During the Cold War decades, the automatic grenade launcher became a viable battlefield weapon system, replacing past reliance on rifle-launched grenade projectiles or squad-level field mortars. While most of the classic designs emerged from Milkor of South Africa, a few were also born in the Soviet Union and the United States. For the latter, one of the products became the Hawk MM-1 developed by Hawk Engineering Company. It was chambered for 40x46mm grenade projectiles, fired from a semi-automatic action, and fed from a 12-round rotating drum arrangement. The type is believed to have seen some military service with a few African forces and is rumored to have been operated by American special forces for a time.
The technical categorization of weapons such as the MM-1 is "Multiple Grenade Launcher" (MGL) due to their voluminous, repeat-fire nature as well as their relative portability. In the hands of an infantryman, such a weapon would replace a primary service rifle due to weight and size of the ammunition in use. Nevertheless, the lethality and firepower inherent in the MGL weapon system is a welcomed sight on modern battlefields where grenadiers can destroy light fortifications and vehicles, provide suppression fire, or dislodge dug-in enemy forces at range. Effective range (to a point target) for the MIM-1 was listed at 500 feet with a target area engagement range out to 1,150 feet. Chambered for the 40x46mm grenade - the same as featured in the Vietnam War-era M79 and the underslung M203 - the MM-1 could accept other grenade projectile rounds of the same caliber beyond the standard High-Explosive (HE) variety. Indeed, the weapon's roots were laid in a riot control tear gas-dispensing weapon of World War 2 vintage and not so much a weapon of war. The MM-1 was given some rifle-like qualities, particularly the stand-alone pistol grip at rear and the foregrip ahead of the cylinder.
Internally, the MM-1 was given a clockwork spring mechanism which was manually wound up during the reloading process. The weapon was of a break-action arrangement and opened at the rear to expose the awaiting cylinder chambers. The weapon's semi-automatic action was used to rotate the cylinder (to present a grenade projectile to the striker) when firing. The lengthy reloading process, coupled to the weapon's cumbersome nature, made it a limited-value system for many frontline armies of the day. Many powers elected to coupled a single-shot grenade launcher as an under-barrel installment with their existing assault rifles (as in the M203 with M16 assault rifle).
Manufacturing Hawk Engineering Company - USA
Brazil; Egypt; El Salvador; South Africa; United States
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