by David Crane
June 20, 2005
The following story is a DefenseReview.com exclusive. All digital photos accompanying this article were taken by, and are the exclusive property of, DefenseReview.com. Click on photos to view them full-size.
Back in July 2004, DefenseReview wrote about
the Milkor MGL Mk-1S
40mm multiple grenade launcher, which is an improved version of their original and ubiquitous MGL Mk-1. The article was titled "New and Improved Milkor MGL Mk-1S Multiple 40mm Grenade Launcher for SPECOPS
". The original six-shot MGL Mk-1, which began production in 1983, quickly established itself as one of the premiere force multipliers available to mobile infantry forces and private military companies (PMCs) around the world. Today, it’s currently in use by over 35 countries worldwide (over 5 of them NATO countries) who appreciate the weapon’s unique and rather impressive capabilities.
As an example, the Milkor MGL MK-1 is one of the primary weapons that…
the Columbian military uses to combat the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia) in the jungles of Columbia. A 6-shot revolver-type MGL similar in concept to the original Milkor MGL Mk-1, called the "Six-Shooter", was first brought to the attention of the American public in the film "Predator" (1987), where it was put to very effective use by the character of Poncho Ramirez, played by the actor Richard Chaves (Note: The "Six-Shooter" was a pump-action MGL). Fans of the movie will remember that Ramirez was a member of Major ‘Dutch’ Schaeffer’s (played by Arnold Scharzenegger) elite Special Operations (SPECOPS)/Hostage Rescue/Extraction team (or, more simply, Commando unit).
Just like the original Mk-1, the product-improved Milkor MGL Mk-1S
fires the same low-impulse/low-velocity 40mm munitions as the M203 underbarrel-mounted grenade launcher, including the standard M433 40mm HEDP (High Explosive Dual Purpose) grenade
and MEI-manufactured M433I improved LV 40mm grenade
. The Mk-1S also reportedly features a stronger stainless steel frame than the original Mk-1S, a "standard NATO sight rail", and a telescopic buttstock. The Mk-1S’ standard cylinder can even be swapped out with a longer cylinder for greater ranges. In this configuration, the weapon is known as the Mk-1L.
40mm grenade launcher, manufactured by Milkor USA, is specifically designed to fire a new family of advanced and, in some cases, hyper-lethal LI/LV 40mm munitions manufactured by Martin Electronics, Inc.
), in addtion to all currently-available NATO-spec lethal and non-lethal/less-lethal munitions. With regard to the MEI munitions, this new advanced low impulse/low-velocity 40mm ammo family utilizes a longer projectile for greatly enhanced lethality (in two of it’s incarnations). The MGL-140 will fire six rounds of these unique munitions in 3 seconds at ranges up to 400 meters (437.6 yards) and will effectively cover a minimum destruction area/zone of 20×60 meters. The weapon will also allow the operator to engage specific targets with pinpoint accuracy at up to 150 meters.
To accomplish the latter, an operator must make use of the MGL-140’s IR-compatible optical gunsight (tube sight with red targeting reticle) and 2-stage trigger. The initial trigger pull is heavy for safety (we are dealing with 40mm explosive munitions). However, it comes to a stop right before it breaks for the shot. So, for accurate shots, the operator aims the weapon at the target, pulls the trigger back to this stopping point (also known as indexing the trigger), and then breaks the shot off, putting the munition right where he wants.
Regarding the trigger-pull weight/safety issue, DefenseReview understands where Milkor is coming from with the relatively heavy, two-stage trigger approach. However, for even more rapid-fire capability and less trigger finger fatigue, we would still like to see the MGL-140
offered with either a lighter trigger, period, or a selectable trigger-pull weight, so the operator can choose a light or heavy trigger mode on the spot, and switch back-and-forth between modes, depending on the cirmumstances. Of course, a selectable trigger of this type would create more complexity in a weapon that’s designed to be as simple as possible. If the operator is well-trained (as he should be on this type of weapon), he shouldn’t need a trigger pull weight quite as heavy as the MGL-140’s trigger currently is. Just keep your trigger finger properly indexed outside the the trigger area, just like on a pistol, assault rifle, or machine gun. The MGL-140 also features an AR-15/M16-style ambidextrous safety/selector switch.
And, last but not least, the MGL-140 sports a Vltor Modstock telescoping buttstock, a Mil-Std-1913 sight rail, and a 4-sided (or "quad-rail") Mil-Std-1913 rail system/forend rail tube for mounting other tactical accessories–like the vertical foregrip, for instance.
Now, let’s get to the ammo, shall we?
