Are we responsible for the lack of advancement in firearms?


March 17, 2003, 11:31 AM
<Flame Suit on>

I was wondering, cell phones, digital cameras etc... a new generation of design etc.. every 6 months. guns?? nope.

Are we responsible?

So let's say I'm a gun maker, and I want to design a new gun. It costs R&D money, and everybody will poopoo all over it... Why bother when I have people who are STILL buying 1911's and won't buy anything else? Why bother with new designs and inventions if the market never forces me to?

So... are we responsible for the lack of gun evolution?? Specifically those who buy guns of very very old design and claim they are still are the best.

The other side of the coin is that, guns aren't something like cell phones, you can't just design one, and if it's a bad design, say oh well... Because lives depend on the quality of guns made...

I happen to think that with markets like 1911 etc.. I don't think there is incentive to make newer guns...

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March 17, 2003, 11:45 AM
This sounds familiar....

I of course agree wholeheartedly. Just look at the bicycle industry. Another "sporting goods" industry working in the same materials on mechanical devices sold in the same price range for the same profit margin. No one would think of racing a 1960's era bicycle, let alone one from 1910. And while some older designs (the classic steel frame bicycle) will always have a following, new stuff comes out constantly.

The firearms industry and its consumers are not forward thinking.

March 17, 2003, 11:46 AM
The UNCONSTITUTIONAL gun laws in this country stifle any innovations in firearms design. All the great gun designs of the past were invented by individuals, not corporations.

Jesse H
March 17, 2003, 11:48 AM
Cell phones, digital cameras, computers, etc, are all based on electronics. These things seem to constantly be updated and become obsolete in 6 months since the technology is still growing as things get smaller and more powerful. Still alot of untapped resources there.

Firearms aren't based on technology that spawned in the past 50? years, thus hard to improve on. I'm a relative noob to the hobby, but I'm sure a 1911 and its ammo of today is more reliable and accurate compared to a typical .45 back in the early 1900's.

Similar to automotive engines. I remember 10 years ago when 200 crank horsepower from a 3.0 liter was impressive. Today, I can easily hit 200 wheel horsepower from my naturally aspirated 1.8 liter. I don't think it'd be possible to generate twice the power with almost half the displacement 10 years from now when it comes to gasoline engines.

March 17, 2003, 11:59 AM
Guns for the civilian market are no longer on the forefront of technological development. The government has seen to that with the NFA rules. Innovation in civilian guns is like innovation in cord phones. It's interesting, but not that exciting or profitable, relative to the profits from military or government sales.

March 17, 2003, 12:05 PM
I wouldn't say that we are responsible. It's not the sort of thing where one assigns blame. It's called a "market reality"

The reason there have not been a lot of major changes in firearm design is simple - most of the major discoveries were made 50-100 years ago. Everything since has been miniaturization (see, KelTecs, Kahrs, airweight revolvers) materials (Glocks, USPs) and new calibers (most of which have been commercial failures, in both long and hand guns).

The process is complicated even more by legislation and regulation, which have kept the civilian market from enjoying many of the new advances in materials/action design, which have been for military apllications only, sadly.

I think a better way to state the issue wouldn't be "Why do people keep buying 1911's?" but rather "Why hasn't anything provably superior to the 1911 been developed in the last 100 years?" the answer may be that, given our technology level, the 1911 is simply the best we can do.

That said, I also think you are ignoring a lot of innovation that has been going on in the firearms industry. High capacity handguns, new high-powered rifle cartridges (and handgun cartridges, for that matter) tiny full-power handguns, greater and greater reliability...

you get the idea. In short, I think that there is still a lot of innovation in the industry, and that whatever deficit of innovation there may be compared to, for example, the computer industry, can be traced to the fact that we have pretty much maximized our utilization of the technologies and materiels available to designers at this time.

March 17, 2003, 12:08 PM
There IS the Glock 37.... :D

El Tejon
March 17, 2003, 12:08 PM
No, as wayn sez it is the NFA, the SSA, etc., et al that provides the "barriers to entry" to every would-be John Moses. Why bother when faced with a blizzard of forms and costs associated to do things legally?

March 17, 2003, 12:08 PM
Jesse H - you are correct.

that phenomenon is called "low-hanging fruit" in R&D. It refers to the fact that the more you develop and improve on a product, the harder it becomes to make each marginal improvement in the future.

I think that all the low-hanging fruit in the firearms industry was used up post-WWII. Since then we've been reaching higher and higher, for diminishing returns.

March 17, 2003, 12:18 PM
The NFA does not prevent you from building any firearm you want, as long as the barrel is of appropriate length, and it's not silenced or full auto.

If a private citizen had come up with the FN Five-seven, they could have built it.

The basic mechanisms that a firearms developer would want to work with have little to do with the NFA.

Handguns especially are no more accurate than they were in 1900. Unique powder, also approaching the 100 year mark, is almost as effective a handgun propellant as any other. Current service pistols are barely more reliable than the 1911's they were tested against. There is plenty of room for progress, and you are welcome to do it.

March 17, 2003, 12:20 PM
Yes, we are responsible!

As long as we are willing to buy bolt, pump and lever action rifles, single barrel, double barrel and pump shotguns, revolvers and 1911s, there will be no incentive for newer innovative design.

Wouldn't it be grand if the buying public would demand an all plastic and ceramic auto pistol the size of a Beretta .25 auto with a 10+1 capacity and the stopping power of a .30-06?

Believe me, if enough pholks were willing to pay big bucks for it, someone would solve the techno problems and develop it.

But as long as we, the shooting public, continue to worship Jeff Cooper, Wiley Clapp, Jack O'Connor and the other 19th century dinosaurs, it will never happen.

March 17, 2003, 12:26 PM
I still don't trust percussion caps - especially when I can just go out and pick up my own flints.


March 17, 2003, 12:49 PM


Good one, my friend!

D.W. Drang
March 17, 2003, 01:06 PM
Most developments in firearms design have come from people designing them for military applications. AsI read someone from Natick Aberdeen say once, "There hasn't been a substantial change in the way we launch a bullet in over 100 years." Materials change, but the real developments have been in machining, CAD/CAM, being able to design and build to tolerances that will allow full-auto, and so forth.
At the risk of turning this into a religious debate, John Moses Browning did allthe work, with some help from John Garand. :evil:

March 17, 2003, 01:15 PM
Come on. We DO have spaceage-technopolymers now. Isn't that advancement? :D

March 17, 2003, 01:18 PM
Not sure if the comparison with electronics is accurate.

Six months or a year from now, I will be able to buy a computer twice as fast, twice the hard drive capacity, twice the memory and in a smaller package and spend just as much money as I would a computer today.

Not a chance of being able to go out and buy a new production weapon that is twice as accurate, weighs half as much, hits twice as hard with half the recoil, has the pre-built phaser mount and will cost as much as the current model. And it ain't because I carry a 1911 either.

Seriously ... show me developments in the firearms industry that parallel those of the electronics industry.

