Why the US Gov HAS to spend so much money on weapon development:


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Keaner
October 3, 2005, 02:43 PM
Hi, I just thought of something, the reason the US Gov needs to spend so much money trying to build new weapons is, COMMON citizens are not permitted to design/manufacture Autos/etc!

Think of it this way, up until now, almost every rifle/handgun/etc was designed by either common citizens, or people working for the armory (not specifically told to design a weapon). NOW, it makes it so difficult to come up with something, that the US Gov needs to spend billions on the next OCW/whatever project!

SO: Repeal all gun control laws, make the reward huge for designing a new rifle that the military eventually accepts, and let-er roll! You know how well a group of college kids could do on something like this? Our engineers are dozens of times more knowledgable than Browning, or Garand ever were, yet they are not given the chance.

So US Government, give the general populous a chance to make millions on a kick-bum M16 replacement.

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DelayedReaction
October 3, 2005, 02:57 PM
The government spends more money on stuff that individual citizens can't really fabricate, such as tanks and jets. Small arms consist of a relatively small portion of the budget.

Our engineers are dozens of times more knowledgable than Browning, or Garand ever were, yet they are not given the chance.

As an engineer surrounded by other engineers, I can GUARANTEE you that this simply is not true.

MechAg94
October 3, 2005, 03:03 PM
As an engineer surrounded by other engineers, I can GUARANTEE you that this simply is not true.
Too true. :)

However, if the system is open so that anyone can tinker, you would be surprised at the inovators that could pop up.

I thought I heard that the guy who developed the Maxim machine gun was an inventor in the US and had some small electrical inventions to his credit. Edison paid him off to stop inventing things and leave the country. He went to Europe and was advised that all he needed to make money was to invent something that would help these Europeans kill each other better. And then....
At least, that is what I remember from the History Channel show. Someone else might have more real details. :)

Fletchette
October 3, 2005, 03:07 PM
As an engineer surrounded by other engineers, I can GUARANTEE you that this simply is not true.

I'll second that. A huge knowledge loss has occurred in the U.S. Just ask an engineer today to derive an equation from first principals. I have witnessed graduate degreed engineers display a complete lack of understanding of the most basic concepts, like conservation of momentum.

Browning and Garand accomplished their designs without computers, which highlights just how smart they were.

MechAg94
October 3, 2005, 03:14 PM
I don't believe Browning had any formal education did he?

There is no excuse for not knowing Conservation of Momentum. I could only guess they forgot it since that is learned in the early physics classes if not sooner. I think I learned that one in high school. Most engineering is very specialized these days and many engineers are tasked with coordination and management jobs if not sales. I am guilty on the derivation part. :)

DelayedReaction
October 3, 2005, 03:42 PM
Yeah. Conservation of mass, momentum, and energy are some of the most basic principles out there, yet most engineers are happy just relying purely on blindly following whatever equation they're provided.

I'm not suggesting that reducing the amount of restrictions out there wouldn't cause innovation to flourish. I have my own ideas about things like drum magazines that have the potential to seriously work out, but I have to be careful because MD prevents people from manufacturing magazines with a capacity greater than 20 rounds.

*shakes head*

Sam
October 3, 2005, 04:01 PM
Education as an engineer does not bode well for creativity. Sorry College guys, thats the way it is. Being stuffed into the college engineering mold is almost a guarantee of mediocrity.
The only engineers I have met who could create, went to school after they did thier creating, soley to lend the sheepskin credibility to their advertising.
The union won't let you in without a sheepskin, no matter how brilliant you may be. Although conventional wisdon says the bright boys can come up with whatever we want or need in any field, all the real advances come from folks with very little or no formal education in the field of advance.

BOT: Government has never been able to come up with significant acheivement through it's programs. Ocassionally an accidental spill of money make something possible(Garand). Practically speaking, private initiative has done the trick when the chips were down. Get government out of creative process!

Sam

Keaner
October 3, 2005, 04:04 PM
I am highly supprised that as a collective, we wouldn't think that we were smarter (mechanically) than 80 years ago! The extra knowledge and understanding of recent generations would have helped a ton.

THAT, AND, with something like innovation/invention, 1 guy doesn't have to know EVERYTHING, he just needs to know 1 thing. Then, someone else can take that 1 thing, and add another 1 thing to it, etc, until society creates a better mousetrap.

