The garage. Isn’t that where all good inventions start? The Army seems to think so. Despite all of the federal funding spent on monolithic manufacturers and their committee-designed weapons systems, one inventor, tinkering away in his garage, has become the center of attention. And for good reason.
The M-16, and its various derivations, have been in service since 1963. The last half-a-century has seen numerous modifications, but the basics of the platform remain the same.
Martin Grier’s new “ribbon gun” looks completely different. He designed and built it in his Colorado Springs garage. After it caught the attention of the Army, they ordered a prototype from him.
There is a long list of new ideas–or old ideas combined in new ways. To start with, the gun has one barrel with four bores, one atop the next. Right now, they are bored for a 6mm projectile.
Instead of firing traditional ammunition, the new gun will run off of pre-loaded blocks. The blocks–similar to a revolver’s cylinder (only flat) line up with the barrel. There are no brass casings inside the block, just bullets and powder and a primer. The block is the casing.
These can be fired singly, or at the same time. “It’s called a power shot,” Grier told the Gazette.
Greer is so confident in his design that he patented it. His new company, Forward Defense Munitions, will be advancing the technology. They already have a new version called the L5 which has 5 bores instead of four. Because these bores are stacked, the groups they shoot overlap.
“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,” Grier explained in his patent application.
The idea is hardly as new as many believe. Many pistols in the 18th and early 19th century had multiple barrels. And the block that holds the powder and bullet was a common transitional design between muzzle loaders and brass-cased ammunition.
But the idea hasn’t been explored like this. “What if a rifle could fire more than one bullet at a time and be tied to the tools of the electronic age?” Grier explained.
In the Ribbon Gun, The Gazette writes, “the trigger is an electronic switch that sends a signal to an electromagnetic actuator behind the block of bullets. The four bullets in the block of rounds each has its actuator. That means you fire the rounds individually or simultaneously.
Selecting the ‘power shot’ option fires all four bullets at once.”
So how much will a gun like this cost? That remains to be seen, of course. The prototype hasn’t been cheap. Grier has reportedly spent $500,000 on this one.
Grier’s gun has clear sporting purposes, but he’s been motivated by the military applications.
“Our guys have the same junk weapons as our adversaries,” he told reporters. “I want to give them a Clint Eastwood kind of edge.”
What he means by that is unclear. Eastwood’s most famous screen characters carry revolvers. The revolver, though still popular with many Americans, is notably limited in capacity. So is the Ribbon Gun. The gun currently fires only four rounds (or five in the case of the L5) before a new block has to be inserted.
Anything being considered for use by the military would have to have an increased capacity. The L5 incorporates the ability to stack blocks off the side of the gun, similar to a magazine. Weight, though, will quickly become an issue.
Still, Grier is confident. “This is the future,” he said. “All the best stuff comes out of somebody’s garage.”