how long do you think it will be until brass and bullets are thing of the past?


September 26, 2007, 11:48 PM
There hasnt been any really huge change in ammunition technology in a while. People are still using blackpowder to hunt, and still use lead based ammo often. I am happy with the current rounds and weapons available, but it seems like innovation drives the markets and I was wondering how long you think it will be until brass and bullets are thing of the past in leathal weapons for the every day civilian and LEO markets.

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September 27, 2007, 12:01 AM
until extremely good batteries of some kind hit the market.

powder is never going to fully go away though given that flintlocks are still popular.

September 27, 2007, 12:02 AM
Since there hasn't been any serious propellant innovations that I know of, it'll probably be the same until someone develops a reliable compact destructive laser. Maybe someone will come up with a turbo-diesel rifle, hehe

chris in va
September 27, 2007, 12:04 AM
Man, I hope soon. Projectiles are so old-school. We've been throwing things at enemies for millenia.

Frankly I think the taser is the most innovative weapon to come down the pike in a long time.

Jack A. Sol
September 27, 2007, 12:05 AM
as long as it's non electric it will be available to some extent.

ditto on the battery thing tho, as it may become more efficient to carry a spare battery than 100 rounds of ammo.

September 27, 2007, 12:06 AM
Magnetic accelerators and energy weapons are very real. At this point they cannot be carried because of energy requirements. Polymer casings are out there but they are not yet cost effective. It would not surprise me if we got rid of brass cases in the next 20 years. Possibly something like a carbon barrel could be made if cost were not object.

September 27, 2007, 12:06 AM
Well, muzzleloaders using blackpowder were the standard for a couple of hundred years. Before that arrows were the standard for a couple of thousand years.

I'd say that smokeless powder cartridge arms still have a good bit of their run left in them. I'm sure there will be changes to the materials that make up the case and bullet as raw materials prices change and technology progresses. A major paradigm shift? Not for a while.

September 27, 2007, 12:14 AM
TASERs have been around since the 1970s. The bad guys used an early TASER to kidnap the mayor in the Dirty Harry movie The Enforcer.

Just my .02,

September 27, 2007, 12:21 AM
I hope it is a long time. I love 69gr Sierra MatchKings and IMR 4895.

September 27, 2007, 05:48 PM
179years, 4 months, 10days, 4hours, 36min, and 23 seconds exactly

September 27, 2007, 05:49 PM
"Set phasers on 'STUN'".

September 27, 2007, 06:07 PM
Assuming that a viable beam/energy weapon comparable to a rifle is created in the coming years, a good question is raised:

Will the "right to bear arms" be extended to these weapons?

Clearly, in the context of the 2nd Amendment as defense from government and for the militia, they should certainly be allowed.

However, given the claims of ".50 BMGs taking down jets" I can only imagine the propaganda that will be spewed forth by the antis in response to private ownership of beam/energy weapons.

September 27, 2007, 06:14 PM
Parker makes it clear that the 2A is supposed to allow US citizens to keep and bear arms equivalent to the military arms of the day. So if Parker is upheld, then yes, I think we'll be allowed to own beam/energy weapons once they become available.

But by then we'll also have force fields capable of stopping a hand-held beam weapon, so the balance will be preserved. :)

September 27, 2007, 06:18 PM
I'd actually like to see caseless ammo become popular. I know it's been experimented with, but it never really caught on. Being somewhat of a sci-fi fan, I wouldn't mind seeing effective energy/plasma weapons either. They would probably be alot cheaper to shoot, seeing as all you'd have to do is recharge a battery...

Pat McCoy
September 27, 2007, 06:27 PM
Told you those "suppository guns" wold never catch on. My flintlock still works fine.

chris in va
September 27, 2007, 06:32 PM
Alright, how about this.

Still use ammo, just without the bullet. The energy derived from the expanding gasses could power some sort of pulse generator.:scrutiny:

Tully M. Pick
September 27, 2007, 06:41 PM
But by then we'll also have force fields capable of stopping a hand-held beam weapon, so the balance will be preserved.

And thus are lightsabers born.

September 27, 2007, 07:03 PM
So if Parker is upheld, then yes, I think we'll be allowed to own beam/energy weapons once they become available.
Don't count on it. There's already a ban in place on any gun similar to the mythical Glock 7, from what I've heard.

If it's simple enough to make, you should be able to find a 'make your lightsaber guide' on any linux or anime forum in the future.

