ABC says Grenade Launcher – FOX says 37mm Cobray Grenade (Flare) Launcher

In my previous post ABC News – How to get a grenade launcher we talked about how the media always gets their facts wrong, and time and time again manages to blow everything way out of proportion.

A new development from a frequent commenter Josh:

Regardless of all that, one of the stories I ran across said it was a 37mm Cobray grenade launcher. Obviously, 37mm is a flare, not a grenade, and the Cobray website doesn’t indicate that what they manufacture is anything other than a flare launcher. Way to go ABC. I think they might appropriately be called the “Alarmist Broadcasting Company.”

Here is the actual excerpt from the Fox News article he is referring to:

Detectives later searched the room where Woodson had been staying at the Red Mill Inn in Branchburg. Forrest said they seized another Bushmaster .308-caliber semiautomatic rifle with a defaced serial number, a 37 mm Cobray grenade launcher, a second bulletproof vest, a Russian-made night vision scope, a police scanner, a map of a U.S. military installation and a map of an out-of-state civilian community, a Middle Eastern red and white colored traditional headdress and hundreds of rounds of .50-caliber and .308-caliber ammunition.

BIG difference ABC.. BIG difference.  One is a Destructive Device (40mm) and one is not (37mm).

There is no such thing as “grenades” for the 37mm.

Now I don’t look at FOX as being an authority on gun related news either, but I believe that a lot more than the crap ABC tried to tell us in that newscast.

FOX likely did mess up on this, if it was presumably an AR-15 they are referring to:

Forrest said the .223-caliber assault rifle (Bushmaster) that Woodson was carrying had a defaced serial number and had been altered to fire .50-caliber ammunition.

Altered? as in had a new upper attached to it? :roll:

Also, an AR-15 is not an assault rifle.

Cobray sells their 37mm flare launchers online (price approx. $500)  if you are interested – HERE

-Thanks again for the tip Josh.



Patrick February 3, 2010 at 02:39 pm

I prefer Fox over ABC too, but didn’t Fox make the same mistake? I read the article. They called it a grenade launcher. “a 37 mm Cobray grenade launcher”.

From this comment, “FOX likely did mess up on this, if it was presumably an AR-15 they are referring to:”, it sounds as if you think that was Fox’s first mistake.

Admin (Mike) February 3, 2010 at 04:30 pm

Fox at least was more specific with their findings, and said it was a 37mm. The general public wouldn’t know the difference of course, but that makes a huge difference to us. Plus Fox didn’t do a big scare piece on T.V. about how “anyone” could just go out and buy a grenade launcher. Either way, terrible accuracy of the facts on both news networks.

Josh February 3, 2010 at 03:03 pm

Fox definitely screwed up too. Although, in fairness, Fox didn’t run the story claiming the ease with which a person could buy a grenade launcher, and without close inspection and expertise, that flare launcher looks convincingly like an actual grenade launcher.

That Cobray flare launcher seems to be popular in movies and television precisely because a) it resembles very closely an M203 grenade launcher, and b) it IS NOT classified as a destructive device, and can be purchased and used in movies without the expense and paperwork that accompanies the actual grenade launcher.

Admin (Mike) February 3, 2010 at 09:50 pm

That seems to be the allure of those 37mm flare launchers. They look so much like the real thing, even if they are useless for anything besides flares.

Ric Locke February 4, 2010 at 08:31 am

You aren’t looking far enough back.

99.9% chance both of them are simply quoting something they got from the FBI, which means that the FBI people who did the arrest and/or their PR flacks don’t know the difference. The country’s in the best of hands…


Gray September 12, 2010 at 05:50 pm

The FBI knows the difference and they know exactly what they are saying. That is because they know who their boss is, (Eric Holder), and they know what he wants them to say.

