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Undetectable Sniper Rifle

Sniper rifle with no flash or sound - because it's electromagnetic
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We've seen some demos of EM guns, but I have yet to see any designed specifically for snipers.

Two of the main vulnerabilities of a sniper are being heard and being seen. They use muzzle flash reducers and silencers to combat this issue. But what if you didn't have gunpowder to begin with?

There are a couple of rifles that use EM, but they require special ammunition. Even the simplest weapons require magnetic capable rounds.

My concept would go this one better: it's more of a catapult than a firearm.

The EM rail-gun portion would move a metal portion that stays with the weapon. EM would be used to both activate it and slow it down.

The rounds could be made of anything - rubber, stone, metal, etc. The kit for the weapon would include molds to be used to form the projectiles.

This way, there would be nearly infinite ammunition, and all you'd need to do would be charge the system's battery to fire it. This could be done with the grid, a solar collector, a wind collector, etc.

simpleknight, Sep 27 2014


       The biggest issue would probbaly be the supersonic crack. And that issue can't really be fixed without maybe say a gyrojet bullet.
mofosyne, Sep 27 2014

       Subsonic ammo is already the standard ammo used with suppressors. It's usually a heavier round to make up for the lower speed.
doctorremulac3, Sep 27 2014

       Surely the hole in the head of the person being sniped will give things away?
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 27 2014

       Indisputably halfbaked.
8th of 7, Sep 27 2014

       //EM [...] used to [...] slow it down// means double the length, double the weight, double the unweildy... In general, if you're packing around *anything* that's 20 meters long, it's fairly detectable.
lurch, Sep 27 2014

       As soon there is a market for a silent and invisible sniper rifle that fires a hypersonic projectile which makes an eardrum-splitting sonic crack and raises a cloud of dust and detritus along its flight path (leading in a pencil-straight line back to the gun's position), I'm sure the militaries of the world will beat a path to your door.
Alterother, Sep 27 2014

       //I'm sure the militaries of the world will beat a path to your door.   

       They probably would...Anyway the EMP pulse might be a bit of a giveaway. Suggest crossbow.   

       //The EM rail-gun portion would move a metal portion that stays with the weapon.   

       If you make that boomerang shaped, it'll cut down on the elastic needed.
not_morrison_rm, Sep 27 2014

       Yeah, sniping is weaponized math. If you get one little bubble in your hand-cast ammo, the weight is off. If the bubble is off-center, the spin is wobbly, and the drag is off, and the round is making extra noise.   

       Seriously, how many people are you planning to shoot on one trip? Just pack extra ammo, instead of the casting equipment.   

       I agree that a suppressor and some subsonic rounds would help reduce notice. If you can design a quiet-flight bullet, you might have something, or a steerable subsonic bullet, even.
baconbrain, Sep 27 2014

       Wow, [simpleknight], ten ideas in fourteen years and you part the veil for this? If nothing else, your discretion is admirable.
normzone, Sep 27 2014

       ha normzone,   

       In general it's probably more effective to use remote sniping platform if you want to be undetectable.   

       The further away you are from the event of the target... the better. Especially if you missed.   

       Hence the general advice, to avoid ejecting from a bomber plane over the area you just bombed. Since those getting bombed are not always known for their hospitality. Same principle applies to snipers.
mofosyne, Sep 28 2014

       //        In general it's probably more effective to use remote sniping platform if you want to be undetectable.    //   

       How do you figure that? Dragging a stable mounting apparatus, servo-equipped hard pivot, remote operation gear, antenna and receiver, weather-doping sensors, and specially modified rifle into the bush, setting it up, calibrating the gear and zeroing the sights, and covering your tracks will take a while, and doing it unobserved will take much longer. Then you have to remove to a separate location and wait to take your shot, hoping no errant sentries stumble upon your unattended installation in the meantime...probably easier just to crawl in there with a gun and take the shot.   

