M67 90mm recoilless rifle back in use

MJM has blogged about the return of the M67 90mm recoilless rifle to active duty ...

Fans of the 9mm: multiply the caliber by 10. If you like the Judge, and are intrigued by the .338 Lapua Magnum and 50 BMG, ponder the diameter difference. The 90mm recoilless rifle is fired from any ordinary rifle position, man-portable, and truly without recoil. It has been around for about 50 years, was phased out in favor of the disposable weapons of similar mission (mostly anti-tank, anti bunker) some with advanced aiming and control. The M72 LAW, the Dragon, the AT4 came afterward, for example.

I learn today that MJM’s old unit, the 1st of the 506th Infantry (101st Airborne Division) is bringing back the 90mm recoilless rifle.

m67 90mm recoilless rifle tfb M67 90mm recoilless rifle back in use photo

Being the armchair-Lieutenant that I am, it has been amusing to watch how many obsolete weapons have been brought back into action during the past decade. The M14 is one notable example. Another is the M72 LAW. The Marines should be receiving their first batch of newly manufactured M72A7 LAWs in April.

Very interesting. Sometimes the KISS priciple comes into effect. Interesting to me that they are using Flechette rounds. I’d like to know what the effective range of the flechettes are….

My platoon had LAWs last deployment; the AT4 is just too bulky for dismounting light-infantry, while you can damn near get a LAW into your cargo pocket if you work at it. :p

Any specific reason why the 101st is reintroducing it? The article didn’t seem to have a particular reason besides ambushes.

Nice. I too am a former Currahee.

If I remember correctly the M67 is almost 40lbs unloaded. The AT4 comes in about 15lbs loaded. It’s maned by 3 people while AT4 1 person. I guess they want a mobile reusable infantry platform to take out harden bunker/caves. This probably a reaction due to the fact that Close Air Support have been for a lack of better term nerfed in Afghanistan.

You’ve just made my day brighter, thanks! =)
I’ve handled a LAW, once, during my Corporal’s Training, on the Portuguese once-mandatory recruit period.

Not fired one though, the Portuguese Army hadn’t enough money to spend on that…

I see Nandy-Pamby Gadgetry is no longer favored in lieu of material that, hum, WORKS!

…And take one of these, I’ve read somewhere it detonates on a interrupted thread, add a laser range finder, and a looong thread that’s tailored to the obtained distance, you’ve just replaced that sci-fi, wi-fi, filled with electronics rifle costing N times more…

Why use a $200000 Javelin missile to destroy a mud brick structure?

A sensible decision- though I think some effort should be made to lighten it, what with the more modern materials and advancements in metallurgy in the past half century.

While the gun doesn’t have recoil, a lot of people recoil from the mere thought of having such a beast go off right next to their ear ;-)

I know a couple of NCOs who said in no uncertain terms they’d refuse any order to fire a Carl Gustaf ever again – and that had “only” 84mm…

I guess portable artillery is a plus when fighting people entrenched behind rocks and in mud houses. The French army was very fond of those recoilless rifles, and made a heavy use of 57mm and 90mm pieces in counter insurrection for a number of years.
I wonder if the performance is better with modern optics.

It is not that surprinsing, after all many countries around the world (including SOCOM) still use the Carl Gustav recoilless rifle.

Interesting news. I’m surprised the DOD still had some these 90mm RR squirreled away. I had assumed they had all been destroyed or given away by now.

The 90mm M67 was the US Army weapon most comparable to the 84mm Carl Gustav. Both are two-man-team man-portable anti-tank weapons best employed at platoon level. Though I imagine both weapons in actual service were mostly used against non-tank targets.

I read that the last US Army unit to use this weapon was in Alaska, because the batteries used in the Dragon ATGM (which replaced the M67) weren’t reliable in the cold Alaskan environment.

When the USMC first decided they needed a weapon like the SMAW, I wonder if they ever considered just using some surplus ex-Army M67 RR for the job. It probably would have been a lot cheaper, and almost as effective. (Though I think an updated M-18a1 57mm would make an even better company level support weapon than either the SMAW or the M67.)

Completely unrelated, but good news for any wounded Combatant, soon, you will get a lost ear or a nose…
3D printed!

It is my understanding that the M67 is being deployed largely in response to attacks from bunkered positions. Because of the thick wall mud and stone building techniques used in Afghanistan, and much of the Middle East, rifle rounds, and grenades are ineffective. Wide-spread use of RPGs coupled with the open areas surrounding many buildings in-country make it difficult to assault the position on foot. And, the ruggedness of the terrain precludes the use of armored assault vehicles. Modern anti-tank weapons have proven to be too light to cause significant damage or too heavy, bulky and expensive to carry and use to reduce hardened structures. Air strikes have largely been discontinued and when authorization is obtained, it is usually too late to be of any use.