tom swift February 4, 2010 at 08:50 am

I wouldn’t get too excited. The terminology on things like this is unclear and confuses even those who have some idea what they’re talking about. As an example from the above, see the sentence, “Also, an AR-15 is not an assault rifle.” Unfortunately, the AR-15, as designed, is indeed an assault rifle, with select-fire full auto. “AR-15” is the name used by Armalite when the rifle was designed half a century ago. The AR-15 was later adopted by the US military as the M-16. The name AR-15 has subsequently been used as the name of a semi-auto only version of the original AR-15/M-16, and the gun has been sold that way by some manufacturers who made the gun after Armalite (mainly Colt). So, strictly speaking, “AR-15” can mean either an honest-to-gosh assault rifle, or a milder civvie non-“assault rifle”. On the other hand, the sentence “Forrest said the .223-caliber assault rifle (Bushmaster) that Woodson was carrying” is dead wrong, as none of the Bushmaster models are assault rifles, and no ifs, and, or buts about it.

Jerrad March 29, 2011 at 10:33 am

Bushmaster makes m4a1s in burst and full auto for military they have had the contract for some time. And yes AR does stand for assault rifle, by definition. Which sucks but what can you do? The media is ridiculous about this sort of stuff. And of course they are gonna try to through every black weapon under the bus if it looks scary. Kind of bs to me too.

Josh March 29, 2011 at 10:40 am

And yes AR does stand for assault rifle, by definition.

Like in the AR-5 and AR-7 survival rifles? Good call. The AR comes from the fact that it was made by ARmalite.

Which sucks but what can you do?

What can you do? You could make sure you know what you’re talking about before you speak.

Kyle November 5, 2015 at 04:47 am

couldnt of said it better myself

Josh March 29, 2011 at 10:51 am

Maybe I should also point out that Armalite currently manufactures pistols with the “AR” prefix in their model numbers, like the AR-24. And how about the AR-17 shotgun? Or the AR-30 bolt action rifle in .338 Lapua? Or the single shot AR-50 rifle in .50 BMG that spawned the AR-30? Before it was called the AR-50, it was the AR-20; the name was changed to reflect the caliber. There’s an AR-22 blank firing device for the Mk19 40mm grenade launcher, and an AR-23 sub-caliber training device for the same platform.

Where exactly did you come up with this “AR” = “Assault Rifle” definition?

Bob Wagner June 6, 2015 at 05:21 pm

WRONG Jerrad, way wrong! The acronym “AR” by definition stands for Armalite Rifle. Which was adapted back in the Eugene Stoner era. Colt then bought the design for the -“AR-15” when Armalite ran into financial problems and ran with it. After some mod’s Colt then made it what we all know as the M16. Colt still holds the rights to this day though for the AR-15. As I’m sure you’re aware, everyone and their Uncle now makes… AR-15’s!! Cheers

jason December 31, 2015 at 02:43 pm

At does not stand for assault rifle look it up it started as armilite 15 hence ar15

Richard Aubrey February 4, 2010 at 08:53 am

You can start a fire with a flare. You can illuminate an area with a flare so as to be able to shoot into it more effectively.
You can intimidate people with this kind of flare gun.
But nothing he had seems to have been illegal, which would be an important planning point if he was thinking of avoiding trouble if stopped by the cops for, say, a taillight.

Diggs February 4, 2010 at 08:58 am

How many times have we seen a picture on the news of an M109 SP Howitzer or an M2 Bradley and heard the reporter call them a “tank”? If a reporter can’t tell the difference between an Abrams tank and an artillery piece or personnel carrier, how can one expect them to know the difference between a grenade launcher and a flare launcher. Hell, they don’t even know the difference between a Marine and a Soldier.

mpw280 February 4, 2010 at 09:03 am

What is with the AR being altered to fire 50bmg? I haven’t seen anyone try and build a 50bmg on the AR frame, the action isn’t big enough and you can’t put a barrel that big on a frame that small. So that also sounds like some more BS fear mongering as well. mpw

mlee February 4, 2010 at 09:20 am

The report didn’t specify the weapon was modified to fire .50 caliber BMG, only that it fired .50 caliber. When I read the report I assumed the AR was modified to fire 50 Beowulf, a quite simple and LEGAL conversion.

Admin (Mike) February 4, 2010 at 10:13 am

Search google for 50 BMG ar-15 upper. You can actually buy entire bolt action uppers that go on an AR-15 lower that will enable you to shoot .50 BMG and other .50 variations.

