What Could Possibly Go Wrong: Alternative Ballistics’ ‘The Alternative’


Just in time for the continued post Michael Brown second guessing extravaganza, San Diego-based Alternative Ballistics is out with the latest iteration of something they’ve apparently been working on for a while, a “less lethal” option for beat cops. They call it, oddly enough, The Alternative. It’s a two-piece agglomeration consisting of a “docking station” that – get this – fits over the muzzle of an officer’s standard duty gun, and a ping pong ball-sized projectile. The idea is that an officer who decides he might be able to de-fuse a situation without ventilating a suspect can slip the docking station over the end of his GLOCK along with an orange ball. Anyone see a problem yet? . . .

That orange orb is designed to encapsulate the live round fired from the gun, turning it, in effect, into a big rubber bullet. As Alternative Ballistics describes it,

Once THE ALTERNATIVE™ is fired; the bullet welds itself inside the projectile, simultaneously transferring its kinetic energy propelling it at the target. Once the bullet is fired from the gun into the projectile they permanently become one unit.

A kinetic knock-out punch, as it were. The docking station flies off with the shot, leaving the gun ready for real live follow-up shots if necessary.


Never mind the time it may take for an officer to pull this contraption from his belt and jam it on the end of his pistol. And for the sake of argument, let’s assume 100% reliability in the encapsulation process, so the dood the cop is trying to stop always ends up with a bad bruise rather than shredded internal organs.

But in the heat of a tense situation, while the cop is trying to keep an eye on the guy who’s holding the knife, club…whatever and just may charge him at any minute, attempting to quickly slip this thing over the muzzle of his live M&P is more than a little problematic. Consider for a moment: Officer Friendly has his right index digit on or near the trigger while he’s jamming something over the business end of his heater with his support hand. As I gaze into my crystal ball, I see misty visions of newly-relegated administrative officers slowly hunting and pecking out shift reports on their keyboards with their one good hand.

But maybe that’s just me. And maybe the backup cop who’s just arrived on the scene and is outside the door won’t take the BANG of a live round being fired (as opposed to, say, a TASER’s soft electronic tick-ticking) as an indication that his fellow officer is in mortal danger and engaged in a gun fight in the next room. Sure, that could work.

[h/t ST]


  1. avatar Darkstar says:

    It looks just like Bozo’s nose…..or Pennywise

    1. avatar VaqueroJustice says:

      But does it float ?

      1. avatar Nate says:

        They float, Georgie, and when you are hit by the Alternative, you ll float too.

      2. avatar Ralph says:

        They ALL float down here.

        1. avatar Wesley T. Hartman says:

          I think this is one of my favorite content threads ever. Thanks guys

    2. avatar borg says:

      This device may be more feasible to use in a no knock warrant especially with the likelihood of going into the wrong home.

      1. avatar Jus Bill says:

        Sure. Immediately following the flash-bang and tear gas grenade fusillade.

    3. avatar borg says:

      The holsters would need to be modified to allow that attachment to be holstered and unholstered with ease and holster would also need to be able to the gun without attachment as well since if the cop shoots it he should not be forced to attach another clown nose jus holster it.

    4. avatar borg says:

      Rubber bullets that fire from firearms can be bought from places such as here

      And unlike the clown nose one the cop is free to have as many or as little less lethal rubber defense rounds as he or she prefers

  2. avatar ST says:

    What a splendid device for turning a service pistol into a 2lb doorstop.

    Which, given its origins, I suspect is exactly the point. The disarmament lobby tolerates armed cops only slightly more then armed citizens.

  3. avatar Noishkel says:

    I wondering if anyone involved with this has ANY FREAK CLUE about how guns work. This is a freaking kB waiting to happen

  4. avatar Shire-man says:

    I love science as much as the next guy but there’s no way Im trusting a little rubber ball held to the gun with a plastic to catch and encapsulate a fired round. That’s like total scifi shit. Too bad their videos page is under construction.

  5. avatar Adam says:

    Its a dumb idea but I sure would like to see some high speed footage of this thing getting shot and landing on target.

