Here’s a Look at Six High-Tech Guns
Keeping it that way sets American taxpayers back over $700 billion a year. About 1/7 of that, or around $100 billion annually, goes to research and development of new weapons systems. Here’s a look at six of the high-tech guns that have come from these efforts.
Some of these are already in service with our troops overseas. Others are still being considered and may never see action. Others are in the very early testing stages. However, all of them make for great reading, and for a look at what our tax dollars pay for.
The XM25 Air Burst Grenade Launcher
Grenades can be devastating weapons, provided they explode near their target. Historically, they have been limited by the strength of the soldier throwing them, as well as by barriers erected by the enemy.
The XM25 has the potential to overcome both those limitations. It launches 25mm grenades at a muzzle velocity of 690 feet per second up to 700 yards. It was designed and built by Heckler and Koch, with an assist from Alliant Technosystems.
Anyone who is familiar with military weaponry knows that grenade launchers have been used for decades now, but what sets this weapon apart is the variable-time fuse that causes it to explode just as it reaches its target. A laser rangefinder determines the distance to the enemy, setting the moment of detonation accordingly. The grenade explodes directly over the target. This makes it effective against enemy installations that are hidden behind barricades or dug into the ground. The launcher can also fire armor-piercing and thermobaric rounds, which are like pressurized Molotov cocktails but far more lethal.
The XM25 was issued to members of the 101st Airborne in Afghanistan on a trial basis in 2010. The weapon was highly praised for its ability to neutralize enemy combatants, especially those firing on U.S. forces from covered positions. American troops have given it the nickname “the Punisher”, and the army recently ordered 36 more of them.
The XM2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle
Sometimes a design of certain high-tech guns is so good that it just doesn’t make sense to scrap it and start all over from scratch. The military decided this was the case when it tried to replace the venerable M24 sniper rifle, which has been in service since 1988. Its intended successor, the M110 semi-automatic rifle, fell out of favor after it developed technical problems in the field. So the powers-that-be decided to give the classic M24 a facelift. The result is the XM2010, which is based on the M24 but includes the following enhancements:
- An upgrade from the 7.62 x 51 mm NATO round to the .300 Winchester magnum, for an increased effective range from 875 yards to over 1500.
- A detachable five-round magazine for a greater rate of fire.
- An advanced silencer/muzzle brake, which reduces sound, visible muzzle blast, and heat signature, for greater stealth capabilities.
- Replacing the old stock with one that is highly adjustable, allowing the shooter to customize it to his physique for greater accuracy.
- An improved sight that automatically adjusts for bullet drop over distance.
The XM2010 has been in use by U.S. snipers in Afghanistan since March of 2011.
The Magpul FMG-9
Toting a large handheld weapon can be highly effective for its intimidation factor. Sometimes a more low-key approach is called for, however. For example, U.S. Secret Service agents must be prepared for anything from lone lunatics with handguns to groups of heavily-armed terrorists, but given their proximity to the public, carrying rocket launchers and field machine guns isn’t really an option.
Enter the Magpul FMG (folding machine gun) 9. Fashioned from lightweight polymers, it’s easy to carry at only 2.4 pounds. It can also be folded up to resemble a laptop battery. However, when unfolded, it becomes a selective-fire weapon chambered for 9mm rounds. Based around the Glock 17, it can unload bullets at the rate of 1200 r.p.m. Its standard magazine holds 30 rounds.
The truly amazing thing about these high-tech guns is how quickly they can go from an innocent-looking object to a ready-to-fire weapon. Simply give it a flip, and the butt appears out of nowhere. A small built-in stock gives the operator the ability to open fire on the intended target with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Then, just as quick, it folds back up.
Currently it’s in the testing phase. However, its potential uses are almost unlimited. Government agents, law enforcement, and even troops needing to minimize their carry weight could all benefit from this wicked little changeling.
The Cornershot 40
Poking your head around a corner is always a risky thing to do, especially when one is in a combat situation. Waiting on the other side could be an armed enemy waiting to fire. That’s what makes this weapon so incredibly useful. Built by Cornershot, an Israeli arms manufacturer, it can fire 40mm projectiles around corners. High explosive, illumination, smoke, and fragmentation rounds are all available for this handy firearm.
The last several inches of the barrel pivot 90 degrees for the around-the-corner effect. Combined with a muzzle-mounted camera and video screen located near the trigger guard, it allows the shooter to not only see what’s around the next bend but to deal with it in a very effective manner.
The pivoting barrel end holds a ready-to-fire grenade. It can bend left or right, around door frames, downward from roof tops, or around the edges of walls. Versions of this weapon have been in use since 2005, but the Cornerstone 40 adds the ability to fire high-explosive and other 40mm rounds at the target. Now looking around the corner is a lot less risky for our troops, as well as law enforcement officers and others who use this amazing weapons system.
What’s Still a Ways in the Future
While all of these premier guns are welcome additions for our military and police, each of them is still a refinement on the centuries-old technology of using explosive powder to shoot metal projectiles. A little further down the pike, however, are high-tech guns that are in various stages of development, ones that will completely redefine what the word “gun” means. Here are some examples:
The U.S. Navy is currently testing a weapon that uses electromagnetism to fire shells, instead of combustible propellants. Known as “rail guns,” when deployed, they will be able to launch a projectile at 17,200 feet per second, around Mach Five. To put that into perspective, a Remington UMC 180 grain JSP .44 magnum round exits a barrel at around 1600 feet per second. The destructive potential of these electromagnetic weapons is mind-boggling.
- There are reports that the military is testing a combination laser/lightning gun. A high-intensity light beam creates a path for a human-made bolt of electricity to follow. If you’ve ever wondered when ray guns, like the ones on Star Trek or Star Wars, will actually exist, consider this weapon the first working model.
With arms like the ones discussed in this article, it’s a safe bet that our military will stay the best-trained and best-equipped fighting force on earth for many years to come. For patriotic Americans, that is a very comforting thought; for our enemies, not so much.
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