FN 303

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FN 303
A FN 303 anti-riot gun.
TypeRiot gun
Place of originBelgium
Service history
Used bySee Users
WarsAfghanistan War[1]
Iraq War[1]
Libyan Revolution[2]
2013 Lahad Datu standoff
Production history
ManufacturerFN Herstal
Mass2.3 kg (5.07 lb)
Length740 mm (29.1 in)
Barrel length250 mm (9.8 in)

Caliber17.3 mm (0.68 in)
ActionCompressed air
Muzzle velocity85 m/s (279 ft/s)
Effective firing range70 m (77 yd)
Feed system15-round detachable drum magazine
SightsFront 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 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).

FN also produce a pistol variant, the FN 303-P, in the same caliber, using a seven-round magazine with a self-contained gas cartridge.[4]


The FN 303 is based on a project by the Monterey Bay Corporation designated the XM303. The development team consisted of designers and researchers from two paintball related design and manufacturing firms, including Airgun Designs. The prototype was named the UBTPS, Under Barrel Tactical Paintball System.[5]

The design could be attached to an M16 rifle[6] 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.

Also developed was a 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.

The mass of the projectile is 8.5 g (131 gr), providing a muzzle energy of 31 J (23 ft⋅lb).


In October 2004, in Boston, Massachusetts, Victoria Snelgrove was struck in the eye by an FN 303 round fired by a member of the Boston Police Department (BPD), leading to her death approximately 12 hours later.[7] An autopsy found that the pellet opened a three-quarter-inch (1.9 cm) hole in the bone behind the eye, broke into nine pieces, and damaged the right side of her brain.[8] Subsequent tests by the BPD indicated that the FN 303's accuracy "decreased significantly" after about 300 firings.[9] 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 know that a bystander had been hit.[10] A $15 million wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Boston and FN Herstal was settled in July 2006.[11] In 2007, the BPD destroyed their remaining FN 303s, stating they were more powerful and lethal than had been anticipated.[12]

During protests in front of the Arcelor building in Luxembourg city on 11 May 2009, the weapon was used for the first time by local police. An RTL cameraman was hit in the hand, breaking one finger.[13]

On 2 June 2013, during Gezi Park protests in Ankara, Turkey, a protester was wounded in the face by a "plastic bullet", later attributed to police use of the FN 303.[14]

During Independence Day demonstrations in Finland on 6 December 2015, police used FN 303 against counter-protesters, with one receiving eye injuries from projectile fragments.[15][16][17][18]

A 2019 study found that the performance of the FN 303 was significantly worse outside of a laboratory setting. Operational conditions were simulated by inducing physiological and psychological stress, and measuring salivary cortisol; accuracy and reported ease of use were both lower than that of the control group.[19]


