Discover the Best of the Swedish Carl Gustaf M4

Developed by Saab Group, the Carl Gustaf is a versatile and portable recoilless rifle specifically designed for modern infantry forces. Discover the Best of the Swedish Carl Gustaf M4, featuring the most exceptional recoilless firing system. It stands as a revolutionary game-changer near combat situations.

This multi-role weapon system offers high tactical flexibility due to its extensive range of ammunition types.

Photo Credit: SAAB

Leveraging insights gained from the prior Carl Gustaf 20 mm recoilless rifle and the triumphs of portable rocket launchers in World War II, such as the Bazooka and Panzerschreck, the inception of the inaugural model took place in 1946 as one among several recoilless rifle concepts for that year.

Currently offered in a wide range of 84mm ammunition varieties, this characteristic establishes it as a reasonably priced, lightweight armament adaptable for numerous purposes. Consequently, the continued widespread production and utilization of this weapon persist into the present era. With a weight of around 15 pounds, this weapon system offers a potent and efficient method for engaging armoured vehicles and fortified positions. Its modular design facilitates straightforward customization and adaptation to diverse mission requirements.

Discover the Best of the Swedish Carl Gustaf M4
Photo Credit: SAAB / Discover the Best of the Swedish Carl Gustaf M4

Overview of the Carl-Gustaf 84mm Recoilless Rifle

Equipped with an innovative sighting system for enhanced accuracy and a foldable stock for compact and convenient transportation, the Carl Gustaf M4 stands out as an ideal hunting rifle. It possesses the capability to discharge a diverse range of ammunition, encompassing anti-armour projectiles, high-explosive rounds, and multi-role munitions. The fundamental components of the weapon include a shoulder mount, two front grips, and a main tube featuring a Venturi recoil damper positioned on the breech.

Photo Credit: SAAB

Equipped with iron sights as a standard feature, the weapon is typically aimed using the attached 3× optical sight, providing a broad 17-degree field of view. Notably, the latest variants deployed by Swedish rifle companies are integrated with the advanced Swedish Aimpoint sighting system. For night-time aiming, luminous front and rear sight inserts are available for the iron sights, enhancing visibility. Additionally, an image intensification system can be employed for heightened capability in low-light conditions.

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With the addition of a bipod to the front of the shoulder piece, the Carl Gustaf can be shot from a variety of postures, including standing, kneeling, sitting, or prone. The “Venturi lock” is an operational handle that allows the hinged breech to be shifted to one side to reload.

Photo Credit: SAAB

Operation and Safety Precautions for the Carl-Gustaf 84mm Recoilless Rifle

The latest Carl-Gustaf M4 weapon demonstrates compatibility with a diverse array of ammunition, enabling engagement with various targets such as built-up areas and armoured vehicles. Additionally, it serves the purpose of illuminating battlefields during night-time operations. These ammunitions are versatile and suitable for deployment in both full-scale operations and low-intensity conflicts.

A two-man crew typically operates the weapon: a loader, responsible for carrying two canisters totalling four rounds of ammo, and a gunner, responsible for carrying and firing the weapon. If significant use is anticipated, one or two additional ammunition carriers can be assigned. Due to the inherent dangers of the back blast, the loader must inspect the area behind the weapon during the firing procedure for individuals and obstructions that could interfere with the blast. Anyone within the backblast cone runs the risk of suffering serious burn injuries, and any solid object behind them could reflect the blast onto the crew.

Photo Credit: Sgt. Benjamin Tuck / In a training exercise on a range in Helmand province, Afghanistan, a member of the coalition force operated a Carl Gustav recoilless rifle system on February 6, 2013.

The overpressure, commonly referred to as the “blast wave,” generated by the firing system poses a danger within a range of up to 100 feet and extends to approximately 150–250 feet. Individuals situated behind the weapon are at risk of sustaining blast and burn injuries. Gunners and bystanders in the vicinity may also face potential injury from successive shock waves if Gustaf is fired repeatedly.

In training sessions, gunners are restricted to firing a maximum of six rounds per day. To enable them to discharge their allotted six rounds, assistant gunners would regularly reposition themselves outside of the overpressure zone. The regulation specifying that both the gunner and assistant gunner may each utilize twenty rounds of the full calibre per day originated in Sweden, the nation where the Carl-Gustaf was first employed.

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Design Features of the Carl-Gustaf M4

The Carl Gustaf M4 is a modern, shoulder-fired, recoilless rifle designed for versatility and adaptability on the battlefield. Its design is characterized by several key features:

Modularity: The system is built with a modular architecture, allowing for easy customization and adaptation. This modularity enables the attachment of various accessories, optics, and additional components to meet the specific needs of different missions.