    1. avatar Shire-man says:

      There’s a news clip of it circa 2011. Product looks totally different though.

      And a more recent one: http://www.sandiego6.com/news/sd6-in-the-morning/New-device-turns-guns-into-non-lethal-weapons-instantly-285521481.html

  6. avatar BradN says:

    Horrible, horrible idea.

  7. avatar ShaunL. says:

    It looks like an idiotic idea to me but if the police dept’s want to give it a try…. Good luck.

    I predict multiple severe injuries for every potential life saved.

  8. avatar Tex300BLK says:

    1 of 2 things will happen:

    – Officer shoots himself in the hand when applying the “alternative”

    – The bullet will pass through that little rubber ball like it isn’t even there and hit the suspect.

    Now the one in their promotional video had some sort of metal or other machine out cavity in it, and was much longer and made out of a different color and what looked like a different texture of rubber. The picture up top looks like a bouncy ball. If the latter is the case, yeah, aint stopping a bullet, not a chance.

  9. avatar Draino says:

    Uh….MORON-IC!! What alot of folks fail to remember is that if some one is of the mind to mess with an armed police officer…they are likely MUCH More dangerous to the general public…hence the legality of “use of lethal force”. Which I realize is under attack. But whay has everyone forgotten this?

    After 20 years in the AF, I was trained (and realized) that security is everyones responsibility. When did we slip into the era of “my neighbor can get held up by an armed robber and its none of my business or concern”…? Are we the USA or not? I also learrned we help the helpless and defenseless. Just a short rant…sorry….not!


    1. avatar Draino says:

      I kno, I know…you would think after 20 years in the AF I would know to use spell check….LOL!!!!

  10. avatar Draino says:

    I should have continued…they deserve the bullet instead of the ball if you get into a physical altercation with a COP. Just me opinion. And I am NO cop.

    1. avatar Matt in WI says:

      Draino, that position rests on an assumption that every law is just and that every police officer always knows the law and follows it scrupulously. As soon as any one of those assumptions breaks down – which all of them do on a somewhat routine basis – the position suddenly demands innocent people submit either to an illegitimate law, a law that doesn’t exist, or to an individual operating outside of the law or else be shot.

      It’s truly a frightening proposition and the opposite of the rather thoughtful founding principles of our country.

      1. avatar Draino says:

        Agreed….It was written with the mind that laws are just and all police are good….writing from an ideal country stand point. I have no delusions about what this country has become…but sometimes I slip into the thoughts of what it should be.

  11. avatar danthemann5 says:

    I have a suggestion: Instead of a bouncy ball, why not have a little flag with the word “BANG!” printed on it pop out of the muzzle?

  12. avatar Clay says:

    The projectile is actually rubber covered steel.

    1. avatar David P. says:

      That’s disapointing. I can’t be the only one who was waiting for the officer (probably NYPD) who decided that it should be fired at a single lane, concrete, indoor range. And watching this “super ball” concept come to rest 2 min later.

      That makes this a dumber idea from before. I don’t like shooting steel at less than 10 yards but how about you put one on your barrel.

  13. avatar Stinkeye says:

    A prediction, if I may offer one: this will be purchased and used by exactly zero police departments anywhere in the U.S.

    1. avatar Mark says:

      …….unless some law comes out requiring them. 😉

  14. avatar Scrubula says:

    And in the event some idiot actually tries this in a live test and the subject dies, another stupid idea will be forgotten and replaced with a worse one.

    Regardless of alternatives, there was nothing else Wilson could have used besides his gun even with a Batman utility belt. Trapped in the car, pepper spray, baton, and taser would have all failed. He only had one hand available so this ridiculous idea would also have failed.

    1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      “He only had one hand available so this ridiculous idea would also have failed.”

      That single simple argument seems to cause a lot of failures in thinking when it comes to CQC…Condition 3/Israeli Draw comes to mind as another common example.

      From the engineering perspective, I think it’s fair to ask the question; “How many things have happen, happen correctly and happen in a certain order to make this work?”

      Overly complex solutions with a lot of “moving parts” (so to speak) are striding down the wrong path. KISS is a thing for a reason.

