The M79 grenade launcher was and still is a popular weapon in armies around the world.
The M79 first saw action during the Vietnam War, where it became a favorite weapon of American soldiers, who dubbed it the Thump Gun, Thumper, Big Ed and Can Cannon, among other nicknames.
The M79 has largely been replaced in American military service by the M203, but it remains a popular weapon in armies around the world.
This video cutaway animation shows the inner workings of the firearm, which can also fire a wide variety of 40mm rounds, including explosives, anti-personnel, smoke, buckshot and illumination.
As you can see, the interior firing mechanism of the M79 is pretty simple. The entire weapon has only five major parts: a receiver group, fore-end assembly, barrel, sight assembly, and a stock.
The first M79 grenade launchers were delivered to the U.S. Army in 1961. The break-action gun became popular with soldiers due to its ease of use, simple and reliable operation, and the firepower it was able to deliver.
Apparently, soldiers also referred to it as "the platoon leader's artillery."
In recent years, the M79 has reportedly returned to favor over the M203, which replaced it. Navy SEALS and Special Forces in Iraq have used the launcher because of its greater range (350m versus 150m with the M203) and accuracy. It has also seen use in clearing IEDs.
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