USAF Orders Anti-Drone Shotgun Shells From AMTAC

As a part of a force and installation protection program, the United States Airforce (USAF) has ordered 600 “Anti-Drone Rounds” from AMTAC Less Lethal. The initial batch will be used to test the ammunition’s usefulness in law enforcement operations against Type 1 and 2 drones (max 55 pounds and 3500 feet flying altitude). The contract calls for an additional order of 6400 shells if the initial testing phase proves to be beneficial.

We’ve talked about Anti-Drone systems like the AMTAC 12 gauge and 40mm munitions here at TFB in the past and the question I always ask is ‘for short range engagements, why not just use a heavy duck or goose load?’. Either these drone shells are more effective or there is a possible attempt to preserve evidence from the drones navigation or video recording systems.

Either way, I’d like to see these shells in action someday.




Drones pose a real security problem for law enforcement. They are relatively small and easy to hide, can quickly be deployed, allow for surveillance, and can carry a payload. And once in the air, how do you quickly take them down?

An order placed in late January by the U.S. Air Force gives us a good idea of how law enforcement drone defense is probably going to work. The Drive reports that a Notice of Contract Action was submitted by the Air Force to evaluate 600 12-gauge SkyNet Mi-5 shotgun shells supplied by AMTEC Less Lethal Systems (ALS).

The Mi-5 shells are anti-drone rounds and contain a five-foot wide capture net. When fired, five tethered segments spin and extend to create the net which travels towards the targeted drone, wraps around it, and raises it to the ground. The only damage caused will be from the impact with the ground, which should offer a chance to inspect and collect evidence from the drone.

The Air Force will use the shells with its Remington Model 870 shotguns after modifying them with a “choke tube” on the muzzle which will allow the shell to spin and extend the net properly. The types of drones these shells can target are classed as Category 1 & 2 by the Pentagon. They weigh up to 55 pounds and typically fly at heights of no more than 3,500 feet.

As a way of dealing with a drone threat, this seems like a relatively cheap solution. It uses an existing weapon modified with a tube and uses a different shell. The overall expenditure ultimately depends on how much the shells and tubes cost.

If the Air Force’s experiment with these initial 600 shells is successful, there’s an option to buy a further 6,400 rounds to allow for wider deployment. And if they work for the US Air Force, then they will work for police officers, prison guards, and a host of other security departments and sections of the U.S. military.


The ALS12SKY-Mi5 is a 12 gauge anti-drone round designed to be rapidly deployed against commercially available drones being utilized for illegal purposes; i.e. illegal surveillance and contraband delivery. Upon firing through a 12ga rifled choke barrel, the five tethered segments separate with centrifugal force and create a five (5’) foot wide ‘capture net’ to effectively trap the drone’s propellers causing it to fail.


LE – Science – OSINT.
On a mission to make all of my guns as quiet as possible.
Twitter: @gunboxready
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  • Rick O’Shay

    I’m sure the inquiring followers of Taofledermaus’ youtube channel could come up with some interesting alternative designs. They put all kinds of crazy stuff out there.

  • Phillip Cooper

    The reason you want something like this as opposed to a duck load is specifically to obtain evidence off of the electronic systems onboard.

    • EC

      Also useful for intercepting Amazon drone shipments without putting shot into the package!

      I mean… ya. What you said.

      • Don Ward

        Now here’s the smart guy in the lunch line. Plus uno!

      • Phillip Cooper

        Shut up, will you? Ixnay onna ivingay wayay the anplay….

  • SJB

    Sort of like the old chain shot of 17′ and 1800s; two cannon balls connected by a length of chain, designed to tear a ship’s rigging apart

    • RealitiCzech

      Market it right, and you could sell the US government a 12lb’er Napoleon cannon.

      • SJB

        Probably could 🙂

    • Marcus D.

      Grape would be more effective. Musket balls (57 caliber) hammered or melted onto barbed wire. And fired from a 4″ field cannon. This was what ended Pickett’s Charge at the Angle at Gettysburg–four cannons loaded with double canister (i.e. grape stuffed into a tin can) and fired simultaneously. Observers reported that the Rebs just disappeared.