PLUS, with the internet as a transport for knowledge and ideas these days, it is inevitable.


As far as the amount of the budget, I doubt that without restrictions that the US Gov would even need to spend money on research. Look at DARPA, and the X Prize, both of which put HUGE amounts research for the government for 1million each.

Now, tell me that the government could design a reusable space craft for less than 1 million, and I'll laugh. Tell me they could have come up with the AI required to complete DARPA for less than 1 million, and I'll cry.


EDIT: so i guess i support little DARPA projects for weapons instead. Wanna win 1 million dollars? Design a kick-bum rifle.

jason10mm
October 3, 2005, 04:05 PM
I think the problem is partially lack of "civilian" interest in military arms (in making new ones, not in civilians wanting to buy them :) and also the committee approach to new weapons. Previous armies (US and others) have gone to war with crappy weapons, we just remember the good ones! But I think it is a lot harder to come up with a simple, elegant effective weapon with 10 people vying for control than for 1 guy to get lucky working in his shop for 10 years. Proper R&D and field testing is also an overlooked component. Anything might shine in the workshop but fail in the dirt until feedback can correct the problem. There are new "civilian" rifle designs out there, like the Robinson M96. Whether they will ever have a chance in todays weapon selection process is another story.

Keaner
October 3, 2005, 04:09 PM
The thing is, if you spend billions to pay 10 guys full time to try and do 1 thing, they will be beaten by the millions of interested guys tinkering in their free time.


A good example is the software industry which is pretty much unregulated by government/ startup costs. A good program can be written up for the cost of time only.

NOW, pretty much any program on your computer right now started out as a guy in his basement. The precursor to Windows (DOS) was created by a guy who owned a small computer shop. The Graphical User Interface was developed in Steve Jobs' garage.

I would love to see firearms turn into that.

Crosshair
October 3, 2005, 04:36 PM
Kind of like the industry of modding 10/22 rifles or for modding the AR platform. Stuff for the AR that the civies are using are now getting picked up by the military.

DelayedReaction
October 3, 2005, 04:50 PM
The difference between computers and firearms is a very simple one; it doesn't take specialized hardware to program. Although we have made significant advances in the fields of materials engineering, electronics, and various other items, fabrication is still limited by equipment.

For example, to build a firearm requires extensive machining experience and specialized equipment. I could probably fabricate a 1911 (sans barrel) at the machine shop where I work, but not at home. To create a CNC milled part from a CAD program such as Pro/Engineer would require tens of thousands of dollars, if not more.

We're nearing 100 years from the introduction of Browning's 1911, and very little has truly changed in the firearm's market. With the exception of polymer housings, the gun you fire today is very similar mechanically to one fired a century ago.

trapperjohn
October 3, 2005, 05:24 PM
Education as an engineer does not bode well for creativity. Sorry College guys, thats the way it is. Being stuffed into the college engineering mold is almost a guarantee of mediocrity.
:rolleyes: :rolleyes:

<sarcasm on>thank goodness the engineers/scientist on the manhattan project hadn't had any education </Sarcasm off>

Many people mistake tinkering for engineering. People can tinker in their garage and create all kinds of neat things. Engineering is much more than that. That being said, Engineers dont always make the best tinkerers.

Firearm design is pretty much mature. Not much new to it besides new materials and manufacturing process. the actual mechanicals have been established for a most of a century. From a military standpoint about the only other advancements i see them interested in is computer controls and enhanced vision. (maybe we should take the degreed engineers off those projects and replace them with more competent tinkerers)

NMshooter
October 3, 2005, 05:35 PM
Whatever you do, do not make anything in your garage that could be construed as a "firearm" i.e. a receiver, without all the proper paperwork and licensing, because you would be commiting a federal felony.

So make sure you pay all those bribes...err, I mean "licensing fees and taxes" before you make anything.

After all, we would not want any budding young Brownings or Garands to break the law, now would we?

(Said with a hint of sarcasm ;) )

Number 6
October 3, 2005, 07:25 PM
Think of it this way, up until now, almost every rifle/handgun/etc was designed by either common citizens, or people working for the armory (not specifically told to design a weapon).

