Launchers for Less Lethal Projectiles

Less lethal launchers are a type of firearm that fires less lethal ammunition. Such ammunition can be used by law enforcement officers to control or disperse protests (for further details on less lethal ammunition please see sections on chemical irritants and launched kinetic impact projectiles).

These launchers are often referred to as riot guns, anti-riot guns, crowd control weapons, or less lethal/less than lethal/non-lethal launchers. The launchers come in many different shapes, sizes, and calibres. Common calibres include 37/38 mm, 40 mm, 56 mm, and 12 gauge (shotguns). The launchers may be generic launchers that fire a wide range of less lethal ammunition, or specially designed compressed-air guns that fire small, specialist, projectiles.



Less lethal launchers are mostly designed to be fired from a distance, although this does depend on the design of the launcher and the specific type of ammunition used. If ammunition from less lethal launchers is aimed at vulnerable parts of the body, such as the head or chest, the ammunition fired from the launchers can cause serious injury or death.


Potential Injuries

The impact trauma of ammunition fired from less lethal launchers, which in some cases can be life threatening, can include:

  • bruises
  • broken bones
  • internal bleeding and damage to organs
  • temporary or permanent damage to eyesight
  • concussion and other head injuries.


For more information, download this section of our Visual Guide: