San Diego-based Alternative Ballistics has introduced one of the most terrifying “less lethal” alternatives I’ve ever seen, called “The alternative.”

The single-use device is kept in a pouch on an officer’s duty belt, and when the officer runs into an encounter where lethal force is authorized, but not desired, he can then grab the device from the pouch mounted on his support-hand side, and slide the entire device over the muzzle of his duty weapon.

The device itself consists of a clear plastic “docking station” that slides on to the end of the gun, and the projectile, which looks roughly like a clown’s nose.

Unless these devices become incredibly commonplace, do you think that a suspect would take something that looks like this seriously?

When the officer feels the need to discharge the projectile, he squeezes the trigger on the live round in the chamber, which travels down the barrel, smashes into the back of the projectile, and then continues downrange embedded in the projectile, which is supposed to strike the threat with enough force to put him on the ground, but won’t (hopefully) kill him.

Alternative Ballistics states:

A key feature of THE ALTERNATIVE™ is that it can be rapidly affixed to the muzzle of a service weapon while the officer continues to cover the threat.

THE ALTERNATIVE™ was designed to allow an officer to maintain control of the situation while having his duty weapon and eyes covering the threat at all times.

Another benefit of THE ALTERNATIVE™ is that upon deployment, the weapon is clear of the device and is returned to its normal lethality.

In other words, an officer in a deadly-force situation must take his support hand off his weapon, and, while keeping an eye on the subject, acquire The Alternative from a belt-mounted pouch, orient it in his hand, and then potentially muzzle his own hand (they claim otherwise) in a high-stress situation to put a device on his gun that looks like a toy.

Mounting the device during a high-stress, lethal force encounter requires the officer to affix the device by feel as he tries to keep his eyes on the subject, potentially muzzling his own hand on the process.

 

Once he has the device on his weapon he then fires a live round, hoping that the device works as designed and captures the bullet that he just fired. If it works, the projectile will capture the bullet and presumably strike the subject downrange. The docking station and projectile blasted free of the gun, the officer immediately reverts to conventional lethal force fired out of the same weapon.

I have grave concerns over any attempt to use the same device to deliver both lethal and non-lethal force.

I further have concerns that if there is more than one officer involved in the encounter, that the officer deploying the less lethal from a conventional handgun will create sympathetic fire from his colleagues, so that the suspect is struck in a fusillade of both lethal and less lethal fire.

While I’m sure that the staff of Alternative Ballistics means well, their product seems as if it cause more potential for serious problems than it solves.