April 1st, 2008

Aussies Build Electronic RailGun

This is it — a true revolution in Benchrest technology, a gun that can shoot one-hole groups with boring regularity without wind flags or sighters. Armed with technology from Australian defense contractor Metal Storm Ltd., a team of Aussie benchrest shooters has developed a new unlimited rail gun for international competition. This rig features five rounds pre-loaded into the barrel. Each projectile has propellant in its base that is triggered by an electrical impulse. Metal Storm figured out a way to fire each round individually, and the Aussie Rail Gun team, lead by retired engineer (and part-time barkeep) Tony Dundee, licensed the technology for Benchrest competition. Based in the small town of Merth, New South Wales, Tony said “the blokes at Metal Storm wanted $1,000,000 for the rights, but we nicked ‘em down to a couple cases of Fosters… and our solemn pledge to ‘Spank the Yanks’.”

A local legend in benchrest circles, Tony had been tinkering with a tensioned barrel benchrest gun for many years, until Internet Forum posters, including a noted Rimfire gunsmith, convinced him that set-up wouldn’t work because one can’t “Bong” a tensioned barrel to find the vibration nodes. On the advice of the “experts”, Dundee sold that gun. (The gun’s new owner then used it to win the Australian Long-Range Championship three years in a row.) Learning about the Metal Storm system developed by his countrymen, Dundee figured electronic ignition was the answer.

Dundee tells us: “Once I saw the Metal Storm, I said ‘Crikey!’ that’s the ticket. Five rounds downrange before the conditions change or the barrel moves. Bloody Brilliant! And it’s all-Aussie technology.” Below is video and a still image taken from the video. The video shows the Aussie Rail Gun, dubbed “Downunder Thunder”, firing rounds at various intervals from 1 second through 3 milliseconds.

At the max rate-of-fire setting, the Aussie Rail Gun can shoot all five projectiles in as little as 15 milliseconds. That’s a separation of just 3 milliseconds per projectile. Traveling at roughly 3000 fps, the bullets (more accurately described as “self-propelled electronically-ignited projectiles”) all reach the target in 1/10th of a second. But more importantly, the bullets all arrive on the same spot in a span of just 15 milliseconds–so changes in wind value don’t matter and windflags are no longer needed. “It’s about time”, Dundee said, “a forest of spinnin’ daisies and day-glo windsocks is just about the ugliest sight on God’s earth.”

The proof is on the target, as they say. The Aussie Rail Gun shoots one-holers with boring regularity. Dundee revealed, “You know mate, we don’t even really need a scope anymore for group competition. We just boresight the bugger and let ‘er rip.” All the shooter needs to do is center the Rail Gun on the target and pull the trigger 5 times (antiquated USA benchrest rules require a mechanical trigger, and having one pull per round ensures the gun does not violate machine gun laws). Then after a 1-second delay, a microchip-controlled circuit launches the five projectiles at 3 millisecond intervals. “It’s so easy”, Dundee added with a laugh, “a blind man could make the Hall of Fame with this technology.”

With the new Aussie Rail Gun, wind is no longer a factor. Dundee says: “Forget wind–we’ve taken it out of the equation.” In a rather poor Mexican accent, Dundee joked: “We don’t need no steeeenkin’ windflags”. Dundee notes the new technology makes matches more enjoyable: “This is the ‘no-stress express’. Hook up the battery, click the trigger, then bangity-bang and it’s time for a frostie with me mates. I’ll be drinkin’ while you silly buggers are sweatin’ over the bleedin’ daisy-wheels.”

Revolutionary Performance — At a Price
Technology like this doesn’t come cheap. Dundee admits development costs have been high: “I reckon we’ve got $100K into this rig, easy. But the folks at Metal Storm are picking up the tab for the most part and they’re swimming in cash–thanks to the U.S. Department of Defense and your silly Venture Capitalists.” Dundee concedes that at about $20.00 per round, the gun is a bit pricey to shoot, but he adds “think of the money we save in windflags… and, Hell, $100 a target is cheap if you KNOW it’s going to be a winner.”

Nervous Americans Fear New Australian Technology
The Aussie Rail Gun has caused concern among American Benchrest shooters. Posting on Internet BR forums, many have challenged the legality of the new Rail Gun. One poster wrote: “If it outshoots the gun I just spent $4500 on, it must be illegal.” Others concede that while the Aussie Rail Gun may satisfy the express terms of Unlimited Class Benchrest Rules, it violates their spirit: “As far as I’m concerned, if you don’t have to load your ammo between matches in a big hurry, worry about tune, piss and moan about conditions, and spend your entire afternoon staring at erratic windflags, it ain’t benchrest and I don’t want no part of it.”

Dundee isn’t concerned with the keyboard commandos challenging his new Rail Gun. “Typical Americans–just a bunch of whinging Sheilas. If they can’t beat us, they’ll try to ban us.” Dundee adds confidently, “‘Bring ‘em on’ as your President would say. When the dust settles at the big matches, you Yanks will all be singin’ ‘Waltzing Matilda’.”