The rifle grenade was a unique development in the realm of both firearms and hand grenades that dramatically increased the engagement ranges of the latter weapon through the inherent function of the former weapon. As such, standard infantry could now be converted to a grenadier-type element, allowing these specially-designed munitions to be fired from muzzle of any supported service rifle. Such was the case with the Luchaire SA (now part of Nexter)AC58 rifle grenade of the 1980s, introduced as an extension of the FAMAS assault rifle, the standard service rifle of the modern French Army.
The AC58 took on a rocket-like projectile shape with its conical warhead, cylindrical body, and finned tail unit. The grenade was designed as an anti-tank weapon with its shaped charge warhead intended to defeat the more vulnerable surfaces of a modern combat tank - namely the sides, rear and top facings. The grenade was detonated through a basic impact fuse arrangement and stabilized in flight by its multi-finned tail assembly. The complete grenade weighed 500 grams and featured a length of 380mm with a diameter of 58mm. Its warhead was filled with hexogen-tolite (RDX-TNT).
The AC58 appeared in two notable forms during its history. The original Modele F1 required the use of black cartridges to actuate. The second, more refined version, became the Modele F2 which could make use of a live cartridge by way of a shot-trap function. In the latter model, the riflemen need not introduce a blank cartridge into his gun, interrupting its function, and could simply affix the AC58 over the muzzle of his weapon. The rifle grenade was armed as it was fired, requiring no additional input from the operator. Penetration could be achieved at up to 305mm of armor thickness. Engagement ranges of 100 meters could be reached with the weapon.
The similar, and earlier, APAV40 French Army rifle grenade series featured a smaller 40mm diameter with a rounded warhead but operated in the same fashion as the AC58. Its penetration limit was about 100mm of armor.