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Flexible baton round: Wikis


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The flexible baton round is the trademarked name for a "bean bag round," a type of shotgun shell used for semi-lethal apprehension of suspects.



The flexible baton round consists of a small fabric “pillow” filled with #9 lead shot weighing about an ounce and a half. It is fired from a normal 12 gauge shotgun. When fired, the bag is expelled at around 70–90 meters/second; it spreads out in flight and distributes its impact over about 6 cm² of the target. It is designed to deliver a blow that will cause minimum long-term trauma and no penetration but will result in a muscle spasm or other reaction to briefly render a violent suspect immobile. The shotgun round is inaccurate over about 6 meters and has a maximum range of around 20 meters. Changes to the bean bag round since its inception in the early 1970s have included a velocity reduction from 400 to 300 feet per second[1] as well as a shift from the square shape to a more rounded sock shaped projectile.[1] .

Shotguns dedicated to being used for bean bag rounds are often visibly modified with either yellow or green markings or bright orange stocks and stops to avoid the possibility of a user loading lethal munitions into the weapon or vice versa.

In British military and police usage, baton round is the designation used for plastic bullets.


"Bean bag" rounds are used when a person is a danger to himself or others, but is not a direct threat in such a manner that lethal force would be appropriate. The round is intended to disable or stun the person without killing them. 50% of cases are when the assailant has a bladed weapon. Nearly half of the uses also involve a suicidal and armed individual. Bean bag rounds have caused around a death a year since their introduction in the US[2].


A flexible baton round can severely injure or kill in a wide variety of ways. A baton round can hit the chest, break the ribs and send the broken ribs into the heart. A shot to the head can break the nose, crush the larynx or even break the neck or skull of the subject. This is why many officers are taught to aim for the extremities when using a bean bag round. A strike in the abdominal area can cause internal bleeding or strike the solar plexus which can disrupt breathing or heartbeat, but such a hit is generally safer than most other areas as well as presenting a larger target than an extremity. Fatalities are occasionally the result of mistaking other shotgun rounds for bean bags.[2]

In Popular Culture

Bean-bag rounds have been used in many movies and a few TV shows. They are usually portrayed as an always safe non-lethal weapon.

In the movie The Rundown, the protagonist is shot with flexible-baton rounds to subdue him.

In Jackass: The Movie, Johnny Knoxville is shot in the stomach with a bean-bag round.

In an episode of the television series 24, Jack Bauer uses a bean-bag round to subdue a terrorist.

Bean bag rounds are often used in the USA spy series Burn Notice.

In episode 1 of the Australian police drama Rush, Constable Michael Sandrelli uses two bean bag rounds to subdue a charging man wielding a machete, as well as in episode 4 to stop a burglar.

In the movie Inside Man, bank-robbers are dressed identically to their hostages, so the police decide to shoot everyone with bean-bag rounds.

In the movie The Last Castle, beanbags are used to keep prisoners under control, and even to kill a prisoner by a shot to the head.

In the movie The Hunter, bounty hunter Papa Thorson (Steve McQueen) subdues burly bail jumper Tommy Price (LeVar Burton) with a large bean-bag round from a device called the "Prowler Fouler". This device was a civilian "bean-bag gun", made out of Lexan plastic that used CO2 powerlets to launch the rounds.

In the movie Phone Booth, the main character is shot by what turns out to be a non-lethal round; the bruise left by the impact is large and diffuse, indicating a bean-bag round, although (probably for clarity) the chief tells him it was a rubber bullet. Note: Sellier & Bellot market a 12 gauge less-lethal cartridge which contains 2 large rubber balls. They are intended for situations where a criminal can be captured alive, and would fit the description of the projectile and its wound/welt shown in Phone Booth. Some variation of these rubber slugs were used in the Baker Park riots in California in recent history

The 1980s TV show The Fall Guy, starring Lee Majors as a stunt man turned bounty hunter, frequently featured apprehensions of criminals using bean-bag rounds.

In the video game Splinter Cell: Double Agent, Sam Fisher is able to find and use a non-lethal shotgun during a prison escape. He is also able to use "Airfoil Rounds", which are shown as having an effect similar to bean-bag rounds.

In the French horror film Inside, a character is shot at close range in the head with a bean-bag and suffers brain damage.

In the Burn Notice second season finale, Fi uses bean bag rounds to stop Victor (Michael Shanks) from attacking Michael (Jeffrey Donovan).

The real life citizen superhero Citizen Prime uses a CO2-powered bean-bag gun on his patrols. He has never had to use it.


  1. ^ a b "In defense of the 12-gauge "bean bag" round". August 29, 2005. Retrieved 2008-09-14.  
  2. ^ a b "Impact Munitions Use: Types, Targets, Effects" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-09-14.  

External links

See also



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