Up for sale on GunBroker (by a friend of the blog, actually) is an extremely rare Destructive Device. How rare it is, is a bit hard to pin down; there were 6, or 12, or 20, or maybe as many as 50 made, and then all or nearly all of them went to Vietnam for combat testing, and not many came back. This is what an original looks like:
We know of one at the SEAL/UDT Museum at Ft Pierce, FL, and one in an in-house display at NSWC Crane (not open to the public). Our friend examined one in the War Remnants Museum (formerly the “War Crimes Museum”) in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) and one at the Washington Navy Yard, which was the basis for this accurate reproduction. The weapon in question is a SEAL-specific pump-action 40mm Grenade Launcher. Here’s the repro, sans barrel.
From the dawn of the M79, the troops wanted a multiple-shot version. The Army, though, was deep in the rabbit hole of the ill-conceived Special Purpose Infantry Weapon program and was so determined to schedule the small arms revolution, they were not interested in something so mundane as the next logical improvement of the 40mm low-pressure grenade launcher. So it was left to the SEALs to find Navy resources to make them a short run of launchers, and they did. (Some sources, like the Firearms Information File, Nazarian, and World Guns, call this, mistakenly, the EX-41, which was a different and later development. This launcher had no known name. Here’s a close-up of the action:
The launcher was built with design elements lifted from pump-action shotguns, and parts, where possible, lifted from existing weapons like the M79. The ladder sight will be familiar to anyone who’s shot the 79, …and it looks like there’s provision for a peep sight as well, with a guarded front sight.
…the tubular magazine (which holds 3 rounds, on top of the one chambered) rides below the barrel (file photo of real China Lake launcher); …the stock, trigger and trigger guard all look inherited or modified from the 79, and the safety is the same tang safety (with too-sharp edges!) as the 79. The serials on the originals were located on the tang adjacent to the safety (original below).
Its singular biggest weakness was that it could not feed long or odd-shaped rounds that had been developed for single-shot launchers, but it worked fine with ordinary HE and HEDP rounds. (and on the plus side, it also can’t feed high-pressure 40mm aircraft and Mk19 rounds, which is a good thing. Think kB!). From the listing:
“China Lake Pump” 40mm Grenade Launcher as used by the US Navy SEAL’s in Vietnam. A very small number of these were handmade in the machine shop at China Lake Naval Weapons Station and sent to Vietnam. Only 4 originals are KNOWN to exist, I have personally examined serial number 013 in the War Remnants Museum in Saigon. (HCMC) This is an exact replica of the originals, made from blueprints generated at great effort from the example in the Washington Navy Yard Museum, and brand new/never fired. There are only a handful of these hand built replica’s as well, one of them being owned by Kevin Dockery, the author of “Weapons of the US Navy SEAL’s”. It can be viewed in operation on Youtube by searching “China Lake Pump”. This is a rare bird by any standard.
This one has been built as a Title 1 firearm, so that one could finish it with a 37mm launcher barrel and keep it that way if so inclined. Most buyers will probably want the full-house 40mm version, and so it will transfer as Title 1, and, if if the buyer completes Form 1 with the ATF, a 40mm barrel will then be delivered to you to complete the launcher. (As it’s not presently registered as a Destructive Device, that’s how you have to do it).
This example is currently a Title 1 firearm, same as any rifle/pistol/shotgun, and will transfer as such to your FFL dealer in the same way. After receiving it you would then file a Form 1 with ATF to manufacture it as a Destructive Device. Upon receiving your approved Form 1 from ATF and providing a copy to me, the barrel and rear sight (see pic) which is in the custody of an affiliated FFL dealer, out of my possession and control, will be shipped to you free of charge. This may be your last chance to own one of these, if HRC wins the election, it is completely possible that she could issue an Executive Order to ATF not to accept further applications to make/register DD’s. If your Form 1 is in the system before that though…
It is missing one essential ingredient, a bayonet lug. But that’s the original design. (And where would you put it?)
It’s expensive. Starting bid of $9,500 with a B-I-N of $14,500. But hey, Hollywood, you know Matt Damon needs to wield this in his next action movie, in between appearances talking about how icky guns are. And you Hollywood guys can afford it: you have more money than the God you don’t believe in.
There’s a guy out there who reverse-engineered this to make an updated version. No idea if his work is involved in this particular weapon for sale, but it’s interesting either way.