However, not all grenades are created equal, and some are more survivable than others.

In World War II, different countries fielded grenades with varying designs and purposes, leading to vastly different outcomes for those unfortunate enough to be caught in their blast.

A Life-Saving Difference: Offensive vs. Defensive Grenades

Grenades are broadly categorized as offensive or defensive. Offensive grenades prioritize explosive power over fragmentation, allowing the user to throw them without being injured by their own weapon.

A defensive Grenade is one in which the blast radius is smaller, but its shrapnel range (20-30 yards) makes it as lethal to the thrower as it is to his intended target. After these types of grenades are thrown, the user must be behind a hard cover to protect himself from sizzling iron shards moving 700 feet per second in all directions.

Now, why must you make sure that a grenade is a German one before jumping on it if you were a soldier in WW2?

German ‘Potato Masher’: Big Boom, Little Shrapnel, Perfect for Trenches

Stielhandgranate 1917 (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Germans used the Model 24, Steilhandgranate, or “stick handle grenade.” Also known as the “Potato Masher” by Allied forces.

This grenade was an offensive type containing a charge between six and seven ounces for a large, concussive blast effect, but its thin-walled canister produced very little shrapnel.

This was in line with German infantry tactics at the time, which consisted of using these grenades to stun and shock enemy troops in a trench or emplacement until German troops could rush the position and overwhelm the defenders. Its very large size made it a bit unwieldy for an infantryman to carry, but among grenades of WWII, it was unmatched for throwing distance.