March 18, 2006 The firepower that can be carried by one person has risen dramatically in recent years, with the bar raised again this week in the form of a potent new M-32 Multiple shot Grenade Launcher that will be fielded by the United States Marines as an experimental weapon. The M-32 is the latest development in a long line of multi-shot, revolver-type, 40mm, hand-held, grenade launchers from South African armaments manufacturer Milkor (a much earlier version was used against the aliens in the Arnold Schwarzenegger film, Predator), and it offers a massive firepower increase compared to the Marines’ existing single shot 40mm launchers.
That the M-32 can deliver six 40mm grenades within three seconds is frightening enough, but several factors make it particularly devastating . The first is the sighting scope that allows a Marine to “follow” the grenade to the target and immediately adjust and follow up with a lethal volley of indirect fire. The second is that amongst the wide range of ammunition available to the M-32 is the Martin Electronics (MIE) Direct Range Air-Consuming Ordnance (DRACO) Grenade. MIE’s brochure on the thermobaric DRACO round says it all – When you absolutely, positively need to eliminate the enemy! Now you can deliver six DRACOs in three seconds anywhere within 400 metres. One MIE DRACO will turn a building into rubble. Oh, and the M-32 weighs just six kilograms empty or 7.5 kilograms with six DRACOS. You can keep your BFG – the M-32 is likely to become the weapon of choice for first person shooter computer gamers when it becomes added to the available arsenal of such games at some point in the future.
As usual, David Crane of Defense Review has the lowdown on the M-32 and its predecessor the MGL-140, and Crane’s article is reproduced on Military.com with some excellent detail shots of the MGL-140 and there’s an excellent article by Marine Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva on the Marines’ web site which is the most glowing testimony as he has used it.
Quoting from Oliva’s article, “Adding the M-32 MGL could realign the way Marines operate at the small-team level. Fire teams could become more lethal, more mobile and more independent. The idea of a dedicated grenadier might just be reborn.”