Rubber bullets were designed to be a non-lethal round for use against crowds of protestors to drive them back when lethal force would be inappropriate. The British Army began to use these rounds extensively in Northern Ireland during the troubles, with their first use in August 1970. The round itself has a metal core surrounded by rubber and this six inch projectile is fired from a metal casing that is slotted into a modified flare gun action in a weapon designated the L67:Tonight we are looking at the casing from one of these rounds, and my thanks go to Michael Fletcher who helped me add this one to the collection. The casing is made of aluminium and in shape and size is identical to the CS practice version we looked at here but chemically blackened:
Stencilled around the outside of the case is ‘ROUND A RIOT 1.5IN BATON LR L3A1’:This then indicates that this is an Anti-riot round, the bore diameter is 1.5 inches and that it is a long range baton round. A second marking indicates that the round was assembled in January 1973:The case itself was manufactured in October 1972, as indicated on the base:56,000 of these rounds were fired by 1975 and the instructions were for it to be fired at the ground so it ricocheted up into the target as it could cause serious injury and indeed fatalities if fired directly at a person. A safer plastic baton round was introduced in 1972 and slowly replaced this round over the next few years although a small number of fatalities have still arisen. During the troubles 17 people were killed by rubber and plastic baton rounds. Considering that 125,000 of the rounds had been fired that works out to a death rate of 0.0136% so they were a comparatively safe way of dealing with a rioting crowd, especially if used correctly and aimed at the abdomen and legs where they caused great pain but little risk of death, rounds striking the chest or head had the capacity to be fatal and training emphasised how soldiers and police could use the rounds most safely.