Bulgarian hand grenades





In 1895 Naum Tyufekchiev, the vice chairman of the Internal Macedonia-Odrin revolutionary organization (ВМОРО), founded on 23 October 1893 in Salonika, organized a workshop to manufacture hand grenades, but it was closed by the Bulgarian police in 1896, after the division of the BMORO into two separate organization, the Macedonian Committee (ВМORК), leaded by Naum Tyufekchiev, and the Supreme Macedonian Committee (ВМOК), headed by general Danail Nikolaev and supported by the Bulgarian authorities. In late 1896 the ВМOК set up another workshop for hand grenades in Dedino, in northeast Macedonia, but it was closed already in November 1897. Another workshop was established at Sabljar, near the Turkish border, but was closed in 1898 after the protest of the Turkish government. The hand grenades produced in these factories varied considerably.


In 1902 Bulgarian Army engineers of the 2nd Pioneer Battalion in Sofia tested some grenades manufactured by the revolutionaries in order to produce a standard grenade for the Bulgarian troops. They emphasized the “strong moral effect and the good percentage of hits caused by the the scattering of the bombs”. Therefore the Engineer Inspection requested the permission to manufacture “an ordinary hand grenade of better construction, since its introduction into the army should be a powerful means of defence”. The request was brought forward to the head of the Engineers Corps only on 8 July 1905, but the two cylindrical hand grenades produced in the Artillery Arsenal in Sofia gave unsatisfactory results during the tests performed on 7 October.

As a result of the combat experience of partisans during the uprisings of Gorno Dzhumanja in 1902 and Ilinden-Preobrazhenie in 1903, the head of the ВМORК, Naum Tyufekchiev, in spring of 1905 proposed to the Inspector of the Engineer Corps, maj. gen. Georgi Vazov, and to the Artillery Committee plan for the production of nine different types of bombs in cast iron. A committee presided by col. Z. Bochev and composed by cpt. Paprikov and cpt. Stoyan Velichkov tested the hand grenades and on 23 May two of them were selected to be adopted.

On 23 March 1906 a contract was concluded with Naum Tyufekchiev to produce 24 000 cubic and 24 000 spherical “Makedonia” hand grenades, 2000 cubic mine bombs, 10 000 detonators 12cm long. The total cost was 86 400 golden leva. The hand grenades were supplied between 10 January and 30 October 1907, while the mine bombs between 19 September and 30 October 1908. The charge, proposed in 1907 under the name of Bombit, was composed by Bertholet’s salt, resin and oil. The test of the spherical grenade with a charge weighting around 150 g showed that it scattered approximately 270 fragments, when hit a body of great extension, causing serious damages.

In 1908 Gancho Budevsky proposed to the Bulgarian Army a different kind of hand grenade with a thin casing, but the suggestion was rejected since at that time fragmentation was regarded as an essential requirement.


At the beginning of the Balkan War in 1912 the Bulgarian Army had at its disposal 24 000 cubic and 24 000 spherical “Makedonia” hand grenades. They were intensively used during the war, and distinguished themselves in March 1913 during the final assault against Odrin. In addition around 10 000 grenades made of sheet iron were constructed by cpt. Stoyan Velichkov, while another 1500 sperical lead grenades were constructed under the direction of cpt. lt. Evstaty Vinarov by the Danube Flottilla in the Ruse Arsenal and 706 more were produced by the Navy Arsenal in Varna.


On the basis of the war experiences on 9 September 1915 the War Minister Maj. Gen. Nikola Zhekov published the Instruction for the employment of the hand and mine grenades in the Army (Инструкция за употреблението на ръчните и фугаснитеdeutsch бомби въ войската). However in September 1915, at the beginning of the military operations against Serbia, Bulgarian Army had only 3 000 hand grenades. By way of comparison at the outbreak of World War I, German Army had 70 000 Kugelhandgranate 13, along with a further 106 000 rifle grenades.