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PEO Soldier recently purchased six Tracking Point systems, the newest smart rifle technology in the precision-shooting industry.

Military.com Associate Editor Brendan McGarry and I got to check out Tracking Point at SHOT Show 2014 in Vegas. And it was hard not to be impressed.

McGarry wrote a Jan. 15 piece on Tracking Point for DefenseTech, but PEO Soldier just recently got back to us.

“The Army purchased six Tracking Point fire control systems to begin exploring purported key target acquisition and aiming technologies,” said PEO spokesman Alton Stewart.

“The Army is considering buying additional Tracking Point weapon Systems pending of funding. This purchase would allow the Army to evaluate, test and analyze the commercially available, non-developmental item to assess the capabilities this system could bring to the soldiers and to assist Army requirement developers to define future fire control requirements.”

Tracking Point emerged about a year ago. I only got to shoot it once, but it was cool. You look through this very large optic. You put your red dot onto the target – mine was 980 meters down range. You push a red button on the right side of the trigger guard to tag it.

Then the red dot drops below the target. You bring it back up just below the tag. You then squeeze the trigger, but the rifle doesn’t fire until you put the red dot over the tag. As soon as its lined up, the weapon fires.

First-round hit. It seems to work, but I have no idea if they tinkered with it to have it zeroed to pre-set targets.

The system includes a Linux-powered computer in the scope with sensors that collect imagery and ballistic data such as atmospheric conditions, cant, inclination, even the slight shift of the Earth’s rotation known as the Coriolis effect. Because the computer is wireless-enabled, information can be streamed to a laptop, smart phone or tablet computer for spotting or to share intelligence.

It’s impressive technology, but it completely goes against the science of shooting. I mean you don’t need to know anything about fundamentals of marksmanship to operate this thing – not really sure it’s such as good idea to thrust upon the sniper community.

Tracking point officials maintain that the technology was never intended for snipers but more for the average shooter, who might need to engage a target at sniper range.

 “This is not necessarily for them,” Oren Schaube, a marketing official with the Austin, Texas-based company.  “This is for guys who don’t have that training who need to perform in greater capabilities. This is more for your average soldier.”

As you might have guessed, Tracking Point is expensive. These guns range in cost from about $10,000 for scope-and-trigger kits installed on semi-automatic Daniel Defense rifles accurate to about 750 yards, to between $22,000 and $27,000 for those installed on bolt-action Surgeon rifles accurate to about 1,250 yards, according to Schauble. The kits can also be installed on other types of firearms.

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

scott January 27, 2014 at 10:16 am

what caliber is it a .338

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Tony January 27, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Would be interesting to see it in .50

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seans January 27, 2014 at 3:39 pm

You realize the 50 isn't the best long range cartridge right. It got pressed into that role early on just cause there was no competitors early on in the Stan. Now you have a lot more options.

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Alex January 27, 2014 at 7:04 pm

example: Cheytac .408

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Pat January 28, 2014 at 10:39 am

The 50 cal is primarily an anti-material weapon and was adapted for sniper use in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Don Meaker January 28, 2014 at 3:21 pm

.50BMG round was used by Carlos Hathcock in Vietnam too.

I like using a less than optimal sniper round, that has commonality with the HMG anti materiel round. If you really want a perfect sniper round, try the 155mm Howitzer. Close counts.

Jason January 27, 2014 at 6:28 pm

They are .338 Lapua in the XS1, & XS4, and 300 Win Mag in the XS2, XS3.

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bulldurham48 January 29, 2014 at 7:09 pm

Folks the wind be damned. I saw the girl, 12 years old,sit down behind the rig and hit targets up toand including 1000 meters away. So if someone can only kill you easly at 6/700 meters instead of 1000 whats the difference, you are still dead. They are already selling this weapon to sportsmen to hunt with {great kill rate too} so you can bet you butt the bad guys will have them soon. Even a monkey can kill if its taught. Beware of our own stuff, like the 50 cal rifles, they get around.

