How to Make an Improvised Explosive Device (IED)


What I have obtained here, all the information, details, statistics and methods have been gathered from publically-accessible documents. This is all within the Public domain, and thus as a result, I feel this is not breaking any laws as a result. This is merely a concentration of the information. Some of the links to the material can be found at the end of these series of guides.

This guide will cover a lot of subjects and thus will be released in parts. This part is a basic intro to IEDs covering the basics like what is used, what they are and tactics. These parts of the guide are not limited to mentioning and/or discussing chemicals which can and will harm you if used incorrectly. Needless to say if you are caught with the materials in this guide, you will no doubt have somebody pull the “Terrorist” card and get ass-raped in Guantanamo. Keep your mouth shut and have a play around with the things written here. Don’t be a dick.

What this guide IS…
This guide covers how to wire, camouflage and detonate an IED. Wiring means setting up the trap, such as placing detonators and devices to trigger said detonators. Camouflage is positioning and concealing the IED, and all of these will be shown with tactics used in warzones.

What this guide is NOT…
This guide is not about creating explosives. I assume you are being hypothetical with this document, so there is no need to discuss the recipes and risks involved with making explosive compounds from scratch.

IED? Isn’t that a bomb in the road?
Well yes, and more. Improvised Explosive Devices were responsible for 70% of Coalition deaths in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2010 and originated from the Irish Republican Army, as they made simple IEDs from Semtex and Fertiliser. The Vietnam War was also a haven for Guerilla tactics, as the Vietcong would attach tripwires to Russian anti-tank grenades or just ridiculously high-shrapnel content explosives. Take your targets into consideration. Vehicle? Personnel?
There is more to an IED than just an explosive or shrapnel though. Sure, you could have the Tsar Bomb ready to go off, but if it’s in the middle of the street, it won’t be very effective, will it? Someone will spot it and we will have remake upon crappy remake of “The Hurt Locker”. Camouflage, types of detonation and types of explosives/shrapnel have a role to play. Get one wrong, and you may as well have pissed in the wind.

So what types of explosives are used?
Whatever goes “boom” really. Gunpowder on a small scale or for detonators (as well as flash powder or another low-order explosive). Mostly it is either fertiliser bombs or Military munitions that are used. I bet you didn’t stop to think of why roadside attacks increase when Afghan farmers are given aid? Well, give an Afghan man fertiliser to grow wheat, and you won’t be alive to eat the end product.
So…what types (these will all be covered within this guide)

  • Landmines – Self explanatory. Bury, cover, run and leave. You can also stack them, but don’t make the stack too heavy, or else you’re dead too.
  • Mortars or Howitzer rounds – Remove the end and re-wire a detonator into the nose cone. Press a button, ring a phone, put a timer or pressure plate on and boom!
  • Homemade – Nail bombs, incendiary or chemical devices. Usually very crude and volatile.
  • Gas canisters – Yes, some people strap detonators or Low-Order explosives to gas canisters. I will show you a table later of the blast radius’ of each size.
  • Explosive Formed Penetrator – The most expensive but effective. An explosive goes off behind a concave piece of metal (Copper usually) and the explosive force and heat turns the Copper into a fat slug, smacking into whatever the target is, filling the inside with molten shrapnel. Pretty fucked up, and can be shot from pretty much any angle when placed on a surface.

And what types of detonating methods?

  • Timers – Analogue clocks can be set for up to an hour as the hands make contact with a metal ‘contact’. Digital clocks can be set with an alarm and the electric current can detonate the IED. May need a 9V booster within the circuit though.
  • Remote detonators – Cellphones, Garage door openers. These are usually countered by cellphone/radio jammers. Very good though as they can be detonated from a long range, even longer in the case of a cellphone.
  • Pressure plate – Apply pressure to the metal-covered plates, complete the circuit. Sometimes placed on doors or underfoot like a mine.
  • Tripwire – The most simple type of detonating method. Tie one end to a secure object and the other to a grenade pin or spring-activated trap which completes a circuit upon removal of the tripwire.
  • Switches or buttons – Suicide vests and VBIED (Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device) employ these methods as they are difficult to spot, especially as electronics are getting smaller as time goes on.
  • Obscure – Others such as radiation (Smoke Alarm circuits) and dark/low light sensors (So the IED will detonate as a vehicle passes over it…or the Sun goes down)

Right, and camouflage?

