MANUFACTURER(S): Heckler & Koch GmbH - Germany
OPERATORS: Argentina; Austria; Croatia; Finland; France; Germany; Italy; Luxembourg; Netherlands; Nicaragua; Norway; New Zealand; Panama; Saudi Arabia; Sri Lanka; Turkey
SIGHTS: Aperture Flip Short-Range; Folding Ladder Sight
Detailing the development and operational history of the Heckler & Koch HK69A1 Single-Shot Grenade Launcher.
Entry last updated on 9/28/2016.
Authored by Dan Alex. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
A West German requirement initiated in the 1960s called for a single-shot, grenade launching weapon to be fitted under the barrel of the then-standard issue HKG3A3 service rifle. Designs were put together and, in 1972, a prototype was officially unveiled. The weapon system was accepted into service as the "Granatpistole HK69" ("Grenade Pistol") and would become a fixture of the West German Army inventory for some time. However, the thought develop to evolve the base HK69 into an infantry-level support weapon and the system was slightly modified to include an extendible tubular shoulder stock, integrated sighting device and a pistol grip with trigger unit. The new design was afforded the designation of "HK69A1" and was more or less the same weapon as fitted to the assault rifles. The new launcher was showcased in 1979 and formally accepted into West German Army service in the 1980s under the formal designation of "Granatpistole 40mm" or in its shortened designation as the "GraPi".
In form and function, the HK69A1 was not unlike the American M79. Both were of 40x46mm caliber and charged with specific battlefield functions including support of infantry actions. Both were also of single-shot use and operator's would simply "break" the breech open (tipped forwards on a hinged point at the front of the barrel) and insert a fresh 40mm projectile. Beyond its standard HE (High-Explosive) rounds, the HK69A1 can be called upon to fire non-lethal ordnance (for riot control) including tear gas grenades, smoke grenades and illumination flares.
The HK69A1 weighed in at 5.73lbs unloaded and featured a running length of approximately 27 inches with the stock fully extended. With the stock collapsed, the system's length came down to a more manageable 18 inches. The tubular stock held an ergonomic shoulder pad for accurized fire. Accuracy was also assisted by way of an aperture flip sight and a folding ladder sight atop the receiver/barrel sections as well as a forward iron post. Sights were graduated from 50- to 350-meters. The barrel was 14 inches in length and was essentially a launch tube for the 40mm projectiles. The tube sat atop a squared-off receiver unit that contained the major working components of the weapon including a fire/safety mode selector switch along both the left and right sides of the body (two positions marked as S and F - Safe and Fire modes). Muzzle velocity of the system was 246 feet per second with an effective range out to 350 meters though this was more to do with the available sights. Due to the nature of the exploding 40mm projectiles, there was also a minimum listed operational range of 50 meters for the safety of the operator and nearby friendlies. As stated, the HK69A1 was a breech-loaded weapon and could only fire a single shot at a time before reloading was required on the part of the operator. The HK69A1 is manually actuated by a rear-set hammer after a 40mm projectile has been loaded into the launch tube.
The base HK69A1 was evolved into several notable variants known under the designations of MZP-1, HK79, HK79A1 and the GL-40/90. The MZP-1 (Mehrzweckpistole 1) was a variant designed for police and security forces. The HK79 became an underslung assault rifle derivative for use in the G3 and G41 series rifles. The HK79A1 was nothing more than a specialized version of this same HK79 launcher but modified for use with the HK33 series assault rifle. The GL-40/90 was a locally-produced licensed Italian version of the HK69A1 model.
In all, the HK69A1 has seen use in its various forms by the armies or police forces of Argentina, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Luxembourg, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and Turkey in addition to its use by the West German (now German) military and police.