Friday, July 06, 2012

FNH USA Question

During my trip to the NRA convention, I wandered over to the FNH USA booth and had a bit of a chin-wag with the nice folks over there.

Our talk got around to the Less Lethal goodies that FNH had on display, and I wound up going back to the office with a couple of their inert .68 calibre 303 projectiles to show my Chief Deputy.

Fast forward a couple of months and we've had a couple of incidents that have the Sheriff and the Chief Deputy looking to expand our Less Lethal options -- the first option that came up was the FNH 303 series.

I've had a bit of a look about the web, and the most I have come up with is that poor girl who got killed in Boston, and some miscellaneous training videos, but not a whole lot else.

Have any of my Gentle Readers had any experience with the FN 303 -- either the pistol version or the rifle?

I've got business cards from FNH for Sales and Training, but I'm interested in some kind of general overview before I give the folks at FNH a call.

LawDog

6 comments:

Bergman said...

Not the 303 per se, but it's basically a fin-stabilized paintball, like Tiberius First Strike, just loaded with bismuth instead of paint.

Very accurate, but the feed mechanism is a bit finicky, and getting one cross-wise pretty much results in a misfire. The round might actually fly out the barrel, but forget hitting barns, let alone something human sized. They're supposed to be self-correcting, but nothing is fool proof.

There are also some issues with the fins breaking apart and drawing blood. Less of a concern with a crowd control weapon than the same tech in paintballs, but still a concern, especially if the fin fragment intersects an eyeball.

The 303 requires higher gas pressure than a First Strike paintball due to the greater mass, but the FNH launcher isn't impressive at all. Poorly balanced and bulky, though the ability to mount it on an M16 is worth noting.

If you could get a Tiberius paintball marker modified to have enough gas throughput to launch the 303s adequately, the performance would be worlds better than what FNH offers. Probably cheaper too.

http://www.tiberiusarms.com/

ZerCool said...

I have zero experience with them (you know my background), but is there an issue (department or other) with either Pepperballs or 40mm batons or similar?

Old NFO said...

No help here... sorry

Anonymous said...

They aren't authorised over here, only a 37mm specially developed projective is.

However, the HOSDB (Home Office Scientific Development Branch) did test them and reportedly had real issues with accuracy dropping off after 400+ projectiles were fired. hey were looking at it to fill the Discriminating Irritant Projectile role (OC is not used over here only PAVA or CS, the pepper loading is PAVA). Not sure if the report is in the public domain or not.

Don't the US Border Patrol issue them in the hundreds. Might be worth asking them about longeivity issues.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't know about accuracy "dropping off" around or after 400 rounds; however, the 303s we have, from my experience, can repeatedly put those bismuth-weighted pellets within a torso sized target fairly reliably out to 50 yards or so, and further with practice.

Unfortunately, the "rail" inside the launcher does NOT fit a picatinny rail, as I, and apparently Bergman as well, would prefer. I do not know if they make any that do.

I cannot speak to efficacy of the projectiles as I have not yet had occasion to use the launcher outside of yearly refresher training; however, I imagine they'd hurt rather hellaciously. I've been hit with "normal" pepperball rounds, which sting fairly emphatically, but only shatter harmlessly on plyboard. The FN 303 launcher will splinter that same plyboard and dent thin sheet metal.

Biggest issues with it?
A) It's essentially a glorified paintball gun, so the gas seals and regulator are fairly easy to screw up if you take it apart and don't know what you're doing.
B) The provided holographic sight kinda sucks; it uses some weird battery with no auto-shutoff, and agents/officers are prone to accidentally leave the thing on.
C) I can't mount it on my rifle, due to wrong-size picatinny rail.
D) Due to massive amounts of air driving each projectile, the "magazine capacity" between air tanks is severely limited - probably about one magazine per tank, plus a few shots.
E) Each magazine only holds around 15(?) rounds, so if you have 16 rioters, change magazines and air tank.

Biggest Pros?
A) I actually find it fairly ergonomic and balanced, but YMMV, User Beware, and Personal Preference and all that.
B) For all that it's plastic and appears cheaply made, they're actually surprisingly durable, except for the stupid holosight. I've battered them around numerous times in numerous vehicles, but never broken one.
C) Due to the massive amount of air driving each projectile, not only does the FN 303 hit like a sledgehammer, but it also has a far greater range than a "standard" pepperball launcher.
D) I don't know whether it's the dinky little fins or the greater velocity/weight, but the FN is far more -accurate- than a standard pepperball launcher.
E) It has a fairly good range of uses. You can put just about anything into those pellets behind the bismuth, whether PAVA, paint, talcum, etc. I suppose, if you could convince FN's execs there's a market for it, you could use it to launch itching powder, ketchup, or whatever suits your fancy.

Short version, it's not perfect, but I like it, and sometimes carry it.

As an aside, I've never heard of the fins breaking off and drawing blood. The actual projectile? Yeah, that can draw some blood from the impact splitting the skin.

- Your friendly local Little Green Man that Abducts (Illegal) Aliens

TomcatTCH said...

Paint balls at a high enough velocity will welt and cut. The ball collapses as it hits, then the full diameter shell can cut a very nice ring before it finishes destroying itself.

I'd bet the same thing happens with FN's finned pepper ball rounds.