  15. avatar Sammy says:

    Really? Who ever is doing this must have a great pot connection. Or not.

    Re: Scrubula’s comment.

    Good point. What if this “less than lethal” nose job DOES result in a death, other than the officer’s, of a “subject” will that be grounds for a product liability law suit?

    1. avatar Mark says:

      Don’t forget the time the officer has one of these on his belt but does not use it. I could just hear the trial attorney now. “….You had the option but instead you decided to use deadly force which resulted in the murder of my client’s alter boy son…”

  16. avatar achmed says:

    Holy crap really??

  17. avatar achmed says:

    If these people actually got venture capital for this then I never want to read a news story about tight capital markets.

  18. avatar Publius2 says:

    Where is the video of the CEO standing in front of five cops demo’ing the clown balls bouncing off.

    Seriously. If the situation requires restraint enough to fumble the clown ball out of the glove box, or the belt carrier, why not just use a tazer? Or a shotgun with bean bag rounds?

    And who is going to trust cops trained to fire until the threat is stopped, to suddenly stop pulling trigger after the first shot….

    Anyone remember the two elderly ladies delivering newspapers in LA who were lit up by nervous cops, fearing a rogue cop twice their size, of a different race, driving a different model and color pickup truck?

    This is Armatix level dumb….

  19. avatar El Bearsidente says:

    Okay, I’m in Austria. We don’t shoot a lot. If one shoots, it’s usually our SWAT, aka the WEGA or the COBRA.

    But this thing… is kind of along the lines of “What the monkey F?”

    This thing doesn’t fit into my holster. In a special holster that would allow to carry this already mounted, it would let my Glock basically bounce around in the holster. Not a good idea.

    I have to mount this manually in case I change my mind? I carry a Glock, a tazer and pepper spray, so why don’t I just go for option 2 or 3 right away? Okay, I have the advantage of not being on the beat by myself, I have a partner, so he can keep his sidearm our while I get the tazer or the spray.

    Heck, I’m probably faster holstering my sidearm and drawing my tazer or spray than fiddling around with this.

    So what exactly is the point of this?

    1. avatar Nate says:

      My guess is the point is to get police officers killed.

  20. avatar JQP says:

    haha, better not bump that ball out of alignment at all. That is just stupid for a multitude of reasons. Just use your damn taser

  21. avatar Hannibal says:

    If you want a less-lethal weapon, use a taser. Yes, they’re a lot more expensive… up until the point one of these things fails and you have a dead officer or dead suspect (who wasn’t a threat to life).

  22. avatar ToddR says:

    “Hey Bubba, stand right still for a second, I want to test this thing out!” (said the man before he killed his buddy)

  23. avatar former water walker says:

    This may be the dumbest s##t I’ve EVER seen. Well…not including electing a “community organizer” twice 🙂

  24. avatar CoolBreeze says:

    You’re all missing the point. This product will give cops a “kinder, gentler” image. It’s a PR gimmick designed to reduce liability costs.

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      Yeah cop funerals are great PR except for the traffic tie-ups.


  25. avatar Marcus (Aurelius) Payne says:

    If someone poses a reasonable that too the office life, then the gun should be drawn unaltered. If they do not pose a threat but need to be subdued, then tasers or pepper spray should be used.

    It’s complicated enough as it is.

  26. avatar JasonM says:

    If only the cops carried a less lethal option on their belts for these situations.
    …maybe some sort of gun that shoots electric probes to stun the guy with high voltage…

    1. avatar Nate says:

      Too bad such a thing doesn’t exist…

    2. avatar Hannibal says:

      And while such a device would not be perfect, at least one would not have to worry about its use rendering one’s sidearm into a paperweight.

  27. avatar Christopher Hall says:

    Eh why not? We trust the police right. If there is an opportunity id try that on first shot. I mean geez, I can follow up with 16 + p hollow points if it dosen’t work.

    1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      “If there is an opportunity”

      Thus challenging the concept of “imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury” that is the hallmark of “jeopardy” in a self defense / use of deadly force pleading.

  28. avatar Jus Bill says:

    OK, I checked. It’s not April 1st.

