Army Ready Stance

U.S. Army Engineers Patent Limited-Range Projectile

limited-range-projectile bullet
Awarded U.S. patent 9,121,679 B1, the limited-range-projectile bullet is equipped with a reactive material that will ignite when the bullet is fired and burn during flight, causing the bullet to become aerodynamically unstable.

Midsouth Shooters Supply customers may find it hard to believe, but three U.S. Army engineers have received a patent for a bullet that will become “aerodynamically unstable” after flying a certain distance.

The proof-of-concept bullet developed by the U.S. Army will disable after flying a certain distance, helping to prevent injuries from stray rounds.

Recently awarded U.S. patent 9,121,679 B1, the bullet is equipped with a reactive material that will ignite when the bullet is fired and burn during flight, causing the bullet to become aerodynamically unstable at the desired range.

Brian Kim, Mark Minisi, and Stephen McFarlane filed collectively for the patent on May 7, 2013 and were notified of its approval on Sept. 1, 2015.

“We wanted to protect the US government’s interests and position,” McFarlane said. “The biggest advantage is reduced risk of collateral damage. 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.”

The concept for the limited range projectile includes pyrotechnic and reactive material. The pyrotechnic material is ignited at projectile launch. The pyrotechnic material ignites the reactive material, and if the projectile reaches a maximum desired range prior to impact with a target, the ignited reactive material makes the projectile aerodynamically unstable.

The original idea was intended to apply to .50 caliber ammunition. However, the patent covers the idea and technology, so it could theoretically be used in various small arms munitions.

The concept for the limited range projectile came to fruition when the small caliber ammo development team was funded to investigate the feasibility of a pyrotechnically actuated disassembling limited range .50 caliber bullet.

“It was essentially my idea to create a self-destructing small caliber round akin to the larger caliber ones,” Minisi said. “The type of reactive materials to use and how to test it was Steve’s idea.

“Brian was instrumental with executing the effort, particularly the modeling and simulation to confirm the concept,” he said.

Currently, funding for the project has ceased. However, engineers hope that their concept will resurface as the constant need to provide greater technology for the warfighter increases.

Kim, Minisi, and McFarlane are employees of the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) based at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.


5 thoughts on “U.S. Army Engineers Patent Limited-Range Projectile”

  1. So, let me get this straight, instead of knowing the “line” where the trajectory will take the bullet, we make it unstable, aerodynamically speaking, so we will have NO IDEA where it will end up, but it will decrease the overall range of the projectile? Let’s remember, the bullet is spinning, so which direction it will go is completely random. Let’s just hope we’re not the people a bit behind and to the side of the “target” min the direction that the projectile “decides” to go. It could hurt.

  2. Sounds like an over active “Tracer”. They seldom go in a straight
    line for the same reason.

    1. Maybe I’m missing something, but having shot a lot of 50 cal machine guns the tracers go as “straight” as the rest. With that being said you can see the spin the rifling imparts until tracer burnout, which you can’t do with non-tracer rounds.

      Plenty of times I have watched burnout and then waited for impacts.

  3. Sounds like a great idea if your sole aim is to make the projectile ineffective. Who really wants ineffective ammo? With all the effort to make ammo more accurate, who woulda thrupought someone would work it the other way around? Are these guys serious or commies?

  4. Great concept, but in a battle scenario, engagement ranges can change quickly. You may suddenly find you need the extra range. Changing ammo takes valuable time when some banjo boys are chucking lead at you!

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