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M234 Riot Control Launcher

The M234 launcher is a cylindrical aluminum casting that weighs about 1 kilogram and is about 32 cm long. Below the main barrel is a shorter chamber with a nut and latch mechanism, which holds the launcher on the barrel of the M16A1 rifle. Forward and aft sights are mounted on the top of the launcher. An upper arm and a buffer housing on the rear of the launcher mate with the rifle forward sight and bayonet stud to keep the launcher from turning on the rifle barrel. A cylindrical plate closes the rear of the launcher barrel and is held in place by a connecting ring.

A ball-detent assembly holds the launching cup-buffer assembly in the retracted position. This cup-buffer assembly consists of a launching cup attached to a threaded shaft. A manifold and buffer fit on the shaft and are held on the shaft by a threaded buffer plate. The manifold ring assembly is inserted to hold the launcher cup-buffer assembly in the launcher. The launcher barrel has 3 rifling grooves and the cup has 3 matching keys which give spin to the projectile as it is propelled from the launcher.

The M234 launcher is portable, lightweight, and can be easily maintained. It is equipped with front and rear sights and can be used in temperatures of 20F and above. The two projectiles used with the launcher are the M742 CS riot-control 64mm projectile and the M743 kinetic-energy riot-control 64mm projectile. The projectiles are one-piece molded bodies of rubber-like plastic material, 64mm in diameter, with an airfoil cross section similar to a thick airplane wing. The M755 special blank 5.56mm cartridge is loaded with just enough powder to propel the projectile to the target area. The M755 blank cartridge is for use only with this system. Use of any other ammunition or blank cartridge could result in serious injury or death to personnel.

The M234 launcher is attached to the flash suppressor on the M16A1 rifle. When fired in the rifle, an M755 blank cartridge, which is issued with each projectile, supplies propellant gases to the launcher to propel the RAG projectile at a velocity of about 60 meters per second and a spin rate of about 5,000 revolutions per minute. The ring airfoil shaping of the 64mm diameter, 34 gram, soft rubber-like projectile results in a relatively flat trajectory.

Each launcher is capable of firing from 4 to 6 projectiles per minute. The launcher and projectiles would be issued when authorized during civil disturbances when target selectivity and accuracy were important considerations. The velocity is sufficiently high to prevent dodging by target individuals at effective ranges. The effective range of the projectile is 40 meters on an individual and 60 meters on groups of individuals with a maximum range of 100 meters.

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Page last modified: 06-12-2011 16:53:58 ZULU