‘Battlefield horror’: An evaluation of new Russian grenade launchers

Kalashnikov with GP-25 grenade launcher
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MOSCOW – American media analyzed the characteristics of the 40 mm Russian GP-25 Koster grenade launcher, adopted in Soviet times, and the new GP-34 grenade launcher, comparing them with the analogue M203 used by the US military.

As The National Interest points out, Kalashnikov assault rifles are often equipped with grenade launchers and this additional weaponry can become a veritable “battlefield horror.”

“Overall, the GP-25 and M203 were fairly evenly matched grenade launchers during the Cold War,” writes the issue. The publication states that the GP-25 entered service in the late 1970s and used to be attached to AKM, AK-74 and AK-74M assault rifles. Currently it remains the most common coupled grenade launcher.

According to the American edition, the GP-25 has several serious differences in relation to the M203. These are the ammunition, the trigger mechanism and the aiming characteristics. In particular, the GP-25 has an effective range of 400 meters, while in the American M203 this is only 250 meters. In addition, the GP-25 comes with a large number of accessories.

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The National Interest indicates that ammunition from the Russian grenade launcher, VOG-25, contains more explosive substance, but expresses doubts that the effectiveness of target destruction increases due to this factor. However, tests comparing the two GP-25 and M203 grenade launchers have shown that the efficiency of Russian armament is three-four times higher.

Among the disadvantages for the GP-25 is the greater danger for the shooter than the M203. In addition, the fixation of the grenade before the shot is not sufficiently robust, which can lead to its fall under certain conditions. In addition, the edition states that the grenade in Russian armament can get stuck in the launcher, being difficult to remove it with a built-in puller.

“None of these problems are present in the M203 due to its breech loading nature. All of these issues are resolved in the newer GP-34, which features improved grenade retention, more safeties, and a more beefy extractor, but the GP-34 has only seen use with elite units in the Russian army and paramilitary forces,” said the publication.

At the same time, the shooting rate of the GP-34 and M203, according to media, is comparable.

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