In 'First Contact', the Borg were able to quickly adapt to phaser fire, even those with the adapter modification chip added, and take over the ship. Why not then transition to photon grenades while fighting deck to deck? They had them available so why not use them in defense of the ship?

Phasers were the most common and standard directed energy weapon in the arsenal of Starfleet and several other powers. Most phasers were classified as particle weapons and fire nadion particle beams which the Borg easily countered with their frequency screening personal shields.

Photon grenades on the other hand are short-range, variable-yield explosive devices. Photon grenade's main destructive potential lies in over pressure air blast (blunt force), as well as delivering a powerful electromagnetic pulse. At low levels, they're capable of delivering a wide-area stun effect; at greater levels, they provide a lethal pulse. http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Photon_grenade

As example of their availability on board; In 2367, (TNG: 4x06 "Legacy") Lt. La Forge suggested transporting photon grenades down to the underground Turkana City in order to incapacitate members of the Alliance, who were holding two Starfleet officers hostage. He noted that, set to minimum yield, the grenades would effectively stun their targets. http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Photon_grenade

Modern combat tactics incorporate the use of fragmentation grenades in CQB (Close Quarters Battle), including room clearing and building clearing

Why not use the non-fragmentation concussion grenades of the future? They are far 'safer' than our rudimentry fragmentation types.

Set to maximum yield these grenades would be quite formidable. With the Enterprise and the Earth itself threatened to be overran and assimilated by the Borg, the possibility of breaking a few computer screens seems to be an acceptable cost/benefit balance.

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    Maybe they didn't bring any on the Enterprise E. But more likely, at the power level necessary to incapacitate a Borg the grenades would cause significant damage to the ship.
    – Xantec
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 3:47
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    Chances are after the first one or three grenades the Borg would adapt to them anyway.
    – Xantec
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 4:09
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    @Xantec -So you're saying; They don't/didn't/shouldn't use such weapons because they would blow out some corridor panels and break some consoles when they cleared the hall of Borg drones trying to assimilate them and besides, the Borg would eventually adapt anyway. Resistance is futile? Is a Borg personal shield effective protection against a photon grenade? Hmmm. They didn't seem to be much help against a bat'leth.
    – Morgan
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 4:57
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    I'm just listing possible reasons for why they didn't use them. Also, photon grenades are an EM energy weapon and suitable to be defended against by Borg shields, unlike Worf's mek'leth. You may also be interested in this question: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/1549/…
    – Xantec
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 5:19
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    @Xantec -Nice link, I like. All security could be issued an M4 and a mek'leth.
    – Morgan
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 5:26

1 Answer 1


I will try to address some reasons I've found that photon grenades would not be a fallback option for this particular Borg fight. I've read the comments and think there are definitely valid points in there so I will seek to compliment those with my answer rather than repeat them.

One of the most convincing for me was this quote

The grenades were delivered with a mortar. In the year 2269, the crew of the USS Enterprise used photon grenade mortars against the Sackers. (TOS novel: The Three-Minute Universe)

From http://memory-beta.wikia.com/wiki/Photon_grenade I found this as a source link from your memory-alpha link above.

If we consider that photon grenades were delivered by mortars, mortars would be a very poor choice on a ship, in tight corridors. It would also mean these are impact detonated, which could be a much riskier proposition to throw by hand; think if you accidentally dropped one.

For the sake of argument, let's say both functions are capable with photon grenades, they can be impact detonated when used with a mortar or act as timed grenade. You have mentioned a few times a correlation to modern frag grenades so let's treat them similarly.

There are reasons modern military primarily opts for high powered assault rifles, machine guns, and shotguns in close quarters rather than grenades - they're just not as reliable. Here's an interesting article on modern frag grenades:


Ι'll direct you to this quote from the article

But the biggest problem with time-delay grenades is that they give the enemy an opportunity to counterattack. If a soldier doesn't time a grenade toss just right, the enemy may pick it up and throw it back before it explodes.

Ultimately, I think these were meant to be fired from mortars which means they would be a poor choice in close quarter combat on board a ship. It means they also would not be the first armament the crew would think of as a fall back. Even if standard grenade functions were there, the prospect of using grenades against a rapidly evolving enemy also poses serious risk.

  • Quake's granade launcher is clearly superior.
    – o0'.
    Commented May 30, 2014 at 14:17
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    You ever try clearing buildings/rooms without using grenades? It's much more stressful. Using grenades in such a capacity is actually SOP worldwide in modern age, not some seat of your pants made up tactic. Grenades are a multipurpose weapon, they can be launched, thrown or set as a booby trap depending upon the application required. ST grenades have the added feature of a variable yield selector.
    – Morgan
    Commented May 30, 2014 at 18:05
  • If I could add a point here- given the fairly close quarters they fight the Borg in, I question the wisdom of using extremely powerful explosives which could end up hurting the good guys as well. Also- the Borg are mostly fought in a spaceship. It's probably a bad idea to, you know, set off explosives in a space ship.
    – Broklynite
    Commented Jun 15, 2014 at 10:56
  • @Broklynite While phasers have variable settings, they too could accidentally... well, vaporize the bulkhead.
    – user11521
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 5:46
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    About the grenade quote, the only thing that will happen if you try to pick up a grenade an throw it back is you will be very close to it when it goes off.
    – kylieCatt
    Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 13:08

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