De-escalating on the front line with 40mm projectile launchers

Safety, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness differentiate this new tool

Law Enforcement in Canada and the United States are adopting a highly successful new method for safely de-escalating high risk situations by using impact rounds fired from a 40mm launcher.  The launchers are being used as a complement to the standard Conducted Energy Weapons (CEW), also known as TASERTM weapons carried by law enforcement professionals every day around the country. The 40mm launcher and impact rounds (see image below) provide Police users with a dramatically improved ability to safely address threats at longer range. 40mm systems and ammunition are cost effective to acquire and maintain. Additionally, they are not subject to the same situations that can cause CEW weapons to fail.

A 40mm launcher is a special-purpose firearm designed to launch 40mm projectiles. 40mm projectiles are low velocity rounds available in a variety of payloads.

A major limitation of a CEW is its maximum effective engagement range of 10 meters. 40mm projectiles by contrast have an effective range of 40 meters. By extending this range of less lethal capabilities, Police users no longer need to be in such close proximity to their subject. This not only reduces risk to the Police user, it also reduces the potential for a physical altercation where use of deadly force becomes necessary.  Police users can establish a safe distance, work to develop lines of communication and increase the chance of a peaceful resolution. 

The launcher’s force is the equivalent of getting struck by a baseball traveling about 65 kmph, or the speed of a ball thrown by a little leaguer, meaning that, if it must be used, the most likely injury a person could sustain from the launcher is bruising, swelling and physical discomfort.

“The more we can get these less-lethal rounds in the hands of our officers, the less likely that bad scenarios will continue to deteriorate to the point where the only option left is lethal force,” quoted Madison Wisconsin Police Chief Mike Koval in an interview with local paper, the Wisconsin State Journal.

In many cases, 40mm launchers are replacing 12 Gauge Shotguns that fire bean bag munitions. 12 guage rounds are less accurate and distribute their energy over a smaller area, increasing the chance of injuring the subject. An additional benefit of the 40mm launcher is that is can be outfitted with accessories, like a red dot optical sight to further improve accuracy.

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Another important consideration is cost. The 40mm launcher is far less expensive to operate and train with than a CEW. The service life of a well maintained 40mm launcher could easily exceed 10+ years, this offers a great deal of value and cost savings to any agency. Additionally, 40mm ammunition is readily available from multiple suppliers, cost effective and is purely mechanical with no expensive batteries or cartridges to replace.  

The challenges facing frontline professionals have never been more profound. Progressive tools like the 40 mm launcher add a safe, efficient, and cost-effective option for Canadian Police users.

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