the battlefield) the gun by itself weighs 75 pounds, additionally the M3 tripod (needed to use the gun, you can’t fire this puppy from the hip) weighs 44 pounds, the cradle weighs 21 pounds, and a belt of ammo (48 rounds) comes in at about 24 pounds – for a grand total of 164 pounds.  Not exactly easy to lug around the battlefield.

The Mk 19 is most often employed on vehicles like the Humvee.  I have ridden “shotgun” on a Mk 19 equipped Humvee and it was pretty sweet knowing I could lay some serious smackem-yackem on anyone who felt like starting some s**t.

40mm Ammunition

A grenadier usually carries a mix of grenades for his M-203 which are slung on a grenadier’s vest he wears over his flak jacket.  The primary round is high-explosive, with a lethal explosive radius of 5 meters.  We also typically carried a couple star cluster illumination rounds, and a few smoke rounds.  All these rounds are interesting in that they have a minimum arming distance of about 30 meters, which means you can shoot someone point blank and it won’t explode.  We used to mess with “cherries” by throwing high explosive rounds at their feet to see them jump (speaks to the humor of infantrymen huh?).


There you go, some more cool weapons you might not have heard about.  Obviously the Mk 19 is the coolest, but she is a beast, and I rarely got to use one in my service.  The M-203 was my second child, the first being the M-249 SAW, which I will cover someday.  Anyway, on to the links.

American and Proud – talks about the hypocrisy on the left in regards to their hate for the tax-cut deal

America’s Watchtower – Steve is keeping count, 222 companies now exempt from Obamacare

Be sure you’re Right, then Go Ahead – has some interesting info on the Wikileaker PFC Bradley Manning

Blog de KingShamus – KS, in his unique and entertaining style, explains why Obama passed the ball to Clinton

Bread upon the waters – excellent post here about the recidivism rate of Gitmo detainees released by Obama

Bunkerville – I am a sucker for guns (obviously), so if you post about a new Railgun by the Navy, you are definitely getting some love

Capitol Commentary – Harrison makes an excellent observation about how Robocop was “liberalized” in the second movie

Conservative Hideout 2.0 – Matt reveals an interesting past-time of a HuffPo blogger – incest, can you say gross?

Conservatives on Fire – talks about some douche in Houston with more great progressive education ideas

Motorcitytimes – Steve asks an interesting question, “How come every victory for Obama is a failure for America?”

NoOneofanyImport – was going to link a different article, but caught this one about my attorney-general Ken Cuccinelli talking about Virginia’s (and other states) lawsuit against Obamacare with Chris Matthews

Planet Moron – If you don’t read his blog daily, you are seriously missing out – I could have listed 3 or 4 posts here, but I am going to choose the one involving local politics, this one is about a woman in Northern Virginia who stupidly decided to paint a mural for a dog park

Political Realities – Larry addresses the law vs. the right of the individual, with an emphasis on anti-smoking legislation

SpellChek – 5etester (someone explain his name to me please?) looks through the fuzz surrounding the Wikileaks issue and hits the nail on the head – our government could have shut him down a while ago, but they need another crisis to protect us from

22 Comments leave one →
  1. December 12, 2010 1:57 pm

    A grenade machine gun? Now it doeesn’t get any cooler than that! Thanks for the link!

    • December 12, 2010 2:00 pm

      Yeah, it is pretty cool huh?

      My pleasure. =)

  2. December 12, 2010 3:21 pm

    Very cool stuff.

    Thanks for the link!

    • December 12, 2010 5:22 pm

      My pleasure. =)

  3. December 12, 2010 5:38 pm

    Just in time for Christmas too.. Now you know what to get me! But since I’m stuck in “the Peoples Republik of Kalifornia” It can’t hold more than 10 rounds nor any bullet that could actually hurt someone….Sigh,.

    Thanks for the link.

    • December 12, 2010 9:33 pm

      They do make non-lethal beanbag rounds for the M-203 so you are covered. =)

      It was my pleasure. =)

  4. December 12, 2010 6:25 pm

    Thanks Fleece. You’ve put me in the mood to go blow stuff up.

    • December 12, 2010 8:51 pm

      I’m with Fleecy. What’s your moniker mean??

      • December 12, 2010 10:08 pm

        Nothing really exciting. I used to work for the telephone company at the central switching office and the digital switch of choice was the Lucent 5ESS. Since I installed and tested them, well, you can figure out the rest. The good thing is that it is always available as a user name since it’s made up.

      • December 12, 2010 10:27 pm

        Hmm, interesting.

      • December 12, 2010 10:13 pm

        Now I would think people would ask about my Gravatar. I mean someone took nature’s perfect food in the egg and added chocolate to it? Kinda like Fleece being in a machine gunner’s nest with an unlimited supply of ammo – it just doesn’t get any better!