Enter the M67 90mm recoilless rifle. It can fire a variety of rounds and packs a sufficient punch to rapidly breech hardened targets from a relatively long range with few rounds. It is man-portable and low-tech. And, it was available.

The Ranger Battallions used the M67 till 1991 when it was replaced by the M3 Carl Gustav, and the M3 is still in their TO&E. They’re ideal for light infantry–plenty of firepower and versatility in a man-portable package. We used to jump with them (not me–the Weapons Platoon mules did–I was a rifleman). And everyone carried two extra rounds for the 90mm (or 60mm for the mortars). And two 200-rd belts of 7.62. In addition to your own basic load. Bullets, water and socks–the rest is optional.

Being a former nuke trooper, I had to find some very creative ways to get my hands on infantry equipment. You’d be surprised how much ordinance gets squirreled away into the most unusual locations, and is virtually forgotten in lieu of fancier gear. That being said, I always had an appreciation for older/simpler/functional equipment. Dumb equipment that relied on the operator to be smart and versatile.

Bringing back the 90mmRR makes perfect sense. It’s relatively cheap to use, and gets the job done. I’m hoping this is a turning point that puts a lot of functional weapons back in the hands of capable infantrymen, and leaves the wonder-weapons ready for their unique purpose.

Just wait and see, though. Some daft bastard will find a way to mount rails, optics, and loads of other silly junk on the M67 and ruin it.

M14 is obsolete??? Was not aware of that.

Now for the Brits to bring back the L1A1 SLR!

I guess next move will be the rebirth of the Ontos M50 concept.

The M14 has alot of design compromises mostly due to the old requirement for it to be capable of full-automatic fire-the Garand receiver that it was based on had to be considerably beefed up, and this made it ungainly and heavier than it honestly had to be.

Furthermore, battle rifles as a class have been if not obsolete, than obsolescent since the second World War and the German studies that proved that the vast majority of battlefield engagements were at -400 meters and that therefore infantry weapons did not require 1000-m range. Afghanistan does not invalidate that; the majority of the planet is not Afghanistan nor does it feature it’s unique geography.

Looks like the Army re-learned what the USMC never forgot. The USMC SMAW is about half the weight of the much older 90mm recoilless rifle with about the same warhead weight and effective range. Optics for the SMAW are definitely more modern. Although I’m not aware of a flechette round, the SMAW is more geared to anti-fortification and anti-tank. It’s great to see the Army “get simple” and leave some of the more exotic stuff in the armory.

Army likes complex toys sold by retired generals to current generals.
Marines like weapons that destroy targets, period, even if cheap and/or ugly.

The M14 was certainly obsolete in its role as a main infantry rifle, which probably is what Steve means. Mind you, all of these formerly obsolete weapons are used in roles quite dissimilar to their originally intended purpose; I personally love that kind of battlefield ingenuity.

Steve old doesn’t mean its obsolete. The M-14 isn’t obsolete its been used for small niches since the Vietnam war and since Afghanistan bee upgraded and now is a vital part of infantry weapon. Recoiless rifles are needed since they are light weight and can be portable artillery in areas where artillery is too distant to provide support for troops.

I hope they bring back M-60A1 tanks as well. LOL

Steve I think too the reason we are bringing back older systems is that with the pentagon budget broke and slashed they relies on older weapons to fill in areas where there no funds to make new weapons, agree?

M 67 is really heavy…I handled a couple of these a year ago during my military service.We had hundreds of surplus training rounds but I never had the chance to fire this weapon .It’s an unsophisticated weapon system that can take a lot abuse .

Not sure why they’re reissuing the M67 when they’ve got the M3–which in my opinion is far superior to the SMAW–unless there aren’t enough M3's to go around right now. Whic may be the case because SOCOM uses them exclusively.

Back to the future!

Big Army is so in love with bullshit, camo that doesn’t work (UCP), RAH-66 Comanche and gold plated FCS crap. They have forgotten the basics.

M67 is one of the heaviest systems around (37.5 lbs) and rapidly over-heats after a few rounds!

The USMC except for the EFV has shown to be the only practical infantry force in the US. It adopted the SRAW (an Israeli B-300), which beat the old heavy 1964 M2 Carl Gustav in the original competition. The M2 also weights 35 lbs.

After losing the SRAW comp’, SAAB was pissed and designed a new weapon, the M3. The M3 has a carbon fiber reinforced barrel and weights 20 lbs. Half the weight of a M67.

Rangers grabbed it (their not BIG Army) and developed their own ammo.

Multi-purpose (MT 756)
Flechette (ADM 401)
Thermobaric (ASM 509)
Airburst (HE 441D)
Penetrator (HEDP 502),
Tandem (HEAT 751)
Smoke (SMOKE 469C)


Every infantry platoon needs a M3 with a thermal sight, and move the Javelins up to company level. Forget the XM-25.

“If you get ambushed, here is this nuclear 10 megaton atom bomb for back-up”.

