An automatic grenade launcher prototype was developed in the USSR on the eve of WWII, it was developed under the supervision of Ya. G. Taubin at the OKB-16 Design Bureau. However back then the automatic grenade launcher did not enter the inventory due to the vision of army commanders of the-then infantry tactics and misunderstanding of the role of the new weapon on the battlefield.
The war in Vietnam offered a new incentive to the development of automatic grenade launchers. The idea to combine the rate of fire of a machine gun and the lethality of fragmentation rounds to discharge unique counter guerrilla warfare tasks resulted in several US companies developing various automatic grenade launchers. Such weapons were mounted on riverine patrol boats and helicopters to augment heavy machine guns. However, no final decision on fielding automatic grenade launchers with the US Armed Forces, despite certain combat experience, had been taken by the early 1970s.
The USSR revived the concept of automatic grenade launchers after combat operations in Southeast Asia OKB-16 designers A. F. Kornyakov and V. Ya. Nemenov developed ал automatic grenade launcher, designated AGS-17 after a number of improvements, m 1967 It was put info production at the Vyatskie Polyany-based Mасhine Building Plant The VOG-17 grenade developed by the GSKBP State All-Union Design Bureau (later on transformed into the Bazalt State Research and Production Enterprise). The automatic grenade launcher entered service in 1971. The West was quite surprised to learn that Soviet motorized rifle battalions comprised grenade launcher platoons, armed with AGS-17s, in the early 1970s.
The AGS-17 automatic grenade launcher (Avtomatichesky Granatomet Stankovy — mounted automatic grenade launcher) has proved to be an efficient infantry close fire support weapon. II is designed to kill enemy manpower and thin-skin weapon systems in the open or behind various covers. In addition to the tripod-mounted infantry version, there are also models designed to be fitted on helicopters, armoured boats, remotely controlled platforms of fortified area pillboxes, and armour.
The AGS-17 fires 30 mm VOG-17M (designed by Bazalt) and VOG-SO rounds (developed by Pribor) fragmentation rounds with impact fuses. The Tula-based КBP Instrument Design Bureau developed the new GPD-S0 enhanced range and accuracy round in the early 2000s. A better ballistic coefficient of the grenade reduced its flight time, natural dispersion, and wind age.
The AGS-17 is fed by a 29-round metal belt, stored in an ammunition box attached to the right side of the receiver. The launcher combat crew carries three ammunition boxes.
The automatic grenade launcher is blow-back operated. The trigger assembly provides for both single-shot and automatic fire. The AGS-17 features a simple design and a high reliability in any operating conditions.
The tripod mount is equipped with traversing and elevation mechanisms The front and the rear legs are adjustable, which allows the firing height to be varied and makes the automatic grenade launcher easy to operate under various circumstances.
The AGS-17 can conduct both flat and curved fire it is fitted with the PAG-17 optical sight, ensuring accurate direct and indirect fire.
The automatic grenade launcher is operated and carried by a three-man strong combat crew, comprising a commander, a gunner, and an ammunition carrier. In the travelling position the AGS-17 is knocked down into the following three major units: the grenade launcher proper, the mount with the sight, and ammunition boxes.