40mm M320 grenade launcher will be replace M203 next year

The Army Times reports that the H&K developed M320 will being replacing the M203 in February next year.

The Army plans to begin fielding the first of 71,600 new replacement launchers in February for a cost of about $3,500 each, Audette said. Fielding of the M320 will likely be completed by 2015, Audette said.


Each M320 will come with a laser range finder and a sophisticated sight that even lets soldiers know if they aren’t holding the launcher right.

M320 with stock and laser range finder sighting system.

The unit weights 3.57 – 3.89 lbs depending on what rifle it is being mounted on.The stock pictured above adds an extra lb bringing the weight up to 4.8 lbs.

Benefits over the M230 are:

– The barrel swings out allowing larger rounds than the M203. Useful for less than lethal rounds.

– Laser range finder and new electronic sight system which also indicates if the launcher is being held incorrectly.

– Double action trigger

M320 mounted under M4.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • The opening to the side is ok, but why the grip?

    It’s extremely bulky and the grip adds weight plus it’s not in a really good position for being used during rifle shooting.

    I’ve heard only complaints about the thing in German service.

    We need to go back to much less cluttered, lighter and more handy weapons.

    I saw the metalstorm three-shot reloadable UBGL at Eurosatory2008 – the representative pomised public demonstration of the weapon after a few months – I hope that the Metalstorm lightweight UBGL (it’s really light, just very long) will be good. He claimed an insignificant difference in muzzle velocity between shots on the order of only about 5 m/s.

    • Chris Arbaugh

      Because the m320 can be dismounted and used as its own weapon system. You’re not going to use it for rifle shooting its used for a combat purpose.

  • Sean Nack

    i was a grenadier in the Army and deployed to Afghanistan in ’06 where they tried to foist that sight on us, and to a man, we hated it. firing a 203 is easy; couple of trips to the range, you’re good to go. it’s just about learning angles and distances and generally being comfortable with the weapon. once you’re there, you can fire, as a guess, 20 or so accurate rounds a minute. that sight cuts that in half. i don’t know much about the 320, but that sight has got to go. just another example of that ol’ military industrial complex screwing over the American people and soldiers….

    • SPC Howes

      I will tell you right now as a current infantry 11b, you are completely wrong about this sight. The laser level sight is the best thing ever invented for the 203/320 40mm grenadier systems. You were probably just not trained on it properly, but it is the easiest most accurate sight in existence for these weapons…. And one clear advantage to them is the extreme improved usability during night fire/engagements…

  • When they say that they have no Day/Night sighting capability with the M203, they’re clearly ignoring the AN/PSQ-18A that is already in service.

    Also, the article doesn’t make clear that the laser rangefinder is separate from the sighting system and weapon. It is the Bushnell Elite 1500 rangefinder.

    There are now two separate designations for the grenade launcher: the M320 is equipped with a M16 rifle mounting bracket, and the M320A1 is equipped with a M4 carbine mounting bracket.

  • Sean, what is wrong with the sight?

  • Daniel, thanks for the info!

  • Sean Nack

    it’s not necessarily that there’s anything wrong with the sight, it’s just, in my professional opinion, unnecessary; it makes the weapon even more front heavy, you have to make a pretty hefty correction to the left or right depending on which side you have it on because, unless they’ve corrected it since they issued it to us and we, with the exception of two people in our company, gave it back, it’s not zeroed in the traditional sense, where you put the sight on where you’re shooting and that’s where the round goes; you actually, if you’re firing it properly, you’re covering up the target with your weapon because you are angling the round back down to the target, which is fine, that’s what’s supposed to happen. but because of how thick it is, not that you can really tell from the picture, you’re aiming probably an inch to an inch and a half off of your target, and you know as well as i do how much of a difference an inch can make at 300 yds. with regards to distance and angle, it’ll get you on target, but it’s the lateral drift that people had trouble with, meaning that, if you picture a football field, you could be hitting the fifty yard line just fine, but you could end up on the out of bounds pretty easily. due to the weight and time it takes to re-set the sight if it’s been jarred off zero from the recoil of the round (which did happen) or just generally re-aiming and trying to figure left/right, you’re not going to be as fast on target as someone without it. and what do you need the night sight laser for? half the grenadiers job, according to our current infantry doctrine, is to provide immediate illumination via flare on the battlefield. after you’ve got your lum up, then you don’t need the night sight, not at the range that you’d probably be shooting 40mm HE. you can use a leaf sight while under flare illumination just fine. i was a big proponent of the traditional leaf sight because it A) weighs maybe a couple ounces, B) requires no batteries, and C) you put the sight on the target and then angle up (which is admittedly a matter of skill and training) to get the correct distance, which results in a much lower incidence of lateral drift. 203 was the most fun weapon i’ve ever fired, i could put a round through a window at 200 yds with a leaf sight, and 100 yds without even that. that sight is like…hmm…using a TI-83 calculator to add 2+2. you just don’t need it.

