USMC finally replaces 40mm grenade launchers

U.S. Marines are about to finally get a new grenade launcher to replace the Vietnam War-era M203, something the US Army did a decade ago.

The Marine Corps plans to field the M320A1 40mm grenade launcher — which can be used in a standalone mode or mounted beneath weapons such as the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle — in fiscal 2020, according to a recent news release from Marine Corps Systems Command.

“The M320A1 will provide good range and accuracy, making the infantry squad more lethal,” Lt. Col. Tim Hough, program manager for Infantry Weapons at Marine Corps Systems Command’s Ground Combat Element Systems, said in the release.

The Army first began fielding the M320 in 2009 and later upgraded to the M320A1, which is designed to be mounted under the M4 carbine.

Unlike the M203, the breach on the M320 series opens to the side to accept longer 40mm grenades. It also has a pistol grip, so troops don’t have to use the weapon’s 30-round magazine as a pistol grip.

The M320/320A1 has a maximum effective range of 150 meters on a point target such as a window and a 350-meter max effective range on an area target, according to the Army’s technical manual for 40mm grenade launchers.

Unloaded, the M320 series weighs about 3.4 pounds in the mounted configuration and about 6.4 pounds in the stand-alone configuration.