A Russian non-lethal pistol (Osa or PB4) designed in the late 1990s is slowly gaining popularity among police in Europe and North America. Osa is a unique and innovative design for a pistol that can used as a starter pistol, a flare gun or non-lethal weapon to subdue people. The Osa is very compact, being only as long as the grip and trigger and weighs 400 gr (14 ounces). It carries four rounds (2x2) and is reloaded like a twin barrel shotgun. The shells are similar (18mm) to those used by a 12 gauge shotgun. Thus the Osa ammo, at 18x45, looks similar to the shortest 12 gauge shells. One obvious difference is the Osa shells are metallic and they contain a lot less propellant. Thus shotgun slugs travel nearly five times faster than do the Osa ones. As a result Osa fires rubber bullets (or “slugs”) that are designed to temporarily disable and disorient the target. Osa also fires a flare round as well as a “flash bang” one that generates a loud bang along with a bright flash. Another shell, which just produces a loud noise, is used as a starter pistol.
Osa is electrically fired and the latest version has a laser pointer built in. Osa is only accurate for a few meters (about ten feet) and firing at the head when less than a meter (three feet away) can produce permanent injury. In Russia the Osa was available to civilians as well as police but in the West it is mostly restricted to police use.