Fans of the 9mm: multiply the caliber by 10. If you like the Judge, and are intrigued by the .338 Lapua Magnum and 50 BMG, ponder the diameter difference. The 90mm recoilless rifle is fired from any ordinary rifle position, man-portable, and truly without recoil. It has been around for about 50 years, was phased out in favor of the disposable weapons of similar mission (mostly anti-tank, anti bunker) some with advanced aiming and control. The M72 LAW, the Dragon, the AT4 came afterward, for example.
A good short description of the weapon and its uses is here at www.Armyranger.com where the writer starts: “Among Anti-tank weapons employed by Rangers, especially in modern times, none are as storied and despised as the M67 90mm Recoilless Rifle, used by 1st and 2nd Ranger Battalions throughout their existence, prior to the creation of the 75th Ranger Regiment in 1985.”
Despised is right, if you have ever hauled one of those things around in the woods. However, outside of trudging around in the cold woods during training, and in actual combat, apparently the virtues of the 90mm are being appreciated. Now, after all of the disposable, advanced sighting and control anti-tank weapons, the single-shot, optically aimed—even primitive—“stovepipe” is back. This is not a “put some dot on the target, fire and forget” weapon. Shooting the 90 is like duck hunting, leading the target and timing your shot, but sending out a slow round booming out of the muzzle at about same muzzle velocity as that better bb gun you always wanted but you stayed stuck with that cheaper model. That other kid always had the exotic air gun.
Here, for perspective, are troops firing the 90.
But, the 90 excels in its simplicity. It is just a solid metal tube. Loading it is barely different from loading that bolt-action, single-shot .22 you inherited from your grandfather. Once loaded and cocked, the firing mechanism is familiar: hold the pistol grip and press the trigger. I am sure someone will figure out a way to mount advanced optics but the weapon is simple and not sensitive to harsh conditions.
I think it is difficult to get proficient at hitting fast-moving vehicles tracking across your field of fire.
But, the Taliban are not moving around in tanks. I can imagine no better way to trigger an ambush against troops on foot than the 90mm firing a flechette round enfilade into the kill zone: instant anti-personnel devastation accompanied by an unmistakable earth-shaking boom that wakes everybody up to start shooting. No one can be confused about the signal to initiate.
There is some chit-chat about “Why no 90mm?” here. I’m not quite sure why, but, regardless, the 90 is back. If some of you know personally what problems, missions, and thought processes resulted in the 90’s return, I would like to know, so please comment. I bet that its crews hope to dig it in, place it well, clear the backblast area, and leave it there.