View Full Version : TrackingPoint Precision-Guided Firearm

01-10-2013, 01:43 PM

CES is about technology of all kinds; while we're busy covering cameras, TVs, and CPUs, there's a huge number of products that fall outside our normal coverage. Austin-based startup TrackingPoint isn't typical Ars fare, but its use of technology to enable getting just the perfect shot was intriguing enough to get me to stop by and take a look at the company's products.

TrackingPoint makes "Precision Guided Firearms, or "PGFs," which are a series of three heavily customized hunting rifles, ranging from a .300 Winchester Magnum with a 22-inch barrel up to a .338 Lapua Magnum with 27-inch barrel, all fitted with advanced computerized scopes that look like something directly out of The Terminator. Indeed, the comparison to that movie is somewhat apt, because looking through the scope of a Precision Guided Firearm presents you with a collection of data points and numbers, all designed to get a bullet directly from point A to point B.


The PGF isn't just a fancy scope on top of a rifle. All together, the PGF is made up of a firearm, a modified trigger mechanism with variable weighting, the computerized digital tracking scope, and hand-loaded match grade rounds (which you need to purchase from TrackingPoint). This is a little like selling both the razor and the razor blades, but the rounds must be manufactured to tight tolerances since precise guidance of a round to a target by the rifle's computer requires that the round perform within known boundaries.


The image displayed on the scope isn't a direct visual, but rather a video image taken through the scope's objective lens. The Linux-powered scope produces a display that looks something like the heads-up display you'd see sitting in the cockpit of a fighter jet, showing the weapon's compass orientation, cant, and incline. To shoot at something, you first "mark" it using a button near the trigger. Marking a target illuminates it with the tracking scope's built-in laser, and the target gains a pip in the scope's display. When a target is marked, the tracking scope takes into account the range of the target, the ambient temperature and humidity, the age of the barrel, and a whole boatload of other parameters. It quickly reorients the display so the crosshairs in the center accurately show where the round will go.

Image recognition routines keep the pip stuck to the marked target in the scope's field of view, and at that point, you squeeze the trigger. This doesn't fire the weapon; rather, the reticle goes from blue to red, and while keeping the trigger held down, you position the reticle over the marked target's pip. As soon as they coincide, the rifle fires.


TrackingPoint is quick to emphasize the rifle doesn't fire "by itself," but rather the trigger's pull force is dynamically raised to be very high until the reticle and pip coincide, at which point the pull force is reset to its default. In this way, the shooter is still in control of the rifle's firing, and at any point prior to firing you can release the trigger. In the mockups the company had on display for the press to experiment with, the action appeared to be the same—I pulled the trigger and lined up the dots and the blue plastic toy gun went click.


Having the round fire when the shot is lined up rather than in immediate response to a trigger pull eliminates a tremendous amount of uncertainty from the shot. Even the most experienced shooters can upset a weapon's aim when pulling the trigger, and overcoming the reflex to twitch or preemptively move against a weapon's recoil is very, very difficult. By allowing the computer to choose the precise moment to take the shot, accuracy is greatly enhanced.

Putting lead accurately on targets is only part of what TrackingPoint's PGF system does. The computerized tracking scope contains some amount of nonvolatile storage, and like an airplane's "black box," it's constantly recording the visual feed from the optics. It also contains a small Wi-Fi server, and TrackingPoint offers an iOS app that connects to the scope via an ad-hoc Wi-Fi network and streams the scope's display to the app, allowing someone with an iPad or iPhone to act as a spotter. TrackingPoint notes that for novice hunters, having the ability to duplicate the scope's picture onto an external display makes it a lot easier for an experienced spotter to give advice on how and when to shoot.


There's a social media aspect, too—the scope's video recordings can be uploaded to video sharing sites like YouTube. Rather than bragging to buddies about that amazing 1000-yard shot you took at the range or out in the field last week, you can simply show them, complete with all the heads-up display data about conditions and range.

TrackingPoint had one actual rifle on display in the press room, along with several mock-ups equipped with iPhones in place of scopes. The iPhones were running a simulated version of the TrackingPoint scope software, letting demo users line up their shots on polygonal deer and hogs in a landscape much like popular hunting video games. It felt a bit like playing with an "easy mode" cheat turned on, though, as it was nearly impossible to miss, even at tremendous distances. TrackingPoint is considering selling the demo software as a standalone hunting app, though from my brief experience with it, there wasn't a whole lot of challenge to felling game once you had the mark-and-fire procedure worked out.

