Executives with a Boise-based company are poised to begin marketing a new type of ammunition specifically for law enforcement teams and designed to avoid causing serious or fatal injuries to their targets and bystanders.
The technology was created at Integrity Ballistics LLC, a company that has spent more than 10 developing and testing a round that resembles a shotgun shell. The round fires a synthetic ball that flattens upon impact and is intended to stun or subdue the target and the plan is to make it available only to law enforcement.
The idea for the product emerged in the months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks when Integrity founder Joe Kolnik started brainstorming about ways to help federal air marshals assigned to protect planes. The goal was to develop a type of ammunition that would not cause fatal injuries to innocent bystanders or pierce the skin of a plane, yet be powerful enough to stop a potential hijacker.
What emerged is the company's Burns Round, named after Kolnik's cousin, U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Kyle Burns, who died in action in Iraq in 2004, the Idaho Business Review reported in story published last week (http://bit.ly/WuZ0B8).
The product the company hopes to begin marketing in early 2013 looks like an orange shotgun shell and is made up of three proprietary components: a pliable dark gray ball, orange plastic that encases the ball and a base filled with propellant.
Fired out of a 12-gauge shotgun, the ball — made of soft polymer composite — flattens like a pancake on impact and stuns and bruises a human target. The ammo is being marketed as a tool for law enforcement officers that can be used to defuse standoffs, crowd control or other scenarios in which law enforcement may need to gain the upper hand.
"It will be a lot safer for the officer and for the person being shot," said Jim Greer, the CEO who joined the company in 2008. "What our products are going to do is stop and defuse threats."
Greer said the company obtained a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives earlier this year, clearing the path to manufacture the round.
The company describes the ammo as "less-lethal" and "less-than-lethal" on its website. According to the Small Arms Survey, an independent university research project located in Geneva, Switzerland, these two terms are all used to describe law enforcement ammunition such as rubber bullets and bean bags.
During the testing phase, Integrity's partners fired the Burns Round repeatedly at indoor gun ranges and targets on land administered by the federal Bureau of Land Management. They also sent the ammo to Wayne State University in Detroit for more rigorous trials.
Integrity's website displays two results from the university's Ballistics Impact Research Lab that show the Burns Round causes less penetration and soft tissue damage than sock rounds.
About 450 companies in 52 countries make less-lethal or less-than-lethal weapons, according to the Small Arms Survey. Many of the firms provide both ammunition and "launchers." Integrity Ballistics concentrates on ammo alone.
The company will begin marketing its product to law enforcement agencies, bounty hunters and the prison industry in January.