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seans January 29, 2014 at 9:39 pm

Yes but did she call the wind, or did a trained spotter call the wind. That is the hardest part of sniping. This gun takes care of all the easy parts of the sniping equation, like temp, humidity, and leaves you the hardest part, calling the wind at the target. And what good is this going to do if you miss, instead of just adjusting your hold, you now have to input a wind call, that takes time which isn't going to happen on a battlefield. And you are worried about bad guys getting a .50cal. I am guessing you really don't do much long range shooting, letting the enemy get a 3-5 minute gun isn't something I am worried about, now if they had a .338 and knew how to use it that would be something to worry about that.

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exurbankevin January 27, 2014 at 12:15 pm

I also got a chance to shoot the Tracking Point at SHOT, and yes, they did have that sucker dialed in tighter than a drum. A shooter with one of these will still need to know how to judge wind and accurate shot placement, but computer/rifle takes care of the rest of the ballistics and trigger press.

It's not going to replace a trained marksman, but it is going to make their job easier.

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robert January 28, 2014 at 10:14 am

Just think though what if that fails. If you teach all of the snipers and soldiers that will use that it will feel different from the normal way just a scope and a high caliber rifle. The soldier may not be able to shoot the old school way. The computer could fail.

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Lance January 27, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Seems the makers agree this is for some disabled and or new hunters. I prefer all snipers to learn the ABC's of marksmanship not play on a computer like a you do game. I don't like how it prevents you from shooting till your ready hit the one target you selected what if some one surprise you in the field. One of many you don't want computers running almost everything in the battle field.

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jason January 27, 2014 at 6:23 pm

There is a traditional mode as well. You can use it as a standard rifle as well as a smart rifle.

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seans January 27, 2014 at 3:41 pm

If the guy doesn't have the training to be able to call wind this is not going to do him any good. That is the hardest part of long range shooting is taking the wind into account. If you don't know how to do it you won't be able to correct your shots, or if you just try and hold for wind, this won't let you, it will make you repeat the shot without new data.

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exurbankevin January 28, 2014 at 4:37 pm

Having shot the gun, I agree 100% with this statement.

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Tom Gardinier January 27, 2014 at 7:23 pm

This weapon could make marksmen out of everyone. What about weather and terrain impact and moisture.

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Guest January 28, 2014 at 1:26 am

In the same way that a good navigator will always be able to fall back on map, compass, pens and protractor if his GPS goes down. The future marksman will just have an extra tool to augment his skills and make him more lethal.

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RAAFie January 28, 2014 at 3:40 am

The big question that's going through my head at the moment with regards to this technology is what happens when it gets into the hands of our enemies? I'd hate to think what would happen if average jihadis, who up until now have thought shouting "Allah Akbar" turns their bullet into a precision guided munition, can be turned into lethal marksman.

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hcool January 28, 2014 at 7:28 am

It is only a matter of time!

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Don Meaker January 28, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Snipers are overrated, considering their 'economy of force' role. When a sniper shoots, you really would be better off putting an artillery round at the same location. Smart snipers will call in artillery fire several times before they shoot their magic bullet. and after the magic bullet hits, call in artillery fire again as the enemy reacts to that.

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seans January 28, 2014 at 6:29 pm

Wow, do you even understand how modern snipers work. The whole one shot one kill, going after a specific person has gone out the window. Now snipers are a more integrated force. Snipers are providing overwatch, providing containment of targets, and squirter control. And they are still one of the most incredibly feared tactics we have, look at Ramadi, you can't just dump arty rounds into a city we are trying to win the hearts in mind for, they provide the ability to surgically take out the enemy reducing collateral damage.

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Jimbo February 3, 2014 at 5:10 pm

"~look at Ramadi, you can't just dump arty rounds into a city we are trying to win the hearts in mind for, they provide the ability to surgically take out the enemy reducing collateral damage."

