As big boys toys, grenade launchers and large flare launchers are available that can launch everything from tear gas to high explosives. Of particular interest are 37mm flare launchers that are legal in all states and under international law. Some states (like Kalifornia) have tried to outlaw the ammunition for these launchers under local fireworks ordinances. These launchers cost from $40.00 to $2,000 and come in several configurations ranging from pistol-like models, to versions that mount to rifles like the M203, to large multi-shot units. Recent legislation has affected the legality of mounting some units to firearms, but stand alone units are still legal. Many are available on the open market in parts form but not exactly legal to assemble by most people. Temporary adaptations can be made to make these units legal. Either way, military grade high explosive grenade ammunition is almost exclusively a black market item.
The most popular models approximate the design of the M203 (40mm military grenade launcher) but fire 37mm rounds. They are usually available for less than $300.00 and fire a wide array of commercially available rounds. Adapters are available to make the launchers fire standard rifle, pistol and shotgun ammunition for practice. Adapters are also available to make the larger flare guns fire smaller flares, such as one sold to fire 26mm flares through a 37mm launcher. The assembly of a subcaliber flare gun that fires regular firearm ammunition may constitute illegal manufacture of a firearm in some cases. It is true that the large 37mm flares burn very hot and are capable of starting fires. Care should be taken when firing these devices in any land environment, as they are intended for use over large bodies of water, not dry brush country or pine forests. Pepper gas cartridges are available for non lethal crowd control (good for scenario two) as are explosive projectile rounds that are designed to throw a minimum of harmful shrapnel. 40mm military grenade launchers are available on the black market and the legal collectors' market (licensed by BATF and local authorities) but ammunition is scarce on both markets. One producer makes its wares available on the internet. Available 40mm "ammunition" consists of subcaliber 12g adapters, flechette rounds and adapters for firing 18 .22 caliber bullets at a time. Web sites for producers and sellers can be found with search keywords "grenade launcher". One good source of information and discussion forums on grenade launchers can be found at 37mm.com. The site contains several links to suppliers and information about these devices.
Many people who obtain the 40mm grenade launchers find that ammo is incredibly difficult to obtain and very costly. The launchers themselves are not all that hard to get, but I would caution a frugal survivor to be aware of the expenses involved with adding a grenade launcher of any kind to the survival arsenal. Even the cheapest 37mm rounds go for $5 a shot. They will give a small group tactical options they would not otherwise have, like projecting smoke bombs and distraction devices farther and more accurately than could be thrown by hand.
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