It’s one of those questions that arises from time to time and then sinks without trace, but the nature of grenades is worth a bit of consideration.  In Bolt Action grenades are subsumed into the process of close combat as a matter of course – we do not question whether a particular unit is provided with anti-personnel grenades the way we do for  anti-tank grenades.

This makes perfectly good sense simply as a matter of range. On more than one occasion (several times in fact) I have had to field wargamer grumblings about the absence of anti-personnel grenades as a specific feature of Bolt Action combat. Two of my questioners pointed out that they could throw a cricket ball a considerable distance with a good degree of accuracy. I would be very surprised if gamers in the US have not had similar conversations with Baseball enthusiasts. Whether their judgement of either distance or accuracy was valid is a question of it’s own, but a crucial point was that neither of them was aware of the weight of a hand grenade compared to a cricket ball. They are not – as both of our grumblers had assumed – of anything like a similar weight.

A cricket ball comes in at about 160 grams; a British ’36’ grenade –  a fairly ordinary example of the genre – is 765 grams, so getting on for five times the weight of the cricket ball, though not all that dissimilar in size.. Much the same relationship applies to a Baseball ball and an American Mark II Grenade – roughly 145 grams versus close to 600 grams.

Self-evidently, a grenade is a much heavier thing to throw and it is not so perfectly balanced either, so it’s harder to achieve accuracy as well as distance, but there are other crucial considerations. I would think very few bowlers or pitchers have had to chuck the ball under fire – they can safely stand upright and move their arms to increase the velocity of the ball. This is not generally advisable in combat.

More than that, when a soldier throws a grenade best practice is to get his head down immediately for fear of catching a fragment from his own bomb. That has an effect on both range and accuracy, but it also has an effect on whether the soldier is willing to risk using a grenade at all.  It’s worth having a little experiment. Find a stone of about 600-700 grams in weight, that’s roughly one -and-a-half times the weight of a standard can of corned beef, but it will probably only be about a quarter of the volume. Try throwing it from a crouching position. If you can manage the 30 yards that training manuals describe you’re doing very well; most people can’t do it…… and that’s why grenades are subsumed into the greater lethality of close combat in Bolt Action.

  1. I think they could be used in the combat system –
    You would have to compare them with the SMG for effectiveness at close range.
    SMG – short range 6″ – +1 to hit – 2 shots – cost 3 points per man
    Grenade – long range – no ‘to hit’ modifiers – treated as HE1″ – 1-2 hits – +1 Pen – cost 1 point per man

  2. Not so sure you’ve made a stonewall argument either way there. I’m actually happy with the rules as they are and not looking for an immediate change. But average joe trying to throw a stone of similar weight and shape isn’t the same as well trained infantryman. As a British army veteran and infanteer I speak from experience. We where quite good at it. Still not sure we need it in game though. Or how to implement it.

  3. I’m sorry, but this is one of the dumbest counter-arguments I’ve ever heard. You’re talking about hand grenades as if they’re precision munitions that are wasted if they don’t land directly on their target when… it’s a frag grenade, my man. Horseshoes and hand grenades. Combine it with the fact that you’re literally ignoring the training that infantrymen went and still go through for grenade use to make use of them when under fire, and I honestly don’t know what to tell you.

    1. Totally agree with you! Seems like a total cop out because they didn’t want to try and find a way to implement it into the game. Hand grenades should be included in the next edition of BA. They were a fairly important weapon to the average infantryman!

  4. I appreciate this being addressed! I’m new to bolt action so when this comes up I always assume that I’ve just missed it in the rules or forgotten.

  5. The grenade is a icon WWII movies and lore. How many time have we seen the brave soldier sneaking up on the MG emplacement to take it out with a trusty grenade. We already have rues in place for the rifle grenade so why not the grenade? I get that it’s hard to play the grenade with realism of actual combat but it’s not a bout realism it about theatricality. I feel that without the use of the grenade by the individual soldier we are missing out on some big theatrical moments in our games.