Which designs are you referring to? I cannot think of any firearm used by the military that has not either been supported by a firearms manufacturer or by a government armory. I don't see how the development of the AR-15 by Armalite was any different than the development of the Thompson, Garand, BAR or any other WWII weapon system. Large corporations supported stoner, Browning and the like to some extent, Stoner by Armalite, and Browning by Winchester and FN.

I think the reason for the government spending large sums of money on development of weapon systems is because of the cost involved in developing a truly competent system. Think about spending a large sum of money on development, testing, and production of a firearm, and then when all things are said and done the design does not get adopted by anyone. The government can test out different designs and then based upon their research find out what works and what does not. It would be a mistake to think that if a weapon system fails testing that all is lost. Parts of the technology that is developed can be used, and knowledge is created by what is feasible and what is not. The OICW program while not adopted, did give the government ideas about weapons systems that would be better suited for them, with the XM-25 also coming out of the OICW program.

Sam
October 3, 2005, 08:58 PM
Number 6,
Of the weapons you specified exactly 1 was developed on govt time, The Garand.

Browning worked on his own dime and time and sold on a royalty basis. Winchester had no claim on his designs. We wouldn't work that way.
About the only time he signed on with a company was doing the 1911 and the GP
Thompson was purely private
Stoner did work for Armalite but it was hardly big business when he developed his design.

Sam

Kaylee
October 3, 2005, 09:23 PM
I am highly supprised that as a collective, we wouldn't think that we were smarter (mechanically) than 80 years ago! The extra knowledge and understanding of recent generations would have helped a ton.

I think it's important to distinguish between knowledge and intelligence here. There's a world of difference between accumulated knowledge (and the access to it) and the ability to reason. Totally different animals.

Further, mechanical knowledge isn't that different these day's I'd argue. Where the innovation is these days seems more in materials and electronic/software control than actual "part A pushes on part B" mechanics.

Finally, to the original point. We are doing that, to a point. Look at how the SCAR project was opened up to private development and bidding. Sure FN got it, but there were some "small fish" working away at it to, coming up with some pretty neat stuff. Robinson's entry, for instance.

When it comes right down to it, in the grand scheme of things getting a SOT license ain't that expensive compared to the rest of the R&D you'll do building the next ubergun.

(Not that I think you should need said SOT -- I'm only saying I don't think the barrier to entry is nearly as high as you make it sound)

-K

Standing Wolf
October 3, 2005, 09:30 PM
Education as an engineer does not bode well for creativity.

Sadly, that's true most of the time. I've had the privilege of working with a few very creative engineers over the years; the vast majority, however, seem horrified of the very idea of not doing things the established, regular, proven way.

Pilgrim
October 3, 2005, 09:32 PM
I thought I heard that the guy who developed the Maxim machine gun was an inventor in the US and had some small electrical inventions to his credit. Edison paid him off to stop inventing things and leave the country. He went to Europe and was advised that all he needed to make money was to invent something that would help these Europeans kill each other better. And then....
Hiram Percy Maxim, W1AW, first president of the American Radio Relay League.

Hiram Percy Maxim (September 2, 1869 - February 17, 1936) was founder of the American Radio Relay League and had the amateur call sign W1AW (now the ARRL home station call sign). His rotary spark gap transmitter "Old Betsy" has a place of honor at the ARRL Headquarters.

Hiram Percy Maxim was a mechanical engineering graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is noted as the inventor of the "Maxim Silencer" or Suppressor for firearms as well as of a silencer (or muffler) for gasoline engines.

He created the ARRL in 1914 because of his seeing a need to build up an organized group of "Relay" stations to pass messages via amateur radio. This allowed messages to pass further than any particular station of the time could reach.

His father was Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim, inventor of the Maxim Machine gun. H.P. Maxim wrote an amusing account of his youth in the book "A Genius in the Family: Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim Through a Small Son's Eyes." H.P. Maxim was also a pioneering automobile inventor, which he recounted in his book "Horseless Carriage Days."

Deavis
October 3, 2005, 09:42 PM
Browning and Garand accomplished their designs without computers, which highlights just how smart they were

Come on now, that is a stretch. Firearm design was well-understood by the time theses guys were building their guns. Mechanically, there is nothing special about a gun and there are no mysteries to solve in its design. Those guys were building on centuries of prior art. I'm not trying to take anything away from them, but don't make them out to be super-genius just because they didn't have a computer.