      • SJB

        Grapeshot, however, doesn’t leave much of the target, and if you want to get information from the on-board systems……………Not much left.

      • Jimbo

        Never worked. You can’t get two cannons to fire at the same time.

  • Audie Bakerson

    “the question I always ask is ‘for short range engagements, why not just
    use a heavy duck or goose load?’. Either these drone shells are more
    effective or there is a possible attempt to preserve evidence from the
    drones navigation or video recording systems.”

    Wouldn’t this also be less hazardous to people on the ground?

    • Anonymoose

      For long range engagements they’d need a flak cannon or a SAM.

      • Stuki Moi

        What do you mean? I can’t shoot birds flying at 3500 feet with my 12 gauge???

      • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

        That sounds fun for next Goose season

      • RealitiCzech

        The major worry is probably a bomb on a drone, which would become a close quarters problem. Fly it over the fence to where the aircraft are, detonate at the right spot – millions of dollars of damage could be done for well under $500 invested.

        • The Brigadier

          That is the real threat and you stated it well. The government is going to have 30,000 drones in the air by 2020. They will be so common that terrorist drones will be invisible due to the commonality of the blasted things. A small TPTA bomb weighing only five pounds has tremendous damage potential. A drone with one of those in a major refinery can cost billions in damage if it detonates in several strategic places. I hope our chemical industries are thinking ahead. It’s less than three years before our skies are full of drones.

          • RealitiCzech

            Right. Guided missiles represented a huge step in military capability – a small bomb on a small, hard to detect drone is another leap forward – you don’t often need a 1000lb bomb if you can get right beside what you want to destroy with a smaller bomb. Camp Bastion, 2012 came to mind – 15 Taliban infiltrated the base and damaged/destroyed 8 Harriers. That took out 6% of the USMC Harrier fleet. With drones? No need to lose many/any bodies to do the same thing again.

      • Just say’n

        As long as the ammo costs far less than the $500+ drone, that works. It’s a battle of economy. Even the most expensive shot shells are only a few bucks each.

      • Paul Rain

        Or just a 40mm shot shell..

        • Anonymoose

          40mm Bofors, maybe.

    • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

      I guess, but birdshot on its way down is hardly lethal. Would it hurt? most likely, but I doubt it would even break skin.

      • Audie Bakerson

        Depending on exact deployment places (which could be part of what they are testing for), you may have low flying drones at a low enough angle the shot is still enough to require medical attention.

        Also a lot less lawsuits waiting to happen if there’s any civilian population around the military base.

      • Dan

        Bbs from Goose loads don’t hurt when they rain back down. Would i stare into the sky and let them hit my bare eye? No.

        • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

          Eyes are always an exception to any “It doesnt hurt” argument.

      • Just say’n

        If you’ve duck/goose and dove hunted enough around idiots you’ll eventually get hit by falling shot. It feels about like someone chucked a handful of gravel at you from 30′ away. Doesn’t break the skin but yeah, could put an eye out.

    • RealitiCzech

      Goose loads are probably better. This is just an evaluation of these rounds.

    • Jimbo

      Duck and goose loads are generally steel shot. They need lead.

    • AlDeLarge

      I’ve been on the wrong side of a skeet range. I bet those lead weights would do a lot more damage falling out of the sky than any birdshot.

      • JoelM

        Are they lead? For the size of them I assume they’d use something slightly lighter, like zinc.

        • AlDeLarge

          “Zuerillium Lead Free Alloy” apparently. I couldn’t find any real specifics, but it appears to not be quite as dense as lead, but heavy enough for a lead substitute. Anyway, anything but the lightest of metals that size would probably have a lot more thump than the birdshot gently drizzling down from that skeet range.

          • glenn cheney

            Complied with obummer’s no lead rule then. smh.

