Ways to Play: Grenade Launchers -
Welcome to the first in an informative series of the varying play styles different weapon types commonly adopt. Be aware these are from my own personal experiences out on the field and not to be replicated word for word! Firstly we need to take a look at what grenade launchers are available;
The Under Barrel
Possibly the most popular and most widely adopted type of grenade launcher on the airsoft market today, these simply attach under your AEG barrel (or with great difficulty if you are lacking a RIS kit!) and are used as more of a contingency plan rather than a primary weapon.
Typically seen on AR-15 variants in many shapes and sizes the under barrel attachment is by far one of the more practical uses of an airsoft grenade launcher, but of course these can sometimes be difficult to reload in a hurry, so you’re better off relying on a pistol or other side arm. One shot is all you get with this one.
The stand-alone grenade launchers tend to lean more into a primary weapon role when used effectively, though these can range from pistol style launchers to replica AT-4’s & RPG’s.
For the sake of this article we’ll assume the classic M79 is what we have in mind, simple to reload as it is a break barrel design much like that of a double barrelled shotgun, these launchers adopt a more close up and personal type of play and tend to be used more within the confines of a CQB site where the launchers spread can be used with deadly efficiency.
The Multiple Grenade Launcher
The multiple grenade launcher is similar to the stand-alone, though these tend to have an ammo capacity in the range of two shells up to (sometimes more than) six shells.
A good example would be the ICS 190-GLM, though the ammo capacity of these launchers makes them more usable in an assault play style the reload times can be diabolically awkward for new users!
So we have our list of grenade launchers and are sieving through all of those pretty implements of doom to find the right one for us, we are going to pick the ICS 190-GLM for this article, though some of these tactics can be still used with stand-alone launchers for those of you who prefer a quicker reload.
We now need to pick a salvo of grenades to put into our launcher, as we have picked a launcher that can hold up to six shells we can have various different types in one load, though personally I like to have all the same type and have various other types on standby for when the situation requires them.
Shower shells are the most common place choice for launchers, these come in a huge variety of colours, capacities and shapes. The shower shell acts much like that of a scattergun chucking out anywhere from 24 rounds upwards in one single shot, so these are best utilized in close quarters or in ambush situations.
Rubber-head shells are high powered rubber rounds which can get considerable range but tend to lack any significant range, allot of sites also do not allow the use of these shells due to the sheer close range impact they can inflict when topped up on c02, a fun method of dealing with non-hit takers nonetheless…
High power shells consist of a rubber ‘stopper’ or ‘plug’ that covers a small chamber that you can fill with rounds, nerf darts, skittles or god forbid, paintballs. The advantage of these shells is they act as a mixture of the two previous types in one grenade with the rubber plug flying off and the skittles following promptly. (note that some sites may frown upon firing sweeties at people).
There are also soon to be TAG shells, which are capable of launching pyrotechnics up to 100 metres, whether these will be available in the UK remains to be seen, though knowing health and safety standards these are likely to be a no-go, however that will not stop me from buying them!
For under barrel users I recommend the shower type shells, as your AEG can (probably) provide you an accurate all-rounder with that extra scattershot for close encounters, or even just a bit of reload protection when in cover.
For Stand-alone users I recommend the having a variety of shells and keeping the weapon unloaded until you hit contact, and then deciding on what your situation requires, this is one of the huge advantages that the stand-alone launcher can boast.
Right then, you have your grenade launcher of choice and a decent amount of shells to go with it time to get some people a bit nervous!
A big factor you can play on with a grenade launcher is the intimidation factor, many new players do not know how airsoft launchers work and might think you have something that launches actual grenades or generally something that goes bang, when in truth you essentially have yourself a large, shotgun like, doom maker. Play on this intimidation! Many players old and new alike don’t like being on the receiving end of a launcher and will give you a wide birth allowing you to assault some positions without needing to fire any of your shells.
Ammo conservation, a critical flaw of a launcher is you don’t typically have more than 12 shells at most so you must use these 12 shots wisely to make full use of your ammo; pick your shots and don’t shoot if you’re not sure you can hit.
Be quick and aggressive; speed is key when assaulting an enemy position. Take some time while walking to and from game areas to scout out potential shortcuts and some decent cover opportunities, being a very situational weapon you need to make sure you can create the situation for you to be fully effective, so get creative! Bring some smokes with you, or even a box big enough to hide in…
Teamwork; this is vital to assuring yourself a chance at a few decent kills. Squad up with some of your buddies make sure they can keep people pinned down so you can move up on the enemy and devastate them from behind with a quick scattershot to ruin their day. Team mates can also help you out by drawing attention away from your position, the sheer look of terror on an enemy’s face when they turn around to see a 40mm barrel pointing at them is one of the smuggest feelings an airsofter can achieve, or maybe that’s just me?
Ambush your targets, much like shotguns launchers are best used on clusters of enemy team members so it is a good idea to find a good place to hide, be patient let them pass then rip them apart as they go for cover, or pick off the straggler(s) with a few cheeky melee kills then save that shot for someone who’s annoyed you earlier that day. A good way of not being seen is to decrease your movement, as with snipers try and get prone and wait for the targets to come into view, track their movements then home in on them.
Finally employ a good level of patience and thinking, you may not get allot of kills so it’s good to take a minute to think about a strategy of how to get into position and be effective, grenade launchers can be a helpful force multiplier in a fire fight, so get stuck in!