Carl Gustaf M4: a Swedish versatile anti-tank recoilless rifle

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Carl Gustaf M4: a Swedish versatile anti-tank recoilless rifle
Carl Gustaf M4 (photo: https://www.youtube.com/MilitaryTVOfficial/)

Carl Gustaf : a Swedish versatile anti-tank recoilless rifle – You might be familiar with previous versions of Carl Gustaf recoilless rifles that have been in service since 1948, such as M1, M2, , and M3 MAAWS. In general, the Carl Gustaf range of recoilless rifles portray one of the longest-serving man-portable anti-tank weapons systems and are utilized by a number of militaries worldwide, including the United States forces. They are also combat proven, such as in military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as civil warfare in Libya and Syria. But have you ever heard the latest version of the rifle, ? This new version recoilless rifle is said to be more adaptable and compatible in the battlefield. Well, how significant it really is?

The Carl-Gustaf M4, which is crew-operated and man-portable, is the latest version of Carl Gustaf recoilless rifles. It is a real multi-role weapon system that has provided unequalled combat capability to soldiers from over 40 countries throughout the world. It was manufactured by Saab Bofors Dynamics, a Swedish high-tech aerospace and defense company, and was unveiled at the AUSA exhibition in 2014.

In terms of its specifications, a main feature the Carl Gustaf M4 recoilless rifle has that differentiates it from the previous generations in the Carl Gustaf series is no other than its lighter weight along with its shorter length. Being improved to the previous version, the weapon incorporates titanium-made elements and enhanced carbon fiber wrapping, making it 2.6 kg lighter and 66mm shorter than the previous variant. These enhancements were made in response to the weapon's need to be used in urban environment. As a result, the short barrel and light load increase maneuverability significantly without sacrificing range.

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Carl Gustaf M4
Carl Gustaf M4 (photo: https://www.youtube.com/c/MilitaryTVOfficial/)

Another distinguishing feature of the improved Carl Gustaf M4's armament is its notable intelligent sighting systems. The red-dot sight has already been installed as the aimpoint rather than just the iron sight. The sight is mounted on a Picatinny rail offering the possibility to use different sights including thermal as well as image intensification system to produce accurate ballistic calculations and boost the likelihood of a successful engagement especially when aiming at night. Utilization of intelligent sighting systems features a compatibility with programmable ammunitions for an interchangeable fire control system. This, therefore, enables intelligent sights to connect with programmable rounds for legitimate situational analysis, allowing the gunner to configure the ammunition to achieve the desired result.

Besides that, the wiring harness has also been added in the M4 configuration to provide a foregrip controller with a locking lever for the improved ergonomics of the M4 system along with an adjustable shoulder rest for better comfort. An automatic shot counter is also integrated to the M4 system to accurately keep track of how many rounds have been fired, which supports the maintenance and manages the life of the weapon system of up to 1,000-round barrel, double that of its M3 predecessor. Moreover, the new weapon is also fitted with the dual-mode in-built safety features for improved carrying handle. This additional safety mechanism enables the M4 to be carried while loaded even for a rapid engagement.

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The M4 recoilless rifle is typically used by squads as an anti-tank weapon. However, due to its extraordinary tactical versatility, it serves as multi-role weapon system through its diverse projectile types, including existing and future ammunition types. Capable of firing a comprehensive range of 84mm caliber ammunitions such as anti-armor, anti-structure, multi-role, anti-personnel, and support rounds, the guided Carl Gustaf M4 allows the gunner to choose whether the bullet will airburst, explode on impact, or penetrate a wall. With fire rate is around 6 rounds per minute, the M4 High-Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) ammunition can penetrate up to 400 mm of rolled homogeneous armor, while M4 ammunition with a tandem HEAT warhead is able to penetrate up to 500 mm of rolled homogeneous armor behind explosive reactive armor.

Regarding its effective range, the M4 ammo can attack tanks from a distance of up to 400 meters and buildings from a distance of up to 700 meters. The new M4 is also effective against moving targets at an extended range of up to 1,000 meters. Thus, the M4 recoilless rifle can be deployed in any situations, including close combat, neutralizing armored tanks, clearing barriers, and engaging enemies in bunkers.

So, how is the Carl Gustaf M4 recoilless rifle operated?

As a crew-operated recoilless rifle, the M4 normally requires two people to handle the weapon, consisting of a gunner and a loader. A gunner is in charge of carrying and firing the weapon, while a loader is responsible for carrying two canisters of ammunition, totaling four rounds. If considerable use is expected, one or two extra ammunition carriers can be assigned. It is the loader's responsibility to check the area behind the weapon for individuals and obstructions that can interfere with the back-blast during the firing procedure. This weapon can be fired while the standing, kneeling, sitting, or prone, and a bipod can be added in front of the shoulder piece. The hinged breech is then moved to one side for reloading using an operating handle called the “Venturi lock.” However, the drill is required to avoid the back-blast dangers that can cause anyone within the cone very serious burn injuries and solid objects around the area reflect the blast onto the crew.

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The Carl Gustaf series of anti-tank weapons, like many other portable anti-tank weapons created during this time, are recoilless rifles, which were popular as anti-tank weapons in the aftermath of World War Two. However, did you know that recoilless rifles are not the same as bazookas even though both are the anti-tank weapons? The recoilless weapons use propellant gases or some other sort of counter mass such as liquid or powder, to work. The bazooka, on the other hand, is a simple weapon with a wiring tube, dual pistol grips, as well as a shaped-charge explosive warhead, and uses a solid propellant rocket for propulsion. In other words, a bazooka can be defined as a portable rocket launcher that is employed as an anti-tank weapon.

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