[SHOT 2016] Milkor USA’s Hydra: Handheld Automatic Grenade Launcher

I was headed past Milkor USA’s booth today to take a look at their lightweight 40mm launcher when a launcher of a whole different aesthetic caught my eye: The 40mm Hydra.  With a large hydraulic buffer tube mated to the chamber and barrel, sitting above a grip frame with wood grip panels, and a very large box magazine that indexes somewhat like a Thompson SMG, it certainly did not look like the other rotary launchers on display.  I talked to their designer, and apparently it is a collaboration between Milkor USA and Rheinmetall Waffen.  An even more interesting point came up when he informed me that the Hydra can fire semi or full auto, at a rate of fire of 10 rounds in less than 2 seconds!  The Hydra could possibly succeed where the Czech RAG-30 and CZW-40 didn’t quite achieve, in controlled shoulder fired 40mm automatic grenade fire.  It is pictured here with a 6 round magazine, but also has 4 and 10 round magazines.  P1211275

The buffer tube is basically all the way back from where the magazine is located.

The buffer tube is basically all the way back from where the magazine is located.

The Hydra is blowback operated, and the barrel employs non-progressive gain twist rifling.  It currently has an unloaded weight of 9.91 lbs, and a OAL of 32.75 inches.  It is rated for Rheinmetall-Waffen’s 40x46mm “magnum” rounds, as well as all 40x46mm low velocity rounds.  It will be made in the USA.  Some possible upgrades to the design before full production are modification of the safety and magazine release, as well as grips made out of something more durable like G10.  Though the model pictured has an 8″ Barrel, the final barrel will be 10″.  It will be compatible with many existing GL sights as well.  I will be keeping an eye out for the Hydra in the future for sure!P1211273P1211276

Thanks to Milkor USA for answering all my questions!

Rusty S.

Having always had a passion for firearms, Rusty S. has had experience in gunsmithing, firearms retail, hunting, competitive shooting, range construction, as an IDPA certified range safety officer and a certified instructor. He has received military, law enforcement, and private training in the use of firearms. He is fortunate enough to have access to class 3 weaponry as well.


  • USMC03Vet

    Like having a hand held MK19. That is so sweet.

  • Sianmink

    I am OK with this.

  • Brocus

    Hail Hydra

    • Twilight sparkle

      You beat me to it…

      • Southpaw89

        Was my first thought too.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    That is baller.
    I needs one for my home de-fense.

  • Budogunner

    I love it, right down to the “I don’t give a F*CK about your Gucci keymod fetish” piccatinny rails.

    I’ll take two, please.

  • Anonymoose

    brb South Africa.

  • 191145

    SQUAD AUTOMATIC GRENADE LAUNCHER ! Way cool ! I see a very large military contract comming !

    • Tritro29

      This is pointless. 10 rounds…in rapid succession. That means your pest infestation is already out of hand. This won’t save you.

      Also welcome to the 1980’s…

  • G0rdon_Fr33man

    I can´t help but think the automatic-function being completely wasted on this thing… 6 round mags?

    • Bert

      It is not a waste. It would be a quick way to saturate an area with HE using only a single projector. This is already a reason to use MGL’s over m203’s. Auto + mag fed = faster saturation and follow up than existing alternatives.

  • HenryV

    Is anybody going to make an ankle holster for it?

    • Jeebus

      *ITW leather holster.

  • whskee

    Anyone else giggle at the thought of loading that with some of the old buckshot or flechette rounds and going house-clearing?

  • TDog

    Who needs one of these?

    Everyone should have two! 😀

  • SP mclaughlin

    When an AA-12 with frag shotshells isnt’ enough…

  • Anomanom

    Interesting, but friggin’ large. It seems like it would be a challence to carry that with a rifle besides. I also see issues with the magazines. That 6 round mag looks like its a foot long. The ten round one would be even bigger. Even w/o a rifle, 2-3 spare mags would take up all the webbing space on an average guy unless you put them in a rucksack or somesuch.

    • DaveP.

      It’d be a dedicated weapon, like a M60 or the old M79. The gunner wouldn’t have a rifle, just a pistol as a sidearm. Some poor schmuck would probably get tasked as assistant gunner, which means he’d be carrying 4 or 5 spare mags as well as his own load.
      OTOH, this looks like it would be just the thing for ambushes.

  • Paladin

    Dear Santa…

  • Jeebus

    Sooo… a shoulder fired MK19? I’m game.

    • CommonSense23

      Other than not shooting the same rounds.

  • John

    Needs a drum mag. Easier to shoulder, easier to aim.

  • Green Hell

    Huh, looks like someone reverse engineered something Chinese for a change. Looks awfully familiar to QLZ-87.

    • Rusty S.

      Totally different method of operation and controls

    • Tritro29

      Same purpose, different approach. The German way made the US get there 30 years after.

  • Isaac FluffyWolf Rader

    What, were the fookin’ prawns acting up again, South Africa?

  • Phil Hsueh

    So, if I put a bullet button on it will it be CA legal?

    • Miguel Raton

      Uh, no. The PRK doesn’t even allow you to own _inert_ grenades, let alone any means of launching one; Senator Feinstein is too concerned that someone will use them to end her lich-like grip on politics in this once-fair state…

      • Phil Hsueh

        You do realize that I was being sarcastic, don’t you? As a CA resident I know all too well that CA doesn’t allow a whole lot of things and if they don’t like semi-automatic rifles and handguns, they’re most certainly not going to like a semi-auto grenade launcher, bullet button or no.

  • Boogur T. Wang

    Heh heh heh…when ya don’t have time to knock on the door.

  • Matrix3692

    There’s my Bolter! now I just need to find my Space Marine Armor……

  • Mcameron

    would like to see one in 37mm

  • LazyReader

    I could have jerry rigged that with soup cans and chicken wire.

  • Justin Roney

    Such sweet ergonomics with that pistol grip, it looks like they just tapered a 2 by 4 as an afterthought.

    • Rusty S.

      That will not be the final grip. They told me that they were leaning towards G10 or something similar

  • Jesse

    4rd mags and 10rd mags…so it’s NY and California legal?

  • Evan

    Until clicking on this article, I was unaware such thing as the Hydra existed. Now that I’m aware, I desperately need one.

  • Kev

    Fun fact: Rheinmetall are also working on a underslung version called the cerberus

    • Evan

      That’s clearly something entirely different. No mag, no buffer. Really, besides the fact that it’s a 40mm grenade launcher, there aren’t any obvious similarities.

  • Miguel Raton

    Uncertain why anyone would want [let alone need] a handheld GMG. Tripod-mounted, fine, but shoulder-launched? Semi-auto would seem more than sufficient [&, uh, controllable! ::) ] for that mission parameter.

    • Bert

      Your assertion is solidly reasoned. I would contend that the full auto function is intended for rapid employment of smoke, HE, or both, presumably for counter ambush use. Semi auto would most decidedly be preferred over auto in most circumstances. Most likely this is intended for armies with reduced squad sizes, not unlike what Congress and the US Army have been contemplating in recent years.

  • valorius

    I like this.

  • dm_dtx

    Good write-up. What is “non-progressive” gain twist? I’m familiar with gain twist but I’ve never heard of that sub-type.

    • Rusty S.

      I will check with them in the future, but my best guess is a gain twist that is not imparted via a progressive broach.

  • Eurk Burkell

    A mag of full auto fragmentation rounds would put a quick end to a riot.