Magic bullets: US military patents ‘safer’ self-destruct ammo for use in cities

© Jeff Topping
The US military has patented a new kind of self-destructing bullet, which the inventors say should make city warfare safer for civilians.

With modern warfare moving to cities, bullets that travel farther than intended pose a danger to the civilian population. The so-called “limited range projectile” has built-in pyrotechnics that explode shortly after the bullet is fired, causing it to stop. 

The patent for the proof of concept work on the self-destructing bullet was awarded to three employees of the US Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC).

“We wanted to protect the US government’s interests and position,” inventors Stephen McFarlane, Brian Kim, and Mark Minisi said. 

The concept is intended for use with heavier .50 caliber (12.7 mm) ammunition, but the technology could theoretically be used in various calibers of small arms munitions as well, they stressed.

The proof of concept test revealed the limited range projectile’s significant benefits, including a “reduced risk of collateral damage,” McFarlane said.

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According to the inventor, the distance at which the round self-destructs can be adjusted based on the choice of reactive material used in the pyrotechnics.

“In today’s urban environments, others could become significantly hurt or killed, especially by a round the size of a .50 caliber, if it goes too far,” he added.

Funding for the self-destructing bullet project has now been discontinued, but the authors are sure of the new ammunition’s advantages and hope that it will resurface soon, according to the Daily Mail.