       Not to mention that there are as yet no existing remote shooting platforms capable of even _near_ the accuracy of the best professional sharpshooters.
Alterother, Sep 28 2014

       //Not to mention that there are as yet no existing remote shooting platforms capable of even _near_ the accuracy of the best professional sharpshooters//
How so? I would have thought that it wouldn't make much difference, holding a gun by hand or by motorised mount (mount should in theory be better - none of that pesky breathing or heart-beat or hand-tremor).
(Disclaimer: my knowledge of snipering comes mostly from videogames, with the odd movie and documentary thrown in...)
neutrinos_shadow, Sep 28 2014

       / In general, if you're packing around *anything* that's 20 meters long, it's fairly detectable. /   

       Bury it in the roof of the family RV? Would sort of limit you to freeway and first floor targets.   

       Getting the RV through airport security as carry on would take a bit of doing.
popbottle, Sep 28 2014

       I don't see why. They often get entire aircraft through.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 28 2014

       I wonder about that, [Alterother]. Back in my farmboy days, I probably burned off two to three thousand rounds of 6mm HPBT at next-best-thing to half-mile distances, trying to keep down the population of my county's various woodchuck colonies. So while I'm no sniper, I am familiar with that feeling of having a rifle with a theoretical accuracy limit which would cover a dinner plate at that range, but *this* *particular* bullet has got to hit a target the size of your fist. Snuggling up to the rifle, making sure everything is comfortable, no wrinkles in your collar, no sharp rocks under your knees or elbows. Looking at the tube of air from your scope all the way to the target, imagining the feel of the breeze in each bit of it. It's like math and religion and cooking, all rolled into one.   

       What I'm wondering about, though, is trying to get that personal with a rail gun. That seems more like kissing a chain saw hooked to a lightning rod in a thunderstorm... I wonder if the platform is even amenable to the kind of art involved in sharpshooting.
lurch, Sep 28 2014

       [lurch] knows what I mean. You can't dope wind through a camera lens, nor do you have any sort of depth perception. Any active duty soldier today, grateful as they are for land and aerial drone support, will still tell you that there is no uncompromising substitute for a direct line of sight.
Alterother, Sep 28 2014

       I don't know. The Abrams firing solution computer can hit a car at 4 km. I think something similar would work at sniper ranges.
RayfordSteele, Sep 28 2014

       Plus snipers don't just use their skin to feel the wind (that's like cool badass hollywood sniper), they use wind/temperature sensors and calculators. (But I'm sure they are train to estimate it without these equipments if needed)   

       Also, do you even need a human in the loop? Why not make it fully automated. Though I have a feeling it might break a few treaties, and maybe cause a few warcrimes or so...
mofosyne, Sep 29 2014

       Remote operated: So after you reveal the location of the shooting platform by shooting a few rounds, do you:   

       a) Go back and get it, hopefully before the enemy gets there?
b) Abandon it, giving it to the enemy so they can figure out a way to use it.
c) Include an explosive charge in it large enough to render it completely useless.
scad mientist, Sep 29 2014

       //The Abrams firing solution computer can hit a car at 4 km.   

       Not really sporting, it's not like the car can shoot back..and are we talking some huge SUV, or one them Isetta bubble-cars?   

       //Why not make it fully automated.   

       Been done, but only by accident, that South African AA gun that started shooting soldiers..
not_morrison_rm, Sep 29 2014

       //Sniper rifle with no flash or sound//   

       Well, with a .50 cal sniper rifle you can be some significant distance away. A mile or so. In that scenario you can easily hide the flash with a suppressor and careful choice of location. Then the bullet arrives a good second or so before the sound, the echos make it very hard to track the origin. You'd have to go a long way to beat the .50 BMG sniper rifle.
bs0u0155, Sep 29 2014

       Well, at least beyond the mile range.
RayfordSteele, Sep 29 2014

       //nor do you have any sort of depth perception.//   

       Care to bet? I can set up a pretty good rig for depth perception for a couple of hundred on the camera side, and a smartphone and some goggles on the operator side.   

