US Army Revolutionize Bullet Design — A Self-Destructing Bullet

The US army is working on a self-destructing bullet in order to reduce the risk of collateral damage

Researchers from the US Army Armament, Research, Development and Engineering center recently patented a new type of bullet. This bullet, unlike any other, is designed to self-destruct after traveling a certain distance. Actually, it doesn’t actually destroy itself, what really happens is that a special coating on the bullet dissolves from friction, ignites, and melts the bullet into something not capable of sustained flight.

The image above accompanies U.S. Patent 9,121,679 B1, “Limited Range Projectile,” awarded on Sept. 1, 2015. Brian Kim, Mark Minisi and Stephen McFarlane from Picatinny’s Small Caliber Munitions Team are the inventors. Image Source: Army.Mil


Now, why a different type of bullet? Especially why a type of bullet that essentially destroys itself if it doesn’t hit a target within a specified distance? Blame this new advancement on the Army’s desire to avoid “collateral damage”–a fancy phrase used to describe innocent people being killed as the result of an armed confrontation. In other words, in order to kill as few people and destroy as little property as possible during a battle or other operations, the US Army designed a bullet that will render itself incapable of flight if it doesn’t hit a target at a certain distance.



So what really happens? The Army representative explained that when one of these special bullets is fired, the action of being fired ignites a pyrotechnical material embedded in the bullet. This material reacts with a special coating on the bullet and if the bullet reaches the “maximum desired range” before reaching a target, the bullet will be rendered incapable of further flight.

“The biggest advantage of this bullet is reduced risk of collateral damage.”

This representative also stated that the range of the bullet can be adjusted by using different reactive materials. This means that the Army has come up with a bullet which can self-destruct over certain distances, that distance being pre-determined by the type of coating being used.


Of course, right now this bullet is in pre-development, being at this time nothing more than a “proof of concept”, meaning that they got it right enough times to be confident that it might be able to be manufactured at some time in the future. The Army researchers that are working on this project, however, think that they have come up with something that will “lessen the impact” of being on or around a battle zone during combat for non-participants.

This would allow the Army and other American military forces to do battle in urban and other crowded areas without risking harm to the inhabitants of such areas. However, since the project lacks funding, it is unlikely that this “proof of concept” will appear on battlefields anytime soon.

The bullet is not the only thing US army wants to vanish into thin air, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency‘s (DARPA) ICARUS project has managed to produce such equipment for drones that can disappear into thin air. This way, even if the equipment is captured by enemies, it would be of no use.

Army.Mil Digital Journal
Related Posts