Why did the Gyro-Jet concept fail?


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.cheese.
July 7, 2008, 07:44 PM
http://www.reedercustomguns.com/information/stupid/gyrojet2.jpg

I was thinking about this. Why did the concept of self-propelled small-arms projectiles fail? The Gyro-Jet failed, why?

It never even made its way into long guns. What was wrong with the idea?

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kingpin008
July 7, 2008, 07:46 PM
For those of us who are unfamiliar with the Gyro-Jet concept, is there a link that we could check out before we offered theories? ;)

EDIT - That said, my first guess would be costs of manufacturing/design. If each cartridge is self-propelled, you're going to have to design a process to manufacture them, test them, and quality-control them. Then, you're going to have to design the weapons that fire them, or a way to retro-fit existing weapons so that they can fire them. Then, you're going to have to market these systems, either to the public at large, or to the military/police forces, which is will include a whole 'nother set of hassles and hurdles.

But that's just a guess. :)

christryker
July 7, 2008, 07:52 PM
Actually there was a rifle concept but that failed aswell.

ZeSpectre
July 7, 2008, 07:52 PM
cost - Each round was expensive THEN, imagine the price NOW.

power - The gyrojet round reached full velocity a number of feet AFTER it left the barrel. At usual handgun self-defense ranges the gyrojet round could be surprisingly impotent.

QC issues - the rounds required some pretty serious quality control. They had (comparatively) stringent requirements for machining.

DoubleTapDrew
July 7, 2008, 07:54 PM
They didn't really offer any advantages over conventional arms/ammo did they?

hqmhqm
July 7, 2008, 07:54 PM
One thing is that it doesn't reach full velocity until maybe 25 or 50 yards if I recall correctly. Not much use in many situations.

Now if they had a hybrid where you fired a rifle bullet which then ignited after 100 yards and kept a flat trajectory, that would be cool.

christryker
July 7, 2008, 07:55 PM
I found this in the wikipedia article.

http://i87.photobucket.com/albums/k124/christryker/Gyrogroup.jpg

One "carbine" like rifle, one "sniper" and two pistols.

SDC
July 7, 2008, 07:59 PM
Accuracy was also a major concern; since the rockets had a lower velocity than bullets do, and they didn't reach their maximum velocity until well after they exited the barrel, they were very susceptible to cross-winds. I wouldn't volunteer to get hit with one, but you were much less likely to get hit with one in the first place.

Carl N. Brown
July 7, 2008, 08:51 PM
The Gyrojet rocket must contain all its propellant. That limits the power. If the fuel burns unevenly, that affects the center of gravity. Rotation was achieved by angling the vents in the base of the projectile.
After the fuel was burned, you had a hollow projectile: poor sectional density ( lot a wind resistence for a relatively light weight, low velocity round). Very strange idea, it is amazing they were even made and sold at all.

Cosmoline
July 7, 2008, 08:53 PM
I wonder if modern technology could solve these problems. Obviously price would go way up but for military applications you could even have guided bullets that would be little missiles.

makarovnik
July 7, 2008, 08:59 PM
Too expensive and inaccurate. Some type of pistol firing bullets with explosive tips would be a good idea though.

.cheese.
July 7, 2008, 09:11 PM
I wonder if modern technology could solve these problems. Obviously price would go way up but for military applications you could even have guided bullets that would be little missiles.

Exactly. With the advent of nano-technology, I would imagine guided small-arms projectiles using the Gyro-Jet concept would be possible.

For those of us who are unfamiliar with the Gyro-Jet concept, is there a link that we could check out before we offered theories?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gyrojet

I didn't realize there had been rifles too.

This quote from the article kind of sums up the answer to my question I gues:

It appears there is nothing inherently wrong with the concept, other than inadequate initial projectile velocity: a round can actually be stopped if a finger or even piece of cardboard is held directly at the end of the barrel, and will burn its fuel uselessly. This makes the Gyrojet totally ineffective at close range. The lack of speed often resulted in the rounds being unable to overcome the force of the reloading lever, resulting in the round failing to leave the gun.

Would mating the concept of an improved Gyro-Jet type of projectile with the electronically fired Metal Storm product concept result in any kind of significant step forward in weapons technology?

Perhaps one day there could be a Metal Storm type product with each projectile self-guiding?

stevereno1
July 7, 2008, 09:44 PM
Shooting USA did a spot on the Gyro-jet. It seems that the reason that it failed was because it was an inaccurate, expensive, peice of junk. I hope that you have gotten the correct answer.

zoom6zoom
July 7, 2008, 10:24 PM
Inaccurate and expensive. Only pluses are:
1. Cool concept
2. Almost no recoil.

Blacksmoke
July 7, 2008, 10:47 PM
I went to high school with the daughter of the inventor- Mainhardt. The application was space (you know, "The Final Frontier"). Supposedly, with the Cold War, astronauts would need side arms to defend American assets from Commie Cosmonauts. We were supposed to colonize the moon and we should have been on Mars by now. Space stations were to be big and active. It was conceivable that battle could be fought up their. A good sidearm would be essential.

