New ‘Pearl’ Hand Grenade by RUAG Munition: Big Bang in a Small Package

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by David Crane

This article’s content and links have been updated as of 7/31/06.

The HG85 fragmentation grenade, a.k.a. HG85 hand grenade, made by RUAG Ammotec (formerly RUAG Munition), is currently regarded by many experts to be the best hand grenade currently in service, in the world. The British Army apparently agrees, since they’ve acquired the RUAG HG-85 fragmentation/hand grenade in large numbers.

RUAG isn’t sitting on their laurels, though. They’ve just released a new hand grenade family, called the…


The RUAG Munition Pearl hand grenade incorporates a new steel ball liner and the size of the steel balls can be varied. The Pearl utilizes a spherical aluminum case, the skin of which is roughly 1.5mm thick. The fuze on the Ruag Pearl hand grenade is designated FHG44, and has to fit inside a smaller cavity than the HG85’s fuze. The Pearl’s spherical case is lined with variably-sized steal balls, which are held together with resin. I other words, the steel balls on this grenade go on the outside, rather than the inside.

According to "Armada International" Magazine, "the advantage of using steel balls as fragments compared with the traditional prefragmented case design is that the speed, inertia, and therefore range and penetration of each ball are perfectly predictable, which is not the case [for] a traditional prefragmentation covering in which the fragments are far from being identical, both in shape and in weight."

The RUAG Pearl hand grenade can be had in 49mm, 55mm, or 65mm case diameter. Steel balls can be had in 1.58mm, 2.0mm, 2.38mm 2.5mm, 2.78mm, and 3mm diameters. The customer can choose between single and double layers of steel balls. If the customer chooses two layers, he can have two different ball diameters (different ball diameter for each layer).

The explosive charge component for the RUAG Pearl hand grenade is RDX/TNT-60/40.

The RUAG Pearl hand grenade has alread been qualified internally by RUAG, and is ready for production. RUAG Ammotec’s internal qualifications comply with NATO standards and were administered so that RUAG Ammotec could be sure that the Pearl would pass the NATO testing protocols at extreme temperatures (-40 degrees Celsius adn +71 degrees Celsius). All of RUAG’s performance tests were conducted against aluminum and steel plates at a range of 5 meters.

RUAG Ammotec can be contacted at 011-41-332- 282-406, or via email at The RUAG Munition Infantry Weapons – Fragmentation Technology division can be contacted via email at

Click here
to visit Ruag Ammotec’s "Classic Fragmentation Hand Grenade" page.

Click on this link to visit an that features a press release on the Pearl fragmentation grenade.

Here’s how that press release reads:

"New Hand Grenade PEARL – More Power with Less Weight

15 June 2004 16:00

RUAG Ammotec Thun/Switzerland has developed an entirely new structure for the spherical basic body responsible for the optimal distribution of the fragments. This enables the company to produce a Hand Grenade of smaller dimensions and a substantially reduced weight, but offering the same impressive performance data as the proven HG 85.

Today not only the Swiss Army, but also the British, Dutch and other armed forces rely on our Hand Grenades. More than five million pieces have been made already. The knowledge gained in the process, coupled with the findings on customer requirements and from research, are the basis for our new product. Characterized by the best performance data, the novel PEARL Hand Grenade is lighter and offers maximum safety now as before.

Experience shows that different customers impose different demands on such a product. This fact has been paid the appropriate attention in that certain parameters can now be adapted individually.

The New PEARL Concept
An entirely new approach was chosen in the development: in the place of a prefragmented fragmentation jacket, preformed ball-shaped fragments, PEARLs, are applied to the outside of the basic body. Tests revealed astonishing results: at the same diameter as the HG 85, an up to 70% higher performance was achieved. By decreasing the body’s diameter and using an optimized fuse it has been possible to substantially reduce the total weight to approx. 330g (compared with 465g of the HG 85).

This weight reduction makes the soldier’s equipment lighter, i.e. the person can carry more Hand Grenades or gains agility thanks to the lighter pack. It eventually also permits to throw the Hand Grenade a longer distance and more precisely.

PEARL penetrates bullet-proof jackets according to STANAG 4512 The PEARL’s fragmentation capacity is the highest worldwide despite the reduced diameter of the basic body. Some of the PEARL configurations penetrate both steel plate of 2mm thickness at a distance of five metres and bullet-proof vests as per STANAG 4512.

As in the case of the HG 85, the PEARL’s safety performance satisfies the most strict requirements. The further development of the well-proven fuse meets all specifications and passes all safety tests successfully.

The ecology has also been taken into account in this development. Harmful heavy metals are substituted by environment-friendly materials in the new fuse.

Customized Hand Grenade Interested clients apply a variety of specifications and selection procedures to a Hand Grenade. Thanks to the flexibility allowed by the design and the special production process it is possible to adapt the PEARL Hand Grenade to the customer’s wishes. The basic body is available in different diameters, which has consequences for the quantity of explosive and the fragments’ departure velocity. Steel balls of different diameters can be applied in one or two layers. This defines the penetration energy and the number of effective fragments.

Calculations and experience from tests enable a virtual presentation and clear definition of the effects of the different combination possibilities.

"This concept permits us to offer every client a customized Hand Grenade which suits the particular requirements", raves Stefan Sommer, Product Manager in charge at RUAG Ammotec. "The PEARL sets new benchmarks in the ratio between weight and performance and as regards individuality. It marks a new generation of Hand Grenades. The PEARL is an absolute hit!"
For more information on this company:
RUAG Ammotec – Environmentally Friendly Small Arms Ammunition and Grenades, Mortar and Artillery Training Systems"

"Armada International" Magazine’s advertising office in Switzerland can be contacted by phone at 011-41-41-760-72-78. You can email Armada International’s main office at

New ‘Pearl’ Hand Grenade by RUAG Munition: Big Bang in a Small Package by

About David Crane

David Crane started publishing online in 2001. Since that time, governments, military organizations, Special Operators (i.e. professional trigger pullers), agencies, and civilian tactical shooters the world over have come to depend on Defense Review as the authoritative source of news and information on "the latest and greatest" in the field of military defense and tactical technology and hardware, including tactical firearms, ammunition, equipment, gear, and training.

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