An M-79 in Iraq?


January 26, 2007, 12:34 PM
My best friend is a 2nd LT in the USMC and is over in Iraq right now. He doesn't have a lot of time to get on the internet, but he did send a brief e-mail with a bunch of pictures. In a couple of the pictures he is clearly holding an M-79 grenade launcher. Now I know that the Marines are often equiped with the Army's cast-offs, but a VeitNam-era grenade launcher!!

So my question for those of you who have been over to the Sandbox, is this common? Are they using the M-79 because of a shortage of M-203s and that new 6-shooter, or are they using it because it works better? I sent my friend an e-mail, but it usually takes him 1-2 weeks to reply.

FYI, my friend is a Logistics Officer, running convoys.

If you enjoyed reading about "An M-79 in Iraq?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
January 26, 2007, 01:35 PM
I'm not that surprised to hear that a M-79 is in Iraq. I know that in Gulf War I, some NG units had M-16A1's, and I've heard that other units have shown up in theater with A1's in this war as well. (My understanding is that they are re-euipped with A2's or M4's, etc, ASAP).

The M-79 has a good rep. Some think it's a better launcher than the 203. The advantage of the 203 was that you had a rifle as well and it was all in one package.

January 26, 2007, 02:00 PM
HQ BN 1st Marine Division has been issued with 1960s vintage M79 grenade launchers in 40 mm to deal with IEDs in Iraq.

They have been reconditionned and are supposed to be effective out to 300 m (accurate 200m).

The idea is to get more accuracy than with the under slung M203; the 40mm are supposed to set off or disrupt IED from a safe distance.

I read that on another forum a while back... About three years ago :neener:

January 26, 2007, 02:27 PM
unless there is a standalone weapons stock for the M203, a M79 grenade launcher would be much more efficient for someone that doesnt need the rifle portion to slow them down :D

January 26, 2007, 02:31 PM
the M203 doesnt require a rifle to be used. they do make a standalone stock for it. its pretty much obsolete, cause why would you turn down a rifle for a nade launcher when you can have both on one platform

January 26, 2007, 02:55 PM
Because the M79 is a better launcher than a M203.

You should see PvtPyle with ours. He can put it through car windows at 300meters.

January 26, 2007, 03:11 PM
so you either have a rifle with a decent launcher. or a great launcher with no rifle.

heres the standalone version;topic=55573.0;attach=15162;image

January 26, 2007, 03:20 PM
I've also seen photos of SF types carrying M79s. Given that they can get almost any type of weapons they want, I figure there's some reason they were carrying the M79.

Oh, and in most cases, the guy was carrying an M4 as well.

Brother in Arms
January 26, 2007, 03:39 PM
I just talked to an Army National Gaurd soldier back form Iraq and I asked him if he could one weapon when he goes back what would it be.

He said the an M79 grenade launcher. I guess he mostly protected convoys and said this would be his weapon of choice if he could get his hands on one. I remember seeing a picture in solider of fortune magazine a few years ago showing a SF soldier in Afghanistan and he was armed with an M79.

Brother in Arms

January 26, 2007, 03:49 PM
Well I suppose that if a car full of explosives was headed towards your convoy, the m-79 would be one of the few weapons that you could be sure of a 1-shot-stop.:D I sent him an e-mail about it, but (like I said) it will take him a while to respond. From the pictures and e-mail that he has sent, it doesn't seem like he is having that bad of time. Thankfully on March 11 he'll be in Kuait and then on that big bird comming home.:)

Loyalist Dave
January 26, 2007, 03:55 PM
The M79 is out of the official inventory, has been for at least 20 years, but they often show up in overseas armories, or in 3rd world countries. It might have been recovered, and turned into the armory, and he latched onto it. Makes sense for a platoon leader or officer to have one in some circumstances. The 5.56 has had some less than instant results vs the insurgents, but hit 'em with a 40mm or just get close, and the results are more satisfactory. Works good against a target shooting from inside a building, just lob it through the window. There's a multi-projectile round for up close and personal too.


January 26, 2007, 04:19 PM
I've never seen a M203 with the stand-alone stock while in service, just seen pictures on the Net.

