Weapons: The Unstoppable Carl Gustav


January 1, 2012: After two decades of resisting calls from the troops for the Swedish 84mm Carl Gustav portable recoilless rifle, the U.S. Army has relented and ordered about a hundred Carl Gustav launchers. After watching U.S. Army Special Forces use this weapon in Afghanistan and Iraq for the last decade, the army brass reconsidered. This weapon has been around for over 60 years and is used by several dozen countries. It is simple but very effective.

The Carl Gustav was adopted by SOCOM (first for the Ranger Regiment) in 1990. The Carl Gustav is basically a lightweight 8.5 kg (19 pound) recoilless rifle. It is 1.1 meters (3.6 feet) long. The barrel is rifled and good for about a hundred rounds. Range is 500-700 meters (depending on the type of round fired). The 84mm projectiles weigh about 2 kg (4.4 pounds) each and come in several different types (anti-armor, combined anti-armor/high explosive, illumination, and smoke.) The anti-armor round is very useful in urban areas and against bunkers.

The army had earlier adopted the single shot version of the Carl Gustav (as the AT4), but the Special Forces showed that the Carl Gustav is better because you get more shots for less weight (the AT4 weighs about 6.8 kg each). It's easier to carry one Carl Gustav, at 8.5 kg, and a bunch of rocket propelled shells at about 2.2 kg (5 pounds, with packaging) each.


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