Airsoft Innovations Tornado "Crash" Impact Grenade review by Booligan
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I've been a fan of the Airsoft Innovations Tornado grenade series ever since it was first tested on me in a motel bathroom during SHOT Show 2008. I've been following its progress, and have used all of the various upgrade kits that have come along for the original model. When I ran into Carl from AI at SHOT Show 2010, I was invited to try out the newest version of the Tornado grenade, the impact triggered model. After yet another Las Vegas hotel bathroom demonstration, I was sold on the concept, and am happy to review this product today!
Airsoft Innovations is a company that really doesn't need any introduction. They've revolutionized the gas powered airsoft market with their propane adapter kits, and have made the first really useful non-pyrotechnic grenade system, the Tornado. They are based out of Canada, and their products are available at most major airsoft retailers. I picked up my Impact grenade right at SHOT show after the traditional bathroom demonstration.
The "Crash" Impact Tornado grenade functions nearly the same as the standard timer Tornado grenade, only with a different "fuse" system. It still stores the same 180-200 rounds, and still delivers the same 360 degree spread with a kill radius of about 15'. The fuse on the timer grenade relied on a special system of ports and plugs to accurately trigger the grenade within your chosen time setting. This one uses a carefully designed set of parts that are stacked inside the fuse portion of the grenade, which when the grenade impacts something the stack collapses, firing the grenade. I'll go into more detail about the fuse system later on in the review.
The Impact Tornado grenade arrived in the same type of packaging as the original Tornado, which is a brown cardboard box with images and information about the product held within. It's not terribly sturdy, but luckily, the grenade should take any abuse administered in shipping. My kit included the grenade, a bottle of grenade oil, and a comprehensive manual, which is pictured in its entirety below.
From this point, click all pictures to enlarge
Weight: About .5 lbs
Height: 6.25" (due to the axial mounted pin)
Diameter: 2 1/8"
Circumference: 7 1/8"
The majority of the grenade is identical to the standard Tornado grenade, so I won't bore you all with repetitive details that can be taken from my original review. The body is made of the same high strength glass fiber reinforced polymer, with a machined aluminum core. The shuttle body is made of POM, for light weight but high strength. The real change is in the fuse system, however, you can't just slap this fuse onto a standard Tornado, as there are other changes throughout the system.
Shot inside, showing the top of the shuttle
Shot inside, showing bottom of shuttle, fill valve, and overpressure valve
The fuse assembly is basically a threaded aluminum cap that holds a collapsible stack of parts secured with an axial pin, which mechanically holds down the inner piston assembly. Sounds complicated, but it's really quite simple to be honest. The parts are designed in a way that they hold strong against each other when the pin is pulled, only falling apart with they are faced with a sudden, sharp impact. Waving the grenade around in your hand with the pin pulled generally won't set it off. I'll talk about how to properly set the fuse, as well as proper operating procedure for this grenade in the next section
Setting the grenade and preparing it to fire is a fairly simple process. First, you must make sure the shuttle body is set in the correct position. You do this by unscrewing both the fuse, as well as the bottom cap. Make sure not to lose any of the fuse components when you remove the fuse assembly. Reset the grenade by pushing the shuttle down from the top of the grenade. Push it down until it's settled against the groove at the bottom of the grenade. Once the grenade is set, you can assemble the fuse.
The fuse is set by first inserting the pin into the fuse housing, ensuring that the little locking hook is secured to the ridge inside the top of the fuse. You then can begin to slide the fuse components onto the pin, in this order:
Sounds complicated, but the manual illustrates it pretty well. Once the parts are properly stacked, you can screw the fuse assembly onto the grenade, ensuring that the pin lines up with the hole in the shuttle.
Order that the fuse parts get slid onto the pin
Proper stack (normally this would be inside the fuse housing, but I assembled it outside for clarity)
Assembly shown inside housing
Once the fuse is assembled and installed, you can gas up your grenade and fill it with BBs, just like normal. It holds a fair bit of gas, about 3-4 seconds worth. Make sure that you allow it to warm up to room temperature before use, for maximum power and consistency. The absolute last thing that you do to prep the grenade for use is to screw on the base cap; something that MUST BE DONE ON THE FIELD WHEN EVERYONE HAS EYE PROTECTION ON.
There are a few safety devices with this grenade that you must learn how to properly utilize. The first one is the pin. It mechanically keeps the fuse stack from collapsing, preventing the grenade from going off. It has a special locking hook to prevent it from accidentally being removed, which locks into a special notch in the fuse body. You must squeeze the pin loop and pull it out to arm the impact fuse assembly.
Pin inserted but not locked
The second safety device is the base cap, which is what seals the chamber and allows the gas to enter the BB tubes. If the grenade goes off without the base cap being installed, all of the gas will just blow out the bottom, and no BBs should come out. Do not install the base cap until you're on the field and everyone has eye protection, and AI recommends removing the cap after the grenade goes off for safety. The base cap itself has an additional safety feature, which is an overpressure plug designed to pop off in case the grenade somehow overpressurizes. Lastly, the shuttle has a small overpressure valve, which starts venting gas above a certain PSI. This grenade is designed to use Propane/GG/Duster/134A ONLY. Don't use CO2, etc on it, as it could become extremely dangerous.
You are the absolute most important safety device. Don't pitch this thing like a baseball, nobody wants a half pound chunk of plastic and aluminum to the face.
The Impact Tornado performs exactly as it should, shooting a large quantity of BBs 360 degrees at a safe but still substantial FPS. You certainly feel when it hits you, especially when it goes off about 18" from your head in a bathroom...
The impact fuse is sensitive, but not overly so. Any sharp, sudden jolt will set if off, and it's tested to go off with as little as 1" of drop. Pull the pin and toss it at a hard object, such as the ground, a wall, stairs, etc, and it will go off when it hits. Throw it onto sand, and it may go off, but it likely won't spray BBs anywhere, as the Tornado design relies on a hard surface to work properly. Same goes for tall grass, shrubs, etc.
One of the nice parts about the impact grenade is the ability to set traps with it. Balance it on something, put it on a doorknob, inside a can, etc, so that when the enemy does whatever action you set it up for, the grenade will drop, hitting the ground and going off. The possibilities are only limited as far as your creativity.
Here is a quick video of our SHOT Show hotel bathroom test. Yes, that is me getting fragged both times. Yes, that was my genuine reaction to getting fragged in the face. The grenade was supposed to fall onto the floor and go off, not fall over and go off 18" from my face. Yes, it hurt, surprised me quite a bit, and I fell off a toilet.
Only in Vegas.
Many thanks to the crew from Kastaway Airsoft, Milsim Event, and AI for setting up this demonstration!
Here is a video provided by AI demonstrating the Crash Grenade:
Reliable impact triggering
No more timer issues
360 degree spread
More expensive than other grenades (i.e. PFI, James Boom, etc, but works much better)
Trigger can be a touch too sensitive (went off falling over)
Some may want higher FPS
It seems that the major complaint that people had with the first Tornado grenade was a sometimes fickle timer system. This eliminates that and gives you a reliable impact triggering system. I'm extremely pleased to add this to my arsenal, and can foresee it getting a lot of use in CQB scenarios. AI is always working on new ideas, and I can promise that this is not the end of the Tornado development!
Many thanks again to Airsoft Innovations and of course, Airsoft Retreat!