Tag Archives: Weapons

The Granatenwerfer or Grenade Thrower

Granatenwerfer Grenade Thrower


War seems to bring out some of the strangest inventions known to man. In this case the Granatenwerfer which translates to “grenade thrower.” The device was developed for the Austro-Hungarian military by a priest and was used by the German army during WWI.  It could throw a grenade further than a person, but did not have the range that mortars would have. It served as a middle ground solution that was a product of its time.


The Granatenwerfer itself weighed about 31lbs and came with a solid base plate that weighed in at 48lbs. Those weights meant that it could be easily carried by one or two people and assembled in place. It was capable of throwing a 14oz grenade to a maximum of 330 yards. With practice it could fire 4 to 5 projectiles a minute!

The grenade itself was designed to slip onto the launch tube and contained a “blank” rifle cartridge ( a normal round with the bullet removed) which it used as the propellant. A pull of a lanyard fired the unit. When the projectile exploded it could spread shrapnel over about a 30 meter radius. It could be fired effectively directly at a target, or indirectly (lobbed into trenches and such).

The Pigeon

To the French, the Granatenwerfer round made a very distinctive warbling sound when the round was in the air. Because of this the French referred to the grenades as pigeons. That distinctive sound came into play for the Germans later in the war.  Due to the short-range of the weapons it was hard to use them during full on assaults. By the time the grenades launched, the advancing Germans would have caught up to them. This put them in danger of getting into the blast range.

Knowing the enemy would likely go to ground when they fired with their distinctive sound, they would remove the explosives from the grenades. This gave them the advantage of advancing without worry of their own bombs, but also knowing the enemy would have their head down!



The M60 Machine Gun and Congress

Pictured above is the M60 machine gun. 7.62MM, belt fed, gas operated, air cooled, iron sights and can fire 500-650 rounds per minute. The standard 100 round ammunition belt consists of four ball rounds followed by a tracer round allowing the gunners to “walk” the fire onto the targets.

Since it was officially introduced in 1957 it has served with every branch of the American armed forces and with many countries around the world. Sixty years later it is still being produced even with newer models entering active service.

And it almost never was…

The M60 was based on some of the more popular German WWII machine guns namely the MG42 which in a modified version was seriously considered as the official replacement to the Browning M1918 and M1919A6. But there was a problem. Congress had placed serious restrictions on the army that demanded preference being give in to domestic manufacturers for all contracts. While on the surface this may seem like an effort to stimulate domestic production, the true source of this requirement was out of a desire to not have to pay licensing fees to foreign manufactures, thus saving a buck. This sometimes led to superior weapon designs being left on the table in favor of cheaper, but domestically produced weapons systems.

Luckily it has proven over time to be one to best weapons systems developed and though many different revision have come out during its history the basis of the system has stayed in place. Seriously who could imagine Rambo tearing through the jungle with anything else. All because Congress wanted to save a buck.

M26 Modular Accessory Shotgun System

The M26 is a shotgun accessory for the M16 or M4 rifle. Yep, this little baby can attach to the underbelly of M16 or M4 and provides soldiers with increased capabilities. The shotgun can be used with solid rounds to blow locks off of doors, buckshot and slugs for anti-personal applications and can even fire tear gas canisters. Best yet with the additional pistol grip and folding stock it can be a stand alone weapon.

The shotgun is a 12 gauge caliber and is a straight pull bolt-action, the bolt handle can be placed on either side of the mechanism. Originally in development in the 1990’s it started being used in the field during the 2003 Iraq War where it was used by engineers and military police. With initial testing being  successful is looks to be on pace to replace the Mossberg M500 pump shotgun that has been in service since 1961.

It used to be that soldiers in the field would be forced to chose one weapon or another, or else be weighted down with a ton excess equipment. Making a modular system like this, and there are other attachments that can be added to the M16/M4 chassis, give the soldiers more flexibility and less weight. Advances like this are what will take the US military into the conflicts of the future. Until then this is by far one of the most effective skeleton keys available to the troops.