What’s next? Linux powered guns, apparently
When Austin startup TrackingPoint calls their product “Precision Guided Firearms – PGFs” they are serious about it living up to the name. We are talking about customized hunting rifles, such as the .300 Winchester Magnum, that have been fitted with scopes out of a sci-fi movie.
Just look at the list of the information that the HUD of PGS provides:
- – Wifi is on
- – Range-to-target in yards
- – Mode: advanced or traditional
- – Wind direction (blowing right or left, as entered by the user)
- – Wind speed (in m.p.h., as entered by the user in ½ m.p.h. increments)
- – Video recording time remaining
- – Battery life of each battery
- – Which of the 2 batteries is in use
- – Inclination of the system (in degrees)
- – Cant of the system (in degrees)
- – Magnification
- – Temperature (in degrees Fahrenheit)
- – Cardinal compass direction
- – Pressure (in inHg)
- – User state: idle, tagged, armed
Impressive, not? It’s something you might expect to see in a jet fighter. The target must be “marked” with a button located near the trigger. Trigger mechanism is modified, with variable weighting, and digital tracking scope is computerized. You will need to purchase hand-loaded match grade rounds from TrackingPoint, since they must be manufactured to tight tolerances.
To actually shoot at something, you need to “mark” it first. This will give the target a “pip” in the display. After the marking, the scope will take into account a large number of parameters, such as humidity, air temperature or age of the barrel, showing exactly where the round will go via crosshairs in the centre.
Now, there has been some controversy regarding the fact whether the rifle fires “by itself”, due to somewhat different system of firing. Squeezing the system will not fire the round, rather, the reticle you see in the HUD will go from blue to red, and you have to place it over the marked target pip, at the point of contact between the two, the rifle will fire. The way that TrackingPoint explain the system is that the full force of the trigger rises dynamically, to a very high point at the moment of reticle and pip coinciding, and then it is reset to default, allowing the shooter to control the firing. You are able to release the trigger at any point before the firing itself.
What this brings to the table is accuracy enhancement, since it is the computer choosing the moment for the shot, while your aim will not be upset with trigger pulling and the reflex to move against the recoil which is a bit of a problem for anyone, really.
The scope also records the visual feed and has a small Wi-Fi server, as well as an iOS app connecting and streaming the display to the app, allowing people with iPads or iPhones to be spotters. The package includes an iPad with the software pre-configured. This is nice of them, since you will need to spit out in excess of $17.000 for the rifle. Android users do net get the short end of the stick, there is a compatible app for them as well.
There are currently three models of PGF, they are all bolt-action hunting rifles, and they are not really usable in any kinds of close-quarters, with the tracking system requiring patience. TrackingPoint themselves have stated that they have no intention of making the system for anything but the said guns.