ALS Technologies recently introduced a couple of new problem-solving less-lethal loads for the 37/38mm gas gun and the 12-gauge shotgun. And more less-lethal loads are on the way.
Of interest in the 37/38mm (and also 40mm) line is the Interlocking Rubber Baton load. Unlike the multiple wood loads, which must be skip-fired, the Interlocking Rubber Baton is a direct-fire impact munition. The round was designed for both single-target and multiple-target engagement. The 37mm Interlocking Rubber Baton projectile will fire from any 37/38mm smoothbore gas gun. The 40mm version is designed for the M203 launcher. The projectiles, muzzle energies and effective range from both 37/38mm and 40mm are virtually identical.
Skip-fire projectiles, both wood and hard-durometer rubber projectiles, can be thwarted by soft grass, mud, snow, gravel, pools of water and other debris and obstructions on the ground. Yes, some SWAT operators have successfully used multiple wood loads in direct-fire applications. They shouldn’t. They have simply beaten the less-lethal liability odds. Less-lethal munitions, and their use policies, are coming under increased scrutiny. Use a less-lethal munition or device wrongly today, and the whole world knows about it tomorrow.
The tactical need is for heavy, multiple projectiles for direct-fire applications that meet the low likely injury standards of less-lethal munitions. That is where the ALS Interlocking Rubber Baton comes in.
Like most of ALS Technologies’ less-lethal munitions, its #3705 multiple rubber baton projectile was developed for the Marine Corps. The projectile fires three, 324-grain (21-gram) rubber batons. Each rubber projectile is about half the weight of a single 40mm foam-sponge projectile, depending on make of the 40mm load. No marshmallow, these rubber batons also weigh the same as the wood baton from the skip-fire-only, Multi-Wood Baton projectile.
The projectiles are cylinder shaped with a slide bullet nose and a slight hollow base. Of course, one projectile nests inside the other. ALS interlocks the batons for tighter patterns at longer distances with fewer fliers. The three interlocking batons are pushed by a plastic gas seal cup and held in place by a thick paper top cap.
The rubber used in the projectiles is 35 durometer. This is similar to the rubber (or foam) used in the 40mm direct-fire projectiles, which have a durometer measurement between 30 and 45, depending on make. The 35-durometer rubber used in the Interlocking Rubber Baton projectiles is a little stiffer than the foam in a wrestling mat.
The projectiles from the Interlocking Baton are exactly the kind of impact munition you want to show a jury. They are soft and squishy and are more like the Nerf objects people squeeze in their hands to relieve stress than a police riot-control and compliance munition.
The Interlocking Rubber Baton has a muzzle velocity of 325 fps. That means each projectile has about 76 ft-lbs of energy. In comparison, the typical 40mm “sponge” round weighs between 1.1 and 2.1 ounces and has a muzzle energy between 115 and 139 ft-lbs. The 12-gauge beanbag typically has 125 ft-lbs of energy. However, each projectile is well over the 12 to 25 ft-lb produced by paintball-like, less-lethal projectiles.
The recommended effective range of the Interlocking Rubber Baton is from 7 yards to 20 yards. In most tactical callouts, that means this is more of an outdoor load, a crowd dispersal load, than a hasty assault or entry team load. The distance of 7 yards may be the length of a room, but is more commonly the length of a car, or distance from lawn to porch…pretty common standoff distance in law enforcement. At ranges closer than 7 yards, ALS recommends that the Interlocking Rubber Baton be skip-fired.
The maximum recommended range is based more on retained projectile energy (impact effectiveness) than on amount of dispersion. As a multiple target engagement load, some amount of dispersion is a good thing. The rubber baton minimum engagement distance of 7 yards is half that of the 15-yards minimum for wood batons.
We tested the 37/38mm load at both extremes of recommended range, 7 yards and 20 yards, to get an idea of the baton dispersion. We used a single shot, Model 1315 Full Stock 37mm Gas Gun made by Defense Technology.
Even though the batons are interlocked, the batons impact separately even when fired as close as 10 feet. Heads up, as 10 feet is too close, according to ALS Technologies. However, as time and distances become distorted under stress, it is nice to know that these projectiles impact with individual energy, not collective energy, at half of the recommended distance.
At 7 yards, the three batons generally impacted into 6- to 9-inch groups. They separated perfectly and impacted in a 3-point triangle well inside the 8-ring of a B-27 target. At 20 yards, the three batons produced 36- to 48-inch groups, again, in a triangular impact. And again, even at 20 yards, the center of the point of impact was the point of aim...no drop, no drift, no fliers.
Based on our tests with our 37mm launcher, the Interlocking Rubber Baton is a single target, direct-fire munition at ranges from 7 yards (ALS minimum) to 15 yards. At 15 yards, the three batons spread out into 12- to 24-inch groups. The B-27 silhouette is 21 inches wide. It is a multiple target munition from 15 yards to 20 yards (ALS maximum). Of course, skip-fired at ranges closer than 7 yards, the munition is also a multiple-target load.
