Technology can be great, but should it be used to advance firearms?
Firearms have changed very little in the last century. With today’s technology advancing faster than ever we could soon be seeing great changes in how everything from rifles to handguns operate. What could be the pros and cons of adding tech to weapons and is the world ready for it? Let’s start with the pros.
The first company to add advanced technology to a firearm was Tracking Point. They offer a line of rifles for hunting and tactical applications with Linux-based tracking systems. This same technology used to only be available to fighter jets and tanks.
Founder John Mchale came up with the idea while hunting gazelle in Africa in 2011. After missing a shot at 500 yards he wished there was a way to help a shooter track and target game from long range. After roughly 2.5 years of development the first rifles were available in January of 2013.
By getting your target on the scope and simply pressing a button the weapon tracks the point you locked on until you are realigned. By not allowing you to fire until you are locked on again, the weapon allows hunters guaranteed kill shots almost every time.
So this begs the question, isn’t that kind of cheating? According to Anson Gordon, a representative of Tracking Point, no.
You really have to ask what’s the end goal? To harvest game successfully. Anything beyond using sticks and stones is really an advantage. This is no different than using current scopes and accessories on the market now. Just more advanced and efficient.
As of now, these rifles are capable of shooting accurately up to within half of an inch and up to 1,800 yards, even on targets moving up to 20 miles per hour. This is a 600-yard increase from when they were first released, only being able to go up to 1,200 yards.
The most interesting ability of Tracking Points weapons is the ability to show what the shooter sees in real time via mobile devices and their ShotGlass. This cool feature allows for a great way to teach novice hunters and shooters good accuracy and help them make quick adjustments. If the shooter is wearing them they allow you to shoot around corners or behind cover while recording everything that is happening.
These guns do have their limitations though. They run on two lithium battery backs giving you 5-6 hours of continuous use. If the power dies, you can still shoot the rifle but without any view of the target.
“We don’t recommend doing this though,” Gordon said jokingly.
This year they released the “Mile Maker” .338 TP bolt action rifle as well as lighter versions of their .308, .300 magnum, and .260 caliber rifles.
Tracking Point wants it to be known that they are very strong supporters of the Second Amendment, and do not want their product dragged into the “smart gun” category. Smart guns have become infamously associated with gun control, which the Tracking Point weapon is not.
Gun control is obviously a large con of technology in guns. Smart guns are designed so that shooters other than the gun owner cannot operate the gun. This is via the use of RFID, fingerprint scanning, or even microchip implants.Bing the only person able to fire your weapon is a good thing right? It could be, but it is much more complicated than that.
First of all, smart anything requires a power source to operate. This is probably the most critical flaw with smart guns as of now. Could you imagine needing your firearm only to draw it and find the batteries allowing you to shoot it are dead?
Electronics, no matter how amazing, can fail. Programming can malfunction and circuits breakdown. Not to mention that electronic identification, including RFID and biometrics, is still in its early stages of development. It may be great at opening doors but it’s not ready to be relied upon so heavily for operating something in an emergency situation.
The final and probably most worrisome piece of this puzzle is weapons tracking and disarming. What is stopping the government from making it mandatory programming that a weapon be able to be disarmed remotely? They or anyone else with access could then disable any one or all smart-equipped guns instantly, turning them into paperweights and leaving you defenseless.
Our government has been pushing hard for advancements in smarter guns and has even tried passing a few laws for smart guns to become mandatory when they are more readily available. This has stalled a lot of American gun makers from investing any funds into research and development for smart gun engineering and production.
Outside of improving shooting performance there is still a lot of work to be done in the field of applying technology to firearms. This is still a new concept and in the future it could allow for some amazing things to be done for gun operators. I guess we will just have to sit back and keep an eye on what is being done in this field.