    sorry for the novel, but you asked. by the way, as one of the rare gun-loving-liberals, i appreciate the “firearms not politics” policy. wish more people had your attitude.

  • Sean, thanks very much for information. Feel free to post a sequel novel anytime 😉

  • The ladder sight was originally meant to be mounted in a more purposeful place:

  • Tony

    “Each M320 will come with a laser range finder and a sophisticated sight that even lets soldiers know if they aren’t holding the launcher right.”

    I was never trained on this kind of equipment, so these are the ponderings of someone who does not know a thing about grenade launchers. That said, is not holding the launcher right a common enough problem to necessitate a sighting system that tries to correct this? And isn’t that more of a training problem?

  • Britt

    I am fortunate enough to be very familiar with the venerable M79. And with the ease of carry, potential accuracy, and ability to load quickly, I am amazed that we do not simply refine a few details, and start handing out contracts. Ask any veteran that carried a “thump” in Vietnam, and he will tell you that they were a very effective weapon. Welcome Home, Gentlemen.

  • Travis

    From what I’ve read in Sean Nack and Tony’s comments, the only real “improvement” (if it can be called that) is the side-opening breech. Two things seem ironic about that: (1) Retrofitting the M203 with a longer-opening breech is actually, from what I understand, a fairly simple process, and (2) the M203 PI, which featured a lengthened breech opening, was rejected on the grounds that said lengthened breech opening allowed larger high-powered grenades to be chambered in the weapon, thereby risking destruction of the launcher and injury/death to the grenadier. Thinking logically, wouldn’t this same risk be present with the M320/A1?

    That, in addition to the 320 being unnecessarily heavier.

    Granted I don’t have first hand experience here, but I do know more about military weaponry than the average civy. And all in all, it seems a case of 2+2=5 on our government’s part to me.

    Instead of wasting their budget on something as feeble as this (IMO), why not use that money on a reliability upgrade for the M4 Carbine series? I’m not bashing the M4 or anything (in fact, I absolutely love the M4), but I am familiar with (on a technical level) how difficult it is to maintain the operating system.

  • ozone

    As an old timer from “NAM”, I cant figure out what was wrong with the M-79. I admit I never fired a UBGL, but the “79” was just “POINT & SHOOT”. Using BOT if the first round was off the 2nd was dead on, and it seems to me a whole lot faster.

  • Ben

    I’m currently a 203 gunner, and I am left handed. While the weapon has an ambidextrous safety switch; the breach only opens to the left side which makes this weapon almost useless to me considering i will have to remove my firing hand from the weapon to load, also with it being so far foreward it will be hard to reach increasing the time of reload. I also worry about the wieght as others have already stated, many of the features on the weapons system are useless and only add wieght to the front of the weapon not only making the weapon more inacurate due to having to steady the increased wieght and it will increase fatigue while holding the weapon in the firing position.

  • John

    I’m in the Army now. I am also a lefty. Using the M79 or M203 is not hard, for firers either left or right handed. The breech opens straight out, so I can load it easily enough.

    This thing, opening only to the left, and with the silly hand grip on it, I know I can’t use this system, especially not in the prone position. I could only use this thing with lots of time on my hands and with absolute concentration on the system. As for firing it, I seriously doubt I could hit anything smaller than a tank with it, even at a range as short as 100 meters. I have friends in-country who can hit a house at +300 meters with the M203, with only one or two corrections for wind and shell drop.

