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RWGŁ-3: Poland’s Riot Squad AK-Based Tear Gas Launcher

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When Polish workers held massive protests in Poznań against the communist Polish government in 1956, the Army was sent in to quell the unrest. In the aftermath of these events, the government decided to create a riot police squad to handle any future such situations. When this unit was put to use in the 1968 Student March, they found that hand-thrown tear gas could be thrown back into police ranks – and development began of tear gas launchers that would have a much longer range.

The final iteration of this program was the RWGŁ-3, made using as many AK parts as possible for cost-efficient production. It was essentially a stamped-receiver AK with no gas system and a gas launching cup in place of a barrel. A pair of AK grips allowed the user to control the not-insubstantial recoil coming from a full-power 7.62x39mm blank cartridge. It fed from a 10-round AK magazine blocked to fit only (well, mostly only) blank 7.62x39mm cartridges. The result was a launcher that would heave a tear gas grenade substantially farther than it could be thrown by hand. The RWGL-3 was put into substantial production, and exported widely across the Warsaw Pact and aligned nations.

Many thanks to Works 11 for giving me access to film this very cool rare item for you! Further thanks to Leszek Erenfeicht for his assistance sourcing the photographs in the video.

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