  • Buried – Can be great or crap depending on how well you bury it. Simple ones can be put under soil or sand. More advanced ones have been detonated/found in asphalt roads. Detonation wires have even been buried and resealed under the asphalt.
  • Placed within something – A corpse, bag of rubbish, put among rocks, behind a poster or in a cupboard. These have all been found and in a warzone, there are a lot of areas you wouldn’t expect to find deadly traps. If your enemy doesn’t stay on their toes, then a Coke can could be the death of them.
  • Suicide – Suicide vests or Vehicle-Borne. Essentially the same thing, but vehicles are bigger and more destructive. Cement trucks have even been used, and the resulting explosions were insanely huge. It’s as big as your imagination.
  • Obscure – Placed behind a road sign, within a discarded vehicle tyre or central reservation on a highway. As I said, the bigger your imagination the easier you will find this.

How are they all wired up? I’m no electrician..
It’s surprisingly easy, actually. To make a simple command-wire which you can use to detonate anything from a firework to an IED, you will need:-

  • 1 x 9v battery
  • 1 x Electric switch
  • 2 x 50ft wire (different colours helps, and so do neutral ones so as to not give the IED away, also depending on the force, the size can vary. firecrackers? got for 3ft)
  • 1 x Model rocket ignitor (Can pick them up in packs of 6 for ~£6)
  • Electric tape
  • Wire strippers
Step-by Step instructions. Link as it’s a big ol’ image.

Step 1 – Get your wires and wire strippers
Step 2 – Strip the ends of the wires to reveal their coppar innards. This gives you the clean flow of electric you need in order to trigger the ignitor and thus blasting cap, thus IED.
Step 3 – Take a wire and cut it a few inches from the end and strip. You can put the 9V battery between the gap now.
Step 4 – Attach the end of one of those wires onto the positive, and the end of another onto the negative terminal with electrical insulating tape. Congrats! You are now halfway there.
Step 5 – Put that to one side for a moment and grab your uncut wire. Attach one of the exposed ends onto a terminal on the switch. Do this for the shorter length of wire you have also attached to the 9V battery, and use small pieces of electrical insulating tape to complete. You now have an almost complete citcuit.
step 6 – take the 2 ends, one from the 9V battery and the other from the switch, and attach them to the ‘prongs’ off an ignitor. Use some tape and bend the ‘prongs’ to decrease the likelihood of accidental dislocation of the wires due to pulls or tugs.
Step 7 – Tadaa!…lustration.gif
You should have something similar to this. Link as it’s a HUUUGE image.

Of course there is always an alternative way. When you go to buy the Model Rocket Ignitors, you can also get a Launch Control box. It’s the 9V battery, switch, wires etc all in a neat box, almost designed for the Urban Terrorist or prankster..or in this case, bored 15 year old who wants to be an Anarchist.

IEDs that were found in Afghanistan
Reckon you could spot one of these driving down the road?

These IEds were all Military-grade munitions. It is also possible to make IEDs from homemade explosives, so good luck if you find a guide on making them online. I reccommend for further information.


So you have a basic understanding as to what IEDs are. You know their history, the targets they can be used on and what materials are used, be it homemade or Military. This part will discuss how the materials are modified in order to allow for it to be used as an IED.

The basic layout of any missile object (Mortar, Howitzer round etc)

How it is wired up to a detonator

Of course you will need a positive and negative charge to run to the munition, hence the 2 wires. Actually fuck it, if you didn’t realise that, then you shouldn’t be reading this.
A good, sturdy wire is the best choice. Well insulated and clean cut/stripped.

Examples of blasting caps
These are detonators mostly used in the Demolition trade, but they are almost exactly the same as those used to kill. All they are is the meeting point of the wires discussed prior to an element that creates heat when electric current flows through it, setting off a low-order explosive.
*breathe* Sorry. Huge sentence.

An Army document displaying how the blasting caps are wired to the ignitor (in our case, the Estes or Model Rocket one works fine).

