The Pentagon this month awarded Nevada-based U.S. Ordnance a contract for one of the most curious guns in the U.S. arsenal. 

Based in McCarran, U.S. Ordnance pulled down a $49.925 million contract for MK19 MOD 3 Grenade Machine Gun, spare parts kits, and spare barrel assemblies. The work will be completed within the next five years, with the award estimated to run until April 7, 2026.

The MK19, developed during the Vietnam War, has been a staple of the U.S. military since the 1980s. An air-cooled, blowback-operated, belt-fed weapon, it isn't light – weighing in at about 77 pounds – but its M430A1 High Explosive Dual Purpose grenades are capable of penetrating 3-inches of armor at a maximum range of 2,200 meters while its blast and fragmentation properties can be effective against exposed personnel within 50 feet of impact.

MK19 MOD 3 Grenade Machine Gun
An MK19 at the FN factory in Columbia, South Carolina, with M240 machine guns on the wall behind it for size reference. (Photo: Chris Eger/
40mm grenade compared to small arms rounds
From left to right, 9mm NATO, 5.56 NATO, 7.62 NATO, .50 cal BMG, an inert M67 fragmentation grenade, and an M212 40x43mm low-velo practice grenade. For reference, the M212 is for the M79, M203, and M320 grenade launchers whereas the MK19 uses a slightly longer 40x53mm high-velocity grenade. (Photo: Chris Eger/
MK19 MOD 3 Grenade Machine Gun rounds
The grenades used by the MK19 are optimized for belt-fed use and the weapon has a theoretical rate of fire of 390 rounds per minute, although in practice it is closer to 60. (Photo: Chris Eger/

As detailed by the Army:

The MK19 Grenade Machine Gun can defend against hovering rotary-wing aircraft, destroy lightly armored vehicles, fire on suspected enemy positions and provide high-volume fire into an engagement area and indirect fires from hidden positions. The system increases the capability of U.S. forces to defeat opposing armored, mechanized and infantry forces with high-explosive, dual-purpose ammunition.

U.S. Ordnance is in good company as an MK19 manufacturer. Over the years, the platform has been supplied to the U.S. military by General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, FN America, and others.

And, of course, you didn't come this far not to see one at work. 


Banner image: Marines engage designated targets during a grenade and MK-19 Grenade Launcher range at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Oct. 28, 2015. (Photo: Cpl. Neysa Huertas Quinones/USMC)

revolver barrel loading graphic