A map with FN 303 users in blue


  1. ^ a b c "Peacekeeping and Policing". Special-operations-technology.com. Archived from the original on 2012-02-29. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
  2. ^ "Des images démontreraient la présence d'armes FN d'Herstal". Lalibre.be. 2011-02-22. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
  3. ^ "Major Product Achievements". Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2010-06-24.
  4. ^ "FN 303®-P". FN. Retrieved 2020-06-15.
  5. ^ "U.T.P.B.S Under Barrel Tactical Paintball System". Gun F/X. Archived from the original on 2012-02-18. Retrieved 2012-06-30.
  6. ^ "Non-Lethal Weapon Measures of Effectiveness". Monterey Bay Corporation. Archived from the original on 2009-11-10.
  7. ^ "Commission Investigating the Death of Victoria Snelgrove" (PDF). cityofboston.gov. May 25, 2005. p. 14. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 10, 2011. Retrieved April 25, 2009 – via Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ Slack, Donovan; Smalley, Suzanne (September 21, 2005). "In Snelgrove files, officers recount night of chaos". The Boston Globe. p. 1. Retrieved March 15, 2020 – via newspapers.com.
  9. ^ Murphy, Shelley (March 11, 2005). "Crowd-control gun's accuracy is questioned". The Boston Globe. p. 17. Retrieved March 15, 2020 – via newspapers.com.
  10. ^ Murphy, Shelley (March 11, 2005). "Crowd-control gun's accuracy questioned (cont'd)". The Boston Globe. p. 19. Retrieved March 15, 2020 – via newspapers.com.
  11. ^ Murphy, Shelley (2006-07-14). "Snelgrove family settles lawsuit". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-06-05.
  12. ^ Shea, Paddy (2007-03-01). "BPD: Pellet guns to be destroyed". Berkeley Beacon. Archived from the original on August 22, 2007. Retrieved 2009-06-05.
  13. ^ "ArcelorMittal: Siège am Viséier vun de Stolaarbechter". RTL.lu. 2009-05-11. Archived from the original on 2009-05-15. Retrieved 2009-05-20.
  14. ^ "Emniyet: FN 303 kullandık" (in Turkish). Hurriyet.com.tr. 2015-01-10. Retrieved 2015-01-10. Police Forces: We used FN 303
  15. ^ "Luodista silmäänsä saanut: "Aivan varmasti osallistun seuraavaankin mielenosoitukseen"". Kansan Uutiset. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  16. ^ "Video: Poliisi käytti anarkisteja vastaan paineilma-asetta – tällainen on FN 303". Iltasanomat (in Finnish). 6 December 2015. Archived from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  17. ^ "Poliisi epäilee yli 30 ihmistä rikoksista itsenäisyyspäivän mielenosoituksissa – kaikki kiinniotetut vapautettu". 6 December 2015.
  18. ^ "Poliisi ampunut mielenosoittajia paineilma-aseella – yli 130 otettu kiinni". 6 December 2015.
  19. ^ Taverniers, John; Suss, Joel (2019-09-02). "A user-centred assessment of a less-lethal launcher: the case of the FN 303® in a high-pressure setting". Ergonomics. 62 (9): 1162–1174. doi:10.1080/00140139.2019.1626916. ISSN 0014-0139. PMID 31151364. S2CID 172137056.
  20. ^ "Sur le terrain avec l'unité spéciale - Actu-Société - Moustique". Moustique.be. 2011-05-24. Archived from the original on 2011-08-14. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
  21. ^ "FN 303-wapens zijn uitbreiding van arsenaal" (in Dutch). gva.be Politiezone Minos. 2015-08-17. Retrieved 2015-11-11.
  22. ^ Армията се въоръжи и с газови пистолети Archived 2006-07-17 at the Wayback Machine, Segabg, 30 June 2006
  23. ^ "Georgia and World". Geworld.net. Archived from the original on 2010-05-26. Retrieved 2012-06-30.
  24. ^ "Four years of antifascist mobilisations – what have we learned from the Independence Day demonstrations of 2015-2018?". 2019-11-23. Retrieved 2019-12-06.
  25. ^ "Belgium probes arms sales to Kadhafi regime < Belgian news | Expatica Belgium". Expatica.com. Archived from the original on 2012-07-05. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
  26. ^ "Unité Spéciale de la Police Equipement - Armes non Lethales" (in French). usp.lu - Unofficial Website of Unité Spéciale, Officially Endorsed. 2008. Archived from the original on 2012-02-27. Retrieved 2009-10-13.
  27. ^ "RTL-Kameramann mécht Plainte géint onbekannte Polizist". RTL.lu. 2009-05-20. Archived from the original on 2009-05-22. Retrieved 2009-05-20.
  28. ^ "Dit is het wapen waarmee Gelderland de wolf mag afschrikken: 'Die projectielen komen echt wel aan'" (in Dutch). Retrieved 2024-01-24.
  29. ^ "About – Sodarca Defense" (in European Portuguese). Retrieved 2022-09-04.
  30. ^ "Singapore Police Force Annual Report 2008". Singapore Police Force. Archived from the original on 2009-04-13. Retrieved 2013-08-09.
  31. ^ "2021_10 | Reports | Mob Data Thailand". blog.mobdatathailand.org. Retrieved 2022-05-18.
  32. ^ "ชาวแฟลตดินแดงร้องผู้ชุมนุมงดเสียงดังหลังเคอร์ฟิวส์ คนแก่-เด็กอ่อนได้ผลกระทบ ยันไม่ใช่ 'สลิ่ม'". prachatai.com (in Thai). Retrieved 2022-05-18.
  33. ^ "Cop yerine FN 303 | Dünya Bülteni". Dunyabulteni.net. 2011-09-15. Archived from the original on 2012-08-01. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
  34. ^ "The Daily Californian - Berkeley's Newspaper". Dailycal.org. 2011-09-16. Retrieved 2012-06-30.
  35. ^ "Portland Police Under Scrutiny For Dangerous Crowd Control Munitions". opb. Retrieved 2021-03-17.

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