Like any less-lethal impact munition, when properly used, the impact may result in cuts, broken ribs and bruises. Medical attention is always recommended after a less-lethal munitions impact, even if no physical injuries are visible.
The Interlocking Rubber Baton has an emphatic but definitely safe impact. It has less energy than the 12-gauge beanbag and many times the surface impact area. We like the 37mm Interlocking Rubber Baton…a lot.
Other important 37/38mm and 40mm impact munitions from ALS Technologies include two different beanbags. One beanbag is the Power Punch flat bag, while the other is the tail-stabilized Pen-Prevent sock. Other ALS impact munitions include the multiple wood baton; the .32, .45 and .60 caliber rubber balls, the full caliber rubber ball and the 40mm REACT Impact round.
Rocket OC Projectile
Newly released in the 12-gauge line is the ALS Rocket Fin-Stabilized OC Projectile and the Barricade Fin-Stabilized OC&CS Projectile. It is basically a hollow and deep chamber filled with powder held in place by a top cap. The cap has a spherical base to assist the circular dispersion of the agent. The Rocket carries a 2-gram payload of Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) powder, while the Barricade is available in either OC or CS (chemical agent). That 2 grams is about the same payload as a paintball-type impact munition.
The Rocket OC Projectile is specifically designed to be direct-fired! The minimum range is 12 yards against heavily clothed people and 15 yards against lightly clothed people. The maximum effective range is 25 yards.
The Rocket OC Projectile is made from 60-durometer rubber, a very soft and pliable rubber. Again, there is no fear of passing this housing around the jury. The projectile weighs 125 grains and has a muzzle velocity of 475 fps. That muzzle energy of 63 ft-lbs is many times the various paintball-like muntions and about half of most 12-gauge beanbags. OC payload or not, the ALS Rocket has the impact energy to get the suspect’s attention.
The real success, of course, comes from the combination of a genuine impact munition causing pain and the follow-up effect of the OC powder causing irritation and another form of discomfort. Expect the OC to cause tearing and burning sensation in the eyes, involuntary closing of the eyes, coughing, shortness of breath and irritation of skin. All of that is in addition to the scrapes and bruises from the direct impact of the projectile. This munition takes fin-stabilized, rubber impact munitions to a whole new level.
Barricade OC & CS Projectile
The Barricade Projectile is also a fin-stabilized rubber projectile with a 2-gram payload of either OC irritant powder or CS chemical agent. The Barricade Projectile uses an 80-durometer projectile, which is the same hardness as the solid rubber, skip-fired, fin-stabilized batons. With its harder housing, it was designed to fire through drywall, plywood, glass or hollow core doors. The projectile punches through these barriers and introduces the OC or CS on the far side after rupturing.
Important is that this 125-grain Barricade Projectile at 925 fps has 240 ft-lbs of energy, which is twice the energy of a 12-gauge beanbag. This Barricade Projectile is not supposed to be direct-fired at a person! The effective range, for use against barricades and barriers, is 2 yards to 25 yards.
Both the 12-gauge Rocket OC Projectile and the 12-gauge Barricade OC & CS Projectile require the use of a cylinder-bore shotgun. A heavily choked shotgun may rupture the payload chamber as the projectile passes through the choke. We fired the Rocket OC Projectile at both the minimum (12 yards) and maximum (25 yards). We used three different shotguns: a 14-inch entry gun and both 18-inch and 20-inch riot guns.
From 12 yards, the Rocket grouped five projectiles between 4 and 5 inches from the three different shotguns. The point of impact was the point of aim from all three shotguns. From 25 yards, the Rocket produced 9- to 12-inch groups with the center of the groups just 3 inches below point of aim...a pretty flat trajectory. In other words, a center-hold from 25 yards produced all impacts inside the B-27 8-ring.
ALS makes more than a dozen less-lethal loads for the 12-gauge with effective impact engagement distances as close as 2 yards and as far as 45 yards. This includes six kinds of beanbags and four kinds of fin-stabilized batons. The company also makes specialty loads such as door-breaching cartridges, OC and CS muzzle blast loads, two kinds of bangs and loads with rubber and lead buckshot.
After a very intensive period of growth, ALS Technologies Inc. has implemented several management changes. David Maddon, Capt. USN Ret., has been named as the chief operating officer of the company. Maddon was formerly in charge of government acquisitions at ALS. He brings a successful and long-term background from the U.S. Navy in command and control, logistics and procurement. Mike Aultman has been promoted from director of training to general manager. Aultman will oversee day-to-day operations of the company including domestic sales, training and production.
Mike’s background covers 15 years in law enforcement and 12 in SWAT. ALS is a full line manufacturer of less-lethal munitions as well as a Munitions & Equipment Consolidation Service for agencies within the United States government and some of the largest PMC’s in the world.
ALS is a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business as classified by Executive Order. For more information, visit www.ALSTechnologies.com.