The New Enhanced-Lethality Ammo:
The primary specialized MEI 40mm munition for the MGL-140 will most likely be the MEI HELLHOUND
) Round, or HELLHOUND 40mm Low Velocity Multi-Purpose Grenade. If the HELLHOUND performs as advertised/described by MEI officials, it is, hands down, the most lethal low-impulse/low-velocity 40mm grenade/munition in the world, currently being manufactured. There simply is no other LI/LV 40mm grenade that can even come close to matching it’s claimed destructive power. MEI reportedly designed and developed the round after military operators expressed a need for a 40mm grenade that was both significantly more lethal than the standard M433 HEDP round
and capable of completely taking out a standard residential door (in-theater) with one shot, while simultaneously neutralizing any occupants immediately behind it. The MEI HELLHOUND Round enjoys roughly twice the lethal radius (kill radius) as the M433 HEDP. I’ll let Martin Electronics, Inc. (MEI) product literature explain the new HELLHOUND
40mm Low Velocity Multi-Purpose Grenade is a fixed type ammunition designed to be fired from a 40mm Grenade Launcher M79, M203 (attached to the M16/M16A1/M16A2 rifle) or Milkor MK-1/[MGL-140]. The round consists of an A5-filled metal projectile body with a rotating band, a point-initiating-base detonating fuze with Safe and Arm technology, and a cartridge case assembly. Upon impact with the target, the firing pin is driven into the detonator, which in turn initiates the spit back charge, producing a jet which initiates the explosive train from the base forward, resulting in an armor-piercing jet of molten metal and fragmentation of the projectile body. With twice the fill amount of an M433 and a 40% increase in the shrapnel pattern and a lethal diameter out to 10 meters, the HELLHOUND
will provide superior performance against both Troops in the Open and MOUT type engagements, while providing superior door-breaching capabilities."
Technical Information: Type: HE-Multi-Purpose. Weight: 225 grams (98g A5 explosive). Length: 120mm. Qualified Weapons: M79, M203, Milkor MGL MK-1/[MGL-140] launchers. Body Material: Steel. Fuze: SF801/M550. Charge: A5. Penetration: 90mm mild steel at normal impact with antipersonnel fragmentation. Muzzle Velocity: 80 mps (262 fps).
An MEI company representative at the company’s booth (SOF Week) told DefRev that the HELLHOUND’s lethal radius might actually prove to be as much as 12 meters, in the final analysis. This is yet to be confirmed/verified. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Author’s Note: In the interest of proper grammar, the full name for the HELLHOUND Round should perhaps be "HighOrderUnbelievablyNastyDestructiveSeries", rather than "HighOrderUnbelievableNastyDestructiveSeries". It just reads and sounds better that way, in the author’s opinion.
40mm Low Velocity Multi-Purpose Grenade is a fixed type ammunition designed to be fired from a 40mm Grenade Launcher M79, M203, (attached to the M16/M16A1/M16A2 rifle) or Milkor MK-1/[MGL-140]. The round consists of an Enhanced Blast Explosive (EBX)-filled metal projectile body with a rotating band, a point-initiating-base detonating fuze with Safe and Arm technology, and a cartridge case assembly. Upon impact with the target, the firing pin is driven in to the detonator, which in turn initiates the spit back charge, producing a jet which initiates the explosive train from the base forward, resulting in an armor-piercing jet of molten metal and fragment pattern and the Thermobaric effect of the EBX compound, the DRACO
will provide superior performance against both Troops in the Open and MOUT type engagements."
Technical Information: Type: Enhanced Blast–Multi-Purpose. Weight: 225 grams (90g YJ05). Length: 120mm. Qualified Weapons: M79, M203, Milkor MGL MK-1/MGL-140] launchers. Body Material: Steel. Fuze: SF801/M550. Charge: EBX. Penetration: 65mm mild steel at normal impact with antipersonnel fragmentation. Muzzle Velocity: 80 mps (262 fps).
Last up is the MEI HUNTIR
), which is designed to give military infantry forces enhanced battlefield/battlespace awareness, for all types of infantry combat, including counterinsurgency and urban warfare operations/applications. Here’s the low-down on the HUNTIR, from MEI:
Round is a fixed-type cartridge designed to be fired from 40mm Grenade Launchers M79 and M203 (attached to the M16/M16A1 rifle) or a Milkor MK-1/[MGL-140] Grenade Launcher. The round consists of a cartridge case assembly, and a metal projectile body containing a first fire charge, a pyrotechnic delay column, an ejection charge, a CMOS Camera, and a parachute assembly. Upon firing, the projectile assembly is propelled to an average height of 700 feet, the first fire charge ignites the pyrotechnic delay element, which ignites an ejection charge that effectively ejects the CMOS Camera, which is attached to the parachute. The CMOS Camera provides up to 5 minutes of real-time streaming video to a handheld device with a correcsponding transmitter.
The cartridge case assembly contains an appropriate amount of M9 propellant to achieve projectile height requirements. The first fire initiation and ejection charges are comprised of a pressed black powder. The pyrotechnic delay column is comprised of typical elements. The CMOS Camera has been specifically designed and developed for this purpose and can provide detailed video with a range of up to 1 mile line-of-sight. In today’s combat enveironment, it’s nice to know what’s several miles in front of you, but it’s life and death to know what’s two blocks in front of you. MEI is answering the call with the HUNTIR
Technical Information: Type: Recon/Video Imaging. Weight: 203 grams (90g YJ05). Length: 120mm. Qualified Weapons: M79, M203, Milkor MGL MK-1/[MGL-140] launchers. Frequency Range: 2400-2500 MHz. Altitude Max.: 700 feet. Body Material: Aluminum. Camera: CMOS. Delay Charge: Tungsten. Video Format: NTSC Composite RF Output: +20dBm. Muzzle Velocity: 80 mps (262 fps).