Yep. Look at Ramadi. We failed to win the hearts and minds. We should have carpet bombed the place.

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Bert January 28, 2014 at 7:40 am

The Chinese and Russians most likely are already copying the blueprints and will have a knock-off completed within a year or two. From there it will be sold to the lowest bidders abroad.

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scott January 28, 2014 at 9:16 am

Now IL has something else they can try to ban.

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45K20E4 January 28, 2014 at 9:51 am

The Army had developed similar technology back in 1997 on Remington 700. IT worked, but like all initial tech, it was a large and expensive test bed. Still, it proved the feasibility.

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ronnie pond January 28, 2014 at 10:57 am

Yes but what if you discover that the target that you have already tagged and pulled the trigger on but have not yet got the red dot on is a friendly???. what then.

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JTMedic January 28, 2014 at 5:33 pm

What if I pull the trigger on a friendly on a non-equipped rifle?

I don’t get your logic sorry.

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majr0d January 28, 2014 at 3:10 pm

This is a welcome technological development.

Most focus on the impact on the sniper community without realizing an Infantry battalion may only have 1-2% of the unit serving as school trained snipers. The overwhelming majority of squads, platoons and even companies don't have a sniper. None have one assigned 100% of the time. This capability provides these units limited access to a precision fire capability.

I'm 100% on board that technology is never an excuse to forget the basics and not train them. I also recognize some reject this type of technology out of fear of change/technology and a snobbish elite attitude to protect snipers. This technology is not a threat to snipers. They do lot more than just shoot.

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JA Larson January 28, 2014 at 5:10 pm

1. The sniper executes deep and long range missions, providing eyes on target. He/she is one weapon in the mix. Snipers might be in overwatch on a road where you want to kill the guy planting an IED but you don't want to call in artillery, etc. Obviously we're using GPS/laser guided 500 pound bombs in S. America as a very effective anti-bad guy weapon.

2. The Squad Designated Marksmen (SDM) have been very effective. No real hard scientific quality data, but some commanders talk about a majority of kills being by SDM.

3. High tech computing scopes have been around for years. Obviously things like wind, humidity, heat, uphill/downhill, target movement, shooter movement, distance, ammo variability, coriolis effect, etc. affect accuracy. The more math we can do for the shooter, the more they can focus on the target. The XM25 has lots of automatic features.

4. The real payoff will be when some of this technology moves down to the basic shooter. Giving a non-infantry, non expert shooter something as relatively simple as an EOTECH makes a huge difference.

5. Current KD flat ranges with stationary targets/shooters don't give shooters very realistic marksmanship training. One test with highly 'trained' shooters on moving targets showed very poor Ph/Pk. My opinion is we over-standardize things; Combat Arms do 80% of the killing. We should give Combat Arms the best rifles/sights/ranges/training money can buy. The non-CA can do the basic foxhole shooting with basic weapons/calibers (although I'd give all of them the EOTECH).
http://www.slideshare.net/James8981/future-weapon

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seans January 28, 2014 at 6:39 pm

As a military trained sniper, I don't see the value of this system. At close engagements ranges 300 -700 yards, typical time to engage a target is often is often 5 to 10 seconds at most, which I don't have time to dial in my dope, I just use holds. And at the extremely long ranges which people have been trying to snipe in the stan. I am trying to correct for shots fired off my spotters info, you don't have time to enter data, just using holds based of the spotters corrections. The amount of shots I have seen that we have been able to range the target, dial the dope, and take the time on the shot has probably been less than 10% of the shots I have seen.

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tookfin January 29, 2014 at 10:20 pm

Are you kidding me. This weapon will never be issued to people who do not know what end of the rifle a bullet comes out of. Civilians sure as hell are not going to pay that kind of money. Come up with a weapon that can hit the target no matter how far off line you might be. Now you will have something!!!!!!!!