        • Pumpkin King XXIII

          Or bismuth

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    I used to buy these things called “Bolo Rounds” at the gun shows around Austin as a teenager. It was two lead weights connected by about 20″ of metal twine. They were pretty nasty. I remember one cutting a shipping pallet in half and wrapping around about an inch deep in a telephone pole.

    • John

      I remember those….. nasty indeed!

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        Yeah, the company made all kinds of weirdo shot shells. They had one called “Dragons Breath” that, I assume, was packed with WP that shot flames out about 25 ft. Perfect for home defense.

        • John

          Yeah, those are still out there. Filled with granulated/powdered/flakes of magnesium.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            Tons of fun when I lived in the country before the internet.

          • Rick O’Shay

            How exactly are they ignited, do you know?

          • John

            I’d imagine directly from a propellant powder charge.

        • Rick O’Shay

          You can still find those on occasion at the Saxon gun shows. And by “home defense” you mean “burn my house down to the ground,” I presume.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            lol, Yeah I was kidding.

            I could never think of any practical reason for them besides “its cool”. Which was the only reason I did anything back then.


          • Rick O’Shay

            My brother likes to shoot off the dragon’s breath rounds for 4th of July. Seems expensive, but shooting is shooting, I guess.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            I cant do that anymore on the east side of Houston but the caballeros still shoot it up pretty good on the 4th and NYE. I dont mind it, its festive.

    • JoelM

      These appear to use nylon braided rope, which would likely break off before cutting anything in any serious way. It would probably break the bodywork and framework of the drone, and of course the props, but wouldn’t slice them up like an egg slicer like the bolo rounds would.

  • Anonymoose

    Better get some 30″ barrels for those 870s.

    • roguetechie

      I was planning to use my Ithaca home and auto burglar or whatever they were called… Basically a sxs shotgun pistol that’s legal because they were sold before NFA was passed

    • marathag

      Get those old Stevens ‘Goose Gun’ or other old shotguns with 37″+ barrels off the wall hanger and back in service

  • Rick O’Shay

    But seriously guys, why not just use electronics jammers?

    • Calavera

      Pffft! Electronic jammers don’t go BANG! Can’t wait to try one of these shot shells during dove season!

    • EC

      There’s a number of drones that are jam resistant. The DJI M200s, for example, can be modified with modules to protect against EMFs from industrial equipment and power lines. While the intent is to prevent jamming and interference from environmental sources, it’s possible that drones could be hardened against EM attack.

      Plus of course many drones have default “return to home” programming in the event that they lose contact with their controller. Jamming a drone may prevent or just delay an attack, but might not neutralise the drone.

      The last thing that you want is for your fancy electronic jammer to fail against a suicide drone. A net, while simple, can work against most types of current drones.

      • JumpIf NotZero

        ” jam resistant”…. No. Please don’t make things up.

        Because you have protected a design from RFI in other bands than the range it uses itself – does not make it “jam resistant”.

        The real reason “jammers” aren’t used is because it wouldn’t make the thing drop from the sky. It would only interrupt the driver’s access, it would still be able to go somewhere under automated guidance, usually home, or just sit in the sky with a lost connection.

        • EC

          There is a big difference of course between “jam resistant” and “jam proof”. I used “jam resistant” for a reason of course.

          That being said, it’s not unimaginable that a drone could be hardened from attack.

          • Mr Evilwrench

            Shift your RF signal to an “unauthorized” frequency far enough out of band to evade the jammer, yet close enough the electronics wouldn’t degrade the signal too much. The jammer would fail. It would take someone like me in my mad scientist lab, but I’ve done similar things to complicate SIGINT. Without that, hardening it against jamming simultaneously hardens it against your control signal. Don’t expect it to work for too long.

    • Anomanom

      Because jammers are expensive and shotgun shells are cheap.

      • Pumpkin King XXIII

        They could use a switch jammer. Cheap and easily made. Since it’s the gooberment the could grant themselves authority

    • AlDeLarge

      Drones on a preprogrammed mission usually continue the program when they lose contact with the remote.

  • b0x3r0ck

    I think the main reason they would want to ur these kinds of ammo might depend on what kind of payload the drone might be carrying. Also saving the data is easier if it not full of holes.