A huge knowledge loss has occurred in the U.S. Just ask an engineer today to derive an equation from first principals. I have witnessed graduate degreed engineers display a complete lack of understanding of the most basic concepts, like conservation of momentum

Sometimes, and I know you don't want to hear this, but sometimes it isn't necessary for an engineer to understand all the first principles of what he is doing. The engineer simply needs to understand a certain amount that will allow him to communicate to other engineers who do know. This is a little troubling at first, but think about it. Does every engineer who works at a job need to understand every single detail or principle of what is going on? Of course not, most engineering work has been abstracted enough so that you don't need to know that information. It has been abstracted to allow a better flow of information to more qualified persons. Who cares if someone knows the exact details of how to mill in titanium and why should a company have to figure it out everytime they want to do some work in titanium? Just buy a good package , the work has been done for you, and you can concentrate on what you do best. It doesn't make you any less of an engineer because you can't diagram the entire process ad naseum like in physics 101.

Sometimes you need people with a little more experience than a tech has to get work started but not as much as your senior engineers. That is why you hire engineers who are a bit shaky. You can use programs designed by people who know what they are doing to make up for the knowldege gap. I'm not saying this is a good or a bad thing, merely pointing out that it is far cheaper to employ a few specialists to guide the other engineers as they develop. There is a fine line between not knowing enough to be a good engineer and knowing just enough to be useful.

Gunpacker
October 3, 2005, 09:48 PM
John Browning was far from a tinkerer. He was an engineering genius, regardless of whether he had a degree or not. Engineering can be done by someone that has knowledge and a brain. Degree not required. Yes, many jobs require a degree, but that does not make the folks that have the degree jobs are worth a hoot. Knowledge and insight are what count, regardless of years in college. I think you might be surprised at how many things are actually designed by folks with no degree. Yes, an engineer is usually required to look it over and sign off. Many still don't have a clue. There are some great engineers, and lots that have a degree but don't have a clue. The ones without a clue usually turn out reams and reams of paperwork.

BTR
October 3, 2005, 10:02 PM
NMshooter, making a homemade gun is legal under Federal law, as long as it is not a short barreled longarm or machinegun...

PromptCritical
October 3, 2005, 10:55 PM
Here is an interesting thought:

A man, or woman (gotta be PC here) comes up with ingenious idea for a new firearm. Like an artist with an almost psychotic desire to paint, he is so enamored by his idea that he decides to build it, regardless of any laws preventing him. After much tinkering and refinement, his revolutionary creation is now complete. It performs beyond all expectations. It is truly a think of beauty. Then he gets arrested. Within a year or two, his design is now the standard issue weapon of the US Armed Forces, and he rots in jail on a twenty year sentence.

trapperjohn
October 3, 2005, 11:25 PM
John Browning was far from a tinkerer.

I never accused JSM of being a tinkerer, on the contrary, he was one of the greatest engineers in History.
as another poster stated he took exhisting knowledge and expanded on it.

My point was to those who stated that a formal engineering education ruins an engineers creativity. That position is total BS, Since JSM the area of firarm design from a mechanical stanpoint has pretty much matured. Now most all advances are in materials and controls.
Also the field of knowledge of engineering and science has grown exponentially since his time. To effectively and broadly work in engineernig now requires a broad and deep knowledge that one doesnt get by simply working in ones garage or machine shop.

Kaylee
October 3, 2005, 11:27 PM
Come on now, that is a stretch. Firearm design was well-understood by the time theses guys were building their guns. Mechanically, there is nothing special about a gun and there are no mysteries to solve in its design. Those guys were building on centuries of prior art.

:uhoh:

So um.. what was the prior art for say.. the rotating link/moving slide? Or the gas-operated repeater? To name just a few...

From what I can see, JMB practically invented modern firearms design itself. I think you're selling him awful short there.

Garand though I'll give you. The M1 ain't much more than a bolt-action with a stick welded on the bolthandle ponying up to a gasport, when you get right down to it.

-K

Fletchette
October 3, 2005, 11:57 PM
Look at DARPA, and the X Prize, both of which put HUGE amounts research for the government for 1million each

X Prize was completely privately funded. They even had a rule prohibiting teams from using any technology that was developed with government funding.

