Carl Gustav recoilless rifle

The Carl Gustaf (Swedish pronunciation:; also known as, Gustaf Bazooka and M2CG) is an 84 mm man-portable reusable anti-tank recoilless rifle produced by Saab Bofors Dynamics (formerly Bofors Anti-Armour AB) in Sweden. The first prototype of the Carl Gustaf was produced in 1946, and while similar weapons of the era have generally disappeared, the Carl Gustaf remains in widespread use today. It is also recognized as being a "rocket launcher", not just a recoilless rifle, in that it is capable of firing the HEAT RAP FFV 551 (High Explosive Anti Tank Rocket Assisted Projectile) finned round. Simply put, depending on the round (shell) utilized, the explosive energy propelling the projectile may, or may not, occur during mid flight of said projectile. Hence, the Garl Gustaf may or may not be referred to as a "rocket launcher" or "recoilless rifle", both equally correct.

In its country of origin it is officially named Grg m/48 (Granatgevär or grenade rifle, model 48). British troops refer to it as the Charlie G, while Canadian troops often refer to it as the 84 or Carl G. In U.S. military service it is known as the M3 Multi-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapon System (MAAWS) or Ranger Anti-tank Weapons System (RAWS), but is often called the Gustaf or the Goose or simply the Carl Johnson by American servicemembers. In Australia it is irreverently known as Charlie Gusto or Charlie Gutsache (guts ache, slang for stomach pain).

Carl Gustav recoilless rifle
Class Manportable
Type Rocket Launcher
Manufacturer Carl Gustav
Origin Sweden
Country Name Origin Year
Sweden 1946
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Australia View
Austria View
Bangladesh View
Belgium View
Belize (British Honduras) View
Brazil View
Burma View
Canada View
Denmark View
Estonia View
Germany View
Ghana View
Greece View
Honduras View
India View
Indonesia View
Ireland View
Israel View
Japan View
Kenya View
Kuwait View
Latvia View
Libya View
Lithuania View
Malaysia View
Nigeria View
Pakistan View
Poland View
Portugal View
Sierra Leone View
Sweden View
Sweden View
Thailand (Siam) View
United Arab Emirates View
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) View
United States of America View
Venezuela View
Zambia (Northern Rhodesia) View
Slovakia View
Czech Republic View
Norway View
Botswana View
Burkina Faso View
New Zealand View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Carl Gustav View

The Carl Gustaf was developed by Hugo Abramson and Harald Jentzen at the Kungliga Arméförvaltningens Tygavdelning (Royal Swedish Arms Administration) and produced at Carl Gustaf Stads Gevärsfaktori from where it derives its name. The weapon was first introduced into Swedish service in 1948 as the 8,4 cm Granatgevär m/48 (Grg m/48), filling the same anti-tank role as the U.S. Army's Bazooka, British PIAT and German Panzerschreck. Unlike these weapons, however, the Carl Gustaf used a rifled barrel for spin-stabilizing its rounds, as opposed to fins used by the other systems.

The use of the recoilless firing system allowed the Carl Gustaf to use ammunition containing considerably more propellant, firing its rounds at 290 m/s, as opposed to about 105 m/s for the Panzerschreck and Bazooka and about 75 m/s for the PIAT. The result was superior accuracy at longer ranges. The Carl Gustaf can be used to attack larger stationary targets at up to 700 m, but the relatively low speed of the projectile restricts attacks on moving targets to a range of 400 m or less.

The Carl Gustaf was soon sold around the world and became one of the primary squad-level anti-tank weapons for many West European armies. An improved version (M2) was introduced in 1964 and quickly replaced the original version. The current M3 version was introduced in 1991, using a thin steel liner containing the rifling, strengthened by a carbon fiber outer sleeve. External steel parts were replaced with aluminium alloys or plastics, reducing the empty weapon weight considerably—from 16.35 kg to 10 kg.

In recent years, the weapon has found new life in a variety of roles. The British Special Air Service, United States Army Special Forces and United States Army Rangers use M3s in bunker-busting and anti-vehicle roles, while the German Bundeswehr maintains a small number of M2s for battlefield illumination. Many armies continue to use it as a viable anti-armor weapon, especially against 1950s- and '60s-era tanks and other armored vehicles still in use worldwide.

