Not too long ago Mike from Von Steuben Training and Consulting put a good write up on American Partisan about the tactical employment of smoke grenades and I’d encourage you to check it out.
This was a subject I had on my to-do list as well so I got my butt in gear and got some smokes ordered up. I went ahead and followed his advice and got the EG-18X smoke grenades from Enola Gaye. I’m also going to follow his advice and use duct tape and electrical tape to help weatherproof the grenade and identify its color, but I’ve also tried to improve on his ideas as well. That’s the great part about this community is how we can all share ideas and improve off of each other.
Don’t get me wrong, this is no form of one-upmanship though, reading Mike’s article and seeing his use of duct tape on pyro reminded me of many good times in the Marines spent on the demolition ranges constructing field expedient charges. Duct tape was our best friend to say the least, and I always enjoyed expressing my creativity with it on the demo ranges.
So these grenades are built similar to fire works, and definitely are not meant to be carried around in inclement weather. Just like with anything else sensitive that needs to go into the field, whether something like this or an electronic, we need to take extra precautions to weatherproof it. For an example, in “The Fieldcraft Book”, available over in the library, the author describes using ziplock bags to further waterproof radios. And the author isn’t talking about a $25 Boafeng, but a fully tested military radio. I think we would be smart to adopt the same practices.
The first thing I did was to remove any excess packaging. Some of these grenades come with the instructions glued to the side, just cut that off.
Next, starting at the bottom of the grenade I used two pieces of duct tape to cover the bottom. I’m using 2” wide tape so this left some overhang. You want to trim around the edge of the grenade leaving about 3/8” overhang. Next fold the extra down.
The next thing I did was to seal the top. This is a bit trickier since the fuse is up here. These grenades come with the pull ring stored on the top of the grenade, yet to use the grenade you have to pull the ring straight out from the side. I decided to remove the packaging around the hole and stick the ring straight out before taping up the top. Then I just taped the top similar to the bottom. Make sure you don’t cover the pull ring hole, I think if you tape over this it could hinder pulling the ring out.
After the top is taped, I started at the bottom of the grenade and using overlapping layers taped up the sides, once again making sure I didn’t tape over the pull ring hole. I did use small pieces of tape to seal as much of the area around the hole as I could though.
With the grenade taped up with duct tape it’s now time to tape down the pull ring. This is the same way we used to tape the safety spoons on fragmentation grenades to ensure we didn’t have any accidents. It’s very easy to undue when needed to get the grenade into action. Since these grenades don’t have a safety spoon it’s even more important to secure the pull ring. The last thing you want is for a stick to find it’s way into that ring and turn you into a smoky mess, burning you and your gear and compromising your position in the process. This of course would part of any pre-patrol inspections.
So take your electrical tape (you do have rolls of it, don’t you??). By the way, that stuff from harbor freight isn’t electrical tape. If it doesn’t say 3M on it, get rid of it! Scotch 33 or 88 is what you want. So anyways, take your electrical tape and poke the end through the ring about a half inch then stick it back onto itself.
Next, lay the ring against the side of the grenade and rotate the ring to make sure the tape is coming off to one side or the other. Then wrap around the grenade one and a half times. Next, cut your tape about about 3 inches from the grenade and double that back into itself. You should end up with about a 1.5” buddy tag. This tag is to help you unwrap the tape easily.
Now that you’ve secured the ring, we can now mark the grenade color. Using the appropriate color of electrical tape just make a wrap about halfway down the grenade. On my example I’m actually using a black colored smoke grenade.
Next we want to weatherproof that fuse hole. I’m personally a big fan of Gardner Bender liquid electrical tape for sealing anything outside. It seals really good but is removable if you need to work on something. I use it on all my outdoor electrical and radio connections. I just use a q-tip and liberally coated the hole and area around it. I would be hesitant using something like silicone caulking because of how hard it gets when it cures, it may make it hard to use the grenade.
So these grenades are sized the same as a military smoke grenade and fit perfectly into a military flash bang/smoke grenade pouch. A little too perfectly in fact since they don’t have the fuse on top like a military one does. This makes it hard to get the grenade out of the pouch with gloves on.
What I decided to do was to make some old school “mag pulls” for the grenade. All I did was take about a foot of bank line, tie knots into each end, then duct tape it to the grenade. You could definitely do this earlier in the process when you are taping up the grenade to begin with, that’s what I’ll be doing from now on as well.
To further improve on the weather proofing I think you could use a grocery sack or other thin plastic sheet and actually wrap the grenade in that, then tape it up.
When you are all done you should have a nice weather proof package that will come in handy whenever you need it.
After I put out the above information a few people logically asked if the tape I put over the smoke output hole would affect the function of the grenade any. I was pretty sure I already knew the answer, but I obliged them and took out a couple of the EG25 grenades I’ve got. These are the little brothers to the EG18X, and I figured if these little guys have the power to get through the two layers of duct tape then the larger one will too.
So I had a pretty good idea these would work with the tape over the hole because explosives (which is essentially what these are, in a chemical reaction sense, although a very slow version) always seek the path of least resistance. Since the body of the grenade can resist more pressure than the tape over the fuse hole, that’s where the pressure will go. This concept of using stronger materials to direct the force is called tamping. Claymore mines, shape charges, some cutting and breaching charges all use this concept. It’s also why a small stick of dynamite, one of the weakest of explosives, can do so much damage when placed into a hole drilled into the side of a mountain. Imagine the difference between letting a fire cracker go off in your open hand versus your closed fist. Ouch..
As an additional note, the liquid tape didn’t seem to affect pulling the pin either.