An RPG-7 with a Russian PG-7G inert training warhead and booster
Type Rocket-propelled grenade launcher[1]
Place of origin Soviet Union
Service history
In service 1961–present
Used by See Users
Wars Since the Vietnam War
Production history
Designer Bazalt
Designed 1961
Manufacturer Bazalt and Degtyarev plant (Russian Federation)
Produced June 1961 – present
Number built 9,000,000+
Variants RPG-7V2 (current model)
RPG-7D3 (paratrooper)
Type 69 RPG (China)
RPG-7USA (Airtronic)
B-41 (Vietnam), (Cambodia)
Weight 7 kg (15 lb)
Length 950 mm (37.4 in)

Caliber 40 mm
Muzzle velocity 115 m/s
Effective firing range 200 m
Maximum firing range ≈920 m (1,000 yd) (self detonates)
Sights PGO-7 (2.7x), UP-7V Telescopic sight and 1PN51/1PN58 night vision sights
Red dot reflex sight

The RPG-7 (Russian: РПГ-7) is a portable, reusable, unguided, shoulder-launched, anti-tank rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Originally the RPG-7 (Ручной Противотанковый Гранатомёт Ruchnoy Protivotankoviy Granatomyot – Hand-held anti-tank grenade launcher) and its predecessor, the RPG-2, were designed by the Soviet Union; it is now manufactured by the Russian company Bazalt. The weapon has the GRAU index 6G3. The English-language term "rocket-propelled grenade", though frequently encountered and reasonably descriptive, is a backronym for "RPG" and not based on a literal translation. "RPG-7" properly refers to the launcher itself, whereas "RPG" refers to the ammunition.

The ruggedness, simplicity, low cost, and effectiveness of the RPG-7 has made it the most widely used anti-armor weapon in the world. Currently around 40 countries use the weapon, and it is manufactured in several variants by nine countries. It is popular with irregular and guerrilla forces. The RPG has been used in almost all conflicts across all continents since the mid-1960s from the Vietnam War to the early 2010s War in Afghanistan.

Widely produced, the most commonly seen major variations are the RPG-7D paratrooper model (can be broken into two parts for easier carrying), and the lighter Chinese Type 69 RPG. DIO of Iran manufactures RPG-7s with olive green handguards, H&K pistol grips, and a Commando variant.

The RPG-7 was first delivered to the Soviet Army in 1961 and deployed at a squad level. It replaced the RPG-2, having clearly out-performed the intermediate RPG-4 design during testing. The current model produced by the Russian Federation is the RPG-7V2, capable of firing standard and dual high explosive anti-tank (HEAT) rounds, high explosive/fragmentation, and thermobaric warheads (see below), with a UP-7V sighting device fitted (used in tandem with the standard 2.7× PGO-7 optical sight) to allow the use of extended range ammunition. The RPG-7D3 is the equivalent paratrooper model. Both the RPG-7V2 and RPG-7D3 were adopted by the Russian Ground Forces in 2001.


The launcher is reloadable and based around a steel tube, 40 millimeters in diameter, 95.3 centimeters long, and weighing 7 kilograms. The middle of the tube is wood wrapped to protect the user from heat and the end is flared to assist in blast shielding and recoil reduction. Sighting is usually optical with a back-up iron sight, and passive infra-red and night sights are also available. The launchers designated RPG-7N1 and RPG-7DN1 can thus mount the multi-purpose night vision scope 1PN51[2] and the launchers designated RPG-7N2 and RPG-7DN2 can mount the multi-purpose night vision scope 1PN58.[3]

As with similar weapons, the grenade protrudes from the launch tubes. It is 40–105 millimeters in diameter and weighs between 2.0[4][5][6] and 4.5 kilograms. It is launched by a gunpowder booster charge, giving it an initial speed of 115 meters per second, and creating a cloud of light grey-blue smoke that can give away the position of the shooter.[7] The rocket motor[8] ignites after 10 meters and sustains flight out to 500 meters at a maximum velocity of 295 meters per second. The grenade is stabilized by two sets of fins that deploy in-flight: one large set on the stabilizer pipe to maintain direction and a smaller front set to induce rotation. The grenade can fly up to 1,100 meters; the fuze sets the maximum range, usually 920 meters.[9]

