An RPG-7 with a warhead
|Type||Rocket-propelled grenade Launcher|
|Place of origin||Soviet Union|
|In service||1961 – present|
|Used by||See Users|
|Manufacturer||Bazalt (Russian Federation)
Airtronic USA (United States)
|Produced||June 1961 – present|
|Variants||RPG-7V2 (current model)
Type 69 RPG (China)
RPG-7USA (Picatinny Rails)
B-41 (Vietnam), (Cambodia)
|Weight||7 kg (15 lb)|
|Length||950 mm (37.4 in)|
|Muzzle velocity||115 m/s|
|Effective firing range||200m|
|Maximum firing range||~ 920 m (1,000 yd) (self detonates)|
|Sights||PGO-7 (2.7x) and UP-7V Telescopic sight)
Red dot reflex sight on Picatinny rails
The RPG-7 (Russian: РПГ-7) is a portable, unguided, shoulder-launched, anti-tank rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Originally the RPG-7 (Ручной Противотанковый Гранатомёт – Ruchnoy Protivotankovyy Granatomyot, Hand-held anti-tank grenade launcher) and its predecessor, the RPG-2, was designed by the Soviet Union; it is now manufactured by the Russian company Bazalt. The weapon has the GRAU index 6G3. The English-language term "rocket-propelled grenade", though frequently encountered and reasonably descriptive, is a backronym for "RPG" and not based on a literal translation.
The ruggedness, simplicity, low cost, and effectiveness of the RPG-7 has made it the most widely used anti-armor weapon in the world. Currently around 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, such as the Provisional IRA. The RPG has been used in almost all conflicts across all continents since the mid-1960s from the Vietnam War to the early 2010s War in Afghanistan.
Widely-produced, the most commonly seen major variations are the RPG-7D paratrooper model (able to be broken into two parts for easier carrying), and the lighter Chinese Type 69 RPG. DIO of Iran manufactures RPG-7s with olive green handguards, H&K pistol grips, and a Commando variant.
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. The current model produced by Russian Federation is the RPG-7V2, capable of firing standard and dual high explosive anti-tank (HEAT) rounds, high explosive/fragmentation, 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 launcher is reloadable and based around a steel tube, 40 millimeters in diameter, 95.3 centimeters long, and weighing 7 kilograms. The middle of the tube is wood wrapped to protect the user from heat and the end is flared to assist in blast shielding and recoil reduction. Sighting is usually optical with a back-up iron sight, and passive infra-red and night sights are also available.
As with similar weapons, the grenade protrudes from the launch tubes. It is 40–105 millimeters in diameter and weighs between 2.0 and 4.5 kilograms. It is launched by a gunpowder booster charge, giving it an initial speed of 115 meters per second, and creating a cloud of light grey-blue smoke that can give away the position of the shooter. The rocket motor ignites after 10 meters and sustains flight out to 500 meters at a maximum velocity of 295 meters per second. The grenade is stabilized by two sets of fins that deploy in-flight: one large set on the stabilizer pipe to maintain direction and a smaller front set to induce rotation. The grenade can fly up to 1,100 meters; the fuze sets the maximum range, usually 920 meters.
According to the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Bulletin 3u (1977) Soviet RPG-7 Antitank Grenade Launcher—Capabilities and Countermeasures, the RPG-7 munition has two sections: a "booster" section and a "warhead and sustainer motor" section. These must be assembled into the ready-to-use grenade. The booster consists of a "small strip powder charge" that serves to propel the grenade out of the launcher; the sustainer motor then ignites and propels the grenade for the next few seconds, giving it a top speed of 294 meters per second, making it subsonic. The TRADOC bulletin provides anecdotal commentary that the RPG-7 has been fired from within buildings, which agrees with the two-stage design. It is stated that only a 2-meter standoff to a rear obstruction is needed for use inside rooms or fortifications. The fins not only provide drag stabilization, but are designed to impart a slow rotation to the grenade.
Due to the configuration of the RPG-7 sustainer/warhead section, it responds counter-intuitively to crosswinds. A crosswind will tend to exert pressure on the stabilizing fins, causing the projectile to turn into the wind. While the rocket motor is still burning, this will cause the flight path to curve into the wind. The TRADOC bulletin explains aiming difficulties for more distant moving targets in crosswinds at some length. The RPG-7 has no noticeable recoil, the only effect during firing being that of the sudden lightness of the launcher as the rocket leaves the tube.
The RPG-7 can fire a variety of warheads for anti-armor (HEAT, PG-Protivotankovaya Granata) or anti-personnel (HE, OG-Oskolochnaya Granata) purposes, usually fitting with an impact (PIBD) and a 4.5 second fuze. Armor penetration is warhead dependent and ranges from 30 to 60 centimeters of RHA; one warhead, the PG-7VR, is a 'tandem charge' device, used to defeat reactive armor with a single shot.
Current production ammunition for the RPG-7V2 consists of four types:
- PG-7VL [c.1977] Improved 93 mm HEAT warhead effective against most vehicles and fortified targets. Replaces the earlier 85mm PG-7V HEAT warhead [c.1961].
- PG-7VR [c.1988] Dual 64mm/105mm HEAT warhead for defeating modern armored vehicles equipped with reactive armor blocks. The first warhead (64mm HEAT) detonates the reactive armor block prematurely and the second warhead (105mm HEAT) passes through the gap to hit the exposed armor underneath.