March 17, 2003, 02:38 PM
I agree that there have not been many changes recently in basic firearms design. I guess there are only so many different ways to get a shell from the magazine to the chamber, only so many ways to build a trigger/sear mechanism, and only so many ways to drive a firing pin into a primer.

However, there have been advancements in materials, such as titanium, carbon fiber, etc. There have also been several recent improvements in ammo - new bullet/shot designs, new cartridges, etc.

No radical new designs, but constant improvements.

March 17, 2003, 03:25 PM
Ok wannabe gun inventors (which I happen to be one, so don't take this personal).

You want a better gun?

Build it.

It is that simple.

Put your money where your mouth is. Put it on the line. Grab that plasma cutter. Rent machine time. Do it.

If your design is honestly better then it will have a market.

If it doesn't sell it isn't the markets fault. It isn't the fault of people who love Glocks or 1911s or Sigs or HKs or Berettas.

That has nothing to do with it. Product loyalty has nothing to do with it. Blaming the market for your idea not turning into a massive cash cow is a cheap cop out.

I know a ton of folks who have great ideas. You know what. Ideas don't mean squat. Only results. Ideas are easy, steel is hard.

I have a pile of gun ideas. I've been working really hard on making one a reality. I've invested my time, I've invested my own money, I've had to put aside my ego, I've had to scrap it multiple times to learn from others. It has been a big process.

And you know what, if it fails then it is MY FAULT. Not the market, not 1911 fans. The fault is my own, because I didn't give the people what they wanted. Because you know what? If your idea really is as good as you think it is then people will begin to want it, regardless of what is in their holster right now.

In the world of art/music/literature there is always that starving "artist" who can't sell anything because nobody UNDERSTANDS his work. That is utter crap, it is his job as the creator to make us understand, if he fails it is his fault. And honestly most of the time his art/music/writing sucks, that is why it won't sell, but it sure is easier on his self esteem to say that he is misunderstood. Therefore it is our fault, not his.

Same thing applies. If your ideas are so good. MAKE THEM.

I've seen folks with a pet idea bash other people's products. So what. What does that prove? Nada, zip, zero.

If you have a design that costs less, shoots better, looks better, is more reliable, and more accurate, build the damn thing. If it as good as you think it is then it will fly off the shelves.

March 17, 2003, 03:32 PM
The NFA and MG ban are the main reasons for little advancement.

But another reason is nature: Bambi hasnt grown an armor-plated hide, and probably wont grow one for a long time, Bambi also hasnt learned how to duck a supersonic bullet during the past century. A hit from a .30-06 makes Bambi just as dead as a hit from the latest Oober Wunder Magnum Wildcat round, so the big companies like Remington and Winchester have little incentive to make advances (beyond developing their own cartridges in an attempt to sell rifles to people that wouldnt buy a second rifle in a single caliber).


March 17, 2003, 04:30 PM
Bravo Correia!! :D

I agree the market's not an issue. It's not like the public was screaming for semi-autos back in 1870. No, they were happily carrying around their war surplus cap-and-ball revolvers, thinking they were the bees knees. And when better products came along, they were in time adapted.

I do think it's a combination of the "low hanging fruit" concept Dorrin referred to, and the cultural/legal environment weapons R&D and factory financing has to be conducted in these days. Bankers just aren't as eager to back businesses that can get sued or legislated into oblivion ten tears down the line.

All that said.. I tend to think we've just about reached the evolutionary end of weapons employing cartridges. Just like side-lock muzzle-loaders, there's only so far you can take the idea. The next round of substansive changes I think will have to come from a new platform.


March 17, 2003, 05:33 PM
Hey... my two favorite handguns date back to 1911 or so. My favorite rifles are the Ruger Model 77s which fairly directly date back to the Mausers.

I guess I'm just an old timer when it comes to yer plastic gizamaboppers and 9mm whodoyadodits.

March 17, 2003, 06:03 PM

If you have a design that costs less, shoots better, looks better, is more reliable, and more accurate, build the damn thing. If it as good as you think it is then it will fly off the shelves.


March 17, 2003, 06:09 PM
for the 1912 !!!!!

March 17, 2003, 06:22 PM
:D BetaMax :D

Part II: Effective Marketing. ;)

Seriously though, the world of guns is vastly different from the world of consumer electronics, but I see your point.

My point remains though. If their idea is good, the burden of proof is on them, not on the consumer.

March 17, 2003, 06:30 PM
I'm still waiting for my-

<arnold> phased plasma pulse-laser in the forty watt range... </arnold>

March 17, 2003, 06:47 PM
Kharn and others are right imo,

It's the grabbers, who apply pressure both politically and through litigation, that makes it tuff on firearms makers. Barret's problems with ********** come to mind. Calico may face the same future.

I did read an interesting article comparing modern hunting tools to those of 50 years ago. Composite stocks, stainless steel, better optics, more cartridge choices, all were said to improve the hunting experience. But I agree that firearms are a mature technology. :)

If I was an engineer I'd like a gun that... (insert dream sequence wavy lines)

Used caseless cartridges that come in pre-packed, disposable magazines

Was self-cleaning and self lubricating, both charged from the disposable mag

Used a bullpup design to help weight and handlling

Offered an integral 2x10x45 scope/laser rangefinder with level and range information in the viewfinder

Had interchangable, stainless barrels of different weights and calibers

Offered a pre-bedded action in an stiff, composite, light weight stock, and a titanium liner

Allows shooters to choose from wild camo color mixes for the stock, that are interchangeable by using slip on/off covers

Ajustable cheek pad and pull

Integral gas action, recoil reduction buttpad

I would call my creation, The Brazles :D

March 17, 2003, 06:57 PM

The history of invention is the history of lost and rejected ideas. Didn't Sam Colt, while being the only repeating pistol manufacturer going, go out of business once?

Firearms people are entrenched romantics. For a new thing to get anywhere at all, it has to be both perfect AND cheap. The Glock 17 would have been another VP70 had it not been so inexpensive and reliable. It was easy to accept. A P7 is arguably a better pistol, but not many people are going to try it at that price, so is it a bad idea?

Gun people will make any excuse for whatever pet gun does it for them, rather than searching out an improvement. Maybe it's because ultimately, it doesn't matter. Most people can't shoot well enough to tell a Sigma from a Sig 210 in a blind taste test. How many posters report buying multiple Colts (or whatever) over the years, but having problems with half of them? That isn't critical thinking at work.

A truly excellent new product will not delight the masses, they won't be able to perceive a difference. But that same product may get enough of the connesiours talking to get the masses on the bandwagon.

For the American market, guns really just need to be fun. A successful inventer must come up with a design that is either pretty, cheap, easy to shoot, even easier to understand or some combination of all four. But a really far out idea, especially if pricey, is doomed.

We are the land of reality TV and hotdogs. Unsuccessful marketing of a great product is almost a compliment.

March 17, 2003, 07:09 PM
The internal combustion engine is PATHETIC.. It too is an example of lack of technology. We have technology that is FAR better and 40x as efficient as the internal combustion engine, yet we don't use it. The oil industry can be thanked for that... what's the use of selling you a car that can go 200 miles a gallon?? They were just happy with the explosion of the SUV market.

