The hand grenade is a critical tool in the U.S. military, allowing soldiers to engage enemy combatants without requiring a clear line of sight. They typically consist of an internal chamber filled with gunpowder, along with an outer shell of shrapnel. Once triggered, the internal chamber explodes, sending shrapnel flying in all directions.
It’s a little known fact the hand grenade has been around for hundreds of years, with some of the first reports of these militaristic weapons arising from Eastern Roman Empire during 700-800. Of course, these grenades were rudimentary to say the least and lacked the tactile advantage and versatility of modern-day models.
The U.S. military, for instance, has been using the M67 grenade for several decades now. It has a spherical body, consisting of steel, along with an M213 delay and safety pin/lever. According to Wikipedia, the M67 can be tossed up to 115 feet. The fuze has a detonation time of 4 to 5 seconds once the pin has been pulled.
But it appears the military is looking to replace the M67 with a next-generation grenade. Reports indicate that researchers from the U.S. Army’s Picatinny Arsenal are working around the clock to develop a new ambidextrous grenade — the first new model in more than 40 years.
Dubbed the Enhanced Tactical Multi-Purpose (ET-MP), the next-generation grenade will allow soldiers to choose between fragmentation or concussive effects, all with the convenience of flipping a switch. And because it’s ambidextrous, soldiers can throw the ET-MP using either their right or left hand. This is in stark contrast to existing grenades in the military’s arsenal, all of which have different arming procedures based on which hand the soldier is using.
“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,” said Jessica Perciballi, ARDEC Project Officer for ET-MP, U.S. Army, Grenades & Demolitions Division.
Of course, there’s a good reason why the military is eager to develop an ambidextrous grenade: statistics show that some 10% of the population are left-handed. This means roughly 1 in 10 soldiers may have trouble using the military’s current M67 grenade.
There’s still no word on an official date when the ET-MP grenade will be released, although officials close to the project are hopeful will be complete around 2020.