Weapons come and weapons go, but seldom has one withstood the test of time - and grueling battlefield history - like the Carl Gustav recoilless rifle in 84mm (3.3-inch). This old warhorse has been around a whole lot longer than most of this web site's audience, exceeding some 6 decades.

A lot of water has passed beneath that old bridge, and it's likely the creators of this gun never dreamed it would outlive them - and many of their grandkids. There are some weapons that just fill a niche, and keep on filling it - and the Carl Gustav - the 8,4cm Granatgevar m/48 is a good example.

This man-portable, multi-purpose weapon was designed by Swedes Hugo Abramson and Harald Jentzen and produced by Bofors Anti-Armour AB of Sweden, today's Saab Bofors Dynamics.

The Carl G. continues in production; it has seen action in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Falklands.

It has several applications - the 84mm warhead is tough enough to take down some of the older tanks and most armor, obliterate bunker complexes, neutralize infantry and light up the night sky.

Amongst others, U.S., British, Swedish and Australian forces have employed the Carl G., otherwise known as RAWS (Ranger Antitank Weapons System) to U.S. Special Forces, and its tube reminds some of us of the World War II and Korean War (to a lesser extent, Vietnam)-era M9 bazooka.

As the years have come and gone, the Carl G. has been modified for current battle conditions.

The M1 appeared after World War II. The M2 arrived on the scene in the mid-1960s, and the M3 - used by many of the world's Special Forces, including ours - showcased in 1991.

It measures slightly more than three feet (1 meter) in length and weighs nearly 20 pounds, unloaded. The Carl G. uses a rifled barrel, not the rocket fins of many of today's grenade launchers to stabilize its payload in flight and send ordnance downrange at a muzzle velocity of 950 feet per second. That's sizzling when you consider the U.S. bazooka had a muzzle velocity of about 340 fps.

With practice, the Carl G.'s two-man crew (shooter and ammo carrier-loader) can launch six HEAT (high-explosive, anti-tank) or HEDP (high-explosive, dual-purpose) rounds down range in seconds - 60, to be precise. That's some delivery system. The gun is loaded by a hinged breech (moved to one side), and it can be fired sitting, kneeling, standing, or in the prone position using a handy bipod.

Here's proof of the Carl Gustav Recoilless Rifle's long shelf life and battleworthiness: 60 years after it was unveiled by Abramson and Jentzen, this weapon is preferred by many of today's most vaunted battlefield heroes - soldiers of the British SAS, U.S. Special Forces and the U.S. Army Rangers - the creme de la creme of the modern battlefield. That's some list of references.