Close-up view on the receiver of the AGS-17. Clearly visible are dual grips, optical sights, ballistic table (printed on the receiver top cover) and charging handle(hanging on the short steel cable from the rear of the receiver).
Type: blowback operated, belt fed automatic grenade launcher
Overall length: 840 mm
Weight: 18 kg gun plus 12 kg tripod 6T8
Effective range: up to 800 m point targets; 1700 m maximum range
Rate of fire: 350-400 rounds per minute
Development of the AGS-17 (Avtomatischeskyi Granatmyot Stankovyi – Automatic Grenade launcher, Mounted) began in the USSR during 1967 by the OKB-16 design bureau (now it is the famous KBP- Instrument Design Bureau, located in the city of Tula).
Most probably, its development was inspired by the Soviet-Chinese border clashes of the late 1960’s, as well as initial experience with several US automatic grenade launchers, learned by North Vietnamese troops who were often on the receiving end of these formidable weapons.
It was through that experience that the automatic grenade launcher has become one of the most effective infantry support weapons against the typical (at the time) Chinese “human wave” attacks.
This lightweight weapon was to provide infantry with close to medium range fire support against enemy personnel and unarmored targets like trucks and other such equipment. First prototypes of the new weapon entered trials in 1969, and mass production commenced in 1971. During the same time frame, the special heliborne version of AG-17 was developed for installation on Mi-24 Hind gunship helicopters.
Never used against the Chinese, AGS-17 was widely used by Soviet troops in Afghanistan as a ground support weapon or as a vehicle weapon on improvised mounts installed on armored personnel carriers and trucks. It is still in use with the Russian Army as a direct fire support weapon for infantry troops. It is also installed in several vehicle mounts and turrets along with machine guns, guided rocket launchers and sighting equipment.
A special airborne version – AG-17A was installed in door mounts of several Mi-8 Hip combat transport helicopters, and on gun pods used on late model Mi-24 Hind gunships. This weapon had a thick aluminium jacket on the barrel and used a special mount and electric remotely controlled trigger.
AGS-17 may look inferior ballistically to its major rival, the American Mk.19mod.3 grenade launcher, on paper. It has a somewhat lighter grenade with smaller muzzle velocity and slightly shorter range. The selection of available ammunition is also much less versatile as the only mass-made 30mm rounds for the AGS-17 are VOG-17 and improved VOG-30, fragmentation antipersonnel grenades with a lethal damage / kill zone radius of about 7-9 meters.
However, in ready to fire position AGS-17 is almost two times lighter than Mk.19 mod.3, and thus can be easily moved and maneuvered across the battlefield by a crew of two men.
AGS-17 is manufactured in Russia by the Molot Engineering Plant JSC, as well as in China by state factories and in Serbia (former Yugoslavia).
AGS-17 is an air cooled, belt fed, blowback operated grenade machine gun / launcher. AGS-17 fires from an open bolt and uses non-disintegrating steel belts with open pockets. Upon the closing movement of the bolt, a fresh round is pushed forward into the barrel from its loading position. Empty cases are ejected to the bottom.
AGS-17 is fed from special belt drums that hold 29 linked rounds. A loaded belt drum weights about 14kg (31 lbs). To reduce the rate of fire and decrease dispersion, the bolt of the AGS-17 is fitted with a hydraulic recoil buffer.
In its infantry applications, the gun is controlled by two horizontal spade grips with the trigger between them. A T-shaped charging handle is located at the rear of the receiver and is linked to the bolt by a steel cable and special carrier. The handle does not move when the gun is fired.
Standard sights are 2.7X magnification PAG-17 optical. It has a range-finding reticule, and the top cover of each gun has a ballistic table for both direct and indirect fire. Standard mount is the SAG-17 (official designation 6T8). It’s a tripod with adjustable height and traverse and elevation mechanisms, including fine adjustment elements. For transportation and carrying, the tripod can be folded and carried as a backpack using supplied slings.
The ‘backpack’ allows the complete weapon to be transported on foot by a crew of two men. When assembled, the weapon can also be carried through battlefield easily enough for shorter ranges.