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This chapter discusses employment techniques for light antiarmor weapons, all of which require at least basic gunnery skills. Techniques that require advanced skills are identified as such.


A firer who can accurately estimate the range to the target has a better chance of hitting it, regardless of the weapon used. Common methods of estimating range are listed below from the most to least accurate. The tactical situation determines the method to be used:

    a. Using range finders.

    b. Measuring the distance on a map after correctly plotting your own position.

    c. Pacing. Remember your individual pace count.

    d. Using pair and sequence methods of target engagement. This method should be used only when in contact with the enemy.

    e. Estimating range visually. This is the least accurate method of estimating range and therefore the least desirable. However, in an offensive operation or hasty defense, it may be the only method available to the light antiarmor firer. Thus soldiers must continually train to improve their skill at visual estimation (STP 21-1-SMCT). Leaders should identify, coordinate, and record ranges to possible armored vehicle engagement locations on squad and platoon sector sketches.


Of the weapons discussed in this manual, the M136 AT4 is the best for engaging moving armored vehicles. One of its advantages over the LAW is the speed of its round, which travels faster and farther than the LAW round. However, the firer is the key in any engagement, especially a moving target engagement. Once soldiers learn to estimate speeds at known ranges, they should rehearse until they achieve a high hit-to-kill ratio. As their abilities improve, the leaders vary the ranges, speeds, and types of armored vehicles. Figure 6-1, shows one method of speed estimation. Trainers and soldiers develop other methods through practice and are limited only by their imaginations. (Chapter 4 discusses obtaining a sight picture in detail.) Estimate how far the vehicle travels during 1 second:
    a. Start when the front end of the vehicle passes the object.

    b. Count, "One thousand and one" (takes about one second).

    c. If more than half of the vehicle passes the object, estimate it as a fast-moving vehicle (10 mph or faster). If less than half of the vehicle passes the object, estimate it as a slow-moving vehicle (less than 10 mph).

Figure 6-1. Speed estimation.


Armored vehicles usually have their heaviest armor in front, because they are designed mainly for offensive operations against other armored vehicles (Figure 6-2). All vehicles are vulnerable to repeated hits on their flanks and rear, though the flank offers the largest possible target. Firers should always aim center of mass to increase the probability of a hit. The older the vehicle model, the less protection it has against antiarmor weapons. Consequently, newer versions may use bolt-on (applique) armor to improve their survivability. Some vehicles are equipped with reactive armor, which consists of metal plates and plastic explosives. Reactive armor usually covers the forward-facing portions and sides of the vehicle and can defeat shaped-charge weapons such as the LAW and AT4. When reactive armor detonates, it disperses metal fragments to 200 meters. The M72-series LAW and the M136 AT4 cause only a small entry hole in an armored vehicle target, though some fragmentation or spall may occur.

Figure 6-2. Armored vehicle weak points.

    a. Natural or man-made obstacles can be used to force the armored vehicle to slow, stop, or change direction. This pause enables the firer to achieve a first-round hit. If he does not achieve a catastrophic kill on the first round, he or another firer must be ready to engage the target vehicle immediately with another round.

    b. An armored vehicle without close protection (dismounted infantry) in woods, MOUT, or other restrictive terrain is vulnerable to close attack. This type of attack is most likely to originate from well-armed infantry-type teams organized into armor-killer teams. (Noninfantry units may also be required to perform this mission.) Skilled firers from these teams should engage the suspension or engine compartment of vehicles that have applique or reactive armor. When an armored vehicle is buttoned up--all hatches are closed and personnel are inside the vehicle--the crew cannot see well enough to protect itself from close attacks or attacks from the flanks or rear. The personnel inside cannot see anything within 10 meters of the vehicle, and they cannot shoot at anything (using their main guns) within 20 meters. The white area in Figure 6-3 shows the most favorable direction of attack when the turret is facing to the front; the gray area shows the vehicle's principal direction of fire and observation when the turret is facing to the front.

    c. Armored vehicle kills are classified according to the level of damage achieved (Table 6-1).

Figure 6-3. Limited visibility of armored vehicles.

Table 6-1. Armored vehicle kills.


The four engagement methods include single, sequence, pair, and volley firing. The leader evaluates the situation on the ground to determine which of these methods to use. Regardless of whether they are used singly or in combination, communications are needed as well. The methods of engagement are rehearsed IAW unit SOP.

    a. Single Firing. A single soldier with one light antiarmor weapon may engage an armored vehicle, but this is not the preferred method of engagement. Several light antiarmor weapons are required to kill an armored vehicle. A single firer firing one round must hit a vital part of the target to damage it at all (Figure 6-4).

    (1) Range not known. When he does not know the actual range, a single firer should engage only targets within 200 meters. The probability that he will hit a target beyond 200 meters with a single round is small.

    (2) Range known. When he knows the actual range, a single firer can engage targets out to 225 meters with the LAW or 300 meters with the AT4. He should do this only when he has a flank or rear shot, or when he has no other engagement option.

Figure 6-4. Single firing.

    b. Sequence Firing. A single firer, equipped with two or more light antiarmor weapons prepared for firing, engages the target. After engaging with the first round and observing the impact, the firer adjusts his point of aim, engages with another round, and so on until he destroys the target or runs out of rounds (Figure 6-5).