      • December 12, 2010 10:28 pm

        Hahaha, now I like it! I always did like your gravatar. =)

    • December 12, 2010 9:34 pm

      You have to be put in the mood to blow stuff up? What’s wrong with you? lol

  5. LD Jackson permalink
    December 12, 2010 7:24 pm

    Okay, I officially want to shoot the Mk 19. That has got to be cool.

    Thanks for the link, Colin. I appreciate it.

    • December 12, 2010 9:35 pm

      It is pretty cool to shoot a five round burst, wait about 5 seconds, then see 5 explosions down range.

      It was my pleasure. =)

  6. December 12, 2010 8:55 pm

    Thanks for the link, my woolly friend.

    Unrelated comment: My kids still laugh over that Al Gore/Mr. Pig video. They have a lot of the lines memorized. My 5 year old was chatting happily to himself over his cereal the other morning, and I heard him say in a fake Gore voice: “that’s just rightwing propaganda!”

    Wonder if he says that stuff in kindergarten class.


    • December 12, 2010 9:36 pm

      Hahaha, that is awesome. I am glad they got so much pleasure out of it. =)

  7. December 13, 2010 4:12 am

    The M-79. The last thing you ever hear is “thump.”

    • December 13, 2010 8:35 am

      Like I said, I never got to carry one, but I had a First-Sergeant who did carry one in Bosnia – not sure how he pulled that off, but we all thought he was pretty cool, lol.

  8. Gramps permalink
    December 15, 2010 8:18 pm

    New Weapon Deployed in Afghanistan
    by Bentley Gates

    The Pentagon confirmed on Thursday the secret deployment in Afghanistan over the past several weeks of the XM25, the newest advancement in small arms. The XM25 is a revolutionary new Individual Airburst Weapon (IAW) system that will change the face of war, much like the longbow, gunpowder and nuclear weapons.

    The XM25 is a revolutionary next generation of grenade launchers. Unlike the single-shot M-79 “Bloop Tube” of Vietnam era…
    [Geezer’s note: Olde VN Vets will remember it firing a 40mm, round about 3.25 inches long… more info here… ]

    …or the M203 tube slung under M4 rifles, the XM25 is a semi-automatic, 25mm grenade launcher, pinpoint-accurate at ranges at and under 500 meters. The weapon system eliminates virtually all ‘cover’ behind which an enemy might hide. The maker boasts a 300-500% increase in hit probability over the current M203.

    The IAW uses laser to determine the range to the target, up to 700 yards away for airburst, wide-area coverage. The weapon integrates ballistics computation within a full-solution computer program known as Target Acquisition/Fire Control (TA/FC). After calculating the inputs, the IAW immediately provides the operator with the proper aiming point through the sight. It instantaneously programs a microchip in the 25mm grenade to explode a meter or so past the cover point, showering all taking refuge there with lethal fragmentation. The operator simply selects the type rounds required aims and fires the grenade launcher. The flat trajectory is also unlike the previous high-arc, low-velocity grenade launchers resulting in a far more accurate delivery of munitions.

    Featuring a bull-pup design, the Individual Airburst Weapon’s near half-mile effective range is well beyond that of most small arms, keeping the user safer. The XM25 is able to place the grenade with laser precision reducing “collateral damage” as well, the army believes.

    The weapons system is a development by a partnership of Alliant Techsystems (ATK) and Heckler and Koch Manufacturing (H&K). Guns and Patriots readers will recognize H&K as the successor to Mauser, rising from post WWII ashes to become a leading German small arms manufacturer. ATK is a United States defense contractor with assets around $3.5billion (US) that manufactures everything from primers and bullets to the lifting rockets for the Trident D5 Missile.

    The total deployment costs for the XM25 could reach as high as $375million (US) if plans to deploy over 12,500 IAW’s come to fruition. Pentagon planners envision one IAW per rifle squad or Special Forces Team. The weapon is the most expensive shoulder fired weapon ever deployed at $25,000 to $30,000 (US) per copy.

    High Explosive, Flechette Fragmentary, Thermobaric, Armor Piercing, along with Non-Lethal grenades are currently available. This is an impressive armory for an infantry weapons system to reach out and touch someone.

    The army describes the weapon system as a “game-changer” and indeed, it appears so. The effect upon humanity of this new weapon may be even greater than that of nuclear weapons, for it is in the hands of the basic infantry soldier, charged with forcibly taking ground from others. This weapon – unlike nuclear arms – is likely to find widespread use, despite its initial secret issue.
    Bentley Gates is an author whose works includes the “The Bahrain Conspiracy” (Savant 2010). He has earned the prestigious Editor/Publisher Award from the National Association of Legal Investigators and authored articles for leading trade publications. He is a Vietnam Era veteran of the 1st Cavalry Division and has taught Kenpo Karate giving rise to his interest in martial arts and militaria.

  9. Gramps permalink
    December 15, 2010 8:34 pm

    here yah go…

    XM25 lets soldiers eliminate targets they can’t see…

    • December 15, 2010 10:28 pm

      Hey Gramps, welcome to my blog and thanks for the comments.

      I have seen this weapon on Future Weapons, it is very impressive.

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