AGS-17 Automatic Grenade Launcher

First in a short series of posts on fairly obscure Soviet weapons.

You do recall that the Soviet Union and China had a series of division sized clashes along their shared border back in the 1960s, right?

Well, they did. And at the time, the preferred Chinese tactic was much as it had been during the Korean War- massed human wave attacks. That’s pretty tough if you’re part of the wave. But its also pretty tough to defend against.  The need to counter possible future attacks, along with reports from the Vietnamese about US automatic grenade launchers just entering service, prompted the Soviets to design their own.


It took a few years, and never saw action against Chinese forces, but by the early 1970s, the AGS-17 was in widespread use amongst Soviet forces. A fully automatic, blowback operated grenade launcher fired from a tripod, the launcher uses a 30mm x 29 casing, with high explosive fragmentation warhead. It’s fed by a non-disintegrating metallic link belt stored in a 29-round drum.

The launcher can be used in direct-fire mode against targets out to 800m for point targets, or area targets out to its maximum range of 1700m. Interestingly, it can also be used in high-angle fire, almost like an automatic mortar, to engage defilade targets.

The AGS-17 saw extensive use during Soviet operations in Afghanistan, where it proved quite useful firing against Mujahedeen positions, especially RPG and anti-tank teams.  Variants were developed for mounting on vehicles, helicopters, and aircraft.  It has also seen widespread use in Chechnya and other Russian operations.

A refined, lighter version, the AGS-30, has entered service and is slowly replacing the –17.


3 thoughts on “AGS-17 Automatic Grenade Launcher”

  1. Some of Robert Brown’s minions at Soldier of Fortune Mag brought one of these home from Trashcanistan back in the early 80s. Brown’s boys fired it and just before they pulled the trigger, the Muj made themselves real scarce. Unlike the M-79 bloop tube grenades, they had no safeties and they had been known to produce more than one muzzle blast.

    1. SOF used to be a pretty good mag in the 80s. I had another 2 year stent reading them about the time of Desert Storm. Brown’s bunch brought a number of things back through Pakistan (unlike Dan rather, they actually went into Afghanistan when the Muj were fighting Ivan. Some the stuff they brought back was the first examples our intel guys had seen.

      Fred Reed used to write for them back then. Susan Katz did as well.

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