Looks like the military is catching on to what the soldiers want.

I was with the 1/75th Ranger Battalion and the weapons platoon carried those things. The back-blast dug a trench behind them when they were fired. A truly awesome and timeless weapon that served effectively in Grenada and Iraq.

The reason for some many ‘discarded’ weapons coming back is that Iraq and Astan are static wars. Resupply for niche capabilities/weapons is much easier.

Presumably the M67 are replacing TOWs and Javelins. Article says purely defensive weapon for FOBs.

Airburst 84mm M3 recoilless would be very useful.

I am with Rohan 100% about the use of 1 (such a) weapon in every infantry platoon -operated by a 3 man crue (more ammo)- but my favorite would be the RPG32 .

The older weapons (M67 or M2 carl gustafs ) , could be caried by light/medium/heavy vehicles and deployed if/when they are needed .

2-3 M72 LAWs could be carried around by every fire-team .

I dont agree about ditching the XM25s , but i dont know about the level (or number of systems per level) they should be deployed . I guess experience from active deployment will answer that question .

ps. In my mind i have enhanced platoons of 40-50 warriors and not old NATO standard platoons of 30 or so .

If FB regular “Andy in CT” is who I think he may be, I’d like to get his opinion on this. To me it appears to be a very good idea considering the ROE for airstrikes and indirect artillery.

One thing immediately came to mind when I read this article. I bet a couple of M67's with the flechette canister rounds would’ve been VERY welcome at Wanat.

“Big Army is so in love with bullshit, camo that doesn’t work (UCP), RAH-66 Comanche and gold plated FCS crap. They have forgotten the basics.”

Having a little first hand knowledge, Comanche would have worked had it not been for mission requirements creep.

For the light armed scout role it was originally intended for, it would have been fantastic.

When the brass decided that light armed scout wasn’t good enough and that they needed “stealthy Apache.” Suddenly you go from needed a very limited amount of “low tech” weaponry like 2.75? rockets, to needing a dozen plus hellfires and the associated support equipment. The end result was a beast of a machine that was ridiculously overweight.

Just to give you an idea, I’ve seen one of the access panels on a Comanche opened up before. So much wiring and other crap was crammed in so tight, that when you opened the panel, a big wad of wiring spaghetti popped out like something in a cartoon…..

It has always been my belief that there was place for RR’s and saw them used in various ways in the conflict in former Yugoslavia. They are an excellent light direct fire artillery weapon. Only drawback to their mobility is the size and weight of the shells, but for use in areas that are hard to access for heavy guns they are great and can be transported and supplied by light vehicles or choppers. Nice to see the Marines thinking out side of the box.

@ aeronathan

Is “mission requirements creep” code for gold plating?

Ever heard of KISS.

Why use a $1000 shell when you can use a $100,000 Javelin.

Because the Javelin will actually self-guide to the target and is virtually impossible to miss with?

The Comanche’s mission requirement creep was basically due to the Army feeling that their entire attack-aviation fleet was getting obsolete in the face of modern air defense. At the time of the original proposal, the Air Land Battle doctrine called for use of Army attack aviation in a deep-strike role. Against well, basically anybody with decent SAMs or fighters, the Apache would be dog meat. The Comanche was designed to address this problem.

Why not using the lighter Carl Gustav?

@ Charles222

With a Carl you can fire 1000 times for one Javelin.

A single Javelin maybe smart, but it only has a single (tandem) warhead. That might kill 2-3 in a cluster, but against a group of 20 that’s still 4-5 Javelins.

Remember one javelin missile weights 26lb, 35lbs in the tube and 14lbs for the CLU.
3 soldiers with 3 missiles is 119 lbs.

M3 Carl weights 19lbs + 3 for a FLIR / laser ranger (22lbs).
HE441D Airburst weights 8lbs, 9lbs in its case.
For 121lbs you get 11 rounds.

With Airburst you could of had a defilade weapon 20 years ago. IE during Gulf war 1.

Also the Isrealis now has “mini-spike”, a mini-me Javelin like weapon.
Cheaper, lighter, maybe not as smart as spike. But you get more kills for your buck!

As for Comanche,
Shealth on a helo is a joke,
It grew to nearly the size of an Apache,
The technology ended up in the Apache,

Just buy upgraded Apache!

“In one engagement on 24 March 2003, 31 Apaches were damaged, and one Apache was shot down and captured by Iraqi troops near Karbala”.

That was by small arms only!!!!! Your Comanche would fair no better.


The Cal Gustov is only used by Army units. The M-67 is US A and USMC standerd. Its cheaper and more destructive than a Javelin or AT4 or M-72 LAW. Unlike modern missiles snad and dust dosnt make a M-67 malfuntion or misjetision a rocket. The M-67 also has a larger warhead than a Gustove 90mm vs 84mm. Alot more effective aginst soft targets than tanks the Carl Gustov and its rocket counter parts are ment fore.

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