September 27, 2007, 07:09 PM
I'd say a VERY long time -- on the order of centuries. Think about it. Guns that fire brass-cased cartridges are astoundingly effective and far cheaper than any other tool that does the same thing. We still use knives, right? You could use a high-tech laser scalpel to cut your food, but a sharp piece of steel with a handle does as good a job for about a millionth the cost.

The only events that could cause guns/bullets to go away are:

A) Exhaustion of natural resources required (not likely)
B) Cheaper and/or more effective alternative becomes available
C) Disappearance of the need to make holes in things at a distance

September 27, 2007, 07:15 PM
The government already has energy beams, they showed them on TV.

September 27, 2007, 07:39 PM
I doubt that there will be any significant changes for a long long time.

Some things remain the same because it has achieved a level of design & efficiency that cannot be improved on much: quick examples would be knives and drinking cups. No significant change in design for 6,000 years except for materials and method of manufacture.

Lead bullets will keep on being used because they are the most efficient in transferring energy into target. Except for materials, accuracy and speed, firearms have served the same purpose for the past 700 years.

September 27, 2007, 08:02 PM
Hopefully for a very long time. Polymer cases, bah! Caseless ammo? Pfffft! If you can't reload them I don't want it! Call me a Luddite.

September 27, 2007, 08:02 PM
I'm guessing at least 100 years from now, at least for brass... not sure about bullets.

September 27, 2007, 08:09 PM
meh...we go back to clubs

September 27, 2007, 08:16 PM
If things continue the way they're going, Big Brother will be watching us through the tele-screens by then, so there may not be much of a civilian market. :uhoh:
It would be pretty cool, though. I'll take one of those blasters from Star Wars.

September 27, 2007, 08:25 PM
Han used a Broom handle Mauser with a laser conversion kit. He also shot first. On a more serious note I think reloadable polymer casings are in the very near future if brass prices continue to increase.

September 27, 2007, 09:52 PM
even in the sci fi movies they keep cartridge firearms get used. It is an ingenious and efficient design. period. we still have books even with digital technology. why? because they are so damn useful and simple. I like my loud noisy machines. I am not voluntarily turning loose of my V8 either for an electric car. Even if it gets impractical I will save up my pennies for the gas to take it out for a spin. Men we are living in a golden age right now. a V8 and a 45. what could be better than that?

September 27, 2007, 09:56 PM
Even if particle beam or other Flash Gordon weapons become the norm there will still be a place for lead projectiles. This is due to the fact that even if weapons improve human beings will still bleed profusely when punctured by said projectiles.

September 27, 2007, 10:00 PM
I think Remington tried eletronic ignition on a rifle a few year ago; I don't think it went over too well. I don't see laser beam weapons anytime soon because of cost and effectiveness.

We've seen seen a lot of cartridges and calibers come and go; I don't see people beating doors down for the .30 Remington or those new Winchester SSM cartridges either. The cartridges that have been good will be around for a while.

September 27, 2007, 10:21 PM
The brass and bullets can be separated. A "bullet" is nothing more than moving mass bringing kinetic energy with it.

You could do away with powder and brass by going to something like the DREAD. 8,000 FPS and 120,000 round per minute? That sounds like a pretty good replacement right there.

The idea is so simple and so brilliant, amazing how often that's the case. It's idiots who make things hard.

Deer Hunter
September 27, 2007, 10:58 PM
What was that quote by the famous crazy-haired dude?

"I'm not sure what the third world war will be fought with, but the fourth will be fought with sticks and clubs."

September 27, 2007, 11:07 PM
I think Remington tried eletronic ignition on a rifle a few year ago; I don't think it went over too well.

If I remember right, they also developed caseless ammo. It went down the same hole!!

September 28, 2007, 12:56 AM
I don't know if they're still available somewhere, but about thirty years ago I used to reload Herter's 100% polymer shotgun hulls --no metal at all, not even for the primer pocket.

I'd get maybe three or four reloads out of them. They were real pretty transparent blue when new, but after the first firing they were dirty and not so pretty, but still reloadable

Major disadvantage is they required a top wad with a light taper crimp --no star crimp allowed.

I bought them largely as an experiment. After the mouths started to split I trimmed them off and loaded them with light pest loads.

Now we're talking here about maybe 10 or 12 thousand "psi," not the 40-60 thousand of a modern high-intensity rifle load, but given better support around the base of a plastic cartridge, it may be possible to contain that kind of heat and pressure. After all...

...progress happens.

And we now have aluminum cartridge cases.

And it wasn't that long ago that the very best fishing poles were made of fine bamboo, golf clubs had all-steel shafts, automotive engine blocks were made of cast iron, and rifle barrels had to be all-steel tubes.