I think the gun industry can blame anybody they want; but it's we the consumers that are to blame.

I can move to any 3rd world country and overcome 99% of all regulations.. So it's not the regulations, it's the market... that would be us.

March 17, 2003, 07:31 PM
I don't think its the market. Its the physics and economics.

ICE are good for what they do? Whats 40x better than the ICE that you are referring to?

March 17, 2003, 08:00 PM
All technical advances and consequent products go through a product life cycle. Firearms are well out the curve. Interestingly, when products reach the end of their innovative life, items that support original products become more important. Example, the automobile as a means of transportation is pretty predictable, so manufacturers empahsize not the auto but stuff in and used by autos. That's why CD players become important.

Shift to guns

Materials and manufacturing get more sophisticated. Marketing emphasis changes. Customer demand will change product availability. The recent increase in demand in small frame firearms was driven by customer demand which was "permitted" by gov't allowing CCH.

Stuff I'd like to see:
--interchangeable calibers by changing barrels and mags (Sigs)
--integral silencers (opps, will have to "permit" it)
--cleaner powders
--higher visibility sights

If we are so fortunate as to have permit us the use of "assault guns" I suspect the market will result in innovation but not to the basic firearm. Inovation will typically be limited to adjunct elements.

March 17, 2003, 10:17 PM
Yep, you just can't have a great idea you also have to have good marketing. Glock had a superb marketing plan.

As for Sam Colt going out of business once, you can have the best product on earth but if you don't satisfy your market and you don't get your product out there making people happy, then you are out of luck. You also have to have your finances in order, and that seems to be the biggest single killer of small gun companies now.

Sorry twoblink, I don't buy the 40X argument for one second. :) That is what small custom shops are for. If there really is a product that is 40 times better than a regular old engine, then somebody would be building it. Oil companies or not. And no I don't believe in the 200 mile per gallon carberator, nor do I believe that there is a secret car that runs on water and produces nothing but oxygen but it is locked in a hidden bunker somewhere. :p

Fact remains, if you want something better, build it and prove that it is better. Burden of proof is on the inventor, not the market.

March 17, 2003, 10:22 PM
If you take a look at systems like split-cycle engines, turbine injection diesel engines etc...

ICE's are like 30% efficient; where as we now can get engines that are like 90% efficient, and on a better power/weight ratio.

My dad makes car radiators; We can have solid state peltier radiators that are 1/10th the size, and no moving parts and no water... but that is not the case and I don't think that will ever be the case as long as the car manufactures are doing whatever they can to hinder progress.

I can't believe that John Moss Browning has a monopoly on gun designs. There has to be some improvements that the market has rejected..

If I make a handgun, I'll definitely call it the 1912!! :D

David Scott
March 17, 2003, 10:38 PM
My two cents:

The chief attribute of a successful firearm is reliability. When you need it, you need it now and you need it to work.

Most firearms are simple mechanisms. Simple is better. The more parts, the more possible points of failure. Chaos theory teaches us that as systems become more complex on a linear scale, the possibility of unexpected consequences increases on an exponential scale.

IMHO, the reason why there is not a constant surge of new-product innovation in the gun business is that it's not needed. It's a fully mature product, and enhancements have to prove themselves worthy. A gun is not an SUV or cell phone. Adding scads of "features" doesn't do a lot for it. There have only been a few recent advancements that have shown themselves worthy, like polymer frames, night sights, and drop safeties. What new stuff do we really need?

Mad Man
March 17, 2003, 11:31 PM

Meet the 'gun with brains'
March 14 2003 at 10:26AM

By Stuart Johnston

Pretoria inventor Nic van Zyl has developed what may be the world’s first "intelligent firearm", a handgun that can be operated only by its rightful owner. It could make criminal abuse of firearms a thing of the past

It looks like a cross between a sci-fi raygun and an industrial high-pressure cleaning device. Bulky and block-like, it displays none of the black-metal menace inherent in most civilian firearms, and frankly, it is not a thing of beauty.

Then again, there’s no rule that says a firearm has to be pretty. Some people might find the smoothly formed wooden hand grip and machined aluminium body downright compelling, especially if they’re at the wrong end of the muzzle.

Say hello to the Intelligent Fire Arm, a unique and thoroughly South African device that could change the way we think about guns – and the people who wield them. Although still in prototype form, it will soon enter manufacture.

Inventor Nic van Zyl, 65, is an ardent believer in firearms with brains.

“Until now, firearms have been dumb. They lie in your safe at home, or in your holster, and tell no stories. Naturally, this opens the door for all sorts of abuse. The Intelligent Fire Arm, also known as the ‘smart gun’, changes all that.”

Van Zyl is managing director of Bansha Investments, the company that has produced the prototype of the IFA. Work began on the device in 1994, when the first of many patents was taken out. Now, eight years later, an international firearms company is poised to acquire the production rights to what may well be the world’s first foolproof firearm – at least in terms of criminal abuse.

The IFA, as it’s known, uses a biometric sensor located just above the handgrip to activate its firing capability. The sensor is encoded with the thumbprint of an authorised user (or users): unless it recognises the imprint, it remains inoperative. As Van Zyl says, an unauthorised person could use it to clobber someone over the head, but that’s about it.

“This is the first firearm to enter the electronics age in terms of authorised use. It could be used for personal protection, or in a responsible peacekeeping role. There is a real need for a gun like this.”

In conjunction with the biometric sensor, the electronic chip located in the gun’s pistol grip will be encoded with a range of additional information regarding the user’s personal details, including fingerprints, identity number, and licence status (that is, whether the firearm is for personal protection, hunting, police or military use).

The device is designed to empower a country’s authorities with absolute control over the gun’s life history, says Van Zyl. When the firearm is issued, it can be “loaded” with one or more authorised users’ details. This data is stored in a fixed memory that cannot be changed. And it records each and every shot fired by the IFA.

“In addition to this record, we have added a tiny camera – similar to the devices used in mini-cam recorders – which takes a photograph every time the gun is fired. This information is downloadable by the authorities for use in a court case, if necessary, to document the circumstances in which the shot was fired.”

Banshee intends to develop a smart card recognition system for the gun as a further safety measure. The smart card will be carried by the owner, and the proximity of the gun to his card activates the device to “ready” status. Again, it will not fire unless the biometric sensor above the grip recognises the authorised user’s thumbprint.

The IFA dispenses with the conventional percussive firing action, instead employing laser technology to ignite the charge in the bullet. This has required the production of special bullets with a built-in “window”, allowing a laser beam to ignite the (conventional) charge. To prevent gas from fogging the laser beam, the inventor has installed a small plastic lens on the back of the bullet and an O-ring on each bullet.

Because there is no percussive or hammer device in the gun, it has been possible to incorporate the magazine and the barrel in one unit. The prototype uses a 10-barrel configuration, with two vertical rows of five bullets arranged side-by-side.

When all 10 shots have been fired, the magazine/barrel is simply ejected and a new, loaded barrel is installed, using a quick-release lever. The empty barrel (held in place by a clip that permits rapid removal and replacement) is returned to the dealer for reloading. It’s virtually impossible for ordinary users to make or reload the uniquely coded, caseless ammunition.

