Water Grenades as Muzzle Protectors

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Rifleslinger of Art Of The Rifle has discovered an interesting practical shooting tip: Covering the muzzle of a firearm with a “water grenade” (olive drab colored balloon made to resemble a pineapple grenade when inflated) to prevent dirt or other debris from clogging the bore or harming the crown. His experiments with this method suggest the balloon can be shot off without disturbing the accuracy of the shot:

I have seen people advocate taping the muzzle to prevent foreign objects from entering or damaging the muzzle and the crown.  I have found something that I think is a little easier and probably more effective.  It’s already a nice color too.

Water grenades are water balloons that are made to look like a pineapple grenade.  They are OD greenish.  They are the perfect size to slip over the muzzle.  I think that the gasses coming out of the barrel or the shockwave probably clear a hole for the bullet so that it never touches the balloon.

On Target assembles the group so it can be viewed as a whole:

Balloon Prone

Shots 7 and 10 are at the bottom right of the group.  The cold bore shot is just above those.  I think that the balloon had no effect on the shot.

Balloons are marvelous tools for shooting. I usually inflate a few and use them as targets when taking someone to the range for the first time, but they’re apparently dandy muzzle protectors, too!

What sorts of unusual items do our readers use when shooting? Have you tried anything out that didn’t end up working, or worked way better than you expected? Let us know in the comments!



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Tassiebush

    Good topic! I’ve seen this practice with ballons a fair bit via Australian hunting magazines. Seems to be done mostly by Sambar deer hunters who operate in high country areas of Victoria. Also seems fairly common in New Zealand. Both pretty wet areas.the colour of those makes them particularly ideal.
    As far as ideas go I find a cardboard box weighted with clumps of dirt, cowpats, pulled up grass, bracken fern or anything that won’t cause ricochet makes a great target stand for sighting in and practice. Cut off sleeves or trouser legs filled with sand and tied off makes a reasonable poor man’s bench rest for sighting in and big fat 4×4 tyres rolled back and forth a few times are great for flattening inconvenient bits of grass or bracken in an improvised shooting range.

  • Ergo

    someone is trying to reinvent the wheel. We used rubbers in Iraq to cover the muzzle.

    • Anonymoose

      I always heard this. I remember reading about soldiers doing this back in Vietnam.

      • Phillip Cooper

        It goes back to WW2 at least.

        • Tassiebush

          I wonder if that is why the other side was so hesitant to surrender?…

    • iksnilol

      I would rather use the condoms for other things than a muzzle protector.

      • Ergo

        well you would have had a great time in the navy

    • raz-0

      the balloons are cheaper. Also, I’m sure your the kind of operator who only buys condoms in subdues earth tones, but they are a convenient color, and nobody would bug you about the lube and reservoir tip.

      • Ergo

        Hey raz,
        My tour in iraq provided limited shopping opportunities. When i was able to get to the fob the mini px didn’t have a party aisle with balloons, funny hats or candles.

        I know you never put on the uniform but here is the thing about soldiers. They make do with what they have. In iraq we didn’t have access to a walmart or halmark gift shop to buy balloons in flat dark earth.
        We did have access to large supply of condoms supplied by uncle sam.
        We used what we could get our hands on.

        btw raz i wasn’t an operator. I was a signaleer that got stuck working at a remote site 45 mind from the Iranian border.

        p.s. kiss my air assault ass

  • mzungu

    U really don’t need balloons, I usually just tear off a piece of plastic bag or even cloth and rubber-band it around the muzzle when I am crowing in the bushes

  • DON KAY PUNCH

    Good idea go for it. The results are in. LOL.

  • Phillip Cooper

    Congratulations. You rediscovered what every grunt in WW2 knew already…

  • USMC03Vet

    Yes I love this myth.

    Only applicable if you’re a mouth breather that tries to fornicate the ground with rifle barrel. Otherwise completely unnecessary. .

    • andrey kireev

      Heh, sadly there is no shortage of those in the airforce….It blew my mind, where we had to zero issued rifles (in the AOR) and there were still people who didn’t know how to clear or operate their rifles… yanking charging handle on BHO and wondering why their rifle not doing what they think it might be doing… lol

    • If you’re doing a lot of prone shooting, it can be real handy for keeping your crown nice.

    • David Sharpe

      What about Rain when hunting? Or in case you fall in the field? Or a dust storm? Or windy day in dirty conditions?

  • Grindstone50k

    Did you know you can also use condoms? Yeah, you can use condoms, too. In case you didn’t hear. Condoms function the same.

    Anyway, I’m holding out for the MagPul FDE version.

    • Dude, condoms are like $12 a pack!

      • Ergo

        you can use a magnum on the magwell

    • john huscio

      Magpul condoms?……hopefully they have accessory rails….you know, for her pleasure……

  • Ergo

    I was in the army. You paid for em. If you want to live on the edge eat nothing but MREs for six months.