Saw two M79s in Iraq. One belonged to the EOD unit. They borrowed a driver from my Bn one day, and to thank the driver for doing a good job, they let him fire the catalyst round (or whatever you call it) to touch off a huge pile of ordnance they were destroying out in the desert.

Also ran across a MSgt equipped with an M9 and an M79, for no apparent reason other than that he's a MSgt and can do whatever he wants.

Those were the first times I'd ever seen one in service, but those things do look wicked-cool.


January 26, 2007, 04:38 PM
M79s are faster to reload and easier to shoot accurately, but the 203 is more convenient. Glad to hear they are still around!

January 26, 2007, 05:52 PM
I think I would rather carry an M79 slung on my back most of the time, than hump an M16 with 203 all the time. I've never served, or humped an M16/203 so this opinion could change.

January 26, 2007, 06:02 PM
My dad did basic at Benning. His DI did a tour in Vietnam and provided some insight on the different weapons during his training. I asked him about the M79 when I was younger and he told me something interesting.

When out on ambush, or LP/OP duty, the grenadier using the M79 would load a buckshot load first and a CS gas load for number two. If the troops needed to break contact, the grenadier would fire the buckshot load into the advancing enemy and then gas or even smoke to cover their withdrawal.

Makes you wonder what tactics they are employing with the M79 in Iraq.

January 26, 2007, 06:20 PM
Another point that I don't think has been touched on: the M79 can take all sorts of crazy ammunition, since it is break open. The M203 can only take short ammunition as the back of the launcher stops anything longer being loaded. Silly design :rolleyes:

Jeff White
January 26, 2007, 06:32 PM
The latch that holds the barrel closed on the M203 is not strong enough to take the hard use associated with firing a lot of 40mm illumination rounds. Many units are aquiring M79s for this purpose.

I know from personal experience that it's a much better weapon then the M203. The problem is, that when the M79 was the standard grenade launcher, the grenadier was issued an M1911A1 for self defense. This left a rifle squad two rifles short when they were in close terrain where the 40mm grenade couldn't be safely used. Despite everyone who's never actually seen one used fantasies, the 40mm shot round was not all that effective. The M79 armed grenadier was pretty much unarmed in close terrain and had only a pistol to defend himself and add to the squad's firepower with.


January 26, 2007, 06:35 PM
some NG units had M-16A1's
Some still do :uhoh: . National Guard units dont get the best funding. When I was in the reserves 98-02 we still had an armory full of the old A1s, some of them were still marked Colt AR-15 :eek: . It was like a time warp in there.

I've never served, or humped an M16/203 so this opinion could change

I can tell you from time spent with an M4/203 it is indeed cumbersome.

January 26, 2007, 08:09 PM
Does anyone know anything about getting a M-79 with a sleeved 37mm barrel or with a 37mm barrel put on to replace the 40mm barrel? I've heard of such things,but never found a source.

My state doesn't allow "Destructive Devices" or I'd just save up and shell out for a live 40mm M-79. I figure flares and smoke rounds out of a 37mm sleeved M-79 would be the next best thing. (Btw, I'm *only* interested in a M-79. I have no interest in those underslung M203 repro flare launchers)

January 26, 2007, 08:20 PM
I found the M-16/M203 combo to be quite cumbersome. I also found the M203 to be rather inaccurate using the flip up sight on top of the barrel. It was pretty accurate with the quadrant sight mounted on the side of the weapon, but that sight was a little unwieldy and delicate.

The reason the buckshot round is/was rather ineffective is that the M203/M79 is a low pressure weapon and it doesn't generate much in the way of muzzle velocity. The shot isn't going very fast when it leaves the weapon thus not doing all that much damage to a target.

January 26, 2007, 09:03 PM
when I was over in Iraq from January - July of 06 (got sent home one month early thanks to an F'in IED) as an Iraqi infantry company advisor, we had a total of 5 M-203s and 1 m-79 for our advisor team of 16 guys. I liked the M-79 when you needed to get a bunch of HEDP down range (which we did a few times), but if any close targets popped up then you had to go back to your rifle(which happened as well). That is the advantage of the 203, little less range than a blooper, but you have the rifle/grenade launcher together vice a rifle and a blooper. Ive got some pics on my laptop, and some posted online, I'll see if I can find em and post em.

