TrackingPoint: Reliability Testing

As gadget-minded gun guys, we’ve followed the development of TrackingPoint’s precision-guided firearms with great interest. We received an email from TP today with some of their latest, including a video with a little bit about their testing procedures, and a slight tease about their development process. They don’t appear to use published or ammo-manufacturer ballistic data, but develop their own experimentally by measuring actual achieved trajectories with pulse-doppler radar. Good stuff, but one implication is that their computer will be optimized for a particular load or a finite set of loads in each gun.

One expects that a well-trained and experienced long-distance shot, using a weapon and load data he’s personally worked up, would outperform the Tracking Point  system in most circumstances. Where TrackingPoint offers real advantages, it’s in the case where the shooter does not have that level of experience and familiarity with the weapon and load; in climactic extremes; and in non-level shots, where the computer can compensate for an angled trajectory in ways that a human cannot, at least not in real time.

And, let’s face it, it’s really cool.

In addition, Tracking Point tells us:

  • They’re going on the road in February and March. Purpose of this road show? To get prospective customers behind the gun, ideally in hunting situations, to show them in real applications what’s much harder to tell them convincingly at a trade show or in an indoor presentation. 
  • They are not sold out yet for 2013, but they would like to be. Here’s what they say:

We are still on track to ship our first PGFs this Spring. Our final refinement and testing of ballistic lead for engaging moving targets, our testing of the auto-zeroing capability over time, and an extensive field stress test are all necessary to ensure field proven reliability of the first Precision Guided Firearms prior to shipment.

If you are still deciding on which PGF is right for you, understand that if you purchase right now, we will be shipping your PGF in the Summer. We will have a limited supply in the hundreds of units for 2013 and operate on a first come, first served basis.

  • Finally, they’re looking for people as they’re planning to grow. TrackingPoint is based in Austin, Texas (so it’s a good fit both for Texans and for out-of-staters).

In our view this is a historic, even radical development that right now gives the shooter an advantage, and one day will be an NRA Museum level heirloom, as significant as an early AR10 or a 1905 Colt .45 ACP. We believe this because we think that one day, “smart” scopes will be extremely common, even standard.

Scopes themselves have been a slow, hard sell over the last 50 years, but now the superiority of optical to iron sights is universally accepted. We think a computing scope will be a revolution on a similar scale, although as technical revolutions tend to do, it will likely take place faster than its predecessor. We might be wrong — as Yogi Berra said, “prediction is hard, especially about the future” — but we’re pretty confident about this. It provides a capability that was lacking before.

3 thoughts on “TrackingPoint: Reliability Testing

  1. neutrino_cannon

    It has been pointed out that this is very similar to how the fire control system on a Leopard 2 or M1 Abrams tank works; you select a target bearing and wait for the barrel to catch up. In those tanks, the delay occurs because the targeting optics can be more or less perfectly stabilized, while the gun, which has a rather lot of inertia, tends to wobble a bit. Here too, the system is compensating for the wobble of the platform, in this case caused by the imperfect nature of human muscular control.

    I think that a lot of improvements could be made in small arms by borrowing concepts from tank armament and miniaturizing them as improvements in electronics and materials science allow.

    1. Hognose Post author

      The Javelin ATGM has some similarities also. An incredible weapon, reliable, capable, and extremely effective on tanks and a surprising variety of other things.

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