M79 Grenade Launcher

The M79 Grenade Launcher is a single purpose weapon designed to fire a 40mm grenade more accurately than when fired from a WW II-type rifle adapter grenade launcher. As with other Grenade Launchers, the M79 is intended to bridge the gap between hand grenades and indirect fire assets like mortar fire. The M79 was an attempt to increase firepower for the infantryman by having an explosive projectile more accurate, and with further range than rifle grenade, but more portable than a mortar. It was adopted by the Army on 15 December 1960 with the first deliveries received in late 1961.

Owing to its ease of use, reliability, and firepower, the M79 almost immediately became popular with infantry soldiers. The two grenadiers in a rifle squad were equipped with the M79.

Soldier loading M79 Grenade Launcher, Vietnam
Soldier loading M79 Grenade Launcher, Vietnam.

Today in WW II: 12 Nov 1942 British Eighth Army enters Tobruk, Libya as German General Rommerl's troops are pushed westward following El Alamein.  More 
12 Nov 1942 American and Japanese naval forces fight a classic naval battle, the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal [12-13 Nov].
Visit the Olive-Drab.com World War II Timeline for day-by-day events 1939-1945! See also WW2 Books.

M79 Grenade Launcher

M79 Grenade Launcher
M79 Grenade Launcher.

The M79 Grenade Launcher was used extensively during the Vietnam War, nicknamed the Thumper or Blooper. The M79 had particular appeal to the ARVN troops (Army of Vietnam) who needed a light weight area weapon and, being generally physically smaller, had handicaps in regard to both range and accuracy with hand grenades. Approximately 40,000 M-79 grenade launchers were supplied to ARVN.

The M79 is a single-shot, break-open, breech-loading, shoulder-fired weapon with a manual safety. It has a protected fixed front sight and a rear leaf sight that is adjustable for windage. Marksmanship training with the M79 grenade launcher is similar to training with other small arms. Although primarily an area fire weapon, the M79 may be fired effectively against point targets, such as window openings, foxholes, and bunkers, up to a range of 150 meters.

The M79 could fire a variety of 40x46 40mm low velocity rounds, including explosive, anti-personnel, smoke, buckshot, flechette, and illumination. See the Olive-Drab.com page on 40mm Grenade Cartridges for more information.

The M203 Grenade Launcher was type classified in August 1969, gradually replacing the M79 Grenade launcher during the early and mid-1970s.

M79 Grenade Launcher Characteristics

RADM James S. Elfelt, Commander, South Atlantic, practice fires the M-79 Grenade Launcher, Paita, Peru, 7 Nov 1981
RADM James S. Elfelt, Commander, South Atlantic, practice fires the M-79 Grenade Launcher, Paita, Peru, 7 Nov 1981.

Weight, unloaded 6.0 lb (2.72 kg)
Overall Length 29 in (737 mm)
Barrel Length 14 in (356 mm)
Max Effective Range, Area Target Approximately 383 yd (350 m)
Max Effective Range, Point Target Approximately 164 yd (150 m)
Muzzle velocity 250 fps (76 mps)
Barrel Rifling Right Hand, six lands, pitch 1 in 48 inches (1,219 mm)
Maximum Effective Rate of Fire 5-7 rounds/minute

Over 300 000 M79 Grenade Launchers were manufactured. The technical manuals are TM 9-1010-205-10 (Operator's Manual) and TM 9-1010-205-24 (Maintenance.)

Navy Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Jonathan Bellamy firing an M-79 grenade launcher on the fantail aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), US 7th Fleet exercises, Pacific Ocean, 22 March 2008
Navy Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Jonathan Bellamy firing an M-79 grenade launcher on the fantail aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), US 7th Fleet exercises, Pacific Ocean, 22 March 2008,

Find More Information on the Internet

There are many fine websites that have additional information on this topic, too many to list here and too many to keep up with as they come and go. Use this Google web search form to get an up to date report of what's out there.

For good results, try entering this: m79 grenade. Then click the Search button.

privacy policy