M18A1 Claymore–Force Multiplier in a Bag

Dec 20th, 2012 | By | Category: Africa, Asia, Equipment, Europe, Historical, Latin America, Mexico, Middle East, Military/LE, North America, Psychological, Strategies, Tactics


When the chips are down, I mean really down, there’s something reassuring to have squad armed with a stack of LAWs and collection of M18A1 Claymores. In a pinch, you can shake the confidence of a major force of aggressors. A couple LAWs into the center and they scatter. They regroup and you lead them into the spider funnel.

Waiting along the funnel, a number of claymores. If trying to slow them up, prepare a full-on ambush with electric detonation. These can not only slow up the tracking enemy, it can just ruin their whole day.

While making a name for itself in Vietnam, the idea for such an effective force multiplier originated during the Korean War. It was during that war, especially during the cold winters, that wave after wave of Chinese were sent to take hilltops defended by UN troops. If you read BREAKOUT it’ll give you a picture of how horrific the fighting was with dead Chinese pile eight high just in front of Marine machine gun posts.

The military needed some type of anti-personnel technology to deal with this type of mass attack. Norman A. Mcleod, came up with theM18A1 Claymore, named after one of the most deadly and intimidating swords in Scottish history.

Got a Benelli M4?
Shaped in a bent form to deliver its payload of #4 steel shot, in a 60-degree arc, it’s detonated by a blasting cap. In the days before uncontrolled detonation mines, because mines were often left at the site of placement, live and ready to kill an innocent passerby, Claymores were available with nonelectric, tripwire detonation and electric detonation. I still cringe at the number Claymores placed with tripwire detonation in the mountains of Central America during that war in the 1980s and probably still there, ready to rip some unsuspecting traveler.

Cork Graham receiving a refresher course in placing and detonating an M18A1 Claymore at Kaneohe Bay MCB Hawaii.

Since the Mine Ban Treaty of 1997, Claymores have been intended for use only as controlled detonation mines. They’re issued in a satchel with instructions, the M57 detonating device, and M4 electric blasting cap assembly.

The first time I heard a Claymore go off, was in a quarry near the Salvadoran Navy SEAL base that was used as a shooting range. When the Claymores went off in that environment, they had an almost lightning and thunder metal whine to them. In battle, under heavy canopy, there was more of just a thump, the shockwave travelling through the ground for a mini-earthquake. At Kaneohe Bay MCB Hawaii a few weeks ago, there was the recognizable thunder and earth rumble.

When they’re detonated, Claymores send those steel shot at 4,000 fps. It was a trial getting the shot to those velocities, mainly because of energy being leaked between the projectiles. The remedy was to pack the shot in an epoxy, and then later they applied tin foil as a layer between the explosive and shot matrix.

Marines check the pattern of Claymore shot on a target

By 1960, they had worked out all the bugs and the standardized M18A1 Claymore was used effectively in combat in Vietnam in 1966and ever since.

WATCH the corresponding Claymore segment at GCT TV:

Cork Graham is the publisher of GCT Magazine and Cork’s Outdoors. A former CIA paramilitary operations officer and combat photographer, he wrote the international best-selling Vietnam prison/treasure hunt memoir The Bamboo Chest. For his latest books, writings, and appearances, follow him at www.corkgraham.com, Facebook and Twitter. He is a co-instructor with ETS, for more information visit: www.emergencytacticalskills.com

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