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A Marine aims an M320 grenade launcher module at a target at Camp Lejeune, N.C., June 6, 2017. 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion is one of the first Marine Corps units to test the M320, a more effective weapon system than the current M203 grenade launcher.

Photo by Pfc. Taylor Cooper

Out with the old, in with the new: Marines test new grenade launcher module

9 Jun 2017 | Lance Cpl. Taylor Cooper The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

Marines with Bravo Company, 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion practiced handling and firing the M320 grenade launcher module at Camp Lejeune, N.C., June 6. 

2nd CEB is one of the first Marine Corps units to be issued the M320, which has already been in use by the U.S. Army.

The weapon system offers a multitude of capabilities, superior to that of its predecessor, the M203. One of the most notable differences is the M320’s ability to be fired as a separate weapon system, operating without being attached to a host weapon.

“The M320 definitely provides our Marines with a more efficient weapon system,” said Cpl. Nelson Gay, a squad leader with 2nd CEB. “The M320 has an increased rate of fire, and also allows the operator to acquire their targets much faster; used as either a standalone weapon or on a host weapon, it’s an accurate and efficient system.”

One of the discrepancies with the M203 was the leaf sight interfering with the weapons optics, said Gay. The sights on the M320 are more user friendly and flexible, increasing the chances of the projectile landing on target with the first shot.

The barrel of the M320 is loaded from the side, allowing for longer projectiles with increased velocity. This is different from the M203, which limits the size of projectiles the operator can use, due to the placement of the barrel on the bottom of the weapon system.

“The compact system can be utilized by Marines in smaller areas,” said 1st Lt. Samuel Womack, a platoon commander with 2nd CEB. “This enables targets to be engaged in whatever position the operator needs.”

The M320 can engage groups of enemy personnel, vehicles, bunkers, provide suppression and obscuration on objectives, and mark targets to assist in direct fire. From the defense, the M320 allows greater coverage in sectors of fire that direct-fire weapons cannot engage.

With the increased rate of fire and accuracy, as well as mobility, it increases the Marines efficiency while stopping enemy forces.

“The Marines are out here getting a feel for the M320 and I think that it’s proving to be an effective weapon system,” said Womack. “If these weapon systems can be employed with cohesion, it will enable our Marines to have greater lethality.”

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