Our cookies

We use cookies, which are small text files, to improve your experience on our website.
You can allow or reject non essential cookies or manage them individually.

Reject allAllow all

More options  •  Cookie policy

Our cookies

Allow all

We use cookies, which are small text files, to improve your experience on our website. You can allow all or manage them individually.

You can find out more on our cookie page at any time.

EssentialThese cookies are needed for essential functions such as logging in and making payments. Standard cookies can’t be switched off and they don’t store any of your information.
AnalyticsThese cookies help us collect information such as how many people are using our site or which pages are popular to help us improve customer experience. Switching off these cookies will reduce our ability to gather information to improve the experience.
FunctionalThese cookies are related to features that make your experience better. They enable basic functions such as social media sharing. Switching off these cookies will mean that areas of our website can’t work properly.

Save preferences

Mode of Action

Penetrative stunners cause insensibility due to the concussive blow to the skull and the physical damage resulting from the entry of the bolt into the brain.

Non-penetrative stunners have a ‘mushroom-headed’ bolt which impacts with the skull but does not enter the brain. This type of stunner causes insensibility due to concussive forces alone. Under EU legislation, non-penetrative stunners are only permitted for use on poultry, rabbits, hares and ruminants less than 10kg liveweight.

Method of Firing

Captive-bolt stunners may be trigger-fired or fired by contact with the animal’s head. Trigger-fired penetrative stunners are the most versatile and can be used on a range of different species in different situations, e.g. in abattoirs, on the farm or in a confined space, such as an aircraft. The trigger mechanism may be a conventional pistol-grip (Figure 2) or a trigger pad on the body of the stunner (Figure 3). Contact-fired captive-bolt stunners (Figure 4) are only suitable for stunning cattle which are restrained in a stunning box; they are not suitable for use outside the abattoir on animals which are not restrained.


Figure 2: Penetrative, trigger-fired captive-bolt stunnerKey: Bolt (A), Stop washers (B), Flange & piston (C), Expansion chamber (D), Breech (E), Ejector (F), Hammer (G), Trigger mechanism (H), Trigger (I), Undercut (J), Recuperator Sleeves (K)



Figure 3: Non-pentrative, trigger-fired captive-bolt stunner Key: Cocking mechanism (A), Trigger (B), Breech (C), Ejector (D), Expansion chamber (E), Flange & piston (F), Bolt (G), Barrel (H), Damper (I), Mushroom head (J)



Figure 4: Penetrative, contact-fired captive-bolt stunnerKey: Firing pin (A), Breech (B), Expansion chamber (C), Flange & piston (D), Stop washer (E), Cap (F), Retaining band (G), Recuperator sleeves (H), Stop washers (I), Bolt (J)

In the EU, operators must have a Certificate of Competence in order to use captive-bolt equipment for the routine slaughter or killing of livestock. The use of captive-bolt equipment in emergency situations does not require a Certificate of Competence although it is recommended that operators still seek appropriate training for such scenarios.

The law regarding licensing and certification, in connection with the use of captive-bolt equipment, differs within and between nation states, according to the circumstances. Users of captive-bolt equipment must be familiar with the statutory requirements relating to their particular situations.


Next: Energy Source

Back to top