Van Zyl says it would be possible to develop many barrel/magazine combinations – accommodating different calibres and types of bullet – and considerably improve firepower, perhaps for military applications. With a large-capacity magazine, the IFA could be programmed to fire 50 or more rounds in single shots, bursts, or fully automatic.

For a street-legal weapon that complies with civilian laws, it would have a 10-round magazine and fire single shots only, requiring the trigger to be pressed each time. The IFA has been designed to fire at the rate of three rounds per second – fast enough to make even a Wyatt Earp happy.

“Sure, the prototype is bulky, but when we go into production it will be much smaller,” he says. The prototype was built by Kentron, a subsidiary of South African armaments group Denel.

Says Van Zyl: “A lot of the electronics contained in the handle or grip have yet to be miniaturised; the typical personal-use weapon can be made much smaller - the size of a conventional handgun, in fact.”

Bansha Investments has acquired patents for the weapon in a number of countries, including Japan, China and Russia, but it is likely that the IFA will be produced by a European company, as yet unnamed. It’s known that other major firearm manufacturers have “owner recognition” guns under development, but Van Zyl is confident that none of these offers the simplicity or user-friendliness of his invention.

Cost? About 50 per cent more than a conventional, or “dumb” firearm.

“There are additional shot-recording features that are likely to be incorporated into the IFA, such as a GPS recorder, which will pinpoint the exact location where each bullet is fired.
“The prototype already has a clock installed that records each shot, and by using flame spectrometry techniques, the bullet’s DNA, so to speak, can be recorded. Even a fragment could be traced back to its origin, together with details on the person issued with that particular bullet.

“Using special bullets will obviously complicate the infrastructure needed to get the IFA into production, but it should be remembered that this device could change our whole approach to firearms.

“I’m only a scientist… I can’t change people’s minds. But I can make it very difficult for people to abuse a firearm.”

The IFA has been tested by the SA Bureau of Standards in prototype form, says Van Zyl, and the test results show that it operates well within the spec of a conventional firearm in terms of accuracy and firepower. The 9 mm, 100-gram [sic] bullet speed was measured at between 370 and 400 metres per second – as good as a typical 9 mm pistol.

(note: The standard load for a 9mm is 115 grains, which = 7.5 grams. 100 grams would be 1,533.3 grains. 100 grams = 0.1 kg = 0.22 pounds. By way of comparison, a .50 BMG bullet weighs about 750 grains. - Mad Man)

“Accuracy is no problem, despite the short barrel used on the prototype. By eliminating the percussion firing action, which necessitates locating the barrel and the trigger device at the top of the gun, we have managed to balance the IFA, so there’s negligible barrel kick in an upwards direction.”

Van Zyl says when the IFA goes into production it may well be for military applications, which saddens him a little. He’s always viewed the IFA in terms of safety, specifically in cases of theft and shooting accidents involving children.

“However, the United Nations has been moving more and more towards transforming military forces from aggressors to peacekeepers, and has made it clear that soldiers could be held liable for their actions under civilian law. In this respect the IFA could provide the necessary checks and balances to ensure that soldiers don’t abuse the power vested in them.

“It will even be possible, via the electronics, to establish a live link with headquarters whenever a soldier or policeman is deployed on an assignment. In effect, the curtains will always be open. When your neighbours can see in, you tend to be a lot more careful about the way you conduct yourself.”

In the final analysis, a firearm serves the purpose of launching a missile – in this case, the bullet that comes out of the barrel. “It stands to reason that these bullets should be controlled and accounted for… that’s why we developed our system. Bullets are coded at the point of manufacture and recorded against the name of the purchaser, who is held accountable for their use.

“This is the weapon for the soldier of the future – a specialist peacekeeper firearm.”

emphasis added

Mad Man
March 17, 2003, 11:38 PM

Scientific American
April 1999 (


An electronic gun with no mechanical parts fires a million rounds per minute
By Dan Drollette

"When you first hear of a gun without any moving mechanical parts, you tend to laugh. I know I had to withhold my giggles," recalls physicist Adam Drobot of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), a company based in San Diego that evaluates new technologies. "But once you see the videotape of this test-firing, the giggle factor goes away."

The gun in question is something that even its inventor says comes out of left field. Termed Metal Storm, the weapon has no hammer, no trigger, no breechblock and no shell casings to eject. Equally unusual, a single barrel fires at a rate equivalent to one million rounds per minute. In comparison, the fastest conventional firearms (Gatling guns) fire only 6,000 rounds per minute.

Metal Storm's origins are unorthodox as well. It was invented by former grocery wholesaler Mike O'Dwyer, a lone Australian tinkerer with no formal education in ballistics or engineering. His previous patents are for devices such as air-cooled sneakers. ("They pump air through as you jog," he explains.) Yet after 15 years of trial and error in his tropical Queensland home, O'Dwyer came up with a gun prototype that recently fired 180 rounds of nine-millimeter bullets in 0.01 second during a demonstration before military officials in Adelaide. Metal Storm's bullets leave its barrel so quickly that they are only microseconds apart--when one bullet is flying through the air, the next is just 10 centimeters (four inches) behind. For current machine guns, the gap between bullets is 30 meters.

"It could replace our existing technology on the battlefield," says Maj. David Goyne, a weapons specialist at Australian Defense Headquarters. The gun is ideal for close-in situations, such as defending ships against incoming missiles. Goyne comments that it could also eliminate land mines in open areas such as Kuwait's deserts: a helicopter using the gun could hover above the sands and clear a minefield by spraying it from a distance, exploding mines harmlessly.

The gun works through a combination of specially designed bullets and an electronic firing mechanism, which O'Dwyer describes as "a barrel tube with an electrical wire attached." Jacketless bullets are lined up inside, nose to tail, and are separated from one another by a layer of propellant. When an electric current makes its way down the strip, the bullets are set off one by one. To stop them from going off simultaneously--a problem previously encountered when putting many bullets in a single barrel--O'Dwyer designed the bullets to work together. The high pressure caused by the firing of the first projectile makes the nose of the next one in line swell against the walls, temporarily sealing off the rest of the barrel. (In ballistics terms, the nose of the second bullet effectively acts as a breechblock to prevent an uncontrolled sympathetic ignition.) After the first bullet exits, the pressure drops, and the nose of the second one loosens up, enabling the bullet to be fired. This process continues for each successive bullet.

Other than the projectiles themselves, there are no moving parts. To get even more firepower, several loaded barrels can be set up side by side. Once a barrel is used up, it can be discarded or sent back to the factory for reloading.

Variations of electrically fired weapons have been tried before. For instance, Sandia National Laboratories developed an electromagnetic coil gun designed to hurl 100-kilogram (220-pound) satellites into orbit. But a number of differences separate the two approaches, observes Vinod Puri, senior research scientist with the Australian Defense Science and Technology Organization: "The electromagnetic coil gun demands lots of energy, achieves high velocities and sends large objects great distances. In contrast, Metal Storm requires less energy, works at lower velocities, uses normal gun propellant and sends out more, smaller projectiles per minute for shorter distances."