- TBG-7V [c.1988] 105 mm Thermobaric warhead for anti-personnel and urban warfare.
- OG-7V [c.1999] 40mm fragmentation warhead for anti-personnel warfare (warhead is within caliber due to limitations of international treaties).
- GSh-7VT [c.2013] Anti-bunker warhead with cylindrical follow-through blast-fragmentation munition followed by explosively formed penetrator.
|Name||Type||Image||Weight||Explosive Weight||Diameter||Penetration||Lethal radius|
|PG-7V & VM||Single-stage HEAT||2.2 kg (4.85 lb)||85 mm (3.35 in)||> 260 mm RHA (10.24 in)|
|PG-7VL||Single-stage HEAT||2.6 kg (5.7 lb)||730 g окфол (95% HMX + 5% wax)||93 mm (3.65 in)||> 500 mm RHA (19.5 in)|
|PG-7VR||Tandem HEAT||4.5 kg (9.9 lb)||?/1.43 kg окфол (95% HMX + 5% wax)||64 mm/105 mm (2.52 in/4.13 in)||600 mm RHA
(with reactive armor)
750 mm RHA
|OG-7V||Fragmentation||2 kg (4 lb)||210 g (0.46 lb) A-IX-1||40 mm (1.6 in)||7 m (23 ft)
(vs. body armor) 150m w/o Body Armor
|TBG-7V||Thermobaric||4.5 kg (9.9 lb)||1.9 kg ОМ 100МИ-3Л + 0.25 kg A-IX-1(as thermobaric explosive booster)||105 mm (4.1 in)||10 m (33 ft)|
A U.S. Army evaluation of the weapon gave the hit probabilities on a 5 meter wide (15 ft), 2.5 meter tall (7.5 ft) panel moving sideways at 4 meters per second (9 miles per hour). This probability decreases when firing in a crosswind due to the unusual behaviour of the round; in a 11-kilometre (7 mi) per hour (3.0 m/s) wind, the gunner can not expect to get a first-round hit more than 50% of the time beyond 180m.
History of use
Accurate firing is difficult at ranges over 300 meters; the phrase "the closer the better" has always been true. During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the mujahideen tended to use the weapon at ranges of less than 80 meters. The RPG-7's predecessor, the RPG-2, was the main anti-tank weapon of NLF forces in the early stage of the Vietnam war, mainly used to counter the lightly armored M113 and other armored vehicles. This was, in turn, countered by mounting barbed wire bundles or sections of chain link fence, supported by 2 or 3 "U" shaped engineer stakes, in front of the vehicle as a portable stand-off defence.
The RPG-7 was used by the Provisional Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland from 1969 to 2005, most notably in Lurgan, County Armagh, where it was used against British Army observation posts and the towering military base at Kitchen Hill in the town. The IRA also used them in Catholic areas of West Belfast against British Army armoured personnel carriers and Army forward operating bases (FOB). Beechmount Avenue was renamed "RPG Avenue" because it was chosen many times by the IRA as an area from which to mount rocket attacks.
The Taliban (in Afghanistan) have formed armored-vehicle hunter/killer teams that work together with as many as 15 RPGs to destroy armoured vehicles, aiming for a mobility kill by firing at the tracks to stop the tank from moving, then attempting to destroy the main armour while the tank is disabled.
- Bangladesh
- Bulgaria: Produced locally by Arsenal Corporation as ATGL-L.
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- Czech Republic
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- Free Aceh Movement
- Georgia: Modified version "RPGL-7G" locally produced by TAM.
- Israel: Large stocks held as secondary ATW. Rounds produced locally.
- Liberia: Used by both the Liberian Army and guerrilla factions in the Liberian Civil Wars.
- Libya (used by both sides in the Libyan civil war)
- New People's Army
- North Korea
- Palestinian Authority
- Pakistan: Used by Pakistan Army & Paramilitary forces of Pakistan. Type 69 variant manufactured under license by Pakistan Ordnance Factories.
- People's Republic of China: Type 69 variant.
- Philippines: Philippine Army to acquire 400 RPG-7 rocket launchers from Airtronic USA.
- Romania – Produced locally by SC Carfil SA from Brașov as AG-7 (Romanian: Aruncătorul de Grenade 7, Grenade Launcher 7).
- Sahrawi Republic
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Saudi Arabia: Saudi army. 
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa: South African National Defence Force.
- Sudan: Made by Military Industry Corporation as the Sinar.
- Syria (used by both sides in the Syrian civil war)
- United States
- Vietnam Designated the B-41 in North Vietnamese service.
- Airtronic USA RPG-7
- AT-3 Sagger
- Carl Gustav recoilless rifle
- M72 LAW
- Panzerfaust 3
- Yasin (RPG)
- List of Russian weaponry
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to RPG-7.|
- Manufacturer's site
- Countering the RPG threat
- RPG a Weapon's Profile – Defense Update
- How Stuff Works – RPG(7)
- RPG-7 analysis and user´s manual
- Modern Firearms: RPG-7
- Technical data, instructional images and diagrams of the RPG-7 (Russian)
- Ultimate Weapons Rpg 7 Military Channel on YouTube