An MEI representative at SOF Week disclosed to Defense Review that it was a SERIOUS challenge to design and develop a 40mm projectile in which the camera and electronics could survive the force of the explosive charge and resultant G-forces of a launch.
When DefenseReview handled the MGL-140
at the Milkor USA booth, we were immediately impressed with it. Its quality of manufacture appeared to be excellent, and the weapon instills the user with an immediate sense of confidence. Based on our experience handling the MGL-140 and learning about the new MEI ammo, DefRev can’t wait to test-fire the MGL-140 with live (MEI) ammo at the range.
By the way, the recharging/reloading procedure for the MGL MK-1/MK-1S/MK-1L/MGL-140 is fast. We’ll explain it for a righthanded shooter. Using the thumb of your left hand (support hand) which is holding the vertical foregrip, just reach back with your thumb and pull open the release, and rotate the cylynder/barrel portion clockwise/left and simultaneously rotate the pistol grip/buttstock portion counterclockwise/right with your right hand to open the action and eject the spent casings. Now, with the barrel pointing down and the buttstock resting against your chest, insert your all of your fingers (including your thumb), palm up, into the now-clear cylinder holes. Now, will still holding onto the vertical foregrip and thus supporting the weapon with your left hand, rotate your (right) hand counter-clockwise and the weapon simultaneously clockwise/left across your chest, until the cylinder stops rotating (With the particular technique we were taught, the buttstock ends up against your right shoulder.). Load the fresh rounds in, and snap the action closed (opposite directions from opening it). Now, you’re charged up, loaded up, and ready to go, again–with six rounds of enhanced-lethality MEI 40mm high-explosive antipersonnel grenades, mind you. Remember, the MEI HELLHOUND Round enjoys twice the lethality radius (or better) than the standard M433 HEDP 40mm grenade
Milkor 40mm MGL-140 Weapon Specs:
Caliber: 40x46mm. Length (Butt Retracted): 27 inches. Length (Butt Exended): 31 inches. Height (Standard Sight Fitted): 10.5 inches. Width: 6.5 inches. Weight (Empty/Dry): 13.2 lbs. Rifling: Progressive. Minimum Range: 98 feet. Maximum Range: 1310 ft. Maximum Effective Range: 1230 ft. Cylinder Capacity: 6 rounds less than 5.5 inches in length. Surface Treatment: Gunkote SCK6 (Black) / SOCOM Tan. Weapon Accessories: Canvas Carry Bag, Cleaning Kit, and Canvas Carry Sling.
If the hype on the Martin Electronics, Inc. (MEI) 40mm ammo described above is legit (for instance, if it can be backed up with real-world results), then the Milkor USA MGL-140
40mm multiple grenade launcher when combined with the MEI advanced 40mm ammo, creates a unique LV 40mm weapons package that’s unparalleled in it’s genre and unique capability envelope. The combination of weapon and ammo creates a true and completely-realized (greatly) enhanced-lethality 40mm weapon system. If the MEI ammo claims are true, there’s simply no other light weapon system that can accomplish what the Milkor MGL-140
/MEI 40mm ammo family combo/weapon system will be able to accomplish on the battlefield. So, if this MEI 40mm ammo proves to be the real deal, it’s DefenseReview’s opinion that EVERY U.S. infantry squad in Afghanistan and Iraq, whether they be general infantry or Special Operations (SPECOPS) forces, should be equipped with at least one or two MGL-140s and a suite of MEI 40mm munitions, and at least one or two Auto Assault-12 (AA-12) full-auto shotguns
and a suite of the most effective 12-gauge combat loads available for it (including FRAG-12 HE rounds
, flechette rounds, slugs–including saboted slugs, buckshot, and shot loads), assuming, of course, that the AA-12 also works as advertised–i.e. TOTAL reliability under adverse conditons, without the need for ANY cleaning or lubrication, whatsoever. After all, if the goal for our infantry forces is maximum lethality, maximum survivability
, then we definitely want to get these two weapons packages operational in-theater, ASAP. Hopefully, USSOCOM, the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC), and the U.S. Army will take it under consideration. Right now, our infantry forces are taking 95% of the casualties (out of all the U.S. Armed Forces) in Iraq and Stan, so they need and deserve every combat advantage they can get.
Oh, and just FYI, MEI is going to be introducing additional enhanced-capability LI/LV 40mm ammo variants, soon. DefenseReview is not yet at liberty to disclose the nature of these forthcoming advanced munitions, but their capabilities (as described to us b MEI representatives) are both intriguing and impressive. We’ll provide information about them as soon as we’re cleared to do so. You won’t want to miss it.
Here’s one more pic:
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