The M18 Claymore Mine – Updated


The M18 claymore mine is maybe not a household name but I would bet it’s close to it now a days thanks to Hollywood , books and people with hands on experience in the population. The M18 is a command detonated mine that is directional. You set it up and aim it in the zone you want to blast to cover. When fired it projects about seven hundred 18-inch-diameter (3.2 mm) steel balls into the kill zone at 3,937 ft/s . very nasty. The effect range is 50 yards with a max wounding range supposedly out to around 250 yards.

I would argue it came to fame during the war in Vietnam where it was very effective.

My Dad was a Vietnam war vet and told me a story about the Claymore that is pretty impressive. One night while on watch with another soldier watching outward, a NVA soldier had crawled close to the razor wire and was about to pick up one of the claymore and turn it around to face back into the American line. Dad was beside the other guy who had the detonator. Dad said once the communist grabbed the claymore with both hands and lifted from the ground, the other guy hit the clacker. The mine went off when about 5 inches from the communists face.

After sun up, Dad and a few other went out to inspect the remains and report back. The attempted trickster was a giant red smear. There was an unexpected bonus though. He had a partner a few yards beyond him who had been watching him from behind a fallen log. He must have just had his head up enough to see over the log when the mine went off. Dad said it looked like some one had taken a sword and sliced the top of his head off from the bridge of the nose up. One of the other soldiers puked when Dad mentioned the exposed brains looked like scrambled eggs with ketchup. Dad was a huge fan of the Claymore. So much so that he had to have his own. That’s what you are looking at in these photos.

Countless books written about Vietnam by veterans tell stories about how effective the m18 was. I don’t doubt there are more than a few stories about it from the ongoing forever wars.

The mine comes with everything you need in the handy M7 bandoleer “Claymore Bag.” You get the electrical hand held firing device, or as Dad called it, the” clacker”, which in Vietnam required 3 squeezes to get the desired result. You get the legs to stick the mine in the ground and point it. You get the electrical wire for the firing device to the mine and a device to test the firing device to make sure it works.

It all packs up into the bag nicely. The flap even has instruction on how to use the mine printed on water proof fabric. Because its the military.

“Don’t point it at yourself”

I have no experience with one other than this one which sadly doesn’t work. I’m sure Kevin ( Hognose) would have lots to say about them if he were still with us. Dad told a few stories about them and how some of the locals would steal the C4 out of them to use as a fire fuel but his interest in the more technical minutia of the mine was non-existent. Maybe Howard got to use one against the haji or fellow Marines and will chime in.

The design is very popular because of its effectiveness and being command detonated. I supposed it makes the hippies of the world feel better since it’s unlikely a kid could accidentally step on it like older pressure mines. As far as I can tell around 20 countries use or produce their own copy of it,. Including Vietnam. When guys you used to blow up with it are impressed enough to adopt it, you know you had a winner.

Update – Howard

Play more with Claymore

I got to detonate one in training, set them up once but never used them outside of training. In Iraq, I think we were worried about civilian causalities and collateral damage.

It was always stressed to us to press the claymore against our chest (before setting it up) to check if it matches the curve of our chest. That way we would know if it was facing the correct direction day or night. I always felt that you should be able to easily tell by feel when you held it. I never saw the point of that bit of the training, but it probably helped someone out there.

My favorite thing about the Claymore is that it has two locations to place a detonator. This allowed you to hook up multiple claymores to daisy chain them. Detonate one, and all the attached ones detonate also.

I was once at a Modern Marine Expo and a company demonstrated a newer Claymore design. About half the size, and was suppose to be more effective. I’ve never seen or heard of that design since then.

The claymore bags make for great man-purses. Carry stripped MRE, supplies, etc. Very handy. I still have the bag from the claymore I set off. I’m not kidding, it is a great size for general purpose use.

The legs have spiked bottoms, use the spikes. In training people would just set the claymore on the ground and it would easily fall over. Push the spikes into the ground to make sure the claymore stays pointing towards enemy.

When I got to set off a claymore I was so excited. We set up targets down range and got into a bunker and I set off the claymore. When we went out to check these echo targets I was soo very disappointed. These 20 inch by 40 inch cardboard targets only had something like 1 or 2 pellets hits on them. I had expected them to be completely shredded and destroyed.

But to be fair, 1 or 2 pellets at that velocity would likely render a hostile incapacitated.

I wouldn’t mind having a couple on hand for emergencies.


  1. If I remember correctly it was four mines to a case and one M40 test set per case. And one of the inspection items was to ensure the test set plug cover had a staple as that’s what connected the prongs when testing. Test the M57 “clacker” first and then the wire/blasting cap under a sandbag ideally or your helmet in a hurry. The mine will usually fire on one “clack” but we were taught to do three as well to ensure it did. And if you are setting up the mine then YOU keep the clacker in your pocket!
    Claymores are an awesome force multiplier. We trained on them all the time, got to shoot off several in training but never operationally sat in any one place long enough to emplace them which in hindsight seems counterintuitive considering.
    One training event down in FL we took a windshield assembly from an up armored HMMWV that had been cracked and set it against a tree maybe 10’ from the mine. It liquified the outer laminate, just turned it to dust but not one of those .32 cal pellets made it through the inner pane. It was good to see we really had a little bit of protection. The same time we set up a few mines too closely and got sympathetic detonations. Started a brush fire too. Good times.
    One of my favorite memories though was being a fresh SSgt and going to our 7-level school which was really just a two week long drunk fest in San Antonio. I remember everyone being so hungover and stinking like a brewery as we were all cracking up during the performance objective setting up the practice mine. The whole course was a pathetic joke but more good times.

    • Oh yeah, there is less than lethal version out there too. Full of rubber balls or something. Our detainee camps used them in Iraq as I recall. Will have to research that, I can’t remember what they were called scientifically but they looked pretty much the same as I remember.

      And Howard’s comments about the bandoleer are spot on. Very handy for all sorts of stuff. The Aussie gear company Platatac has bags that are inspired by the Claymore bandoleer. I don’t own one but they seem nice. They also have a rapid deployment pouch where you can preposition the cable and mine and not spool out wire. I did get one of those since it came with the ruck I bought but it’s somewhere in the house since I obviously don’t have much need for it.

  2. Claymores are also pretty awesome cause you can easily set them up off of time fuse and use them as stand behind devices. Also when it comes to daisy chaining tbeh are easy to modify to make them more reliable.

  3. Two anecdotal stories..
    My father in law was 173rd ABN is 67-68. He said his squad kept one that they cut open to harvest the C-4 to cook c-rats with. He said in retro it was probably a bad idea in case someone forgot and actually set it up.

    I got to blow one once on a training exercise. We kept a 2 foot section of 10″ I beam that looked like a piece of Swiss cheese in our platoon cage. After seeing that I had full confidence in the M-18!


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