Here’s a patent that could change not only the battlefield but the home defense industry. The US Army Armament, Research, Development and Engineering Center (they wanted the ARDEC acronym) has filed a patent for a self-destructing bullet.

You’re thinking, ‘a bullet that destroys itself?’ How cool is that? It’s not quite that cut and dry. Instead, the bullet will have a special coating that dissolves due to friction. It ignites and melts the bullet into one incapable of flight.

self-destructing bullet patent from ARDEC

The idea at ARDEC is the new bullet could reduce collateral damage. Rounds fired downrange at targets would hit a certain distance, and the coating would dissolve. Practical applications would be close quarters battle (CQB) and other engagement zones where commanders do not want bullets flying for long distances.

Take the M4/M16 (military) or the AR-15 (civilian variant). Each fires the 5.56 NATO round or the .233. The maximum effective range is around 600 meters (around 2000 feet). Sounds great in open spaces. Urban combat? Not so much. Rounds punch through walls and keep going.

Miss your target and the innocent bystander is hit or causes collateral damage. That’s what ARDEC wants to prevent. Using the specialized bullets, they can preset distances using various coatings for particular engagements.

If a target isn’t hit within the set distance, the coating degrades and renders the bullet inoperable.

Self-Destructing Bullet

An ARDEC representative explained how the bullets would function. Once fired, a pyrotechnical material ignites within the bullet. It’s the material that interacts with the various coatings on the bullet, and if it reaches the ‘max desired range’ without hitting a target, the coating degrades the bullet, rendering it safe.

Now, the question is when? It’s a proof of concept patent off the developmental research. Have you ever known the government to do anything quickly? I grew up in the Naval family. If anything is done fast, start to worry.

ARDEC researchers are confident they could eventually get the self-destructing bullets into the field but lack the funding to do so.

There are plenty of ifs surrounding the research. Getting the coatings to react in all environments would be a challenge. Moisture, dirt, sand, temperature, etc. are only a few of the problems.

Commercial Use

One of the biggest issues in home defense is the firearms people choose. How many people do you know that have AR-15s at the ready? If someone misses, it’s punching through the house.

A self-destructing concept lends itself well to these situations. The coatings would not have to account for the variations military members would need. If it makes guns safer, I’m all for it.

One issue would be the price, but responsible gun owners wouldn’t have an issue buying a box or two of specialized ammo and then the bulk buys for target shooting.

It’s an interesting concept. Can we expect it anytime soon? It’s hard to tell. When a project mentions it lacks funding, it has a tendency to get funding once Congress realizes it makes for an excellent political ad.


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