Bob Wagner June 6, 2015 at 05:26 pm

*mpw280… FYI, there’s a company out there called BOHICA who makes a bolt action .50 BMG upper that drops right onto an AR-15 lower we would typically use a .223/5.56 plinker. My buddy almost bought one and I think there’s one on GunBroker for like $2,000. Not really my cup of tea but hey, there’s a sucker born every minute. Cheers

ksp February 4, 2010 at 09:08 am

I don’t know much about guns so can someone please explain to me how you
“convert” and AR15/M16 to fire 50 cal. ammunition (and have any metal left in the
firing chamber)?

Neal Scroggs February 4, 2010 at 10:00 am

Firstly. the .50 caliber mentioned in the news report is not the .50 cal BMG round fired by the Browning M2 heavy machine gun and a few long range sniper weapons. The munition referenced is most likely the .50 Beowulf, which is like a giant pistol cartridge. The bullet is big, blunt and slow, as opposed to small, pointed and very fast like a NATO 5.56mm round. The advantage of the Beowulf is in close quarters, and trades stopping power for range and penetration. You can quite legally buy a kit for your AR-15 which converts it from 5.56mm (.223 cal) to Beowulf. The kit replaces everything on standard rifle except the shoulder stock and the trigger group. Check out .50 Beowulf on wikipedia for more info.

Admin (Mike) February 4, 2010 at 10:57 am

You know how the AR-15 has an “upper” and a “lower” half? Well the upper isn’t a controlled part, so you don’t need to get it through an FFL. You can buy a .50 caliber (BMG, Beowulf etc..) bolt action upper and just pop the two pins out to separate your regular AR-15 upper from its lower, then slap on the .50 upper, push the same pins back through and you’re good to go!

max February 4, 2010 at 09:20 am

I’m not certain FOX did get it wrong, they refer to Forest enough that they may merely be reporting what Forest has told them. I’d have to check the affidavit to be sure but it wouldn’t be the first time that federal agents have had difficulty distinguishing between non-weapons and weapons. If the FBI files a court affidavit calling a flare launcher a grenade launcher, is it appropriate for a reporter to ‘fix’ the FBI’s mistake when reporting about the affidavit? Repeating the mistake of someone who should know what they are talking about is whole different category of error than deciding to write a whole story based upon the author’s confusion. The again, given how often law enforcement officers seem to get confused about weapons the fact that a reporter takes them at their word and believes an affidavit might be a worse error than merely not knowing what one is talking about.

Seth February 4, 2010 at 09:40 am

The only conversion of an AR-style rifle to anything .50 cal that I know about is the the simple upper swap to .50 Beowulf, which is in no way similar to .50 bmg. The .50 Beowulf system upper gives you a unique .50 cal cartridge that kind of looks like way oversized pistol brass and has a lot of close-range stopping power, e.g., you wanna put bullets through the engine block of a car that’s pursuing you. I know that Future Weapons did a spot on it; you can probably do a YouTube search if you wanna see the review. I don’t see any way to have an AR-style weapon fire .50 bmg; but an ignorant reporter would just see the .50 part and not notice that it’s a specialized cartridge that’s only been recently developed.
Of course, I’m just guessing here. Don’t hold me to anything, it’s just the only thing I know of that would make sense for this.

Admin (Mike) February 4, 2010 at 11:14 am

Actually .50 BMG uppers do exist for the AR-15 platform. Search google, there are actually quite a few companies that make them.

6677 June 4, 2010 at 05:02 am
Don Meaker February 4, 2010 at 09:45 am

The AR-15 has many many adaptations, to include 40mm grenade launchers, 37mm flare launchers which look like grenade launchers, and a variety of uppers. Some of the uppers shoot different caliber rounds, and one is made to shoota .50 inch diameter bullet- (one .50 Beowulf comes to mind). That isn’t the .50 BMG that has ~4 inch long cartrige case, but rather a “overgrown pistol” round more in the class of the .45/70.