O'Dwyer points out another feature of guns like Metal Storm: because electronics are such an integral part of their makeup, they offer a good opportunity for built-in electronic safeguards, such as security keypads. If an unauthorized user tried to bypass the gun's security system by disabling the electronics, the gun simply couldn't fire. The device has many nonmilitary uses, too, Drobot notes. A slower version could replace the nail guns used by carpenters and roofers and may find a use in riveting and other industrial applications.

Goyne remarks that the technology still needs fine-tuning--it fires relatively small caliber bullets, for example. But physicists such as Puri say its basic design is "very solid." The Australian Trade Commission is promoting the weapon, which has attracted attention in Australia and Britain.

In the U.S., General Dynamics has tested it, and SAIC has been contracted to help develop it further. A. Fenner Milton, previously in charge of weapons acquisition for the U.S. Army and now running the army's night-vision lab, attended a test-firing of a Metal Storm prototype in Australia last year. "In my opinion, Metal Storm represents a truly innovative approach to lethality, that if further developed has great potential for defensive weapon systems that can take advantage of its extraordinarily high burst rate of fire," an impressed Milton says.

What seems to surprise most experts about the technology is its source. "It sometimes takes someone who isn't very conventional to come up with new ideas," Drobot observes. "My amazement is at the process--O'Dwyer didn't blow up a barrel or kill himself while making it."

emphasis added

FYI: MetalStorm's web site ( has video clips (

March 17, 2003, 11:51 PM
I think thereis a difference between lack of advancement and an complete paradigm shift.
The basic concept of the computer hasn't really changed since charles babbage invented the Difference Engine. They have become faster and electronic instead of mechanical but they still deal with turning things on and off. Likewise firearms have evolved since their inception. Even the 1911 has changed several times over the years -- beaver tails, safeties, external firing pins, even interchangable breechfaces and linkless barrels.
Man has tried for thousands of years to "reinvent the wheel" but it hasn't been done yet. Firearms will continue to evolve like everthing else in our society just the pace is slower because the technology is older, it is the law of deminishing returns.

March 17, 2003, 11:51 PM
I of course agree wholeheartedly. Just look at the bicycle industry. Another "sporting goods" industry working in the same materials on mechanical devices sold in the same price range for the same profit margin. No one would think of racing a 1960's era bicycle, let alone one from 1910. And while some older designs (the classic steel frame bicycle) will always have a following, new stuff comes out constantly.

If I didn't know any better, I'd say you used to be in the bike industry...

Anyhow, let's go down to Dick's Sporting Goods and buy a recumbent with hub-center steering.

What's that?

Innovations that didn't catch on?

But they're so superior!

The "massive advancements" you tout in the bike industry are almost all simply new materials.

New materials that, coincidentally, don't offer much benefit in handguns.

Most any name-brand "obsolete" Browning tilting-barrel short-recoil pistol is far more accurate than its owner, and still kills folks just as dead as its predecessors did 100 years ago.

Innovation needs a reason.

When pistols start missing targets, stop killing folks, or begin not functioning, a better mousetrap will be built, but until there's demand, there will be no supply.

Mad Man
March 18, 2003, 12:02 AM
But moving away from the electronic whiz-bang stuff of Metal Storm and the IFA, what about simpler stuff?

What about revolvers with grips more similar to auto-loaders?

This seems like a product improvement that would be very feasible and cost effective.

Mateba ( something like this, but they had a funky recoil-action that also cocks the hammer. The starting price is about $1,000.

Note that the barrel is lined up with the bottom cylinder, not the top, to put the axis of the bore closer to the hand.

I don't see why a major manufacturer like Smith & Wesson can't make a standard revolver (no recoil cocking) with the superior ergonomics and handling characteristics of a semi-automatic pistol. It would be a good thing for a novice shooter.

March 18, 2003, 12:07 AM
...I own a Mateba as well as a conventional Smith and Wesson or ten, I consider myself a little bit qualified to comment on it. ;)

The Mateba is very mild-recoiling for a .357, and the trigger cocking is handy.

It's also awkward to reload, can't fire .38's without swapping recoil springs, no more accurate than a conventional revolver, full of fragile bits and pieces, a pain to strip, and bulky as all getout.

It's a fun range toy, though. :)

Mad Man
March 18, 2003, 12:10 AM

That's why I think the action on revolvers should remain conventional (unless somebody comes up with a more robust design), but the grip and barrel placement should be changed.

Get rid of the funky hammer-cocking action, and that should solve the problems you're having.

It sounds like the problems are due to the unconventional action, and not the shape of the gun. Unless there's something I'm missing -- which may be entirely possible, since I'm not familiar with the action of the Mateba. I just think the grip/barrel alignment is superior to the standard revolver design.

March 18, 2003, 12:22 AM

As impressive as your knowledge of bicycles is, I'll disagree. One innovation failure is not a failure of all innovations. I'm sure you didn't happen to notice that you can buy a light, full suspension mountain bike for cheap. Or that significant weight savings, aerodynamic improvement and grossly more reliable bike components have all become common place in a very short time. We went from difficult ten speeds to fast reliable 30 speeds, with GAINS in durability, weight saving and efficiency.

During the same period, gun designs substituted one material for another, with little attempt to mesh a design to the material. They rehashed some old caliber attempts, this time .40 worked (kinda). The biggest innovation anyone seems proud of is offering SA like triggers with no accompanying safety. Whoopee.

One of the greatest little innovations was the Benelli Auto system. Most shooters, while appreciating the Benelli, don't even understand how it works.

Your comments sound more like the 1800's Patent officer that wanted to close the office because "everything had already been invented".

March 18, 2003, 05:34 AM
We have technology that is FAR better and 40x as efficient as the internal combustion engine, yet we don't use it. The oil industry can be thanked for that... what's the use of selling you a car that can go 200 miles a gallon??

:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

This topic seems to come up regularly. The question I have is - what do you want?

When I use my computer, if it pauses, I want more speed. If a fancy new game comes out, I want a better video card and when I get it, the benefits are obvious and immediate.

I do not expect my computer equipment to last more than a few years and I am constantly swapping and upgrading anyway.

Why do computers and electronics evolve so fast? Because the mission evolves so fast and gains are tangible and immediate.

My Commodore 64 will still do everything today that it did in 1983. Yet our idea of what a computer can and should do has expanded to a level unimaginable 20 years ago.

My computer that I am using right now operates at 1.53 Gigahertz (AMD 1800XP+). I have had it barely a year and already I want a 2.5 or 3.0 Gigaherts computer. Why?

My house gun is a S&W Model 10 - made when I could barely ride a bicycle.

However, we still use guns for the same purposes we have been using them for for at least the last century. Sure we have new body armor that could be an issue - but the reality is, human behavior and biology has not changed and firearms do today what they have always done - threaten, wound, kill and poke holes in targets.

"Progress" for its own sake is a waste of energy and money. Why don't we improve on the wheel or on hand writing or on the drinking glass? How about the wood screw or the fact that our homes are made of wood?