  • J.A. James

    Okay, I’m missing something here. I will freely admit it’s been many years since I was active duty. No, really, more years than that… No, not quite that many… but a lot. In the early ’80s, we had the M203 which couldn’t fire anything longer than the standard HEDP; we trained with the West Germans who had the G69/G79 which opened like the old US M79.

    I had the opportunity to fire both the G69 and the M79 using everything from short range cannister rounds to a short range riot control cartridge that essentially blew a cloud of powdered CS directly out the muzzle. (Want to clear out an entire 4.2mm mortar company? Fire this thing directly down the gunline in the early AM on one of those mind bogglingly beautiful mornings that almost made Grafenweohr worth visiting…)

    Anyway. At that time, H&K had a test model of the G69/79 which opened sideways to either side as well as not having the pistol grip. I fired it from a G3 rifle and as a stand alone grenade launcher. It was a work of art. At least as accurate as the M79 and no heavier than the M203. As close as I can remember, the only failing anybody could find was the pin on which the rear sight mounted was overly long and it was single action only though it had an exposed hammer which made recocking and firing again a fairly brainless operation. SOP was to consider the round a dud if it didn’t fire the first time and consider the launcher as out-of-action if it wouldn’t fire the second cartridge you loaded.

    Within a few hours and perhaps fifteen or twenty rounds, both the German and US gunners could consistently drop a round onto a man sized silhouette at 150 meters and drop one into the bed of a 2 1/2 truck at 400. A truly ‘good’ gunner could shoot a round every three to five seconds and keep it up until he ran out of ammo. That was with the ladder sight. I honestly don’t remember anybody even using the other sight and most of the full time gunners couldn’t honestly claim to use the sight at all. They shot when it “felt right to make the shot.”

    I don’t think for a second we were any better shots in the 80s, I know the ammo wasn’t a better quality. A .75meter x 1.5 meter target was basically the size of an early 80s human being. Modern human targets are basically the same size. Windows are still windows. The back wall of the target’s firing position is still the back wall of his firing position.

    Isn’t this thing a step to the side rather than a step ahead? Lefties have to roll out of position to shoot it from the prone. The sight is almost by definition slower than the gunner’s eyes and kinematic sense of placement of the weapon for the shot. WTF does this thing accomplish other than allowing the use of longer cartridges with a heavier, less shootable launcher?

    As an aside; do they even train with the 40mm grenade launcher as a high angle-of-fire, indirect fire weapon? I very clearly remember watching the rounds as they went WAY up and came back down at 50 or 100 meters. It looked like the damned thing was pointed almost straight into the air.

    As always, YMMV.


  • Billy

    I really don’t know about this M-320. The Army wastes so much money on the wrong things. There’s nothing wrong with the M-203. It’s a reliable system. K.I.S.S. stands for “Keep It Simple, Stupid” $3200 a piece for this new model??? Are they nuts???? how about outfitting the Reservists and National Guard the very much needed Mine Resistant vehicles for convoys??? Also, how about shelving the Korean-war era M16s that the reserves and guardsmen tote in exchange for some M4s??? For crying out loud, even the Air Force is out there in theater gangster style with brand new straight-out-of-the-box fully automatic M4A3s!!!! Fully Auto!!! Why do they need those??? They don’t even go out there in combat???? This whole thing is crooked.

  • Seth Mills

    I am not a fan of the M203. I thought that replacing the M79 was a step in the wrong direction, and I fully understood that a grenadier needed to have an M16.
    With the 203, we limited it to Team and Squad leaders. This too was a step in the wrong direction. A leader by definition is controlling the fires of his/her subordinates.
    The M-320 seems to be another step in the wrong direction. If as described the sights don’t work, and the weapon is off target to begin with this means someone is trying to learn something else new. The next item is that again we’re adding weight to the soldier.
    When I joined the Army we had soldiers carrying in excess of 100 lbs going into battle. We’ve added another 30-40 lbs in body armor, and associated equipment, and now we’re adding another few pounds, this time on the weapon system.
    When the 16 was adopted one of the reasons was to get in under the 10 lbs loaded that an M-1 Garand weighed. The M-16 through the A-1 was under that weight limit.
    The A-2 is at 10 lbs. This was thought to be needed in order to increase accuracy. The M-4 may be under, but only because the barrel is shorter. Add this weapon system onto the rifle and again you have an unwieldy overweight system that’ll be inaccurate as a rifle and hard to use as a GL.