So what methods can we employ to detonate the blasting cap..and IED?
After browsing some Army Documents I will provide a link to at the end of this document, you are only limited by your imagination.
Pretty standard methods are:

The Alarm Clock

Digital is preferred over analogue, as they can be set for up to 24 hours, there is no accidental movement of the clock hands when put under strain and there are no moving parts, assuming you are in a Desert and an angry Sandnigger who could clog up the cogs and mechanism.
So studying the picture above, we see wires coming from the clock. There are no explosives wired to it, but the wires that are connected to the speaker could easily be cut and transferred to then carry a current designed to detonate a blasting cap.

The Cellphone

This one is surprisingly easy for something that looks so James Bond. I made one of these to launch fireworks, and you will need 2 x 6″ wires and 1 x 3″ wire, a 9V battery, an old cellphone, piece of wood or a surface to mount it on and drill with zipties.

Take the cellphone and turn it onto a Loud setting. You want the speaker to ring and this have current flow through it. Once done, open it up or at least get to the circuit by the earpiece. See the speaker? There are 2 contact points. Remove the speaker from them and solder a wire to each of those points. Now try to piece the phone back together with the wires in. Poke them out through where the speaker would be or something. Once they are poking out and are secure, solder one of the wire ends to a 9V battery and then solder the 3″ wire to the other terminal on the battery so it looks like so:

Once you have done that, find your piece of wood and drill a hole each side of where the phone will lie. Once you’ve done that, ziptie the phone to the wood and make it secure. Do the same for the battery, too.
So you,ve got the board, rigged phone, 9V amplifier and wires. Now all you need is a heat element which you can make either from wire wool or buy in a shop that sells model rockets. They are called “Motor igniters” and are about £3 for 6. All you do is secure a wire to each end of the igniter to complete the circuit. Turn on the phone, let it boot up and ring it. If all went well, your igniter should be glowing or getting hot. Hot enough to detonate your low-order explosive.

The oldest trick in the book. Tripwires are used in the following manners

Vietcong booby trap.

Tripwire attached to a Grenade Pin so as to pull the pin out upon tension.

The most simple method of tripwire is the Grenade method. It was used very successfully in the Vietnam War and urban conflicts such as Bosnia and Chechnya due to the widespread availiability and easily concealable properties of a lemon-sized high explosive, loaded with shrapnel in a confined area.

As the picture above shows, you tie the wire (usually a high tension fishing line or metallic wire for reliability and small diameter/difficulty to spot) to the pin of the grenade. Now depending on what side that pin comes out, you face that to the direction of the place you tie the other side of the tripwire.
Now when you are tying these things, you want a good amount of tension, so secure the Grenade like so

and run an excess of wire/line through to the other side of the pathway, doorway or whatever you are rigging. Pull the wire/line until there is a light amount of tension, but not enough to pull the pin. Grenades pins take approximately 22lbs of force to pull out, so feel comfortable, but be cautious. Very fucking cautious. Once there is a light amount of tension, loop the wire/line round the log/object/whatever you are attaching it to, and tie it, maintaining the tension. When someone puts the lightest tough on it, out comes the pin and off go their legs.

Possible way to position the grenade. make sure the way the pin comes out is pointing towards the enemy. It comes out then…

Grenade parts for dummies.

There is another method of concealing Grenades under objects. If you pull the pin out of a Grenade, it won’t automatically go off. You must release the Safety Lever as you presumably throw it. Now get a heavy object or something which is at least weighty and secure, then place it over a Grenade with the pin pulled out. Your enemy will dislodge the Safety Lever and cause it to explode. This was used extensively in Vietnam, and was perfectly demonstrated in Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece “Full Metal Jacket”.

The most dangerous tripwire is the one you set off, such as the tripwire, but not all IEDs are that big. maybe you might want to just injure someone in order to slow down their advance?
One of the most simple tactics for this is to place a shotgun cartridge in a 3/4″ pipe. Below is a picture guide that explains it better than I ever could…I know, I know. It is widely circulated, but it does work. Shotgun rounds, especially, as they spread and cause more damage.

Of course, the same can be said for the release of pressure. Wire up an IED to a small switch that triggers and detonates the IED when it is released. Pressure works both ways.