  29. avatar SigGuy says:

    Maybe we can get a camera into the clown nose so we can have real time bore sight view of the perp as he is getting hit!

  30. avatar Model66 says:

    Some many condom innuendos……so little time.

  31. avatar Shawn says:

    This is one of the dumbest ideas I’ve ever seen. I’m sure MDA or some such groups think it’s brilliant.

  32. avatar Nate says:

    You guys have it all wrong, the idea is that the perp in question will see this nonsense hanging off the end of the officers gun and fall down laughing, thus rendering him/her harmless.

  33. avatar Kendahl says:

    Cop says to bad guy, “Time out. I need to put my Alternative on my gun.” That’s as stupid as a homeowner telling an intruder, “Time out. I need to take the trigger lock off my gun.”

  34. avatar Anonymoose says:

    FN 303P!

  35. No one seems to have commented on this aspect: A twelve-year-old gangbanger can now wave around one of these weapons and no one will bother him. “Look, an orange tip. It’s a toy gun!”

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

    1. avatar mountocean says:

      Counterpoint: a $2 can of spray paint.

      That was my first thought as well, but I think it’s orange so the cop can me more sure it is properly attached. if you look at the 2011 video the original black device would have been much easier to knock off or drop without noticing, and then you’d be shooting lead when you thought it was rubber.

      1. avatar Nate says:

        Which is exactly why this is a bad idea, no matter whether it works or not. mixing lethal and less lethal is bad news.

        1. avatar mountocean says:

          Lethal is always bad news for someone. It’s worse when it’s your only option or you can’t apply it when you need to.

  36. avatar mountocean says:

    I like it.
    It looks a lot easier than carrying a dedicated less lethal shotgun.
    Bear Harassment (that’s a technical wildlife management term)
    The Saginaw, MI homeless man shot by 8 cops would have probably liked it too.
    As with the Albuquerque, NM man shot after camping illegally.
    Unlike a single shot Taser you have aprox. 16 rounds right behind it.
    I’m not saying those shoots weren’t justified, but they could have played out much differently with more ranged “forced compliance” options.

    1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      “Unlike a single shot Taser you have aprox. 16 rounds right behind it.”

      You have shots after even a single shot Taser if you need them; your sidearm does not disappear just because you tazed someone.

      Also, isn’t it one tactical doctrine of use of Taser that it is deployed with cover officers having weapons drawn and presented?

      I mean…it sure seems like you are reaching to justify the existence of an overly complicated solution to a problem that really does not exist. Between general Use of Force Continuum guidelines and other options available…what does this REALLY bring to the table?

      It’s “cute” and “new” and the anti’s will love it, until it fails and either a cop gets killed TRYING to attach that thing to the muzzle of his gun in a struggle or a BG gets killed because it’s still a projectile or it was not attached correctly or whatever.

      Too many “moving parts.” Too many things have to be done right, under stress. It’s a bad, bad, bad idea.

      The only people that would favor this don’t understand the true dynamics of deadly force encounters.

      1. avatar mountocean says:

        Taser wasn’t the best example, I’ll give you that.
        I still think it’s more convenient than a separate shotgun for less-lethal. Maybe too convenient; there is a strong case for keeping lethal and less lethal separate, but I think this could be a useful tool.
        As for deadly force encounters, not every situation in the use of force continuum requires deadly force. It’s hard to force compliance with pressure point or baton when the asshole across the room from you is holding a knife, or maybe he has no weapons but you don’t want to get near him until you can “convince” him to turn around and lay down.
        It’s not going to make all cops perfect and all crooks docile, but it’s an option worth considering.

  37. avatar Sean says:

    It would be much better if it was designed as a shuttlecock instead of a ping-pong ball. Ultimate badminton anyone?

  38. avatar gearshiv says:

    Rudolph the red nosed glock?

  39. avatar Royal Tony says:

    Oh wow. I thought that cartoonishly large “less-than-lethal” revolver from a few weeks ago was dumb looking. This takes the dumb looking cake, and eats it too.