  • Daniel

    The only thing that sticks out in the article in my mind was ” The barrel swings out allowing larger rounds than the M203. Useful for less than lethal rounds.”; Useful for less than lethal rounds tells me about the future fights we will be in… I can just see the new rules of engagement ” You can only use less than lethal rounds once your team has suffered a causality.” and the 5.56 rounds in your mag will have plastic bullets…. ugggg holy crap I barely stop myself from using every word in the book right now!!

  • Beetle

    As an armorer for my unit currently deployed to Iraq I would have to agree with travis that this new weapon system is a waste of time and funding. I understand what the intent is, but the M203 works just fine. It goes back to the old saying ” If it ain’t broke, Don’t fix it”. We are at war. This is not the time to experiment with new unneeded equipment. The M320 may look interesting but does it really improve upon the previous design to make it worth producing? I think PPE (personal Protective Equipment) would be a more viable location for that money to go.

  • dave alayon

    i think its ass backwards, the fucking airforce is pork barrel military spending at its finest. fuck the airforce and their power point presentations. they do their part but i think a bigger allotment should be given to real troops on the ground, not the computer geek behind a screen with a joystick flying around with what appears to be a radio controlled model airplane on steroids.

  • dave alayon

    the military should spend an extra $300 per infantry rifle in country to be retrofitted with a gas piston system. increases reliability 80%


    how’s it going i was woundering if there is an e-tm for the 320a1? i have to give a class tomorrow afternoon on this weapon,and i was hopeing to have power pooint for the lesson any links or help would be greatly appreciated

    • SPC, what is a e-tm?

  • Steve: I believe he wants a downloadable Technical Manual. I haven’t seen one on a public website, but it might be available through AKO (Army Knowledge Online).

    • I have not seen a manual online.

  • Sven, the first blogger mentioned Metal Storm, here is the link to our CEO Bulletin;


    Or more interesting footage for me [& the CEO] shooting 3 shots, semi-auto from our ‘Under-slung’ model off an M16A1;


    Some more cool high explosive footage in the video library – see Singapore 2008 shoot

  • Lance

    The M-320 is much easier to use on a shorter M-4. The Marince are still going with the M-203 since they use M-16s. It depends on the gun your useing on which gernade launcher is best. M-4/M-320 OR M-16/M-203.

  • crow

    im a 203 gunner and my arms room just got these i had a chance to look and hold one on an m4 and it doesnt look good or feel good removing it from your weapon takes two people and the laser range finder and side mounted sight are just more things to become broken im lefty and now i have to get some weapon time to figure out how to cut reload time before we deploy for afganistan

  • slctamu

    So for what it’s worth, being a late commenter (so maybe nobody will read this post), and having no experience with said weapon in theater, I would like to waste a couple of minutes to add my two cents. First I would like to state that I am in no way attempting to demonstrate the superiority over the 203, but instead the possible usefulness of the M320. So I completely understand the arguments about the side opening breech being inconvenient and not really practical for a left handed shooter. However, for me, a right handed shooter, my reload time is actually improved seeing as how i can support the weapon and operate the breech release with one hand while preparing the next round with my other. Secondly, the above quoted information about the use of less than lethal rounds is completely false. We used the 40mm sponge rounds in our 203 often as part of our escalation of force. You shoot it into a windshield, it gets your attention. The idea fairy told me that the M320 used as independent weapon system, which is small, and light, might be positioned in a gunners turret, whereby giving the the possibility to employ it as handy tool (again an escalation of force tool, a nice little boom maker, or whatever else one used the M203 for without the necessity of being attached to a host weapon). Someone else also commented on the system being difficult and requiring two people to attach it to a host weapon….ummm, I don’t mean to judge, but you might be a mouth breather. Also placing or removing the host weapon mounting accessories, requires one to be able to turn four screws with an allen wrench. Hopefully any individual in the the army is capable of this. I can understand a marine having troubles with such, but that’s another story. Just kidding, love you guys. So about the sights…I do agree that the like the centerline mounted leaf sights used the M203 are better. Also I played with the infrared aiming device mounted on the M203 years ago and the only practical use in my opinion was obviously for aiming the 203 with NOD. Anyway, if you don’t want to use the sight, don’t mount it…in fact take of the leaf sight from the M320 if you want, it can be done, and mount the old 203 leaf sights on your M4. Anyway, if your given a tool, play with it, and not dismiss it immediately. Maybe you’ll find it useful for something you didn’t think of at first. My unit is not replacing our 203, just adding the 320 to the arsenal.

