Modern Firearms - M67 recoilless rifle / antitank grenade launcher (USA)
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M67 recoilless rifle / antitank grenade launcher (USA)

M67 recoilless rifle

M67 recoilless rifle standing on integral folding bipod and front support

 

M67 recoilless rifle cartridge

Diagram of the M371A1 HEAT cartridge for M67 recoilles rifle

 

M67 recoilless rifle

Greek soldier aiming M67 recoilless rifle

 

 

Caliber

90mm / 3,5”

Type

Recoilless weapon

Overall length

1346 mm

Weight

17 kg empty

Max. effective range

~300 meters

Armor penetration

~250 mm / 90o

 

The M67 recoilless rifle was developed in USA during early 1960s as an improved man-portable anti-tank weapon for infantry. It was widely used by US armed forces during Vietnam war, and was generally replaced in service with guided anti-tank rockets such as Dragon and TOW by mid-1970s. It must be noted that at least some M67 recoilless rifles were left in US Army stocks to be brought back to action during current US campaign in Afghanistan, where these weapons are used for infantry support roles against various battle-field targets like machine gun emplacements, buildings etc.  M67 recoilless rifles were used by a host of nations other than USA, including Greece, South Korea (which also manufactured ammunition for M67) and some others.

 

The M67 recoilless rifle used following main types of ammunition: M371A1 HEAT, M371 TP practice  and M590 APERS short-range canister / antipersonnel round. Each round of ammunition is assembled using aluminum, rimmed case which has solid walls and plastic rupture disc which serves as a cartridge base. Projectiles have pre-engraved driving bands to engage barrel rifling with minimum of friction, additional stabilization in flight is achieved by finned stabilisator, attached to the long, slim tail of the projectile. Plastic rupture disc at the base of the case allows most of the hot propellant gases to escape rearwards into the barrel and then through the venturi nozzle, compensating for the recoil and generating a large and dangerous backblast. Typical round for M67 recoilless rifle weights about 4,2 kg (HEAT)  or 3,1 kg (APERS); warhead weight is about 3 kg for HEAT round (including 780 gram of high explosive charge) and 1,8 kg for APERS round (loaded with some 2,400 steel flechettes each weighting about 0.5 gram). Muzzle velocity is listed as 700 fps / 210 m/s for HEAT and 1200fps / 366 m/s for APERS rounds. Maximum firing range is about 2000 meters for HEAT and 200 meters for APERS rounds.

M67 recoilless rifle is built around a steel rifled barrel, open at both ends. Rear end of the barrel is fitted with breechblock and venturi nozzle. For loading, breechblock is unlocked and opened to the right side, round of ammunition inserted into the breech and breechblock is closed. Propellant ignition is achieved by means of the conventional percussion primer at the base of the case. Pistol grip, trigger unit, folding shoulder rest / bipod and telescope sight base are attached to the barrel. Pistol grip with trigger is normally located almost horizontally to the right of the barrel, additional grip / forward support is located below the barrel next to the pistol grip. Gun is to be fired from the shoulder, using shoulder rest and pistol grip, or from the ground, using integral bipod (which, when folded, forms the shoulder support). Aiming is achieved by using 3X M103 telescope sight, with range settings between 0 and 800 meters integrated into the sight reticule.