First of all, this is not another Second Amendment debate. This is meant to be a technical discussion.
My question is what is the future of small arms like handguns, rifles, and military smallarms? Mostly incremental changes to design, materials or ergonomics? Smart munitions and advanced optics?
Lets keep it to weapons firing ballistic projectiles, not exotic sci fi stuff like laser rifles, phasers and phased plasma rifles in the 40kw range.
This runs up against a problem however: to do damage a bullet has to be either heavy, fast (meaning lots of propellant), or a combination of the two, so you don’t want to reduce ammunition weight too much. And while making a rifle lighter sounds nice, the point is reached where the gun doesn’t have enough mass to adequately soak up the recoil from the bullets. There might be room for improvement but ultimately if you’re using kinetic projectiles there’s only so far you can go.
I can envision some kind of optical target recognition software, that prevents the gun from firing at targets recognized as “friendly.”
Someone proposed something similar, where the gun wouldn’t fire unless there was a very definite target there at all. Why waste shots shooting between people, or over their heads, if you can have your targeting scope wait for a certain shot? (A friend of mine wrote about this in a sci-fi story. He called it “murder helper,” because it increased the lethality of a mass-murder public-shooting situation.)
Possibly some sort of HUD targeting system, which will provide shooters with a FPS-type targeting reticle on their goggles, showing where the rifle is pointed (and perhaps also taking factors like range and wind into account as well).
Caseless ammo has one serious drawback: the casings actually serve a useful purpose, absorbing heat from the chamber and promptly ejecting it from the gun. Overheating is exacerbated in caseless ammo designs.
The Russians have been working on some type of recoil reducer that uses a counterweight piston to negate the push back. But I don’t think they’ve had much success. There’s also the concept of better cushioning materials to manage recoil. The idea is for not eliminating recoil per se, but of mitigating it’s effect on accuracy.
I suppose a that could be mitigated by using space-age polymers that disipate heat.
Caseless ammo also has the technical challenge of finding a propellent that can be molded into shapes, is hard enough not to chip or crumble, is stable enough to not explode or cook off if mishandled and burns completly on ignition.
Bad idea. The most obvious countermeasure would be to disguise yourself as something that was not recongized as “hostile target” or put up decoys that are. At the very least you would want the weapon to “dumb” fire at whatever you point it at.
Optical recognition software and small guided projectiles already exist in at least a developmental form. And “smart guns” are a classic sci-fi trope (remember Gene Simmon shooting his guided rocket pistol at Tom Selleck in Runaway?). I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until the technology reaches a point where weapons with some sort of active targeting and guidence exist IRL.
I would suspect so. Much combat occurs at ranges of several hundred yards between camoflaged opponents using cover. My WAG is that the low ratio of combat casualties to rounds fired is due to the fact that it’s very hard to hit something you can barely see a couple hundred yards away while shit is exploding around you.
I remember reading that the original caseless ammo also had problems absorbing moisture from the air and becoming, at best, unreliable and, at worst, one long, gluey block of explosive with bullets attached to it. Has that been resolved?