President Biden said in an address Wednesday that his administration has authorized yet another $800 million block of military aid to Ukraine. Included in the weapons package will be numerous Claymore antipersonnel mines and US training on how to use them.

The basics. A claymore is simple and efficient. Image Credit:

The Claymore Explained

We’ve all likely heard the term Claymore by now. They’ve been in use since 1960. Sometimes you’ll hear them called “Claymore mines.”  And that’s a fair term; they are antipersonnel mines. The proper military name of them is the M18A1 Claymore Antipersonnel Mine. The name says it all; they were designed and built to take out people.

You’d be wrong if you assumed the name came from the person who built the first one. Instead, its inventor, Norm McLeod, named it after a large Scottish medieval sword that was used with two hands to “cut people down.”  Clever guy, that McLeod.

Claymores are not conventional landmines; they are command-detonated and directional. This means they are fired (usually) by remote control and shoot a pattern of metal balls into their kill zone, much the same as a shotgun.

Claymores blowing up a bunch of stuff. Video courtesy of YouTube and United States Defense Media.

The Claymore fires steel balls, about the size of small ball bearings, out to around 110 yards in a 60-degree arc in front of the device. They are primarily used in ambushes and as anti-infiltration devices against enemy infantry.

War Stories, Turn About is not Fair Play

From listening to countless war stories from guys who spent time in Vietnam, I learned that the VC would sneak their way through concertina wire in a perimeter area that had been mined with Claymores.  Once they reached the mines unnoticed, they would turn them around, so the “Front Towards Enemy” side was now facing friendlies on the inside of the wire.