Using Less-Than-Deadly Force: The Traumatic Pistol

The Russian “trauma-pistol,” called the M09 or PB4, “Self-Defense Weapon.”

American police must start to creatively think “outside the box.” 

Let me say this and say it forcefully: The killing of persons in standoff situations with edged weapons must stop if community trust and support are to be regained!

The way to do this is through both training and technology development. Much has been said about American police being thoroughly accustomed to shooting at “center-mass” and doing so whenever they feel a life-threat. 

In the area of training, police can be re-trained to slow-down, dialogue, de-escalate and even to retreat to save a life. But they need effective instrumentality that will help them be more confident in approaching potentially dangerous situations involving suspects with knives and club-like weapons.

The following is one such technology development by a Russian firm — the ‘traumatic pistol’ that has four, 12-gauge sized rubber bullets that will knock a person out and down at close distance. It bears strong consideration.

We need to start thinking about options and better methods. Here’s one of them and it comes from yesterday’s post on the website “War is Boring.” 

“Police departments across America are under increased scrutiny after a series of highly controversial police shootings — many caught on video…

“Given this current climate, it’s no surprise that police departments are looking closer at less-than-lethal weapons. Electroshock weapons — marketed under the brand Taser — are now practically universal among American police forces.

“In Arizona, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office is buying something unusual next year — the M09 self-defense weapon. It looks a lot like a pistol for shooting distress signal flare, but the Russians have a more colorful name for the hand cannon. They call it the pistolet travmatichyeski, or ‘traumatic pistol.’

“Designed by Russia’s state-owned Research Institute for Applied Chemistry in the mid-1990s, the first version appeared on the market in 1999 as the PB4 or Osa, meaning ‘Wasp’ in Russian. Engineers steadily improved on the basic design, leading to the M09.

“The stubby handgun has no barrels to speak of and no sights, save a laser pointer. The less-than-lethal pistol holds four 18.5-millimeter cartridges – 12 gauge to most Americans – ready to fire in separate chambers.

“However, the rounds are shorter than traditional shotgun shells. The color-coded cases can hold a single steel-cored rubber bullet, a small explosive charge to stun opponents, pepper spray gel, a bright flare or a distress signal.

“The PB4’s most impressive feature is its electrical firing mechanism. Regardless of which chambers are loaded, the gun can ‘see’ if there is a live cartridge and fire it first without having to cycle through the positions individually like a revolver.

“Right now, Pinal County is only planning on buying the rubber bullet rounds for the M09…

“The Russian manufacturer has already sold versions to Israeli and German police, among other European, Central Asian and Middle Eastern customers…

“’The M09 offers a less lethal option with greater accuracy over a greater distance than any other less lethal weapon available to us,’ [Pinal County PIO Mark] Clark explained. “It is a unique option in that it is a pistol that the deputies can have ready on their gun belt if the need arises.”

“The M09 can reliably hit targets up to five feet away. The pistol weighs less than a pound – lighter than the popular Taser X-26 stun gun…


“Unfortunately, no such weapon is ever entirely non-lethal. Officers must be carefully trained to shoot rubber bullet or other less-lethal projectiles in order to avoid inflicting serious injuries or even inadvertently killing people. In 2004, a Boston police officer killed Victoria Snelgrove with an F.N. Model 303 – a sort of high-powered riot control air gun – as the city celebrated the Red Sox’s win in the World Series. Snelgrove bled out after the projectile hit her in the eye. A unintentional hit to the face from the M09’s hard-hitting rubber bullet could be just as dangerous…”

To read the entire article CLICK HERE.



  1. The only people who think outside the box are people outside the box.

    I believe almost everyone seriously underestimates the amount of education and training that will be required to reduce the incidence of uses of deadly force by police officers in America. Competence in the full spectrum of force will be required. As recent events illustrate American police officers for the foreseeable future will have to be competent in what is essentially small unit combat. They will also have to be competent in every level of force below small unit combat. The physical and cognitive abilities required to assess the level of force necessary to achieve a legitimate police objective, from friendly persuasion to small unit combat, and competently apply that appropriate level of force will require significant initial development and continual sustainment. Much of the present knowledge, skill, and ability in those cognitive and physical domains lies outside of policing.


    1. Mark, I am afraid you are right. On the other hand, being the optimist that I am, I feel that committed leadership here could shorten the time it takes to get to where we want to be. Thanks so much for your insight!


  2. I have to echo Mark’s comments, Chief. Police training has been modified in increments over the years and only because it was often legislated. It seemed that we always heard; “if it ain’t broke…” but in their leadership book, The Leadership Challenge, Kouzes and Posner write “if it ain’t broke – break it – then fix it and break it again! This is not change for change sake, but change for continual improvement.” That book has become my leadership ‘Bible.’


    1. Absolutely. I used Kouzes and Posner in my teaching back when… From Deming I also learned the power of “continuous improvement.” — and, thus, if it ain’t broke, break it and improve it! Well said.


  3. Hi Chief,
    Regarding the “traumatic pistol”… Yeah, no thanks. Every day I go to work “festooned” in equipment that is unlikely to be used.
    I am mandated to carry an “electronic control device” that (other than pre-operational checks) has never left its holster.
    There is a pamphlet written years ago called “the Soldier’s Load and the Mobility of a Nation”. One of the many points is that historically soldiers have been grossly overloaded with “gear” in an attempt to allow every man to answer every potential problem.
    Earlier this year, you asked the question (very insightful on your part I add) whether officers even -knew- how to effectively use their batons anymore (largely, no…).
    When the Department I work for adopted ECDs, they were the “wonder weapon”. Until the problems and associated lawsuits began. Now, we literally have pages of policy, and lists (plural) of suitable persons to target and suitable (and unsuitable) target areas to strike. All of which should be recalled in the heat of a violent confrontation. Keeping myself in decent shape (for my age), respectfully speaking with people (friends and family if safe to use them to augment the effort) and a LOT of repetitive empty hand skills (not suitable for the “Octagon”) have been far and away more helpful than another “tool” (properly called a “weapon”-love when LE calls something a “tool”). Oh, and the company that produces the ECD (pick one) correctly advises to avoid becoming overdependent on the device, anticipating it failing when most needed.
    As always, my call for -more- involvement by mental health and associated professions (interesting that we have a resistance to using “chemical restraint” on someone in crisis/overdose, but no problem with having the police shoot someone…). Ludicrous that we have the police respond to mental health crisis (non-criminal) only to have it morph into a “barricade” and a shooting. Love to once, find a community that has a mobile response (meaning: more than once a night), to respond to our mentally ill/addicted.


    1. John, thanks so much for this needed input from the street! I do not know exactly where we must go other than somehow to reduce the number of OIS involving persons disturbed/mentally ill who have an edged weapon. But it is something for which we must grapple. You are on target with your thinking and I am sure you are a model for younger officers. Keep up the good work. Let’s think.. be creative and, as you say, “respectfully speaking to people” will go a very long way. Press on!


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