What about copper wiring or modern plumbing? What about the pencil or ink pen (oh, this is actually coming).

Why are our clothes still made mostly of cotton?

If we need so much progress in firearms, please articulate the problem we need to solve.

If anything, further progress would be a detriment - imagine a gun with a GPS and a wireless radio that let the government track it at all times. Imagine a gun that will not fire in the presence of a "safety beacon" or a gun that has to be connected to a network every 10 days to remain "active".

Be careful what you wish for :evil: (and see the last part of my sig)

March 18, 2003, 08:40 AM
As impressive as your knowledge of bicycles is, I'll disagree. One innovation failure is not a failure of all innovations. I'm sure you didn't happen to notice that you can buy a light, full suspension mountain bike for cheap. Or that significant weight savings, aerodynamic improvement and grossly more reliable bike components have all become common place in a very short time. We went from difficult ten speeds to fast reliable 30 speeds, with GAINS in durability, weight saving and efficiency.

Yes, and those mountain bikes still have caliper brakes, derailleur gears, a round, spoke-y thing on each end with an inflated rubber covering. Handlebars that steer inefficiently through front forks, just like they did on velocipedes.

The big "differences" you're talking about here are no bigger than what you'd find on a, say, scandium Centennial or double-stack STI racegun. It's the same ol' thing with some bells and whistles. Your "1960s bike" that nobody would be caught dead on has the same layout, brake types, gears, pedals and whatnot as a modern Trek mountain bike (look into how old an "innovation" suspension is on a bicycle; I'll bet the first patents for coil-sprung forks were filed before JMB thought of your favorite antique pistol. ;))

Why is changing the the cross-section and material of a bike frame a "radical innovation", but an STI racegun is still an outmoded design?

Your comments sound more like the 1800's Patent officer that wanted to close the office because "everything had already been invented".

Funny that you're saying that to a science-fiction fan; maybe you didn't read my post.

When a better way is really better, it gets used.

Notice your BMW isn't front-wheel drive? How retro! How inefficient! (How superior for good control in high-performance driving. ;) )

March 18, 2003, 10:41 AM
Tamara.. not true!

I drove an Audi because Quattro is superior; but why is it then only Audi's and Subaru's have AWD? Superior in safety, but not used in all cars...

Because these companies are stubborn and as long as the consumers don't punish them for the lack of innovation, they won't innovate.

Look at Detroit, the American cars lag greatly behind, but you have the "buy America" campaign, where people buy American cars and trucks regardless if they are inferior or not. That is the kind of mentality that stiffles innovation.

Jesse H
March 18, 2003, 10:47 AM
Tamara said,

Notice your BMW isn't front-wheel drive?

Don't ever say that FWD bad word around me. :shudder:

Twoblink said,

I drove an Audi because Quattro is superior; but why is it then only Audi's and Subaru's have AWD? Superior in safety, but not used in all cars...

Costs and the balance of the car. If you stick AWD in say, a Vette Z06, it'll throw off the balance and handling characteristics of this fine machine. It'll make it heavier and less tossable. That poor Vette wouldn't be able to light up the rear tires like God intended Vettes to be driven.

AWD is superior sometimes, maybe even most of the times, but not all of the time. Oops, I've veered off topic. Um, I bought a new gun yesterday!

March 18, 2003, 10:49 AM
You want a better gun? Build it. It's that simple.
But don't forget to get insurance.
Oh yeah, and the fleet of lawyers that you'll need.
And the political get-out-of-jail-free card.
And the... <list shortened for ADD people like myself.>

Simple, huh?

March 18, 2003, 11:16 AM
"better" HOW?

March 18, 2003, 11:23 AM
for getting a gun design thread into bicycles and cars?

What we ARE responsible for is what we will ACCEPT in gun quality and design by what we spend our money for.

March 18, 2003, 01:51 PM
Since the use of analogies has already started, I’ll try one:

M1911 = small block Chevy – It’s been refined and tuned. It’s more “approachable” to the hobbyist than something with unubtanium-filled, fully variable, semi-sentient valve trains, and it still gets the job done. (No offense intended against semi-sentient valve trains).

That said, there’s a couple of innovations that I’m really sorry didn’t make it – number 1 being the MBA Gyrojet. The thing I remember from the breathless reviews of the time was the prospect of extremely long range shots without appreciable “drop”. The thing could be quiet, too.

I was also enamored of caseless ammo. From my limited reading, it appeared that most of the benefit would be in enhancing the cyclic rate of full auto arms, but anything that gave Kristen and Josh a case of the vapors was OK by me – one can learn so much from hysteria and hyperbole: I wonder if the Daisy VL caused similar indigestion? One can only hope.

OT: But the one thing I really, really wanted was a ’63 one of these: There was a lot of tinfoil hat type conjecture on why the car disappeared, but from what I’ve seen of turbine pricing, the real reason was likely more prosaic.

March 18, 2003, 01:55 PM
Techbrute, you bet it is.

I'm doing it myself. I'm putting my money and time where my mouth is. I'm building my design. I'm prepared to go the distance to see my idea turned into steel, plastic, and aluminium.

Ideas are just ideas. Anybody can have an idea. Whoop de fricking doo. It doesn't mean anything until it exists.

And it ain't going to exist if all you do is talk about it. People aren't going to materialize and throw big sacks of money at you just because you have a nifty idea.

March 18, 2003, 03:04 PM
I drove an Audi because Quattro is superior; but why is it then only Audi's and Subaru's have AWD? Superior in safety, but not used in all cars...

"Superior"? Superior for what?

That would explain all those AWD cars that win the Formula One championship... ;)

Let me run off a list of allegedly "superior" items that don't seem to work as well as the breathless "Popular Science" crowd claims:

Wankel engines.
Hub-center steering on bikes.
FF/recumbent bikes.
Tailless canard aircraft.
All-titanium handguns.
NOTAR helicopters (whether ducted boom or counter-rotating prop).
Shaft-drive bikes.

Each one of these gizmos, while recieving panting reports of their benefits in the Armchair Engineer rags, for some reason doesn't hold up to its predecessors in many environments that the device is actually used for. (Hint: the phrase TANSTAAFL doesn't apply only to economics... ;) )

March 18, 2003, 03:05 PM
If you take a look at systems like split-cycle engines, turbine injection diesel engines etc...

Rick Mayne and the Split-Cycle engine (

From the day Mayne won his first publicity in Newcastle, New South Wales, in 1988, until he faded from view in 1998, a Split-Cycle engine was never seen in a vehicle. What propelled the company was an astonishing list of promises that would make most company promoters blush.

I think it was my boss that said, "Real artists ship." :scrutiny:

Turbine injection diesel engine? What is that? Is that the name given by a journalist without a degree in engineering, or have ever designed a product in their lives gave to a mythical invention? Show me the goods and I'll show you the money. And not only me, if you have the goods, everyone else will also show you the money. First one to develop it gets a defacto monopoly on it.

We can have solid state peltier radiators that are 1/10th the size, and no moving parts and no water... but that is not the case and I don't think that will ever be the case as long as the car manufactures are doing whatever they can to hinder progress.

