When nauseating substances hit the fan, as it most often happens in civil riots and similar manifestations, LE forces have to count on whatever equipment items that may help them to deal with the very complicated process of applying progressive use of force, or the so-called proportional response. The use of lethal force, of course, is the last desirable resort, and something must be available to fill the gap between a conventional police baton and a firearm. Enter the less-lethal systems.
For a decade or so, law enforcement units, special units, and military forces in five continents have been using the FN 303 Less-Lethal Launcher from FN Herstal, Belgium. It’s a pretty interesting system designed around an 18mm caliber impact projectile combined with a dedicated shoulder-fired or compact (add-on) launcher that uses a compressed-air cylinder as a power source for its semi-automatic operation. The dedicated ammo is stored in a 15-round drum magazine, available projectiles being of five types: impact glycol or inert powder (delivers a sufficiently dissuasive level of pain to temporarily disable targets), impact + washable marking paint, impact + indelible paint, impact + irritating effect (OC – oleoresin capsicum type). Whatever projectile is chosen, the flight trajectory is very constant and allows good precision at ranges up to 50 meters, approximately. Muzzle velocity is given as about 90 m/s. The launcher looks like a small carbine, being 750mm long (250mm barrel) and weighs 2.9kg with a loaded magazine.