Guns and Gear

Riot Guns Get Smart: FN Smart ProtectoR-303T Avoids Lethal Headshots

Riot guns and the law enforcement behind them face complicated situations. Sometimes the less-lethal launchers used at mostly peaceful protests can be far more dangerous than intended if discharged at someone’s head. To avoid such unpleasantries, FN has introduced the Smart ProtectoR-303T, which is programmed to avoid headshots.


As the name implies, FN based this on the existing 303 less-lethal launcher. It’s a semi-auto, using compressed air to fire 18mm projectiles which are loaded into 15-round revolving magazines. One compressed air bottle will last for three mags’ worth of action or 45 rounds.

The launcher comes with a smoothbore barrel. FN says “Accurate enough to selectively engage an individual, the projectiles break up on impact to avoid penetration, and deliver a highly dissuasive impact similar to a baton strike beyond the range of hand-thrown projectiles.” The 303 launcher is supposed to be good for engagements in the 5-25 meter range.

What sets the Smart ProtectoR-303T apart is an “electro-optic” device combining an onboard camera with image processing software. This techno-wizardry detects human heads in real time, as the launcher is pointed. The device provides audio and visual warnings and will automatically block the trigger when it detects the launcher being pointed at a head. Given the blunt force trauma these less-lethal weapons deliver, there is still considerable danger from a headshot. This new launcher technology lessens the risk of serious injury or even a fatality.

FN Smart ProtectoR-303T (5)

The launcher’s onboard camera will also record images taken during firing, recording footage for after-action reviews or other investigations.

All this gadgetry requires battery power. FN says the Smart ProtectoR-303T batteries last five to 12 hours, depending on usage, but users can add an external power pack if needed. There’s also an automatic sleep mode that will save battery life.

It seems that FN will add this smart tech to either its standard 303 less-lethal launcher or the shorter Tactical model.

FN Smart ProtectoR-303T (2)

Training Day?

Finally, FN says the Smart ProtectoR-303T can also work as “an integrated premission training system.” As per their PR, “An App is available and provides a tool for weapon skills development. The user interface shows the predicted point of impact and the muzzle movement prior and after each shot in order to provide metrics on shooter weaknesses. Recorded video can also be used to rehearse against a pre-recorded scenario used on projector display.” So, police can take advantage of their new toys’ capabilities year-round, instead of only breaking them out during riot season.

Pictures by FN Herstal,

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