I'm still waiting for Coors to come up with a rifled porcelain gun barrel.

Maybe next month.

Never No More
September 28, 2007, 01:13 AM
As long as I have my flintlock, I got ammo, heck can make everything for it.

September 28, 2007, 04:52 AM
Navy is already (ok been for a while) working on Rail-guns...

Battery technology has been sucking, but carbon nano tube capacitance batteries are already past proof of concept, more a cost issue now. (Those that don't know "capacitance" batteries are limited by their surface area, which has been exponentially increased by using carbon nano tubes) Imagine a "regular" battery that discharges normally, and then you "recharge" it in 30 seconds or so.

You never know what the next best thing is going to be. From reloading every chamber on a 6 gun to using paper wad shells, to brass casings... a lot has happened in that 50 year span or so in that area. Agreed it hasn't changed much since. :P

The whole problem w/ hand held energy weapons is power. Gunpowder was around for a LONG time before anyone thought to use it as a weapon... and from the invention of gunpowder (what was it called before guns?!?! hehe) to now... how long is that? More advancement in just about everything has been done in the last 150 years than in any time previous to mankind. Who would have envisioned Nuclear Power Reactors in 1800? (granted that is like 200 years ago.. hehe) that being said who would have envisioned it in the year 1066? Just can't tell when innovation is gonna take a flying leap into the wonderful.

One of my favorite short stories i've read involved a guy who "accidentally" invented a power brick of this "material" that could store enough energy in a brick the size of a cigarette pack that would run his car for a year. I think the premise also included fairly easy regeneration of the energy of the brick, basically making the energy way cheap. So mass storage and quick/cheap recoup of the energy. Slightly larger one for his house... etc. In the story basically started world war III because the invention in and of itself would disrupt the economy of the world SO much that it would be "worth" it to go to war because one country had it and how bad that disrupted the balance of power. Strike first or get conquered last kind of thinking.

Read some articles on case-less ammo for "wall of lead" scenario's for the military. Basically have a lil truck or something w/ a bunch of tubes full of the caseless ammo. 30 rounds a tube... can put a wall of lead in front of a missile or something, anti personnel etc... each round was lit off electronically. No idea if the idea has gone past research into feasibility discussions.

As for good old lead and powder... even star-trek/star-wars work on the premise that different types of weapons offer different types of feasibility. If your "shields" protect against energy weapons, but suck at projectiles, which do you think your enemies will attempt to use. Starwars did the missle stuff less than star trek w/ the photon torpedo's... (and photon torps basically became energy weapons anyway before they struck right?)

The new battle star galactica doesn't look like they even bother w/ energy weapons.

oh well - all energy weapons/advancements/etc will require a leap of logic/research/ideas/breakthroughs that change the basic cost/availability equation of energy. If we say, find a way to convert small amounts of mass to energy at a time in a controlled manner... the mass to energy equation gives a LOT of energy. Imagine if someone found a way to do it a molocule at a time or something in a small package... wham... ray guns. And for the projectile mass accelerator crowd... hand held rail guns of varying "caliber's" hehe.

done w/ my novela :)


September 28, 2007, 08:31 AM
After we've stopped using iron as a primary buillding material.

October 31, 2007, 08:39 AM
Until Jesus come's back..

October 31, 2007, 09:01 AM
Show me a working prototype, and maybe then I'll believe the hype. I just don't see good 'ole fashioned powders, brass, and bullets going anywhere soon.

October 31, 2007, 10:53 AM
It won't be until the next technology can be microstamped.
If the next technology is an impulse energy beam or a beam of light of some sort then the weapon will have to imprint the s/n of the weapon onto the intended target.
I'm picturing a barcode shooter. :evil:

October 31, 2007, 10:55 AM
Of course it will always be around. They will be phased out of regular use by something "less barbaric", but muc like carburators and wide whites, there will also always be a group of us that long for days gone by and the tools and toys that went with them.

October 31, 2007, 12:54 PM
Lot's of technology available, but none is as cheap, reliable, and general-purpose as brass and lead.

Every electrical engineering student makes the following calculation:
A good quality D-cell contains 18 Watt-Hours of energy; this is 64000 Joules;
A typical handgun bullet has around 500 Joules of kinetic energy;
Therefore, a single battery should provide energy for around 100 shots.

Of course, it doesn't work that well. First problem is getting the 500 joules of energy out of the battery in a millisecond. Difficult (not impossible) to do. The bigger problem is applying the energy to the bullet efficiently. Various magnetic launchers exist, all rather inefficient.