Sometimes, and I know you don't want to hear this, but sometimes it isn't necessary for an engineer to understand all the first principles of what he is doing.

Sometimes, just sometimes, this is correct. However, most of the time if an engineer does not have the basic knowledge that his predecessors did he/she will dramitically screw up.

Yes, we as a nation are experiencing a brain drain. Most college students do not even seem capable of writing with correct grammar. As for engineering, we landed men on the moon in 8 years from a standing start (1961 to 1969) and now, with all of our "knowledge" we are proposing to go back in 13 years. This is suppoded to be "visionary".

:confused:

Consider who actually makes stuff anymore. America? Nope. Other countries design, test, build and manufacture far more than the U.S. does now. Somehow, we are supposed to move into a "service economy", with uneducated college graduates.

I look at what was made 100 years ago and marvel.

Fletchette
October 4, 2005, 12:01 AM
p.s.

With regards to the original premise of this post, I will agree that if we did not have so many laws there would be more individual experimentation with small arms. Someone might even come up with cost effective solutions to expensive problems.

For example. If people were allowed to own tanks, you might see less expensive tanks that can do 99% of what our current tanks do. The X Prize is a good example. People just a few years ago scoffed at the idea of privately developed spaceflight. Now it is real.

Keaner
October 4, 2005, 12:04 AM
We are still making huge advancements in technology.

Secondly, you are assuming that given the chance, we cannot come up with anything "new" for weapons as a collective.

Part of DARPA iirc, was to give your project findings TO the government, so it was basically a way to get colleges to fund a HUGE project.

All I am saying is, that the common person is no longer encouraged to invent the way he was 100 years ago.

Right now, it is a NECESSITY that the government spend that much money, but if the common people were encouraged a little more to develop stuff on their own, the government would not have to. That was the main point.


*BTW: The M1 is such a good rifle BECAUSE of its simplicity. Sometimes the simplest idea is the toughest think of.

Hardware
October 4, 2005, 12:24 AM
All credit to John Moses Browning, but let's also not forget David Marshall Williams, inventor of the M1 Carbine. While his design was improved upon and polished, it was not significantly changed between the prototype and the service rifle.

cracked butt
October 4, 2005, 12:33 AM
Garand though I'll give you. The M1 ain't much more than a bolt-action with a stick welded on the bolthandle ponying up to a gasport, when you get right down to it.

:scrutiny: Yup, and making it work was easy too. That's why there are numorous coversion kits out there to turn your remington model 700 into a semiauto. :eek:

Why the US Gov HAS to spend so much money on weapon development:
The short answer- because the government is far better at wasting money that doing any useful function. Don't get me wrong, they've come up with some nifty contraptions over the years and put men on the moon, but overall more money is wasted than spent doing something productive.

Rembrandt
October 4, 2005, 12:40 AM
Why the US Gov HAS to spend so much money on weapon development?

...So we don't make the same mistake the French did with the Chau Chau...

Sam
October 4, 2005, 02:48 AM
CrackedButt,
Ever seena Charlton AR? :D
It is an SMLE with a strap on gas cyl and cam arrangement to operate the bolt.
Works just like a Garand, but does not look quite so elegant and it in that rimmed Brithing shell too.

Sam

Sam

davec
October 4, 2005, 05:54 AM
Ever since World War II goverment defence contracts have built in guaranteed profit for the contractor.

FDR started the practice just before the war to encourage guys like Ford and GM to switch production to armaments. Even as late as 1940 they still saw the civilian market as the best place to put their resources to maximize profits. However, once the goverment began guaranteeing them profit built into the contract they had an incentive to switch over.

That practice should of stopped after World War II, but it did not. Instead of reverting to pre-war way of doing things where a contract was signed between the contractor and the goverment for a set price, and the company could keep as profit anything leftover after their costs were covered, defence contractors slowly became bloated semi-goverment entities who were (and still are) GUARANTEED their existence by the US taxpayer no matter how efficient they are or are not.

Eisenhower said something on the subject back in 1961...he called it the military-industrial...something or other, I don't remember.

But no...no..more important to federally subsidize our defence industry then allow it to operate in a free market....and if you *dare* suggest changing things...well be prepared to be called fun things like "weak on defence" and have your picture used in television ads next to Saddam Hussien and Osma Bin Laden.

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