Carl Gustaf, Tactical Employment and Training

My buddy saw the response to my previous post about the M3 Carl Gustaf and wanted to elaborate and clarify a few things for our readers.  Below you will see the details that he shared with me on the tactical employment of the Goose, and some of the training considerations.  I hope this proves useful for those of you who are fixing to take this recoiless rifle to Afghanistan in the coming months.

Configuration of an Anti-Tank Team:

The gunner carries the gun (CG) and at the MOST an m4 is what we found to be good, but we eventually went with the gunner carrying a nine (M9). The goose can be a chore enough to lug around, and make sure its not dinging on anything (being that the sight mount is pretty sensitive).  I must say a two man goose team was essential during rough firefights and made all the difference sometimes where a Javeline would have made none.

As far as being too heavy to hump on a patrol, it’s along the lines of a M240, but easier considering you can have it slung over your shoulder. The debate over having a MG team or a CG team is one to be had though when in tight spots for troops on ground. I would say though, having the advantage of putting an HE round into a house around 1000 meters away and putting this fight to an end quickly is one to be thought about.

Combat Load:

As for the normal combat load, we carried one TP (for the doors), 1 Thermo-Baric, two HEDP and a Smoke.  The goose had its own case for rounds which made it easy, and the rounds weren’t exactly heavy.

The only down side of the goose would be the high range of arming distance on some of the rounds.  If I was inside of 100 meters on some targets, I wouldn’t (and most didn’t) expect to go off besides the fachette.  Also, the back blast area is rather large, and you must take all of that into acount. Looking at pictures that you have up [on the previous article] and others that I have seen of people firing the goose is completely wrong, because you need someone to stablize the gunner, watch his back blast, and also watch his impact, much like any AG on a crew served weapon, which I believe the goose falls under.

Back to the rounds being carried. My gunner carried no rounds and especially none in chamber. This was because the safety on the goose is rather touchy, and will switch at the slightest movement. An AD of a goose round would be horrible, because there may be no lives lost, but it is extremely loud. A two man team is more than enough, since your AG (the team leader) carries the goose ruck and rounds and an m4, while the gunner carries the goose and at MOST an m4. (But I would recommend a pistol.) After the intial round, if you need to fire another, your AG needs to ready the next round (dial it in if the round calls for it), and your gunner needs to make sure the tube is clear and he’s dialed in for whichever round you are loading up. Sometimes the shells will stick and the gunner needs to be working on clearing that out and getting ready for the next round, so carrying anything besides a pistol is extra work.


The problems I started seeing in [my unit] were that I was seriously the only one in [my unit] that knew this weapon inside and out and knew what we could and could not do with it. We would get into an Op-order and I would have people saying the the back blast was only 25 meters and 10 degrees off of each side, which simply isn’t true, and that is a good way to get people hurt. I also had missions come up in which we were told we were going to fire the goose at a target building within 50 to 75 meters, which wasn’t going to work out because the round wouldn’t arm. So, being a TEAM LEADER, I constantly found myself jumping up in these Op-Orders, correcting the wrongs and then sometimes being looked at like I was crazy. But in reality, I was the only person (pretty much) in the whole company who knew what the f**k they were talking about when it came to the goose.

As I look at the pictures you posted, the casual approach to this weapon amazes me. Don’t know if its the lack of training or experience or just the laziness in the big Army, but it’s something that needs to change. When used incorrectly and taken for granted it will not be pretty. The gunner must be held steady, his back blast must be watched and his impact must be watched as well. The communication between gunner and AG is more key than that between the M240 gunner and AG, because the goose has 4 different settings for different rounds and these must be dialed in perfectly, otherwise you could end up shooting a round into the dirt 50 meters in front of you. At the range that isn’t a huge deal, but in combat, a mis-dialed goose round going into your buddy’s house isn’t ideal. I’ve watched several youtube videos on the goose and its seems to me that a lot of these people are not trained to where they need to be on this weapon or just don’t care which is tragic. You must know this also Murph coming from a Weapons Squad.
There aren’t two or three ways to run a machine gun team, or fire a .50 cal, there is ONE way and ONE way only, and that is the correct way.

I really believe that the military should have a hard school for heavy weapons and weapon squad tactics and the role that they play in combat, ESPECIALLY in Afghanistan.  An ever evolving battlefield it may be, but some of the basics stay the same, and a solid, knowledgeable Weapons Squad behind any platoon is the key factor for victory.

