Denel PAW-20 Neopup Semi-Automatic Grenade Launcher
The designation of PAW-20 represents Personal Assault Weapon and its caliber of 20mm.
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The Denel PAW-20 "Neopup" ("Personal Area Weapon, 20mm") of South African origin is a unique and advanced 20mm semi-automatic grenade launcher currently in development. The weapon utilizes various 20mm point-detonating rounds fired from a detachable box (or rotary drum) magazine through a rather uniquely configured receiver. Design work on the weapon began in 1999 and is ongoing as of this writing (2012). The PAW-20 intends to compete with the popular breeds of 40mm grenade launchers currently available including the American M203 series and developmental American/German XM25. Design of the weapon is attributed to Tony Neophytou with manufacture by Gemaco Elbree PTY Ltd and marketing by the South African state-owned defense powerhouse Denel PTY Ltd. Denel itself is formed of several divisions including Denel Aviation, Denel Dynamics and Denel Land Systems.
The PAW-20 design is something of a hybrid between a traditional assault rifle and a grenade launcher. It certainly shares many visible characteristics with the modern assault rifle and is of a rather compact size for a weapon of this class. However, the PAW-20 is chambered for a large 20mm cartridge, a projectile normally reserved for vehicle- and aircraft-mounted cannons. As such, the PAW-20 is a rather devastating weapon to consider especially at the squad-level, bringing large-caliber firepower to the mix alongside traditional automatic weaponry. The option of firing grenades as opposed to traditional bullets at an enemy certainly holds its own advantages - grenades have a way of "finding" targets that are out of line-of-sight due to their inherent "spray" qualities. One must also consider the benefits of such a weapon for "light" infantry units such as special forces, airborne troops or reconnaissance groups - for all these could benefit greatly from a portable 20mm weapon system alongside their automatic weapons.
The most unique aspect of the PAW-20's design is its overall arrangement. While sharing an appearance akin to assault rifles of today, the PAW-20 incorporates features that make it a wholly unique weapon. This includes setting the pistol grip and trigger to the right side of the receiver. The grip and trigger are shrouded over by an extending cover emanating from the receiver itself. The operator manages the trigger in a conventional way and tucks the buttstock into the shoulder prior to firing as with any rifle system. The free hand supports the forward end of the weapon as in a normal "long gun" by way of a forward handguard wrapped around the barrel and gas cylinder. The weapon's unique arrangement attempts to control the inherently violent recoil effects of firing such a large and powerful cartridge. As such, the weapon is designed to recoil apart from the stock itself. Truth be told, the recoil force is manageable but there is still something to be felt from firing the 20mm projectile. The overall design is sleek and modern, finished in a flat black, with a red-dot type collimating sight fitted over the receiver (side-by-side Picatinny rails provided as standard for other specialized optics use). The large ejection port is set to the left side of the receiver and operates similar to that of an assault rifle extraction system. The magazine well can accept a standard 7-round detachable box magazine or a 6-round rotary drum and a stock is fitted to the rear of the weapon for a firm "three-point" hold in the traditional sense.
The weapon sports an overall length of 845mm with a 375mm barrel assembly. Weight is equal to 6 kilograms when unloaded. Range is out to 1,000 meters though this is dependent on ammunition type being used as well as environmental factors. Typical operating ranges are stated under 400 meters while point targets can be hit out to 600 meters. Muzzle velocity is 984 feet per second.
A unique operational aspect of the PAW-20 is its ability to "collapse" the forward region of the gun within itself, bringing the running length of the weapon down from 33.3 inches to 30 inches. This space-saving measure makes for a slightly more compact system as a whole and beneficial in particular to those infantry required to carry the weapon for hours on patrol. In this mode, the weapon can still be effectively reloaded and cocked for the ready though not fired until completely extended. Extension is accomplished by management of a simply release latch.