How Do Paintball Grenades Work? The Complete Guide

Paintball grenades are devilish little bits of paintballing equipment that hand you an unfair advantage over your opponents. They also come in handy when you need to get out of a hairy situation unscathed. But how do the nifty paintball grenades work?

Paintball grenades are bit-sized devices designed to explode and release paint, smoke, or flash when lobbed at an opponent. They are armed with a small charge with a short fuse and explode on impact to distract, disorient, or splatter paint on the opposing team members.

While paintball grenades are useful, you need to deploy them the right way and at the right time to harness their undue advantages. Read for an in-depth look at how paintball grenades work and how to use them effectively.

Did you know you can also have paintball grenade launchers, so you don’t need to throw the grenade manually?

What Are Paintball Grenades?

Paintball grenades are part of paintball pyrotechnics used to spruce up the game and confer an unfair advantage to the user.

The grenades range from simple color balls filled with paint to color balls rigged with pyrotechnic charge and a short fuse that ignites once the pin is pulled. Unlike their military cousins, paintball grenades kill the opponents by splattering them with paint instead of impaling them with shrapnel.

Paintball grenades aren’t legal in tournament play but are common in woodsball, scenario, and recreational play.

Non-Explosive Paintball Grenades

These are the simplest types of paintball grenades and are often homemade. They’re closer to water balloons in function than a real grenade. They comprise a rubber tubing that’s securely sealed on one end then filled with paint. The other end is loosely sealed with an arming pin.

The rubber tubing is filled with about 100 ml (3.38 oz) of pressured filled paint. When the arming pin is pulled and the grenade is thrown against a hard surface, the loose end unravels. That causes the paint to spill and sprays over a large area.

Any players caught within the blast area are eliminated from the game.

Video: Paintball Grenades-How To-, cheap and easy to make homemade paintball grenades.

Explosive Paintball Grenades

They resemble the combat grenades used by the military and pack a small amount of explosive black powder. They use a short fuse to control the explosion and spread of the content.

They comprise a small plastic bag with the paint wrapped around the banger with the fuse, and the entire assembly is housed in a breakable fiber case.

The fuse protrudes at the top of the casing and is topped off with a friction-sensitive material attached to a firing pin. The grenade is covered by a safety cap that acts as a safety catch.

To use the grenade, you need to remove the cap and pull the ring. That ignites the fuse, which then burns down to the densely packed black powder core in about three to five seconds, causing the grenade to explode.

Like a combat grenade, a paintball grenade explodes with a loud bang and sprinkles the paint within a specific radius. Any opponent caught in the blast zone is promptly eliminated from the game.

How a Paint Grenade Works

Paintball grenades are handy weapons because they’re simple and straightforward to use. You only need to pull the pin and lob them at your opponents.

For explosive paintball grenades, you need to remove the safety cap first. Removing the cap exposes its firing pin, connected to a small charge attached to a delay fuse.

Pulling the pin ignites the delay fuse, which causes it to ignite the charge, causing the grenade to explode. Depending on the model, the fuse on a paintball grenade burns for 3 to 5 seconds, after which it explodes.

Video: How paintball grenades are made

Paintball Grenade Safety

Proper handling is key to making paint grenades part of your team’s gaming strategy. For that, you need to learn how to handle these paint incendiaries correctly. From handling to throwing a grenade from a tight position, you need to practice them all.

Gripping a Paintball Grenade

The need to grip a paint grenade properly cannot be overemphasized, as it’s the key to unleashing its potency on your opponents. Without a proper grip, you might have trouble arming the grenade.

  1. Grip the paint grenade in your palm and grip it with your fingers such that the end with the safety cap protrudes between your thumb and index finger.
  2. Hold the grenade upright with your right hand for a right-handed throw, and take off the safety cap with your left hand to access the pin.
  3. Hold the pin with the index or middle finger of your left hand.
  4. Yank the pin off forcefully, pulling straight up, and throw the grenade towards your opponent.
  5. Hold the missile with your left hand for a left-handed throw, and use your right hand to remove the safety cap and the pin.

Throwing a Paintball Grenade

While accuracy is the most crucial thing while throwing a paintball grenade, there are a few techniques to help you achieve that goal. You can throw a grenade from any of several positions, depending on your combat situation.