       As far as what you do with the remote platform itself, you mount it on an RC car, and change locations after each shot.
MechE, Sep 29 2014

       //        Plus snipers don't just use their skin to feel the wind (that's like cool badass hollywood sniper), they use wind/temperature sensors and calculators. //   

       Yeah, so I guess the snipers who lived before those things existed were really overrated.
Alterother, Sep 29 2014

       //Yeah, so I guess the snipers who lived before those things existed were really overrated//   

       Worse shots, certainly. Simo Häyhä was undoubtedly a phenomenal sniper, but he just wasn't equipped to hit anyone from a 1.5 miles away, even if he had the wind info, his rifle and ammo wouldn't be up to it. So he had to be good at the other bits of sniping.
bs0u0155, Sep 29 2014

       And that only made Simo Häyhä scarier.   

       Btw... did we ever catch Juba? Is he even one guy?
mofosyne, Sep 29 2014

       There's a reason that it took 35 years for anyone to beat Gunny Hathcock's record, and 4 people have in the 12 years since then. And that almost all of the record kills longer than 1250 meters have been logged since the turn of the century. Better equipment equals longer ranges, more accuracy. Not necessarily more kills.
MechE, Sep 29 2014

       hit probability = Luck + Skills + Experience + Opportunity + Preparation + Equipment
mofosyne, Sep 30 2014

       + intel
+ the enemy has none of the above.
FlyingToaster, Sep 30 2014

       You could argue that the further away you are, the more chance you have to build experience.
bs0u0155, Sep 30 2014

       biggest problem would be barrel length and power requirements, reason you haven't seen EM based rifles is because the power requirement is way more than is man portable. Also you need a much longer barrel for similar projectile speeds.   

       and cost.
metarinka, Oct 01 2014

       Don't forget that Hathcock made his longest kills not with a high-tech supersniper rifle, but with a slightly modified* M2 .50 cal machine gun mounted on a standard-issue tripod. He didn't even block the sear to make it single-shot, he just learned to brush the trigger to snap off a single round. I've had the chance to experience the ma deuce twice (firing several hundred rounds each time) and I was unable to perform the same feat, much less do it with any sort of accuracy. Those big guns jump around everywhere whether you handle them with finesse or brute force.   

       That the White Feather's record shots have been bested so seldom, and mostly by shooters using all the fancy peripheral crap to do it, means you don't need that stuff. Yes, it helps, but it is hardly a replacement for the weapon component located laterally adjacent to the shoulder stock.   

       * the only difference between Hathcock's M2 and one straight out of the cosmoline was a fixed 4X scope and a thorough going-over by a gunsmith.
Alterother, Oct 02 2014

       According to Wikipedia, he had some custom stuff on the system.   

       Common sense says his was also fresh out of the crate and stroked by an armourer. I'd posit custom handloads as well to fit snugly in a military-tolerances chamber.
FlyingToaster, Oct 02 2014

       Hathcock did hand-load his .50 ammo, but that was and is pretty much standard procedure for top-level snipers. Recorded history has the only non-standard mod to the M2s used by the Gunny and other snipers in his unit were the telescopic sights, which were originally 4X (like the one Hathcock used to make his record-setting 2,500-yd kill) but later were upgraded to 6X and possibly 9X, mounted on a side-saddle rail welded to the left side of the receiver. The guns were indeed tuned by the company armorer, but all other mods were done with standard parts (for example, a style of feed tray used only by the Air Force, which reduced the jostling of the ammo belt as it advanced round by round).
Alterother, Oct 02 2014

       see WP entry for the M2, "Use as a sniper rifle" section: He put a pistol grip on it and a custom mount.
FlyingToaster, Oct 02 2014

       Yes, but the pistol grip was also a standard M2 part that was no longer in use, and the mount was kitbashed using readily available parts from the M70 sniper rifle. Where WP says "a mount of his own design," I think it just means that he built it, not that it was an original design.   