On a similar subject, we were told by the local people that the insurgents thought each Iraqi company had 60mm mortars because as soon as a firefight started, the advisors would get some 40mm down range to start suppressing the fire. They would usually break contact once we started cranking out the HEDP. Ive told this to other marines that I maybe fired 6-10 mags worth of 5.56 while I was there, but probably launched 200ish M-203 grenades including HE, HEDP, Illum, Smoke, and buckshot

here is a pic of one of our interpeters carrying the blooper just outside our combat outpost while we rigged some stuff for a controlled det.

and here is a link to some of my Iraq pictures, a few are from a buddy during fallujah in nov 04 (the big weapons caches)

January 26, 2007, 09:08 PM
I spent 1/3 of my time in the military carrying a M-16A2/M203 combo(other 2/3 was with a SAW). I was never enamored with the M203 as the thing seemed kinda like a joke. HEDP rounds didn't appear all that effective. I always believed they didn't have that much actual explosives in them. Then again I also thought the SAW was a ridiculous unreliable POS.

My father on the other hand had extensive experience with the M79 and he would praise it highly. One of my squad leaders, who had a lot of combat expericence, by pre-9/11 standards anyways, agreed with me that the M203 rounds were not particulary effective. He believed that you could place rounds much more accurately with an M79 and believed the M203 was a mistake.

January 26, 2007, 09:09 PM
I left the Army in 1983 and there were still plenty of M79 grenade launchers in small arms rooms.

There was an adapter available that worked like on of the caliber adapters that are available on the commercial market now.
The adapter was loaded with a standard 12 gauge buckshot round.
These things were plenty effective but the drawback was that they were still a single shot shotgun.
Nobody wanted to use the things since there were plenty of Ithaca 37 and Winchester 12 shotguns still around.
It was popular for grenadiers to draw a Model 79 and a shotgun instead of a .45.
They used the M79 for anything 50 to 300 meters away and used the shotgun on anything closer.

I never cared for the M203 although I could shoot one pretty accurate, good enough to drop grenades down the hatch of a tank or personnel carrier to about 250 meters once I got the range.
I was just as good with the M79 and still like the idea of a stand alone grenade launcher over the heavy and cumbersome M203 set-up.

January 26, 2007, 09:34 PM
Hat tip to awesome Sam Adams commercials...


January 26, 2007, 11:29 PM
M-79 with HE, Smoke and Shot rounds, brings back memories.

January 26, 2007, 11:43 PM
is he wearing cadpats? is that a canuck soldier?

looks too green to be Marpat or ACU

January 26, 2007, 11:49 PM
I shot one at a MG shoot in Nevada, lots of fun! rounds used were orange practice ones.

January 26, 2007, 11:55 PM
I know that in Gulf War I, some NG units had M-16A1's, and I've heard that other units have shown up in theater with A1's in this war as well. (My understanding is that they are re-euipped with A2's or M4's, etc, ASAP).

Heh, in the Gulf War 1 we had British troops walking around with Brens dated from 1945.

Dave Markowitz
January 27, 2007, 10:14 AM
Yeahbut, the BREN is still the best LMG ever designed.

January 27, 2007, 10:46 AM

They might be dated '45 but they'd have been refurbished and chambered for 7.62mm NATO.

Eleven Mike
January 27, 2007, 10:50 AM
The troops need more of these. :D

Thin Black Line
January 27, 2007, 10:53 AM
There were no shortage of 203s where I was. I don't recall an M-79 while
there. I would suspect these will end up as "stay behind" weapons.

January 27, 2007, 11:24 AM
haven't seen any M-79s here in Baghdad yet, but I'm sure I'll see one. I was able to fire one off a couple of times in basic at benning back in 2001, I'll take it over the 203 anyday, yeah, its a whole other weapon system, but I'll take it over the compromise that is the M-203. just my .02 though.

January 27, 2007, 03:39 PM
Is it true that they are using 1919's over there too i heard that somewhere cant remember where ?

