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84mm Carl Gustaf


Carl Gustav M3

US Army Special Forces firing a Carl Gustav M3.
Source: US Navy (MCS2 Christopher Perez) - © public domain

Recoilless rifle
Entered service
Late 1940's
In service
1945 - 1946
1948 - 1960's (M1)
1964 - present (M2)
1991 - present (M3)
Sweden - FFV & Bofors
India - Ordnance Factory Board
Japan - Sumitomo
Number produced
Produced in very large quantities
8.4 cm PAR 66/79 (Austria)
Dykn M/85 (Denmark)
PZF 84-A1 (Germany)
FT-84 / 84RR (Japan)
Canhão sem Recuo 84mm M/994 (Portugal)
Granatgevär m/48 (Sweden)
L14A1 (UK)
Medium Anti-Armor Weapon System / MAAWS
Ranger Antitank Weapons System / RAWS



The Carl Gustaf is an early Cold War era recoilless rifle of Swedish origin. It was developed in the mid 1940's and is a much more capable weapon system than those used during World War 2. The design proved to be a success. Due to subsequent upgrades and new ammunition the Carl Gustaf remains a potent weapon system today.


The Carl Gustaf is a recoilless rifle. It consists of a metal launch tube with a hinged breech at the rear for reloading. The barrel is rifled with the rounds being spin during flight. The launch tube is fitted with pistol grip, forward grip and bipod. Normally it is fitted with an optical sight, with mechanical and night vision sights being available. The Carl Gustaf can be operated by a single person, but two operators increase reloading speed and are able to share the load. The Carl Gustaf is a man portable system, although it is quite heavy.


The Carl Gustaf was designed to be a man portable weapon that could be carried as standard issue equipment. Although the weapon is quite heavy its excellent performance makes it worth the effort to take it along. Due to its weight at least 2 soldiers are needed to carry the weapon and associated ammunition. The latest M3 model is much lighter and much less of a burden upon the operator.


The Carl Gustaf fires a variety of ammunition, including anti-tank, high explosive, smoke and illumination rounds. Over time the available ammunition has been vastly improved, keeping the weapon system up to date with latest demands. The effective range depends on ammunition and target. Stationary vehicles can be engaged out to 700 m, which is reduced to 300 to 400 m when moving. High explosive, smoke and illumination rounds can be used to over 1 km. When operated by two men the rate of fire is 6 rounds per minute.


The first user of the Carl Gustaf was Sweden. It was quickly adopted by most European nations and later on by the USA and many nations around the world. During the Cold War it was the main infantry anti-tank system in use with NATO forces. Since the threat of armor has reduced many armies prefer much lighter disposable rocket launchers.


Carl Gustaf M2

The original version of the Carl Gustaf launcher was the M1 entering service in 1948. The most common version is the improved M2 that was introduced in 1964. The M2 is the most common and remains in production today.

The M2-550 features a large sight unit that replaces the original optics. The sight unit consists of a laser range finder and lead computing sight. Additionally the rocket assisted HEAT 551 round was introduced at the same time, which can also be fired from the original M2. This sight and ammunition combination makes the M2-550 more effective against moving targets at longer ranges, but also increases the weight of the system significantly. The M2-550 is no longer marketed as a separate model. The sight remains available for the M2.

Carl Gustaf M3

The M3 is a lightweight model of the M2. The barrel is made of carbon fibre and epoxy with a steel rifled liner. A carrying handle assists in rapid displacement. The M3 functions in a similar way as the M2 and the combat effectiveness is similar.

The Carl Gustaf M4 is a further development of the M3. The weight was reduced further and the launcher is shorter. It was first shown in 2014 and entered service in the late 2010's.


Facts Carl Gustaf M2 Carl Gustaf M2-550 Carl Gustaf M3 Carl Gustaf M4
Recoilless rifle
1 or 2
14.2 kg empty
1.13 m
84 mm breech loaded recoilless rifle
24 grooves, progressive rifling
Muzzle velocity
210 to 255 m/s
Fire control
Optical, 3x scope
Rate of fire
6 rpm
200 m against moving targets
300 to 400 m against stationary targets
700 m against area targets




The AT4 is a disposable rocket launcher that uses warhead technology developed for the Carl Gustaf.