       Hathcock's 1967 'Hill 55' kill is a perfect example of my argument against the equipment making the man. Only four recorded combat kills have been made at longer ranges, all of them in the last twelve years and all using state-of-the- art equipment. Hathcock's shot was made using a model of gun that was already 60 years old at the time. He had no environmental gear except a single windsock placed 500 yards from his position. His spotter had an analog rangefinder of the type used by artillery spotters, but the spotter's calculated range was several dozen yards short of the actual 2,500 yards.   

       And, just to make it interesting, the target was riding a bicycle.
Alterother, Oct 02 2014

       I'm not denigrating Hathcock and have no reason to think he couldn't best a modern sniper; I'm just saying that he wasn't shooting grandpappy's old squirrel gun from the hip at 5 miles. With a spotter, 4x is reasonable optics at that range for an identified target and an M2 weighs 130lbs.   

       //pistol grip... an old M2 part// you mean that weird vertical trigger thing ? (as found on the 30-06 version)
FlyingToaster, Oct 02 2014

       At 2500 yards, viewed through a 4X scope, a human being is a tiny, indistinct mote only a couple of mil-dots high. It was a fucking incredible shot.
Alterother, Oct 02 2014

       yeah... "incredible". Did you get the Reader's Digest version of his autobiography or something ? You've conflated 2 different weapons and 2 different stories.
FlyingToaster, Oct 02 2014

       Have I? I find that entirely likely. NTYMI, I think the guy on the bicycle was a different occasion.   

       // as found on the 30-06 version) //   

       No, it was very similar to the pistol grip on the M1919, and used on M2s by ground infantry in WWII and Korea. Many soldiers favored it because it allowed the gunner to sit or lie prone offset from the gun, improving their field of view. It was out of service by the Vietnam War because the M2 was no longer used in that role.
Alterother, Oct 02 2014

       Yeah, that's the one I meant. Probably the same part number as the one on the .30
FlyingToaster, Oct 02 2014

       I have serious doubts that the scope he used was a 4x.   

       If he did use Unertl brand scopes, as are mentioned in all the references I can see, it would have been an 8x or 10x. I don't think Unertl made any 4x scopes, even in their mini- tube line.
lurch, Oct 02 2014

       /Plus snipers don't just use their skin to feel the wind (that's like cool badass hollywood sniper), /   

       I read this as the cool bareass hollywood sniper.   

       You probably could feel the wind better that way. And I am pretty sure that the special forces in Afghanistan went into battle in nothing but jockstraps and techno gear. I think there is a video.
bungston, Oct 06 2014

       //He didn't even block the sear to make it single-shot, he just learned to brush the trigger to snap off a single round. //   

       It is possible, with practice, to hand-feed single rounds into Browning MGs - actually easier on the .50 because the feed gate is bigger, but mind your fingers on the belt feed pawl ...
8th of 7, Oct 06 2014

       Well the Russians have been getting keen on their 12.7X55mm cartridge over the last few years. Reports indicate it can defeat personal armour at 500+ metres, whilst being subsonic and therefore rather silent. They've even made a conveniently portable bullpup rifle to deliver it.   

       ...That said it's for all intents and purposes identical to the .50 whisper cartridge of US fame (and infamy). This is well covered ground. At 500m, firing a subsonic projectile, you're basically invisible. A 1000 gr tungsten tipped projectile hitting you at 250+ m/s will ruin your day, and probably the day of whoever is behind you as well.   

       So that's the subsonic, nearly-undetectable market all wrapped up.   

       Now, if we consider the very long range market, you have high performance supressors available for all of the large calibre long range weapons. .50 cal, .338 LM, etc. At 1000+ metres, no one is going to hear the muted muzzle blast, all they'll hear is the supersonic crack, which is perceived perpendicular to projectile flight path, ie it's nearly impossible to determine the pount of origin if you only hear the supersonic crack.   

       So somone firing a high powered weapon from 1000+ metres with a supressor is essentially impossible to locate.   

