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SDI 40mm Blunt Impact Projectile

Written by Tactical Response Staff

SecurityDevices International has recently introduced an entire line of less-lethal impact munitions. The flagship is the 40mm Blunt Impact Projectile, BIP. Unique among impact munitions, the BIP is designed with a collapsible and expanding head. The gel head is mechanically leveraged to collapse on impact.

The projectile itself is made up of a number of parts: thin Styrofoam cap, thick collapsible gel head, an expander plate on top of a rod mounted piston, and a main body. The main body houses the piston and provides a ramp surface to leverage the expander plate open. The main body also contains a single driving band, which engages the rifling in the 40mm barrel.

The Styrofoam cap simply covers the soft gel head. Except for being sticky, the gel head is solid and holds its own thick disc shape. It is not jello. It is not ballistic gelatin. It is more like silicon RTV. On impact, the Styrofoam cap fractures. The gel head pushes back against the cone-shaped expander plate. This plate pushes against the main body. As it does, the plate fans out to a larger diameter. The pliable, soft gel head and the expander plate expand on impact.

The diameter of the maximum expansion varies by the density of the object hit. Impact diameters of 2 inches were common during our testing. This is comparable to the best impact munitions and clearly better than many.

 

Complicated Design

With such a complicated design and so many parts, the Murphy-oriented, tactical-minded officer must be asking, What if it doesn’t expand? What if the energy-absorbing expander plate doesn’t fan open? What if it hits and remains a solid—not a collapsible—projectile?

That didn’t happen during any of the 16 rounds we tested. However, the unintended injury potential of any projectile is determined by the impact energy and the impact diameter. The BIP projectile has a muzzle velocity of 285 fps and a weight of 1.7 ounces (48 grams). Other 40mm impact projectiles weigh between 1.1 and 2.1 ounces with muzzle velocities between 325 fps and 260 fps, respectively.

The BIP has an impact energy of 135 ft-lbs compared to other 40 mm impact projectiles with energy levels between 115 and 139 ft-lbs. All these force numbers (energy spread over surface area) simply mean the BIP is comparable to the other impact munitions, some of which expand much less than the BIP on impact.

This answers two questions on effectiveness. Does it have enough energy to be a credible less-lethal impact projectile? Yes. Does it have too much energy and present a risk of unintended injury? No.

 

Effective Range

The amount of downrange impact energy does not determine the effective maximum range of an impact projectile. Accuracy does. It does not matter how much retained energy the projectile has, i.e., if it has enough to do the job. The maximum effective range of the projectile is the ability to stay inside a circle with the neck at the top and groin at the bottom. That diameter will also allow total misses on either side of most body shapes, but it won’t be a no-strike impact. Thus, the belly button aiming spot for most impact weapons for longer range shots.

The BIP is among the most accurate, if not the most accurate, 40 mm impact projectiles we have tested. The test launcher was a Penn Arms PGL-65 Multi-Launcher with an EOTech holographic weapon sight. The best of the 40 mm impact projectiles group into a 3-shot, 2-inch cloverleaf from 20 yards.

Many makes of 40 mm impact projectiles produce 8- to 12-inch groups from 20 yards. The BIP also produced a 3-shot overlapping group. As the old square beanbag projectiles of the past clearly proved, an impact projectile with poor or unpredictable accuracy has no place in the less-lethal toolbox. The BIP, however, is as accurate as the best.

 

Effective Operating Range

The BIP has a published maximum range of 87 yards. Check the accuracy of the projectile from your particular launchers to verify both the accuracy AND the projectile drop. Projectile drop at longer ranges is actually more important than bullet drop from a sniper rifle. Yes, put the projectile dope on the stock of your launchers.

The BIP has a published minimum, safe, stand-off range of 9.6 feet, a little over 3 yards. Two other popular 40 mm sponge/foam impact munitions have published minimum engagement ranges as short as 5 feet, while one has a minimum of 30 feet. The shorter the minimum range, the more the tactical flexibility. The longer the minimum engagement distance, the fewer the tactical options. Law enforcement is more about the nearest minimum distance while the military is more about the farthest maximum distance.

