By Nick Steadman
SADW is a monthly electronic publication from Nick Steadman Features. Nick, intrepid world traveling reporter for much of the arms industry, files this 40,000 to 50,000 word report once a month to his loyal subscribers. Those lucky ones pay a mere $50 (US) £32.50 (UK) per year for the privilege of getting the hot tips and insights from one of the industry’s insiders. Nick’s unique perspective is globally based, as is his wit. Each issue is full of insight and information for those with an interest in Small Arms, as well as his observations on world travel.
1. WEAPONS, EQUIPMENT, TRAINING & ORGANISATIONAL NEWS
SADW EXCLUSIVE – TRINAMIC’S ALL-ELECTRIC GUN: Trinamic Technologies LLC of Hollister (California) is seeking to commercialize its innovative Multiple Projectile Delivery System (MPDS), which is both electrically powered and uses electrical energy for its propulsion system. The inventor, Charles St George, is also the designer of the Australian 5.56mm Leader rifle and the Armtech 5.56mm ART30 bullpup, better known in the USA as the M17S, now made by Bushmaster. MPDS has reportedly been in development for eight years, but we’re told this is the first public news of its existence. St George says the basic unit is made of composites and light alloy, powered from a 12-24 volt supply. The feed system, described as ‘jam proof’, comprises ten pre-loaded ammunition cassettes each holding 100 rounds, for a total on-gun load of 1,000 rounds. It can be reloaded with this full complement of ammunition in just 45 seconds.
We can’t really call this a ‘firearm’, since no conventional propellant is used, which also eliminates the customary cartridge case and primer. Apart from the ‘whiplash’ signature one would get with any supersonic projectiles, it is said to be quite silent in operation, with no flash, smoke, flame, IR signature or barrel wear. Even ‘whiplash’ has already been proven, with suppressed small arms, to be of little help in locating the origin of gunfire. Overall therefore, the MPDS could be described as a ‘stealthy’ system, and would thus lend itself particularly well to covert operations.
A single .308-calibre barrel is used, firing high-rate bursts of 10-12 rounds apiece, and the maximum theoretical rate of fire is as high as 60,000 – 70,000 rpm, though Trinamic currently lists 12,000 rpm. Recoil is described as ‘extremely low’, and muzzle velocities can be tuned to deliver a wide range of effects, from non-lethal upwards. Trinamic literature lists 3,200 fps but it’s claimed it could ultimately hit 5,000 fps, and at very high velocities we would expect to see some quite interesting terminal ballistics. Planned projectile types include colour-coded frangible, tungsten, ceramic, steel and training natures. MPDS is intended to be mounted in helicopters, armoured fighting vehicles, dune buggies, ships or patrol boats, and it can be controlled by a targeting system running on a laptop computer.
It is also compatible with remotely-stabilised gun mounting systems such as the Dead Eye, already available for .50 weapons, allowing accurate fire on the move. Trinamic claims the high rate of fire and absence of heating will allow the user to simultaneously take on multiple targets.
Anyone who has followed what’s been going on in advanced tank gun development over the past decade or two will know that electromagnetic test weapons already exist, but they tend to require huge power supplies and are not yet a practical military proposition. Trinamic’s approach appears to be something of a technological leap in a system so small, and if a viable MPDS gun can indeed be successfully fielded, the implications are quite exciting, raising major questions about the long-term value of the many rival small arms studies which currently still focus on conventional propulsion.
There’s just one thing we’d like to see – a zippier name. How’s about the Electra-Projecta?
(Trinamic Technologies, Tel (831) 636-6843, Fax (831) 636-6813, E-mail: katieL9999@aol.com)
BENELLI WEAPON SELECTED FOR US JOINT SERVICE SHOTGUN: in mid-Feb 99, Heckler & Koch Inc in the USA (representing Benelli) was awarded the US DoD base contract, with four production Options, for the Joint Service Combat Shotgun (JSCS). Value & quantity were not stated. The weapon selected is the semi-automatic Benelli M4 Super 90 shotgun, now to be known as the XM1014. Benelli Armi in Italy will be a subcontractor to H&K Inc. In the first year, 15 further weapons are to be supplied, in addition to the five bid samples, which the DoD will now purchase, complete with draft manuals and a spare parts Test Support package.
The original five samples, plus five of the additional guns, will be subjected to Production Qualification Testing (previously termed development testing) at Aberdeen Proving Ground, while the remaining ten weapons will go to the US Marine Corps shotgun school at Chesapeake (Virginia) for user testing by USMC, army, navy, air force and coast guard personnel.
Assuming successful completion of these phases, the Option 1 production contract will be awarded, currently around Nov 99, but possibly earlier; it will include First Article Testing of five guns and then, after satisfactory testing, first production quantities will be delivered within 60 days, with further deliveries thereafter every month. Three additional production Options could subsequently be awarded in order to extend deliveries. The JSCS programme is being managed by the USMC on behalf of all the US armed services. As selected, the XM1014, which is of modular construction, will come with an 18.5” barrel (with screw-in choke tubes), pistol grip stock and telescoping buttstock. The gas system is self-regulating and the gun can be stripped without the use of any tools. It has a Picatinny optical sight mounting rail on top of the receiver, plus fully-adjustable ghost ring iron sights. Standard or assault slings can be attached.
It is chambered for 3” magnum cartridges and has a capacity of six rounds in a conventional tubular magazine – there is an integral five-round speedloading device (not seen) beneath the receiver. With the buttstock telescoped, minimum length is 34.9”, and empty weight is 8.44 pounds. Metal surfaces are protected by a non-reflective Milspec finish. Claimed endurance is 25,000 rounds of standard-velocity 2.75” ammunition with no parts replacement. The stated accuracy is six or more 00 Buckshot pellets from every round on a military E-type silhouette target at 40 metres.
ARMS TECH SUPPRESSED CARBINE: Phoenix-based Arms Tech has a new suppressed system for subsonic ammunition, based on the 9mm Ruger Carbine with 10” barrel, one of their own suppressors, a cheekpiece and a scope rail extending from the rear sight to the back of the receiver. An Aimpoint Comp red dot sight is mounted well forward to allow a night vision scope to be positioned behind it. The modified carbine also incorporates a buffer system to deaden the clatter of the mechanism. Arms Tech is having a new 147gr 9mm loading made, offering controlled expansion while remaining subsonic in the 10” barrel.
ARMALITE INC HAS A .50: as at Feb 99, ArmaLite Inc was taking orders for Jul/Aug 99 delivery of its new .50 Browning single-shot AR-50 bolt-action heavy target rifle, which has an aluminium stock (with detachable butt) into which the barrelled action is bolted. It’s also planned in the future to offer it in 12.7mm Russian calibre, and with magazine feed, using a two-round internal or external box. Retail price will be very competitive, from $2,250. The receiver is octagonal and overall rifle weight is 41 pounds. Length overall is 59” with a 31” barrel (1:15” twist) topped off by a multi-ported muzzle brake. Bolts have triple forward locking lugs & Sako-style extractors. A Picatinny rail is fitted for scope mounting, plus a single-stage trigger mechanism
(Contact e-mail: email@example.com, http://www.armalite.com).
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V2N9 (June 1999)