I also recall when an "agent" from the Soviet Consulate attempted to purchase one of these at the San Francisco Gun Exchange (this must have been 1965 0r 1966). Nate Posner, the owner, a die-hard, true blue American, personally arrested Mr. Commie and held him for the FBI and the SFPD. I believe he had a "Special Police" star from the City. You had to know Mr. Posner to really appreciate this. He was one crusty old guy. I used to hang around his store when I was a youth of 13 to 15.

Stebalo
July 7, 2008, 11:14 PM
The gyrojet suffered from very poor accuracy, best claimed accuracy was 30inches at 100 yards which was probably optimistic.

Not sure when ammo stopped being produced but with passage of the 68 GCA, the 13mm caliber was classified as a destructive.

230RN
July 8, 2008, 01:35 AM
Blacksmoke reminisced:

I also recall when an "agent" from the Soviet Consulate attempted to purchase one of these at the San Francisco Gun Exchange (this must have been 1965 0r 1966). Nate Posner, the owner, a die-hard, true blue American, personally arrested Mr. Commie and held him for the FBI and the SFPD. I believe he had a "Special Police" star from the City. You had to know Mr. Posner to really appreciate this. He was one crusty old guy. I used to hang around his store when I was a youth of 13 to 15.

Thanks for the interesting sidelight on this. A little extra historical flavor is always appreciated.

I can just imagine the character of this "character."

Makes me wish we had more folks around like that nowadays.

I was fascinated by the Gyrojet concept when it first came out --really a neat idea, but as pointed out, impractical, inaccurate, and expensive according to reports back then.

However, even "way-out" ideas tend to advance other technologies by getting folks to think divergently.

But a lot of "way-out" ideas are implemented and start-up companies are formed solely to attract investors.

ColinthePilot
July 8, 2008, 01:47 AM
The gyro-jet didn't actually fail entirely. The military uses them as signal flares now. Since they are self propelled, they can penetrate jungle canopies and still signal rescuers. I know they are still produced because I fired one in training about 2 weeks ago. As for the history, I was told they were developed to be under-water weapons, but failed in that realm, and were adopted as signaling devices.

Heres a video from the same USAF survival school I just attended.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeQOemeXvQI

Stevie-Ray
July 8, 2008, 01:50 AM
I had heard that Ronald Reagan had one.

Timthinker
July 8, 2008, 04:23 AM
The Gyro-Jet firearm was a weapon that was ahead of its time. This accounts for the considerable cost and other problems associated with it. Now, the question of a modern Gyro-Jet firearm is an interesting one that certainly deserves discussion.

I recall discussing this firearm some time ago, perhaps on another forum. The responses I received were quite interesting. I hope this thread stimulates some great discussions about such weapons.


Timthinker

U.S.SFC_RET
July 8, 2008, 06:08 AM
From the Ordnance Museum at Aberdeen Proving Ground.




http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o187/USMILRET/P1000154.jpg[/IMG]

http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o187/USMILRET/P1000155.jpg

GNLaFrance
July 8, 2008, 06:36 AM
The application was space (you know, "The Final Frontier"). Supposedly, with the Cold War, astronauts would need side arms to defend American assets from Commie Cosmonauts. We were supposed to colonize the moon and we should have been on Mars by now. Space stations were to be big and active. It was conceivable that battle could be fought up there. A good sidearm would be essential.

Hmm. Were they thinking that a self-propelled rocket round would be more efficient in vacuum than a standard one? I don't see how. And since the Gyrojet round was lightweight, it wouldn't be as effective against armored space suits or anything else that had been "hardened" than a good AP round.

Firethorn
July 8, 2008, 07:27 AM
I don't see how.

You have to remember about Microgravity as well - the reduced recoil of the round would greatly reduce the chance that the firing astronaut goes sailing off into space.

As for armoring - well, armoring takes mass, and you only really need to break the seal in space, then the hostile astronaut is more concerned with resealing his suit than fighting.

Blackbeard
July 8, 2008, 09:06 AM
From what I've heard, the rocket requires several yards to reach its peak velocity. If you shoot someone point blank, it probably won't even break the skin.

jason10mm
July 8, 2008, 09:29 AM
Seems to me there are almost no advantages to the concept and lots of disadvantages. Adding an explosive component to small arms probably violates all sorts of Hague Conventions, not to mention trying to make an explosive round that can also penetrate far enough to be useful could be problematic. Either you get gruesome shallow surface wounds that are not immediately fatal or overpenetrations that then cause damage downrange. Not to mention the surgical nightmare trying to extract unexploded ordnance from injured folks and the "landmine" style long term hazard of unexploded ordnance lying over the battlefield.

Barring some revolution in defensive technology (shields or something) I don't think we are going to see the end of conventional cartridge design, particularly as recoil management technology progresses and we can use heavier bullets at faster speeds to defeat known armor and improve accuracy and lethality with minimal modifications to our current weapons tactics.

About the coolest high tech weapon thing I've seen is the distance detonated grenade like the OICW. That way you could negate lots of cover, particularly if the explosion could be directed downward or to the side to hit guys behind walls or around corners with minimal risk to things in the surrounding area. I could see some type of aerodynamic minigrenade that could propel itself or glide like a frisbee towards the target in order to maintain a flatter trajectory while still having low enough velocity for guidance and command detonation at the appropriate range.

