The Mk 19 grenade launcher (pronounced Mark 19) is an American 40 mm belt-fed automatic grenade launcher that was first developed during the Vietnam War. The first model (Mod 0) in 1966 was determined to be unreliable and unsafe, but a total of six Mod 1 launchers were successfully tested on U.S. Navy riverine patrol craft in the Mekong Delta in 1972. The Navy made further improvements to the weapon, resulting in the Mod 3 in 1976. The Mod 3 was adopted by the U.S. Army in 1983 and remains in service to the present day. Reliable and portable grenade weapon system suited for light infantry vehicles and tripod applications. The U.S. Army plans to introduce several new features to the Mk 19 in an upgrade package that introduced by late 2017.
Production of the Mk 19 is managed by Saco Defense Industries (now a division of General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems). In November 2014, General Dynamics entered into an agreement with Advanced Material Engineering Pte Ltd, a subsidiary of Singapore Technologies Kinetics, to manufacture 40 mm high-velocity airburst ammunition for the U.S. military. The 40 mm airburst grenade uses a programmable, time-based fuse that computes and programs the detonation time into it, which counts down once fired to zero to detonate at the intended target point. The airburst ammunition is compatible with the Mk 19, which would give it greater effectiveness and lethality, particularly against concealed and defilade targets.
The MK19 MOD 3 40mm advanced grenade launcher is an air-cooled, blowback operated, belt-fed weapon. Highly portable within small soldier units, the weapon’s high lethality and broad versatility make it the prime choice of U.S. warfighter as an essential weapon in both offensive and defensive operations. Firing M430A1 High Explosive Dual Purpose grenades, the MK19 provides lethal fire against a variety of targets, including lightly armored vehicles and dismounted infantry. It will penetrate 75mm rolled homogenous armor at a maximum range of 2,050 meters. Dismounted personnel within a radius of 15 meters from impact will be immobilized by blast and fragmentation. The rounds are mechanically fed onto the bolt face with the pull of the charging handles. When the trigger is pressed, the bolt closes, and the firing pin is released. The recoil blows back the bolt, feeds a new round onto the bolt face, which pushes the expended casing off the bolt face.
40mm MK19 Key Features
- Sustained automatic firing
- Dual spade grips for stable control
- Removable barrel
- No headspace or timing adjustments required
- Open-bolt firing eliminates cook off, enhances cooling between bursts and allows sustained firing at three-to-five round bursts
- Simple design for easy maintenance
- Mean rounds between failure exceeds 20,000 rounds