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I need a weapon that is shoulder fired that can deal with heavy monsters such as a minotaur and the likes, but light enough so that the user can carry at least another small arm without to much hassle.

Two of the weapons I am considering arming my explorers are either a rocket launcher the likes of the bazooka (60mm) and the second a recoilless rifle such as the m18 (57mm). I am trying to consider the pros and cons of each because in this setting they won't be facing heavy tanks like a tiger 2 or is3.

Both are HE based, but the main difference is muzzle velocity (rocket vs bullet). How much of a factor would this really be when fighting monsters, and would the speed difference between the two really make much of a difference (from what I understand chemical weapons such as hesh/heat aren't velocity dependent). It seems for the extra speed, recoilless rifles have a far greater back blast from what I've seen as well.

My main point of contention/question is what are the advantages/disadvantages of either in a setting like this, and if I were to scale the warhead size up and down would it tilt the balance in either way.

Edit/Clarifications:

The M18 is a 57mm recoilless rifle used by the US in WW2. It fires a bullet like projectile to hit its target, gas is vented out the back of the gun to counter act the recoil affect from shooting the gun.

Bazooka- An anti tank rocket launcher that was man portable used in WW2. It had many iterations on it. Basically it was just a simple rocket launcher that could fire high explosive anti tank warheads. It was also recoilless because it was a hollow tube and rocket exhaust was directed rearward

Both systems have deadly backblast, as in if you stand behind when either is fired, your going to get seriously injured.

The minotaur in question will have some decent armor on them, think of like an interwar tank and some early WW2 tanks. (15-20mm on avg ends, and a max of 50mm on the higher ends (mm calcs are in reference to RHA or Rolled Homogenous Armor)). Height can vary for the avg sized to be 1.8m on the avg size to 4m on the max. The lighter they are the faster they are, the larger they are the slower they are. The largest ones are used more so in a support role than a classic in your face type of mob. Think like throwing large stones as artillery, or moving supplies etc.

Minotaurs would be the equivalents of tanks, where in they can take damage and dish it out. As for speed they would be understandably slower than a combat capable soldier given their size and armor ratings. If they can close in on soldiers it will be devastating, however they are not above simply throwing large objects like rocks/small boulders or setting up ambushes/ using their strength to set up a large scale ambush.

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  • $\begingroup$ Can you clarify a bit please. Minotaurs have been portrayed in various sizes and measures of formidableness (if there is such a word) in mythology and fiction (Theseus slayed one with his bare hands). Can you tell us a bit about yours. Also some clarification of the weapons you reference wouldn't go amiss as this isn't a dedicated gun-forum, and many of our international readers won't be familliar with the acronyms or tech specs of what you refer to. $\endgroup$ Apr 14 at 1:27
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    $\begingroup$ The bazooka is an anti-tank weapon with a shaped charge designed specifically to defeat armor. Would it even detonate properly when impacting soft tissue? $\endgroup$ Apr 14 at 2:44
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    $\begingroup$ I suspect that a lot of your own troops would get killed by these things. At range, you'd want a large-caliber rifle to shoot large animals, and up-close most of these things are either too slow to target quick opponents OR the shrapnel/chemicals will hit your own guys as the minotaur seeks to move to point-blank range. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Apr 14 at 3:25
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    $\begingroup$ What's the technological level of your explorers? A recoilless rifle may only be reasonable if they are before approximately late 1950s, when the rocket launcher technology was perfected, and in the late 1960s rifle-mounted grenade launchers were developed (with ammo like the M433 HEDP cartridge) $\endgroup$
    – ain92
    Apr 14 at 11:44
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    $\begingroup$ the tech level is up to the end of WW2, I am aiming to keep things in a diesel punk setting/aesthetic at the very least. How much kick/recoil do these grenade launchers produce? Its hard to tell from videos. Would it be concievable to have a backpack or shoulder mount that aids the soldier in firing these off in succession without destroying the users shoulder? $\endgroup$
    – FIRES_ICE
    Apr 15 at 0:10
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Rifle mounted grenade launcher.

scene from The Outpost

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKm9Pa0kazQ&t=2s

This is a still from the movie The Outpost, set in 2012 Afghanistan. Youtube offered me clips from that movie which were very exciting. This character carries a rifle with attached M203 grenade launcher, and he wears a bandolier of grenades.

