One of the war or action movies’ staples is the hand grenade. You know how when the main character would pull out the grenade pin with his teeth, yank it to the enemy position, and wait for that fireball explosion. Bonus if he walks away without looking back as the flames engulf everything behind his back. While this was no question cool and badass, it’s inaccurate. In fact, there were quite a lot of things that are wrong in terms of how films depict hand grenades, and we’re here to point those things out.

A Quick Grenade History

First of all, we have to set things straight and know exactly what a grenade is. Like most of the ones that we have today, a grenade is made up of three components: an inner explosive charge, a detonator, and an internal striker to detonate the charge. All these three are held together with a lever and pin safety device. Depending on the purpose, there are different kinds of grenades available, although the most common one is the fragmentation grenade.

A quick tour back in history would tell us that the Byzantine Empire first used grenades. Theirs were small, pomegranate-shaped ceramic explosive jars filled with a combustible compound typically used during naval battles to burn down the enemy ships called Greek fire. It is said that it could be ignited even in contact with water and that the victims who caught its fire would still continue to burn even after being submerged in water.

Byzantine Hand Grenades. (Photo credit: Amir Gorzalczany, Israel Antiquities Authority via

The Chinese also had their grenades made of ceramic vessels with gunpowder and fuses inside, something that was developed sometime during the Song Dynasty from 960 to 1279 AD.