Self-destructing bullets which could reduce the chances of injuring and killing innocent bystanders have been patented.

US Army researchers have developed a “limited range projectile” which has pyrotechnic technology built in.

When fired, the bullets explode after a short period of time which causes it to stop travelling forward.

This means the range of the bullets can be controlled, so that missed shots don’t hit innocent bystanders standing further afield.

The pyrotechnic material is lit as the bullet is fired, which ignites a reactive material which transforms the bullet into an “aerodynamically unstable object” after travelling a certain distance.


The technology will initially be used in .50 calibre ammunition, but as the patent covers the whole idea it could appear in other types of small arms munitions.

Researcher Stephen McFarlane said: “The biggest advantage is reduced risk of collateral damage.

“In today’s urban environments others could become significantly hurt or killed, especially by a round the size of a .50 calibre, if it goes too far.”

Other ideas designed to stop inadvertent deaths include an innovation that acts like an airbag for a bullet.

A metal ball attached to the end of a gun – called The Alternative – breaks off when a bullet is fired and melds with it.

This slows it down and can result in less serious injuries for anyone hit by it.

Developer Christian Ellis said: “Just like an airbag, a certain amount of people will die when they get into an impact and the airbag hits their chest.

“There is a chance they could die with this but it does mitigate the risk of death tremendously.”