Blast Over Pressure (BOP):

When it came to the BOP effect, I have fired over 25 rounds in one day at a range without serious injury, but I will tell you something; I slept like a baby that night, LOL. I got a little woozy and felt it, but my lungs didn’t collapse, LOL. I’ve had these ranges on several occasions, and I also did a two month train up with the Swedes who manufacture the goose, which was probably one of the best training events I’ve been through. Knowing exactly what every round does from start to finish and just learning different tactics of this weapon was invaluable. Not to toot my own horn, but I would say hands down I am an expert on this weapon and way ahead of most in the military.

The BOP chart its really mixed up, and I’m sure I have the actual chart somewhere, but it all depends on what round you shoot and from what position, and your AG is affected by it too. I would say in training it’s not a HUGE deal, but in combat, you don’t want to BOP your guys out and have them fighting the next day.

Kit Up! contributor Jack Murphy is a former Ranger, Special Forces Soldier and is the author of the military thriller Reflexive Fire.

  • CavGuy02

    Great article! They just had some photos up on AKO of 82nd guys doing training. Should be interesting to hear implementation/usage in the coming months.

  • majrod

    Good write up. Very informative.

    Weapons squad training school is a good idea but it’s not going to happen Army wide. E.G. The Army recently closed the 11H (TOW Gunner) school because of budget issues. Units request the training now and the trainers come to the unit. The medium machinegun has always been an OJT weapon and I’ve seen units be EXCELLENT or just check the block. My light battalion ran a 2-4 week train up for all M60 gunners, crews and secondary teams. They taught the basics and more advanced stuff like long range engagements & employment which were core parts of the advanced NCO courses and officer basic courses.

    My experience in light infantry was the most experienced squad leader was selected for your weapons squad leader and was the primary trainer for that squad’s weapons. That worked for us but we paid attention to it. The Goose is going to take some MTTs and train ups until the Army develops a institutional foundation of knowledge.

  • SeanN

    We didn’t have a Gustaf in my unit, but we fired off quite a few AT4s on static defense. I talked to some ex-Marine buddies who liked the SMAW: how does the SMAW compare to the Gustaf?

  • Lew

    In Sweden we call it the “stovepipe”, but it’s said with love. The grg (Swedish: “Granatgevär”, “Grenade Rifle” is an excellent weapon and one we’re very proud of. It is perhaps the most important weapon in our conventional light infantry fight and a great one at that. Our gunners and AGs both carry G3’s but the gunner has a helluvva’ job doing anything and they do take their sweet time to set it all up. Quite a lot of time the tube stays in the truck while advancing, it’s a very bulky affair (we still have the old steel one’s).

    One thing everyone using one of them must remember is that the back-blast is ******* lethal. That’s not exagerating, that’s physical fact. STAY OUT OF THE DAMNED CONE! **** (rocks, chairs, boards, sticks, kit) will fly around like crazy and there will be fire.

    Stay safe and enjoy the Carl Gustaf. It’s a great tool but like all tools you need to know what you’re dealing with.

  • Lance

    Got to love the old M3 as both a antitank weapon that can kill a T-72 with one shot or as a bunker buster like they use them in Afghanistan now. the only down side is that they are very heavy to lug around and make a LAW rocket look pretty beautiful after a 20 mile hike with one.

  • Wow

    How come we buy from foreign countries when people keep advocating for “buy american”.

    • majrod

      Name a US system with similar let alone superior specs (range, weight, types of rounds, performance).

      I’m all for buying American except when we don’t make it.

  • Great article Jack! This is the kind of information that could save lives and/or efficiently help to kill the enemy. I was thinking that if the military doesn’t want to spin up a school for this, that the private industry could take this by the horns? Imagine Gunsite or some similar school putting on an advanced course on how to use the Gustav? Bring in foreign instructors, or guys like yourself, and put together a top notch course that would really help soldiers to juice every bit of capability and lethality out of these things.

    The other thing I was thinking about is getting the weapons parts industry excited about this weapon. Imagine Magpul making Carl Gustav parts? Or Eagle Industries making special packs and ammo carriers for this thing. Aimpoint has already made a cool FCS sight for the Gustav, and it would be great to see more of that.

    • majrod

      Uh, I guess you missed my post about the Army’s budget issues?

  • Great article. Very informative.
    We have CG in our unit and we fired some sub munitions only.
    I made two slow motion videos with CG firing sub-munition and back blast charge with different frames per second, recorded at 300 and 600 fps.
    I hope i can record a video in slo-mo with “big” ammo in near future.
    Here is a link with the slo-mo videos:
    The third video in the above link is recorded in normal fps, firing sub with back blast charge.
    The speed of special sub-ammo is identical to the speed of big round.

