Just Banging Away with a 120mm Tank Gun (VIDEO + PHOTOS)

04/8/19 6:30 AM | by

Just Banging Away with a 120mm Tank Gun (VIDEO + PHOTOS)

Army, Marine, Reserve, and National Guard tankers regularly get to head to the range to stay proficient with the big 120 mm tank gun, which packs a wallop.

The German-designed gun (they learned a few things about tanks over the years) originated with Rheinmetall in the 1970s and equips most M1 Abrams main battle tanks as well as the German-made Leopard 2. Smoothbore, the nearly 18-foot long gun has a 4,000m range and can fire everything from tank-eating sabot rounds to the M1028 Canister round, the latter filled with hundreds of tungsten balls that effectively turn a tank into a 73-ton mobile shotgun.

From left to right, a 120mm KE-W A1 tungsten Armor-Piercing, Fin-Stabilized, Discarding Sabot-Tracer (APFSDS-T), 120mm IM HE-T High Explosive, and M1028 canister round (Photos: General Dynamics)

From left to right, a 120mm KE-W A1 tungsten Armor-Piercing, Fin-Stabilized, Discarding Sabot-Tracer (APFSDS-T), 120mm IM HE-T High Explosive, and M1028 canister round (Photos: General Dynamics)

The shells fired by the 120mm gun weigh between 40 and 50 pounds depending on type. The Soldier here is holding a APFSDS sabot round, identified as practice ammunition by its distinctive NATO-designated Saxe-Cobourg blue color. (Photo: 1st Lt. Robert Barney/U.S. Army)

The shells fired by the 120mm gun weigh between 40 and 50 pounds depending on type. The Soldier here is holding an APFSDS sabot round, identified as practice ammunition by its distinctive NATO-designated Saxe-Cobourg blue color. (Photo: 1st Lt. Robert Barney/U.S. Army)

As shown in the above video from the 1st Infantry Division, the effects of the 120mm gun can be dramatic. For a more quiet majesty, check out the below of a recent shoot by the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team of the Idaho National Guard, earlier this year at the Orchard Combat Training Center.

Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Regiment, conducts table six tank crew qualification Feb. 4, 2019, Orchard Combat Training Center

(Photos: Sgt. Mason Cutrer/Idaho National Guard)

Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Regiment, conducts table six tank crew qualification Feb. 4, 2019, Orchard Combat Training Center Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Regiment, conducts table six tank crew qualification Feb. 4, 2019, Orchard Combat Training Center Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Regiment, conducts table six tank crew qualification Feb. 4, 2019, Orchard Combat Training Center Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Regiment, conducts table six tank crew qualification Feb. 4, 2019, Orchard Combat Training Center

As a bonus, attributed to the big tank’s gas turbine engine, the Abrams also doubles as a mean BBQ grill, as long as you are good with that good ole JP8 smell.

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