In this series looking at weapons used in Ukraine we’ve looked at a number of different grenade launchers including GP-25s adapted for standalone use, FN FN40GLs, discharger cups for hand grenades and perhaps the rarest grenade launcher seen in Ukraine so far; the standalone Colt M203. Another interesting and fairly rarely seen grenade launcher that began to appear in Ukraine last winter is LMT’s standalone 40mm M203.

LMT offers a series of M203-derived launchers and two standalone stock attachment methods. The Iowa-based company introduced its 40mm grenade launchers in 2003. The launchers seen in Ukraine appear to be the rail mounted version with a 9 inch long barrel.

An LMT M203 in the field (via Rogue Team)

The first sighting of an LMT M203 in Ukraine came in November 2023, when Georgian volunteer O.d.i.n.s.o.n., part of the GUR/HUR (Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence)’s Omega Team, posted a photo of one side by side with a standalone GP25. The launchers likely arrived in country a little earlier, speaking to TAB at the time he noted that “the aiming module is a little weird. It has like an M4 forward sight and GL [grenade launcher] distance adjustable rear sight but it’s on top of the weapon. So it doesn’t force you to arc the barrel Like a GP25 does.”

The next appearance of one of the launchers came in late February 2024, when Scorpion Protection Group, another SOF group, shared a photo of a combatant training with one. A third GUR unit, Rogue Team, have also posted images featuring an LMT M203. The first image was shared by a team member on 17 March. This was followed by an image shared on the team’s Instagram page on the 5 April.

LMT M203 rail mounted version with 9in barrel – right side (LMT)

On the 14 April, a photo posted by one of the Kraken Regiment’s (also under the GUR) teams also appears to include a standalone LMT M203. Most recently on 16 April, a Spanish member of Omega Team, shared a photo of an LMT M203 with its action open with a round ready to load. On the same day TAB spoke again to Omega Team member O.d.d.i.n.s.o.n. at length about the launchers.

O.d.i.n.s.o.n. explained that the unit switched from rotary 40mm grenade launchers to standalone GP25s and LMT M203 as they are lighter and less bulky than the rotary launchers. He reiterated the difference in the LMT sight from quadrant sights found on other launchers and noted that “instead of a switch or a selector it has a little hook that you pull back and it prevents your finger from going on the trigger.” This is a carry over from the original M203 on which LMT’s launcher is based.

When comparing the GP25 and M203 O.d.i.n.s.o.n. noted that the M203 is light, effective and has a ‘really nice stock’ but he dislikes that the M203’s action has to be opened to reload, unlike the GP25 which when fired “leaves nothing inside the tube and is faster on the reload.” When asked if he’d seen many other units using LMT launchers he explained that “most [International Legion] Special Task Units [affiliated with the GUR] have a couple.”

An LMT M203 with its action open (Courtesy of Delta Knights)

We also spoke with Delta Knights, another GUR Specal Task Unit made up of international volunteers, who confirmed they also use LMT M203s and said that they ‘really love it’ but one thing they do wish they had more of is 40mm smoke grenades, adding that the launcher is most often employed with High Explosive (HE) grenades. Delta Knights were kind enough to provide some photos and videos of the M203 in operation at the range.

While the imagery and information available confirms combat use of the LMT M203s in Ukraine it doesn’t give us a solid picture of just how many are in-theatre and other units who may be using them. As always the imagery shared online represents a fraction of what is going on and can only be considered a limited sample. In terms of the origins of the launchers one potential source for the LMT M203s is Estonia which adopted the LMT MARS-L as the R-20 in 2020. Some of the Estonian R-20s have been seen with LMT M203s and given Estonia’s considerable past support for Ukraine it is possible that they may have provided a number of the launchers.

Special thanks to O.D.I.N.S.O.N and Delta Knights for their time and insights and to the guys at Cloooud for additional assistance.

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Bibliography:

9″ Standalone Rail Mounted M203, LMT, (source)

The LMT M203-2003 Grenade Launcher, Small Arms Defense Journal, (source)

Lmt M203 Grenade Launcher Stand Alone Frame, LMT, (source)