Weapons Manufacturers Set Their Sites On Smart Guns

Long-range hunters put in years of practice to learn and refine their skills. It takes proper form, a comprehensive understanding of the environment and steady hands. A recently released “smart rifle” may eliminate the need for these skills and the time it takes to develop them. The TrackingPoint rifle features target-locking technology that automatically fires on a target at just the right moment. An advanced scope houses a ballistic computer that does most of the work for hunters.

TrackingPoint CEO and former marine Jason Schauble claims this technology enhances the hunting experience, especially for beginners. Hunting traditionalists, on the other end, believe the embedded computer takes the joy and skill out of hunting. This isn’t the first “smart gun” to hit the market, but the TrackingPoint rifle is the latest sign that guns and technology will continue to intertwine.

TrackingPoint Technology

On its website, this smart rifle producer poses an outlandish question: “Could you hit a moving target at 1,000 yards?” If you have a TrackingPoint rifle, the answer is yes, because of its Tag Track Xact system. The TrackingPoint rifle features a tag button for users to lock on once they have a target in your sites. The ballistic computer considers range and environmental factors and adjust the positions. The shooter then aligns the scope with the new target and fires a trigger, but the rifle probably won’t discharge. That’s because the TrackingPoint system waits until the alignment is perfect before unleashing the the bullet on its own.

Reaction to Smart Guns

With such revolutionary technology, TrackingPoint has garnered a range of opinions from hunters and anti-gun advocates alike. With unfamiliar technology, safety is an obvious concern. How would a relatively new hunter who cut his teeth at a local Wisconsin hunter safety course fare with this new equipment? Gun-safety advocates wonder what the consequences would be if this technology fell into the wrong hands, but the National Shooting Sports foundation voiced its opposition to any government regulation on smart guns. “What the industry does oppose are ill-conceived mandates … on the use of this conceptual technology,” NSSF Vice President and General Counsel Larry Keane wrote on the group’s website.

Others oppose TrackingPoint because they prefer the element of human error in hunting. A TrackingPoint rifle package starts at $22,000, significantly higher than most guns. “It’s a very expensive piece of machinery, and very heavy,” American Conservative Union board member Jameson Campaigne told Foxnews.com.

This technology could pique the interest of the U.S. military, who used snipers to shift the tide in Afghanistan in 2011. Smart rifles would offer more precision with less training, and soldiers could camp out further away in combat.

Other Smart Guns

TrackingPoint isn’t the only weapons manufacturer using technology to enhance its products. TriggerSmart produces tracking technology that locks weapons unless the owner, who wears a ring or brace, is holding it. Similar to James Bond’s weapon in “Skyfall,” these guns won’t work for anyone other than the owner. That will appeal to parents who worry that their children could stumble upon a weapon.

John Hopkins

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This post was last updated on Monday 10 August, 2015.