Carl Gustaf M2/M3/M4, a Swedish grenade launcher for Territorial Defense
Recently, a video from the training of the Kharkiv Territorial Defense was spread on the Internet, where you can see the military learning to use a rather unusual, at first glance, weapon. This is a Swedish recoilless rifle (according to the national classification it’s a grenade launcher) Carl Gustaf, 100 systems of which with 2,000 rounds of ammunition were given to us by Canada in early March 2022.
Many journalists hurried to write that this is the latest version of the Carl Gustaf M4 rifle, which was adopted, including in the United States, only in 2014, but unfortunately, this is not the case. In the video you can see that this is Carl Gustaf M3 and it’s very interesting because Canada provided the Armed Forces with the old Carl Gustaf M2. That is, it turns out that there was another supply, either from the United States or from Sweden itself.
Anyway, if we have already written about the Norwegian M72 LAW, American M141 Bunker Defeat Munition, Israeli-Singaporean MATADOR, not to mention MBT LAW/NLAW and FGM-148 Javelin, so why don’t we write about Carl Gustaf 8.4cm recoilless rifle, at the same time we will try to compare M2, M3 and M4.
The original name of this grenade launcher is Granatgevär m/48, i.e. grenade gun, model of the year 1948, which was developed in 1946 (1948 is the year of adoption) at the state enterprise Carl Gustafs Stads Gevärsfaktori (Karl Gustav Gun Factory). The factory and the city were founded by King Charles X Gustav, now the city of Eskilstuna. Currently, after a series of acquisitions, Carl Gustafs Stads Gevärsfaktori belongs to the Swedish part of the British BAE Systems. But we got distracted.
In fact, the Carl Gustaf M1 was not much different from the German Panzerschrek or American Bazooka – a guide tube with a recoil damper, but the Swedes, unlike the Germans and Americans added notches to the tube, which increased the initial grenade speed up to 250 m / s, and a range up to 1000 m.
Carl Gustaf 8.4cm recoilless rifle crew consists of two people, a gunner and a loader, who carries 4 additional shots. Interestingly, Carl Gustaf is a fairly cheap weapon. The grenade launcher itself costs about $20,000, shots ranging from $500 to $3,000 depending on the type of grenade.
In 1964, the grenade launcher was modified to make it shorter and lighter. The M2 version quickly gained popularity and was used by more than 30 armies around the world, including in military conflicts.
In 1991, the rifle was modified for the second time. The grenade launcher was again lightened by replacing steel with aluminum and carbon. Some say that the Carl Gustaf M2/M3 is the most common anti-tank weapon in the world.
The latest modification of Carl Gustaf M4, released in 2014, is even more radical. It is 3.5 kg lighter (titanium and carbon wherever possible) and has a length of only 95 cm. The launcher can withstand as many as 1,000 shots, twice as many as the previous version. In addition, the M4 has a Picatinny rail to install additional equipment, such as an optical sight, thermal imager or programmable shot control system. This is indeed a modern weapon.
For Carl Gustaf there is a very good range of ammunition: high-explosive, cumulative, cumulative jet-propelled, high-explosive dual-purpose, zonal defense, anti-construction, smoke, illumination projectiles. The Armed Forces will need everything.
And though Ukrainians will soon have 10 anti-tank systems per one Russian tank , the Armed Forces will probably not reject additional ones. The Russian army is not strong, it’s just long.
Mass – 14.2 kg (M2), 6.6 kg (M4)
Length – 1130 mm (M2), 950 mm (M4)
Crew – two (gunner and loader), but may be used by a single operator at a reduced rate of fire.
Cartridge – 84 × 246 mm R
Caliber – 84 mm
Rate of fire – 6 shots per minute
Muzzle velocity – 230-310 m / s
Effective firing range:
350 to 400 m against moving vehicles
500 m against stationary vehicles
1,000 m using smoke and high explosive rounds
2,000 m using rocket-boosted laser-guided ammunition
Feed system – hinged breech
Sights – open sights; optical 3 × laser rangefinder; night vision system