Latest Round Counter Tech from Secubit

Posted on: January 31st, 2017 by Will Rodriguez 2 Comments
Fictional Portrayal of Shot Counter Tech, M41 Pulse Rifle from the movie Aliens. WeaponReplica.com

Round counters were once a dream or concept for science fiction movies.  They may have finally become a real world practicality facilitating a huge leap in weapons maintenance.  ADS and Secubit will be showcasing their paradigm changing approach WeaponLogic, at Shot Show 2017.

Since the advent of large capacity magazines, soldiers have searched for ways to keep track of how many rounds remained in that magazine.  Besides obviously trying to count the number of rounds fired, early approaches included loading the last five to ten rounds with tracer to warn the service member of a soon to be empty magazine.   Hardware solutions have included holes in magazines, clear windows and even clear magazines.

Real technology to count the rounds in a magazine seemed to only exist in movies like the 1986 movie Aliens with the M41A Pulse Rifle.  That movie actually inspired military acquisition as they developed the Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW).

Our military has been pursuing round count capability for decades.  As a project officer at the Infantry’s Battle Lab at Ft. Benning, the first I heard of the Army’s desire to have a round counter on its rifles was in the doomed land warrior program.  It was bantered about even more as a capability for the later objective force and future force warrior programs.  Neither program had a specific weapon identified but the capability was something that was desirable.  Using round count, the ability to forecast equipment failure was definitely part of the vehicles that made up the Future Combat System program and something round counters up to that time did not offer.

One of the last indicators of military interest in incorporating shot counter capability is a briefing that is almost a decade old.  Over the last decade and a half the military has been largely focused on the current fight and not really pursued shot counter capability but industry has tried to advance it.

Most previous efforts have been directed at the previously described capability of providing the user information on how many rounds they have fired.   CAA produced the CDMAG AR magazine that shows the round count in the base.  Magpul installed a window in their later generation magazines.  RADETEC developed a device that sat on the right side of the pistol and counted the number of rounds fired from a pistol.  (That worked ok for a left handed shooter but a right handed shooter would need to tilt the gun to see the readout).  None of these approaches addressed maintenance issues.

Secubit has taken a radically different tack on the capability with WeaponLogic.  WeaponLogic’s round counter approach is not to provide the user information on how many rounds they have fired but to provide a tool for firearms maintainers to determine the usage seen by a particular firearm as a predictive tool to improve reliability.  Hidden in the pistol grip of a firearm sits a black box counting rounds dry fired, fired, the rate of fire and even the use of higher pressure producing ammo.

WeaponLogic’s counter that fits in an AR-15/M-4 pistol grip. Secubit Photo.

WeaponLogic’s counter that fits in an AR-15/M-4 pistol grip. Secubit Photo.

The counter is installed at the armorer level.  It fits in a variety of existing grips with more being added.  Battery life is reported at a whopping 15+ years. Each counter can capture up to a million rounds of data.

Periodically, the information can be collected in a handy handheld device called a Data Collection Device (DCD) and then downloaded to a maintainer’s computer allowing armorers to keep a much more accurate count of rounds fired by the weapons under his charge.  Previously keeping track of a weapons usage rested on super diligent users keeping track of the rounds they fired.  That’s something really only snipers typically do.  More often than not, most units relied on unit armorers to keep track of how many rounds were fired.  Often that was done by taking the ammo allocated to his unit during a training event and dividing it by the number of weapons that fired that round in his arms room.  That technique is highly inaccurate at best and in the fluidity of combat, useless.

WeaponLogic’s DCD handheld reader. Secubit Photo

WeaponLogic’s DCD handheld reader. Secubit Photo

The ability to have exact shot counts and software to maintain an arms room inventory isn’t minor.  Imagine being able to replace parts before they actually fail based on their expected life versus a reported failure or worse, a casualty.  Further, used across a service, the reams of data could actually help in improving a fielded weapon or acquiring a new one before enough anecdotal evidence surfaces to cause a service to conduct a test.  A SOCOM briefing (slides 42-55) prepared by NAVSEA Warfare Center from 2006 describes the potential issues that could be addressed by such a shot counter maintenance capability.

