Milkor M32 and M32A1 40mm Grenade Launchers

The USMC adopted the Milkor USA M32A1 rotary multiple grenade launcher (MGL) in 2012. The history of this weapon goes back to South Africa, where designer Andries Piek was inspired to create it after building the 37mm “Stopper” for the South African police and then seeing a Manville 25mm gas launcher in the movie “Dogs of War”. He created a 6-barrel 40mm launcher that was adopted by the South African military, and proved quite popular. It was adopted by other countries subsequently, and by the early 2000s a company bought rights to produce it in the United States – Milkor USA.

The original M32 version was used in small numbers by US SOCOM, and the updated M32A1 widely purchased by the US Marines. The A1 version has a shorter barrel and is generally strengthen, allowing it to fire medium-velocity grenades instead of just the low velocity loadings. This increased its effective range from 375m to 800m as well as allowing larger grenade payloads and increased effectiveness on target.


  1. “(…)Manville 25mm gas launcher(…)”
    There is also some similarity between MGL and Hawk Engineering MM-1 Repeating grenade launcher:
    It might be just result on both being developed from Manville gas launcher, but I am wondering if designer of MGL was able to examine MM-1 or maybe he know about it, but have no chance to examine it personally?

    It is quite interesting as some ideas – like for example general idea of having cylinder, like found in revolver – reappear in surprising. For example Bulgarian weapon of same category (grenade launcher, revolving) namely ARSENAL LAVINA:
    is not only revolving, but even pepperbox and muzzle loading.

    • There is a variety of these (revolver type) weapons in production and use. Russia has also one in its inventory. The benefit of caseless round is immediately visible – it does not need barrel and does not require ejection of casings.

      • “benefit of caseless round(…)does not need barrel”
        Wait, so what is actual formal U.S. definition of barrel? If it is NOT element which impart direction of projectile travel, then what is proper name for that element?

        • The U.S. definition of “barrel” is the same as everyone else’s; the tubular part of the gun that the projectile is launched from.

          The part the cartridge is inserted into for firing is called the chamber. In most weapons, it is an integral part of the barrel. Revolvers, like this weapon, are an exception to that rule.

          Strictly speaking, the Milkor M32 is a six-chambered, single-barrelled, revolver.

          When anyone mentions a six-barreled revolver-type weapon, I usually assume they are referring to a pepperbox.

          NB; I usually expect the term “barrels” for “chambers” in a revolver to show up in bad translations of Continental language(s) primary texts to English. Or in mystery novels written by authors with the average journalist’s knowledge of firearms, i.e. virtually nil.



        • That, is if individual chambers take on barrel function, such as in case of Bulgarian avalanche. As some of Russian ‘under barrel’ launchers show, there is not much need for “barrel” per se; so it is practically just an elongated chamber. It all about technical interpretation.

  2. Really dumb question: Can the M32 be used to lob grenades over obstacles at targets you can’t see if someone else spots for you?

  3. I must admit it is a weapon that has impressed me over the years in its various developmental forms since th e1970’s, having handled and allowed to strip down this latest M32A1 version at 2nd Commando Regt at Holdsworthy, NSW, this year. There are small numbers in use with the SASR and the commando community.

    It is however very expensive from the American manufacturer, as are its spare parts, and does required well trained persons to handle and maintain it. The South African manufactured version is supposedly much cheaper, but, manufactured to a lower standard, with poor quality control.

    The drum magazines can and does cause problems when its ‘grenadier’ forgets its side protrusion and damages it, and it is easy for its feed to jam.

    But a great way to put down rapidly some effective fire fire support, and with experience the drum magazine can be rapidly reloaded. Then the problem is keeping up the ammunition.

    A great descendent of the M79, with good HE HEAT, starshell, tear gas rounds, but the illuminating rounds are not particularly effective, nor are the smoke, while WP is not on issue.

    The blurb says it shoots out to 800 metres, but its accuracy from 400 metres decreases, and at 800 metres well you would get in the area of the target.

    The big problem with it, still no effective anti-personnel round.

  4. I didn’t quite get this – how did they shorten the barrel and overcome the problems of arming the grenade Ian refers to?Does the shortened version still use progressive rifling?

    • My understanding is that they applied constant rifling to it. After certain number of spins the fuse is “armed” and waiting for impact or timer input, if based on time of flight (as in air-burst type). Nowadays, electronics are everywhere and they make wonders to happen.

      • “(…)wonders(…)”
        Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
        Arthur C. Clarke (co-author of screenplay of 2001: A Space Odyssey)

  5. Having carried the M16A2/M203 single shot grenade launcher in combat in Iraq in 2003-2004 (US Army), I can say wholeheartedly that this would have been a very welcome improvement. I think with practice the reload on the M32 could be almost as fast as the reload on the M203, but with the advantage of far superior firepower. I loved my M203, but would have gladly traded up to this had I had the chance. In response to Cherndog’s question of lobbing grenades over/behind an obstacle, Yes, a good grenadier can do that all day. In response to G. A. Mackinlay, Yes, the illumination rounds are almost worthless. The HE rounds we carried were fairly effective anti-personnel, even more so if you could catch them in an enclosed structure or vehicle. I don’t know about now, but we had WP rounds in Iraq in 2003. The WP rounds were for signalling, but they go where you aim them. There were also buckshot rounds, which were very effective anti-personnel, but very limited in range. Also, if the range is right you can fire a starshell cluster into a structure and it will run them out and set it on fire most of the time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.