    • Ah, the Sub-Cal. I remember when our guys came back from deployment and I opened one of their Gustaf rucks and saw the back end of the sub-cal. I almost hit the roof because I thought that they had brought live rounds back from Afghanistan!

  • Wow

    Then explain to me why our military expenditures are the highest in the world yet we aren’t able to create such a thing?

    • karpy

      Wow – I don’t see your point. Why would the US military pay to fund research and development costs for a weapon system that already exists? That would just be an additional expenditure. I agree with majrod.

      • We don’t make Kindles or iPads in America either, there are reasons why we have little manufacturing in this country which are social, political, and economic in nature. A little much to get into here but the answer to your question isn’t as straight forward as you might think.

  • I’d actually prefer to see something like this kept in house. The institutional knowledge just isn’t there, at least not in any of the vendor schools that I am aware of. As Major Rod said, it should be OJT, nothing can replace that. Team Leaders need to coach, teach, and mentor rather that let someone else do the heavy lifting for them. My friend feels there should be a Weapons Squad course because it is a technical job that requires a lot of training and experience to know how to effectively and efficiently employ the guns in combat. I would think that the answer would be to set up a two week block of instruction within your battalion with experienced Wpns SQD leaders as instructors and bring is outside help (the Swedes from Carl Gustaf) as needed.

    • majrod

      Jack – No doubt the Swedes know their weapon but for getting the Army up to speed I’d say just use the Ranger Reg’ts POIs and some of their experinced NCOs. They’ve probably fired more rounds than conventional swede units in training and for sure in combat. Borrow a couple of experienced NCO’s to put together a team and do it in house. Maybe build the expertise in the AMU?

      We invest a tremendous amount in fielding Ranger BN’s. This would be a small bit of payback for being the recruiting ground for one of the bst spec ops units in the world.

      • Not a bad idea, you could also look at 18Bravos as this is supposed to be their job anyway. Training soldiers is in turn good training for them as instructors.

  • Carl Milkowski

    Great article Jack, although, I don’t think your comment about “big Army lazyness,” is accurate. In the last 10 years I’ve witnessed many examples to the contrary.

    Getting back to the subject, you mentioned that the goose would better serve the infantry squard then the M240 meaning that its either the CG or the MG. Actually I’ve seen both being carried. Don’t know if this is common or not.

    • majrod

      Yeah, “big army laziness” is better indicator of special ops egoism than a measure of the organization that provides the breeding ground and training special ops units rely upon to recruit from and the firepower to enable their measured application.

      “Big army” is as offensive to me as refering to special ops as “cowboys” or “glory boys” is to them.

      • Maj. Rod, my Platoon’s name in 3/75 was Glory Boys!

        • majrod

          So be it. My point remains.

          Doesn’t help the joint fight to be talking bad about your parent organization. Teenagers tend to think their parents are uncool to only later find out their parents were more patient with them than they deserved and a big contributing factor to their success.

  • Hi Carl,

    I wrote the introduction, the rest of from a friend of mine who used the Gustaf in combat. I’ve seen M240B’s and the CG on the support by fire line together as well. The most effective way of course, is to employ the AT section as a whole, three teams, three Gustaf’s that can prioritize targets or vector in on a single objective. It’s all situation dependent of course.

  • milner

    What its like at close proximity during a firefight

  • Did more online research and answered my own question. I need to get my hands on one of these!

  • CPT SP8

    I don’t normally post but I enjoy reading. the sad fact is we don’t always build the best gear these days. The GOOSE is great and we would only be wasting money agian that we don;t really have trying to come up with something that likely in the end wouldn’t be as good. Look at the current state of are FA units. Out ranged by most with system just as deadly many of which are impovement on our desinged guns. Instead of simple buying or even buying the rights to produce them here we try to upgrade our own. We end up still out ranged with little to show for the money or the effort. Buy the GOOSE and train on it, it is the best option

  • GM Greenwood

    Be sure to protect your ears. I lost 15% of my hearing firing a single Charlie Gee round during training while serving in a British infantry regiment in 1966 .

    • Ouch. We used to wear double ear protection, ear plugs with peltors over them.

  • GM Greenwood

    We were not so fortunate – different times. I should have clarified that its only my right ear, but it still make stereo a little pointless. Other than that, it’s a neat little brute and – back in the day – an amazing advance on the 3.5 in bazooka we also trained on and the suicidal Energa grenade.

