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US Army Adds 84mm Recoilless Rifle to Platoon Arsenal

U.S. Army infantry platoons will soon have the 84mm Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle, a devastating anti-armor system, as a permanently assigned weapon.

Service officials completed a so-called conditional materiel release authorization late last year, making the M3 Multi-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapon System an organic weapon system within each infantry platoon, IHS Jane's 360 recently reported.

The service is also working on an effort to achieve Full Material Release of the M3 later this year.

Army light infantry units began using the M3 in Afghanistan in 2011, but only when commanders submitted operational needs statements for the weapon.

The breech-loading M3, made by Saab North America, can reach out and hit enemy targets up to 1,000 meters away. The M3 offers the units various types of ammunition, ranging from armor penetration and anti-personnel, to ammunition for built-up areas, as well as special features like smoke and illumination.

Special operations forces such as the 75th Ranger Regiment have been using the 84mm weapon system since the early 1990s. The M3 became an official, program of record in the conventional Army in 2014.

The M3 has enjoyed success with units such as the 25th Infantry, 10th Mountain and 82nd Airborne divisions in Afghanistan.

The launcher weighs approximately 22 pounds, with each round of ammunition weighing just under 10 pounds. By comparison, the AT4 weighs about 15 pounds and the Javelin's launcher with missile and reusable command launch unit weigh roughly 50 pounds.

The CMR allowed the system to be quickly fielded to operational units before the more exhaustive full materiel release process is completed, Jack Seymour, marketing director for Saab North America, told IHS Jane's.

The current plan is to equip all brigade combat teams with one M3 launcher per platoon.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at

Original Post

It's about time. It only took 'em 40 fucking years of getting hosed by 900 meter capable RPGs to wake up and figure out that we needed a weapon to reply in kind. I had a Carl Gustav in my 2nd Ranger Bn company arms room in 19fucking77.  I was in a Ranger Weapons Platoon (M19 60mm mortars, 90mm recoiless, and M47 Dragon missiles). We were very much in the market for something more capable than a LAW and more portable/mission flexible/jumpable/longer ranged than the M67 Recoilless rifle. We were considering adopting the Gustav back then. Didn't happen until many years later. Probably because of a Not Invented Here syndrome.

Better late than never.  It's a belated step forward for our conventional infantry. Just like fixed head space and timing M2s finally adopted 15 years after some of our Euro allies started fielding them.

Wow, I completed British Army infantry training in 1975 and had to qualify on the 'Charlie G'.  Training money was tight back then so we all got to fire TPTP but only the 'best shots' got to fire a HEAT round. I was young, keen and stupid back then so made sure I got to fire one of the few HEAT rounds, only to realise that then 'qualified' me to carry the bastard thing on exercise. I never thought I'd beg for the GPMG  (M240) as it was 'lighter'.

We used to stuff cotton wool in our ears and inside the cups of our hearing defenders. Head would still ring plus the occasional nose bleed.....

Last edited by Community Member

When I was a company commander (1988/89), we had a go-to-war plan to recover/borrow/steal as many 90mm recoiless rifles we could*.  Perhaps one of my peers is finally in a position to get a portable, flexible fire-and-forget weapon pushed down to those that may actually need it.


* Never had much faith in the M47 Dragon.  We used to joke about Dragon warshots coming pre-packed with a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart so the gunner didn't have to get them posthumously. 

Miraclejoe posted:

I couldn't even tell you how long the Carl G has been in service in the Canadian military, but that thing has been in production since 1948 according to wiki.

What took you guys so long?

Since the mid-70s every Canadian infantry platoon had a Carl G.  I did handling drills on one as an army cadet in '77.  My platoon in Germany had 3 (one per rifle section).

I recall seeing an article in Popular Mechanics (or Science...whatever) in the early 90s about 75 Rangers.  It had a full page devoted to their unique weapons etc.  It was like a checklist for a Canadian platoon:

Carl G -check

FN MAG 58 (M 240 or C6 as we call it) - check

FN Minimi (M 2490r C9) - check

60 mm mortar - check....

I thought at least we were doing something right. 

Mind you, although we had the C6 aboard our Leo tanks since approx '77, we didn't get them in our platoons until nearly 10 years later.  Until then we were humping around C5s (7.62 mm version of the Browning M1919).  Just like Don Rickles in "Kelly's Heroes".  This despite the fact that the MAG 58 (there's a reason for that number) was considered the best GPMG available since the late 50s.  The Brits figured that out early on.

Yeah....welcome to the 80s. I've been wondering since I was a kid (i.e, the early 80s) why the US didn't have these, when everyone else in the fucking world did. I worked for a guy literally just prior to my exodus from the People's Republic of Kalifornistan who back in his much younger days, had humped a 75mm RR in Korea. According to him, it was the shit for killing bunkers, houses, light armored vehicles, etc. I happened, through a friend, to have an expended 75 RR round at the time and left it giftwrapped on his desk for Christmas on my final day (which was Christmas week).


His secretary thought I was demented, but I bet he got a kick out of it!


I mean, we made an "improved" RPG-7, and we've flirted with the Gustav for decades, been at war with a low tech enemy for a decade and a half and now FINALLY decide a cheap way to blow shit up at long range is smart? Holy fuck we could have been using these in Vietnam (instead of the LAW, which I've heard mixed reports on for blowing up bunkers).  Never got to shoot any of these except the AT-4 trainer with the 9mm tracer, but seriously, how the hell did it take this long to adopt?

Hussar posted:

Will the weapons squad get an additional 3 bodies (Gunner, AG and Ammo Bearer)?  Or will this be an incremental system that  would take the place of a 240?


Does the weapons squad no longer have two anti-tank guys? When I was a weapons squad leader we had two Dragon gunners, but they almost universally got sliced out to the rifle squads to plus them up...

What does the Carl do that the AT4 didn't/doesn't? Besides reloadable? What about a Dragon and/or Javelin? Besides weight?

I carried 3 LAWS to the first gulf war...they gave us AT4's in the PHA..literally we had to read the instructions on the side to learn how to use them.

I always figured what they may have given up in effects, they made up for in the "everyone can have one" department.


And IIRC, the RPG7 is a copy of the Rocker Launcher M1 "Bazooka".

Sinister posted:

The SMAW is a rocket with a tracer spotting rifle, max effective range is roughly 500 meters.  

The Goose is a recoilless rifle, max effective 700, 1000 with rocket-assisted round.


Roger that. Unsurprising that the Marine Corps has the less effective,  shorter range weapon that I bet much training and employment considerations would carry over for..... SIGH SPDSNYPR lets go back to our corner and color... 

The Gustav has a bunch of different rounds, HE, canister, whatever else they've thought up. AT4 is pure antiarmor, even though we use them to blow other shit up, kind of like the LAW back in the day.


The RPG's copied the Panzerfaust, up to the fairly late models (RPG-18, 22, etc, which copied our one shot throwaway idea) the RPGs always had a warhead much larger than the actual rocket itself. Our bazooka had a rocket that inserted entirely into the tube and limited warhead size.

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