The Tank Museum Acquires Carl Gustaf Infantry Anti-Tank Weapon

Photo Credit: The Tank Museum
Photo Credit: The Tank Museum

The Tank Museum in Bovington, United Kingdom has announced that it recently acquired a Carl Gustaf infantry anti-tank weapon. Adopted by the British Army in the 1960s, the Swedish recoilless rifle has been upgraded a number of times over the decades, allowing it to see continued use to this day. Dozens of military across the world have it equipped – including 11 NATO countries – with none showing any signs of wanting to trade it in for a newer tool.

Swedish soldier operating an M1 Carl Gustaf infantry anti-tank weapon while two others cover their ears and one mans a camera
Swedish soldiers operating an M1 Carl Gustaf infantry anti-tank weapon during the Congo Crisis, 1961. (Photo Credit: The Tank Museum)

The Carl Gustaf began life in the early 1940s as a much less powerful tool. Originally only capable of firing 20 mm ammunition, it was initially considered effective – that is, until the introduction of newer tanks onto the battlefields of World War II, such as the Soviet T-34 and the German Tiger and Panther.

Aware changes needed to be made, designers Hugo Abramson and Harald Jentzen set to work on a redesign, upping the caliber to 37 and 47 mm, before ultimately landing on 84 mm. Packing a much more powerful punch, this allowed the anti-tank weapon to join the ranks of the German Panzerschreck, the American bazooka and the British Projector, Infantry Anti Tank (PIAT).

M4 Carl Gustaf infantry anti-tank weapon on display alongside various types of ammunition
M4 Carl Gustaf infantry anti-tank weapon. (Photo Credit: MKFI / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

The Carl Gustaf was accepted into service with the British Army in 1962, with the country using an export model. As The Tank Museum explains, this was comprised of six primary components: the venturi and venturi fastening strap, the barrel, sights, the firing mechanism and grips. Two were supplied to Light Infantry Platoon HQs, while infantry sections attached to mechanized battalions received one.

Known among troops as the “Charlie G,” the British version was only compatible with one type of ammunition – the 84 mm High-Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) – which had an effective range of 400 meters against moving targets and 500 meters when aimed at stationary ones. While it was primarily used against armor, it was also capable of doing damage to concrete and nearby soldiers, thanks to its fragmentation effect.

Soldiers firing a Carl Gustaf M2 infantry anti-tank weapon in the field at night
Carl Gustaf M2 infantry anti-tank weapon being fired. (Photo Credit: The Tank Museum)

As aforementioned, the Carl Gustaf remains in use today, with one of its biggest operators being the US Army Rangers and the Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). Among the conflicts where it’s seen action are the Falklands War, the Gulf War, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War.

The British Army recently ordered the latest version, the M4, which is more ergonomic and cost-effective.

More from us: The Tank Museum Acquires Development and Design Documents for Mark I Tank

The Carl Gustaf acquired by The Tank Museum has a single sight, graduated out to 1,000 yards, with a bracket that can fit the No. 78 Mk 1 Sighting Telescope and the Optic Individual Weapon Sight. The weapon is missing its front left handgrip, which would have allowed the operator to use both hands to steady and lay it.

Clare Fitzgerald

Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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