|Place of origin||Belgium|
|Used by||See Users|
|Produced||2003 - present |
|Weight||2.3 kg (5.07 lb)|
|Length||740 mm (29.1 in)|
|Barrel length||250 mm (9.8 in)|
|Caliber||18 mm (0.71 in)|
|Muzzle velocity||85 m/s (279 ft/s)|
|Effective range||70 m (77 yd)|
|Feed system||15-round detachable drum magazine|
|Sights||Front blade, rear notch|
The FN 303 is a semi-automatic less-lethal riot gun designed and manufactured by Fabrique Nationale de Herstal. The FN 303's projectiles have been specifically designed to break up on impact, reducing risks of penetrating injuries. Typical operating scenarios include domestic violence intervention, marking violent suspects and building surveillance.
The FN 303 uses compressed air to fire projectiles from a 15-round drum magazine. It is designed to incapacitate the target through blunt trauma without causing critical injuries, and is most widely used for riot control and other kinds of combat where lethal weapons should be avoided.
The 303 can be fired from the shoulder using adjustable iron sights, or it can be mounted in an under-barrel configuration on most assault rifles when its stock assembly is removed (in this configuration, it is designated M303). It also comes with a top-mounted Picatinny rail that can fit most commercial weapon accessories, such as telescopic sights, laser sights and tactical lights. FN markets its own set of accessories for the launcher, including tactical vests, slings, carrying bags, and gas compressors. It is accurate at distances up to 35 metres (38 yd).
The FN 303 is based on a proof of concept project originated by the Monterey Bay Corporation and designated the XM303 by that company. The development team consisted of designers and researchers from two paintball related design and manufacturing firms—Airgun Designs and Gun F/X Tactical Development, a division of Pro-Team Products.
The proof of concept prototype was named the UBTPS, Under Barrel Tactical Paintball System.
The design could be attached to an M16 rifle and was conceived as a less-than-lethal weapon system coupled with a lethal weapon system, providing a wide range of response capabilities that were immediately available. A stand-alone version was also developed.
The UBTPS also featured a rotating barrel magazine, allowing for a wide range of different projectiles to be available and selectable without the need to change magazines.
Monterey Bay Corporation and specifically Gun F/X Tactical Development also developed the bismuth-weighted projectile to provide the necessary mass, allowing the UTPBS to achieve the engagement range requirements.
The FN 303 fires a spherical, fin-stabilized projectile. According to FN, the fin-stabilized design provides greater accuracy than a standard paintball round. The forward half of the sphere is a non-toxic granulated bismuth shell designed to fragment on impact to prevent penetration damage. The rear half of the sphere contains one of several color-coded liquid payloads:
- Training/Impact (clear): non-toxic glycol base with no additives, used for training and when the impact sting is the preferred deterrent.
- Permanent paint (yellow): latex-based polymer paint used to mark suspects for later identification.
- Washable paint (pink): water-soluble fluorescent pink pigment in glycol base, similar to standard paintball filling, used to mark suspects short-term.
- Oleoresin capsicum (orange): glycol base mixed with 10% OC (pepper spray) at 5 million SHU, used to incapacitate targets.
In 2004 in Boston, a FN 303 round killed Victoria Snelgrove when it struck her in the eye, causing her to bleed out before medical assistance arrived. Subsequent tests by Boston Police indicated that the 303's accuracy "decreased significantly" after about three hundred firings. This is circumstantially corroborated by testimony of the officer who fired the weapon, stating that he was aiming at a rioter throwing bottles and did not even know that a bystander had been hit.
A fifteen million dollar wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Boston and FN Herstal was settled in July 2006. In 2007 the Boston Police destroyed their remaining FN303s, stating they were more powerful and lethal than had been anticipated.
During violent protests in front of the ARCELOR [former ARBED] building in Luxembourg city on May 11, 2009, the weapon was used for the first time by Luxembourg police forces. An RTL cameraman was hit in the hand, breaking one finger.
- Belgium: DSU counter-terrorism group.
- Bulgaria: In use with the Land Forces and the Military Police.
- Georgia: In service with the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Used twice—once as a defensive weapon when protesters illegally entered a police station, and once during riots in November 2007.
- Libya: Purchased 2,000 launchers in 2009.
- Luxembourg: Unité Spéciale de la Police of the Grand Ducal Police.
- Singapore: In use by the Singapore Police Coast Guard's Special Task Squadron and the Singapore Prison Service SPEAR specialist unit.
- Turkey: Çevik Kuvvet of the General Directorate of Security.
- United States: Used by the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force in the Afghanistan War and Iraq War. Also used by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Alameda County Sheriff's Office.
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- "Non-Lethal Weapon Measures of Effectiveness". Monterey Bay Corporation.
- "Boston police accept 'full responsibility' in death of Red Sox fan". CNN.com (Cable News Network LP, LLLP). 2004-10-22.
- Murphy, Shelley (2005-03-11). "Crowd-control gun's accuracy is questioned". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-10-21.
- Murphy, Shelley (2006-07-14). "Snelgrove family settles lawsuit". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-06-05.
- Shea, Paddy (2007-03-01). "BPD: Pellet guns to be destroyed". Berkeley Beacon. Retrieved 2009-06-05.[dead link]
- "ArcelorMittal: Siège am Viséier vun de Stolaarbechter". RTL.lu. 2009-05-11. Retrieved 2009-05-20.
- "Sur le terrain avec l'unité spéciale - Actu-Société - Moustique". Moustique.be. 2011-05-24. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
- Армията се въоръжи и с газови пистолети, Segabg, 30 June 2006
- "Georgia and World". Geworld.net. Archived from the original on 2010-05-26. Retrieved 2012-06-30.
- "Belgium probes arms sales to Kadhafi regime < Belgian news | Expatica Belgium". Expatica.com. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
- "Unité Spéciale de la Police Equipement - Armes non Lethales" (in French). http://USP.lu - Unofficial Website of Unité Spéciale, Officially Endorsed. 2008. Retrieved 2009-10-13.
- "RTL-Kameramann mécht Plainte géint onbekannte Polizist". RTL.lu. 2009-05-20. Retrieved 2009-05-20.
- "Singapore Police Force Annual Report 2008". Singapore Police Force. Retrieved 2013-08-09.
- "Cop yerine FN 303 | Dünya Bülteni". Dunyabulteni.net. 2011-09-15. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
- "US Customs and Border Protection Chooses the FN303 Less Lethal System to Maintain Border Security - Air Force Technology". Airforce-Technology.com. Archived from the original on 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2012-06-30.
- "The Daily Californian - Berkeley's Newspaper". Dailycal.org. 2011-09-16. Retrieved 2012-06-30.
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