Photonics for hunters: mile-range optically guided rifles, around-the-corner digital glasses, self-illuminated sights

Jan. 14, 2015
Hunters and shooting enthusiasts now have more photonics-enabled equipment than ever to choose from, including a computer- and optics-aided "tag and shoot" rifle with a range of a mile.

Hunters and shooting enthusiasts now have more photonics-enabled equipment than ever to choose from, including a computer- and optics-aided "tag and shoot" rifle with a range of a mile.

Mile-range optically guided rifle

Almost two years ago, TrackingPoint (Austin, TX) introduced its now-well-known optically-guided line of firearms that contain optical systems including image tracking, designation, laser rangefinding, and a head-up display (HUD). These rifle models, which have WiFi connectivity to smartphones, have effective ranges to 1200, 1000, and 850 yards.

Now, at the Consumer Electronics Show (Jan. 6 to 9, 2015; Las Vegas, NV), TrackingPoint unveiled its 338TP firearm, which, using the same tag-and-shoot technology, has a range of a mile (1760 yards); it "allows even novice shooters to make mile-long shots with greater precision than the most skilled marksmen in the world, even on targets moving 30 mph," according to TrackingPoint.

As with the earlier models, the computer within the 338TP uses the Linux operating system.

TrackingPoint says that it is is the first firearms company to introduce state-of-the-art fire-control technology (fire-control systems, historically reserved for advanced weapon systems like the F35 jet and the M1 tank, eliminate human error when firing a weapon).

The 338TP is being marketed to the U.S. military and as a high-end platform for shooting enthusiasts.

Digital around-the-corner shooting glasses

TrackingPoint has also developed what it calls ShotGlass, which is a digital hunting and shooting app that is used along with the Jet eyeglass-sized head-worn display made by Recon Instruments (Vancouver, BC, Canada).

The Recon Jet head-worn display, which is a small computer in its own right, is meant for rugged use; it can pair via Bluetooth or WiFi to devices such as smartphones (and rifles). It contains a camera, a 432 x 240 pixel display with gaze detector, a touchpad on the side of the glasses, and numerous onboard sensors.

When used with the Recon Jet, TrackingPoint's 338TP rifle wirelessly streams real-time shot video to the Jet glasses, enabling the user to shoot around corners and other protected positions or team with other shooters. It also allows users to record video and voice for later review or to share with others.

Self-illuminated rifle sights

Meprolight (Or-Akiva, Israel), which makes firearm sights, thermal and night-vision equipment, and other electro-optical systems, has announced a new line of day-and-night self-illuminated reflex sights for hunters; the gear will be demoed at the Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT) and Conference (January 20 to 23, 2015; Las Vegas, NV).

The "day-and-night" capability of the MEPRO M21H sight has an interesting light-source configuration: during the day, illumination of the aiming dot is achieved by a fiber-optic light collection system, while at night it is lit by a miniature self-powered tritium light source. Transition between the two lighting systems is instantaneous and automatic to assure good contrast between the aiming dot and the target area, says Meprolight. As a result, the aiming dot is self-powered 24 hours a day.

"These sights are standard army issue for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)," says Amir Karo of Meprolight. "They have been extensively field tested and have gained worldwide popularity. We believe that they will also be well-received by the hunting community, who are known for their expertise in this area. The sights operate continuously, 24/7, day and night, enabling accurate shooting even on hunting trips lasting several days. No maintenance is required, making them ideal for these types of excursions."


About the Author

John Wallace | Senior Technical Editor (1998-2022)

John Wallace was with Laser Focus World for nearly 25 years, retiring in late June 2022. He obtained a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and physics at Rutgers University and a master's in optical engineering at the University of Rochester. Before becoming an editor, John worked as an engineer at RCA, Exxon, Eastman Kodak, and GCA Corporation.

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