The advancement of technology and continuous innovation is undoubtedly one of the wonderful things that human beings can do. The improvements are not only applied to make our everyday lives better and easier, help preserve the lives on earth and the planet itself, but also to advance the way militaries around the world carry out their mission and effectively eliminate enemies whenever necessary. We’ve come so far in terms of guns and weapons from when muskets and puckle guns were used. Although not all of the concepts were successful, these are some of the things that our ancestors would’ve never imagined would turn into reality.

Liberator 3D Printed Pistol

Side-view of Defense Distributed Liberator 3D-Printed hand-gun
Side-view of Defense Distributed ‘Liberator’ 3D-Printed hand-gun. (NotLessOrEqual, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)

The first-ever printable, single-shot firearm design was made widely available online by file-sharing websites like The Pirate Bay and GitHub. It was designed by Defense Distributed, an online open-source hardware organization that develops digital schematics of firearms in downloadable and printable CAD files. It was released in 2013 and downloaded over a hundred thousand times. The United States Department of State demanded the CAD files be retracted from Defense Distributed’s website. However, in 2018, the USDJ ruled that “There is no controlling precedent that squarely accounts for the idiosyncrasies of the files implicated in Defense Distributed,” therefore allowing the sale of plans for 3D-printed firearms online.

Armatix iP1

Armatix iP1 (Uploaded by u/chitoryu12 on Reddit)

The Armatix iP1 Pistol is the only all-in-one smart gun system on the market. This semiautomatic .22 caliber pistol weapon was developed by a German company named Armatix. The iP1, integrated with smart gun technology, could only be fired by an authorized user. However, it’s not like in the movies that use a  fingerprint reader on the grip. How iP1 Pistol works is that the authorized user has to wear the gun’s accompanying RFID watch within a 10-inch range for it to be fired. While this sounded like a secure and great idea, the pistol turned out to be hackable with a $15 stack of magnets that one could get off Amazon. Critics of this electronic approach to gun safety point out that a government could easily jam the RFID signal for these firearms and render them useless.

Nonetheless, the concept of smart guns to help improve gun safety is still a good idea to reduce accidents with firearms but have a long way to go in terms of earning the trust of users. One of the trust issues with smart guns is that their greatest advocates tend to be people committed to gun control who place a greater political emphasis on restricting the individual right to gun ownership rather than making guns safer for owners.

XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement (CDTE)

Also known as Punisher and Individual Semiautomatic Air Burst System, XM25 was a programmable airburst grenade launcher derived from the XM29 OICW. Its laser rangefinding system allowed soldiers to calculate their distance from the target, although one hiccup was it was heavy.

The XM-25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System is the Army’s first “smart” shoulder-fired weapon. (The U.S. Army, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

As written in the Army Acquisition Workforce’s website, “XM25 allows the individual Soldier to quickly and accurately engage targets by producing an adjusted aim point based on range, environmental factors, and user inputs. The target acquisition and fire control integrates thermal capability with direct-view optics, laser rangefinder, compass, fuse setter, ballistic computer, and an internal display. An individual Soldier employing basic rifle marksmanship skills can effectively engage exposed or defilade targets in just seconds out to 800 meters.”

In 2018, the program for XM25 was officially terminated after the contract with Orbital ATK was canceled.

Corner Shot

Corner Shot
Corner Shot for Glock pistol (Photo: CORNER SHOT®)

Similar to Germany’s Krummlauf with bent barrel attachment developed during World War II, Corner Shot was invented by Lt. Col. Amos Golan of the Israeli Defense Forces in the early 2000s for the SWAT teams and Special Forces to use during situations that involved terrorists and hostages. The periscope rifle allows the operator to see and attack an armed target without being exposed to a possible counterattack.