Shrapnel bullets go on sale

Two new hyper-destructive bullets - one designed to do maximum damage to flesh, the other able to penetrate body armour - are going on sale in the United States. Their inventor, a research chemist, defends the first type, Rhino-Ammo, as "a strictly defensive round" for use against attackers and intruders.

Rhino-Ammo's packaging claims that the bullet breaks into thousands of razor-sharp fragments when it hits human flesh: "Each of these fragments becomes lethal shrapnel and is hurled into vital organs, lungs, circulatory system components, the heart and other tissues. The wound channel is catastrophic . . . Death is nearly instantaneous."

David Keen, chief executive of Signature Products in Huntsville, Alabama, said: "The beauty behind it is that it makes an incredible wound. That makes the target stop and worry about survival instead of robbing or murdering you."

The Black Rhino version improves on ordinary Rhino-Ammo by having a point designed to penetrate protective material such as Kevlar. Once it reaches flesh, the round is as destructive as Rhino-Ammo.

Rhino-Ammo will sell for $4 a round, about seven times as much as traditional bullets, and will come with a money-back guarantee of complete satisfaction.

Signature Products used to make coatings for radar-evading stealth aircraft. When the Cold War ended and defence contracts dropped off, Mr Keen sought new products.

Mr Keen says Black Rhino bullets will be sold only to police and federally licensed firearms dealers. But there are a quarter of a million such dealers and police fear that criminals will get hold of the armour-piercing bullets. A Democrat congressman isto introduce legislation banning any bullet that can penetrate bulletproof vests.

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