Propulsion system

An Afghan National Army soldier firing an RPG-7, 2013

According to the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Bulletin 3u (1977) Soviet RPG-7 Antitank Grenade Launcher—Capabilities and Countermeasures, the RPG-7 munition has two sections: a "booster" section and a "warhead and sustainer motor" section. These must be assembled into the ready-to-use grenade. The booster consists of a "small strip powder charge" that serves to propel the grenade out of the launcher; the sustainer motor then ignites and propels the grenade for the next few seconds, giving it a top speed of 294 meters per second. The TRADOC bulletin provides anecdotal commentary that the RPG-7 has been fired from within buildings, which agrees with the two-stage design. It is stated that only a 2-meter standoff to a rear obstruction is needed for use inside rooms or fortifications. The fins not only provide drag stabilization, but are designed to impart a slow rotation to the grenade.

Due to the configuration of the RPG-7 sustainer/warhead section, it responds counter-intuitively to crosswinds. A crosswind will tend to exert pressure on the stabilizing fins, causing the projectile to turn into the wind. While the rocket motor is still burning, this will cause the flight path to curve into the wind. The TRADOC bulletin explains aiming difficulties for more distant moving targets in crosswinds at some length. Similar to a recoilless rifle the RPG-7 has no noticeable recoil, the only effect during firing being that of the sudden lightness of the launcher as the rocket leaves the tube.

Airtronic RPG-7

In 2009, American company Airtronic USA unveiled a modernized version of the weapon called the RPG-7USA. The launcher is fitted with updated features including a MIL-STD-1913 Quad Rail System for mounting combat optics, flip-up back up iron sights, aiming lasers/illuminators, tactical lights, and vertical foregips, as well as an M4 carbine-style pistol grip and telescoping stock. Compared to the RPG-7V2, the American launcher, named by the company the Precision Shoulder-fired Rocket Launcher (PSRL-1), is slightly lighter at 14 lb (6.35 kg) unloaded without optics and is made of 4140/4150 ordnance-grade steel for a longer 1,000-round lifespan that can separate into two pieces for compact carry. The PSRL-1 uses EOTech sights with a new sighting system that combines an illuminated reticule for use in low light situations, and is able to be fitted with magnifying optical sights for long-range firing enabling 90% hit probability at 800 meters, twice the distance of other RPGs; rate of fire is 3-4 round per minute. It is reportedly accurate at ranges from 900-1,200 m, and guided rockets could extend range to 2,000 m. The weapon was a program of record in U.S. Special Operations Command by 2015, and the PSRL-1 was to enter production by mid-2016. Airtronic has also developed the more advanced GS-777/PSRL-2 model made of high-strength polymer that reduces weight to 7.77 lb (3.5 kg) and further improves durability and life cycle.[10][11][12][13][14]


Inside of an RPG's three sections. The head contains the (1) trigger, (2) conductive cone, (3) aerodynamic fairing, (4) conical liner, (5) body, (6) explosive, (7) conductor and (8) detonator. The rocket motor consists of a (9) nozzle block, (10) nozzle and (11) motor body with (12) propellant in front of (13) the motor rear and (14) ignition primer. The booster charge includes the (15) fin, (16) cartridge, (17) charge, (18) turbine, (19) tracer and (20) foam wad.

The RPG-7 can fire a variety of warheads for anti-armor (HEAT, PG-Protivotankovaya Granata) or anti-personnel (HE, OG-Oskolochnaya Granata) purposes, usually fitting with an impact (PIBD) and a 4.5 second fuze. Armor penetration is warhead dependent and ranges from 30 to 60 centimeters of RHA; one warhead, the PG-7VR, is a 'tandem charge' device, used to defeat reactive armor with a single shot.

