*The image is not a concept for this rifle; it’s an Evanix Ranstorm .45 air rifle, but I wanted a picture, so…
I am among other things a science fiction writer, and think a lot about science-fictiony stuff. I was musing over a future infantry weapon along the lines of a Designated Marksman’s Rifle. This is affectively a rifle that is heavier-caliber and longer-ranged than your standard infantry rifle, because sometimes you just need a sniper or enhanced anti-material capability. In developing for a near-future SF novel I came up with a concept, called C-RAAM. Militaries cannot resist acronyms, even tortured ones.
The Combined Assault/Anti-Material Rifle C-RAAM
The hyphen in the acronym is relocated to be behind the ‘C’ because ‘see ram’ sounds cooler than ‘cram,’ and the military does love their acronyms and will go to great lengths to make them roll trippingly off the tongue.
This is a bullpup configuration weapon that can be used as an assault rifle, an anti-material rifle, a sniper rifle or even do stand-in duty for accurate suppressive fire. The barrel and locking rotary bolt are actuated and the bolt us cycled by a linear solenoid attached to the barrel. When the gun cycles the solenoid acts in place of the gas system and recoil assembly. The most obvious questions are, ‘won’t that increase felt recoil?’ and ‘Uh, why?’
It won’t increase felt recoil, because the barrel, bolt and solenoid are jointly mounted with a recoil spring or springs, which is calibrated to ‘float’ in recoil, in other words it never hits a hard-stop to transmit a sharp shock to the user. Physics still works of course, but the recoil impulse feels softer and more manageable. The ‘why?’ part is answered by the cartridge.
The cartridge is a 10-12mm cylinder about 5 inches long with an extractor groove at the back. The body is carbon-composite bonded to a stainless steel base for extraction. The base has no holes of any kind; the gun is fired electrically, so there’s no need for a primer as such. The party-trick here is that the cartridge is five inches long because it holds three bullets, three propellant charges and three primers in tandem, like a Metalstorm serial gun system except the rounds are loaded in a cartridge rather than directly in the barrel. Ignition of the primers is though induction bands in the case-wall at the right places to electrically detonate the primers in the proper sequence.
When the round is chambered the front round fires, then the middle and then the one in the base. The rate of fire is entirely arbitrary depending on what the user wants. they can be fired singly or as a burst. The burst can be at around 700-1000 rounds a minute, depending on what experimentation proves best to get the desired spread and accuracy. It could even be variable depending on how much spread is desirable at the given range of the target, and this could be an autonomous function of the weapon.
The bullets are 6.5mm with a tungsten core and a muzzle velocity in excess of 3000 fps. Yes, this will accelerate barrel wear, but with modern developments in metallurgy this would not be so bad as to become a logistic issue given the weapon’s mission as a multi/special-purpose weapon in limited distribution. It can fulfill the anti-material role as a semi-automatic that only cycles every three shots, or it can fire an ‘anti-material burst.’ When it does this it fires a burst at such a high cyclic rate that all three bullets are actually in the barrel at the same time and land practically on top of each other at short to medium ranges, giving it a significant anti-armor punch.
Regardless of the firing mode after the cartridge is expended the solenoid fires and cycles the action, loading a new cartridge. If for some reason a cartridge fails it can be cycled out and replaced automatically.
Magazines hold ten rounds, which helps keep their size and weight manageable. Doesn’t sound like much, but ten rounds is thirty shots, so it’s not as bad as it sounds.
*It’s electrically operated and needs batteries. What if you run out?
You don’t. The sealed, factory pre-loaded magazines contain a next generation battery. When inserted in the weapon this charges the small, next generation ultra-capacitors under the barrel that help balance the weapon. If you’ve got a magazine, you’ve got power.
*What if the electronics break?
They’re solid-state and very tough. Bear in mind twenty years ago we could make electronics robust enough to survive a 10,000-G launch from artillery guns. They are also integrated directly into the body of the weapon for the most part; breaking them would require damage that would disable most weapons anyway.
*It sounds complicated; won’t it be expensive?:
Yes, it will be expensive, but with what are now bleeding-edge manufacturing methods it won’t be as expensive as you might think. As for complication in truth it’s mechanically less complicated than modern gas-operated weapons, and in terms of reliability you could make it pretty much bomb-proof. I mean, if you couldn’t you wouldn’t bother, right?
No worse than any other system that doesn’t use the standard infantry rifle’s cartridge and magazine. Depending on the application in the field it might actually reduce the logistic burden.
Deployment and Use
These would be deployed as squad-level weapons, with only one or two issued per squad. They would be used as a standard rifle when required (assault,) an anti-material rifle, a sniper rifle and at need it could be used for precision point-suppression fire.
Since the weapon would be comparable in weight to current designated marksman rifles this should not pose increased issues in portability and use, and being shorter it will be handier than current-generation systems. Unlike light machineguns it will not need heavy, bulky boxed belts, spare barrel kit etc. Barrel heating will be less an issue with a combination of burst-fire, heat being contained by the cartridge and removed when it is ejected and improved material science that is more heat-resistant.
*Versatility- one weapon that performs multiple roles at need
*Reliability- moving parts are few, simple and robust
*Portability and Handling- The weapon’s relatively short overall length and electric/electronic operation allow it to be configured to be fully ambidextrous in both operation and ejection of spent cartridges,
*Workload- frees up more members of the fire team to focus on mission objectives rather than specialized roles.
*Reliability- operation is not dictated by the power of the ammunition, and ‘dud’ rounds can be cycled out automatically with no interruption of change of focus for the user
*Mission-specific Ammunition- Since the weapon does not use recoil or gas pressure to cycle, special-purpose munitions are restricted by the bore-diameter and rifling twist rather than the need to provide the impulse that operates the weapon. Different ammunition can interchange seamlessly to meet anticipated mission-specific needs.
For use In Fiction
All the tech used is either off-the-shelf or dependent on emerging technologies with a high probability of successful implementation, in other words tech that is mostly already in existence and being refined for commercial viability rather than needing to be invented. This could in fact be built today, but the batteries and capacitors needed might add enough weight to outweigh the weapon’s usefulness. It wouldn’t take much; the system as envisioned is already as heavy as a DMR, though it is lighter than current anti-material rifles. It also has high plausibility because it addresses genuine needs on the modern/near-future battlefield. It’s a weapon that makes sense and has real-world utility in realistic combat.
Of course this is far more detailed than most readers need or would be happy with, but the author needs to know how it works so that it behaves realistically and consistently in the context of the story. The reader only really needs to know what they need to know to believe it.
Anyway, that’s my idea for what it’s worth. It was a fun mental exercise and don’t be surprised if you read it in one of my future books!
Stay safe and take care,
Michael Tinker Pearce, 1 September 2022