In a well-documented incident during the Falklands War, a Royal Marine attacked an Argentinian corvette (ARA Guerrico) using a Carl Gustaf.

The Carl Gustaf was used against Taliban defensive fortifications by soldiers of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry in operations in Afghanistan. They developed a new system for firing at night in which a spotter with a night-scope fires tracer ammunition to mark the target for the Carl Gustaf gunner.

Carl Gustaf launchers were used by Free Libyan Army during the Libyan Civil War in 2011; the weapons being used were either captured or provided by defecting members of the Libyan Army.

In November 2011, the U.S. Army began ordering the M3 MAAWS for regular units deployed in Afghanistan. Soldiers were being engaged with RPGs at 900 meters, while their light weapons had effective ranges of 500–600 meters. The Carl Gustaf allows airburst capability of troops in defilade out to 1,250 meters, and high explosive use out to 1,300 meters. While the weapon provides enhanced effectiveness, its 9.5 kg weight burdens troops. On 28 March 2013, USSOCOM announced a call for sources to develop a kit to lighten the M3 MAAWS by 1.3–2.2 kg, plus a 7.5 cm reduction in overall length, without affecting the weapon's center of gravity or ruggedness, including air delivery and salt water submersion. A kit with production configuration is to be delivered within 16 months. Saab has developed a weight-reduced version prior to the SOCOM release weighing approximately 11 kg and is 5 cm shorter. Live fire tests have demonstrated no decrease in performance, no increase in recoil, and nearly equivalent barrel life. It was to be ready for government testing in 2014. Saab has also developed a new high explosive round that has a direct fire range of 1,500 meters when using a fire control system.

At AUSA 2014, Saab Dynamics displayed its new Carl Gustaf M4 variant. Compared to the M3 MAAWS, the M4 is 3.4 kg (7.5 lb) lighter weighing 6.6 kg (15 lb) and shorter with a 950 mm (37 in) overall length. The shorter length was in response to the need to wield the weapon in urban terrain, and weight savings were achieved through using lighter components whenever possible including a carbon fiber tube with titanium liner, as well as a new venturi design. Other new features include a red-dot sight, a travel safety catch to allow the M4 to be carried while loaded, an adjustable shoulder rest and forward grip for improved ergonomics, a shot counter to keep track of how many rounds have been fired to manage the weapon's 1,000-round barrel life, picatinny rails for grips and sight mounts, and a remote round management function so intelligent sights can "talk" to programmable rounds. Sources claim the M4 can meet the needs of USSOCOM for a shorter and lighter recoilless rifle and note that they are considering acquiring it under the designation of M3A1. The Defense Department has agreed to evaluate the shorter and lighter M4 version over the next two years.

Type Multi-role (anti-armor, anti-fortification, anti-personnel, illumination)
Place of origin Sweden
Service history
In service 1948–present
Wars Falklands War
Kargil War
War in Afghanistan
Iraq War
Eelam War IV
Libyan Civil War
Syrian civil war
2013 Lahad Datu standoff
Production history
Designer Hugo Abramson, Sigfrid Akselson and Harald Jentzen
Designed M1: 1946
M2: 1964
M3: 1991
M4: 2014
Manufacturer Saab Bofors Dynamics (formerly Bofors Anti-Armour AB), Howa (license)
Weight Rifle: 8.5 kg (19 lb)
Mount: 0.8 kg (1.8 lb)
Length Overall: 1.1 m (3 ft 7 in)
Crew Two (gunner and loader), but may be used by a single operator at a reduced rate of fire.
Cartridge 84×246 mm R
Caliber 84 mm (3.31 inches)
Rate of fire 6 rounds per minute
Muzzle velocity 230–255 m/s (750–840 ft/s)
Effective firing range 150 m against tanks
700 m against stationary targets
1000 m against stationary targets w/rocket-boosted ammunition
Feed system Hinged breech
Sights Open (iron) sights; optical 3×; laser rangefinder; image intensification system

End notes