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Injury patterns of less lethal kinetic impact projectiles used by law enforcement officers

NCJ Number
Date Published
6 pages

This document reports on the testing of kinetic impact projectiles (KIPs) to measure the rate of significant injury following discharge from a KIP weapon, considering use by law enforcement, and to further characterize injuries following KIP use.


This paper provides background, methods, and results from testing of kinetic impact projectiles (KIPs), and includes figures and tables, with a discussion that provides an overview and conclusions stemming from the test results and data. The KIPs are examined as being a less-lethal force option that is available to law enforcement agents (LEA), using projectiles such as beanbags or synthetic “rubber bullets” that are fired from shotguns or specialty launchers, with the intent of causing less injury than traditional firearms. The authors sought to measure the rate of significant injury following discharge from a KIP weapon in the course of apprehension from law enforcement, and to further characterize injuries resulting from KIP use. They used a retrospective review of a database collected over nine years, from 2005 to 2013, and from 11 sites in the U.S. related to police use of force (UOF) studies. Data collection examined incident and deployment information, subject demographics, injury information, and outcomes. KIP launch platforms that were tested included a 12 gauge shotgun launcher and 37/40 mm single and multi-shot launchers. The authors discuss injury rates and the nature and extent of the injuries related to KIP deployment. They also note that study limitations include those related to retrospective reviews such as missing cases or data recording errors, and that the study was performed in the setting of U.S. law enforcement use and as a result may not be generalizable to all KIPS, or to KIPs available outside the U.S., or those used by the military or in other settings. The authors conclude that 97% of KIPS deployed in real world settings resulted in mild or no injury, and no severe injuries or deaths from KIPs were identified.

Date Published: January 1, 2020