Shotgun Shell with Configurable Shot Patterns

The US Army has patented a shotgun shell system to control the shot pattern of the expelled projectiles. The configured shot pattern can be tailored for a number of mission, tactical, sporting, and hunting applications. Moreover, the shotgun shell can be loaded with various types of ammo (i.e. steel shot, lead shot, sintered shot, plastic shot, rubber shot, lead dust, etc.).

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Technology Description

Background & Technology:

The US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) is a leading developer of enabling technologies that improve lethal and non-lethal effects, particularly for warfighters engaged in close-quarters combat and others involved in homeland defense, special operations, security forces, crowd control, etc.

ARL’s new shotshell systems represent a significant improvement over present day shotgun shells, where shot dispersion is controlled mainly by the degree of mechanical bore-choking at the barrel’s end (or muzzle). Although quite effective and in use since the 1800s, mechanical chokes can only provide the familiar circular projectile pattern. In contrast, the ARL system is adaptable and can provide for a number of different dispersal configurations. In one embodiment of the invention, a projectile director is placed within the shell, where it guides the projectiles very quickly after exiting the muzzle into wide, concentrated, vertical, horizontal, or a multitude of various patterns depending upon the intended effect on the target. In another variation, the petals of the wad are angled to rapidly spin and deploy one or more projectiles, which could include pellets, slugs, chemicals, tear gas, and malodorants. In other variations the opening of the wad petal system can be delayed for dispersion of the projectiles at a greater distance from the muzzle or to pass through a window and then deploy.

The projectiles may be any type or shape of ammunition desired, such as steel shot, lead shot, sintered shot, plastic shot, rubber shot, CS pellets, flechettes, and more, depending upon the desired application.


  • First-available system for shotguns to customize lethal and non-lethal effects by modifying the shotshell to control timing and dispersion patterns of expelled projectiles
  • Compatible with current shotgun shell manufacturing techniques
  • Flexible ammunition payload, including various shot and chemicals, depending upon desired effect on target or mission requirements
  • Target markets include military, homeland defense, police, civilian home defense, sporting clays, shooting competitions, and hunting

Status and Opportunity:

  • Issued US Patent 7,415,929 is available for license
  • Potential for collaboration with ARL inventor and laboratory

Supplemental Technical Information:

For more information, contact:
Austin Leach, PhD | | (406) 994-7707

Licensing Instructions:

In order to apply for license to federally owned technologies, regulations require that specific information be provided regarding your company and plans for commercialization. This information will be incorporated in a license agreement which will be provided for your review prior to signature. All provided information will be considered proprietary and held confidential.

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