The Myth Behind the Classic Pineapple Grenade
Fruit-shape bomb didn't shatter along the squares
The pineapple grenade is a classic of modern weaponry. Baseball-size with squarish lumps, the hand-thrown bomb looks a lot like, well, a pineapple.
If you’re like me, you probably assumed the square sections were like pre-made fragments that would break apart when the grenade exploded, showering your enemy with lethal — and neatly uniform — hunks of metal.
But that’s not true, according to weapons expert Kevin Dockery, a former Army marksman, Gulf War veteran and prolific author also runs a firearms show called The Armory that is a fixture at the annual Dragon Con comics convention.
Dockery says the pineapple grenade’s inventor, William Mills from the United Kingdom, picked the fruit shape for ease of gripping. “His intention for those serrations was so that it wouldn’t slip out your hand in a muddy trench.”
The Mills-Bomb No. 5 became Great Britain’s standard hand grenade in 1915. The French, Russians and Americans soon made their own versions. The U.S. Mk. II remained in service into the 1970s before today’s smooth, baseball-style grenades superseded it.
As it happens, Dockery has a pineapple-grenade fragment in his collection, and it looks a lot like a piece of fruit — but not a pineapple. Having shattered lengthwise across the square segments, the grenade’s killing fragment is like “a sliver out of an apple,” Dockery says.
And that’s a good thing for the thrower, the author adds. “It makes a heavier projectile.” And a heavier projectile travels farther than a lighter one — meaning the grenade is more dangerous.