New Hand Grenade Design For U.S. Army In The Works

A modern way to say “boom”

Enhanced Tactical Multi-Purpose Hand Grenade

Enhanced Tactical Multi-Purpose Hand Grenade

ET-MP is nowhere near as catchy as name as "flash-bang."U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command

A grenade is a short fuse and a bad day in a small package. The hand-tossed bombs have origins dating back centuries, with more modern types first seeing use in World War I. In the ensuing century since, non-lethal and less-lethal grenade technology improved greatly, with loud and bright "flash-bang" grenades seeing military and police use. For grenades with the explicit goal of killing, World War II saw both fragmentation grenades, which explode shrapnel into people, and concussion grenades, which kill through powerful shock waves and are designed for clearing bunkers. The United States hasn't fielded a concussion grenade in over 40 years, since the "MK3A2 concussion grenade was taken out of service in 1975 due to an asbestos hazard."

Now, the Army wants a new grenade that can either be concussion or fragmentation. Last week, in a post on Medium, the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (ARDEC) announced features of the in-development Enhanced Tactical Multi-Purpose (ET-MP) hand grenade.


According to Jessica Perciballi, ARDEC Project Officer for ET-MP, U.S. Army, Grenades & Demolitions Division, ET-MP represents the first hand grenade that can be tailored to the mission. “Soldiers will not need to carry as many types of hand grenades,” she said. “They are currently carrying one M67 grenade that provides lethal fragmentation effects. With the new multi-purpose grenade, they can carry one ET-MP grenade and have the ability to choose either fragmentation or concussive effects desired for the situation,” Perciballi said. Another feature is that the grenades are designed for ambidextrous use, meaning that they can be thrown with either hand. Current grenades require a different arming procedure for left-handed users.

Ambidextrous grenades are definitely a good idea. As Robert Beckhusen notes at War is Boring:

That’s important because the current M67 was designed for right-handed soldiers, so the Army trains left-handed troops to flip the grenade upside down, holding the safety lever down with the left thumb, while pulling out the ring with the opposite hand. But that can be awkward for lefties to handle. When dealing with a weapon where a single fumble can kill the thrower and the people around them, awkward is a word you don’t want to hear.

Testing Grenade Designs

Testing Grenade Designs

From ARDEC: "Soldiers, Marines and engineers gather to evaluate and down-select various grenade body and arming designs."U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command

There is little in the announcement from the Army about how the grenade will be both a concussion weapon and a fragmentary bomb, since in the past designing a grenade for maximum shock waves meant minimizing shrapnel, and vice versa. When the new ET-MP moves from design to active use, there's one safe bet about its construction: unlike the MK3A2 concussion grenade of the past, it's incredibly unlikely that this new hand-tossed bomb leaves behind a cancerous cloud of asbestos.