Standing Position

It’s the most desirable and useful position when throwing a grenade as it allows your maximum throwing distance. You can use this position when shielded behind a tall barrier or a tree. Follow this procedure for the most effective throw:

  1. Look at the target to estimate the throwing distance.
  2. Use proper grip to hold and arm the grenade.
  3. Stand with your weight distributed equally on both feet.
  4. Raise the grenade shoulder high and extend the non-throwing hand towards the target with the fingers and thumb joined and extended.
  5. Hurl the grenade in a smooth, powerful motion and retreat behind your cover.

Kneeling Position

A kneeling position reduces your throwing distance, especially when you only have a shallow ditch or a low wall protecting you. Here’s how to maximize the throw:

  1. Observe the opponents and the distance while arming the grenade.
  2. Raise the grenade shoulder high and bend the knee of your front leg and place it firmly on the ground.
  3. Keep the back leg straight and locked with your feet firmly on the ground.
  4. Move your body, so you’re facing sideways towards your opponent’s position.
  5. Extend the non-throwing hand in front of you with the fingers and thumb joined and pointing towards the target.
  6. Throw the grenade with a smooth, powerful motion while pushing off with your back leg for added power.
  7. Duck for cover and come off firing once the grenade explodes if you need to move. Otherwise, remain in place and pick off the opponents as they scatter away from the exploding paint.

Alternate Prone Position

Alternate prone (lying face up) is a disadvantaged position that reduces both your throwing distance and accuracy. It comes in handy when the hostile fire pins you down, and you can’t rise to engage. Here’s how to execute a throw from this position:

  1. Lay on your back, keeping your body parallel to the grenade’s line of flight.
  2. Hold the grenade at the same level as your chest or chin and remove the safety cap and pull the pin.
  3. Bend your throwing leg 45 degrees and place it on the knee of your other leg while bracing the edge of your feet firmly on the ground.
  4. Raise the paint grenade 4 to 6 inches (10.2 to 15.2 cm) behind your head at ear level with your arm cocked, ready for throwing.
  5. Grasp any object that can give you leverage and increase your throwing distance with your non-throwing hand. Be sure to push off with the bent leg for added force. However, don’t try to raise your head or body as you’re likely to get tagged.
  6. At this point, you can yell “incoming grenade” to alert your opponents and send them scampering.
  7. Come up snap shooting once the grenade goes off as you run for better cover.
  8. Duck behind cover away from your opponent’s line of fire until the grenade goes off.
  9. Come off firing if you need to move to better cover or pick off your opponents as they scamper to safety.

Using Paintball Grenades

Paintball grenades are used for offensive and defensive purposes during a game of paintball.

Smoke grenades can be very hand when you want to cover your retreat. if used smartly, it can even be used for the offensive strike (but you need to be very careful with where to place the smoke).

Offensive Strikes

Paintball grenades are useful when you need to clear out opponents hunkered down in a bunker quickly. While the primary goal of hauling a grenade to soak the eliminate multiple opponents simultaneously, that usually doesn’t happen.

Therefore, you should keep your marker ready when lobbying a paintball grenade. Grab the grenade, remove the safety cap, pull the pin, and lob it into the bunker.

If you’re far away from the bunker, have your teammates lay down some cover fire to keep the opponents down. Make your way stealthily towards the bunker using the available cover to avoid getting tagged. When it’s safe to do so, ignite the grenade and lob it inside the bunker.

A paintball grenade explodes inside the bunker in ideal situations, soaking everyone there with paint, virtually eliminating them.

Sometimes the opponents might see the grenade coming and make a run for it before it erupts. In such instances, it’s essential to have your marker’s sight trained on the bunker. It allows you to pick the opponents off one by one as they scamper to safety.

Defensive Strikes

Paintball grenades also have defensive applications and will help to extricate your team from a hairy situation. If you’re cornered and pinned down by your opponents, lobbing a grenade at them can buy you the time you need to move or retreat to a safe position.

The spraying action of a non-explosive grenade and a blast radius of an explosive one makes them deadly weapons. That makes a choice weapon when you need to distract your opponents and cover your movement.

Never make it too obvious that you’re about to unleash a grenade.

That eliminates any element of surprise you may have as it gives your opponents ample time to react.

A most effective way to use a grenade when you’re pinned down is to launch a barrage of fire, powerful enough to force your opponents to duck their heads.

Lob the paintball grenade as soon as the opponents duck under to avoid the flying barrage of paintball. If your aim is accurate, the grenade will go off as they’re raising their heads again. By then, it’s too late for them to scamper to safety, and they’ll be covered in paint.

