Hallucinogenic bullets

An article in the American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology discusses the history of ‘modern toxic antipersonnel projectiles’ and it has a short history of ammunition designed to introduce incapacitating hallucinogenic substances into the body.

As you might expect for such an unpleasant idea (chemical weapon hand guns!) they were wielded by some fairly unpleasant people

The Nazi Institute of Criminology then ordered a batch of more powerful 9-mm Parabellum cartridges that could be used with the Walther P38. This time the bullets contained Ditran, a mixture of 2 structural isomers comprising approximately 70% 1-ethyl-2-pyrrolidinylmethyl-alpha-phenylcyclopentylglycolate and 30% 1-ethyl-3-piperidyl-alpha-phenylcyclopentylglycolate (also known as Ditran B). Ditran B is the more active of the 2 isomers, both of which are strong anticholinergic drugs with hallucinogenic properties similar to those of scopolamine. Victims are thrown into such a state of mental confusion that they are incapable of reacting appropriately to the situations they find themselves in…

3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate, also known as QNB and coded BZ by NATO, is a military incapacitating agent. Like Ditran, it is an anticholinergic causing such intense mental confusion as to prevent any effective reaction against an enemy. These bullets were featured in the arsenal of the Serbian forces invading Bosnia-Herzegovina, particularly in Srebrenica in the 1990s.


Link to locked article ‘Modern Toxic Antipersonnel Projectiles’

5 thoughts on “Hallucinogenic bullets”

  1. Interesting to imagine some dictators had some sort of Palace Chemist working for them (and I assume atropine must work FAST if victims were running away at the time)? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I’m sort of surprised the journal mentioned “informed amateurs”, as even in American crime dramas it’s agreed they won’t provide hints as of how to poison someone or create a homemade bomb.

  2. Interesting snippet but how common were the bullets (expensive to produce I assume) in any of these contexts and – as with all drug effect issues – did they work (either at all, consistently etc.)

  3. For whatever reason, I’ve always had a bizarre fascination with BZ. Maybe it was the movie Jacob’s Ladder, which is arguably about a fatal exposure to chemical weapons during the Vietnam War. Maybe it was all the stories I heard about CIA testing of incapacitants via their MKUltra program (although they used rather mundane compounds compared to BZ).

    I’ve read claims about the testing of BZ by the U.S. Army and possibly the CIA, but I don’t know if these claims have ever been substantiated. The Army is pretty sensitive about revealing their testing of chemical agents, but we know that they have certainly tested them: http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Edgewood_Arsenal_experiments

    I can’t help wondering what terrible chemical incapacitants have been invented in more recent years, given that BZ has now been around for over half a century.

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