FORSAN-1 Percussion Cap Grenade Launcher of the FSA


    In 2012, One of the Free Syrian Army engineers released a video of his own made percussion cap grenade launcher named Forsan-1 فرسان which in Arabic means knights.

    The design is very simple and improvised blending the ancient concept of percussion cup guns with the zip gun mechanism using a spring coil and the muzzleloading into a grenade launcher.

    The weapon consists of 2 welded tubes, the tighter one in the rear includes the shooting mechanism in which the bolt and the firing pin are one piece and the spring coil that powers the action. The wider tube in the front is the weapon’s shooting barrel with a chamber in the rear to place a blank round (same as a cap and ball gun; but instead of vertical percussion cap placing, it’s horizontal). There are also two mono-pods for elevation and depression of the shooting angle, and stabilizing the launcher on the ground. The front one is telescopic while the rear one has an axis to pivot up and down.

    Main parts as shown in the picture –please note that the launcher is aimed horizontally.

    • The bolt and the coil – zip gun shooting mechanism
    • The loading and extraction port of the blank round
    • Launcher barrel
    • Front telescopic monopod
    • Rear pivoting monopod on a plate

    It’s needless to say that the launcher is muzzleloading, so in order to shoot it, it requires pouring gunpowder since the blank round won’t have enough to be enough to propel the projectile as far as required.

    The launcher is elevated to shoot for longer ranges.

    The ammunition is also improvised they took a 23x152mmB ZSU-23 ‘Shilka’ round and they extract the 23mm explosive projectile from the case and then they have the payload. They also modify it from air-blast into an impact detonation projectile by assembling a locally made impact detonation fuse with it.

    There is also an opportunity to recycle or re-use the brass cases in their improvised Anti-Material Rifles with locally made, plain-molded lead 23mm kinetic energy projectiles/slugs, which means that there is nothing will be thrown away without utilization.

    23x152mmB projectile muzzle loading, p.s. the wrapped tape around it which probably makes it 24mm or 25mm caliber.

    The locally made impact fuse assembly.

    Due to the lack of electricity in the war zone, they drill the projectile manually to place the impact fuse.

    The designer claims that the range is from 300m to 500m but we can’t be sure since there isn’t a footage of firing the weapon, he also claims that the launcher can shoot Molotov cocktails as well.

    This is not a high technology tool of war, also I don’t know what targets can it be effective against, a 23mm grenade is way less effective than a hand grenade or even 40mm,I’m not even confident of calling it a grenade launcher or a mini hand cannon or grenade projector it’s a very primitive and simple device but it still can do damage, its more like a last-ditch or desperate weapon to me.

    A link to the video

    Marawan Maklad

    Marawan Maklad is an Egyptian firearms and ammunition designer working for Turkish company specializing in the hunting and defense industries, and a dedicated researcher in asymmetric conflicts arms and tactics.