War movies are ever-popular, but Hollywood heroes are not always doing things the same way as soldiers in the real world. There can be small differences that matter little to the average soldier, but some of those small differences can create a big boom if a soldier goes with the movie version instead of the training manual. Grenades are popular in war movies to help the heroes keep the enemy from overcoming them, but here are a few differences between movies and reality.
Pulling the Pin
Many movies have at least one scene where the enemy is about to overrun a soldier’s position, and the hero is pinned down with little or no ammo left in their weapon. They whip out one of their trusty grenades, pull the pin with their teeth, and they toss it at the last second into the middle of the advancing enemy. It sounds good, but the manual does not recommend pulling the pin with the teeth without a good dental plan. While it can be done, the pull weight on a grenade pin is heavy enough to make it extremely difficult. It might not pull a soldier’s teeth out, but it can still do damage before the grenade ever goes off.
Waiting to Throw
It is a realistic seeming nightmare of every soldier who might need to throw a grenade that the enemy will toss it right back before it explodes. Waiting for the fuse to burn down until the grenade is almost ready to explode is a favorite in movies, but it is not really necessary on the field of battle. The opposing soldiers might be lucky enough to catch it in the air and lob it back, but the reality is quite different. Most grenades are small, difficult to see coming, and they only have two to six seconds from the pin pulling until an explosion occurs. Just calculating that it would take two seconds for the grenade to travel from the throw means it would be four seconds round trip, and the possible two seconds to locate and toss it would generally not be enough time to do the deed.
While it appears on the big screen that the blast of a grenade is enormous, most of its power goes into propelling shrapnel. The goal of a grenade is to keep the enemy down by hurting them with flying objects that will piece their bodies and equipment, so the large explosions seen on the screen might be much more than the reality a soldier will experience. They are quite effective in a short-range situation, but blowing out an entire bunker with plenty of smoke and dust is not quite what will happen in reality.
There are many times when movies get things right, but they are not always useful in real life. Pulling the pin on a grenade with the teeth is just not sensible, and holding it can be dangerous. While it is likely to keep the enemy from advancing, it does not generally win the battle in reality with lots of smoke and dust as the enemy is pinned in place with injuries.