Friday, October 21, 2005

Letters, Letters...We Get Letters!

This arrived in my mailbox today, and I thought it was interesting enough to post and ask you guys (and guyettes, of course!) for your responses!
Hi, Michael: We met when you did a presentation to the Mystery Writers of America, and I've followed your blog ever since. BTW, I agree about Lucifer's Hammer.
I'm just starting to work on a mystery series about a parole officer in the near future, circa 2050. How do you think the police will be armed 45 years from now? I'd appreciate any thoughts on the matter. Feel free to make it a blog entry if you wish.

Thanks for your attention.

Bob Tinsley
Colorado Springs
Hi Bob! Now that's an intersting question! Just off the top of my head, I think I'm going to go retro here and cast my chips for an updated 1911 in .45 ACP ("Just like the one my Daddy, who was in Special Forces, was issued in Gulf War 3 in '09...and the Mexican Uprising of 2021...and the California Rebellion of 2022...etc!"). It's too good a design to fade away, too ergonomic to ignore and there are too many of them out there in too many experienced hands, who will be training the next couple of generations of gunmen and gunwomen.

And I fall back on the Robert Heinlein dictum from Beyond This Horizon (where "An armed society is a polite society" came from, me thinks), which is that if you've got to shoot someone, to heck with this phaser crap! Stick with a BIG BOOM and a HUGE CHUNK OF LEAD!

Okay everybody...PILE ON!


Anonymous said...

Sort of depends on where you think the fingerprint/biometric concepts will go. I lean to the 1911 personally as a great choice, but it is not a dominant police pistol these days.

If the fingerprint/biometric (or some other scheme) develops, it could be some sort of gun allowing only the owner to fire it.

Guy N

Anonymous said...

I agree that we will still be using gunpowder, there is no technology that gives as much dynamic power in such a small package. Unless some new battery technology comes along we will still be chucking lead down range as our personnel weapon.

However, I think weapons may go to caseless ammo. You can fit more firepower in a smaller package by removing the brass. Imagine a 16 rd mag of .45 in the same space as an 8 rd a single stack. I would also add a digital ammo counter and some kind of biometric device.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:

"caseless ammo"

Ah, yes, Metalstorm!

Anonymous said...

oops, sorry about that. there is a reason for "preview"

Anonymous said...

Michael; It is my firm belief that metal frame guns will be an artifact of history in the future; if not the near future. How many NEW metal framed pistols have been introduced recently? The 1911 design will continue to survive, but not as a metal frame pistol or as we know it today.

As for projectile propellants, that all depends upon the success of developing absolute conductivity at room temperatures. Even this technology is going to require advancements in battery technology, but if successful it will be possible to launch titanium needles at hyper speed velocities. Something in the range of 30,000+ fps velocities. These speeds eliminate the need for advanced computer technology for aiming and target tracking.

However, there is no free lunch. Massive amounts of kinetic energy still will equal massive, absolutely devastatingly painful recoil even if the projectile is a small almost impossible to see titanium needle. A projectile the size of the lead in your typical #2 yellow pencil would probably require a crew served weapon.

As for caseless technology, I just don't see it. The G11 almost bankrupted the West German government before the Wall fell and no one has ventured near it since then. there are more hidden problems with this than what people (even in the industry) realize.

So my guess is many of the handguns we see today will still be in use fifty years from now. You have remember that firearms are really a 600 year old technology and outside of loading, firing and ejecting, not much has changed since their introduction.

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Anonymous said...

One would have to interpolate how the socio/economic conditions would effect the type of firearms seen 45 years from now.

The Po Po's would probably have some type of less than lethal weapon in addition to more normal firearms. They would be bound to use the LTL except in the most dire circumstances.

The gun would be most likely plastic/carbon fiber with a traditional steel barrel (By law to allow detection devices to pick them up) The ammo would look traditional but would probably use aluminum or steel cases and the bullets would be something more "Environmentally friendly" than lead. The casings would have some type of serial number or marking device to allow the hulls to be traced back to the shooter. Bullets may also have some type of ID that would survive impact in tissue.

The caliber would probably be 40 S&W.

I doubt seriously that biometrics will be standard. The first LEO who dies when the batteries fail will stop that nonsense.

EgregiousCharles said...

Not titanium needles. Titanium has two killer disadvantages: 1) it's not affected by magnets and 2) it's relatively light for it's volume, meaning poor ballistics. Needles propelled by electromagnets are going to be either steel (which unlike titanium is affected by magnets) or some material denser than steel, say tungsten carbide or lead, with a ferrous (steel) component that the superconductor magnets can propel.

Personally I think that's a lot further off than caseless. But, there's a lot of work being done on room-temperature superconductors, so I could be wrong.

I don't think 1911s are coming back into the running for police departments because they have no advantages over later designs that will show up a spreadsheet. They are favored by so many for personal reasons.

My prediction is a plastic-framed design with biometric user recognition, a digital ammo counter, and holographic sights, with both a conventional large-bore ammo and a saboted armor-piercing ammo; possibly a stacked ammo, something like Metalstorm with only two rounds, that fires a saboted and a largebore projectile in rapid succession from the same cartridge in the same cycle of the gun's action.

EgregiousCharles said...