  40. avatar TJ Kirgin says:

    The projectile is NOT rubber, it is steal and heavy. I got to play with one of these in St. Louis before the Ferguson decision.

  41. avatar Jason says:

    I love the RTF2!!!!!!!!

  42. avatar JJ Swiontek says:

    I thought that the police are trained “If you need to shoot, shoot until the perp is down. And if one officer shoots, all officers shoot.”

    So, how many incidents of police shooting are there where the officer only shoots once? Zero?

  43. avatar Paul L says:

    “OOPS! Sorry about the double-tap!”

  44. avatar borg says:

    If this device affects reduces the noise the firearm makes when being fired the ATF may define it as a silencer which could cause problems in making this device available.

  45. avatar The Original Brad says:

    So what’s the point of this device? If you have time to mess with one of these stupid things, you have time to employ a TASER. A TASER will generally, almost always incapacitate. This thing will likely just piss off the perp and have him charge, necessitating a follow-up double tap. The use of force continuum is too very fluid a concept to messwith somethign like this. You’ve got your weapon out and covering a bad guy who’se being less than cooperative. You’re going to do what, lower your weapon and fumble with this thing while adrenaline is coursing through you? What if the guy thinks its a joke and goes after his own gun after you’ve gotten the drop on him? Now you just created a shoot situation where there might not have been?

    This is a bad idea all around because as the article points out, messing with the muzzle of a loaded firearm in a very stressful situation is a very bad idea.

  46. avatar Jimmy says:

    So, on their website they answer all of your questions and concerns. I personally have no idea but when I first heard about this, I head a specific situation come into mind that oddly no one has addressed (unless they did in the comments which I didn’t read; I’m talking about the articles I read). I picture the situation that is politically tense right now: several cops with a guy who MAY be armed but is not showing the weapon; usually all white cops and a black man; the two groups have great animosity for each other but also know the political situation in America right now, so the suspect eggs the cops on in hopes maybe getting the initial charges dropped, or suing, or maybe just because he hates cops and cops hate him. Now, the one cop doesn’t want to wind up on the news so he put on “the Alternative,” which seriously sounds like lambskin condoms which have always grossed me out… I mean, think about it: you’re putting some dad animals bare skin over our most sensitive bare skin… Fuck that. Fuck condoms altogether. And fuck ADHD. So, the cop has this ridiculousness on, and the suspect, knowing he’s unarmed (which btw, doesn’t have any bearing on the legality of the action for two reasons: first, the officers MUST operate under the information they have been given, i.e. “he’s armed.” And two, officers are allowed to step up their escalation of force one level. This is meant to keep you dumbfucks from assaluting and trying to murder cops. It’s also meant to allow the officer the right to PREVENT himself from being assaulted or murdered. So, you want to fist fight she breaks your femur with a baton, that’s legal. You try to break her femur with a baton and, she turns your head into a canoe with DEagle .50, that’s legal. As it should be.) rushes the cops. So, the camera shy cop puts this massive projectile (by the way it’s a metallic ball now, they have revamped the design to prevent it from interfering with the sights of the weapon and the rail system of the weapon. It doesn’t look nearly as ridiculous as the one pictured hear, it’s a fucking clown’s nose, but it’s still ridiculous.) center mass into this guy. Now, one of two things occur, either of which are now more or less politically acceptable. Situation 1: The sound of the gunshot and the feeling of being hit by something hurts and scares the suspect enough so that he stops, whether voluntarily or involuntarily doesn’t matter. Then, no news crews. Situation 2, the guy doesn’t stop his charge so the cops must now fire lethal rounds. Hopefully he survives, but either way, the cops showed that his intentions had to be lethal if after presented with lethal force he refused to stop. So, win-win. And btw, any competent operator, soldier, officer, or firearm owner, would not have their finger on the trigger while attaching this. So, to the incompetent ones: STUPID SHOULD HURT. I’m not sure why this is superior to a tazer, though I can certainly see why it’s superior to a bean bag shotgun in portability. To me, if nothing else, it’s a political appeaser. I’d like to see actual feedback from actual incidents by uninvolved people. Anyways, B- writing and humor, though I give your organization an A.

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