  • robert t

    what is wrong with the army. why would they take away the m203 that worked for so many years and doesn’t have many problems and replace it with the m320 bulky piece of junk. if its for the side load feature then why not just make a 40 mm grenade launcher tube just as simple and light weight as the m203 but have it open to the side(which hinders left sided shooters). my unit which i have been to combat with has completely replaced the m203 with the piece of junk referred to as the m320. mounting the m320 on the m4 adds too much weight and you will quickly loose accuracy due to the weight. i have my guys slinging their 320’s on their side to get the weight off of their guns and give them more accuracy with the m4. unfortunately, in doing this, i have added at least 3 seconds to the time that it takes me to see rounds on target. anyone who has deployed and has been in a fire fight knows that 3 seconds is like a eternity in firefights. two sayings that would alleviate the stupid decisions the army makes such as, ACU’s, m320, etc. are KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID and WHY FIX SOMETHING THAT’S NOT BROKE. the army needs to stop the meeting of the good idea clubs that come up with this crap. hopefully someone important in the army reads this. instead of buying a couple thousand of a such item and then testing it out and realizing how much money is invested in the item so we have to go with it. try buy small number of such item and testing it out, getting feed back, and then realize it was a horrible idea and scrap it.

  • @Daniel E. Watters:
    The site shown on the HK320 *IS* the AN/PSQ-18A… or at least it looks exactly like it. I have 4 of them in my arms room, and was told they’re junk. Never used them, they just collect dust.

    • SPC Howes

      That sight is gold…. If your soldiers don’t use them they are stupid… Have them have a real pmi on the sight and maybe they will change their mind when they actually learn how to use it…

  • Some Guy

    The weight of this weapon is actually around 3.3 lb, compared to 3 lb for the M203, and is around 13.5 inches long, compared to the 15 inch long M203. So while it’s slightly heavier, it’s short over all.

    If you add the weight of the extra sights you have to add to the M203, the entire weight of the M203 “weapons system” is around 3.3 lb, meaning that they are basically the same weight.

    I admit that the pistol grip on the thing is a little silly, but only because they didn’t do it right. A hammer grip or a pistol grip is supposed to make a weapon more accurate; a hammer grip is more natural for a human being than a weird side grip thingy (like with what is used with a normal rifle). Point and case, compared how much force you can exert with your hand “cupped” like you normally would when holding a rifle, and then compare it with how much force you can exert with a hammer grip. There is a reason that swords, axes, clubs, and of course, hammers all use this grip; and a reason why people stab in a similar manner instead of just poking someone with it.

    It’s more natural to use a hammer grip in almost everything you do, and it also generates considerably more power. That kind of power mixed with better ergonomics, for most people, causes the gun to shake around less, increasing the accuracy.

    I personally think that built in sights that you don’t have to align every time you take the weapon off and a side opening breech are all really nifty, but I suppose it’s all up to the user. If you’re trained to use an M203, I can see why this might seem worse, but it’s supposed to be more ergonomic.

    Then again, going from sludge to clear in crystal pepsi was seen as a bad idea for the actual people who bought it, even though it was supposed to be more “user friendly”.


    We could starting using this new synthetic DEFCOM XL 79, which is 3 pounds, or around the same weight as an M203, but the same size as an M79, or we could start using the 3GL, which is a 3 round grenade launcher, that would vastly improve our units’ abilities.

  • Wallace

    In Afghanistan we leave the 320s behind, worthless, too heavy/bulky and unrelyable. Bring back the M203

  • Lance

    @Wallace interesting if your right.

  • Entropy

    Do any British or German soldiers read this blog? If so, I’d be interested to hear your opinions on the M320/AG36/L17. Is it reliable? Useful? How is it on the L85 and G36?