Tactics for homes or CQB areas

Peg tripwire.
Next to the Grenade tripwire, by far one of the easiest to make. With this you can rig car doors, doors to homes, cupboards, toilet seats..whatever.
I found a guide on Instructables which describes and illustrates it better than I ever could. I will get looking into making one to post up here with my own, original pictures. For now, though, you will just have to settle for this. of course, just put the blasting cap in instead of the speaker.…ripwire-Alarm/


So you have a basic understanding as to what IEDs are and how they are wired up to a detonator or trip device. You know their history, the targets they can be used on and what materials are used, be it homemade or Military. This part will discuss how IEDs are concealed and the tactics involved, be it along roads, in a rural/wooded/jungle environment or a dwelling (House).

Placing IEDs along a road

This tactic is prolific in Iraq and Afghanistan, as Convoys of transport or Military vehicles can be either obliterated or severely slowed down and left vulnerable to ambush.
Almost all of these IEDs are most effectively detonated using a command wire. This is basically 2 wires, a small switch or just a bare contact point, a battery and an ignitor/blasting cap

The typical, bog-standard IED is an artillery or mortar round which has been re-wired and buried either in the middle or to the side of the road. You can also place the IED in a drain or culvert which runs along/across a road.

As we have discussed previously, you now know how to wire up a mortar or artillery, or even home made round, so this is how to place it. Of course, every outcome is different, so remember your shrapnel and angle of placement if there is a directional factor involved.

  • Coupling. Coupling is a method of linking one mine or explosive device to another, usually with detonating cord. When the first device is detonated, it also detonates the linked explosive. This technique is often used to defeat countermine equipment, such as mine rollers
  • Rolling. The roller will pass over the initial, unfuzed device and set off the second fuzed device. This in turn detonates the overpassed device underneath the clearing vehicle. When the linked devices are directional fragmentation mines, they can create a large, lethal engagement area.
  • Boosting. Buried mines, UXOs, or other explosive devices are stacked on top of one another. The device buried deepest from the surface is fuzed. Fuzing only the deepest ordnance helps mask no- and low-metal explosive hazards placed near the surface. This reduces the probability of detection by metal detectors, and it increases the force of the blast.
  • Sensitizing antitank (AT) mines. On some nonmetallic AT mines, the pressure plate is cracked and the spring is removed to reduce the pressure required to initiate the mine. Similarly, the pressure plate can be removed from metallic AT mines to create the same effect. A pressurefuzed AP mine can be placed on the top of an AT mine, thus creating a very large AP mine as an alternative method.
  • Daisy chaining. AP mines may be used in daisy chains linked with other explosive hazards. Enemy forces may link the mines together with trip wire or detonating cord. When the initial mine is detonated, the other mines may detonate. This may also create large, lethal engagement areas.

The bog-standard IED

So above is a typical highway layout. it doesn’t have to be a 4-lane one, so take size into cosideration. scale down if need be. Scale up if you fancy. Anyway, the IED is placed in either the middle of the road to detonate under a vehicle, or to the side to pepper it with shrapnel.

What is the best type of detonator?
If you are planning on blowing the vehicle up by placing the IED under it or peppering the inhabitants with shrapnel, then you will want to use either a simple command wire switch or cellphone. The command switch ensures a quick and reliable method of detonating the IED. The phone is for a larger convoy as you will have to wait to be connected and thus ring, possibly costing you the chance.

The “Broken Down Vehicle” Attack”
This takes some balls, as you must place the IED and vehicle without being seen or compromised.
This tactic is used to squeeze the convoy into a narrow, almost shooting-gallery-like situation where they are between a “broken down vehicle” and the IED, meaning certain death.

What is the best type of detonator?
As above, the command wire leading to a switch. Buttons are ok, but can have a tendency to go off without warning. You could place pressure mats or whatnot, but then the IED could go off when a non-target vehicle passes over it.

The “Fiendishly Clever” IED Attack.
This one is also referred to as the “Daisy Chain” attack as there are multiple IEDs placed along a road. The fake, easily spotted one is optional, but also means your real, rigged ones can be spotted. I would not reccommend placing a fake one until you can confidently conceal wires and the IEDs.

As you can see, this one is particularly fiendish, merely due to the fact there are upwards of 2 IEDs and they are placed in a line, so when the front vehicle reaches the foremost IED, press the detonator and watch the whole convoy blow up or at least come to an alarmed, hysterical stop.

