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Evaluation of Beanbag Munitions and Launchers

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2012
35 pages

This paper reports on the comparison testing of less-lethal beanbag munitions in five different shotgun launchers, to determine their value over traditional firearm munitions for law enforcement use.


The authors of this report describe their study of the overall performance of three brands of ammunition and five shotguns being tested at ten-foot intervals, extending from 10 feet to 90 feet. The authors used a multifaceted approach which included controlled data collection and qualitative assessment of each of five weapons; the primary goal of the study was to identify accuracy, velocity, reliability, and any malfunctions in the ammunition or shotguns. The five shotgun launchers that were tested were: Remington 870; Mossberg 500; Kel-Tec KSG; Saiga-12; and SRM-1216. The authors compared the projectile velocity for each brand of munitions in each launcher; accuracy rates as quantified through drop, drift, and spread of projectiles at predetermined distances; and identified common malfunctions, vulnerabilities, and functionality of the five shotgun launchers. The authors decided that using multiple shotgun systems should be incorporated in the study in order to address the concern of balancing internal and external validity. They note that the value of semi-automatic shotguns as less-lethal launchers for law enforcement use is substantially reduced by the negative impact of fouling residue created by the ammunition. The authors observed during testing that both semi-automatic shotguns fired their projectiles at a lower velocity, which affected accuracy, and suggest that cleaner ammunition designed specifically for those semi-automatic launchers may be required for optimal performance.