William J. Ricca Surplus Sales
PO Box 25
New Tripoli, Pennsylvania 18066-0025
Bidding on Government Surplus since 1971
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The M76 Grenade Launcher and Some Its Predecessors©
The M76 Grenade Launcher (GL) was the last standardized design in US inventory. For years the individual rifleman had the ability to launch a variety of projectiles to support his fighting role. When the T44E4* was adopted as the M14 Rifle, the M76 would fulfill that supporting role.
The M76 was produced in 1961. It evolved from the T140, its 1955 designation. Its use was limited due to the introduction of the M79 Grenade Launcher, LAW Rockets, and Rocket Propelled "Pop Up" Pyrotechnic Signals. In 1964 there were still plenty in the 82d Airborne, but their use was relegated to the launching of ground signals. As army units received the XM16E1 in 1965, the M14's were withdrawn and with them went their launchers. Because the Marine Corps used the M14 for a longer period of time, there is the misconception that the M76 was strictly a Marine Corps item of issue.
The launcher was packed in a black cardboard tube, which is indicative of many of Springfield Armory's contracts from that time period. All tubes I have observed have been BATCH NO. 7, as shown on the label.
Thanks to long time grenade launcher collector, Tom Tangen, here is an M76 packed in a tube marked Batch No 6, from July of 1961. Tom is an advanced collector and has helped many people with his information and equipment findings. My appreciation goes to Tom for his constant help and for providing this image.
The M76 shown below is probably from very early production. It has a black shiny finish. Mostly all observed have a dull black or dark gray finish. Many have also been refinished, resulting in a variety of shades and colors. There is also another characteristic that differs from the late production models, but that will not be published.
Pictured at right are the M76 (Top) as adopted and on bottom is one for the T44 rifle (not the T44E4). The comparison shows similar designs but detailed differences.
The M76's locking latch is longer. It also has a very strong grenade retaining spring which is mounted on the bottom. (If you clicked on the above T140 hyper link you noticed the difference in the M76 retainer and the two springs used on the original T140).
The T44's launcher, whose "T" designation is unknown at this time, has a 360 degree grenade retaining spring. The retainer consists of two spring steel bands (front and rear) with four connectors 90 degrees apart. This retainer is made of very thin steel and I doubt it would have held up to continuous launchings. The range scale is also slightly different in calibration from that of the M76. The numbers on the range scale were hand struck.
These are the two corresponding flash suppressors for the above launchers. Shown on top is the M14 (T44E4). The bottom flash suppressor fits the T44 Rifle. A comparison of the bayonet lugs shows the difference in lengths.
The T44's flash suppressor has a larger outside diameter and does not accommodate the M76. The slots are also different. It has thinner vent walls, resulting in wider slots and a larger surface area for cooling the gases. It also has 4 vertical vents on each side of the suppressor.
The launcher at the right is unknown. A standard M14 flash suppressor fits inside, but the launcher's locking latch is too short. It uses the 1940's circular retaining spring. I had a hunch it might have fit the T25 Rifle, but that was wrong. I tested it and unfortunately it was not even close. The T25 Flash Suppressor does not have a bayonet lug.
I now suspect it was for the T44E6, which was a light weight version of the T44E4. I cannot confirm it, just a suspicion.
* One of my pet peeves is that many individuals and some dealers make a persistent mistake. When referring to the T44E4, which was the developmental designation for the M14, they use the term "T44". It may be due to laziness, carelessness, or lack of knowledge. There was a T44 Rifle and it was very different. The T44E4 was the forth major enhancement (design improvement) of the T44 and the nomenclatures should not be interchanged. It causes confusion.
WANTED: A photograph of any similar Grenade Launcher or other modifications to the above launchers. If it's for sale please let me know. If it is not for sale I would appreciate a picture.
This information may be used freely for message boards discussions. Permission must be granted for use on websites, for publication, or for inter-net auctions. Don't be afraid to ask, you may be surprised.
All inquiries regarding this research project must be by email.
Grenade Launchers and Associated Equipment
Copyright November, 2004