July 12, 2009: In Iraq, there has been increased use of the RKG-3 armor piercing hand grenade [VIDEO]. This 2.3 pound device looks like the World War II German "potato masher" grenade (a six inch wooden handle with a slightly wider metal barrel, containing the explosives) attached. The 14 inch (362mm) long RKG-3 contains an armored piercing shaped charge in the metal part, and a drogue parachute in the handle. When the pin is pulled, the drogue shoot deploys, so that when the grenade is thrown, it usually hits the target at a 90 degree angle. This is necessary for the shaped charge to obtain maximum penetration (125mm or 5 inches.)
The effective range of the grenade is 20 meters. But that only applies to an experienced user. Most RKGs are thrown at a target no more than 10 meters away. The user instructions for the grenade warn the user to immediately take cover after throwing. That's because metal fragments from the RKG can kill or injure out to 20 meters. For this reason, the RKG is frequently used in urban areas, where the terrorist can get close to the target vehicle, and then disappear behind something (or someone). Most of the people killed or injured by RKGs are Iraqi civilians, although some attacks have damaged armored hummers and other vehicles. These days, most of the targets are Iraqi army and police. The attackers usually attack in pairs, and at close range. They just ignore the risk of getting hit by fragments.
Saddam had bough over 10,000 RKG-3s, and not many were used during the Iran-Iraq war. Several thousand are still unaccounted for, and it appears that one or more stashes found their way to the black market. Some may be coming in from Iran. They began showing up as terrorist weapons in Iraq 3-4 years ago. However, RKG is not a wonder weapon, and the users are not well liked because of the high civilian casualties. But the Sunni Arab terrorists have run out of many of the other weapons, and explosives for bombs, that they once had. So it appears that they are scraping the bottom of the barrel, and finding RKG-3s.