Every great invention comes from the blood, sweat, and solitude of a single man working in his garage. A lot of broken marriages come out of the same set of things, but occasionally we get a wonderful new device in addition to the heartbreak.
In this case, it’s one Martin Grier of Colorado Springs who has given us what he calls the “Ribbon Gun.” It may look like something out of a 1980s science fiction television program, but the US Army thinks it might actually replace the venerable M-16. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill. So, what exactly, has it got that the M-16 doesn’t?
The Ribbon Gun features four 6 millimeter barrels in tandem cut from a single steel block. The firing mechanism is actuated by an electromagnetic device that gives the gun a firing rate of 250 rounds per second. So, it’s fast, but that’s not what puts it over the top. What makes the Ribbon Gun special is what Grier calls the “power shot.”
Under normal firing conditions, the Ribbon Gun operates like a machine gun or a long range rifle. That’s all fine and dandy. But the power shot sends four rounds down range at the same time at over 2,500 miles per hour.
The versatility of the gun alone scratches one particular itch the Army has had for a long time- to pack a variety of different capabilities into one gun. The idea is that the more roles one gun can fill, the less the soldier has to carry, the faster he can move, and the more types of targets he can kill.
In his 2016 patent application, Grier wrote that the gun is, “… a multibore firearm, with several bores within a single barrel, could potentially exhibit many of the advantages of a multibarrel design, while reducing the size, weight and complexity disadvantages.”
He first came up with the idea over 20 years ago when he was plinking with his kids using a .22 rifle. Grier says, “Modern weapons aren’t that far removed from the ones used by George Washington’s army. They use a mechanical firing mechanism that’s prone to failure. And from muskets to the AK-47, they fire one bullet at a time. What if a rifle could fire more than one bullet at a time and be tied to the tools of the electronic age?”
To do that, he first had to come up with a new type of ammunition. His bullets are encapsulated in blocks of four. Each round is aligned with one of the four barrels- which he prefers to call bores. That’s because each is cut into a single block of metal.
The second key to the Ribbon Gun is the revolutionary device that fires the bullets. It is an electronically controlled mechanism that actuates the firing pins. Electrical motors are exceedingly precise, allowing the gun to do more with less.
Conventional guns require the action of springs and reuse the pressures from expanding gas to work the action of the gun. This creates a great deal of mechanical wear on the gun and slows the time between shots. The Ribbon Gun’s firing process is much simpler, with fewer moving parts that run on computer controlled battery power.
And don’t worry, it still uses gunpowder- so it’s got plenty of power.
The unique electronic control makes mode selection extremely simple. Instead of a complex mechanical construction of gears, levers, and sliding tubes- the Ribbon Gun activates a chosen set of firing pins. In this way, the operator selects the firing mode without making any mechanical changes to the gun.
The Ribbon Gun weighs about 6 pounds and is slightly less hefty than the tried and true M-16. That makes it like three different guns for less pack weight than one traditional primary soldier’s weapon.
The gun’s bores are cut into the long steel block using an electrically charged wire. The cutting process is extremely precise, guided by computers. Traditional barrels are bored by mechanical cutting. The difference is the ability to make a four bore firing system from a single block of metal. This high tech method does more with less metal than can be done with an old-fashioned drill press. That, and the simplified firing system, is how Grier manages to get so much gun into so little pack weight.
Grier says our fighting forces are superior to the enemy in every regard but one- small arms. After a few years of testing, he hopes the Ribbon Gun will change that.
~ American Gun News