How Peltier Devices work? (

Solid state peltier coolers might be small, but they use energy in order to move the heat from one location to another. All it does is move the heat from one place to another, so in using a peltier cooler, you still need a radiator to deal with the original amount of heat PLUS the heat the peltier device makes as current is passed.

So now, you have an added 10% in size for the Peltier cooler, you have moved the radiator/fan/heatsink to another location, but its still the same size, and you have added another 10% in size to feed and cool the Peltier device, as well as another energy draw for the cooling system itself!

Engineers are not practitioners of pure science. Engineering is in the field of APPLIED science. The industry the engineer is in determines the solution to the engineering problems that the engineer uses. If you need to cool something where there is no atmosphere, weight is a premium, and power is free for the taking (space), and customer base is captive, then the Peltier device is a good solution. If you need to cool something where there is an atmosphere, weight is not much of a concern, power is not free, and the customer base is fickle, then a radiator is the good solution.

March 18, 2003, 03:30 PM
Whats 40x better than the ICE that you are referring to?
Liquid nitrogen?
Oh ... not that ICE.
My dad makes car radiators; We can have solid state peltier radiators that are 1/10th the size, and no moving parts and no water... but that is not the case and I don't think that will ever be the case as long as the car manufactures are doing whatever they can to hinder progress.
Peltier heat pumps are not ideal for this purpose for several reasons.
First, they still need a radiator ... they basically just move heat from one side of the pump to another. You've still got to bleed the heat into the surrounding air somehow. Yes, parts of the radiator system could be replaced by the Peltier pumps, but much of the system would have to remain. They are better adapted to enhancing the current design than to replacing it.
Second issue is that they consume quite a little bit of electricity so you're adding extra load to the car's electrical system. If they were efficient enough to do any sort of good job in an engine, you'd see them everywhere (solar powered super-thermos anyone?).

(whoops ... Frohickey beat me to it)

An improvement I'd like to see in the firearms industry is in scopes. What I'd love to design is a series of scopes that would automate some of the processes involved in long-range shooting.
Level 1: Incorporate a miniturized laser rangefinder into a scope.
Level 2: Allow automatic computation of POI and movement of reticle based on info from rangefinder. Cooperate with major ammunition manufacturer and gun manufacturer to have a particular load/gun setup that the scope is tuned for.
Level 3: Allow user to shoot groupings at different ranges from a clamped rifle, enter in environmental conditions and POI and the scope can attempt to compute (within reason) future shots based on the data it is given.
Level 4: Use high-speed, high-resolution imaging to determine automatically the POI and adjust for the follow-up shot.

You think that people who drive manuals look down on the autoshifters today ... just wait 'till you see the disdain on the faces of the benchrest crowd when someone brings their AutoSight on the line.

March 18, 2003, 03:41 PM
NOTAR helicopters (whether ducted boom or counter-rotating prop).

Oh good, Tamara is a helicopter expert as well! I'll let all the CH-46 pilots I know in on what a poor, inflexible and generally bad idea those aircraft are. Certainly, no one is mourning their loss-that's why logging companies buy them whenever they can.

Daily, I spend a great deal of piloting energy managing the deficiencies of the standard tail rotor aircraft. I practice flying techniques and emergency procedures that are only needed for tail rotor aircraft. Obviously, I've been fooling myself because some lady at THR pointed out that NOTAR designs are pointless.

And what the hell is a hub steering bicycle?! I only did that for six years, but I obviously don't know much about them bikes!

Or helicopters.

March 18, 2003, 04:15 PM
After reading this entire thread I have come to the conclusion that its premise is false.

Advancement? Progress? Innovation? These words are meaningless unless defined for the sake of the conversation. Heck, there are some people out there who think that the autoloader is not a significant improvement, if indeed one at all, over the double action craned cylinder revolver.

I have had "advanced" pistols. I have also had my fill of advanced pistols. The ones I like the best among them, the Beretta 92 and the CZ 75/85 are ridiculed by as many people as there are fans of the respective designs. I also am a great fan of the regressive 1911, which has as many detractors as aficianados.

What I do not understand is the desire to reinvent the wheel. If pistol design is evolutionary, which it very much seems to be, the next "revolution" will not likely be an improvement of the bloodline, but something unexpected that supplants it. If some one came out with a self contained, ergonomic, handgun sized, plasma blaster that worked in all conditions, was easy to aim, fire, and reload with decent shot capacity, was lightweight and had no recoil at all, hit and killedtargets at next to the speed of light over good distance, and had a reasonable price, I'd acquire one in a minute, even if I had to sell all of my newly devalued slugthrowers to get it.

It would be a simple matter of the piece acquiring a track record of performance. As long as the embedded electronics could take a nasty shock without missing a beat, (and many devices can), I'd leap. A trigger that would in essence be a switch would be difficult to pass up.

March 18, 2003, 04:31 PM

I offer this as a limited definition of "improvement". Imagine a pistol that is relatively familiar (has a trigger, holds the bullets you like to shoot), that has the same recoil as the softest shooting gun of that caliber, the same accuracy as the tightest shooting gun of that caliber and better reliability and durability than any gun in that caliber. At a decent price. And safe.

You're right that there won't be a true advance until the Phasers make their debut, but I don't think it's that much to ask for a gun that meets all the best performance standards already set by other guns, but does it in one gun, rather than 3. This seems kinda do-able. Wouldn't that be nice, at least?

March 18, 2003, 05:06 PM
Obviously, I've been fooling myself because some lady at THR pointed out that NOTAR designs are pointless.

Did I say they were "pointless"? No. I said "TANSTAAFL".

They solve some problems and introduce others. (Do you think the designers on the RAH-66 project got bonus points for including a tail rotor? Did they only do it for aesthetics?)

Hub-center steering is something not often seen in the backwards world of what the Brits call "pushbikes", but bubbles to the surface occasionally in the world of motor-driven bikes. Basically, the disadvantage of conventional front forks is that they combine your steering and suspension mechanism in one unit; thus suspension travel alters steering geometry. By using separate linkages for steering and suspension, hub-center steering setups (see Elf's abortive GP bike effort, some euro scooters, and the short-lived Yamaha GTS1000) reduce or eliminate "bump-steer". They also destroy steering feel and add significant amounts of weight and complexity. TANSTAAFL, again.

March 18, 2003, 05:28 PM
Well, in that case I'll take a non-existent stainless under industrial hard chrome HK P7M10 with a little longer barrel and slide in 10mm or 357 SIG, standard trijicons, and a 1911 stirrup style trigger with no safety but the squeeze cocker.:D

March 18, 2003, 05:50 PM
Since we are talking about ideal firearms...

I'll take one out of a mimetic poly-alloy (, hard chrome of course, with a barrel that will size itself to fit any particular ammunition that I put in. Also, ammunition loading is via a hopper, and the advanced circuitry of the machine would rearrange the loaded ammunition to point the correct way, and form a mechanism under it that will feed the ammunition into the chamber reliably.

It will also be capable of semi-auto and burst fire, and full-auto, automatically throttling down to semi-auto when a law enforcement officer happens to inquire. :neener:

March 18, 2003, 06:15 PM
How declasse.