PaladinX13
July 8, 2008, 10:57 AM
I wonder if modern technology could solve these problems. Obviously price would go way up but for military applications you could even have guided bullets that would be little missiles.Smart bullets are possible today, just not economical... but I can't see a reason to couple them with gyrojet tech... it would only assist in the accuracy issue while the other issues still exist.

roger505
July 8, 2008, 12:29 PM
It failed mainly do to expense and that it was not really suited to civilian use. The rounds cost over $1.00 each in 1967 and had only one configuration, armor piercing solid. In todays money that would be about $9.00 to $10.00 each.

roger505
July 8, 2008, 12:50 PM
The concept was developed to answer a joint CIA, NASA, Army contract calling for a recoilless side arm to be used in any environment, including space. Also as a replacement for the old liberator pistol. The pistol was two pieces of stamped metal welded together with only three moving parts. The caliber was in 13mm, and 9mm. There was also one loaded in a cigarette and a 20mm explosive round, looked like a cigar and fired from a shot gun. See the old Bond movie "You Only Live Twice", the Japanese commandos use them.

General Geoff
July 8, 2008, 01:04 PM
Pure unguided projectile ballistics are far more predictable and reliable than tiny, guided projectile ballistics.

roger505
July 8, 2008, 02:02 PM
Project was a joint CIA, Army, NASA, contract. NASA wanted a weapon for space with no recoil and good penetration. The Army, ease of use and shock with penetration. The CIA cheep with ammo controlled by US, Also covert use [ the cigarette] and explosive against trucks [ the 20 mm]. Gyrojet answered with an all in one concept.
They did work, burn out was about 18 to 20 inches, accuracy so so. This was more of a proof of concept than any thing.

rcmodel
July 8, 2008, 02:06 PM
then the hostile astronautWe got hostile astronauts now?

Only one I heard about was the diaper lady, and I doubt a Gyrojet would have worked any better for her either.

rcmodel

Neo-Luddite
July 8, 2008, 02:14 PM
Not commercially viable in today's political climate; if the military doesn't want it developed, what commercial manufacturer would take such a 'risk' for little return.
Plus, while I'm sure the tech is there to make a 'smart' gyro-jet type projectile, it is MUCH easier to make something that can be of use to the mass market.

nwilliams
July 8, 2008, 02:20 PM
For those interested all you need to know about the Gyrojet.....History Channel segment.....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoffTmg9bxU&feature=related

CWL
July 8, 2008, 02:27 PM
Don't forget that the gyrojet rounds were also incredibly flammable.

I've been lucky enough to handle both pistol & rifle versions. Really "fun stuff" if you could get your hands on cheap rounds (years ago, they were $50 each, don't know what they cost now).

Biggest problem with the gyrojet is that it is a solution searching for a problem. Yes, you can get rifle velocities out of a recoilless pistol round. Is this really necessary if you don't have the accuracy to go with it?

Lastly, the 2-stage firing system really makes it pointless for a pistol. 1st stage just launches the round out of the pistol, IIRC it takes about 7-10 yards for the 2nd stage 'rocket' to fire, this makes it useless for use at standard SD ranges.

roger505
July 8, 2008, 02:37 PM
Hostile astronauts? Yes! The Russian space station had a 30mm gun for use against our shuttles. I have also heard, but can not confirm, that our shuttles were designed to be armed if needed. I do know that Russian recovery capsules are equipped with shotguns. This has to do more with the fact that there recovery accuracy is minute of Siberia and they may have to fight off wolves for a day or two.

Old Grump
July 8, 2008, 02:42 PM
Expensive
Inaccurate
Lack of power, (if you held your hand in front of the barrel you could stop the bullet without harm. When I saw that demonstration I thought the guy was nuts)
Slow, (Lack of a fast follow up shot and a bullet you could duck if it looked like it might accidentally hit you.)
No market, (people could buy a 38 or 30-30 that was more powerful and more accurate)

roger505
July 8, 2008, 03:12 PM
Hell I was there. This was a proof of concept, not a finished product and was shelved until need.

Burn out was apx 20in, not yards, and, upon burn out, velocity was high. Energy about two to three times that of a 45.
It penetrated well on hard targets and tumbled on soft. Reliably was a problem.

Remember, any ammo you find today is forty years old and is loaded with a rocket fuel that did not have a long shelf life. Therefor any test today will not be valid.

With any new approach you must offer an marked advantage to the system in use or it will not be used, and apart from no recoil, there was none. Fire arms have a 500 year history and are vary, vary developed and any new system must overcome this.

Brian Dale
July 8, 2008, 11:27 PM
I love the "Hell I was there" posts at THR. Thanks, roger505.

Last deer season, I toted a nine-pound, sporterized Springfield up and down the steep hillsides around here for a week and a half. It was worth it; nonetheless, the thing that jumped out at me from U.S.SFC_RET's museum display photograph was the line on the sign that reads,...
WEIGHT: 2Lbs 12 ozs With Scope
...:D

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