After the articles Ranger Loadout: MK48 Machine Gunner, and Paratrooper Loadout: Airborne School published, I started receiving a number of emails about the Carl Gustav. Aside from Gun Teams there was also a Goose (Carl Gustav) team assigned to Maggots (I hear they are with the 11C guys now). Typically this was a two-man team, however we were all cross trained with the Goose and could step in if needed.

The Carl Gustav is an 84mm recoilless rifle system. Although you tend to consider shoulder-fired weapons as anti-vehicle, we also considered the Carl Gustav anti-personnel. This weapon was awesome because it was reusable (unlike the AT4), allowed versatility (different rounds for different threats), easy-to-use, jumpable, and gave our platoon the force multiplier we needed against vehicles with mounted weapons.

Ranger Loadout: Carl Gustav
me (left), giving Carl Gustav training at Yakima, WA

This weapon is approximately 25lbs and about 42” long. The ammo types varied: high explosive anti-tank (HEAT), high explosive dual purpose (could be set to detonate on impact, or with a slight delay), high explosive (could be set at various distances for airburst), illumination, and area defense munition (ADM flechette).

Using a team of two, you would have a gunner, and a spotter/loader. After your spotter ranged a target (and the gunner acknowledged the range), he would then face behind the gunner and load the appropriate ammo. The loader would verbally tell the gunner what he is loading (“HE 220m airburst”), the gunner would repeat what he said back (or tell you to go F&*k yourself), then the loader would check the back blast area. The back blast is power enough to kill someone if they are too close. As the gunner makes his final adjustments the loader should be repeating that the back blast area is clear every few seconds so the gunner knows. Here is a video of Carl Gustav training (foreign).

(Video courtesy of Andreas Nordin YouTube channel)

When I was on active duty there weren’t a lot of these out in the big Army, typically they were in special operation units (Ranger, SEAL, Special Forces, etc.). I believe they are spread throughout infantry units now, and I am glad. This is a great force multiplier in any situation. With a modified ruck we were easily able to have 6-8 rounds carried by one guy. I couldn’t imagine having 6-8 AT4s spread out through the platoon.

Of all the ammo my favorite was the ADM. The round itself looked similar to a giant shotgun shell. Inside the round was flechette (tiny metal darts). It was difficult to understand how cool this round was when you fired it because it seemed like nothing happened. We decided to set up a full-sheet of plywood at around 50m.