New Choices for Air-Powered Delivery Systems


Tactical Sling


by Craig Beery

New competition for projectiles, launchers and equipment has finally arrived in what most of us in law enforcement would call the PepperBall® arena of chemical agent/kinetic impact deployment. Mission Less Lethal, Inc.® (MLL), a subsidiary of Tippmann Sports® is offering a complete lineup of 8 types of projectiles, various launchers, and of course, the essential air supply equipment that plays such a vital role in this less-lethal weapons system.

It’s not as if Tippmann is entirely new to this arena as they have been the manufacturer of almost all of the launchers that have been sold by PepperBall since 1999 (the brand is now owned by United Tactical Systems, LLC®). Tippmann has been a major player in the paintball arena for the past three decades, and make no mistake, all of the launchers that law enforcement has purchased from day one are essentially paintball markers with higher velocity settings than are allowed at paintball fields.

Historically, PepperBall has been the only player in this space, except for a short incursion by FN Herstal with its FN 303 air-powered launcher that first came to market in 2003. That incursion was essentially ended by the tragic death of Victoria Snelgrove, a 21 year old college student who was shot in the eye at close range with an FN 303 projectile during the Boston Red Sox baseball playoff celebration riot in October of 2004. The City of Boston paid out five million dollars to Snelgrove’s family and FN Herstal also made a settlement as well. Most of the agencies in the U.S. who had purchased the FN system discontinued their use after Snelgrove’s death, but FN continues to sell the launcher in the international arena.

The initial concept for using air powered launch platforms (think paintball guns) to deliver chemical agents at a distance was first developed by the U.S. Navy in the 1990’s. A San Diego-based defense contractor, Jaycor, then developed the idea into a viable less-lethal weapons system that was first sold to law enforcement in late 1999. The timing was perfect as this new chemical agent and kinetic energy device arrived just in time for the Seattle WTO riots in December of that year where Seattle PD fired more than 12,000 rounds during the protests. Needless to say, that jump-started PepperBall’s marketing efforts as live video news was shown for many days of police officers shooting chemical agent projectiles from what looked like paintball markers at crowds of violent protesters.

The most interesting news about another vendor coming into this space is the introduction of some new products that have not been available up to now. Mission Less Lethal ( is offering some new projectiles that many agencies have been wanting to see for years. In addition to two levels of OC powder concentrations, MLL is also offering a standalone CS projectile as well as a combination round of OC and CS. The new additions should be especially welcome by the tactical community as these agents have been used for years in high-risk warrants and special response-type scenarios.

Another feature of the projectile offering that will meet with approval by law enforcement is that MLL has followed accepted standard color coding practices for the live chemical agent rounds. For example, Orange indicates OC, Blue is CS. PepperBall has always sold their live OC rounds in red colored shells, which is the color code for CN chemical agents. Confusing at best unless you are the only game in town.

I have been testing MLL’s projectiles for the past few months, and while I am continuing my evaluations, I see no basic difference in performance metrics such as accuracy, breakability and powder dispersal. One major metric to note is that MLL pricing looks to be about 30 per cent or more less expensive than similar PepperBall projectiles. By that factor alone, I would say that competition is already showing some major benefits to agencies that have felt trapped in this sole source marketplace for so long.

Mission Less Lethal’s parent company Tippmann has already proven over the past three decades that they make reliable air-powered launchers that withstand the test of time. The launchers that MLL is selling are easily identifiable as less lethal weapons by the use of orange colored highlight areas that are very visible. They are still in the process of rounding out their lineup of launchers to cover the various scenarios that this versatile platform is used for, but they will not be unfamiliar to current users.

Hopefully Tippmann can finally bring to market a launch platform that is specifically made for law enforcement as opposed to the paintball world. That launcher would have features that we are used to seeing in most of the weapons systems we use such as an easy way to check to see if there is a round in the breech; the ability to quickly change the type of projectile being fired such as switching from a chemical agent round to an impact-only round; and perhaps a way to determine how many rounds are left in the hopper, or how many rounds have been dispersed.

MLL is making the right moves in trying to penetrate this up-to-now competition-free space. For example, MLL will give standard liability coverage to agencies that use their projectiles regardless of whether they use PepperBall-branded launchers or MLL’s own launchers. After all, most of the launchers in use by law enforcement were made by their parent company Tippmann.

Mission Less Lethal will also recognize select training certifications from other manufacturers or third-party companies through their reciprocal certification program. MLL is offering their own in-house training certification courses specific to their projectiles and launchers as well. Courses cover instructor and end user certification in addition to C-TAC Corrections Response Training.

Mission Less Lethal is also continuing the excellent standard of customer support that Tippmann is renowned for. They are offering some innovative free services under their Mission Support Program. One of the aspects of this support program offers to supply free loaner launchers during times of actual or forseeable crisis events. Included with this is free staging of projectiles with payment being based upon actual usage at a riot or other type of critical incident. MLL provides 24-hour turn-around on all launcher repairs and is guaranteeing trade-in value on all used launchers.

Many agencies have been dissatisfied with the high prices that PepperBall has charged for projectiles and launchers over the years. I believe that Mission Less Lethal’s competitive entry is going to be very healthy for this less-lethal weapon system arena. And law enforcement agencies are going to be the beneficiaries of that competition.

Craig Beery is a former Sergeant on the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. For 24 years he was one of the lead instructors for the California POST 40-hour chemical agent instructor course sponsored by the California Association of Tactical Officers (CATO). He was also one of the founding employees of Jaycor’s PepperBall subsidiary where he was the director of sales and training from 1999 to 2002. He is the owner of TacticalTech, LLC, which operates a company devoted to air powered launcher parts, supplies and armorer kits.



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