The RPG-7 (Ручной Противотанковый Гранатомёт Ruchnoy Protivotankoviy Granatomyot, lit. "hand-held anti-tank grenade launcher") (Cyrillic: РПГ-7) is a lightweight, shoulder-fired, reusable grenade launcher. Despite being adopted in 1961, the weapon still sees widespread service in many armies around the world. Operators report it to be an excellent weapon, due to its reliability and effectiveness.
Initially designed as an anti-tank weapon, RPG-7 had expanded into a general tool of fire support, delivering advanced tandem anti-tank payloads, thermobaric charges, and fragmentation grenades. Its reliability, simplicity, low cost, and effectiveness of the RPG-7 have made it the most widely used anti-tank weapon in the world. As of 2016, approximately 40 countries use the weapon, and it is manufactured in a number of variants by nine countries. It is also popular with irregular and guerrilla forces. The RPG-7 has been used in almost all conflicts across all continents since the mid-1960s from the Vietnam War to the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The RPG-7 was first delivered to the Soviet Army in 1961 and deployed at a squad level. It replaced the RPG-2, having clearly out-performed the intermediate RPG-4 design during testing. Its original design concept originated with two World War II era weapons: the American Bazooka and the German Panzerfaust.
The RPG-7 is quite simple in construction; it is a single-shot, muzzle-loaded, smoothbore, shoulder-fired launcher. The diameter of the launching tube is 40 mm, but most of the grenades have an overcaliber warhead; 70-105mm warheads are usually seen. The exception is the antipersonnel OG-7V round, which is 40mm.
Mechanically the RPG-7's firing mechanism is not greatly dissimilar to a single-action revolver, albeit with the hammer striking upwards instead of forwards. The hammer spur is a tab on the back of the front grip, and is pulled down to cock the hammer.
The RPG-7 utilizes a combination of a recoilless launch platform and rocket boosters to propel most types of projectile. Prior to loading the rocket, a tube charge of black powder is screwed to a socked on the long stalk at the base of the warhead: this tube also contains the projectile's folding tailfin assembly. After this, the rocket is inserted in the muzzle of the launcher. This charge burns within the launch tube completely, propelling the grenade out. The rocket booster ignites with a delay, to give the grenade enough time to travel away from the launcher to a safe distance (~20 m). The exhausts for the rocket motor are the small fin-like projections at the base of front section of the warhead. The exception to this is the OG-7V, which is launched by a powder charge only and has no sustainer motor. Because it uses such a launching method, it has a dangerous backblast area of approximately 15 to 20 meters.
The weapon is factory fitted with flip-up iron sights. Due to its expected range of operation, the RPG-7 is often fitted with a PGO-7 2.8× optic sight, or less frequently with an NSP-2 active IR sight or PGN-1 starlight scope. These mate with a AK-style mounting bracket on the launcher's left side, below the rear iron sight mount.
Some of the versions can be taken apart into two pieces for carrying. The RPG-7 was, and still is, widely exported to various countries, including China, the United States, Romania and Iraq, with various modifications to the platform performed to suit various local needs.
The most commonly seen major variations are the RPG-7D paratrooper model (able to be disassembled into two parts for easier carrying), and the lighter Chinese Type 69 RPG. The current model produced by Russia is the RPG-7V2, capable of firing standard and dual high explosive anti-tank (HEAT) rounds, high explosive/fragmentation rounds, and thermobaric warheads (see below), with a UP-7V sighting device fitted (used in tandem with the standard 2.7x PGO-7 optical sight) to allow the use of extended range ammunition. The RPG-7D3 is the equivalent paratrooper model. Both the RPG-7V2 and RPG-7D3 were adopted by the Russian Ground Forces in 2001.
- The article about RPG-7, photos and videos.
- РПГ-7: History, description, modifications, rockets.
- The article about RPG-7.
- The partisan artillery. RPG-7 in local wars.