 

Human Effects Testing

The SDI BIP projectile underwent third-party human effects testing conducted byCritical Research & Training, CRT. CRT Less Lethal conducted some standard gelatin testing. The diameter of the entry wound and the depth of the wound profile for the BIP was similar to other 40mm sponge/foam impact munitions.

Of more interest, CRT also performed impact tests of the thigh of six human volunteers. The wound progression was followed for 72 hours, documented by photography and ultrasound imaging. A popular 40 mm sponge/foam round was used as a control-benchmark. The BIP produced the expected bruising, consistent with other 40mm impact munitions. The CRT test results are available from SDI.

The BIP is so good, especially at extended ranges, that Chemring Ordnance has partnered with SDI to supply the BIP to the military. Chemring is a major government supplier of 40 mm High Energy (HE) rounds. They were looking for a less-lethal munition to complete their line of 40 mm ammo. The BIP was the answer.

 

Family of Projectiles

The BIP is the first projectile in the SDI family of impact munitions. Released in early-2014, all of the payload projectiles use basically the same collapsible head construction. The BIP MP™ is a powder-based marking round, where colored powder temporarily marks a target on impact. The BIP ML™ is a liquid-based, marking round, where colored dye semi-permanently marks the target upon impact.

BIP OC™ is a liquid pepper spray (Oleoresin Capsicum)-based impact round. The liquid OC is designed to dissipate over a smaller area than, for example, powered OC so as to not affect as many bystanders. BIP MO™ is a round that marks the subject with an extremely noxious and repulsive odor. Finally, BIP TR™ is a lower cost training and practice round that simulates the ballistics of the original BIP round. This is intended for cost-effective training and in-service qualification.

 

40mm Wireless

Also under development from SDI is a 40 mm Wireless Electric Projectile, WEP. This uses Lektrox™ wireless Electro-Muscular Disruption Technology, W-EMDT. The 40mm launched WEP is both an expanding head impact munition and a conductive energy device (neuro-muscular incapacitation). The fin-stabilized WEP has a range of 50 yards. On impact, four mini-harpoons deploy and a high-voltage, low-amperage pulse is released.

The early development of the SDI WEP involved projectiles for the 12-gauge shotgun, 37 mm smoothbore launcher and 40 mm rifled launcher. The current plans are for a 40 mm WEP only, no 12-gauge, no 37 mm. As an aside, the Taser XREP (extended-range electronic projectile) is no longer in production. Made in the late-2000s, the XREP was fired from a 12-gauge shotgun.

The BIP has a MSRP of between $27 and $30 each, depending on order volume. Of course, the MSRP may not be the bid price. That said, the $27 price is comparable with other 40 mm sponge, foam and soft rubber impact projectiles. At this point in time, SDI does not have any plans for a BIP designed for a smoothbore 37 mm launcher, or a 12-gauge shotgun.

Bottom line? The BIP is a complex design that seems to work well. It worked in our Tactical Response testing. It worked in testing conducted by Critical Research and Training (CRT Less-Lethal). The complicated design expands in both gelatin and human effects testing. The energy level is right.

The minimum engagement distance of the BIP is not as close as some other 40 mm impact projectiles. However, the accuracy is better than most, and the projectile is priced with the competition. The BIP projectiles are made in the USA (Boston) by an SDI subcontractor specifically to the SDI design. SDI has offices in Washington, D.C. and Ontario, Canada. The BIP is worth a closer look.


Published in Tactical Response, Mar/Apr 2014

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Chemring OrdnanceCritical Research & Training (CRT)SDISecurity Devices International
 

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Conductive Energy Weapon (CEW)Impact ProjectilesLess-Lethal Impact MunitionsOC pepper sprayOC SprayOleoresin CapsicumOleoresin Capsicum SpraySDI Blunt Impact Projectile (BIP)
 
 
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