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M32 Multi-Shot Grenade Launcher
Mk 14 Multi-Shot Grenade Launcher

The M32 multi-shot grenade launcher is a hand held, semi-automatic, revolving action grenade launcher. It provides enhanced fire power at the squad level. With its 5.5-inch chamber, the M32 can be loaded with 6 40x46mm rounds and was capable of firing all DODTI and NATO standard lethal and non-lethal 40x46mm low velocity munitions as of 30 April 2010.

The M79 and M203 grenade launchers had both come out of developments looking to produce a viable multi-shot grenade launcher for infantrymen. In both cases, the resulting weapon was a single-shot weapon. None of the US military's prototype mult-shot developments saw wide-spread usage. The M32 was derived from the Milkor MGL-140 and was produced by Milkor USA. The Milkor MGL series had been used by Brazilian, Italian and South African forces for years.

The system was being actively tested by the US Marine Corps in 2004. Referred to initially as the Multiple Grenade Launcher (MGL), the weapon was seen as a combination of the M203 and the Mk 19 Mod 3. One Marine could handle it without a problem and could fire multiple rounds without reloading. It was simple to load, unload, maintain and use, which made it easier to instruct Marines on the weapon and how to fire it.

The adoption of the M32 was the product of US Marine Corps gunners deciding an improvement was needed over the M203. One option suggested was to bring back a rifle-grenade. The M32, won out, however, and as of 2006, each Marine battalion was field them as an experimental weapon. A fore-grip was added and a reflex sight was mounted to the top, eliminating the old leaf sights like that of the M203. The sight (designated as the M2A1) allowed a Marine to follow the grenade to the target and immediately adjust and follow up with a lethal volley of indirect fire.

US Special Operations Command also acquired a short-barreled version of the weapon designated the Mk 14 Mod 0. By 2009, they were said to have 230 such weapons in inventory.

On 20 January 2010, it was announced that Milkor USA, Inc. of Tucson, Arizona was being awarded a $42,200,000 indefinite-delivery-indefinite-quantity contract for the production, delivery, and associated support of the Marine Corps' Multi-Shot Grenade Launcher (MSGL). The MSGL was a lightweight, shoulder fired grenade launcher capable of being carried and employed by one operator over rough terrain or in urban environments. It was specifically designed to meet the requirement for an area fire weapon with a high rate of fire and a maximum range of 400 meters. It could also be employed with greater accuracy at ranges up to 150 meters. All elements of the system were suitable for transportation by land, sea, and air. The weapons system was not a replacement for the 1960s era M203 grenade launcher. Rather, the MSGL would be an additive capability to the receiving units. Work would be performed in Tucson, Arizona, and work was expected to be completed by 19 January 2015. Contract funds would not expire at the end of the 2010 fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured, with 3 offers received. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Virginia was the contracting activity.

By late 2010, an improved M32A1 variant had also been fielded. The weapons system was not limited to using High-Explosive Dual-Purpose (HEDP) grenades. It could also use a variety of other types of grenades such as illumination and smoke. This allowed the Marine on the ground to assess the situation and load their M32A1 as the situation dictated. The flexibility the M32A1 provided, using both assorted lethal and non-lethal rounds while staying man-portable, allowed individual units much discretion in how they would employ the weapons system. It also allowed them to tailor the role of the weapon to their operating environment.

The M32A1 was a Commander's discretionary weapon in the US Marine Corps as of January 2011. That meant there was not a doctrinal role tied to an individual designated to carry that weapon. Instead, the commander would choose carefully who they wanted to carry the nearly 19-pound weapon.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 02:46:17 ZULU