Andy Smith
Mine action specialist
The AVS Mine-grab


In response to a request, I made the AVS mine-grab to pick up damaged AP mines that had been deposited on the ground surface by a converted potato-harvesting machine in Africa.

Cheap aluminium and plastic 'grabs' designed for the elderly and disabled were blast tested and found to shatter and fragment catastrophically, so something stronger and designed for purpose was needed.

The Mine-grab's shaft is made using Stainless Steel and the handles and arm cradle are made from mild steel. The gripping jaws are made using polycarbonate (as used in blast visors). Its design incorporates arm support to steady the weight, two handed control and a ballistic aramid hand guard with polycarbonate support. The left hand holds the black HDPE handle behind the guard. The right rests in the support and pulls the trigger to grip the mine. The laminated polycarbonate grabbing head is angled so that the mine can be approached from the side while the user stands upright.

It is easy to turn over, position and pick up all AP blast mines (as large as the PMN or as small as the M14) and the long shaft keeps them over a metre away from the man doing so. Assuming he has frontal protection and a visor, he should survive an AP blast detonation without serious injury. I recommended extending frontal protection down the front of the legs but this was ignored.

To blast test the tool, I detonated a VS50 mine in the jaws of the grab (the VS50 was the largest blast mine present in that minefield). The polycarbonate jaws burned and vapourised but the stainless steel pipe and the handle were unmarked. No fragmentation damaged the 'dummy' holding the tool.

The Mine-grab was reportedly used to lift many thousands of AP blast mines, some of which had been damaged by the machine. A few detonated spontaneously as deminers approached but none detonated in the jaws of the grab.





grab with mine before test