The 37mm flare launcher does exactly the same thing as the 40mm, but the US military developed 40 mm grenades, and 37mm flares, and didn’t develop 37mm grenades. If someone did develop 37mm grenades the 37mm launcher could launch them. Of course manufacturing grenades without a license would also be a crime.

The silliness of the paradigm is that the behavior of assault should be the crime, rather than imputing criminality to mere posession of an object, or worse, imputing criminality to possession of a benign object that merely looks like another object with criminality. Rather like locking up teenage boys with prison tattoos because, after all, they look like the prison population.

Admin (Mike) February 4, 2010 at 11:05 am

You hit the nail on the head with that last paragraph Don. I couldn’t agree more.

bbbeard February 4, 2010 at 09:54 am

Here’s the site for the .50 Beowulf conversion kit for AR-15:

Alexander recommends it as a hunting round for big game, and also for urban ops for MLE types. Short range, large energy.


Big D February 4, 2010 at 10:07 am

Here’s a really stupid idea…

How about a parody video (Played totally straight) about the deadly DHMO weapons out there?

Start with a few of the dangers of DHMO, build up how deadly the stuff is, and then bring out some bullet points (pun intended) about how easy it is to purchase a weapon that will dispense DHMO–in fact, these weapons are deliberately designed to be USED ON PEOPLE, and yet, anybody, EVEN A CHILD, could obtain them with no background checks or accountability!

Then go to a store and buy a Super Soaker. Cut to a scene of using it in a “lethal” manner. Close with an implied rebuttal to the whole ABC story, and end with a demonstration of the “concealable” $.50 DHMO weapon.

Admin (Mike) February 4, 2010 at 11:02 am

hahah BigD. You could even show footage of a water-jet cutter in a machine shop and say “OMG it cuts though steel that is over a foot thick!”

M. Report February 4, 2010 at 11:05 am

Is the official report with the list/pictures of the weapons a public document ?

The guy is clearly Mental, but it would help to know if he, or his handlers,

chose weapons wisely for a particular plan: Sniping or close-range massacre.

As to there being no 37mm grenades; Anybody here do any hand-loading ? :)

Admin (Mike) February 4, 2010 at 11:11 am

I’m not sure if there are pictures and an official report that are public.

Although the 37mm looks like a 40mm, I have read that it cannot withstand the higher pressures associated with anything more than a flare.

Josh February 4, 2010 at 11:23 am

I think another important distinction (at least as far as existing ammo and weapons work) is that the 37mm is a smoothbore. Existing 40mm ammunition requires a rifled bore. The spinning action causes the grenade to arm, that way it’s not dangerous right out of the muzzle. It must travel a certain distance before being dangerous.

Admin (Mike) February 4, 2010 at 07:55 pm

That’s an excellent point.

Charlie Foxtrot February 4, 2010 at 02:29 pm

Okay, I’m going to ask the obvious dumb question: why sling a flare launcher under the AR-15’s barrel? Illumination, some unspecified offensive use, or the Chicks Dig It (CDI) kewlness factor?

And I’ve seen a YouTube video of an AR-15/ .50 BMG conversion fired. Didn’t look like fun to me, but the shooter was clearly going for seconds.

And you can build an airsoft toy rifle that looks like something out of a video game. They occasionally cause a rash of pantie-wadding here in SoKal.

Admin (Mike) February 4, 2010 at 07:48 pm

I’m sure some people shoot flares, and smoke out of them for useful purposes. The trend on the gun forums just seems to be people buying them for kicks, and cause they want to give their gun an even more badass military look.

For me? I prefer to save the money and keep the weight of my guns down.

Rivrdog February 4, 2010 at 10:47 pm

None of you youngsters go back far enough to know that there were 37mm grenades. In the police dept I swore onto in 1973, every Sergeant had the Gas Kit, composed of a 37mm break-action, single shot grenade launcher, and several grenades, all dispensing CN tear gas. The grenade shells were of standard variety, with a rimmed cartridge casing, primer, propellant charge, and the grenade. I don’t remember the capacity of the grenade, but I do remember it had contact fuzing, and could be fired up to 125-150 yards. I remember seeing dummy rounds fired on the range, and noted that the recoil seemed rather heavy, well past what one would get from firing the 870 Remington with hi-velocity ammo.

