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Yes, the Marines are developing electroshock bullets

Lance Cpl. Jared P. Baker looks through the optical of the Carl Gustav rocket system during live fire training at Range 7 aboard Camp Hansen, Oct. 25, 2017. (Sgt. Aaron S. Patterson/U.S. Marine Corps)
September 12, 2018

The U.S. Marines have been trying to develop a bullet that acts like a taser, penetrating with an electric shock and firing a non-lethal shot from a standard small arm, like 9-millimeter pistols, 12-gauge shotguns, and 40-millimeter grenade launchers.

The Marines are hoping to perfect a wireless human electro-muscular incapacitation (HEMI) round with a range of at least 100 meters (328 feet), with the ability to incapacitate a target for at least 30 seconds, and ideally more than three minutes, The National Interest reported.

The U.S. military has been working on this project for 12 years, but have not yet been successful. The bullet must be able to penetrate cloth and leather, but attach itself to the human body.

If successful, it would send an electrical shock of around 50 Coulombs, compared to approximately 100 Coulombs for commercial incapacitating devices.

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It would also operate from a very small battery that would fit inside a bullet-sized munition.

The U.S. military currently uses regular X-26 Tasers, which debilitate targets using two wired electrode darts that transmit a jolt. However, the device limits an accurate shot to less than 25-feet and only takes the target down for five seconds.

The new device would have a minimum safe distance of at least 16-feet, with a speed slow enough to avoid harming the target.

The bullet must also cost less than $1,000 per round.

The eventual goal would be for “the joint services, civilian law enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Department of Justice, the Secret Service, and Customs and Border Protection” to employ the device.

The Marines said: “At least four previous DoD-sponsored SBIR [Small Business Innovation Research] efforts have been initiated on this technology area, with the previous efforts being funded by both the Army and the Navy and were coming to completion over 12 years ago. Each of these previous SBIR topics added to the knowledge-base for this technical challenge but none led to the development of an effective HEMI munition that met the JNLWP [Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program] capability gap.”

The task of designing and perfecting such a device is not easy.

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A standard police taser incapacitates for just five seconds and has had a series of accidents resulting in death.

The Marines are working on a much more complex design that would incapacitate for more than three minutes, but only stun and not kill, with the capability of penetrating body armor, and traveling more than 300 yards.