AskDefine | Define grapeshot

Dictionary Definition

grapeshot n : a cluster of small projectiles fired together from a cannon to produce a hail of shot

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A cluster, usually nine in number, of small iron balls, put together by means of cast-iron circular plates at top and bottom, with two rings, and a central connecting rod, in order to be used as a charge for a cannon. Formerly grapeshot were inclosed in canvas bags.


Extensive Definition

Grapeshot is a type of anti-personnel ammunition used in cannons. Instead of solid shot, a mass of loosely packed metal slugs is loaded into a canvas bag. Grapeshot can also be improvised from chainlinks, shards of glass, rocks, etc. When assembled, the balls resemble a cluster of grapes (hence the name). On firing, the balls spread out from the muzzle at high velocity, giving an effect similar to a shotgun, but scaled up to cannon size.
Grapeshot was devastatingly effective against massed infantry at short range. It was used to savage massed infantry charges quickly. Cannons would fire solid shot to attack enemy artillery and troops at longer range (although the shrapnel round was invented to increase the effect of grapeshot at a distance) and switch to grape when they or nearby troops were charged.
Grapeshot was largely replaced by canister shot during the early 19th century, with the cloth bag being replaced with a wood-sealed metal canister, guided by a wooden sabot. This gave improved range and more controllable dispersal and allowed the shot to be safely fired at higher velocity.
Conflicts in which grapeshot was famously and effectively used include:
Since the passing of muzzle-loaded cannon and the introduction of the fixed round, grape has been replaced by canister or case round, where a brass cartridge contains the shot.

See also

grapeshot in Japanese: ぶどう弾
grapeshot in Norwegian: Kardesk

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

ball, bar shot, bird shot, buckshot, bullet, cannon shot, cannonball, case shot, crossbar shot, duck shot, dumdum bullet, expanding bullet, grape, langrel shot, manstopping bullet, pellet, rifle ball, round shot, shell, shot, shrapnel, slug, split shot
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