  6. I’d like to see granades added to the system
    the idea of having a short and long range and modifiers seems reasonable
    also whilst where on about rules that could do with some TLC
    indirect fire and where do the missed shots land a system for random landing points would be great

  7. Unless you’ve thrown a 36, or handled one then it ain’t an easy thing to throw with accuracy.
    Running up to a trench, hoping your buddies are laying down suppressive fire and then ‘posting’ the grenade is practically suicide.
    In the Falklands best trench buster wad the old Chatlie G, or Carl Gustav. Better to allow bazooka, piats, panzer faust and schrek an anti trench capability.
    Never enough grenades issued, carried to be used more than once or twice. So adding them into clise quarter combat is the best solution IMOHO.

  8. You know I think the real thing to do is ask an actual U.S. drill sergeant the accuracy a trained soldier could achieve, plus I am pretty sure anti-personal grenades are used mostly for room/foxhole/trench clearing, meaning your not always throwing a great distance (more like a stone toss through an opening, then hide behind a wall, then guns blazing).

  9. The British Grenade when thrown had a bad tendancy to propell the base plate of the grenade back in the direction of the thrower.

    If the grenade was included in the next rule set then it should be the same as a light mortar, with less range.
    But then there are all the differences between the different nations and their reliability and size.
    German stick grenades went further but had less Bang for example.
    I miss the use of grensdes but have learnt to live with it .
    If you have any brains agree your OWN rule for them with your opponent.

  10. I’d like to see an “optional rule” for room and/or bunker clearing. Run up, toss in, and duck. Or, smash the window, toss in and then duck. I get the quandary Warlord will be looking at if they include two sides chucking grenades at each other.

  11. I would like to see the use of grenades in the game. That being said I can’t see where they can be included. I used the things in Viet Nam and at best they would make someone think twice about doing anything if it just happen to land near them. The issue is to get them to land near the intended target. I training I tossed a grenade three times. The biggest fear was catching a face full of hot metal and putting yourself out of action. My fear would be that in infantry actions every player would load up with the things ( which never happened in real life ) and a good skirmish game would devolve into just having your hero on the table tossing the things until your luck worked. That would be a lot of fun.
    If you are desperate to use the things make up your own rule and use it with friends but do not expect other players to go with it just because you like it and then have the game start with hard feelings about a facet that will not work as it really did.

  12. For many years I’ve owned a practice grenade – although it’s small and heavy as described, it fits snugly into the hand and can still be thrown a fair way. Most importantly, it doesn’t always have to be thrown – if you are adjacent to a defence, building, vehicle or emplacement, it can simply be dropped over the defence or through an aperture onto your target. Irrespective of historical accuracy, BA is tactically far duller for not featuring the humble grenade.

  13. I believe the non- existence of a grenade specific rule is the best practice. It can be, and I believe is, inherent in the rules via close combat and point blank shooting. In a game, like Bolt Action, where the ranges of weapons are somewhat abstract using a weapon that needs specific range parameters does not work. It would also greatly slow play and require too much book keeping (who still has grenades…how many do they have etc. )

  14. Anti-Tank Grenades only work in clos combat against a vehicle – why not have grenades as a mechanic during assaults?
    Units with AP grenades are more efficient in assaulting or defending against an assault. If both sides have grenades, the effects cancel each other out.
    Could even be limited to fighting over an obstacle.
    Just to say “it’s not working on the tabletop” is quite ridiculous, because there are plenty of games that have reasonable AP grenade rules…

  15. Honestly we just use the stats from the German GRb39 and have it be a one shot similar to panzerfaust and call it good.

  16. Honestly we just use the stats from the German GRb39 and have it be a one shot similar to panzerfaust and call it good. We use them as rifle mounted grenades. 5 points per grenade with a max of 4 per unit. Once used they are gone and the unit fights on with there regular kit.

  17. I appreciate your thoughts regarding this topic. Your points are worth considering in regards to real life and the game. I also see points from other counter-comments that warrant consideration as well. I’m not sure I feel more one way than the other now, in both regards. It’s food for thought, at least. Thank you for writing this article.

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