Weapons: A Sniper Rifle With A Mind Of Its Own

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January 29, 2014: The U.S. Army recently bought six XS1 computerized rifles. These usually go for up to $27,000 each and are expensive because they are sensor equipped and computerized to the extent that over 70 percent of first time users can hit a target over 900 meters distant with the first shot. For a professional sniper, first shot success averages about 25 percent and 70 percent on the second shot. Second shots are not always possible as the target tends to duck after the first one.

The XS1 with the bipod, loaded and with the scope, weighs 9.25 kg (20.4 pounds). It is bolt action with a five round magazine and fires the .338 Lapua Magnum. It has a folding stock and is 1.26 meters unfolded and 1.12 folded. The fire control system on the rifle collects much information (target imagery, atmospheric conditions, cant, inclination, Coriolis Effect) but the shooter still has to estimate wind velocity and direction. The scope incorporates a display that tells the shooter how to move the rifle to hit the distant target that has been selected and when to pull the trigger. The rifle actually fires only when it is properly lined up. The manufacturer has sold about 500 of these rifles so far, mainly to wealthy hunters who don’t like to miss.

The army found that soldiers who had gone through standard military rifle training would get hits on the first shot 90 percent of the time when using the XS1. In the hands of trained snipers it’s closer to 100 percent of the time.

Trained snipers are very effective, but the XS1 and its technology could provide snipers and regular troops the ability to get that all-important first shot on target over 90 percent of the times. Sometimes there are targets that require that because, as any sniper knows, if the target notices the first shot he will often duck fast enough to avoid the more accurate second shot following several seconds after the first. 

 


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