March 18, 2003, 08:26 PM
ok, I'll bite (again):

I offer this as a limited definition of "improvement". Imagine a pistol that is relatively familiar (has a trigger, holds the bullets you like to shoot), that has the same recoil as the softest shooting gun of that caliber, the same accuracy as the tightest shooting gun of that caliber and better reliability and durability than any gun in that caliber. At a decent price. And safe.

Ok, well there are some people who came up with a gas operated 1911 that is supposed to be very accurate (fixed barrel) and very mild to shoot.

Reliability and Durability are relative - however, one reason I would not buy one is the inability to shoot cast bullets.

As for price - guns have a real manufacturing cost associated with them unlike electronics. the actual material and manufacturing cost to build a techno gadget is small compared to the R&D and the testing and ramp up involved - not to mention support and maintenence over the product life cycle.

With a gun, you have to find a way to make a part more accurately and more quickly using less expensive materials that still meet spec. When they actually try to do this with MIM, people freak out like their guns were made of hardened play-dough or something.

Personally, I do not ever feel like I want a more accurate gun or a lighter recoiling gun and I GOT MY SAFETY RIGHT HERE! ;)

I think that as mentioned, the real advances are going to be when we figure out a weapon to take the place of the firearm. Its a pretty tall order:

Wanted: Personal Defense Device

Target cost: under $2000 initially, under $1000 after production ramps up.

Performance Criteria:
capable of incapacitating multiple assailants at ranges up to 30 yards (minimum).

small enough to carry on body or in a purse

capable of maintaining "ready" status for a minimum of 10 years without human intervention and without any kind of chemical or electrical input.

device will work though thick clothing and light cover (car door, etc)

easy to maintain and operate and should be inexpensive and safe to operate

propellant, fuel, agent or ammunition should be readily available and reloadable in the field without special tools

requires only minimal skill to operate

poses minimal fire and environmental hazard while being operated

I am sure people could come up with more design requirements. While the idea of plasma blasters is apealing, I have trouble imagining that it would be as convenient to own, carry and maintain as a firearm.

So - if we really want "progress", I cannot imagine a feature (not saying someone will not dream one up) that would compell me to sell of my 2 Smiths and my 1911 for the new wonder gun. It would have to be so simple, so reliable, affordable and effective that it would be a "no brainer" - like going from a musket to an AR style weapon...

March 18, 2003, 11:01 PM

A tail rotor is smaller than a dual rotor system. An attack helicopter does not need to manuever in all dimensions, but it does need to hide in trees. And if we're talking about the Comachee, it uses a ducted fan design, rather than a classic tail rotor. Size was the limit, not performance.

For a cargo helicopter, especially one carrying underslung loads, a tail rotor is a huge liability. It also limits top speeds, which is why the normal helo speed record is held by a dual rotor aircraft.

The Navy CH-46 would have been replaced with a modern version of the same if congress hadn't already promised the money to Sikorsky, who doesn't make that kind of aicraft. The pilots in that community, who know better, objected strenuously.

In essense, you've named another excellent example of a design that gets passed over for inferior, but less challenging, types.

March 19, 2003, 04:32 AM
Tamara... as far as AWD, Audi's won most everything in the "street" catagory with AWD, so much so it was banned in Britain as having "an unfair advantage"... as the commercial says, I'll take all the unfair advantage I can get.

But back to guns.

Well... I will try to put my money where my mouth is; I will try to do more gun designs and study more gun designs in hopes that someday, I'll have my own gun manufacturing company.

Of course, even if it is superior, the 1911 crowd will write it off with "it's fugly" and go back to their 1911's, because most gun owners I know are just entrenched like that.

Of course, the beauty of America is that you can be that way..

That said, I will definitely call the first gun I make a "1912".

Here are the possible gun names for guns I will produce later on:

Grock (Asian Glock!!)


March 19, 2003, 04:47 AM
That would explain all those AWD cars that win the Formula One championship...

Yeah and if racing slicks worked better than grooved tires they would be using them as well. :D

And if traction control was so much better they wouldn't have outlawed it for almost 10 years. :)

And if they could get more power out of 4 liters they would use them as well. :)

IIRC AWD is specifically outlawed by the FIA.

March 19, 2003, 04:51 AM
My dad used to work for an outfit up here that has several Sikorskys.

They use them for logging anf firefighting mostly - and they have been in several movies including "Dave" "GI Jane" and I think "Independence Day".

They do all have tail rotors if I recall, but thats the extent of my knowledge on the subject.

Neat birds - they have a whole computer system just to track the part inventory and maintenence schedule - mucho deneiro

March 19, 2003, 05:51 AM
A tail rotor is smaller than a dual rotor system. An attack helicopter does not need to manuever in all dimensions, but it does need to hide in trees. And if we're talking about the Comachee, it uses a ducted fan design, rather than a classic tail rotor. Size was the limit, not performance.

"Compactness" is the very reason behind several NOTAR designs, such as the Ka-25 "Hormone" and the Kaman HH-43 Husky (both of which date to the late '50s, so it's not like this is some major technological hurdle). Yet of all the advanced attack helicopter programs of the last 30-something years, only the Ka-50 "Black Shark" features this rotor configuration. Either there is some global conspiracy of retro helo designers, or there are some drawbacks that outweigh the benefits in some applications. Occam's Razor would seem to dictate the latter. (I'm noting, for instance, that the "Hokum" doesn't sport a mast-mounted sight; I'm wondering if this is precluded by the coaxial rotors :confused: )

March 19, 2003, 06:00 AM
If the market doesn't demand better guns than that's the way it will be.

Country Boy
March 19, 2003, 03:34 PM
A few points:

Technology keeps advancing because it is possible to make electronics smaller, lighter, and more powerful.

BUT, do you really want to shoot a handgun that is the size and weight of a J-frame snubbie, but packs the punch of a .50 cal? People who design laptops and cell phones don't worry about Newton's Laws of Motion. A more powerful laptop won't make my hand sore and my ears ring after using it for half an hour.

One fallout after Brady was that with a limit of 10 rounds in a magazine, designers went for smaller, more concealable guns, which was a good thing. But minaturization can only go so far. We could design a handgun that shoots a 0.09 caliber bullet, and have it extremely concealable, but there is a limit to the amount you can shrink a handgun down and still have the power that people want.

Do you really want a gun that is faster? Sure, having something like the Phalanx Close-In Weapons System that shoots 4,500 rounds/min would be kind of neat, but would it be practical? I would sure like to have something like that for when I need to use deadly force, but I don't think I would take it out to the range very often, cause it would eat up my ammo budget in about 15 seconds.

You can't push a .45 down the barrel of a .22

Materials and machining practices will no doubt continue to improve. But I fail to see how projectile weapons can get much better design-wise.

Perhaps ammo could be improved. Think Federal Hydra-Shoks, or Noslar Partitions. Or maybe some sort of "smart bomb" type of munition, that locks on to the target. The B-52 is an old war bird, but it continues to be used because of improved targeting and quality of bombs.

Just a few thoughts. :D

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