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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

New Computer Guided Rifle is Accurate UP TO A MILE!

Joshua Krause

Since 2011, the Austin-based arms manufacturer known as TrackingPoint, has been making high-end precision guided rifles. These are nothing like the firearms that you or I grew up with. Each weapon is mounted with a digital scope that runs on Linux, and includes several sensors that measure range, wind velocity and direction, target size, temperature, and barometric pressure.

All these numbers are crunched by the on-board computer, which then displays the spot you need to aim for. The scope even follows the target as it moves, and when you pull the trigger the rifle doesn’t fire until you are on target.

In short, this is an incredible piece of technology that has been rapidly advancing in recent years. When TrackingPoint came out with their first .338 caliber rifle in January of 2013, it was capable of hitting a target up to .75 miles away, and moving at 20 mph. Now the company is unveiling their latest model, which can hit a target up to a mile away while moving at 30 mph.

Dubbed the “Mile Maker,” the prototype was described by TrackingPoint representative Anson Gordon as “mostly” representative of the final product. The weapon at least for now is built around an enormous, enormously heavy, custom-milled steel barrel, which fires what TrackingPoint is calling “338TP”—a round somewhat similar to .338 Lapua Magnum but with some customized attributes. The company decided to continue on with their own cartridges for the longer-range rifle instead of moving up to a bigger round (like .50 BMG) because of the superior ballistics of the .338 bullet over the bigger .50 round.
Previously the longest range TrackingPoint’s weapons could accurately hit was about 1,200 yards with the company’s XM1 bolt-action rifle; the “Mile Maker” adds 600 effective yards onto the range of the XM1 by using different rounds, a longer barrel, and most importantly, updated software in the computerized tracking scope.

While we know that it’s capable of making hitting a target that is 1,800 yards away, just how consistent is it? After all, even a broken clock is still right twice a day. If some of the older models can give us any indication, then this latest rifle may have some mind-blowing accuracy.
So is it really that accurate? It works well enough that the US Army is testing it. In one review, it was found that users of an older model were getting 70 percent first hit accuracy at 1,000 yards. A trained military rifleman, not a sniper, would hit about 5 percent of the time.
In a word, that’s impressive.
Don’t pull out your wallet just yet, unless you’re willing to call up the bank to mortgage your house. This rifle is likely going to cost around $40,000 when it is brought to market. That doesn’t mean it’s not going to be a huge game changer.

Like any computer-based technology, we will likely see the price drop significantly in the years to come. For the sake of comparison, we can get a good idea of where precision guided rifles may be in a few years by looking at 3D printers, which is another revolutionary technology that’s placing incredible ability into the hands of everyday people.

When 3D printers were first finding publicity around 5 years ago, they would cost you roughly $20,000. Now you can buy a high quality 3D printer for anywhere between $1,000 and $3,000. And unlike 3D printers, there is already a massive customer base that would be interested in this technology. People are still discovering new things they can do with their printers because it’s such a new and novel idea, whereas firearms have been around for centuries and already have tens of millions of owners and enthusiasts.  We may start seeing affordable versions of this rifle by the end of the decade.

My only question is, what will the government make of this? How will they feel about a $3,000 rifle that can hit it a target over a thousand yards away? I bet they’ll be thrilled.  

Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple, where this first appeared. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua’s reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua’s website is Strange Danger. 

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