A common paintball FAQ is what are paintball grenades, or what are paintball pyrotechnics? Both are pretty fair questions as, if you didn’t play paintball, you would have no real reason to ever come into contact with these devilish little bits of essential paintballing equipment. To put it simply, paintball pyrotechnics is a broad term to describe any piece of paintball gear that uses a small charge to release either paint, smoke or a flash – all of which are designed to either distract, disorientate or splatter your opponent. As you enthusiasts will know, there are actually many different types of pyrotechnics, so today I’m just going to focus on the most common one: the humble paintball grenade.
Hopefully the name says pretty much everything you need to know about this pocket-sized piece of gear, as those of you who have seen almost any action movie should have a vague idea of what a grenade does: it explodes. These explode too, but instead of releasing shrapnel, they release paint. The advantage of a grenade over a paintball shot is that not only do grenades explode outwardly, therefore covering anything within a set parameter, but they can also be used stealthily to clear out a bunker by throwing them over the top…very cool.
In a standard scenario game, having at least one grenade on you is a good idea, as they can be used to get you out of all manners of tight spots. Say you’re the one stuck in a bunker – penned in – and you need to get out. Well firing a few shots is one thing, but if you really want people to stop firing at you and get out the way, throwing a grenade towards them is the easiest way to do it. Because of this very impressive and obliterating quality, grenades are not allowed in tournament paintball and are only confined to the more creative bounds of scenario play.
Most grenades are powered by a small black charge, known simply as a ‘banger’, which is connected to a short fuse. Though most grenades are round or shaped like an actual grenade (to make them easier to throw), they are usually little more than thick cardboard with a plastic baggie of paint inside them. Once the fuse reaches the banger, it explodes sending the paint out in all directions.
There are also non-explosive paintball grenades, like the Tippmann Squadbuster below, but they are far less common and generally considered less effective too. They generally work a lot more like water balloons than actual grenades. A baggie or rubber tube of paint is secured at one end and held at the other end by a pin. Once the pin is pulled and the grenade is thrown, the compressed paint explodes on impact. Similarly, non-explosive grenades often rely on small canisters of compressed air to provide a burst of energy.
One cool thing about paintball grenades is that, in most scenario games, a direct hit from one of them almost always counts as a kill. Because of this, they tend to be bright, luminous colours, so that their impact can easily be differentiated from standard paintball hits.
How to use a paintball grenade?
Pretty simple really, pull the pin and throw. On explosive grenades you often have to strike the tip of it off of a rough surface to ignite the fuse. Usually in this case the cap or pin has a circle of match-striking paper on it, so you pull the pin out, strike the grenade off it so sparks start to fly, then throw the thing. Most explode within 3 – 5 seconds, so you don’t want to hang around.
If you’re looking for some basic grenade tactics, here’s a couple to try out next time you’re playing. If using a grenade on the attack (e.g. clearing a bunker of enemies) then have your marker at the ready. If you’re lucky the grenade will explode in the bunker and soak everyone in paint, taking them out the game. But alternatively they might see the grenade and make a run for it before it erupts. In this instance always have the bunker in your marker’s sights, so you can easily pick them off one by one as they scarper.
If you’re using a grenade defensively, like to distract your opponents as you move from one bunker to the next, then carefully consider where you will throw it. The common mistake people make when using grenades is making it too obvious, which gives your opponents too much time to react. If you’re stuck in bouts of fire, then fire a shot so that your opponents duck their head under, then throw it towards them. With a bit of luck by the time they raise their heads again it’ll be too late to evacuate the blast zone!
They’re so much fun grenades, so try grabbing a few the next time you visit a paintball venue. For the super-advanced enthusiast amongst you, nothing strikes fear like an actual grenade launcher too!