What is the best type of detonator?
Once again, the command wire linked up to a button, or preferably switch. Immediate detonation is what you need.

The Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devive (VBIED)

The aftermath of a VBIED

A table of vehicle sizes and potential explosive content

The trick to a good VBIED is to make it not stand out. A few golden rules are

  • Do not overload the car otherwise the suspension will dip, arousing attention. many are caught out by this mistake.
  • Make the tripwire a simple, foolproof one. I will cover these later.
  • Make the car physically fit in. Don’t park an expensive one in a poor neighbourhood and vice versa. Obvious, really.

What do you put into a VBIED?

  • Propane canisters with shrapnel.
  • Fertilizer bomb (See: Oklahoma Bombing).
  • Army-grade munitions (As covered earlier in this guide).
  • Fuckloads of TNT.
  • Never forget shrapnel! Nails, metal ball bearings, nuts and bolts etc.

What is the best type of detonator?

Type 1 : The nudge-tripwire
Tie a regular tripwire from under the car, which is attached to a blasting cap, and attach the other end of the wire to the floor. When the car is nudged forwards by a Military or Target vehicle, the tripwire will be pulled and boom goes the car!

The ignition detonation
Go under the bonnet and attach the detonator wires to the engine block there current would flow when the engine is started. Hide the explosives within the bonnet/engine area or under the car. The same can be said for any wires in a car that will hold a current when the car is turned on, like the Stereo, Lights etc.

Where to position this VBIED?
This completely depends on your target. If you are going for maximum civilian casualties (dick) then park it on a street, or ram it into a shopping centre, then press a button to blow up.
Alternatively if you are going for a select target, then leave the car booby trapped (if it is the enemy car) so they detonate upon opening the door or moving the car, or park the rigged car on the side of the road and detonate as the enemy passes.

Hopefully this has given you some more to think about.


So now you know how to make most types of popular-used Improvised Explosive Devices. But what about the countermeasures Security forces carry out? Well here is a short guide on them and how to potentially avoid them. Don’t take this as gospel, as it is hypothetical. You could still get found out!

Methods of detection.

  • Local knowledge – so keep your mouth shut. Loose lips sink ships.
  • Not well hidden – you can’t exactly learn from your mistakes unless you’re pretty good and can be invisible. Try hiding things in a similar fashion to an IED and see if people spot it. Also any command wires must also be hidden. Some hide them in the asphalt. Otherwise, hide the wire well, unlike here where it is easily visible.
  • Dogs. Military and sniffer dogs can be trained to sniff explosives. It’s not going to work too well in a warzone as everything is being blown to shit, but along a lonely road or pathway? Could work. Just means you have to get close to the IED.
  • Electrical screening systems. It is possible, but expensive, to purchase a device that can detect the most popular types of Guerilla explosives (TNT, TATP, Ammonium Nitrate).
  • Witnesses. Are you videoing your destruction? Are there a lack of people in an otherwise busy area?

Methods of minimizing IED damage

  • Reinforcing the underside of a vehicle. This can include sandbags, blast-resistant plate armor etc.
  • Keeping the top or windows of a vehicle open. This spreads the shock out inside the vehicle. You’ll still be pretty fucked up though.
  • Good, up-to-date First Aid training. You won’t escape completely unscathed. Even treatment for shock, panic attacks etc are useful to know.

Methods of rendering an IED useless

  • GPS-Jammer. You can buy these online and they are quite expensive. The military use these on a larger scale to kill all phone signal around the Soldier carrying the GPS-Jammer. The range can be up to a few mundred metres depending on the power supply. This will render any cellphone-triggered IED useless whilst the jammer is in range.
  • Well trained troops. With the right training and with enough of your fuckups found, or other fuckups found, yours will more than likely be detected too. It’s a game of cat and mouse.

This list is subject to change at any time. It is correct as of 26th February 2011
v 1.0

Resources and Further Reading
Below are a collection of Torrents and links to ebooks which I have used for information to build this guide, and have also found fascinating surrounding the use of Guerilla Warfare and Terrorism.

US Military Field Manuals.

Paladin Press.


Vietnamese Tactics.

Useful Torrent/Dropbox Accounts for Material.

General Useful Knowledge.