A better weapon might be tasers that use ultra-violet lasers to make a pair of ionized (conducting) channels thru the air. This would allow greater range and more follow-up shots. Several companies have indicated they are working on such devices; the fact none have made it to market suggests difficulties with the idea. Tin foil would make a viable defense, unless the charge is sufficient to vaporize the foil.

October 31, 2007, 01:07 PM
World wide, it won't happen during the lifetime of anyone alive today.

As far as commercial availability in some U.S. states, it could be just around the corner . . . for us civilians. Still haven't gotten around to that cache.

October 31, 2007, 04:58 PM
While I don't think that conventional firearms will go out of style anytime soon, I do think that it is only a few decades (maybe even only one) before energy weapons become commonplace on the battlefield. I think that within 20 years it will be possible to build (but maybe not field) a man-portable laser 'rifle' (and I use rifle loosely). My brother is currently working on technology that will make chemical lasers much more powerful and effecient. He is doing this reseach in a lab (college), not his garage, btw.

As stated before, the Navy is already developing railguns. They expect to be fielding them around 2015 if all goes according to schedule. These railguns have the potential to replace cruise missiles in a lot of situations, which is much more cost-effective. A $1000 chunk of steel beats a $1,000,000 cruise missile anyday. They have similar destructive capability, with the very high speed and mass of a several-ton railgun slug causing similar destruction to the explosives of a Tomahawk.

Yetanothersam brings up another good energy weapon idea-the electrolaser. Just as he said, a low-power laser is used to ionize the air to create conductive channels. A large electric charge is then sent down the channel into the target. The problem here is with the batteries as modern technology isn't quite capable enough.

October 31, 2007, 05:06 PM
I'd actually like to see caseless ammo become popular. I know it's been experimented with, but it never really caught on

The ammo companies would jump at the chance to avoid having to spend money on brass. Unfortunately if we see the end of brass it will probably be when it's replaced with steel like the comblock uses. Caseless ammo was a pretty major failure. 19th century cases have the enormous advantage of removing both heat and crud from the chamber. Without that you have powder residue and even worse heat staying with the firearm instead of being ejected away.

The change is going to have to be the propellant. That's what led to the last round of innovations in the 1890's. Every firearm since then has been a permutation of 19th century technology, no matter how high tech the outside is made to look.

October 31, 2007, 05:10 PM
watch the old tv show, firefly. see the episode heart of gold. secondly, i thought the laser tech was out cause all you need is a mirror. we si-fi nuts have thought threw all this stuff. (yes, i am a nerd)

October 31, 2007, 08:20 PM
500 years?

October 31, 2007, 09:13 PM
The change is going to have to be the propellant.
Seems like the next logical step.

I was doing some thinking the other day on the whole caseless ammo thing and got to thinking that a propellant that was "stacked" in a manner so that it would bur then touch off an endothermic reaction after the bullet had left the barrel then we might be able to get around the heat problems.

I'm not sure we're ever going to see that, but it wouldn't surprise me if somebody experiments with it in the next 50 years.

I do think somebody will revisit caseless ammo again. Now that battery operated optics are a bit more acceptable perhaps an active cooling system would become acceptable. Think tiny fans sitting in channels cut out of the receiver around the chamber area pumping air back toward the shooter.

When/if that proves not to be enough receivers will probably start to look like CPU heat sinks in the computer world.

October 31, 2007, 09:23 PM
Plastic cases sound good, lighter, cheaper, perhaps the molten plastic could even be part of the sealing process. In practice plastic cased ammo just doesn't seem to be working yet. I won't be expecting that to change soon.

As far as energy weapons go, I don't see anything to indicate they're approaching feasible.

November 1, 2007, 12:06 AM
well, at the time of the civil war, the sharps rifles issued to sharpshooters accepted a paper cartridge, which you loaded into the breech, closed it, placed the primer, cocked the hammer and fire. The paper cartridge was consumed in the process. This was basically early caseless ammo. Look how far we have developed that technology (hint, not very far)

but seriously, that is the next direction I see cartridges going. Projectile, explosive charge, starter charge. the starter charge will be triggered via electricity (again, something that was played around with but never got anywhere)

Owen Sparks
November 1, 2007, 12:27 AM
What ever the future of small arms holds, you can bet your sweet bippy that any radical new development will be off limits to common people such as you and I. Look at the advancements in firearms made in the last century. Automatic fire, silencers, even features that made them more compact like detatchable butstocks and shorter barrels. All unobtainable for the comon man.

