M24 Stielhandgranate Hand Grenade
The M24 Stielhandgranate (“stalk hand grenade”) is one of the most iconic weapons of the twentieth-century, serving the German Army, in one version or another, through two world wars. More commonly referred to as a “stick grenade” or a “potato masher,” the device consists of an explosive cylinder attached to the end of a long shaft. This unique design permitted German troops to hurl the weapon at approximately twice the range of British or American soldiers, exceeding distances of 35 yards. An additional feature of the Stielhandgranate’s lever-design was a reduction in unpredictable rolls after initial impact.
Despite its advantages, M24 critics point out that the grenade lacked the punch and explosive radius of its Allied counterparts. The American Mk 2 “Pineapple” grenade could fling lethal pieces of shrapnel at distances up to one hundred feet, while the similarly-shaped British Mills Bomb boasted comparable capabilities. The M24, on the other hand, was strictly a concussive device that produced a much smaller kill radius. The grenade fit well into the Wehrmacht’s doctrine of wounding enemy personnel, rather than simply killing them, which tended to slow an advancing adversary. Nevertheless, a well-placed Stielhandgranate could kill or incapacitate multiple opponents with a single blast.
The M24 underwent several production changes over the course of its development. Initially entering service as Model 1915 (M15), German designers opted for an entirely different fuse system than the percussion cap pin employed by their British counterparts. Instead, a pull cord ran through the length of the shaft that, when pulled, dragged a steel rod through an igniter, which lit the fuse.
Subsequent models, such as the M16 and M17 Stielhandgranates, incorporated safety features that prevented unintentional detonations. The greatest advancements made with the M24 included a lengthening of the shaft and a reduction in head profile, which made the device even more deadly that previous models.