       Surely this existing technology fulfils all of your requirements listed above (except the ability to use bits of the landscape as ammunition, which I think is pushing the bounds of reality a bit too far).
Custardguts, Oct 06 2014

       // the ability to use bits of the landscape as ammunition, which I think is pushing the bounds of reality a bit too far //   

       <pulls back curtains to reveal BorgCo's new Backpack Trebuchet>
8th of 7, Oct 06 2014

       And with smarter bullets with fins for inflight trajectory corrections, it's possible to make it work on cheaper rifles as well!   

       Or just a bunch of rods with electronically fired guided ammos emplaced at a hard to reach vantage point by small quadrocopters.   

       Or to make it do something ridiculous, like say... accurate indirect fire by shooting AKs in the air. Kind of like a mini mortar but without the area of effect.   

       Best things of all, is that if mass producible, you can fit it on any autonomous platform. Which means the only thing lacking is good software and computing hardware.   

       Won't get rid of traditional snipers of course, but they be made increasingly redundant. Or at least relegated to surveillance/recon or as forward 'drone command' behind enemy lines.
mofosyne, Oct 07 2014

       //BorgCo's new Backpack Trebuchet//   

       Yeah, but backpacks, whilst somewhat plentiful on the battlefield, are still a limited resource. After your trebuchet has fired off all of the available backpacks, then you'll be scrounging around for things that look like backpacks, next it'll be sacks, duffel bags, etc then all of a sudden you'll be in amongst the officer's quarters looking to use their bespoke luggage as ammunition. This is clearly unnaceptable.   

       And look at the price of a military backpack.. I was just looking into replacing my worn out daypack, and a decent Kifaru replacement is goign to come in north of $600. Is firing backpacks at your enemies really that cost effective?
Custardguts, Oct 07 2014

       It is if they're IEDs.
8th of 7, Oct 07 2014

       What's contraception got to do with it?
Custardguts, Oct 07 2014

       * that's the joke (TM)
Custardguts, Oct 08 2014

       I was going to try to confuse "contraception" with "contradiction" but couldn't make it work.   

       Somebody above mentioned the EMP off this thing. Shirley, with all the electronic devices around, an electromagnetic pulse is going to have more effect than a loud noise. I mean, a loud gunshot may be a truck backfiring, but a crackle and snap in screens and speakers is going to scream "undetectable sniper rifle". Modern screens may be less effected, but detectors are cheap, and I'll bet someone could jack some together to get directional (add in a few more for distance and a fire control system, and a mortar round would be incoming before you could say "Jack Robinson".)
baconbrain, Oct 08 2014

       The best argument that I've seen against this idea is that of the EM pulse when the weapon is used. Eventually, someone would work out how to zero in on the burst with some kind of radar detection, and boom! dead sniper.   

       That does bring up a different interesting idea: sound wave detection app to determine the position of a sniper.
simpleknight, Jul 22 2016

       I want to know if commando types call their sniper comrades Snipey.
bungston, Jul 22 2016

       The best thing about this idea is the amazing tech hybridized with the fact that the sniper is firing pine cones and pocket change. It reminds me of the people in $100,000 italian sports cars I see puttputting along behind minivans along the city streets.
bungston, Jul 23 2016

       Hmmm, how about a 7.62mm steel rod, with a shoulder brace?   

       By the use of a blank in the rifle, it should be possible to fire the gun itself some considerable distance so killing the target, totally confusing the ballistic data (viz rifling) and you no longer have a gun to be caught with.   

       I rest my case.
not_morrison_rm, Jul 23 2016

       /I rest my case/   

       If the case was the one for the gun that came flying out of the forest and killed someone, they might figure out you were involved.
bungston, Jul 23 2016

       //I rest my case   

       Aha, that's the clever bit, is has a big label on it saying "Property of Bungston. If found please return to ...".   

       Anyway, surely it's more to the point to have an undetectable sniper, than an undetectable rifle? I mean, if you're anything like me I'll put the rifle down for 5 minutes and have to spend the whole day looking for it again.
not_morrison_rm, Jul 24 2016


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