November 1, 2007, 08:48 AM
I'd still like to see a firearm that uses a gaseous propellant. The magazine would only hold the projectiles, and as the projectile is loaded into the chamber, it makes an air-tight seal against the barrel. The gas is stored somewhere in the grip as a liquid. Being cold as it's injected into the chamber, it helps remove the heat of combustion. Electric ignition, and you're good to go. I can easily see a FiveseveN-style pistol holding sixty rounds or more.

P.S. The latest NRA magazine I got showed a BP rifle using electric ignition instead of a primer. Supposed to really improve lock time and ease of cleanup.

November 1, 2007, 11:32 AM
A gas-powered gun would be effective. You can get a large number of rounds in a magazine and the gas would help with heat. However, a gas-powered weapon would never be accepted for military use. The problem is with weight. Liquefied gases tend to be excessively heavy, so you would wind up with a handgun that weighs 5 lbs fully loaded. It does have practical application for a space gun, but not much other than that.

General Geoff
November 1, 2007, 11:44 AM
The next big revolution in small arms will be either pneumatic weaponry (running off compressed air or other gas), or electromagnetically propelled projectile weapons (either gauss guns, or rail guns).

The compressed air idea is more feasible from a practicality point of view right now. The electromagnetic guns would be FAR more powerful, but the concept is limited in execution because available materials today cannot adequately withstand the massively high temperatures involved in such high current electrical discharge (not to mention the problem of adequate power in a small package).

We have functioning rail guns, both in college laboratories and on prototypes in the military. Problem is, you have to practically rebuild the thing after every shot. Once materials are discovered/invented to withstand multiple discharges between overhauls, they will become the proverbial weapon of choice.

November 1, 2007, 12:00 PM
Gas propellants run contrary to a very important advantage of cartridges, that is that the powder and projectile are in one nice little package that is entirely self contained. This makes a HUGE difference in logistics as well as battlefield efficiency of reloading. You'd essentially have twice the reloading cycles, making things more complicated for the weapon and for the soldier using it. I could easily see polymer or carbon fiber cases in the next 5-10 years; there have been some groundbreaking advances in plastics in the last decade. Plastic or composite cases would be cheaper and lighter, allowing the soldier to carry more ammunition. Reloading would probably not be an option, but if it's cheap enough you wouldn't need to.

November 1, 2007, 02:40 PM
Any electric weapon has got to be much more reliable than my current palm/ laptop/ desktop/ cell phone if it is going to be useful for self defence or battelfield application. Many threads discuss current handgun choice in CCW and reliability often comes up as "must have or leave that gun at home". There is no time to wait for the thing to reboot when the BG is charging you with a knife.

November 1, 2007, 03:05 PM
Projectiles will be around for a long time. It's pretty hard to improve on tossing a lead projectile at a target at high speed. Bullets predate firearms by at least 2000 years, and probably much longer ( i.e. sling bullets ).

CAP (Combustion Augmented Plasma) or ET (ElectrolThermal) propellants have been demonstarted to be highly effective, and thanks to pulse contouring, a convetional firearm converted to ET can gain almost double the velocity without increasing chamber pressure. Plasma stimulated working fluids can be as simple as water. The main drawback has been battery capacity, but nanotube based supercapacitors curently in devolpement should make ET guns simple. Hand loading would then consist of writing new pulse profiles for a particular bullet.

Since ET componants have other uses, this may free fireams from dependency on primers and propellants, making it much more difficult to ban firearms, as they could be manufactured from components used for radically different purposes, while software could be distributed via the internet.

Conventional ammunition looks to be the next target for gun banners. It's pretty hard for the home hobbiest to manufacture primers, catridges and smokeless powder, and several prominant anti-gunners have harped on the fact the 2nd ammendment says nothing about ammunition.

Something to think about.

General Geoff
November 1, 2007, 03:08 PM
Plastic or composite cases would be cheaper and lighter, allowing the soldier to carry more ammunition. Reloading would probably not be an option, but if it's cheap enough you wouldn't need to.

Get molds to whip up your own plastic cases from raw material. :)

November 1, 2007, 03:10 PM
I think the only thing inhibiting progress at this point is the energy constraints. There is only one reason why we don't have compact 5 megawatt laser bursts coming out of our Glocks right now... we can't tote around 5 million watts of energy in our pockets (not to mention the exponential increase if we wish to fire multiple blasts). Thats also why we don't have light-sabers for that matter. Oh yea... they'll probably be banned too.

Solve the energy "crisis" and the cool new weapons will come. I can see it now... completely silent, clean firing, zero recoil, utterly invisible. I wonder what kind of permit I'll have to get to carry one of those.

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