January 27, 2007, 04:09 PM
I seriously doubt that they are useing 1919s in Iraq. One thing would be ammo. 30-06 has not been in invontory for how long? I would think they would be using M-60s way before they use 1919s.

On an unrelated note at Warrior Forge (ROTC training camp) cadets use M16A1s and M60s.

January 27, 2007, 04:38 PM
1919 is .308 too ya know im thinking it was in shotgun news

January 27, 2007, 04:51 PM
I can't speak for the M79, but I can say with some certainty that the latch on a 203 is prone to get bumped by everything you experience in the field-trees, ruck sack straps, LBE/LBV/IBA, and even your own hands when you're in a hurry. It makes your standard A2 weigh quite a bit more as well. Having an M79 strapped down would save a considerable amount of burden on your arms, but that would be a lot slower to utilize. Just me .02 :)

Wes Janson
January 27, 2007, 05:27 PM

Check out the 20 gauge section of for the 14.5mm loaded rounds. I've shot them out of an M79 before, and supposedly (at least in the state of Florida) it's entirely legal (although the M79 is of course a DD itself). Very very fun. Although I have to say it takes some getting used to the sights on the M79.

January 27, 2007, 10:30 PM
M-79's are AWESOME!:D

Number 6
January 27, 2007, 10:57 PM
Is it true that they are using 1919's over there too i heard that somewhere cant remember where ?

I think you are referring to a soldier that posted either on this message board or another, who found a captured 1919 in Iraq, fixed it up, and then mounted it onto his HMMV.

January 28, 2007, 02:15 AM
Personally, I'm kinda glad it's still getting service. It might be old, it might be dated, but it's pretty effective, and quite frightening in the hands of a skilled soldier, from what I've heard.

Makes you wonder what tactics they are employing with the M79 in Iraq.Easy. Point, click, boom.

January 28, 2007, 11:53 AM
I was a combat engineer with the 25th Inf in Vietnam two tours, used a variety of hardware including M79. M79 is a great squad support weapon but not a stand alone fighter. 30m is minimal distance because of arming. Its great for night cause you don't give away position from muzzel flash. Because of its indirect line of fire you can still shoot it and stay under cover. I knew a dude with big hands who could get five rounds in the air before the first hit the ground. He would put a smoke round out to get range and wind direction then walk them all over a treeline. If hit the rounds will explode on the grenadier. The vests are crappy because of the amound of exposed explosives. We used four gas mask bags tied on a rifle sling. You could toss a bag to someone while under fire if necessary. Gas is also great for making bad guys expose themselves and smoke for movement. If all the grenadier has is the M79 he will use it in a shoot out. If they have the M203 they tend to concentrate on the rife.

February 23, 2007, 02:47 PM
I'm here right now and I have 22 M-79s in my armory. Most are servicable but I'm having to rape unservicable ones back in the states for parts to keep these running as there are no parts available in the supply system.

They work great and the Marines love them.

February 23, 2007, 03:40 PM
I've seen a single-shot 40mm launcher that appears to be another make. If it's a M-79, it's in different furniture.

February 23, 2007, 03:44 PM
Frostbiker wrote "the grenadier would fire the buckshot load into the advancing enemy and then gas or even smoke to cover their withdrawal."

Just out of curiosity, anyone know what kind of buckshot load a M79 packs?
I'm guessing its considerably heavier than a 12GA shell.

1 old 0311
February 23, 2007, 04:10 PM
Gotta love the 'blooper.'

February 23, 2007, 04:36 PM
Dont know if they had Buckshot rds, but we had the Beehive round, which had a number of fletchetts inside, little arrows, that when they went off, sounded like bees whizzzing by! Carried one for awhile in 67-68 very accurate, all we had was the H.E. and Beehive Cartridges, Loved the Old Thump Gun !!!!

Jorg Nysgerrig
February 23, 2007, 04:49 PM
Just out of curiosity, anyone know what kind of buckshot load a M79 packs?

It was a M576. Depending on the source you can find that it had anywhere from 20 4 buck pellets to 27 00 buck pellets to over 2000 pellets (FM 3-22.31).

If you enjoyed reading about "An M-79 in Iraq?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!