The M203 clips under various rifle types.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M203_grenade_launcher

I think this would be perfect for your situation. If you decide to have me be one of the characters, I will have an additional M203 clipped under the first. Also instead of a bandolier I want all of my clothes to be made of grenades.

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting idea, although the low muzzle velocity might be a problem. $\endgroup$
    – The Daleks
    Apr 14 at 2:00
  • $\begingroup$ Suggest you may want to mention the MM1 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawk_MM-1 as an alternative as a primary weapon. Problem with a comparatively high trajectory weapon like a grenade launcher against a charging minotaur is that if you misjudge the range and the round goes over or under, then you need to re-calculate a different range by the time you have reloaded. With the MM1 you can just watch the fall of shot and adjust up or down and fire again immediately. $\endgroup$ Apr 14 at 2:30
  • $\begingroup$ Now that the Minotaur's armor has been specified i.e. 15 -20mm average, 50 mm max (on the largest examples) of RHA or equivalent the grenade launcher might (I stress might) be useful. It has a dual purpose round that in Wikipedia at least is rated as capable of penetrating up to 50mmm of steel armor. Whether that is 50mm of RHA I don't know. $\endgroup$
    – Mon
    Apr 14 at 5:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Mon you also must not forget the concussive force of the grenade. It does not need to penetrate the armour if the concussion pulps the minotaurs (dragon's/rhino's/elephant's) insides It is probably not enough to stop a jeep or an armoured personnel carrier but is more than enough to seriously stop the minotaur or anything remotely human-sized. Bazookas and such start being necessary for dragon (house and larger) sized enemies, but grenade launcher is probably still ok even for those. $\endgroup$
    – mishan
    Apr 14 at 10:37
  • $\begingroup$ True Misham. I had thought of that myself, given the lack of an air gap between a Minotaur's body and its armor any hit by a medium to large sized projectile say .308 to .50 is going to 'hurt' regardless of whether it penetrated the armor or not. I just decided to concentrate on the job of actually penetrating that amour to reach the soft/chewy bits behind it. $\endgroup$
    – Mon
    Apr 14 at 11:10
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If you have to choose between those two specifically, the Bazooka is better. It is much much faster to deploy. Recoilless rifles are almost impossible to use without a tripod, they are just too heavy. the m18 weighs nearly 45lbs while the bazooka weighs only 15.

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    $\begingroup$ Carl Gustaf would like to talk! Given the question, OP is probably thinking of a man-portable recoilless rifle. $\endgroup$ Apr 15 at 6:12
  • $\begingroup$ The OP specified tech level as up to the end of WW2, which means we have limitations of material to work with. The only man-portable recoilless rifle of the period that comes to my mind is the M18, which weighed about 20kg and is probably the one mentioned in this answer. $\endgroup$
    – JANXOL
    Apr 15 at 7:21
  • $\begingroup$ @JANXOL which is the one I specifically mentioned the weight of. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Apr 15 at 14:05
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Another option would be the M72 LAW

[LAW (specs)1:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M72_LAW

enter image description here

Its a one shot, so not re-loadable but the thing is it's light so if necessary every soldier in a squad could carry one as part of their kit even if only one or two of them specialize in using the weapon. (Note the picture shows the weapon in its extended 'ready to fire mode'. When carried in 'stored' mode it's much shorter.

More than enough hitting power. Between it and the grenade launchers, you would cover the entire specified size range of Minotaur's without having to rely on heavier 'crewed' weapons.

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    $\begingroup$ That's just a different make of bazooka—a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Apr 14 at 11:30
  • $\begingroup$ Yes but its both light & compact. Much more so that an RPG, a bazooka or any of the other options on the table. And the key criteria in the original question??? Th author wants a weapon that is 'light enough so that the user can carry at least another small arm without to much hassle' (Quote). Hence the M72 $\endgroup$
    – Mon
    Apr 14 at 11:34
  • $\begingroup$ But the question is about the type of weapon, not specific weapon. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Apr 14 at 11:37
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    $\begingroup$ @JanHudec Mon's answer basically says, "The bazooka's the better option, especially if you use a LAW." $\endgroup$
    – The Daleks
    Apr 14 at 12:36
  • $\begingroup$ Reloadability is possibly important because the question states that the people fighting minotaurs are explorers and therefore may not have an easy way of getting resupplied. $\endgroup$ Apr 14 at 14:46
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Unless the minotaur is armored in some way, what you probably want is an elephant gun (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elephant_gun), a large caliber rifle with extremely high stopping power against large, dangerous game animals. This satisfies both the low weight requirement (both a bazooka and recoilless rifle and their ammunition are very heavy) and is designed with the necessary ease of aim needed to track a large moving target, like a minotaur.

