with Lindsey J. Bertomen
Product Review: Lightfield's Less Lethal Ammunition
I tested three 12-gauge less lethal products from Lightfield Less Lethal Research (www.Lightfieldlesslethal.com) : The Star Lite (LSLR-12), Super Star (LSSR-12) and the Mid-Range Rubber Slug (LMRS-12). My tests concluded that Lightfield Less Lethal Research has done their homework and they get an “A+”.
Lightfield is a complete munitions company which makes a variety of products for sportsmen and law enforcement. The Lightfield Less Lethal Research side of the house includes 12 gauge projectiles for humane wildlife control, and 12 gauge Specialty Impact Munitions(SIMs).
Lightfield Less Lethal’s approach differs from most other companies in a unique way. Rather than use a “one size fits most” philosophy, they extend the officer’s margin of safety by employing the right tool for the right job.
Less lethal employment will always be a compromise. That is, if a product is too effective or too protective, it is unsuitable. Manufacturers must maintain a range of effectiveness which can only be a series of compromises. For example, effective short range products may not be accurate at longer ranges. Effective long range products may cause traumatic injuries at short ranges.
There are no two things about it: employing any type of force option has the potential for injurious consequences. Agencies should only use this type of product for its intended use, with adequate training, equipment and certification. Impact projectile products are kinetic energy products. They require specific targeting on the body and prescribed distances for proper deployment.
Less lethal technology should not be used as a singular solution. It should be part of an integrated use of force system. This use of force system must include three goals: maximize officer safety, produce effective control and minimize trauma. The other parts of the system must include policy and (especially) training. I believe that Lightfield Less Lethal’s approach makes them an excellent choice in this arena.
Lightfield Less Lethal has a complete solution approach to shoulder fired impact projectiles. The Star Lite LSLR-12 round has an engagement distance from1-10 yards. The Super Star LSSR-12 has an engagement distance from 2-15 yards. The Mid-Range Rubber Slug (LMRS-12) is designed for 20-40 yards and the LERS-12 Extended Range Rubber Slug can reach out from 40-60 yards.
Lightfield uses translucent shell cases and distinct colors, which allows for reliable visual inspection. The Super Star and Star Lite projectiles are bright green and bright yellow respectively, which allows for visual target confirmation. When I fired theses products, spectators could accurately tell where they struck the target. In case anyone was wondering, a good cell phone camera could track one too.
The Star Lite and Super Star payloads consist of a single rubber “star” which looks like a toy one would receive as a party favor (or maybe a sea urchin?). I’m not sure if this was a deliberate, but the innocuous appearance can be an advantage.
The StarLite and Super Star were accurate at their engagement range and the report from an 18-inch barrel is light enough for officers to communicate while deploying. Both products were consistent in velocity and I recorded predictable results in my tests. The good news is the fact that one can track a moving target fairly well with these.
I used my Reminton 870 Synthetic with an 18-inch improved cylinder barrel, one of the most versatile tools in the patrol car. This model has rifle sights, which should be used for all shoulder-fired less lethal products. Since these rounds have reduced propellant and recoil energy, they cannot be expected to cycle a gas or recoil a gun reliably. Use a pump gun.
The Star Lite and Super Star did not penetrate plastic or wooden targets. At ranges beyond their intended use, the velocity fell away quickly, which is a desirable quality. The bright colors allowed the projectiles to be easily tracked and retrieved. I found I could easily engage multiple targets and predictably guide these projectiles where I wanted them.
The Mid-Range Rubber slug is a solid baton device whose projectile looks like a silo. Most less lethal products with this kind of effectiveness use fin stabilization or trail streamers behind. The Mid-Range Rubber Slug looks like a slug, which is an inherently more stable vehicle than a projectile with a tail.
This payload is 130 grains and feels more like hard plastic than rubber. I cannot attest how this feels on the receiving end, just as I would not volunteer to step in front of a moving vehicle. I have talked to officers who have deployed this tool and they described excellent results.
The Mid-Range Rubber Slug behaved like a lead slug, primarily because it is oriented to the target throughout its flight. It was stable, consistent in velocity and remarkably accurate. The velocity did not deteriorate much at the 40 yard range, which means that the minimum engagement of 20 yards is not just a suggestion.
20 yards is a pretty good distance to fire a less lethal projectile, considering that’s the maximum engagement distance for most flexible baton or “beanbag” rounds. It hit reliably at point of aim, out to its advertised 40 yards. Lightfield also makes a product (LERS-12) which can be employed out to 60 yards, which is beyond the reach of most similar products.
There are some things one should know: A flexible baton “beanbag” type of round will have a theoretically more fluid transfer of energy than a silo of hard rubber. A sack filled with shot or similar material will strike like a bag filled with several objects, which differs from a consistent frontal area, like the Mid-Range Rubber Slug. The Mid-Range Rubber Slug will fly farther and more accurately, but the energy transfer is over a small frontal area.
The velocity of the “beanbag” will deteriorate quickly, especially a drag-stabilized one. The Lightfield Mid-Range Rubber Slug provides accuracy over a flexible baton out to a much better standoff distance.
Lightfield Less Lethal Research has provided a product line which reliably meets the intention of employing less lethal tools. These products can be used on existing equipment using familiar techniques. They are inexpensive enough to allow excellent training opportunities, portable enough for every officer to carry a selection, and reliable enough for consistent law enforcement use.