Lightweight: In contemporary warfare, the swiftness of dismounted infantry can be a decisive factor between survival and peril. The ability of soldiers to respond promptly and efficiently in diverse combat scenarios is crucial for operational success. The Carl Gustaf M4 multi-role weapon system ensures no hindrance to your speed. Evolving from the accomplishments of its forerunner, it presents a shorter length and a weight of under seven kilograms, aiding troops in maintaining their agility on the battlefield.

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The weapon is equipped with a collapsible stock, providing enhanced portability and manoeuvrability in different operational environments. The collapsible feature makes it easier to transport and deploy in confined spaces.

Photo Credit: SAAB

M4 Intelligence: In tandem with technological progress, weaponry must advance to provide state-of-the-art capabilities. Programmable ammunition stands out as a pioneering innovation poised to transform the dismounted infantry battlefield. Designed with future needs in consideration, the Carl-Gustaf M4 integrates seamlessly with intelligent sighting systems and is ready for programmable ammunition, ensuring that your forces have access to cutting-edge technology.

Advanced Sighting System: The rifle incorporates an advanced sighting system, contributing to improved accuracy and target acquisition. This feature is crucial for engaging various types of targets with precision.

The Carl Gustaf M4 accommodates various ammunition types, such as high-explosive rounds, anti-armour projectiles, anti-personnel, and multi-role munitions.

Versatile Ammunition: Employing a singular weapon for diverse situations enhances tactical flexibility and minimizes the burden of carrying multiple pieces of equipment. The M4 empowers soldiers to address a spectrum of tactical scenarios, ranging from neutralizing armoured tanks or engaging enemy troops in defilade to clearing obstacles and confronting adversaries within buildings. The Carl Gustaf M4 is compatible with a range of ammunition types, including high-explosive rounds, anti-armour projectiles, and multi-role munitions. This versatility makes it a valuable asset for engaging different threats on the battlefield.

Deployment and Manufacturing of Carl-Gustaf M4 in India

Previous versions of the Carl Gustaf system have been in service with India since 1976. During the 1999 Kargil War, this weapon system was used with high accuracy to neutralize Pakistani-occupied Indian bunkers.

Photo Credit: SAAB / An Indian Army personnel carrying the M3 export model during a practice session.

In September 2022, Saab unveiled its initiative to set up a manufacturing facility for producing the Carl-Gustaf M4 weapons system in India. This move signifies the company’s inaugural venture into manufacturing the M4 system outside Sweden. The facility is expected to initiate operations in 2024, focusing on manufacturing weapons for the Indian Armed Forces and exporting components globally. The newly established company, named Saab FFV India, will engage in collaborative efforts with Indian sub-suppliers to manufacture the entire Carl-Gustaf system, encompassing the latest M4 version, within India.

“It is a great honour to be trusted as a global defence company to receive approval for 100% foreign direct investment in India,” company official Görgen Johansson said.

Photo Credit: AirPra@Aero India 2023

Specifications Of Curl-Gustaf M4

  • Crew: Two (gunner and loader)
  • Dimensions and Weight:  Weight _ 7 kg (15.43 lb) Container ( with accessories ) 22 kg (49 lb) / Length _ 39 in (1 m)
  • Ammo Types: Anti-armour _ 84 mm HEAT 751 / 551 / 551 C RS / 655CS
  • Multi-role / Anti-structure: 84 mm HEDP 502 / 502 RS / MT 756 / ASM 509
  • Anti-personal: 84 mm HE 441D / 441 D R / ADM 401
  • Support:  84 mm SMOKE 469C / ILLUM 545C
  • Effective firing range: 1,150 to 1,310 ft (350 to 400 m) against moving vehicles / 1,600 ft (500 m) against stationary vehicles / 3,300 ft (1,000 m) using smoke and high explosive rounds
  • Training options: Full-calibre practice rounds,  Sub-calibre trainers,  BT simulation
  • Sighting Options: Open sight, Red Dot sight, Telescopic sight,  Intelligent sight
  • Unit Cost: US$20,000 / Ammunition Cost: US$500 to US$3,000 per round, depending on the type (as per the 2018 report).
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In conclusion, the Carl Gustaf M4 stands as a testament to modern infantry weaponry, embodying a harmonious blend of modularity, portability, and firepower. Its design, featuring a collapsible stock and an advanced sighting system, reflects a commitment to versatility on the battlefield. Weighing approximately 15 pounds, the lightweight construction of this recoilless rifle enhances its usability, while its modular architecture allows for easy customization to meet diverse mission requirements.

As technology evolves, international collaborations, such as those involving the deployment and potential manufacturing of the Carl Gustaf M4 in India, underscore the global nature of defence solutions. The rifle’s adaptability and effectiveness against armoured vehicles and fortified positions make it a valuable asset for military forces worldwide.

Photo Credit: AirPra@Aero India 2023

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