FN Herstal group introduces the shoulder-fired FN 303 Tactical compressed-air less-lethal launcher, a new version of the flagship FN 303 design, even more versatile for riot control and non-lethal neutralization purposes
Officially announced by the Belgian FN Herstal Group on September 2, 2021, the FN 303 Tactical compact shoulder-fired less-lethal launcher is the most recent variant of FN's flagship line of compressed-air launchers system for crowd control and less-lethal neutralization whose baseline model – the FN 303, developed largely from experimental paintball markers' developments and first introduced in 2003 – has been in service in dozens of Countries for military and law enforcement applications for 18 years to date.
If compared to the baseline FN 303, the new FN 303 Tactical launcher has been drastically improved to make it easier to deploy from confined spaces and in close quarters situations: the barrel has been reduced in length, so much so that the FN 303 Tactical – depending on the stock configuration – is never longer than 755 mm / 29.7" in the maximum extended configuration and never longer than 52 cm. approx. (20" to 20.6") in the shorter configuration.
The new FN 303 Tactical is built on a brand new stock assembly, featuring a modular buttstock and pistol grip system. The factory grip can be replaced with any AR-15 compatible aftermarket pistol grip; the stock is available in three configurations: the FN 303 Tactical can be equipped with the same side-folding, extendable buttstock used on the FN SCAR assault rifle; with the same metal collapsible stock used on the FN SCAR-SC compact carbine; and with a special, adjustable and foldable offset stock conceived for use with visor helmets or gas masks.
Just like its predecessors, the FN 303 Tactical features a manual safety switch located within the trigger guard, and the launcher component – largely manufactured out of polymer – can be detached from the stock assembly and installed as an underbarrel ancillary on most modern assault rifles, providing law enforcement and military operators with a versatile option for scalable use-of-force continuum.
The FN 303 Tactical launcher uses the same kind of ammunition used by all other variants of the platform: .68-caliber / 18mm projectiles, manufactured and provided by FN Herstal, featuring a polystyrene body, a frontal non-toxic stabilizing bismuth mass and a clear polymer set of stabilizing fin, they're fed through detachable 15-rounds drum magazines and available in five versions: inert powder training ammunition, inert direct impact, PAVA/OC irritant, and either washable or indelible paint markers. All projectiles offer the same trajectory pattern and point of impact, regardless of the variant.
The FN 303 Tactical employs a removable, rechargeable compressed air bottle for propulsion – no recoil, no noise, no flash, no heat, no burning propellant – offering an overall capacity of three magazines (45 shots) with a full charge and a kinetic energy of 33J at the muzzle and 22J at 30 meters (33 yds), this being the maximum effective range.
In its out-of-the-box configuration, the new FN 303 Tactical weighs in at approximately 2,5 to 2,8 kilograms (5.55 to 6.17 lbs) depending from the stock configuration; each FN 303 Tactical comes from factory with folding back-up sights, and with a compensated 60 MOA top MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rail for optics.
Since 2003, the FN 303 represents the state of the art in terms of crowd control, scalar use of force and less-lethal, direct impact neutralization of dangerous individuals, with maximum effect on target and minimum risk of excessive or collateral damages purported that all rules for deployment are followed – chiefly, never aim at the target's neck or head, and always use FN Herstal's provided ammunition.
Now, with the FN 303 Tactical, the FN flagship line of less-lethal launchers evolves to face the challenging demands of an ever-changing public safety situation in the western world and beyond – making law enforcement officials and communities safer in today's tense world.