(Editor’s note: This article was submitted by freelance writer Mike Doran.)
A new less-lethal weapon could revolutionize law enforcement. It’s called the Pogojet, and unlike other less-lethal weapons that require close proximity, this pistol can hit a target at a hundred meters.
Designed by Jeffrey Widder, a senior research scientist at Battelle Memorial Institute in Ohio, the Pogojet (the official name is the less-interesting, “Caseless Telescoping Less-lethal System”) works by having the propellant burn inside the round and push on a piston that propels it. When the piston is extended, the gasses can be vented sideways, so the round continues at the same velocity, or through holes at the base of the projectile so that it fires off like a rocket.
The variable speed is what really separates this from other systems that fire kinetic less-lethal projectiles like bean bags or rubber bullets. The low velocities of these systems severely limit their range; the farther you are from the target, the less effective the round. Bean-bag guns are only effective up to twenty meters, and Tasers also require close proximity and cartridges can only be fired once.
Widder’s design allows the .50 caliber weapon to fire its projectile at an optimal velocity, between 77 and 87 meters per second, regardless of whether the target is at close range or out a hundred meters.
“Once the gas comes out it can be throttled,” Widder told PopularMechanics.com. “The technical challenge turned out to be remarkably simple. Once I’d figured it out I didn’t know why I found it so difficult.”
The key to the Pogojet’s variable velocity system will be a rangefinder that will automatically select the correct muzzle velocity without any manual input by the user. Building the interface will be Widder’s next hurdle in the project. He also plans to replace the metal components with plastic.
The Pogojet also has another tactical advantage to other less-lethal devices: it is semiautomatic, allowing for a higher rate of fire. And in high-stress situations where the Pogojet is going to be used, the ability to re-fire, either to hit multiple targets or one target that was missed, is invaluable. Because the round is spin stabilized and has a flat trajectory, operators will be able to aim for center mass just as they would with a normal firearm.
“The greatest risk of severe injury or death occurs from impacts to the head, face, or neck of the intended target or a bystander,” Widder says. “The use of more accurate weapons with disciplined fire can substantially reduce the likelihood of this unintended consequence.”
The projectile does not deform on impact, allowing the smaller round to deliver a strong sting.
“It’s like a bee sting,” Widder says. “It’s only over a small area, but it is intense enough to be effective.”
The piston setup also allows for a very short barrel. While originally envisioned as an under-barrel attachment to an M4 carbine, the Pogojet could also be used separately as a pistol.
Before the Pogojet can go out into the hands of law enforcement it must first go through Human Effects Testing to make sure it is safe. If proven effective, we may see this new technology in action soon.
Do you think the Pogojet will be a slam dunk or a dud? Let us know in the comments.