When we first covered TrackingPoint’s computer-assisted weapons at CES, it was the rifles’ object-tagging that got everyone’s attention. Its Precision-Guided Firearm system allows a shooter to tag the target prior to pulling the trigger. Once tagged, the shooter can squeeze the trigger, but the rifle will not fire until the target is correctly sighted. The gun’s ballistic computer takes into account the target distance, ammunition, barrel condition, and the shooter manually inputs wind conditions. In a new development, TrackingPoint has pushed its Xact System technology even further, allowing the shooter to look at a video screen not connected to the rifle while aiming — thus making possible that spy movie dream of shooting around corners.
Making un-sighted shooting work for hitting stationary targets is actually easier than it sounds for TrackingPoint, because what looks like an optical scope on the rifle actually isn’t a scope. It is a video camera and small display, with a lot of electronics in between. Think of it like the Electronic Viewfinder on a mirrorless camera, except the rifle shoots bullets instead of pictures. Having an EVF meant it was a small step for TrackingPoint to stream the same video to another device over WiFi – where it can be seen in the company’s Shotview mobile app. Initially, this capability was marketed for recording shooting sessions, but it didn’t take long for TrackingPoint to realize the same technique could actually be used while shooting. Shooting around corners makes for a great demo, but the company hasn’t explained whether the link is secure enough to keep it from getting hacked, or fast enough to allow shooting at a moving target.
TrackingPoint has said that the US Army has purchased six of its rifles, possibly for integration into its M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle, so someone is paying attention. Outside of military and SWAT team use, though, it is a little hard to see the value of turning a $10,000 to $20,000 rifle into more than a party trick.
The largest use of TrackingPoint rifles is for hunting. Whatever you think about hunting, ethical hunters believe that the best kill is a quick, clean one. If the tagging feature of a TrackingPoint is used to help with that, great. Unfortunately, it is also being marketed and used with more of a “cowboy” mentality to set distance hunting records, so it isn’t hard to imagine the weirdness that will happen now that hunters don’t even need to be looking at what they kill.