Poison 7-mm Sniper Projectiles?


I was watching NCIS tonight where a beautiful Korean Assassin lady was using a 7-mm Sniper rifle with poison coated projectiles. They were claiming it was a fail-safe incase the wound was not fatal. Anyhow, can poison survive the explosive trip to impact? I would guess not? Is this “Hollywood” or truth? :-)



There’s some pretty intense fast-working poisons out there in the form of neurotoxins from dart frogs, jellyfish, and scorpions which could be encapsulated in some sort of impact-dispersed compartment in a jacketed projectile. But the biological logistics & engineering constraints on the feasibility of this are daunting. You’d be better off just taking 2 or 3 shots to be sure of a kill - and you could use plain old lead bullets. Or just one shot anywhere on the body with a 50BMG…


There is a very interesting article in Journal #451 titled “A Story of Poison Bullets in World War II” by David S. McKay. The projectiles described had an internal payload of “aconite”.

I would think “coating” a projectile with an extremely toxic substance would be a problem for the shooter as the rather energetic event of launching a bullet down a rifle barrel might liberate some of the toxin into the local atmosphere.



There have been a number of efforts to make “poison” bullets. The article in the IAA Journal is the only documentation I know of on how well they worked. All the ones I have heard of carried the poison load internally, not coated on the outside of the bullet as NCIS asserts.

I have read that during various wars there have been reports/rumors of people coating bullets in excretement or similar substances to increase the impact of a wound, but I have no idea whether this really happened or any results if it did.

I don’t know of any “poison” rifle bullets, but that is not my area and others are far more qualified to address this. I have a memory that someone once claimed that an inventory of ammunition destroy on Guam after WWII included 30-06 ammunition loaded with poison gas. Has anyone else heard this story?




Mel Carpenter can write chapter and verse about MBA’s (Gyrojet folks) “micro” projectiles from .22 carriers up thru .308 (? .30-06) that were coated with “bad things”

If he doesn’t chime in here…stay tuned for his “massive” book


OK, Pepper. I’ll rise to the bait.

MBA made a series of “Javelin Stabilized Quiet Rounds” and launchers (pistols) beginning in 1964. The systems were type-classified by the U.S. Army as the M1, and they were at least field-tested in Vietnam. Some sources say they were used operationally in Vietnam, others say they were not. The CIA was also involved in the project and provided funding.

The cartridges held 0.030-inch-diameter Javettes with tungsten heads and threaded magnesium tails to hold a chemical or biological payload. One use was to temporarily put down guard dogs at enemy installations so special forces or clandestine agents could enter, do their business, and then leave with no evidence they had been there. The guard dogs would awake, no worse off. If the mission was assassination, the agent was biological, normally saxitoxin made from shellfish. Death was almost instantaneous.

The Javettes were fired at velocities below the speed of sound from silenced pistols. Because of their velocity and small size, targets were not aware that they had been shot. Impact was below the threshold of pain in almost all cases.

Cartridges were both electric centerfire rounds and converted .22 Long Rifle versions. There are several variations of these, all as scarce as hens’ teeth, including a converted 5.56mm version designed to be fired from an M16. These are discussed in IAA Journal #473, May-June, 2010, and several of the “poision” rounds are shown on the issue’s cover.

Complete coverage of the systems is in chapter 5 of my book, MBA Gyrojets and Other Ordnance, which finally went to the printers two days ago. Thanks, Pepper, for the opportunity to plug the book.




please let us know when your new book is available!!




You guys rule! Thanks so much on filling me in. Mel, I TOTALLY want to buy a copy of your upcoming book. Pretty excited to read it. I just hope I can get a copy signed :-)

I would imagine a projectile with Dart Frog toxin would be a MAJOR pain in the butt to produce. This especially true since Dart frogs loose a massive percentage of their toxic potency in captivity so they would have to use toxins from fresh, wild-caught specimens. On top of that, there are only one (Phyllobates terribilis), maybe 2 species that produce potent enough toxins to kill a human. I LOVE DART FROGS and used to care for a large captive collection a few years ago. Anyhow, I like the idea of just using another bullet to get the job done.

PS: Fired-up for Mel’s book!