Will This Replace the M16 & Variants?
Russ Chastain 10.31.18
File this one under “weird weapons” or maybe “ideas that someone liked but which actually suck.” Or maybe, just maybe, “America’s next battle rifle,” the L5 by FD Munitions.
The inventor, Martin Grier, has reportedly called it a “ribbon gun” and apparently the US Army “is studying Grier’s gun and has ordered a military-grade prototype.”
The main gimmick… er, “feature,” is the “ribbon” barrel, which has multiple rifled bores stacked vertically — and which could conceivably fire five or more rounds simultaneously. But not individual rounds as we know them; instead, the ammo would be manufactured in metal blocks with multiple compartments for primer, powder, and bullet. FD calls this ammo “caseless,” but that’s false because the blocks act as cases.
Mechanical means of ignition, i.e. firing pins and related mechanisms, would not be included in this sci-fi rifle. Instead, they’re looking at electronic means of detonation… reminiscent of Remington’s failed EtronX system.
Grier is even going high-tech with the barrels, cutting the bores electronically rather than drilling them.
According to TFB, this thing is so theoretically programmable that “You should be able to make this full auto or volley fire. You could even program the rate of fire down to the millisecond split times between shots. Or you could program burst modes.”
The ammo blocks enter the left side of the rifle and are ejected out of the right, once the final round has been expended.
This seems like an incredibly wasteful method, which would produce a massive amount of waste and clutter during a firefight, possibly hindering soldiers’ freedom of movement. And transporting ammo — always a concern for infantry troops — would be a nightmare, with each block of four or five rounds taking up a lot more room (and weighing more) than the same number of traditional cartridges. Even the built-in magazine (containing the ammo blocks) is bulky, protruding out the rifle’s left side.
Color me skeptical; I will be mightily surprised if this thing ever gets off the ground. What do you think?