M203 Grenade Launcher
The M203 has been in service since 1969 and was introduced to U.S. military forces during the early
1970s, replacing the older M79 grenade launcher and the conceptually similar Colt XM148 design.
However, while the M79 was a stand-alone weapon (and usually the primary weapon of troops who
carried it), the 40mm M203 Grenade Launcher was designed as an under-barrel device attached to an
existing assault rifle, allowing its operator to carry a rifle with a lightweight launcher mounted to it and
to easily switch between the two.
The M203 40mm Grenade Launcher can mount to nearly every assault rifle or carbine – M16A2, M16A4,
M4, M4A1, the Canadian C7, the French M5, and various models of the AK.
The M203 grenade launcher is intended to be used as close fire support against point and area targets.
The RRDS 203 has been reengineered with a wider opening breech to accommodate even the longer
NATA high explosive, smoke, and illumination rounds as well as less lethal rounds.
The weapon reached out to a maximum of 400 meters, and its primary purpose is to engage enemies in
dead space that cannot be reached by direct fire. A well-trained M203 grenadier can use his weapon to
suppress the enemy, based on movement and sight. In addition, the M203 can be used as a crowd
control weapon when equipped with the M651 Tactical CS (tear gas) grenade. Classified as an anti-
personnel weapon, the M203 is not intended to be used against armored or heavy vehicles. In its
detached, standalone mode, the weapon can be slung over the shoulder by protection details or hidden
from sight under a jacket or trench coat. Over 500,000 M203s are in use by US and NATO forces, and it
is considered one of the most reliable legacy weapon systems.
The US Army is offering a new 40mm grenade launcher, but the new launcher, developed by H&K, costs
three times as much as the M203, has a pistol grip which catches on things, and a trigger group which
causes the weapon to shake in the operator’s hands. For these reasons, the United States Marine Corps,
Air Force, Coast Guard, and Navy will continue to use the dependable and affordable M203 Grenade Launcher.
M203 Grenade Launcher Specification
Caliber: 40 mm
Weight: 3 Pounds (1.4 kg)
Length: 15 Inches (381 mm)
Barrel Length: 12 Inches (305 mm)
Breech: Extended to open 6.95 inches (177 mm) to accommodate 125 mm and 140 mm rounds, ambidextrous for right or left-handed operator.
Mounting Hardware: Available for M16A2, M4, M4A1, and AK assault rifle variants.
Ammunition: 40 mm x 46 mm Lethal, 40 mm x 40 mm Less than Lethal
Maximum Range: 400 meters for area target; 200 meters for point target
Muzzle Velocity: 76 meters per second
Sight: Sight appropriate to underlying weapon system (leaf sight, quadrant sight). Upgraded optics available for an additional charge.
Accuracy: Within 1 meter at 200 meter range
Rate of Fire: 10 rounds / 1 minute
Operation: Barrel forward breach, side lock, single action
Safety: Push forward lever at trigger
Mode of Fire: Single shot action reload and cocking
Accessories: Cleaning kit and operators manual.
Warranty: Two year limited for defects in material and workmanship
Training: Certified on-site and on-line training is available
Temperatures: Operating -20°C to +50°C / Storage -40°C to 80°C
Spare Parts: Available for seven years