I'll be honest here and state right off the bat I was unable to personally fire a Corner Shot. But I've handled a test sample, and I was impressed with the quality and engineering and have little doubt it will perform as advertised.
That's great and everything. But it begs the question, do you really need a gun that shoots around corners?
I think the answer is yes...and no. As with much of today's high-tech gear, there is only a small window of potential use for something like the Corner Shot. Still, should we ignore answers to problems, regardless of how sporadically the need may arise? Once again, it all comes down to budgets and training commitments.
We've all seen those cartoons of "The officer of the 22nd Century," where a RoboCop-looking fellow is festooned with every widget you can imagine. Overkill? Probably. Yet, how do you draw the line at what's needed and what's just "nice" to have?
Nice To Have?
The Corner Shot is a combination of an articulating gun mount and a video camera sighting system that was developed by two former senior officers from elite units of the Israel Defense Forces. The company that shares its name is a partnership between the two Israeli commandos and American investors.
It's not a weapon, merely a cradle, if you will, that holds a duty semi-auto pistol and allows an operator to literally "shoot around corners" while staying behind cover. On the front of the system at the same angle as the muzzle of the pistol is a small, high-resolution video camera that sends an image back to an attached monitor at the stock of the Corner Shot system. The operator sights the weapon using the monitor.
The entire Corner Shot system is about the size of a carbine. But, of course, the big advantage is that, as the name indicates, the Corner Shot can be used to shoot around corners. The Corner Shot actually "bends" in the middle to a near right angle. This allows the operator to safely aim and fire the system while staying behind cover.
You aim the Corner Shot with a camera, using a calibrated cross-hair on the LCD screen of the unit. When you're ready to fire, you press a trigger and the handgun is fired by a remote-control linkage system.
Corner Shot's detachable video camera also doubles as a tactical video system, allowing an officer to scan an area prior to pinpointing a target and to broadcast the image directly, in real time, to the team behind, or to a monitor at a command post in another location.
Born of Urban Combat
"I believe that the Corner Shot weapon system can be extremely beneficial in the global war on terror," says Amos Golan, the inventor, one of Corner Shot's founders, and a former IDF Anti-Terror Unit Commander. "It protects soldiers' lives and increases their chances of survival, while drastically improving their ability to gather information and transmit the combat scenario as well as pinpoint and engage targets out of their line of sight."
Golan has an obvious military way of thinking. But let's remember that in today's world, the word "police officer" can be substituted with "soldier" in many cases. And sometimes cops and special forces soldiers are working in very similar environments.
Golan talks of "combat," but the uses he envisions for the Corner Shot are just as likely to involve cops, especially tactical officers. "Today's combat situations, especially in low-intensity conflicts, involve fighting in urban terrain and inside inhabited buildings, or forced entry into airplanes, buses, or trains. This unnecessarily exposes security forces to the enemy and presents an immediate risk to their lives. Corner Shot removes the need for this initial exposure." Perhaps "removes the need" is a bit bold, since officers still have to be exposed to threats to deploy the unit.
Asaf Nadel, another of Corner Shot's founders and a former commander in Israel's Armored Corps and Secret Service, says, "The Corner Shot system is designed in a way that enables security forces to engage targets from the left, and right, from the front, up or down, and to move to each of these shooting positions very rapidly without the removal of hands from the weapon. This shortens reaction time and increases accuracy in sudden engagement situations. The weapon system can be triggered completely from behind cover."[PAGEBREAK]
Why would a tool specifically designed for military special forces units be of such interest to police? Simple; in many cities today, some SWAT or police actions resemble military small unit operations more than city police work. Good or bad, right or wrong, it's the reality of today's streets, and cops have to have the tools available to counter these new and increasing threats. Any agency that closes its eyes to new developments in technology needs to have its eyes opened. Unfortunately, that process often entails a traumatic event in their city.
It would be easy to dismiss the Corner Shot as a high-tech gadget, but keep in mind high-performance flashlights, programmable radios, infrared imaging, DNA evidence, mobile data terminals, and even that backbone of police work today, the semi-auto duty pistol, all began life with corresponding naysayers who dismissed them as unnecessary gadgets.
The Corner Shot contains various accessories: a variety of detachable cameras (zoom, day-night, thermal), audio/video transmission kit, visible and IR lasers, tactical flashlight, a laser, and more. Manufacturer's specs call for the Corner Shot to be effective and accurate to 100 meters with 9mm, .40-caliber, and .45-caliber pistols. It accommodates virtually any make of semi-auto duty handgun, including Glock, SIG, CZ, Beretta, FN, Heckler & Koch, just to name a few.
Unfolded, the Corner Shot looks and acts much like a pistol-caliber carbine, so I believe accuracy would be similar. However, ballistics are still what you'd get from pistol-length barrels, since the "gun" part is simply your duty pistol.
The Corner Shot Module (CSM) body is molded from polyamide, glass fiber and glass globules, which I guess is a fancy name for different kinds of plastics and fiberglass. But it seemed robust when I handled it, and I believe it would stand up in the harsh world of the working cop with no problems.
Bending the Corner Shot to the desired angle or direction requires only a quick manipulation of the foregrip (sort of like using the lever on a lever-action rifle). The front part bends as much as 62-degrees, placing the pistol and video camera "around the corner" and pointing at the threat, while you nest safely behind a wall. A quick flick of the foregrip straightens it all out again and you end up with a muzzle-heavy "pistol-carbine" to handle threats from the front. The switch-change process takes about as much time as racking an 870 shotgun.
When in the straight mode, you can use your pistol's sights, change magazines, and otherwise use it like a short-rifle. If you need to peek around a corner, a flick of the wrist turns the Corner Shot into a "bent" gun again. It's actually very slick and works easily. It would take some getting used to, of course, but so do most things.
You can also put optics on the Corner Shot, and it comes with a bipod. Since it runs on electricity, it does need batteries and while the initial versions used lithium batteries, the new versions will have a rechargeable system. There's also a monitor hood and shading sleeve to give a user decent screen visibility in direct sunlight.
Metal parts are blued and the folding stock can be had as either the stock version, or a Galil or M4/M16 version. The trigger has a safety, and everything is nicely dust-tight and waterproof.
One way that the Corner Shot varies from a normal pistol-caliber carbine, other than the bending action, is that it requires the operator to carry some additional gear. Corner Shot has given this some thought. While each system comes in a hard-shell case, along with a manual and other goodies, a soft-case backpack is available as an option so that you can have spare parts (like cameras, etc.) on hand. A flash suppressor, silencer, paintball kit, non-lethal kit, and various day and night sights are also available.
The Corner Shot is essentially a custom-built system and it can be tailored to your own agency's needs, with many options and modifications. System price is based upon a wide range of variables so it's best to contact the company directly for a quote.
Based upon my own experience with short rifles and handguns, I formed an opinion of how the Corner Shot would handle in the real world. I predicted it would feel awkward at first, but with some practice, its tactical value and handling qualities would be appreciated.
As I said at the beginning of this article, I did not have the opportunity to personally fire the system. But I was able to speak with several officers who were able to attend a test fire of the Corner Shot, and their opinions confirmed my own. They said at first they had their doubts, but once they got some trigger time on the system and got over, as one cop said, "the weirdness of it all," they found it to be very accurate in both "corner" mode and as a carbine. One officer said, "There's been a few times when I've peeked around corners that I wished I had something like this."
And for Corner Shot maybe that's the best endorsement of all.
Roy Huntington is editor of American Handgunner magazine and a member
of the Police Advisory Board.