Flexible baton round
A bean bag round, also known by its trademarked name flexible baton round, is a baton round
Baton round
A baton round is a generally non-lethal projectile fired from a riot gun. There are three types:* Bean bag round* Plastic bullet* Rubber bullet...

 fired as a shotgun
A shotgun is a firearm that is usually designed to be fired from the shoulder, which uses the energy of a fixed shell to fire a number of small spherical pellets called shot, or a solid projectile called a slug...

Shotgun shell
A shotgun shell is a self-contained cartridge loaded with lead shot or shotgun slug designed to be fired from a shotgun....

 used for less lethal apprehension of suspects.


The bean bag round consists of a small fabric “pillow” filled with #9 lead shot
Lead shot
Lead shot is a collective term for small balls of lead. These were the original projectiles for muskets and early rifles, but today lead shot is fired primarily from shotguns. It is also used for a variety of other purposes...

 weighing about 40 grams (1.4 oz). It is fired from a normal 12-gauge shotgun. When fired, the bag is expelled at around 70 m/s; it spreads out in flight and distributes its impact over about 6 square centimetre (0.93000186000372 sq in) 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 metres (19.7 ft) and has a maximum range
Range of a projectile
right|thumb|250 px|The path of this projectile launched from a height y0 has a range d.In physics, assuming a flat Earth with a uniform gravity field, a projectile launched with specific initial conditions will have a predictable range. As in Trajectory of a projectile, we will use:The following...

 of around 20 metre. Changes to the bean bag round since its inception in the early 1970s have included a velocity
In physics, velocity is speed in a given direction. Speed describes only how fast an object is moving, whereas velocity gives both the speed and direction of the object's motion. To have a constant velocity, an object must have a constant speed and motion in a constant direction. Constant ...

 reduction from 120 to 90 metres per second (400 to 300 ft/s) as well as a shift from a square shape to a more rounded sock-shaped projectile.

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 reduce the possibility that a user might inadvertently load lethal munitions into the weapon.


Bean bag rounds are used when a person is a danger to themself or others, but is not a direct threat in such a manner that deadly force
Deadly force
Deadly force, as defined by the United States Armed Forces, is the force which a person uses, causing—or that a person knows, or should know, would create a substantial risk of causing—death or serious bodily harm...

 would be appropriate. The round is intended to disable or stun
STUN is a standardized set of methods, including a network protocol, used in NAT traversal for applications of real-time voice, video, messaging, and other interactive IP communications....

 the person without killing them. Fifty percent of cases are when the assailant has a bladed weapon. Nearly half of the uses also involve a suicidal and armed individual.


A bean bag round can severely injure or kill in a wide variety of ways. They have caused around a death a year since their introduction in the U.S. A 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
The larynx , commonly called the voice box, is an organ in the neck of amphibians, reptiles and mammals involved in breathing, sound production, and protecting the trachea against food aspiration. It manipulates pitch and volume...

 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
Internal bleeding
Internal bleeding is bleeding occurring inside the body. It can be a serious medical emergency depending on where it occurs , and can potentially cause death and cardiac arrest if proper medical treatment is not received quickly....

 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.
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