I don’t know if the same outfit that supplied the 37mm gas grenade gun also made explosive rounds for Federal agencies, but it’s at least possible.

So, hate to burst all y’all’s bubbles, but yes, 37mm grenade ammo did exist, and likely could be (illegally) modified to have a bursting grenade warhead.

Admin (Mike) February 4, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Actually you can still buy CS 37mm gas rounds. CS gas is considered non-lethal and is classified the same as flares and smoke. The 37mm, being a non destructive device is only meant to fire rounds that are not anti-personnel. As soon as you cross that line with a 37mm you turn it into an unregistered destructive device. Although there is lots of crossover into the 40mm round lineup with smoke, flares, and gas as well, the difference is that in 40mm you can get rounds that are explosive, or contain buckshot (such as the beehive).

Josh February 4, 2010 at 11:08 pm

Rivrdog has a good point. I found a website that offers 37mm smoke “grenades” for sale to law enforcement, FFL holders, and private security firms. It claims they can be fired from any 37mm launcher. So, with that in mind, perhaps calling this a “grenade launcher” is not entirely incorrect!

I don’t know that any explosive grenades were ever made in 37mm though. And it seems that these smoke and tear gas grenades don’t produce the high chamber pressures of the 40mm HE rounds, nor do they require the rifling that the HE rounds need to arm themselves.

Good call on the tear gas “grenades” though.

Chris May 9, 2010 at 08:10 am

A grenade is stabilized by having grooves in the barrel. This spin stabalizes the grenades that are going out of the tube. Flare launchers are smooth bore. They fire smoke grenades… but not of the accuracy of a real smoke grenade out of a 40mm launcher.

wallace November 12, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Any weapon capable of fireing the 37 mm cartridge is capable of firing an explosive tipped projectile. The launcher being discussed is commonly used by law enforcement as a gas delivery system. What better way to cause mass caos in a crowded mall or athletic event than to launch a few rounds of pepper ball or CN, or anyother chemical agent into it. You people need to wake up. The launcher does not even have to be attached to a rifle to be used, its safety and trigger are both mounted to the launcher, not the host weapon. Therefore it is capable of being a stand alone delivery system capable of chemical, incendiary and yes even explosives delivery.

John September 10, 2012 at 04:40 am

The problem with the anti-gun groups is since they are anti-gun they have no idea what they’re talking about, all they know is what other anti-gun people have told them. The media is the worst, they know an AR-15 is not an assault rifle, on youtube I saw a comment on a video that nobody should be able to go out and buy an assault rifle, and that anyone can go to any gunstore in a county with no waiting period on rifles and get an assault rifle and take it home the same day, I replied that unless it’s pre-ban nobody can purchase one and even class 3 prebans take at least3-4 months before you can pick it up, long story shorter, I then said that if it’s semi auto it’s not an assault rifle, then he replied, Just because myself and the NRA don’t consider them assault rifles doesn’t mean their not assault rifles, even after sending this idiot a link to the ATF website as to what constitutes an assault rifle, the response was “that’s because they are funded by the NRA” WTF? AR15’s are NOT assault rifles…..(unless it’s a pre-ban AR which was changed to burst or full auto, and the legal pre-ban AR-15 automatics are crazy expensive, and most don’t work well. I’ll keep my LE6920 and my ARPerformance Custom 6.8Noveske for my 16″ Bbl. 30rnd semi-auto “Black Rifles”.

John September 10, 2012 at 04:51 am

BTW, the media knowing their info is false is bad, but, part of the problem is that some internet sights label accessories or firearms in such a way if you don’t know firearms very well it will make someone to jump to conclusions. Do *some* websites do this on purpose, I just googled “37mm grenade” and clicked on a link where they were selling a 37mm flare launcher, below is a copy and paste of what it was listed as:

M-203 type 37mm 12″ Launcher for AR15 or any Weapon w/ Rail

putting M-203 in the title doesn’t help the ignorant if you leave flare launcher out of the title.

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