CAMP HABBANIYAH, Iraq -- One of the first things Marines must do before leaving the wire is get a good battle sight zero for their weapons. Without it they won’t know for certain where their rounds will impact, which could be fatal. Every Marine must BZO every weapon they carry, whether it’s an M-16 service rifle, M9 pistol, M249 squad automatic weapon or M203 40mm grenade launcher.
Marines from Company L, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, made a utilizing the range a priority upon arriving here. There they put a razor sharp edge on their gunnery skills with the M203 40mm grenade launcher, but with a surprise twist thrown into the mix.
“We were battle sight zeroing our ‘203’s to remain familiar with the weapon,” said Lance Cpl. Danny R. Rodriguez, 22, from Patterson, N.J. “It’s important to do that so you know your movements, distances, and velocity. That way you can hit targets when your life is on the line.”
The battalion is currently conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, in support of Regimental Combat Team 6.
As the Marines plunked rounds down range and made sight adjustments, they were unaware of the object drawing everyone’s attention behind them. The battalion’s gunner, CWO2 Gregory L. Snyder, had brought out one of the newest weapons in the Marine Corps arsenal an M32 Multiple-shot Grenade Launcher.
The M32 MGL is a stumpy, futuristic weapon whose construction screams attitude and violence. It bears no extra parts or unnecessary accessories. Every part from the collapsible buttstock to the fore-grip and the scope mounted on top is there for a reason.
“I love its appearance,” said Rodriguez. “It looks aggressive all the time, the design is just awesome. If you point this at the enemy, they’re just going to say ‘I’m about to get blown up.’”
Unlike a traditional M203, which can only fire round at a time, the M32 can fire six rounds as fast as the operator can pull the trigger. This is because the M32 has a reloadable six-round magazine that bulges from the weapon. This cylinder makes the weapon look like a revolver on steroids.
“It’s really pretty cool,” said Pfc. Kris A. Peoples, 21, from Kennesaw, Ga. “You don’t have to reload it as much as a ‘203’ and can get a lot of rounds on target. It would be nice if it came with a tactical sling though.”
The sights are also a big improvement over the M203. A scope mounted on the top gives the shooter the ability to follow the flight of the grenade and immediately launch a barrage once he sees the impact of the first grenade.
“You don’t have to take the time to line up the sights every time you shoot like you would on an M203,” said Rodriguez. “The sights remain right on the target.”
The M32 is only an experimental improvement on the M203, not a replacement for the battle-tested weapon that has been in use since the Vietnam War. That sits just fine with the Marines here.
“It’s still a good thing to have an M203, but the M32 would be a sweet weapon to have,” said Rodriguez. “It’s a lot easier to have two weapons around you.”
After they fired the weapon, the Marines discussed how they would use it and what other weapon, if any, they would carry alongside it.
“I’d still rather carry a ‘203’,” said Peoples. “If I had to carry it, then having an M4 also would be awesome. That way I wouldn’t be carrying around a whole lot of weight.”
Having a rifle backup is something Rodriguez agrees with.
“The M32 can be employed all the time. It already has six rounds in the chamber and all you have to do is click it off safe and pull the trigger,” he added. “But the M-16 is always the best weapon to have.”