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Headquartered in the city of Kleinraming, and tracing its roots back to the Mitteleuropa's gunmaking tradition of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, the company currently known as Steyr Mannlicher GmbH is Austria's most important manufacturer of firearms and military technologies, and one of the biggest overall in Europe.
Not only does it provides utterly reliable hunting, sports shooting and defensive tools to hundreds of thousands − if not millions − of civilian shooters around the globe: Steyr Mannlicher is particularly active in the field of small arms and light weapons for military, law enforcement and governmental customers.
Ranging from the A1 line of semi-automatic, polymer-frame pistols (L, C, M and S models) to the AUG bull-pup assault rifle platform and to bolt-action long range rifles − all available in a plethora of variants − Steyr Mannlicher's professional products line covers almost all the needs of modern military forces and Police organizations.
The latest entry in professional products from the Austrian manufacturer − as a matter of fact, so new that it isn't yet featured in the Company website − is the GL-40 grenade launcher.
The GL-40 is a last-generation, modular, single-shot reloadable system for all NATO standard 40mm low-velocity ammunition (a.k.a. 40x46mm-SR, not to be confused with the high-velocity 40x53mm-SR ammunition used by belt-fed grenade machineguns such as the MK-19, the MK-47 "Stryker", the Heckler & Koch GMG, the SB-40 LAG, the Vektor Y3-AGL, and many others).
The early prototypes of the Steyr Mannlicher GL-40 module were indeed showcased multiple times in the past years, but the model seen at the EUROSATORY 2014 defense expo − held in Paris from June 16th thru June 20th − appears to be the definitive, production-grade version of the design.
Conceived following the requests and the feedbacks from some of the world's most important military users of Steyr Mannlicher weaponry − the armed forces of Austria, Australiana dn New Zealand, to name a few − the GL-40 launcher boosts up the combat capabilities of individual Police or military operators and of their units when engaged in either conventional or non-conventional combat situations − including, but not limited to: riot control, urban warfare, asymmetric warfare and counter-terrorism.
Entirely manufactured out of metal, the GL-40 sports a milled construction, and is just slightly heavier than 1Kg. all its versions; the launcher itself is also extremely short, standing at 27 centimetres overall, and comes with a double-action-only trigger.
The 180mm-long, rifled barrel tilts sideways to the left for opening, allowing the use of 40x46mm-SR low-velocity shells of any lenght − this meaning either the shorter, explosive military rounds or the longer, less-lethal or non-lethal payloads; this makes the GL-40 much more versatile than a standard front-opening launcher, as it allows for a quicker and easier scalar use of force.
The Steyr Mannlicher GL-40 launcher can dub either as a stand-alone, shoulder-fired grenade discharger or as an undercarried accessory launching module for assault rifles or other individual weapons.
For the GL-40 to be used as a stand-alone weapon, Steyr Mannlicher offers a specific stock system, sporting an ergonomic polymer pistol grip and an M4-type retractable stock, to which the launcher itself attaches through a MIL-STD-1913 "Picatinny" rail interface. The stock also sports other Picatinny rails on top and on its sides to allow the use of flip-up iron sights, optical sights or electronic fire control systems.
The Picatinny interface also allows quick and easy attachment of the GL-40 grenade launcher underneath any assault rifle that either comes − or can be equipped with − a MIL-STD-1913 railed handguard.
For those rifles that don't come with a standard Picatinny-railed handguard − eg. most variants of Steyr's own AUG bull-pup assault rifle system − the company offers an attachment interface that can be secured to the barrel to provide a mounting point for the GL-40.
As all4shooters.com's editors reporting from the EUROSATORY could witness in the hereby-pictured demonstration, the installation of the interface and the launcher can be performed by the operator himself/herself in any condition − even right on the battlefield! − as it requires no tool and takes less than one minute.