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In this news article about illegal fireworks it is claimed (translated from Dutch):

Chief of police Oscar Dros of the Oost-Nederland police district says that fireworks is no longer innocent. "We recently found a stash of illegal fireworks in Arnhem containing Cobra 80s. I wouldn't call that a firecracker, but an assault grenade."

According to the police chief a Cobra 80 is three to four times as powerful as a real hand grenade.

Is this accurate?

It doesn't specify which "real hand grenade" the Cobra 80 is being compared against, but any commonly used modern real (i.e. non-practice) hand grenade would be reasonable.

  • 1
    I've had to nuke two answers because they were theoretical. Please cite some experts and focus any answer on the facts. We care very little whether A is 2.5 times more than B or 3 to 4 times. What we care about is what that difference actually means: e.g. are the numbers comparable at all? – Sklivvz Dec 26 '17 at 0:43
  • Just arguing power is probably beside the point - grenades are deadly because of the metal case which splinters. Maybe someone could incorporate that into an answer? – Nobody Dec 29 '17 at 14:52
  • Maybe the police just picked the Dutch standard hand grenade for their comparison, as it is in use with the military? – jjack Dec 29 '17 at 16:08
  • @Nobody No, the blast itself of course can be deadly too! – jjack Dec 29 '17 at 16:33
  • @jjack I didn't mean to deny that (although I guess strictly speaking I did), what I meant is that you need much more explosive power without a hard shell to have the same amount of damage. I'm no expert (which is why I'm only commenting) but I think a splinter grenade in a crowd will severely injure maybe 10 people, while the same amount of explosives in wrapping paper will burn maybe 2-3 at most and probably not mortally. But if you have a nice link explaining why I'm wrong I would be glad to learn. – Nobody Dec 29 '17 at 17:25
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This post on a Dutch IT forum may shed some light on this matter. This guy seems to access to some facts about the M67 hand grenade, as well as the Cobra 6 [not Cobra 80] firework:

De M67 hand granaat die op dit moment gebruikt wordt door verschillende landen (waaronder de US) heeft een kruit inhoud van 180 gram. Dat kruit bestaat uit 39.4% TNT en 59.5% RDX. Deze hebben een omrekeningsfactor van 1.1 en 1.5.

The M67 hand grenade, currently widely used (also in the US) has an explosive content of 180 grams. this is 39.4% TNT and 59.5% RDX. They have TNT-equivalence factors of 1.1 and 1.5 respectively.

Flashkruit wat in vuurwerk knallers gebruikt wordt heeft een omrekeningsfactor van 0.45. Een Cobra 6 bevat 48.5 gram kruit waarvan 28.5 gram flash voor de knal, de rest van het kruit is voor de vlam voorafgaand aan de knal.

Flash powder in fireworks has a TNT-equivalence factor of 0.45. A Cobra 6 contans 48.5 grams of explosive, of which only 28.5 grams is used for the actual bang. The rest of the powder is for a big flame before the bang.

So now we start calculating:

180/28.5 = een handgranaat bevat 6.3 keer zoveel kruit als een Cobra 6. Waarvan dan ook nog 39.4% van de inhoud van de handgranaat 1.1/0.45 = 2.44 keer zo krachtig is als een Cobra 6. En 59.5% van de inhoud van de handgranaat 1.5/0.45 = 3.33 keer zo krachtig is als een Cobra 6. Daarnaast bestaat de huls van de Cobra 6 uit uit karton en 2 plastic dopjes. De huls van een handgranaat bestaat uit metaal.

A hand grenade contains 180/28.5 = 6.3 times as much explosive than a Cobra 6. 39.4% of that is 1.1/0.45 = 2.44 times more explosive than the Cobra 6 powder, and 59.5% is 1.5/0.45 = 3.33 times as powerful. Finally, the Cobra is covered in cardboard and two pieces of plastic - the hand grenade is covered in metal.

Now, some very quick calculations show that according to this data, an M67 hand grenade is at least 8.3 times more powerful than a Cobra 6.

Thanks to the link provided by @jjack I see there is a Cobra 80, as can be seen on this page

It specifies there is 250 grams of flash powder in it. Now, even assuming that all of that is used for the bang (although this youtube video seems to show at least some of the explosive is used to launch the thing...), we would get a TNT equivalent of 0.45*250 = 112.5 grams of TNT.

The hand grenade is still more powerful with the equivalent of 238 grams of TNT.

So while that Cobra 80 seems indeed a dangerous piece of fireworks, it's not even half as powerful as a hand grenade, even if we still ignore the difference in packaging (plastic versus metal).

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  • 1
    The numbers given by the Dutch poster are accurate as per Wikipedia. Although the Wikipedia article is itself not well referenced, it might be worth referencing it as it's somewhat more authoritative. – ventsyv Dec 27 '17 at 20:47
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    This is obviously assuming that Cobra 80 is a typo, and not some amazing new version. – JMac Dec 28 '17 at 18:57
  • There are videos on the web with “firecrackers” (or handgrenades, depending on which position you take) which are labeled “Cobra 80”. They could in principle be made up however. – jjack Dec 29 '17 at 10:53
  • If you go to the company website, diblasioeliofireworks.it, there is no particular information about it. – jjack Dec 29 '17 at 10:56
  • @jjack Actually, there is - under products -> Cobra, there are two Colpo Cobra 80 items. – oerkelens Dec 29 '17 at 11:28

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