A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of taking my nine-year-old son to a comic convention. Comic conventions are not just about comic books, but more about the culture in general including movies, games, video games, and TV shows. If you have never been to one, the best thing about them is all the people walking around in costumes. It is called Cosplay (costume play), and some people are very creative (or have too much time on their hands)!
The costume we liked the best was the man dressed up like Master Chief from the video game Halo. If you are not familiar with the game here is a quick review: The player is a soldier in the future fighting off aliens. The cool thing is they have all these high tech futuristic guns.
This got me thinking about the future of firearms. The most popular semi or automatic rifle in the U.S. military is the M4, the civilian version is the AR-15, and was developed over 60 years ago. The most popular automatic rifle in the rest of the world, the AK-47, was also developed over 60 years ago. Are these the pinnacle of rifle perfection which has stood the test of time? Of course not! There have been many other automatic and semi-automatic rifles to come along. These two have just become the most popular. But even so, on the newer rifles, the basic principles of operation are the same, using the escaping gas to help reset the bolt and position the next round. Nothing close to a laser gun like Master Chief or one of his alien adversaries might employ. Is the future of firearms just variations on the same theme of launching a projectile with much force as possible down range?
The U.S. Navy is working on a rail gun which uses electromagnets to propel a projectile at very high speeds. The technology is still not there for operational use, but they are getting closer each year. Instead of using a propellant such as gunpowder they use an electromagnetic current. Pretty cool idea with great destructive force. But it is still not a laser gun. It is just a different way to throw an object with great force and accuracy. And it takes a big ass ship to do it. I doubt we will have a handheld or even shoulder mounted version in the next 60 years.
You might be asking, “Why are you fascinated with a laser? Is Unique-ARs going to develop a laser AR?”
No, sadly, we are not. Star Wars blaster, Star Trek phasers, and the myriad of futuristic weapons in sci-fi movies and shows of my childhood have given me an expectation for something yet to come. Maybe not blasters or phasers or lasers, but something cool. Maybe something which is in development in some lab somewhere will become the most popular firearm in 60 years from now. Maybe it will shoot plasma bolts or energized particle streams. Until then, we will don our brown coats, strap on our revolvers, and keep making bad-ass handguards for the most popular semi-auto rifle on the market in the U.S. and leave it to our grand kids to design accessories for the next generation of laser guns.