Army Headquarters staff had to shout over the burst of 7.62mm rounds coming from the adjacent range as they briefed the group of junior NCOs gathered to evaluate and qualify on the new 84mm M4 Carl Gustaf multi-role weapon system. 

The students in the Direct Fire Support Weapon (DFSW) NCO course, held at the School of Infantry, were among the first to fire the shorter and lighter revamped recoilless rifle, the fourth iteration of a design that dates back to the 1940s. 

The cadre of acquisition staff from Canberra visited Singleton to collect feedback after the course of 18 students had fired sub-calibre and high-explosive rounds, with the evaluations to be used to inform the rollout of 600 M4 units over the next five years.

Initial impressions of the weapon were positive, according to Lance Corporal Benjamin Wright, a 2IC in the 8th/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment’s, DFSW Platoon.

“The safety catch has changed; it’s now a push-through instead of a slide,” he said.

“It’s a bit easier to get at with your thumb, easier to hit with gloves and when you’re under a bit of stress.”

Another new addition is the make-safe capability. 

This locks the cocking lever from moving forward, allowing soldiers to move with the weapon at the action condition.

The make-safe condition will be added to unit standard operating procedures, according to Lance Corporal  Wright. 

“It will give us the ability for quicker engagements,” he said. 

“If we’re doing a tank stalk, we can load one round into the 84mm, and the number two can still have his three rounds on his back.”

Other differences include the weight and length of the weapon. 

The M4 is 2.6kg lighter and 6.6cm shorter than the current M3. There is also the option to fit a fire-control system to improve accuracy.