  • b0x3r0ck

    When can we get a 37mm or a version for the can cannon?

  • DMZ

    Sky. Net. Mhm, that’s a good one.

  • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

    3500′ feet? Thats almost 1200 yards. Against gravity. And the Ballistic Coefficient for these has to be atrocious. I can see no way they would get half that far when being propelled by even 3.5″ magnum safe pressures, but maybe Im missing something. Not to mention the extreme difficulty of actually hitting at that distance. Even if it does have a large radius of effectiveness, shooting upward adds a whole new dimension to the equation.

    • Blake

      3500 feet is the classification difference between class 1 and 2 drones.

    • glenn cheney

      Patience, they’ll end up asking me to reverse engineer a mini stinger, we got this.
      In the mean time, we could deploy them, on a test basis, since they are non lethal, on those Antifa pajama people ….crowd control and containment.

  • Gary Kirk

    Potato gun and gill net.. That is all..

    • Charles Applegate

      PLEASE video that and post it for us!

    • Sunshine_Shooter

      Video it. We need to see it for… science. Yeah, science.

  • Sledgecrowbar

    “Rapidly deployed” is irritatingly cliche here when we’re talking about taking a shotshell out of your vest pocket, and then loading it into a shotgun. If that’s rapid deployment, then I’m “evacuating nonessential surplus” when I pick my nose.

  • Nashvone

    What are the logistics of this? Does one poor schlep carry a shotgun for the sole purpose of protecting against drones? Do you carry these rounds loose and unload, then reload at the sight of a drone? Or do you carry some unusual double barrel shotgun with this round in one tube and standard rounds in the other?

  • Dang, son– I want me one-a them 12ga rifles what can fire accurately at 1100+ yards!

  • Jim

    Weaponized small drones have already been employed by ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria. Kurdish forces have reported that ISIS has rigged up some with explosives and used them to take out snipers, mortar teams and other high-value targets. The smaller ones are cheap enough for a single use (kamikaze) style attack. The larger ones have been rigged to drop hand grenades or IED’s and then return to their controllers. The potential use of these small drones to take out VIP’s at public appearances is very real.

    • neckbone

      I’m waiting for some Muslims in Europe to try this approach next. They have the car and semi angle down. Now just fly some grenades over a festival and drop them from the drone. Seems easy enough if you have access to the grenades. Which undoubtedly some do.

  • JimK

    Another problem with buckshots or birdshots could be from the battery. LiPo batteries are not very stable and can definitely be a problem (fire, explosion and the subsequent disposal) when shot.

  • iksnilol

    Maybe rhey want to avoid shot raining down? I dunno.

  • Nathan Alred

    OK, maybe I’m not well. But I want to see the autopsy report from the first time some prison guard mixes up “less lethal” and “drone lethal” in his 870.

  • There’s a video I saw awhile back of a quadcopter in Syria dropping a 40mm shuttlecock down the open top of a Humve. Based on the time from drop to impact, it was about 170 meters in the air…

    What is the maximum range of a 3″ BB shotgun load, or this kevlar net round?

    • Dougscamo

      70 meters is a LONG shot on a goose….but granted geese don’t hover..


    Anti drone drone’s would certainly be more effective and could double for other useful military purposes.

  • Jimbo

    So now the terrorists know all they have to do is fly above 3500 feet.

    • Doom

      It didnt say the round was limited to 3500 feet, it said the drones of that class could generally only fly as high as 3500 feet. I honestly dont see how this round is going to fire more than half a mile into the air in the first place with all that netting causing drag on it.

      • Jimbo

        You’re right. I don’t think a 3500 foot range is realistic either.

  • Colonel K

    California legal duck hunting loads?

  • Mr Evilwrench

    So, are these things available to mere mortals? I only ask because a couple of my mortal friends might be interested.

  • Pumpkin King XXIII

    Cause number 9 won’t take down a drone? I really think standard 7-9 shot would work fine and be a lot cheaper than some stupid speciality round.

  • glenn cheney