Hand-held Kinetic Impact Weapons

Hand-held kinetic impact weapons (also known as striking weapons) are designed to be used to strike or hit an individual to cause compliance through pain. They are one of the most common less lethal weapons carried by law enforcement officers.

Batons and truncheons are among the striking weapons most often used, and they are usually made of rubber, plastic, wood, or metal, and range in size from 20cm to 2 metres. Other striking weapons, including whips, and smaller weapons such as slappers and billys (which may be weighted), are less common, but are still permitted for law enforcement use in some countries. Some law enforcement officials also use ad-hoc equipment such as sticks, clubs, or other improvised weapons.



Batons or truncheons are used to push, jab, poke, hit, or beat a person. Frequently, they are used abusively to lever, apply force, or crush parts of the body, or in neck or choke holds. They can also be used as a tool of rape. Any use of a baton on an individual who is already restrained or otherwise under control may amount to torture or other ill-treatment.

While batons may have a legitimate law enforcement role, when used in strict accordance with international human rights standards, all other types of hand-held kinetic impact weapons listed in this section have no legitimate law enforcement use and should not be used in any circumstances (see individual entries for information).


Potential injuries

Injuries from hand-held kinetic impact weapons, which in some cases can be life threatening, include:

  • bruises
  • broken bones
  • internal bleeding and damage to organs
  • concussion and other head injuries.

These weapons are sometimes used to apply dangerous restraint techniques, including:

  • applying leverage to limbs for pain compliance
  • neck-holds that restrict breathing (this technique can result in serious injury or death due to compression of the airway and damage to the larynx, trachea, and thyroid bone).


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