Current production ammunition for the RPG-7V2 consists of four types:


Manufacturer specifications for the RPG-7V1.[16][17]

Name Type Image Weight Explosive weight[18][19][20] Diameter Penetration Lethal radius
PG-7V & VM Single-stage HEAT 2.2 kg (4.9 lb) 85 mm (3.35 in) > 260 mm RHA (10.24 in)
PG-7VL Single-stage HEAT 2.6 kg (5.7 lb) 730 g OKFOL (95% HMX + 5% wax) 93 mm (3.7 in) > 500 mm (20 in) RHA
PG-7VR Tandem HEAT 4.5 kg (9.9 lb) ?/1.43 kg OKFOL (95% HMX + 5% wax) 64 mm (2.5 in)/105 mm (4.1 in) 600 mm RHA (with reactive armor)

750 mm RHA (without reactive armor)

OG-7V Fragmentation 2 kg (4 lb) 210 g (7.4 oz) A-IX-1 40 mm (1.6 in) 7 m (23 ft) (vs. body armor)
150 m without body armor
TBG-7V Thermobaric 4.5 kg (9.9 lb) 1.9 kg ОМ 100МИ-3Л + 0.25 kg A-IX-1(as thermobaric explosive booster) 105 mm (4.1 in) 10 m (30 ft)

Hit probabilities

A U.S. Army evaluation of the weapon gave the hit probabilities on a 5-meter (16 ft) wide, 2.5-meter (8 ft 2 in) tall panel moving sideways at 4 meters per second (8.9 mph).[21] This probability decreases when firing in a crosswind due to the unusual behaviour of the round; in an 11-kilometer-per-hour (6.8 mph) (3 m/s) wind, the gunner can not expect to get a first-round hit more than 50% of the time beyond 180 m.[22]

Afghan National Police officer at a training site, ready to fire an RPG round.
Range Percent
50 m 100%
100 m 96%
200 m 51%
300 m 22%
400 m 9%
500 m 4%

History of use

Accurate firing is difficult at ranges over 300 meters; the phrase "the closer the better" has always been true. During the Soviet–Afghan War, the mujahideen tended to use the weapon at ranges of less than 80 meters. The RPG-7's predecessor, the RPG-2, was the main anti-tank weapon of Vietcong forces in the early stage of the Vietnam War, mainly used to counter the lightly armored M113 and other armored vehicles. This was, in turn, countered by mounting barbed wire bundles or sections of chain link fence, supported by 2 or 3 "U" shaped engineer stakes, in front of the vehicle as a portable stand-off defense.[23]

The RPG-7 was used by the Provisional Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland from 1969 to 2005, most notably in Lurgan, County Armagh, where it was used against British Army observation posts and the towering military base at Kitchen Hill in the town.[24] The IRA also used them in Catholic areas of West Belfast against British Army armoured personnel carriers and Army forward operating bases (FOB). Beechmount Avenue in Belfast became known as "RPG Avenue" after attacks on British troops.[25]

In Mogadishu, Somalia, rocket-propelled grenades were used to down two U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopters in 1993.[26][27]

The Taliban (in Afghanistan) have formed armored-vehicle hunter/killer teams that work together with as many as 15 RPGs to destroy armoured vehicles, aiming for a mobility kill by firing at the tracks to stop the tank from moving, then attempting to destroy the main armour while the tank is disabled.[28]


Iraqi Security Force (ISF) soldier with an RPG-7.
U.S. and Bulgarian soldiers training with RPG-7s.
A Bulgarian soldier with an ATGL-L (Bulgarian copy of the RPG-7) equipped with a red dot reflex sight.
A Romanian soldier with an AG-7 (licensed built RPG-7).
Iranian manufactured RPG-7 launcher, uncovered in Lebanon, by the IDF.