WeaponLogic has taken the approach even a bit farther with software that allows armorers to track individual weapons’ round count, when last serviced/specific parts replaced, set mean life between failure settings by part and input specific weapon issues.  The system even promises the potential to provide feedback on ammunition performance by lot.

Main software screenshot. Secubit photo

Main software screenshot. Secubit photo

Secubit promotes WeaponLogic as a solution to last month‘s NAVSOC RFI requesting a combat evaluation.  Secubit can reconfigure Weaponlonlogic’s counter to other weapons besides the AR-15.  As a former rifle company commander with an arms room containing in excess of 250 small arms the ability to capture weapons firing data would be especially beneficial for automatic weapons. They are often a unit’s greatest source of firepower and suppression.  When they break in the heat of combat the impact on a unit is much greater than the failure of an individual’s rifle.  That’s not to say that I wouldn’t love an increased ability to better manage my weapons’ maintenance status.

During a discussion with Robb Meng Secubit USA’s Weapons Technology director, he shared the system has a timestamp capability.  It would be interesting if police departments take an interest in WeaponLogic.  Besides the enhanced maintenance situational awareness WeaponLogic provides, incorporating a timestamp function may even have evidentiary utility in documenting incidents where police use their firearms linking a timestamp to each shot.

SpotterUp will be checking out Secubit’s shot counter and software at Shot Show next week.  They’ll be at the ADS booth #20415 if you happen to be attending the event and want to see the latest evolution of the shot counter and what it can potentially do for weapons reliability.

 

(This story originally ran in SpotterUp.com where I’mnow erving as assistant editor.  My apologies for not posting here more often but I’ve just been consumed with my new responsibilities, teaching personal security classes and jumping for joy over the latest developments in the new adminsitration.  There’s much to write about and I’ll endeavor to do better.)

Be Respectful, Candid and Pertinent. No Posers, No Trolls…
  • YankeePapa

    Major,

    I find that interesting, but have some questions.  As always, with any weapons development… how much weight does this add to the weapon?  If this piece of equipment goes belly up for any reason does that impair the weapon’s ability to continue firing?

     The concept of course is worthy of attention.  During BITS, following ITR in 1968 in the Marine Corps, the trainee company that I was in drove an “aggressor” platoon off a hill.  That night they hit us and took it back.  Many of the lads in my unit had only a few rounds left in their magazines, and it never occurred to them to automatically insert a new magazine at the end of the action and then determine what was left in the removed magazine.  

     Of course the instructors knew that this was going to happen… usually did… but better to let us experience it rather than simply tell us in advance.  Even more fun; as soon as those few rounds gone… where are the other mags?  Oh yeah, in the web gear which is tangled up with your blanket in your fighting position… and now, in the dark… you get to feel around while the aggressor unit sweeping over the hill like a prairie fire.  Lads decided not only to check mag in weapon and more careful placement of web gear… but maybe spare mag on person at night… (in RVN in leg pocket…)

     In a state of excitement… soldiers… especially green ones… may keep on “firing” after their weapon is empty.  Lack of noise from weapon and lack of recoil often lost in all the insanity.  Like a fighter “swinging after the bell…”  

     Tracer rounds an indicator for the lad firing… but also for his opponent.  In WWII enemies of American forces learned to listen for the sound of the spent 8 round clip.  (Sometimes a bright lad would have a weapon still holding ammo and toss an empty clip against a rock to see what that might produce…)  

    -Yankee Papa-

  • YankeePapa Sound points of course.

    The gizmo doesn’t impact the function of the rifle at all if it breaks and weighs the equivalent of several rounds.  Not much at all.