Original Imperial German WWI M1917 Stick Grenade dated 1918 with Inert Fuse Assembly - Stielhandgranate M17

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is an excellent example of a BATF approved inert Imperial German Model 1917 "stick grenade", with one of the nicest condition handles that we have ever seen. It retains many original markings though faint, and presents very nicely. The head had the top of the can removed in order to empty the explosive. The can then had the top reattached, and does not appear to have been repainted.

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The German WWI M17 Stick Grenade was officially known as the Model 1917 Stielhandgranate (Stick Hand Grenade). It stands 13 3/4 inches tall with a 4 inch long inert explosive head. These are exceptionally rare and far more difficult to find than the WWII M24 version. It is totally inert, and cannot be converted to an explosive device.

The head and of the grenade, which still retains the original belt hanger clip, screws into the original handle collar nicely. The markings are no longer fully visible but for historical reference they would usually be marked with VOR GEBRAUCH SPRENGKAPSEL EINSETZEN (Before use insert detonator). The warhead is still able to be removed and you can inspect the interior if you would wish to do so. The interior once removed shows the disassembled inert fuse assembly. The hole made in the top of the warhead was done so during the demilitarization process.

The excellent condition handle is still quite firmly attached to the handle with the correct sealing washer. The handle exhibits excellent wood, with crisp and faint markings. The threaded cap is affixed in place, as well as the handle collar as well. The star shaped screw cap is still present, and is frozen and we have not made any attempts to force it off. We do however believe that the original pull bead is still present, but we cannot confirm this.

One side of the stick is marked with what appears to be 23.9.18 which appears to be a date. The opposite side is marked with 5 ½ Sek. AEG.

This is a fantastic opportunity to pick up a museum grade example of a Model 1917 Stielhandgranate. The best we have seen recently, ready to display!

The German “Potato Masher” of the Great War:
Germany entered World War I with a single grenade design: a heavy 750-gram (26 oz) ball-shaped fragmentation grenade (Kugelhandgranate) for use only by pioneers in attacking fortifications. It was too heavy for regular use on the battlefield by untrained troops and not suitable for mass production. This left Germany without a standard-issue grenade and improvised designs similar to those of the British were used until a proper grenade could be supplied.

The 'stick grenade' first appeared in the midst of World War I; it was introduced in 1915 for use by the German Empire's armed forces. As time went on, the design further developed, adding and removing certain features. Aside from its unique and unusual appearance, the Stielhandgranate used a friction igniter system, a method very uncommon in other nations but widely used in German grenades.

During World War I, the original design of the Stielhandgranate, under the name M1915 (Model 1915), was in direct technological competition with the British standard-issue Mills bomb series. The first design model of the Mills bomb – the Grenade No. 5 Mk. 1 – was introduced the same year as the German Model 1915, but due to delays in manufacturing it was not widely distributed into general service until 1916. (There was a small period of time where German troops had large supplies of new Model 1915 grenades, while their British opponents only had a very small number.)

As World War I progressed, the Model 1915 Stielhandgranate was further improved with various changes. These received new designations corresponding for the year of introduction, such as the Model 1916 and the Model 1917.

Production variations Model 1915 (M15)
In 1915, industries of the German Empire designed and began production of the original Stielhandgranate, appropriately named Model 1915 (M15). It utilized a priming system, unlike the percussion cap pin used in most grenades of the period. The easily recognizable "potato masher" shape is a result of a number of different styles and choices of the design. The grenade mounted a charge head within a sheet-steel cylinder atop a long hollow-wooden handle. Internally, the explosive – initially ammonal but later approximately 170 g (6.0 oz) of trinitrotoluene filling – was connected to a detonator, and a pull cord ran from the detonator down the length of the hollow handle, emerging from the base. To use, a soldier would simply pull the string downwards, dragging a rough steel rod through the igniter within the fuse. The rod's abrasive contact would cause sparks and a flame to light from within, setting the fuse burning. This fuse took approximately four and a half seconds to reach the detonator before exploding.

The Stielhandgranate's handle design provided a lever motion in a throw, significantly improving the effective range of use. It could be thrown by the common German infantryman approximately 27 to 37 metres (30 to 40 yd), whereas the British Mills bomb could often only be thrown about 14 metres (15 yd). The British War Office report "WO 291/472 Performance and handling of HE grenades" gives an average figure for a standing throw of a Mills bomb as 27 m (30 yd), (23 m (25 yd) when crouched and 22 m (24 yd) lying prone). One issue that hand grenades of the time had was unpredictable rolling after landing. The German Stielhandgranate did not suffer nearly as much, and in some respects not at all, from this problem as the handle together with the charge head resisted rolling. Instead of rolling straight down a hill or across rough terrain, the Stielhandgranate could create an axis for rotation: it would instead roll from side to side, because the charge head and length of the grenade acted as a balance. However, the additional length of the handle and the irregular overall shape meant that fewer grenades could be carried. It also took longer to prime the grenade than an allied counterpart, such as the Mills Bomb.

The Stielhandgranate primarily relied on a concussion blast effect, the container creating little fragmentation compared with many grenades of the time, such as the Mills Bomb and the French F1 Grenade, the later World War II American Mk 2 grenade, and the Soviet F1 Grenade. Fragmentation produced shrapnel which could wound enemy infantry over a large area, a factor which made these types of grenade very good for open areas, such as fields, the blasted expanse of no man's land, beaches, spacious trenches, and wide city streets. Concussion grenades, on the other hand, based their wounding ability purely on the shock and blast of the explosives. The Stielhandgranate was extremely effective and reliable in clearing enclosed areas, such as buildings, fortifications, and the fighting compartment of an enemy tank. On the other hand, performance in wide open areas was less than satisfactory. The blast effect could only go so far before dying out, while pieces from an equivalent fragmentation grenade could fly hundreds of metres (it was not unrealistic to expect that metal shrapnel could hit a soldier that the grenade was not intended for, especially in open areas).

Model 1916 M16 Stielhandgranate
The original M15 grenade suffered from an unfortunate design issue. The pull cord which activated the grenade's fuse extruded from the base and could get caught in debris or clutter on the battlefields of World War I, causing the fuse to be ignited, and the grenade to explode on the belt of an unaware infantryman. This resulted in the introduction of the Model 1916 (M16).

Functionally identical to the M15, the M16 included a vital change in the base design. A small porcelain ball was placed at the base of the grenade, attached directly to the pull cord. This prevented the string from being exposed. The small bead was partially enveloped in the wooden handle, meaning that some force was needed to pluck it out. Operation was nearly identical, except that a soldier no longer needed to pull the string itself. This improved version resistant to humidity thanks to its stick cap which screwed onto the bottom which concealed the ignition string. It was later improved by riveting a star-shaped plate which helped the unscrewing of the cap in muddy conditions (an oft encountered condition of the trenches).

From 1916, the ammonium nitrate used as explosive for stick grenades models 1915 and 1916 was gradually replaced by the more powerful Tolite. As a consequence the grenade head volume could be decreased, and the manufacturing process could evlove from the usual crimping to thin steel plate stamping in one piece. This modification gave birth to the :

Model 1917 M17 Stielhandgranate
In the same time the manufacturing specifications became much more precise, so that the numerous producers realized stamped boxes having the same shape and the same dimensions.

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