[EDIT] The querent has clarified their question to indicate that the minotaurs have armor equivalent to 15-50 mm of RHA. This is still within the effective penetration of armor-piercing rounds fired from an anti-tank or anti-materiel rifle (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-materiel_rifle) or (preferably) heavy machine gun at short range without the dangerous backblast from a bazooka or recoilless rifle or the risk of the warhead blast injuring friendly troops at close range and with the advantage of lighter ammunition. If you want to have fun with with the concept, there is even specialized AP ammunition such as the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raufoss_Mk_211, which is conveniently armor piercing, incendiary, and explosive at the same time.

A combination of using AP ammunition for less armored minotaurs and with rounds from a HEAT firing weapon reserved for the most heavily armored minotaurs would probably be best to minimize the supply burden on the hypothetical explorers.

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  • $\begingroup$ The minotaur will have some pretty tough armor, not anything like an is3 or tiger 2 level, but enough so that it requires careful planning and coordination to defeat one if that makes sense, aswell as heavy ordinance. $\endgroup$
    – FIRES_ICE
    Apr 14 at 4:09
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    $\begingroup$ @FIRES_ICE You need to be more specific about how much effective armor this minotaur has in mm of RHA equivalent (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolled_homogeneous_armour) then or we can't provide a meaningful answer. $\endgroup$ Apr 14 at 4:17
  • $\begingroup$ In that case im looking at something like 15-20mm of effective RHA for an avg height of ft/1.8 meters. Slower and more heavily armed ones at 4m/13ft in height with an RHA val of at max 50mm. Though these guys arent going to be running or jumping around. $\endgroup$
    – FIRES_ICE
    Apr 14 at 4:41
  • $\begingroup$ @FIRES_ICE An anti-materiel rifle will barely notice 2cm. $\endgroup$
    – The Daleks
    Apr 14 at 12:58
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Frame Challenge: You don't want any real-world weapon!

Weapons are by and large designed around the enemy they're supposed to defeat. Since "minotaurs covered in WWII tank armor is not a thing that exists IRL, No IRL weapon is going to be perfectly suited to defeat them. So lets look at the properties of your minotaurs and see what we want.

Minotaurs by nature are going to be deployed in a way that will let them get in close; e.g., in room-to-room combat or in densely forested environments. As you've described them, they're not sufficiently survivable to be out in the open. Their armor should protect them against most IRL antipersonnel weapons, up to and including .50 caliber BMG with standard ball ammo. (Look up Demolition Ranch to get an idea of what a .50 cal will and will not punch through. You'll be surprised about a lot of the "will nots.") Once you punch through their armor, however, you don't need anything special such as explosives or incendiary rounds to kill them. They will fill most of the armor, so anything that punches though the chest plate will be going through vital organs, and be pretty effective.

First off, you want to avoid explosive-round weapons, except possibly anti-tank grenades. At range, both the bazooka and the recoilless rifle will require a direct hit to actually defeat the armor, and neither of them are really good at hitting small targets. They're both inaccurate, cumbersome, and have slow-moving projectiles that a minotaur might even be able to dodge at the supposed effective range of the weapons. Once the minotaur gets in close, explosives will kill your own soldiers, probably as well or better than they kill the minotaurs.

When it comes to regular bullets piercing armor, the three things that work are hardness, velocity, and sectional density.
If you have modern technology, all three can be achieved in a reasonable package with APFSDS rounds. You'd probably want a tungsten dart, 4-5 mm in diameter and 150-200 grains in mass, firing at or above 800mps. The sabot would expand the diameter to 7.62-8.5 mm bore, so that the pressure and barrel length would remain reasonable.
With more 60s to 80s technology, you'll probably be forced to use magnum rifle rounds and .50 caliber rounds. Both of these would require armor-piercing ball to be effective, and would be a royal pain to fire.
With WWII technology, your best bet would be a 20mm anti-vehicular rifle, preferably with some kind of hardened rounds (e.g., steel core with a copper washer.) For close quarters, and room-clearing, you'd have to retreat and use antitank grenades or artillery to demolish the structure.
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The recoilless rifle is better. We need a bigger gun.

Although you don't provide an exact speed, minotaurs are generally portrayed as being pretty fast.

