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
Produced2003 - present [3]
Weight2.3 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'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.[4]


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 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 2004, in Boston, Massachusetts Victoria Snelgrove was struck in the eye by an FN 303 round, causing her to die from blood loss before medical assistance could arrive.[7] 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 know that a bystander had been hit.[8] A 15 million USD wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Boston and FN Herstal was settled in July 2006.[9] In 2007 the Boston Police destroyed their remaining FN303s, stating they were more powerful and lethal than had been anticipated.[10]

During violent 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.[11]

During Independence day riots in Finland on 6 December 2015, police used FN 303 against rioters, who were participating in a protest against the Independence Day celebrations. One anarchist was injured in the eye from bismuth shells.[12][13][14][15]



  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. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2010-06-24.
  4. ^ "Full Range of FN Weapons, Ammunition and Integrated Weapon Systems Displayed at DSEi 2005". Airforce Technology. Retrieved 2012-02-16.[unreliable source?]
  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. ^ "Boston police accept 'full responsibility' in death of Red Sox fan". CNN.com. Cable News Network LP, LLLP. 2004-10-22.
  8. ^ Murphy, Shelley (2005-03-11). "Crowd-control gun's accuracy is questioned". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-10-21.
  9. ^ Murphy, Shelley (2006-07-14). "Snelgrove family settles lawsuit". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-06-05.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "ArcelorMittal: Siège am Viséier vun de Stolaarbechter". RTL.lu. 2009-05-11. Archived from the original on 2009-05-15. Retrieved 2009-05-20.
  13. ^ "Video: Poliisi käytti anarkisteja vastaan paineilma-asetta – tällainen on FN 303". Iltasanomat (in Finnish). 6 December 2015. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  14. ^ "Poliisi epäilee yli 30 ihmistä rikoksista itsenäisyyspäivän mielenosoituksissa – kaikki kiinniotetut vapautettu". 6 December 2015.
  15. ^ "Poliisi ampunut mielenosoittajia paineilma-aseella – yli 130 otettu kiinni".
  16. ^ "Sur le terrain avec l'unité spéciale - Actu-Société - Moustique". Moustique.be. 2011-05-24. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
  17. ^ "FN 303-wapens zijn uitbreiding van arsenaal" (in Dutch). gva.be. 2015-08-17. Retrieved 2015-11-11.
  18. ^ Армията се въоръжи и с газови пистолети Archived 2006-07-17 at the Wayback Machine., Segabg, 30 June 2006
  19. ^ "Georgia and World". Geworld.net. Archived from the original on 2010-05-26. Retrieved 2012-06-30.
  20. ^ "Belgium probes arms sales to Kadhafi regime < Belgian news | Expatica Belgium". Expatica.com. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
  21. ^ "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 2012-05-06. Retrieved 2009-10-13.
  22. ^ "RTL-Kameramann mécht Plainte géint onbekannte Polizist". RTL.lu. 2009-05-20. Archived from the original on 2009-05-22. Retrieved 2009-05-20.
  23. ^ "Singapore Police Force Annual Report 2008". Singapore Police Force. Retrieved 2013-08-09.
  24. ^ "Cop yerine FN 303 | Dünya Bülteni". Dunyabulteni.net. 2011-09-15. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
  25. ^ "Police Forces: "We used FN 303"". Hurriyet.com.tr. 2015-01-10. Retrieved 2015-01-10.
  26. ^ "The Daily Californian - Berkeley's Newspaper". Dailycal.org. 2011-09-16. Retrieved 2012-06-30.

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