XM84/M84 Stun Grenade: Design, Use, and Potential Risks

The M84 stun grenade, also known as a flashbang, is a less-lethal weapon used by the United States Armed Forces and SWAT teams for crowd

Eric Sof

M84 Stun Grenades used by US military
M84 Stun Grenades used by US Military (Photo: XY)

The M84 stun grenade, also known as a flashbang, is a less-lethal weapon used by the United States Armed Forces and SWAT teams for crowd control, riot control, and hostage rescue missions. It creates an intensely loud “bang” and a blinding flash of light that can cause immediate flash blindness, deafness, tinnitus, and inner ear disturbance within 5 feet of initiation. While the effects of the M84 are intended to be temporary, there is still a risk of permanent injury. The United States Military uses it in conjunction with the Mk 141 and BLV-1 stun grenades. This article explores the design and use of the M84 stun grenade and the potential risks associated with its use.

Design

The M84 stun grenade features a magnesium-based pyrotechnic charge inside a thin aluminum case within a perforated cast steel body. Unlike high explosives (HE) used in traditional ordnance, the pyrotechnic charge produces a subsonic deflagration, not a supersonic detonation, minimizing the blast effects. The auditory and visual elements of the deflagration are allowed to escape through the perforations in the cast outer body, which reduces the risk of collateral damage due to flame, blast, and unconsumed fragments of the inner case.

Diagram of the M84 stun grenade
Diagram of the M84 stun grenade (Photo: XY)

Use

The M84 stun grenade is intended to be thrown into enclosed spaces to distract and temporarily incapacitate enemy personnel for easier capture. It is also used when the risk of collateral damage during urban warfare or hostage rescue operations contradicts the use of traditionally lethal and destructive fragmenting high explosive ordnance. According to US Army doctrine, the M84 should be deployed “during building and room clearing operations, when the presence of noncombatants is likely or expected, and the assault element is attempting to achieve surprise.”

The M84 stun grenade is part of many less-lethal and generally less harmful crowd control and disorientation weapons currently being developed by the US military for riot control, hostage rescue, and similar situations. The XM84 Stun Grenade is a non-fragmentation, non-lethal “Flash And Bang” stun grenade intended to provide a reliable, effective non-lethal means of neutralizing and disorienting enemy personnel.

Diagram of the XM84 stun grenade
Diagram of the XM84 stun grenade (Photo: XY)

Potential Risks

While the M84 stun grenade is designed to be a less-lethal weapon, there are still potential risks associated with its use. The intense sound and light produced by the M84 can cause immediate flash blindness, deafness, tinnitus, and inner ear disturbance. Exposed personnel may experience disorientation, confusion, and loss of coordination and balance. While these effects are intended to be temporary, there is still a risk of permanent injury.

XM84 stun grenade
XM84 stun grenade (Photo: XY)

Additionally, while the M84 is generally incapable of igniting paper or cloth, it can still ignite highly flammable liquids or vapors (such as concentrated gasoline or ether fumes) in the immediate area of the grenade. This can lead to fire and explosion hazards, which can cause further injury and damage.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the M84 stun grenade is an essential tool for the US Armed Forces and SWAT teams throughout the United States. As a less-lethal weapon, it is designed to provide a non-lethal means of neutralizing and disorienting enemy personnel. The device is handy in situations where traditional high explosive ordnance may cause collateral damage or lead to unnecessary loss of life.

The M84 stun grenade is a prime example of the advancements in crowd control and disorientation weapons currently under development by the US military. It emits an intensely loud “bang” and a blinding flash, causing immediate flash blindness, deafness, tinnitus, and inner ear disturbance. Although these effects are temporary, permanent injury is still risky.

M84 stun grenades in 3D view
M84 stun grenades in 3D view (Photo: XY)

The device will be thrown into enclosed spaces to distract and temporarily incapacitate enemy personnel for easier capture or during hostage rescue and urban warfare operations. Its design features a magnesium-based pyrotechnic charge within a perforated cast steel body, minimizing the risk of collateral damage.

Despite its effectiveness as a less-lethal weapon, the M84 stun grenade can still ignite highly flammable liquids or vapors in the immediate area of the grenade. Therefore, it must be used with caution and only in situations where it is necessary.

Overall, the M84 stun grenade is an essential tool for the US Armed Forces and SWAT teams, providing a non-lethal means of neutralizing and disorienting enemy personnel. It is a prime example of the advancements in crowd control and disorientation weapons currently under development by the US military. It is designed to be used when conventional high-explosive ordnance is inappropriate.

Technical specifications

Country of origin:United States
Manufacturer:Picatinny Arsenal
In service:1995–present
Arming type:Pinned
Fuse type:Time delay
Detonation mechanism:M201A1 time-delay fuse (1.0 to 2.3 seconds)
Payload:Flash-bang
Mass:13.2 ounces (370 g)
Blast radius:0.6 meters
Blast yield:170–180 decibels and 6–8 million candela within a 5-foot (1.5 m) radius
Throw distance:Far

Eric Sof

Eric Sof holds a master's degree in Political Science, specializing in International Peacekeeping Studies. He has over a decade of experience as a former member of an elite counterterrorism unit. Additionally, he is a firearms instructor and currently serves as a member of the SWAT unit.

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