CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- A revolution in crew-served weapons systems is taking place and Marines have been tapped to join the insurgence.
General Dynamics Armament Systems, in partnership with General Dynamics Canada and the Nordic Ammunition Company, unveiled the MK-47 40 mm Advanced Lightweight Grenade Machine Gun recently.
With hopes of making the new weapon system part of standard Marine nomenclature, General Dynamics put its new invention to the test by letting Marines from 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment field the goods.
The prototype is an advanced version of the famed MK-19 Grenade Launcher, said Cpl. Steven Szawursky, a heavy guns operator with 25th Marines.
Before getting the chance to fire the new machinery, instructors from Quantico, Va., gave 25th Marines a crash course on the MK-47 and highlighted some of its features, to include its Lightweight Video Sighting system, laser range finder and electronic elevation mechanism.
Heavy gun operators then put the weapon through a three-day test.
The MK-47 endured basic wear and tear from outdoor elements, and the Marines pitted it against the MK-19 in a comparison shoot.
"On a round-to-round basis, the MK-47 was definitely more accurate due to its laser range finder combined with its electronic elevation mechanism," said Lance Cpl. Christian Martinez, a heavy gun operator with 25th Marines.
According to the New York city native, the range finder and elevation feature gives the MK-47 a huge advantage over the MK-19 because shooters are able to pinpoint the exact distance to intended targets. Without both features the shooter must estimate the distance to his target, which usually means the gunner must make vertical and horizontal adjustments to the MK-19 before hitting the objective, said Szawursky.
"One thing most Marines will like about the MK-47 is it weighs about 30 pounds less than the MK-19, mostly due to a lighter tripod," said Martinez.
On the contrary, making good use of the tripod when firing was another story, said Szawursky, who hails from Brooklyn, N.Y.
"When we were firing the weapon, the kickback was too great for the tripod, which weighs about eight pounds. After finishing a three-round burst of fire, the gunner would have to adjust the weapon back to the original position," he said.
On a hard surface the tripod would not be very good, Szawursky added.
Concluding their three-day exercise, Marines fired a total of 18,000 rounds of ammunition with the MK-47. Afterward, the Marines completed questionnaires to critique the weapon.
"Overall, it's definitely better than the MK-19, but it needs some tweaking," said Szawursky.