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Carl Gustav


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.303 Mk VII
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Proximity Fuze

Carl Gustav

The Short-Range Anti-Armour Weapon-Medium, also known officially as the SRAAW (M) was more popularly known as the Carl Gustav, 84, or Carl G. It was an 84mm reloadable 84mm recoilless rifle, used at the section or platoon level for anti-armour defence. The weapon was a replacement for the 106mm Recoilless Rifle, which the Militia used until 1988. The Regular Force received the TOW missile system in the 1970s as a replacement for the 106mm Recoilless.


In an Infantry Section in Germany in the 1970s and 80s, the Carl Gustav was issued one per section at a time when Canadian mechanized forces were training to defeat an envisioned armoured invasion of the west by Warsaw Pact forces. In Canada, the Carl Gustav was normally used one per platoon in reserve units.

The Carl Gustav's M2 version was man-portable though a substantial load at 18kg for just the weapon and bipod (or 14.2kg without the bipod). The M2 was in service from 1965, and the M3, a lightweight version, was introduced in 1991, weighting just 8.5kg. The M3 used carbon-fibre barrel instead of the steel barrel of the earlier M2).


The Carl Gustav fired an 84mm rocket-propelled [Carl Gustav ammunition] shell with a muzzle velocity of 290m per second. The standard, primary round had a HEAT (High Explosive, Anti-Tank) warhead but a High Explosive Dual Purpose round (HEDP) was available for use against bunkers and fortified positions. The 84mm round, like the smaller 66mm M72 SRAAW round, proved unable to defeat more modern armour as time passed, such as explosive reactive armour or new ceramic-based armour systems.

The effective range of HEAT was 700 metres, and HEDP 500 metres.

Two training rounds were also used. The Sub Calibre Training Device (SCTD) originally consisted of a 6.5mm tracer bullet designed to match the ballistics of the HEAT round. A newer SCTD in 7.62mm was also developed. The rounds were fired by a special adapter fitted inside the weapon.

Carl Gustav and associated kit, photographed in Petawawa, 1981. Photo courtesy Ed Storey.

Carl Gustav crew; the loader had to remain close to the gunner to avoid the backblast and be able to report on the status of the danger zone behind the weapon.


The Carl Gustav was optimally operated by a two man crew, a gunner and loader. The Number One, the gunner, would aim and fire the weapon, giving commands to the Number Two, the loader, who was responsible for checking the ammunition and condition of the weapon, loading the round, reporting the condition of the danger area behind the weapon, and unloading the weapon.

In addition to the "iron" sights, the weapon could be fitted with a 2-power optical sight with 17 degree field of view. The sight was also fitted with a temperature correction device, and luminous front and rear adaptors were available for night work.

The Carl Gustav could be fired from the standing, kneeling or prone positions. When fired from the ground, the weapon could be supported by a flexible bipod immediately in front of the shoulder piece.

Iron Sights. DND Photo

Telescopic Sight. Calgary Highlanders Photo


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