    I heard that the L17 ‘rebalances’ the L85 quite nicely by bringing weight forward, but the whole assembly looks very bulky to me. In 5 years with the Cadets I got to use all of the SA80 rifles except the little L22 carbine, and I never thought they were back-heavy to begin with even with a full magazine. I guess it’s what you’re used to though; maybe I just like the balance of a bullpup.

    Having the M320 as right-handed only seems like a dick move. If H&K were investigating an ambidextrous opening design with the G3 I wonder why they didn’t implement it? The concept seems sound. To me the M320 seems over-designed with a pistol grip and all that. Sure on the L85 you need some kind of foregrip for the grenade launcher unless you’re going to go with an EGLM style trigger, but a foregrip for the M16? That’s stupid! It already has one in the form of the magazine.

  • AC434

    HL Sales:

    Related to the HK’s AG-C/EGLM and AG36 grenade launcher modules, the HK M320 GLM is a 40mm single-shot add-on grenade launcher selected to replace the U.S Army’s current issue M203. The M320 can fire all of the high explosive (HE), armour piercing (AP), irritant gas, smoke, and illuminating rounds previously fired from the M203. However, because its breech opens to the side, instead of the pump-style of the M203, the M320 can also fire a variety of newer rounds that are longer, specifically certain non-lethal rounds.

    The M320 program takes full advantage of existing Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) technology and rapid acquisition procurement. The M320 was envisioned, tested, and selected with operator involvement in a full and open competition in 2005—without the need to invest U.S. government R&D funds or employ a lengthy and costly development process.

    The U.S. Army “type-classified” the M320/M320 grenade launcher system with National Stock Numbers (NSN) and it is now in the current Army logistics support network. First units were fielded in the summer of 2009 for operational deployment with U.S. forces in Southwest Asia.

    Like the related HK AG-C/EGLM, the mechanical ladder sights on the M320 are located on the side of the grenade launcher, not the host weapon, so they do not require re-zeroing every time the launcher is reattached to the rifle or carbine. An optional Day/Night Sight (DNS) provides first round hit probability in 5 meter increments out to 400 meters and the DNS can be tandem mounted with the mechanical sights.

    The M320 operates in double action mode, with an ambidextrous safety and ambidextrous barrel release lever. In case of misfire, the M320 user merely has to pull the trigger again, versus the M203 operator who has to cycle the breech to re-cock the firing pin, then pull the trigger again.

    The M320’s side-loading, rifled barrel is constructed of aluminum for lightweight and is spring actuated for quick loading and unloading. The M320 barrel measures 8.46 inches (215 mm), shorter that the 11 inch (279 mm) barrels found on the AG-C/EGLM and AG36, but considered the optimum for saving weight and projectile velocity.

    With the addition on a retractable buttstock, the M320 can be used as a stand-alone launcher. An integral MIL-STD (Picatinny) rail also allows a folding vertical foregrip to be added. In this configuration, M320 can be used effectively as a “grenade pistol” in confined spaces without the buttstock attached.

    Like the M203, the M320 attaches to the M16 rifle and M4 carbine, and can also be mounted on the HK416, HK417, and a variety of other weapons equipped with under-swung Picatinny rail systems.

  • AC434

    I’m hearing too many opinions. It’s been too many moons since I humped a 203, but please correct me or update me:

    I remember only an armorer were the only ones who could remove and mount a 203. Still true? No wire? And the M320 mounts on standard rails?

    Leaf sights interfere with the optics, that is why, the M320 has sites on it and not on the main weapon? Right or Wrong?

    Lefties Righties:
    The grenadiers in my squad who were left handed just fired the weapon righthanded or did the hand suffle firing left. So the M320 is only LEFT side only for loading? That seems like a poor choice, why didn’t the USA just buy the FN version for the SCAR, it swings both left and right for loading.

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  • Too many

    So how would a AN/PEQ 18A attach to a HK EGLM 40mm? Does it come off the M203 mount? Attach to the leaf sight? I have been trying to figure this out…

  • Jerry Mcdurmott

    The M320 is a bulky piece of crap. 203 will always be the superior weapon. You want utility on the fly, not an over done pos with enough bulk to get caught on any and everything.