PepperBall announced a brand new launcher at SHOT Show this year. Well, sort of! The new Pepperball P4 VKS launcher is an advanced design of the Security With Advanced Technology (SWAT) MK-IV launcher, the was brought on board when SWAT merged with PepperBall back in 2008.
Taking on a very familiar AR-15 style look, the P4 VKS is actually constructed of an upper and a lower receiver. Coming with a rifled barrel, and a capacity ranging from 10-180, the P4 VKS could become one of the most popular chemical munition launchers for American law enforcement.
The original PepperBall launchers were basically slightly modified paint ball launchers. Though decent enough to meet objective needs, there was still room for improvement. The merger of SWAT with PepperBall provided a great platform, very familiar to law enforcement, to deliver the PepperBall projectiles.
The P4 VKS launcher takes on the familiar AR-15 appearance, with a machined steel upper receiver, and a polymer lower receiver to reduce weight. In fact, the trigger, pistol grip, safety selector switch, and magazine release lever are all AR-15 style controls. This makes training on the P4 VKS much faster, and familiar to officers, rather than a completely unfamiliar system like general paint ball launchers.
Though not identified as such, the P4 VKS detachable magazine has a very Magpul-like appearance and texture, though in a straight line format rather than traditional AR-15 curved magazines. The magazine comes in a 10-round or 15-round version, and could be very viable for single suspect incapacitation. If larger crowds are being faced, and less lethal options are required, the P4 VKS can use a proprietary hopper that can hold up to 180 projectiles.
The P4 VKS has a variable kinetic energy (KE) impact of 13-30 joules (9.588 to 22.127 ft./lbs.). This adjustable design provides for precision accuracy with an extended range, characteristics that are extremely important in both single subject incapacitation and large crowd control.
The Dual Feed System (magazine and hopper) allows officers and departments to respond as they see fit for the situation faced. The change can be made quickly, and without special tools. The P4 VKS uses two types of air sources. The HPA/CO2 gas canister is incorporated into the butt stock, that is adjustable like many AR-15 stocks. Another option, is the remote air line connection allowing larger tanks to keep the P4 VKS in service during larger confrontations.
PepperBall P4 VKS Specifications
- Upper Receiver: Machined steel
- Lower Receiver: Lightweight polymer lower
- Caliber: 0.68
- Magazine Capacity: 10 or 15 PepperBalls
- Hopper Capacity: Up to 180 PebberBalls
- Barrel: Rifled and indexed for mag & hopper
- Action: Semi-auto
- Length: 31.0 inches
- Height: 13.0 inches
- Weight: 6.2 pounds
- Power: HPA/CO2
- On/Off Valve: Functional charging handle
- Stock: (13) cu. in./3000 psi tank/stock combination
- Rails: AR15/M4 Picatinny platform
- Controls: AR-15 safety, magazine release, and trigger
- Charging: Handle forward pressurizes
- De-Charging: Handle back de-pressurizes
- MSRP: $900.00.
PepperBall and Less Lethal Options
The need for less lethal options has become incredibly important in light of several very high-profile police use-of-force incidents resulting in the death of the suspect. Providing officers with appropriate tools, and proper training, can allow a violent confrontation to be controlled with minimal injury to officer and suspect.
There are times when less lethal options are not appropriate, and the use of lethal force is not only legal but proper for the threat faced. However, when the opportunity exists, and it is safe for officers to use an alternative to lethal force, it is our legal and ethical responsibility to do so.
PepperBall VXR Shaped Projectile Specifications
- Hard, plastic frangible, fin stabilized
- Caliber: .68 x .72
- Projectile Weight: 3.4 grams
- Velocity: 300-350 fps
- Weight: +/- 0.2 grams
- Effective Range: 0-45 meters direct impact
- Operational Temperature Range: -30 to +150 degrees F (powder)
- Liquid Projectiles: Never fire frozen!
- Shelf Life: 3 years for Live and Live-X projectiles
- Manufacturing: Ultrasonically welded seal
- Waterproof design
- Smooth outer shell
- Inert Powder – black/purple.
- PAVA X – black/red
- CS – black/blue
- Permanent Marking – black/yellow
- Inert Liquid – black/white
- Other options are also available in non-VXR Shaped rounds.
For nearly 40 years the availability of chemical munitions has been present for individual officers. Even before that, the use of 37/40mm launchable munitions have been available, along with hand-thrown chemical munition canisters. When PepperBall came onto the scene, the product offered a unique combination of impact weapon for pain compliance, and chemical munition to cause pain and disorientation. That combination has been used by many agencies with great success.
PepperBall was also presenting their new “10x PAVA” projectiles at SHOT Show. PAVA is the pulverized powder that most of these projectiles contain. The “10x PAVA” projectiles deliver ten times the hot PAVA (Capsaicin II, or “hot pepper”) irritant powder than the standard PepperBall PAVA rounds.
PepperBall states the new projectiles are designed to meet challenging outdoor situations. This could include perpetrators using masks to avoid inhalation, or environmental conditions like strong winds that may cause PAVA powder to disperse too rapidly. Another purpose for “10x PAVA” rounds is for riots or large-scale disturbances where the round could be skipped off the pavement to quickly create an intense barrier cloud of PAVA powder. The new “10x PAVA” rounds will be red/black.
PepperBall has been a welcomed addition to the chemical munitions available to law enforcement. The use of paint-ball style projectiles allows the application to be direct on the persons causing the problems, reduces contamination on those not intended for exposure, and also provides an impact projectile for another type of pain compliance.
There have been some arguments about PepperBall due to their proprietary sizing and matching launchers. Many have found that they cannot simply buy PepperBall projectiles and use in less expensive paint ball launchers. Though I understand the company’s desire to protect their product and profits, I also understand the needs of budget-strapped agencies. This proprietary system must be considered in an overall less lethal range of options.
However, if your department does use PepperBall, or is considering their products, this new P4 VKS launcher is a really nice less lethal delivery system with several key features that are particularly beneficial.