With the China Lake Grenade Launcher, the U.S. military tried to combine a pump action shotgun with a standard grenade launcher.
U.S. Navy SEALs
The China Lake Grenade Launcher is a pump action grenade launcher developed for use by U.S. Navy SEALs. The weapon was created in the late 1960s at the "China Lake Naval Weapons Center" in California’s Mojave Desert. The Weapons Center specifically develops equipment for U.S. Navy SEALs. The China Lake Grenade Launcher fires 40 x 46 millimeter grenades.
The China Lake Grenade Launcher was developed for use during the Vietnam Conflict. The weapon holds four grenades – one in the chamber and three in a tubular magazine. The pump action function allows experienced operators of the weapon to fire four grenades into the air before the first one lands and detonates. The grenade launcher is largely made of aluminum and is extremely light weight and easy to carry. This was important in the dense jungles of Vietnam.
Improving the Weapon
Although the China Lake Grenade Launcher performed well for the U.S. military during Vietnam, the weapon had problems accommodating new grenades as they evolved over the years. Several attempts were made to revise and improve the grenade launcher beginning in 1992 and continuing until 2009. Efforts were made to develop a new version of the China Lake Grenade Launcher that could fire low velocity 40 x 46 millimeter grenades, and high velocity 40 x 53 millimeter grenades.
However, despite attempts at improving the China Lake Grenade Launcher, tests revealed that new versions of the weapon had extreme pressure build up in the chamber or excessive amounts of recoil when fired. Due to the ongoing challenges and costs of developing an updated pump action grenade launcher, the various projects were abandoned. It has been reported that only about 50 China Lake Grenade Launchers were produced for U.S. Navy Seals since the weapon entered service in 1968.