As a result, I'd go with the higher muzzle velocity of a recoilless rifle.

Additionally, I don't see any reason why the recoilless rifle should have problems taking one down. Nevertheless, you might want to equip it with a shrapnel round as opposed to HE.

EDIT: As @JanHudec mentioned, RPGs also aren't very accurate. While there are some semi-accurate spin-stabilized variants, they are few and far between. As a result, the recoilless rifle will also be your weapon of choice for longer ranges.

EDIT: You have clarified that these minotaurs have roughly the same amount of armor as a Pz.Kpfw. III Ausf. E. As a result, recoilless rifles (which I originally suggested) aren't going to be effective unless you get a lucky shot. For that matter, even a bazooka will have issues. You're gonna need a bigger gun.

Therefore, I present to you the only effective man-portable weapon for this usage case: The Panzerfaust. Commonly used by the Germans during WWII, they are pretty much guaranteed to penetrate a minotaur's armor and kill it. However, this impressive killing power comes at a cost: their speed (and therefore range) sucks, and they aren't reloadable.

If panzerfausts aren't an option, I guess you could go with a Flak-Track? There really isn't much else you could effectively use against that combination of speed and armor. As @PcMan put it,

You will need a tripod or wheelbase mounted anti-tank cannon.

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  • $\begingroup$ What about the accuracy? Recoilless rifle is spin-stabilized; I don't think any RPG is. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Apr 14 at 11:39
  • $\begingroup$ higher muzzle velocity is useless if it takes far longer to deploy. the recoilless rifle weights 3 times as much as the bazooka. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Apr 15 at 14:07
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    $\begingroup$ HE round of a bazooka(or LAW, etc) is better. A highvelocity round must strike the minotaur, and strike in in a vital/disabling location. A 1kg hunk of shrapnel-throwing high explosive just needs to detonate anywhere within about 5m of the beast. $\endgroup$
    – PcMan
    Apr 20 at 13:10
  • $\begingroup$ @PcMan The problem is that these minotaurs are decently well armored. Try blowing up a T-34 with a HE round. $\endgroup$
    – The Daleks
    Apr 20 at 14:44
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    $\begingroup$ @TheDaleks Your minotaurs wear 5cm thick, sloping, interlocking armor plates?? (looks at OP detail) Gwarsh, they do. GOOD GRIEF these minotaurs are strong!!! Um. The bazooka will do absolutely nothing to them. On paper the spec fine. In practice, they did not work. Nor will any man-portable ww2 tech antitank rifle. You will need a tripod or wheelbase mounted anti-tank cannon. $\endgroup$
    – PcMan
    Apr 20 at 14:55
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You might want to go with an RPG. Their HEAT warheads are very effective against WWII-era armor (provided you can get a hit), and the logistics of carrying and reloading them are relatively simple.

However, most models of RPG have a minimum arming distance before their grenade can detonate. Additionally, they only fly in an arc regardless of model. As a result, a well moving target is pretty hard to hit, especially at the close ranges minotaurs would prefer.

As a result, you might want to consider some other options in addition to recoilless rifles and RPGs. Claymore Mines shred anything and can be setup and let off from a distance, but at the cost of not having much armor penetration. Carl Gustave-style RPGs penetrate well and move at a decent clip, but are heavy and still have the minimum arming distance. Perhaps you could try some 20 millimeter machine guns?

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    $\begingroup$ Hi, and welcome to the Worldbuilding StackExchange! You have some pretty interesting information here; however, it could use a little editing. $\endgroup$
    – The Daleks
    Apr 14 at 12:23
  • $\begingroup$ I'm pretty average in my writing. Could you edit it and I'll change it. $\endgroup$ Apr 20 at 6:17
  • $\begingroup$ Okay. I'm a bit busy right now, but once I'm free I'll be happy to help. $\endgroup$
    – The Daleks
    Apr 20 at 12:29
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    $\begingroup$ "could try some 20 millimeter machine guns?"... nope. them minotaurs are totin' 50mm armor. You be lucky to penetrate 25mm with a 20mm machine gun round, even with multiple hits. 20mm discarding-sabot armor piercer, maybe. But that is not man-portable. $\endgroup$
    – PcMan
    Apr 20 at 14:58
  • $\begingroup$ @PcMan Most of the minotaurs have 25-30mm of armor. That said, I agree that you're going to need a bigger gun for the better-armored ones. $\endgroup$
    – The Daleks
    Apr 20 at 15:50

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