Rule Five Service Rifle Friday

The Army is examining a revolutionary new type of rifle, one that was designed and built in a Colorado Springs garage.  Excerpt:

The Army adopted its battle rifle in 1963 and has spent 55 years looking for a replacement for the M-16 and its variants.

They might have found it in Martin Grier’s Colorado Springs garage. Grier, a self-described inventor who has worked at a local bed and breakfast, built the new “ribbon gun” with a hobbyist’s tools. It looks like a space-age toy drawn by a fifth-grader.

But goofy origins and cartoon-looks aside, this could be the gun of the future. The Army is studying Grier’s gun and has ordered a military-grade prototype.

The specifications are incredible, four 6 mm barrels cut side by side within one steel block. New ammunition blocks fired by electromagnetic actuators that could theoretically give the weapon a firing rate of 250 rounds per second.

And then there’s the feature no soldier would turn down. “It’s called a power shot,” Grier said.

That’s the shotgun feature of this sniper-shot, machine-assault gun that can send four bullets simultaneously whizzing toward an enemy at more than 2,500 mph.

Now:  Color me skeptical.  Here’s the pros and cons of this admittedly fascinating new design.


Four bullets with one shot; that’s cool.  Not sure how useful it would be, but it’s cool.

The ammo blocks look like they’d be pretty good heat sinks; the advantage of brass cases, one that military testers learned in playing with caseless ammo in small arms, is that they carry excess heat away from the weapon.  These would do that even more.


Electrical actuation.  What happens if your battery goes dead and supply is out of replacements?

Ammo block.  From the photos in the article, the four-round blocks look considerably heavier than four rounds of conventional ammo.

EMP – maybe?  The weapon would have to be EMP hardened, which isn’t impossible but adds to cost and design challenges.

All in all, I’d give this one a pass.  Inventor Martin Grier rightly points out that weapon design hasn’t changed much in a long, long time (even the M-16’s design plan goes back to the late Fifties) but there’s a reason for it; modern firearms designs are robust, practical, and they work.

This rifle is interesting and I’d welcome the chance to play with one, but carry one in combat?  Hard no.