This might not make a compelling video game, but it certainly does make for an accurate weapon system. TrackingPoint says the "first shot success probability"—that is, a shooter's ability to successfully land a round on target in a single try—is drastically increased. The TrackingPoint representatives present brought this up when I commented on the necessity of buying (more expensive) ammunition directly from TrackingPoint rather than buying or loading one's own rounds. TrackingPoint contends the ability to be drastically more precise with aiming means fewer rounds have to be fired for the same effect, ultimately saving money.


I asked about potential military applications, since they are obvious, but TrackingPoint was quick to downplay involvement with the Department of Defense. The "connected shooter" goal of the PGF system in many ways lines up with the Army's limping, on-again-off-again Land Warrior program. However, the very nature of the government contract and procurement process ensures that any technology developed for military use must go through an incredibly lengthy and convoluted development process, meeting shifting and sometimes outdated design goals along the way. TrackingPoint said that its goal is to produce the technology first, and then find the market and applications once it actually had something ready to go—and this is what it has done.

The company is also keenly aware of the potential negative public perception right now around firearms and firearm manufactures, in the wake of recent mass-shooting events like the ones in Sandy Hook and Aurora. The three models of PGF are bolt-action hunting rifles, unwieldy for any kind of close-quarters work; the tracking system itself requires patience and care to line up and fire, and it doesn't appear at all to be the kind of thing a mass-shooter would employ. At this time, TrackingPoint indicated that it has no intention of producing a PGF system for anything other than bolt-action rifles.

Hunting is a controversial pastime, but it's an undeniably popular one, and TrackingPoint is dialed in very well at its target market. The price is relatively high—the rifles start at about $17,000 (a price which includes an iPad with the TrackingPoint app pre-configured and ready to go), but that isn't a huge premium over parting together one's own rifle and precision optics.


Rory McCanuck
01-10-2013, 04:09 PM
Hmmm, do you think they'd make a special order for my 30-30?

Still, it is pretty neat. I'm not sure I like the idea of John Q. Public being able to actually make 1000 yard shots rather than just brag about them, though.

01-10-2013, 04:17 PM
Still, it is pretty neat. I'm not sure I like the idea of John Q. Public being able to actually make 1000 yard shots rather than just brag about them, though.

Having a gun that will accurately shoot 1000 yards is one thing, even if it has super technology that will give you the correct dope on your shot. It is completely another thing to develop the skill to accurately shoot out to 1000 yards.

Rory McCanuck
01-10-2013, 04:26 PM
That's just it. This technology takes the skill out of it. Line up the dots and it fires itself (not really, but you know what I mean).

06-10-2013, 08:33 AM

12-07-2013, 11:28 PM

12-07-2013, 11:34 PM
Good lord...what ever happened to open iron sights ? :p ROFL !!!!

Mad Hatter
12-08-2013, 12:13 AM

12-08-2013, 09:11 AM
That's pretty neat. I'd like to play with it for a few trips. LOL. I wonder what the price point is...

12-08-2013, 07:13 PM
Bet it doesnt work so good at forty below and blowing snow. ;)

12-08-2013, 07:47 PM
Just so "Merican"; try and take years of dedication, practice, and package it for the highest (unworthy) bidder. Just so .......commmercial. Yes, Yukon, at -40 C, when the batteries fail.....it's just the old school, that will survive. Just Darwin.


02-12-2014, 02:32 PM
12 February 2014
US Army tests TrackingPoint smart-rifle scopes http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/72942000/png/_72942534_traceed.png
TrackingPoint weapons are equipped with a special scope featuring a heads-up display

The US Army is testing a "smart rifle" technology designed to improve the accuracy of shots.
A spokeswoman confirmed reports that (http://www.cnbc.com/id/101407841) its equipment-testing specialists had acquired six TrackingPoint rifles as part of efforts to identify state-of-the-art equipment.

The tech allows the user to place a virtual tag on a target seen through the weapon's scope.
If the trigger is pressed, it only fires if the gun is correctly lined up.
This prevents errors such as trigger jerk, range miscalculation and accidental firing from being a problem.
In addition, a Linux-based computer built into the scope can compensate for 16 calculated variables, including temperature, the expected spin-drift of the bullet and the direction the wind is blowing.

A TrackingPoint weapon is supposed to refuse to fire until a red dot is lined up with a tagged target

"I can only train a soldier so much," Lt Col Shawn Lucas from the army's Program Executive Office (PEO) soldier division told Army Times (http://www.armytimes.com/article/20140202/NEWS04/302030002/Sniper-upgrade-Accuracy-boosting-scope-kit-delivered-month).

