Airsoft grenades are one of the components which make airsoft the fantastic sport that it is.
The ability to flash a room before you enter, lay down covering smoke as you cross an expanse or clear out a bunker whilst it pins you down all add to the realism airsofters strive for.
But how do the different kinds of airsoft grenades work?
Pyrotechnic (Pyro) Grenades
Pyrotechnic grenades, or pyro, are arguably the most common grenades you’ll find in airsoft. They’re single use grenades which house a small explosive inside that ignites when lit with the striking mechanism.
Pyro grenades are first struck with the striking mechanism, which is often a match-like substance used to ignite the protruding fuse although newer, more expensive grenades use the iconic ‘ring-pull’ method to ignite the fuse.
The fuse then burns slowly into the internals of the grenade (giving the user time to throw the grenade) and ignites its primary content.
In the case of smoke grenades, the primary content is known as ‘smoke composition’ and consists ordinarily of potassium chlorate, lactose and a colouring dye.
This mixture burns producing a thick smoke for up to 2 minutes. These grenades help give players cover in open spaces and to conceal a retreat/advance.
In ‘frag’ grenades, the primary content is a form of firework which ignites quickly when the fuse reaches it.
This creates a loud bang which can disorient those nearby. Often, these small explosives are surrounded by soft projectiles, such as dried peas or powder, to simulate the fragmentation of a real grenade.
These grenades are used to remove players from difficult spots or take out large groups of people.
Due to the nature of these grenades, you must be over the age of 18 to purchase them and most sites will restrict their use to over 18 year olds.
The ‘hot burning’ nature of these grenades means they can be a fire risk in dry areas, although some manufacturers boast a ‘cool burn’ formula which lowers the fire risk.
There are 2 kinds of gas grenades in airsoft, the audible kind and the projectile kind.
The audible kind of gas grenade uses compressed gas to produce a loud bang and pressure wave that will disorient anyone nearby. These grenades are often operated using CO2 due to its high pressure, low cost capsules but many products are available which use standard airsoft gas.
These grenades are filled with gas and then stored with a locking pin (similar to a genuine grenade) to hold down the ‘spoon’.
When ready to use, the player removes the pin and throws the grenade towards the enemy. The grenade, now armed, releases the compressed gas incredibly quickly upon impact with a hard surface.
Alternatively, releasing the grenade begins a clockwork ‘count down’ which triggers the gas release after a pre-determined time.
Projectile gas grenades work exactly the same as audible gas grenades; however, the escaping gas is routed into a barrel containing BBs which are forced out along with the gas. This process slows the gas down, producing less noise, but comes with the added realism of projectiles.
40mm under barrel grenade launchers work the same as audible projectile gas grenades; however, there is no need for a locking mechanism, spoon or timer. Instead, they simply release their projectiles with the press of a button which opens a valve.
Blank Firing Grenades
These grenades work using blanks, the same kind of blanks that are used in films to simulate gunfire. For this reason, they’re very loud.
Blank firing grenades can range from using ‘small’ 9mm handgun blanks to larger shotgun 12 gauge blanks, depending on the noise volume required or allowed.
These grenades work using a similar method to the above gas grenades and close to the operation of real grenades.
The pin holds the spoon in place, which in turn locks in place the ‘impact’ or ‘timer’ mechanism. When the timer mechanism or impact mechanism is tipped, a firing pin strikes the primer on the blank round and initiates the gunpowder reaction.
This is of a slightly lower volume to a gun-shot, but is still VERY loud, so is often restricted to the use of smaller 9mm blanks.