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DarthVaderMentor January 30, 2014 at 10:19 am

This is a nascent technological development which in this case improves one aspect of this previously non-computerized fire control weapon system, the basic rifle. Based on the history of technological innovations for weapons systems, the technology will initially have many limitations, not be understood well by its users, have yet unknown countermeasures (hacks) and will cost a tremendous amount per system (as it does now). There is no doubt that it will have many applications, effective countermeasures for it will be developed and it will be a lot cheaper with widespread use by many "unwashed" wannabe snipers and others who have to use the weapon unexpectedly for whatever reason They'll also be an ethics and operational component and procedures that will emerge as accidents happen.

One thing's for sure. If any forces that use this technology in a conflict want to be assured victory, there will be a complete bypass manual mode and their assets will be trained in the old fashioned way on how to shoot. The Marines have it right…..everyone's a rifleman in the battlefield, whether they like it or not.

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Mike Ray January 30, 2014 at 11:36 pm

I feel that the tech is sound and give the military one more tool they can use. An average soldier with minimal training can make a sniper caliber shot when no one in the squad is a trained sniper. The enemy now knows that every member of the unit can be a potential sniper. That has to make them nervous. To say this is cheating and disrespecting snipers is like saying that fighter pilots who can shoot targets miles away are cheating because they aren't having to aim their guns like the old biplane pilots had to do.

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Mike Ray January 30, 2014 at 11:47 pm

Now imagine a trained sniper with this system mounted on a 50 caliber sniper rifle. He would be able to make shots that would shatter records. He would be able to reach out and touch the enemy from miles away.

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seans January 31, 2014 at 1:45 am

The .50 is not that great of a sniping round. Your lucky if your ammo comes in at a 1.5MOA. And how do you see this shattering records. The records right now are being limited by the current hardware, not the shooters. Guys are laying their bullets in the sun to warm them up to get extra range. And the average soldier is not going to be able to make a sniper caliber shot. People don't understand that the hard part of sniping is the wind. The one thing that you have to call yourself. All the other data as a sniper is the easy part to take care. This still requires knowing how to call wind. That is the hardest part of sniper school. It all comes down to the wind. And all the long range shots take have taken multiple shots to hit the target. Just shoot, adjust, shoot adjust. This system makes it harder to do that do by having to input data instead of just adjusting your hold.

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Carl Carter January 31, 2014 at 7:07 pm

I have been working on a computer assisted rifle scope that will display bullet position at a known (measured) range. I haven’t been able to get a real determination of wind along the bullet path to target with my sensor searches so far.

I and my team at Grumman Pt. Mugu did design and implement a near real-time gun training system for the F-14 aircraft. After flight tests showed it worked very effectively post event, the Navy wanted it installed. Northrop, who manufactured the Northrop wanted too much money to retrofit the Television Camera Set (TCS), so the capability was never upgraded. The F-14′s Real Time Gunsight provided a bullet solution and corresponding pipper position on the Head up Display (HUD), my system recorded and displayed the results of his attempt 2 seconds after each trigger squeeze. The pilot could see if he would have had a hit or where the bullets went. The pilot still needed to learn when to track and pull the trigger. This new gunsight still doesn’t, as other’s mentioned correct for wind, uphill or down hill shooting corrections. You will still need gyros and wind sensor inputs as well. Any interest in my ideas for these?

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ONTIME February 2, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Hard to replace solid knowledge and skills with dependable(?) electronics in a combat situation or mission required condition. I would not discount this new technology but I would not let it make me dependent….there are toys and there are real needs to meet…

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HooahNinja February 2, 2014 at 10:36 pm

Black OP 2 traget tracker

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chris January 28, 2014 at 6:09 pm

the 416 Barrett is definitely in the running.

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seans January 28, 2014 at 7:04 pm

Yeah, he rigged up a M2 on single shot, I really wouldn't call that a sniper weapon.

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