Considering how frequently LEOs are killed with their own guns, biometrics are going to take over as they become more advanced and reliable, even if quite a lot of officers are killed when the biometrics fail. Biometrics are extremely attractive for open carry by officers; much less sensible for the rest of us, who are almost never killed with our concealed guns. The battery issue could be addressed with a mandated daily charging as soon as the officer comes on duty, on a battery that carries a few week's charge. Perhaps with a yearly replacement of every battery in the department.

Anonymous said...

Sorry folks, biometrics is a non-starter.

Every "smart gun" law exempts LEO's.

You don't think our politicians are going to take the chance that thier bodyguards are going to be defenceless at the wrong time do you?

That type of danger is only for the private citizen

Cowboy Blob said...

I saw something on the History Channel about a proprietary "blended metal" technology that recognized whether it's hitting meat or armor and acts accordingly, piercing the armor or expanding rapidly in the flesh. Even if it's just in the lab stage now, by the book's time, it might well be commonplace.

Anonymous said...

I'm hoping that air guns come back into use. Not those small pellet/BB guns, but seriously lethal weapons.

An air gun might not be practical for a pistol, but it could work for a rifle or carbine.

Heck, Lewis & Clark had one. And some of earliest repeater firearms were air guns.

Anonymous said...

If any company is willing to get near caseless ammo, there might be a possiblity there for a pistol. One of the major problems the caseless ammo had was excessive heat build up in the gun. Standard brass cases remove a heck of a lot of heat from the gun, a major consideration in an assault rifle (or MG, or SMG), but not quite so much a problem in a pistol.

I agree with egregiouscharles that biometrics have their natural use in law enforcement where police are often killed with their own sidearms; however, I doubt it'll happen.

As for electromagnetic arms and projectiles, magnetic properties aren't very important. Rail guns, for example, create current in a loop formed by the rails and projectile. Current flowing in a loop pushes out on itself, generating the forward force on the projectile, without respect to the magnetic properties of the projectile. In fact, copper and graphite can be used as projectiles.


Michael Bane said...

I might give you a polymer/miracle metal/plastic stuff frame, but I'm still calling it for a 1911...

I'm going for .45 because, as a half-hearted novelist myself, I like the big slab-sided gun as a prop and the .45 as a *profound* cartridge. Alternately, I might buy into the .38 Super/9 X 23, maybe with a sabotted 5.6 or 5.7 actual cartridge. A wide-framed polymer 1911 could hold 20-25 rounds of such a cartridge with minimal dinking, and it would be a formidable weapon (with the appropriate computer-designed bullet that proved to be a little more effective than the current 5.7 X 28 rounds).

My protagonist uses STI guns because she comes out of competition shooting, and that's the gun she's the most comfortable with.

The polymer-framed STI "2011" guns are arguably the best out-of-the-box 1911 style guns ever made. PERIOD.


EgregiousCharles said...

It seems the criticism of biometrics is coming from a perspective of what biometrics are like now. Perhaps that's due to people being used to the extremely slow rate of technological advancement in small arms. I like modern guns, but I'll readily admit any advantage a 2005 gun may have over a 1960 gun is tiny. Comparing a 2005 computer to a 1960 computer is a different story; a modern computer would be not even be immediately recognized by a computer tech from 1960. Biometrics is basically a computer technology; in 45 years it will advance so far as to be unrecognizeable.

We all hate smart gun laws. Laws based on a predicted technology are the legislative version of the investing in investing in predicted technology that caused the dot com crash. They're just a disarmament scheme in disguise, and the sponsors know it.

But that doesn't mean there won't ever be effective & reliable biometrics; there will. (I bet there will also be reliable & effective ways of spoofing them to use an unauthorized weapon.)

Nate, your point taken on rail guns; the armature acts as part of an electromagnet and thus doesn't need to be magnetic, and the projectile composition is irrelevant unless the projectile and armature are one piece (which is common), but then it which only needs to be conductive nout ferrous. That's a different kind of beast than the superconducting-electromagnet based one I was thinking of. I'm guessing that none of the EM types is in the running for a 2050 police pistol; power requirements are way too high.

Anonymous said...

Bio-metrics won't be needed. The notion of cops being killed by their own gun simply means in the future we will "build" better cops that have the training and the strenght to control their own firearms. Of course if we do need bio-metrics then we will need them on the pepper spray they carry as well. Wouldn't want a cop being taken down by their own less lethal gear now would we.

My vote is for cops that shoot rather than worry about the legal ramifications in a litigious society. As terrorism increases so will the public's comfort level with use of lethal force.

Anonymous said...

I've gotta go with some sort of AP bullet.

Looking back 45 years to 1960 or so, the primary thing-that-needed-shooting was a normally clothed, bog-standard human.

45 years from now the human may well be gene-tweaked for better health, looks and such like, but will likely mostly still be a big bag of meat and not some sort of nanotech liquid-metal cyborg

But.. I expect the fabric materials revolution that started with nylon and kevlar to continue. Smart fabrics and soft body armor may be much further along by then.

That would imply some sort of small pointy bullet, maybe itself a little 'smart' (auto-tumble on hitting meat, center-mass-seeking, range-limiting, whatever), though the .45 fans may get a reprieve if all the required technical parts don't fit in a little pointy thing.

Ammo counter.. why? Do cops really need one in the middle of a fight?

Biometric? Probably. Railgun? unless you need over 5000fps to punch through some armor-clothing, why? Optical sights? Probably.

Unknown said...

I really like your writing style. Nice Post keep it up.

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