The M203 grenade launcher can turn standard issue assault rifles into multi-purpose weapons.
Attachment and Enhancement
The M203 is a 40 millimeter grenade launcher that attaches to several different assault rifles, including the M16 and M4 carbine weapons. When the grenade launcher is attached to an assault rifle, the weapon becomes known as a M203. Typically, the grenade launcher is affixed underneath the barrel of a rifle. The grenade launcher’s trigger is situated in front of the rifle’s magazine. The M203 is available as a stand alone weapon and used separately by some militaries.
The M203 grenade launcher fires a single shot. The weapon was designed to take out doors, windows, bunkers, and some light armoured vehicles. In addition to the U.S. military, the M203 grenade launcher is used by armed forces around the world. The Canadian Forces attach the grenade launcher to the C7 rifle, a version of the M16.
History in Vietnam
The M203 has been in use by American soldiers since the 1960s. The U.S. military introduced the M203 during the Vietnam Conflict and used it to replace the then outdated M79 grenade launcher. The M203 was considered an enhancement over older models as its mounting allowed soldiers to switch between using a rifle and grenade launcher.
The U.S. military is now looking to replace the M203 grenade launcher with a newer model known as the M320. This new grenade launcher features upgraded sights, side loading, and a double firing mechanism.
Rounds and Accessories
The M203 has a number of accessories, including a laser sight and rail attachments. The grenade launcher can fire a total of 10 different rounds. The various rounds include a high explosive one intended to kill groups of enemy combatants, a white star cluster used for illuminating battlefields and enemy targets, and a sponge grenade that is non-lethal and used for crowd control.