FN America FN 303 Non-Lethal Weapon System

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POSTED:  July 31, 2017

By:  Scott E. Armistead

Many law enforcement and military threat encounter situations are handled best using an escalation of force (EoF) protocol.  EoF protocols provide for everything from subduing individuals at close quarters to maintaining order in large crowds to eventual use of lethal force to control the surrounding environment in the protection of personnel and critical resources.

EoF non-lethal effects (NLE), or EoF-NLE, include a variety of techniques ranging from Mechanical Advantage Control Holds, or MACH (the use of movement, body positioning, and leverage to maintain control of a non-compliant individual in close-quarters combat [CQC]), to non-lethal weapon (NLW) systems such as oleoresin capsicum (OC) sprays, long-range acoustic hailing devices, Active Denial Systems (ADS), and even stun grenades that can provide effects at significant ranges.

An example of a ranged NLW system is the FN America’s FN 303 Launcher.  The system is similar in configuration to standard small arms individual weapon systems such as police or military shotguns when loaded with non-lethal rounds, except that it is pneumatically powered by air and keeps impact forces low enough to be used at fairly close ranges while maintaining accuracy and the desired non-lethal effects at longer ranges.  Similar to other non-lethal projectile weapons, the FN 300 can be expected to cause penetrations at very close ranges (~2.5 inches of ballistic gelatin at 15 feet) [1].

The FN 303 is constructed from durable lightweight polymer and includes standard flip-up iron sights as well as an integrated MIL-STD 1913 (Picatinny) top mounting rail for attachment of optical or electronic sights and other accessories.

The lightweight polymer rotary magazines can be quickly changed and hold 15 projectiles.  They have a transparent rear cover to allow easy determination of the types of projectiles loaded and the number remaining.  Projectiles can be used in mixed loads to provide a variety of effects (impact/stun, irritant, and marking).  Multiple magazines with a variety of loads can be carried so that the shooter can be prepared for different situations.

A fully charged air bottle provides around 100 shots with a muzzle exit velocity of approximately 300 fps, which remains constant throughout the life of the air bottle charge.  Accuracy at range is approximately 3-inch groupings at 25 yards and 5-inch groupings at 50 yards.  The projectiles can also be easily seen during flight, allowing the shooter to quickly adjust aim and “walk” projectiles onto a target.  The air bottle can be easily and quickly changed out in the field and can even be recharged from SCUBA or similar oxygen bottles.

The projectiles are made from a polystyrene body with a transparent forward cover.  The payload is made from a non-toxic bismuth pelletized material.  The projectiles break apart upon impact, which helps to risk of penetration injuries and any collateral damage.

A seven-shot side arm configuration, the FN 303 -P, with an effective range of 25 m is also available.

Launcher Specifications [2]

  • Caliber:  .68
  • Operation:  Compressed air at 3000 PSI
  • Mag Capacity:  15 projectiles
  • Weight:  5.0 lb (approximately 8 lb with air bottle and full magazine)
  • Barrel Length:  10″
  • Overall Length:  29″

Projectile Specifications [3]

  • Caliber:  .68 caliber
  • Weight:  8.5 g
  • Construction:  Fin-stabilized polystyrene body
  • Forward Payload:  Non-toxic bismuth
  • Rear Payload:  Color-coded, varies by payload type
  • Effective Range:  50 m (with FN 303 launcher)
  • Maximum Range:  100 m (with FN 303 launcher)

Related Links

1. FN 303 Less Lethal Launcher (2012). Small Arms Defense Journal. Retrieved from http://www.sadefensejournal.com/wp/?p=1313&page=2.
2. FN America, LLC.. (2017, July 29). FN 303. Retrieved from https://fnamerica.com/products/less-lethal/fn-303-launcher.
3. FN America, LLC. (2017, July 29). Projectiles. Retrieved from https://fnamerica.com/products/less-lethal/projectiles/?referrer=law-enforcement.

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