By David Crane
defrev at gmail dot com
April 18, 2009
Updated on May 6, 2009
Airtronic USA, Inc. has more up their sleeve than just an Americanized RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade launcher. They’ve also got a pretty nifty 4-shot (3+1) pump-shotgun-config pump-action 40mm multiple grenade launcher (MGL) (a.k.a. multi-shot grenade launcher) system a.k.a 40mm pump grenade launcher system. The weapon operates just like any other bottom-loading pump shotgun, so the operator can conduct tactical reloads on the move. Anyone familiar with using a standard pump shotgun a.k.a. pump-action shotgun can operate the Airtronic 40mm pump grenade launcher shotgun with little-to-no retraining. It’s just a bigger shell (40mm vs. 12 gauge).
DefenseReview has reported quite a bit on the Milkor USA M32 MGL (NSN: 1010-01-535-0989), which is a 6-shot revolver-type 40mm muliple grenade launcher (MGL). However, although the the M32 gives the operator two more rounds at his immediate disposal, it’s relatively bulky and heavy (Width: 6.5 inches or 165mm, Weight: 13.2 pounds or 5.9kg empty, and around 15-16 lbs loaded) compared to the Airtronic USA China Lake 40mm pump grenade launcher system, which has a width of 3.3 inches and only weighs 5.5 lbs empty / 6.5 lbs loaded. Barrel length is 14 inches (355.6mm) , and OA length is 24 inches (609.6mm).
The Airtronic USA China Lake 40mm pump grenade launcher (pump shotgun-type) has a maximum range of 437 yards / 400 meters (400m), which is the same as the Milkor USA M32 MGL’s maximum range. Muzzle velocity for the pump-action grenade launcher is 250 feet per second (fps) / 76 meters per second (mps). The weapon is available with an M4/M4A1 Carbine-type collapsible/telescoping buttstock, pistol grip, leaf sight, and Mil-Std-1913 “Picatinny” rail system for mounting a combat optic (optical sight) and flip-up BUIS (Back-Up Iron Sight) system. The current Airtronic 40mm pump-action shotgun-type grenade launcher spec sheet shows a concept drawing of the weapon outfitted with an EOTech 550 series HOLOgraphic Weapon Sight (HWS) and flip-up BUIS system mounted to the rail system.
When Defense Review spoke by phone with Dennis Carroll of Airtonic USA, we recommended that they investigate making a magazine-fed version of the China Lake 40mm pump-action grenade launcher system, since it would make the weapon faster to reload and simultaneously bring the weight back towards the shooter, since all the rounds would be in the magazine vs. lined up in the tube going all the way out to the muzzle. A mag-fed version might also allow the weapon to carry one or two extra rounds, giving it a 4+1 or 5+1 ammo capacity. The two disadvantages of a mag-fed grenade-launcher shotgun are 1) that it would negate the ability of the operator to conduct single-round tactical reloads on the move, and 2) it would make shooting from the prone position more difficult, because you’d have a box magazine sticking out the bottom of the weapon. So, while a box magazine-fed version might be a nice complement to the tube magazine-fed version, DefenseReview isn’t recommending replacing the current tube magazine version altogether.
The Airtronic USA China Lake 40mm pump grenade launcher system is designed to fire the 40x46mm low-impulse / low-velocity grenade round. Defense Review doesn’t know whether or not it can handle the MEI HELLHOUND low-velocity high-fragmentation/high explosive (HE) enhanced-lethality 40mm grenade round or MEI Mercury medium-impulse / medium-velocity enhanced-lethality HE 40mm grenade round made by Martin Electronics, Inc. (MEI), because we forgot to ask Mr. Carroll about this.
It should be noted that the Airtronic pump multiple grenade launcher can also fire 40x40mm less-lethal grenades, and can carry 4+1 rounds of this ammo vs. 3+1 rounds of the 40x46mm ammo.
Editor’s Note: The Russians have their own 4-shot (3+1) pump-action multi-shot grenade launcher, albeit in 43mm, called the GM-94. The GM-94 MGL was developed for Russian Special Forces / Special Operations Forces like Spetsnaz and Russian security services like FSB (Federal Security Service) and MVD (Internal Affairs Ministry).
Airtronic USA China Lake 40mm Pump Grenade Launcher System Documents:
Photo Credit: Airtronic USA, Inc.
Company Contact Info:
Airtronic USA, Inc.
116 N. Lively Blvd.
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007