Upgraded Carl Gustaf Becomes US Army’s Boom Stick of Choice

October 20, 2020Ethan E. Rocke
Coffee or Die Photo

Move over, one-and-done AT4 launcher. The new and improved 84mm M3E1 Carl Gustaf Multi-Role Anti-Armor/Anti-Personnel Weapon System (MAAWS) will be the Army’s anti-armor weapon of choice in the future.

The Army has awarded Swedish aerospace and defense company Saab an $87 million multiyear contract to furnish soldiers with the reusable M3E1 in the coming years, the company announced Thursday.

The Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle/launcher weapon system has long been a go-to anti-armor weapon for US special operations forces, and it will now be an organic system for infantry platoons. While the AT4 has to be thrown away after a single use, the M3E1 can use multiple types of ammunition. It’s an easily portable system that can disable or destroy vehicles and buildings from hundreds of meters away.

A soldier with the M3E1 Carl Gustaf Multi-Role Anti-Armor/Anti-Personnel Weapon System. Photo courtesy of the US Army.

Depending on the ammunition used, the M3E1 has an effective firing range of up to 1,300 meters, according to the Army’s fiscal 2021 budget estimate. It can be fired by one man from the standing, kneeling, sitting, or prone positions and supports full and sub-caliber training systems.

The Carl Gustaf system was first introduced in 1946 and has gone through several design upgrades since then. This latest M3E1 version is lighter and shorter than previous designs and is ergonomically designed with a longer handle and better grips.

At 14.8 pounds, the new version is 28% lighter than its predecessor, the M3. The Army reported in 2017 that with the use of titanium, the updated M3E1 is more than 6 pounds lighter and 2.5 inches shorter. It has an improved carrying handle, extra shoulder padding, and an improved sighting system that can be adjusted for better comfort without sacrificing performance.

The M3E1 can engage, neutralize, and destroy lightly armored vehicles, soft-skinned vehicles, personnel in the open or defiladed, and field fortifications in both open urban and rural operational environments, the Army said in its fiscal 2021 budget estimate. It is also capable of marking threat targets with smoke for supporting weapons, obscuring threat weapons, and illuminating threat targets.

“The Saab M3E1 is optimized to meet the needs of today’s warfighters,” said Erik Smith, Saab president and CEO in the US, in a statement. “This lightweight and effective recoilless rifle ensures readiness on the modern battlefield with multi-role capabilities through a wide array of munitions.”

Saab will begin delivering the M3E1 system to Army units in 2021, but soldiers may have even more upgrades to look forward to in the future.

As Task & Purpose reported last year, Saab partnered with Raytheon for a series of guided flight tests for its new Guided Carl-Gustaf Munition. According to the companies, the new GCGM uses laser guidance technology to reach out and hit both stationary and moving targets at a range of up to 2,000 meters, well beyond the existing effective firing ranges of its current munitions.

So grunts have that going for them … which is nice, but won’t help with the head trauma or ringing in the ears (so we hear).

Ethan E. Rocke
Ethan E. Rocke

Ethan E. Rocke is a contributor and former senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine, a New York Times bestselling author, and award-winning photographer and filmmaker. He served as an infantryman with the 101st Airborne Division, deploying once to Kosovo for peacekeeping operations. He then joined the US Marine Corps, serving in Okinawa and the Asia-Pacific region with III Marine Expeditionary Force and at the Marine Corps Motion Picture and Television Liaison Office in Los Angeles, where he served as a consultant on dozens of television shows and documentaries and several feature films. His work has been published in Maxim Magazine, American Legion Magazine, and many others. He is co-author of The Last Punisher: A SEAL Team THREE Sniper’s True Account of the Battle of Ramadi.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
US: War Crimes on All Sides in Ethiopia's Tigray Conflict

The Biden administration announced Monday that it has determined all sides in the brutal conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

March 20, 2023Associated Press
military pilots cancer rates
Higher Cancer Rates Found in Military Pilots, Ground Crews

In its yearlong study of almost 900,000 service members who flew on or worked on military aircraft b...

March 20, 2023Associated Press
whiskey pour
Veterans Lead the Way Among America’s Growing Craft Distilleries

American veterans are taking the lessons they learned in the military and changing the craft distilling industry.

March 20, 2023Mac Caltrider
military suicide veteran suicide
Military Moves To Cut Suicides, But Defers Action on Guns

In a memo released Thursday, Austin called for the establishment of a suicide prevention working gro...

March 17, 2023Associated Press
us military drills japan-south korea
US, Partners Stage Military Drills Amid Japan-South Korea Talks

The Sea Dragon 23 exercises that started on Wednesday will culminate in more than 270 hours of in-fl...

March 17, 2023Associated Press
leo jenkins a word like god
‘A Word Like God’: New Book From Army Ranger Leo Jenkins

In his latest poetry collection, Ranger-turned-writer Leo Jenkins turns away from war to explore cosmic themes of faith, fatherhood, and art.

March 16, 2023Mac Caltrider
us drone
Pentagon Video Shows Russian Jet Dumping Fuel on US Drone

The Pentagon on Thursday released video of what it said was a Russian fighter jet dumping fuel on a ...

March 16, 2023Associated Press
10th Mountain Division
‘Climb to Glory’ — A History of the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division

From the mountains of Italy to the mountains of Afghanistan, the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division built its legendary reputation by fighting in some of the most inhospitable places in the world.

March 16, 2023Matt Fratus
  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
  • Request a Correction
  • Write for Us
  • General Inquiries
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved