A company called Reset has already developed a powered rail called the RIPR (Rifle Integrated Power Rail) and exhibited the device at the annual Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) show. The RIPR is a combination of a battery pack and a rail. The rail has numerous gold-plated contact pads where users can attach accessories. Reset says that leading accessory manufacturers are planning to make products that will work on the RIPR.
Whether the RIPR is a success or not, one thing is clear: optics manufacturers believe some sort of powered rail will be part of your M4 in the near future. "The complexity of such a system is a barrier," says Leupold's O'Connor, "but the technology is very new. I would expect that the technology will streamline and trim down very rapidly."
Smaller, Smarter Scopes
Probably by the end of the next decade when you look into a CQB optic and place the reticle or the red dot on a target, you will get a lot more information than you do now. Experts say the scope will probably calculate range, bullet drop, and maybe even environmental conditions and automatically adjust your aim.
It's not as far-fetched as it might sound, says Brian Lisankie, president of Aimpoint. "We already have full-size military systems that automatically compensate for distance, angle, and environmental conditions using a laser rangefinder." But don't look to add that "smart" Aimpoint system on your carbine any time soon. The military version is big, expensive, and designed specifically for crew-served weapons.
Currently Aimpoint's focus for its line of long gun sights is to make them smaller, tougher, and more energy efficient, not so much smarter. At this month's SHOT Show, the company is expected to launch two red dot sights with 2 MOA dots that obscure less of the target; currently these sights have 4 MOA sights.
Tod Litt, military, government, and law enforcement business development manager for Night Force Optics, says his company's focus for the next few years will be making scopes smaller and more powerful. "We want to see how much magnification we can get into a smaller package," he says.
But Litt cautions that technology can only take combat optics so far, at least for the near future. "The perfect scope doesn't exist. If it did we'd have a 1x25 that's about six inches long. Everybody is always pushing for a smaller package."