If they’re lucky to see the flying missile, they’ll scamper to safety to avoid its dangerous contents. In which case, they’ll stop firing long enough for you and your teammates to move to a safer, more strategic position.

Smoke grenades are also handy when you need to cover your escape or retreats.

Should You Attempt Cooking a Paintball Grenade?

You should never attempt cooking a paint grenade, as seen in action movies on TV.

Cooking a grenade is when a protagonist whips out a grenade, yanks out the pin, holds the grenade for two or three seconds before hurling it towards the enemies.

While it’s a tempting way to ensure that the projectile explodes in mid-air, attempting this maneuver puts your team members in danger. Waiting a few seconds after striking the fuse before lobbing a paint grenade increases the chances of the explosive going off in your hands or over your heads and covering all of you in the paint.

Pulling the pin on a paint grenade causes a slow burn in the fuse that lasts 3 to 5 seconds. Once the fuse burns through and reaches the explosive charge, the grenade will explode, covering everyone in its blast radius with paint.

Taking your sweet time to release a paint grenade could effectively end your run in woodsball. However, cooking a grenade is not without merit. There have been instances when paintball players have scooped up a paintball grenade and hurled it back.

The US Army’s field manual on pyrotechnics and grenades states that fuse time can vary by as much as two whole seconds. That makes holding on to a paint grenade with a burning fuse a hairy situation given that most of them come with 3 to 5 seconds fuse delay.

If using a paint grenade with a 3 seconds fuse delay, but it’s off by two seconds, you’re left with only a second to hurl it at your opponents. There’s a likelihood of the explosive going off mid-air and catching you in its blast radius.

To avoid the likelihood of someone picking up and hurling back a paint grenade, you need to be smart with your throw.

Tossing the explosive with all your might causes it to bounce and skips around after it lands. That makes it difficult for your opponents to pick it up.

It’s inadvisable to use your teeth to pull a paint grenade pin as that might leave you with a cracked or broken tooth or bleeding gums.

Video: Man vs Enola Gaye Paint Grenades

Tips for Using Paintball Grenades

Always Have an Exact Route

Be sure to scout the route before throwing a paint grenade for efficiency and safety. In woodsball, the grenade might hit a tree branch and bounce back into your position. In some cases, it might get snagged in the branches and shower you with the paint.

Neither of the resultant scenarios will work in your favor. The grenade could explode, covering you and your teammates in paint, and you’re eliminated.

On the other hand, you spot the offending missile in time and scamper to safety, becoming a target in the process. You’ve just handed your opponents a golden chance to pick you off one by one.

Warn Your Teammates

When using explosive grenades, it’s best to warn your teammates about the impending explosion. That gives them time to brace themselves and, more importantly, train their sights on the target bunker and catch any fleeing opponent.

As with other coded communications in paintball, customizing your ‘grenade incoming’ warning gives your team an edge.

It ensures that you retain the element of surprise and that the opponents don’t wise up to your plans. That’s crucial when launching a paintball grenade to cover your retreat or movement.

If you’re feeling sporty, you should yell grenade incoming in plain language when you have an entire bunker in your sights. That gives your opponents a chance to break cover to escape the flying missile. You can then light them up like a Christmas tree as they scamper away.

Keep Your Grenades Dry

Exploding paintball grenades come with a small pyrotechnic charge that causes them to go boom. For safety purposes, the explosive charge weighs only half a gram. Therefore, any moisture penetrating inside the grenade will render it useless or reduce the charge’s efficiency.

Luckily, most paintball grenades are crafted to withstand abuse from the elements and players. The grenades become susceptible to moisture following prolonged exposure.

Don’t Throw the Cap

It might come as a surprise, but paintball players often throw the safety cap at their opponents instead of the grenade. When you’re pinned down by a barrage of paintball, you’re likely to lose your cool and mix up the two with disastrous consequences.

The mixup is expected if you don’t practice throwing paintball grenades with both hands. You might hurl the item in your dominant hand only to realize it is the safety cap.


Although paintball grenades aren’t legal in speedball, they are handy in both recreational and woodsball. They are molded after the combat grenades and are designed to explode on impact.

Paint grenades fall into two broad categories—the explosive and non-explosive types. Explosive paintball grenades come with a small charge and a short fuse that ignites once you pull the pin.

Non-explosive paint grenade comprises a small rubber tubing filled with compressed paint that erupts on impact after the safety pin is removed.