"However, for a relatively small investment, I can make a significant increase in probability of hit and overall effectiveness by making an investment in advanced fire control."
But one independent observer said the technology would not turn every soldier into a sniper.
"This isn't a revolutionary technology, but essentially laser-designation 'tagging' adapted from common use in more complex weapons systems for use on small arms," said Peter Quentin from the defence-focused Rusi think tank.
"It is not going to create 'super snipers' because it still cannot do what is the truly smart aspect of their skills - a full assessment of weather and other conditions that will affect the flight of the bullet and therefore requires considerable calculation to determine adjustments to the aim.
"But while this does not deepen capabilities, it has the potential to broaden them, improving the accuracy of larger numbers of less specialist personnel by enabling the 're-tagging' of a target rather than retaking of a shot."
Precision tactics According to the Austin, Texas-based firm TrackingPoint, the addition of its scope to a rifle delivers five times the first-shot success rate of traditional systems at distances of up to 1,200 yards (1.1km).
http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/72945000/jpg/_72945489_shoe.jpg The scopes use a laser range finder to lock onto a moving target
An associated app can also stream live video from the scope's heads-up display to a smartphone or tablet - allowing the shooter's tags to be monitored.
Civilian versions of its shooting systems cost between $10,000 to $27,000 (£6,030 to £16,280), depending on the weapon used.
"We believe this technology will revolutionise the effectiveness of our fighting forces as they perform their duty for our country," chief executive John Lupher told the BBC.
The firm is not the only one trying to make gunfire more accurate.
The Pentagon's Darpa research unit is developing a separate sniper scope (http://www.darpa.mil/Our_Work/AEO/Programs/One_Shot_XG.aspx) called the One Shot XG that measures crosswinds gusting up to 54km/h (33.6mph), the range to the target and a resulting confidence score.


Darpa is developing its own "smart" sniper scope to improve the accuracy of shots

Lockheed Martin is taking a different approach by developing self-guiding bullets (https://share.sandia.gov/news/resources/news_releases/bullet/) that can steer themselves towards a target by using tiny fins to adjust their course mid-air in order to hit laser-designated targets at distances of more than a mile.

Mr Quentin suggested the demand for such technologies was growing because of a tactical shift away from the use of suppression fire, used to fix an enemy in one position, towards a precision model.
"Precision is required when operating amongst populations, such as Afghanistan, where targets must be positively identified and civilian casualties avoided at all costs," he said.
"In such environments first-time hits and avoidance of collateral damage are paramount - it is not just about what you hit, but who you miss.
"Such systems, therefore, offer the potential to broaden the capability of forces' to deliver accurate fire on positively identified targets, but ultimately they can only be as smart as the personnel that operate them."


02-13-2014, 09:29 AM
I saw that on BBC!

It's catching on :eek1:

02-13-2014, 09:43 AM
:shoot:WELL! That will certainly take the fun out of spray n' pray shooting or the good ol' "mad minute". Government contacted ammo manufacturer's will have a chit hemorrhage! Time to dump those stocks.:shoot:

02-13-2014, 10:07 AM
$10 000 to $27 000 buys a lot of practice ammo, just sayin' ;)

02-13-2014, 03:30 PM
$10 000 to $27 000 buys a lot of practice ammo, just sayin' ;)
And what happens when optics fail???

02-13-2014, 07:50 PM
And what happens when optics fail???

Lol. Imagine getting the blue screen of death in the middle of a firefight. :eek1: "Sorry sarge, my gun is broke. ... What are iron sights?"

02-13-2014, 08:10 PM
or losing one to the enemy... (or several thousand) D:

02-13-2014, 10:06 PM
Duplicate thread, there are at least two other versions of this story already...

02-13-2014, 10:42 PM
And what happens when optics fail???

ACOG after 4 hour fire fight in Iraq. Marine says the bullet is still in the scope. But it's only a memento now.


02-14-2014, 07:29 AM
Duplicate thread, there are at least two other versions of this story already...

Links? I cant seem to find the other ones you mention. Now the liberal motion 151 threads that keep popping up on the other hand...

02-14-2014, 12:42 PM
ACOG after 4 hour fire fight in Iraq. Marine says the bullet is still in the scope. But it's only a memento now.


That's a hell of a memento. Much better conversation starter than a pair of sh!t-stained skivvies, that's for sure.

06-07-2014, 06:27 PM
A new Google Glass application would allow shooters to aim around corners while protecting them from return fire, the app developer claims.

Tracking Point, a Texas company that develops precision-tracking technology for firearms, announced via a YouTube video on Thursday that it has combined wearable technology, like Google Glass, with a Precision Guided Firearm (PGF) in a way that allows users to shoot around corners. The new combined system is called ShotView.

“When paired with wearable technology, PGFs can provide unprecedented benefits to shooters, such as the ability to shoot around corners, from behind low walls, and from other positions that provide exceptional cover,” the company said in the video description. “Without PGF technology, such positions would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to fire from.”

