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Related to grenade: hand grenade


(grĭnād`), small bomb either thrown by hand or shot from a modified rifle or a grenade launcher. It may be filled with gas or chemicals but more often holds an explosive charge that fractures the casing into lethal fragments. Grenades were in use as early as the 15th cent., and men trained to use them were called grenadiers. As the grenade fell into disfavor, however, the name grenadier was applied to members of various elite guards, such as those of Frederick II of Prussia and Napoleon I. Grenades were later reintroduced in warfare and have been widely used in the wars of the 20th and 21st cent. The deployment of the XM25 grenade launcher by U.S. forces in 2010 marked the first use of smart technology in small arms; it uses a laser rangefinder and programmable ammunition to determine and set the distance at which the grenade explodes. The rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) uses a launcher to fire a small rocket mounted with a warhead, and is used against armored vehicles.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a type of ammunition designed to destroy enemy personnel and combat matériel with fragments and the shock wave from the explosion. Grenades are fired from artillery guns or grenade launchers or are thrown at the target by hand. The grenade usually consists of a metal housing, an explosive charge, and a fuse. A distinction is made between percussion grenades, which explode when they meet an obstacle, and time grenades, which explode at a certain point on the trajectory.

Hand grenades first appeared in the 16th century and were used during the defense and siege of fortresses. In the first half of the 17th century hand grenades were made for use in field combat. Selected soldiers called grenadiers were appointed to throw them. Modern hand grenades have various shapes, weigh 0.3–1.2 kg, produce up to 3,000 fragments upon explosion, and have an effective casualty radius of 5–200 m. Most grenades are anti-infantry and antitank grenades; there are also special grenades (chemical, smoke, and incendiary). The average throwing range of fragmentation grenades is 30–50 m, and for antitank grenades it is 15–20 m.

Artillery grenades appeared in the 17th century and are more often called shells. Grenades fired from rifle grenade launchers have calibers of 60–80 mm and weigh up to 1 kg. They are divided into fragmentation and armor-piercing grenades; the latter penetrate armor up to 300 mm. Grenades fired from hand grenade launchers have calibers of 40–90 mm and weigh 0.2–5 kg. They are divided into armor-piercing and high-explosive fragmentation grenades. Upon explosion the latter produce up to 300 lethal fragments in a radius of up to 5 m. Grenades with shaped charges penetrate armor with a thickness of up to 400 mm. In addition to combat grenades there are also training grenades which are used in military units for training purposes.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A small explosive or chemical missile, originally designed to be thrown by hand, but now also designed to be projected from special grenade launchers, usually fitted to rifles or carbines.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. a small container filled with explosive thrown by hand or fired from a rifle
2. a sealed glass vessel that is thrown and shatters to release chemicals, such as tear gas or a fire extinguishing agent
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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