The above Terminator-like weapon is Colt's latest, greatest invention. Developed with Defence Research and Development Canada, (Canada's version of DARPA) this is the smart gun Canada wants to fight the wars of the future. And it's hard to look at this insane level of firearm innovation and not think about the birth of the Colt .45.
This new super gun does it all. As the DRDC describes it:
The prototype, in development since 2009 through the Soldier Integrated Precision Effects Systems (SIPES) project, includes a firing mechanism to shoot lightweight cased telescoped ammunition, a secondary effects module for increased firepower and a NATO standard power and data rail to integrate accessories like electro-optical sights and position sensors.
In plain English, the firearm is designed in the NATO standard "bullpup" style—meaning the cartridge is in the back of the weapon rather than the front—and fires 5.56mm calibre bullets. That's also a NATO standard. Meanwhile, that hulking barrel on top can operate either as 12-gauge shotgun or grenade-launcher with a three round capacity. The next iteration of the weapon is supposed include networking components so that the firearm can receive data from base as well as "automated target detection and assisted target engagement," if R&D goes as planned. (Read: The gun will one day aim itself.)
The Canadian Armed Forces won't be deploying with these new super-guns any time soon, it's still in the early concept stages for now. But leaders want this—or something like this—to be the weapon of choice for their soldiers in the near future. "In the medium term, this weapon concept represents a lethal, flexible general-purpose platform," said Lieutenant-Colonel Serge Lapointe. "It will be able to operate in all theatres of operations in the most complex terrain including urban areas, mountains, jungles, deserts and the Arctic."
That's not unlike the mission that Colt undertook in the years after the American Civil War, when it designed iconic Colt Single Action Army revolver, also known as the Colt .45. The firearm was adopted as the standard military service revolver in 1873, thanks to its innovative single-action mechanism and revolving cylinder which held cutting edge, self-contained metallic cartridges. The newly designed .45 Long Colt cartridges were also famously powerful, and it was just as useful to soldiers in battle as it was to sheriffs and frontiersmen. The firearm would eventually become known as "The Gun That Won the West."
But what does a cowboy's favourite revolver and a smart gun worthy of a Schwarzenegger movie have in common? Well, they're both made by Colt, but they're also both do-it-all weapons. While we're used to seeing the Colt. 45 in pistol form, the company also made some with an attachable shoulder stock. This so-called "Buntline Special" sometimes came with barrels as long as 16-inches that made it easier to aim the powerful weapon. Pistol-grip rifles are now a military standard across the world, and the new Colt-made Canadian smart gun is a glimpse into the future of firearms.
It's unclear whether or not the Canadian Armed Forces decide to contract Colt to outfit their troops with these firearms. DRDC is definitely proud of it, so proud they even made a little YouTube video of what it looks like in action. Just as the Colt .45 must've looked on the American frontier in the 1870s, this scifi weapon looks scary as hell. [DRDC]
Images via DRDC / Rock Island Auction Company