Vice’s Motherboard website compared the new technology with a jet’s heads-up display (HUD), a transparent display that allows pilots to read data without looking away from their normal view. “Much like a jet fighter's head's up display (HUD), TrackingPoint's wearable PGF app gives users the visual aids needed to take their aiming and shooting chops to previously impossible levels.”

Oren Schauble, Tracking Point’s director of marketing, told Motherboard in April, "Being able to shoot around corners and over hills is a little mind-blowing when you actually do it. Things keep on rolling."

The ShotView app works by streaming video from the tracking scope’s HUD to WiFi devices. “This enables direct device streaming for phones, tablets and many wearables. For additional networking, phones can connect via bluetooth and the Internet to share the apps data with additional devices,” the promotional video claims. Combining the PGF with Google Glass “allows for accurate shots around corners, from supported positions, behind-the-back, to the side and over barricades.”

The application is not available for the public yet, and a rep from the company told Huffington Post there are no plans to make the app available to consumers. Glass integration is still in the testing phase, Time reported.

The company began selling its (non-ShotView) PGFs to consumers in 2013. These rifles use a tracking scope and a guided trigger to allow users to reliably hit targets from 1,000 yards, according to their website. Their products have a variety of calibers, barrel lengths, chassis systems, applications and ammunitions.

Tracking Point already provides the US military with six of its so-called “smart” rifles, which come equipped with an internal computer system as well as sensors that gauge environmental factors to help a soldier aim. Google Glass is no stranger to the military, either, as a US Air Force research team is in the process of beta-testing Google Glass headsets for possible utilization in battlefield scenarios.


06-07-2014, 06:50 PM

06-07-2014, 07:02 PM
Old technology on a new platform. The show Future Weapons did a feature on it iirc. They had a camera mounted to the gun which was then pointed around the corner. The camera basically saw exactly what the sights did, and that feed was sent to a flip down H.U.D on the soldiers helmet. All he had to do was line up the cross hairs and pull the trigger. The only exposure were the guns, hands and perhaps a little of of the soldier's forearms.

There there's the infamous Corner Shot. Mount it to your Glock and commence to shooting around corners. ;)


06-07-2014, 07:04 PM
yeah but its a glock.... :)

06-07-2014, 08:34 PM
It does look really fun to try, and there are a lot more videos on youtube.


06-07-2014, 08:40 PM
It'll make shooting from the hip in hollywood movies much more believable.

08-14-2014, 08:33 AM
GUN Linux: On the range with TrackingPoint’s new AR-15s (Cool but dammit.. no $$$ argh.. so here ya go.. you can drool as well lol)


Austin company expands computer-guided weapons lineup, explores DoD

We got to spend a few hours on the range with TrackingPoint’s first
round of near-production bolt-action weapons last March, when my
photojournalist buddy Steven Michael nailed a target at 1,008
yards—about 0.91 kilometers—on his first try, in spite of never having
fired a rifle before.

03-02-2015, 09:17 AM


Comes in either Semi auto (5.56, 7.62, .300 WM) or bolt action (.260, .308, .300 WM, .338 LM)


Heads-Up Display (HUD)

HUD is what you see when you look into your Precision-Guided Firearm. It’s the digital display that shows the field of view. The key user-interface between the shooter and the Precision-Guided Firearm, the HUD displays your target, along with vital pieces of data including range-to-target, target velocity, shot angle, compass heading, gun cant, battery status, WiFi status, wind velocity and direction, kill zone size, ammunition type, temperature, barometric pressure, and time of day.

Permanent Zero

The shooter never again has to worry about whether his gun is properly zeroed. The laser-based barrel reference system of the Precision-Guided Firearm maintains a permanent, factory-set, perfect zero for every shot. It’s unaffected by shock, vibration, or other environmental factors.

Virtual Rest

VirtualRest™ makes off-hand shots as easy as shooting from a stable rest. The Precision-Guided Firearm image is stabilized, so you can Tag-and-Shoot™ moving or stationary targets at extreme distances from an off-hand position.


Tag-and-Shoot is how a shooter actually uses a Precision-Guided Firearm. The shooter puts the reticle on the intended point of impact, presses the tag button, and then pulls the trigger when he has moved onto the designated point of impact. The Precision-Guided Firearm does the rest.





03-02-2015, 09:19 AM
So you pull the trigger but the gun doesn't fire until it knows it will hit the target.

Nice system but I can't really see people using it for hunting in the most sense. It can track a target sure, but for something like deer where you only want to shoot it right behind the front legs, can it distinguish that? For something like coyotes where it doesn't matter I could see this working fine.