A seller on Gunbroker has recently posted a very peculiar and unique weapon system, a civilian legal 40mm reproduction of the China Lake pump action grenade launcher. The receiver, stock, and pump are registered under a Title 1 firearm, while the barrel is registered as a destructive device. So too is each individual 40x46mm Low Velocity grenade, but the sale of those is not included. The seller claims that this is one of the few reproductions in existence (even fewer originals exist). At the time of this post, the current bid on the launcher is $9,500 while the minimum bid is $9,525. By the time this post is published, the item will probably have ended on Gunbroker, so the link might be broken. Weaponsman has also written up an in-depth report on the post.
China Lake Pump” 40mm Grenade Launcher as used by the US Navy SEAL’s in Vietnam. A very small number of these were handmade in the machine shop at China Lake Naval Weapons Station and sent to Vietnam. Only 4 originals are KNOWN to exist, I have personally examined serial number 013 in the War Remnants Museum in Saigon. (HCMC) This is an exact replica of the originals, made from blueprints generated at great effort from the example in the Washington Navy Yard Museum, and brand new/never fired. There are only a handful of these hand built replica’s as well, one of them being owned by Kevin Dockery, the author of “Weapons of the US Navy SEAL’s”. It can be viewed in operation on Youtube by searching “China Lake Pump”. This is a rare bird by any standard. This example is currently a Title 1 firearm, same as any rifle/pistol/shotgun, and will transfer as such to your FFL dealer in the same way. After receiving it you would then file a Form 1 with ATF to manufacture it as a Destructive Device. Upon receiving your approved Form 1 from ATF and providing a copy to me, the barrel and rear sight (see pic) which is in the custody of an affiliated FFL dealer, out of my possession and control, will be shipped to you free of charge.
The China Lake Launcher is more of the more interesting grenade launcher developments to come out of the U.S. Special Operations involvement in Vietnam. Deployed SEAL teams asked for a multi-shot, handheld grenade launcher that was an advantage over the then issued M79 “Bloopers” then in service. The Blooper was a very reliable grenade launcher, but SEALs complained about the extended reload time it required during ambushes and needed something that could launch 40mm HE in quick succession. Naval Research Facility at China Lake, CA developed the China Lake Launcher based on the M79, but with a tubular magazine with a capacity of three 40mm shells, and one shel in the chamber. Very few were made, and all were sent to Vietnam with not only the SEALs using them but the Army’s 5th SFG and Marine Recon as well. Further production wasn’t seen through because although the launcher was capable of a high rate of fire, it was extremely heavy when loaded. It is often mistaken as the EX-41 due to a variant prototype being experimented with in the mid 1990s but never adopted.
The Russians have a pump action grenade launcher in 43mm, that must have taken some sort of design inspiration from the China Lake Launcher. It appears it is also more successful than the initial American one.