Figure 6-5. Sequence firing.

    c. Pair Firing. Two or more firers, equipped with two or more light antiarmor weapons prepared for firing, engage a single target. Before firing, the first firer informs the others of the estimated speed and distance to the target. If the impact of his round proves his estimate to be correct, the other firers engage the target until it is destroyed. If the impact of the round proves his estimate to be incorrect, the second firer informs the others of his own estimate, then he engages the target. This continues until the target is destroyed or all rounds are expended (Figure 6-6).

Figure 6-6. Pair firing.

    d. Volley Firing. When the range to a single target is known, two or more firers engage it at one time on a prearranged signal such as a command, whistle, booby trap, mine, or TRP. This is the best method of engagement with a light antiarmor weapon, because it places the most possible rounds on one target at one time, increasing the possibility of a kill (Figure 6-7).

Figure 6-7. Volley firing.

    e. Communications. Leaders control all unit fire and communicate this information to the entire unit IAW unit SOP. Light antiarmor weapons firers must know--

  • Designated firers.
  • Target priority.
  • Method of engagement.
  • Range and lead to target (if known).
  • Command or signal to fire.
  • Command or signal to cease fire.


Light antiarmor weapons have little effect against field fortifications and buildings. Soldiers should not expect to severely damage targets with these weapons. However, if Table 6-2 is used, soldiers may be able to gain a temporary advantage.

Table 6-2. Effects of light antiarmor weapons on field fortifications or bunkers.


The M72-series LAW proves more effective against light vehicles; the M136 AT4 proves more effective against armored vehicles. Nonarmored vehicles, such as trucks, cars, and boats, are considered "soft targets." Firing along their length offers the greatest chance of a kill, because this type of shot is most likely to hit their engine block or fuel tank.


Limited visibility engagements can be conducted with an AN/PVS-4 night vision device or with artificial illumination. However, even when NVDs or artificial illumination is used, limited visibility reduces the maximum effective range for light antiarmor weapons by at least one-third. To avoid fratricide, leaders must ensure all designated light antiarmor weapon firers are trained to use their weapons in limited visibility.

    a. Night Vision Device. Before an AN/PVS-4 can be used with the M72-series LAW, it must be removed from its designated weapon (M249 machine gun or automatic weapon, or M60 machine gun) and sent to DS for installation of the M72A1 reticle. (Chapter 2 provides more information about this device.)

    b. Artificial Illumination. If artificial illumination is used during a limited visibility engagement, it should be placed above and slightly beyond the target. However, the ability to identify and engage targets is even less with artificial illumination than with NVDs.


Wearing a protective mask limits the firer's ability to sight the weapon. Wearing NBC gloves limits his ability to manipulate the firing mechanism.

    a. Sighting the Weapon. Sighting while wearing the protective mask may require rotating the weapon slightly counterclockwise. The mask also makes determining the location, identity, and engageability of targets more difficult.

    b. Firing the Weapon. Practice manipulating the firing mechanism while wearing NBC gloves.

NOTE: When live firing either a light antiarmor weapon or its subcaliber trainer, aim within range firing limits.



Firing from an enclosure creates unique hazards. As such, before positioning soldiers in enclosures (in combat only), leaders must consider several factors that affect safety. Only in combat, when no other tactical option exists, should the M136 AT4 be fired from an enclosure. If it must be employed this way, the enclosure must meet the following minimum requirements. The M72-series LAW has been rated as safe for use from an enclosure but, again, only when the enclosure meets the following minimum requirements:

    a. Construction. The building must be sturdily constructed to reduce the structural damage that would occur in a weakly constructed enclosure such as one made of wood or stucco.

    b. Size of Enclosure. Minimum measurements for the building are--

    AT4 - minimum room size 17 x 24 feet.

    LAW - minimum room size 12 x 15 feet.

    Both - minimum ceiling height 8 feet.

    c. Ventilation to the Rear and Sides. To allow for the backblast, at least 20 square feet of ventilation--such as a standard 3-foot by 7-foot doorway--must be provided directly behind the firer. More doors and windows must be removed beside and behind the position to increase ventilation and reduce overpressure, noise, and blast effects. Without sufficient ventilation, the blast would weaken or collapse the walls. On the front wall, windows and doors must be reinforced rather than removed, because removing would draw attention to the position. Reinforcing the windows also helps protect the firer from enemy direct-fire weapons.

    d. Objects and Debris. All objects and debris must be removed from the rear of the weapon, because the backblast will cause them to fly around the room and injure personnel.

    e. Muzzle Clearance. This must be at least 6 inches.

    f. Weapon Clearance. Properly positioning the weapons within the enclosure is vital to the safety and survival of all personnel in the enclosure. The weapons should be positioned so that no walls are within 5 meters to the rear or side of the weapon.

    g. Personnel Positions. If any other soldiers must be present, then they must remain forward of the rear of the launcher and avoid standing in corners or near walls. If possible, they should construct reinforced positions that fit the previous criteria and that can protect them in case the building collapses.

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