  • 145426

    Good post! I commented on “sniper” article and stated my preference for the RPG in closer terrain but didn’t mention it was an arming distance issue. The RPG (my preference is the folding “D” model of Egyptian manufacturer) arms at under 20 meters, an important consideration close/urban terrain with a smaller back-blast, but still deadly). However, if you’ve got some room the M3 would be better and offer more effect, range and accuracy.

    “The most effective way of course, is to employ the AT section as a whole, three teams, three Gustaf’s that can prioritize targets or vector in on a single objective.”

    This pretty much covers NVA tactics when making- contact and breaking contact. Terribly affective for the close range fights of that conflict.

    Another tactic for RPGs is to shoot into the trees above enemy infantry. It works! Would that be possible with an M3?

  • Is there a reason one of my posts did not get through, and the other did immediately? Are there certain words that are prohibited, like “civilian”?


  • Jack

    I have read all of the insightful post here, yet no one has mentioned that this gun is making a huge impact in the fight for our regular Infantry guys right now. To answer the last post; The Carl G.HE round has an airburst capability or counter defilade setting up to 1250m. This is 350m farther than the RPG max range and 650m farther than the XM25. It was demonstrated last year for PEO Ammo with 3 out 5 direct hits at 1000m.
    There is no doubt that it is a dangerous weapon, and attention to detail is a must. However, every new concept in development will cost us over 100k per system and will only effectively fire 500m out of the box. Our infantry guys, tasked with the less than sexy missions, are at the mercy of the existing ROE and standard battle drills. The Taliban can standoff at 700-800m and watch our guys argue with pilots and artillery guys for indirect support (82nd CMDR) then break contact at their leisure. SOF guys and Ranges who generally don’t strike out on foot to conduct presence patrols may have forgot that a 60mm mortar in the “hand held mode” is less than accurate in charge 0-1 while under direct fire with an indirect weapon. The marine corps is using the same tactic to bridge this gap in the ROE and range of engagements. I severed in the parachute infantry in the early 90’s and this tactic would have been laughed out of the room as an individual weapon on a patrol. This gun within two days of being on the ground was already scoring kills in situations that would have one day before, required the entire unit to break contact due to the range of the engagements and criteria of artillery and air support. The Commanders that recently fielded this gun are calling this weapon “A game changer and a must have in the Infantry platoon.” (January 2012)
    Please don’t feel I’m bashing your comments or insight. This conflict has demonstrated that there is no techno answer to fist fighting or being an Infantry guy. You can hit back or you cannot. Our current ROE has hobbled our guys and the weapons developers that promised to change the game with their technology haven’t. This gun at 21lbs (7lbs less than 240B and 18lbs less than one round of Javelin ) today, will weigh 16lbs within three years and will still fire a 6.8lbs HE round 1300m effectively.

    • I’m a little confused…it sounds like you are making the argument FOR the Gustaf as am I.

  • jake

    This is a long way from that old hunk of trash the Dragon

  • jake

    Special ops , saved my ******** by training us the right way in certain warfare. Well my friends ******** in fiction land.

  • jake

    So you can’t use the word for you bottom/rear quarters/the area were you sit? might be better?.The censor is a tough one. Hey how about the medical term gluteus maximus??, The moon?,

  • BigHouse

    Was in a Weapons Plt, A/T section in B/1/75 before they disbanded the platoons. There was a dude in my company that lost 80%+ of his hearing when he set up on the SBF (240 Ammo Bearer- pulling rear security If I recall correctly) w/o any hearing protection. MEB’d out shortly thereafter. This thing was loud! Miss the Goose every day.

  • Swedish D

    Both the AT4 and the Carl Gustaf are designed by Swedish Saab Group. The AT4’s are made in the US and i suspect the Goose’s you guys use is most likely built/assembled in the US as well (or will be soon).
    In Sweden we use both weapons as the backbone of our light infantry and national guard units. Should make any invading force think twice…

  • JoeyBalboa

    Blast overpressure is generated from the firing of weapons and this may cause brain injury. The brain may be injured by the noise, which is produced when, for example, an anti-tank weapon Carl Gustaf,

  • Blast overpressure is generated from the firing of weapons and this may cause brain injury. The brain may be injured by the noise, which is produced when, for example, an anti-tank weapon Carl Gustaf

  • GM Greenwood

    Thanks Joey, this explains a lot …

    • Joe

      This article left out how that the Swedes have increased the rounds per day to 18 (9×2) for a Carl Gustaf gun team, up from 6 in 2012.

      “I read on the internet that you can’t put things on the internet that are not true.”

      That explains a lot..

  • Joe

    Yes sir, the M3’s HE round can be set to explode above ground 100-1250m or set to explode on impact 50-1300m sir.