Former users

See also


  1. "RPG-7/RPG-7V/RPG-7VR Rocket Propelled Grenade Launcher (Multi Purpose Weapon)". Defense Update. 2006. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
  4. 1 2 John Pike. "RPG-7". globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  5. 1 2 "RosOboronExport". rusarm.ru. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  6. 1 2 "Images stories of east_europe,rpg-7_ammunition_Russia_russian_001". armyrecognition.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  7. Infantry, Volumes 88-90, Infantry School (U.S.), United States Army Infantry School, United States Army Infantry School. Editorial and Pictorial Office, United States Army Infantry School. Book Dept, U.S. Army Infantry School, 1998 - Infantry
  8. no rocket motors in OG-7V
  9. Mexico’s Drug Lords Ramp Up Their Arsenals with RPGs, By Ioan Grillo / Mexico CityOct. 25, 2012
  10. Airtronic USA Develops American RPG-7: Meet the Amerikansky Rocket-Propelled Grenade Launcher - Defensereview.com, 13 April 2009
  11. Everything is Cooler with Rails - Airtronic's RPG7-USA - Militarytimes.com, 21 May 2009
  12. U.S. Army Tests Soviet-Designed Rocket Launcher - Kitup.Military.com, 18 February 2015
  13. RPGs, grenades and dummies: 9 soldier-tested gadgets - Armytimes.com, 6 April 2015
  14. Americanized RPG-7 is Ready to Serve - Defense-Update.com, 14 October 2015
  15. FKP GkNIPAS completes development of anti-bunker round for RPG-7V2 grenade launcher - Janes.com, 30 June 2013
  16. "Rosoboronexport". Rusarm.ru. Retrieved 2012-02-20.
  17. John Pike. "RPG-7". Globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 2012-02-20.
  18. Per Ordata
  19. Per The last picture, source from deputy chief designer of Bazalt
  20. Per defense-update RPG-29 due to PG-29V and PG-7VR has same warhead
  21. TRADOC BULLETIN 1, Range and Lethality of U.S. and Soviet Anti-Armour Weapons. United States Army Training And Doctrine Command. 30 September 1975.
  22. TRADOC BULLETIN 3, Soviet RPG-7 Antitank Grenade Launcher. United States Army Training And Doctrine Command. November 1976.
  23. S.Taylor. "A Troop 4th Squadron, 12th US Cavalry, 1st Brigade 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized)". Atroop412cav.com. Retrieved 2012-02-20.
  24. Oppenheimer, A.R. (2009). IRA The Bombs and the Bullets: A history of deadly ingenuity. Dublin: Irish Academic Press. p. 227. ISBN 978-0-7165-2895-1. pp. 240–241
  25. Harrison, David (2007-05-13). "Fragile calm behind Ulster's 'peace walls'". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-02-20.
  26. Speck, Shane (2004-03-11). "How Rocket-Propelled Grenades Work". Science.howstuffworks.com. Retrieved 2012-02-20.
  27. Asymmetric Warfare: Threat and Response in the 21st Century, by Rod Thornton
  28. Popular Mechanics Mar 2004. Books.google.com.my. March 2004. Retrieved 2012-02-20.
  29. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 Jones, Richard D. Jane's Infantry Weapons 2009/2010. Jane's Information Group; 35 edition (January 27, 2009). ISBN 978-0-7106-2869-5.
  30. ATGL-L anti-tank grenade launcher, arsenal.bg
  31. "Burkina Faso Army defence force ranks military pattern camouflage combat field uniforms dress grades - Army Recognition - Army Recognition". armyrecognition.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  32. "Kateholt.com : Galleries". kateholt.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  33. "Rosyjska broń dla Fidżi" (in Polish). altair.pl. Retrieved 2016-02-21.
  34. http://delta.gov.ge/en/product/hand-anti-tank-grenade-launcher-rpg-7g/
  35. "ქართული წარმოების სამხედრო აღჭურვილობა". geo-army.ge. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  36. http://tbilaviamsheni.ge/gallery/rpg%20stc%20delta.pdf
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  38. "albums/y208/elite_navyseal/RPG7Marinir". i6.photobucket.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  39. http://www.marinir.mil.id/berita.php?id=20120319132829. Retrieved October 30, 2012. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  40. Katz, Samuel (1986) Israeli Defence Forces Since 1973. Osprey ISBN 0-85045-687-8
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  42. http://www.sadefensejournal.com/wp/?p=2794
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  44. "Philippines acquires RPG-7 (USA) for anti-armour operations". 2014-01-13. Archived from the original on January 16, 2014. Retrieved 2014-01-15.
  45. Carfil website Archived August 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  46. "Rwanda Rwandan Army ranks land ground forces combat uniforms military equipment rwandais grades unif - Army Recognition - Army Recognition". armyrecognition.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  47. "All sizes | 126829433516 | Flickr – Photo Sharing!". flickr.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
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  49. "Anti Tank weapons". South African Army. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  50. Sinar Light Antitank Rocket Launcher Retrieved on March 17, 2009.
  51. Pike, John (2004-05-14). "The future of Russian-Turkish military-technical cooperation". Globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 2012-02-20.
  52. Nortje, Piet (2003). 32 Battalion. Zebra Press. p. 98. ISBN 978-1-86872-914-2.
  53. Neil Grant (2015). Rhodesian Light Infantryman: 1961-1980. Osprey Publishing. p. 23. ISBN 1472809629.
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