When a gun is made, it is chambered- i.e. fitted -for a particular round of bullet. For example, a handgun chambered in 9mm cannot shoot a .45 caliber. There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as how a gun chambered to a .357 magnum round can also shoot a .38 special round, but these are particular exceptions and not the rule. Likewise, one is yet to hear about three different calibers of bullets used in a single gun.
However, this is changing as Business Insider reports that a new sniper rifle for the US military can now fire three different calibers of rounds.
In the past year, the US Army, Marine Corps, and Special Operations Command have all shown interest in the same bolt-action rifle for their snipers — the Barrett Multi-Role Adaptive Design (MRAD) rifle able to fire three different rounds.
“We’re excited about it because it’s going to improve capabilities, it’s going to improve our ability to conduct operations, and it is going to allow for a more flexible sniper element,” a veteran Army sniper told Insider.
The multi-caliber rifle known by a few different names can be chambered in 7.62X51 mm NATO, .300 Norma Magnum, and .338 Norma Magnum, meaning snipers no longer have to choose between weapons systems capable of firing different rounds for different missions and targets.
The Army, the Marine Corps, and the special operations community all want the same bolt-action rifle for their snipers, and US sharpshooters are excited to get their hands on it.
“It’s an awesome gun,” 1st Sgt. Kevin Sipes, a seasoned Army sniper, told Insider, referring to the Barrett Multi-Role Adaptive Design (MRAD) rifle, known as the Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR) in the Army and the Advanced Sniper Rifle (ASR) by Special Operations Command and the Marines.
The PSR, which the Army also calls the Mk 22, is a “good gun coming at a good time that is going to increase efficiency and capabilities,” Sipes, who oversees the sniper course at Fort Benning, Ga., said.
“We’re excited about it because it’s going to improve capabilities, it’s going to improve our ability to conduct operations, and it is going to allow for a more flexible sniper element,” he said, explaining that the new rifle essentially lets US snipers employ three separate weapon systems in a single platform.
Instead of making US military snipers choose between weapons capable of firing different rounds for different missions and targets, the multi-caliber rifle can be chambered in 7.62X51 mm NATO, .300 Norma Magnum, and .338 Norma Magnum.
“It gives more flexibility to the sniper as to what configuration to put it in and what targets they are going after,” Lt. Col. Chris Kennedy, lethality branch chief of the Maneuver Center of Excellence’s Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate soldier division, previously told Insider. (source)
The concept of this- that a gun can fire a multiplicity of calibers -is interesting in light of the growing militarization around the world.
We know that the world is heading towards war. We know that new weapons of warfare are going to be developed. As we and others have noted, there is a lot of talk about artificial intelligence and the role that it will play both in the administration of weapons from afar (such as firing missiles) as well as how it may be integrated with robotics in order to create a Terminator-like soldier robot that has the potential to fundamentally transform the battlefield just as how the machine gun and poison gas in World War I and the nuclear bomb in World War II changed the world.
What we are looking at here is possibly something that, in combination with robotics, could be a major change in war.
Imagine, if you will, a robot with a “built-in” gun that can fire a multiplicity- say five or six -completely different calibers of bullets. This would be an incredible asset for the one who has the robot and a devastating liability for the one who has to fight it, as the ability to “change” between ammo would make it much more difficult for the robot to run out of ammo.
This is just one scenario. The possibilities are endless.
Times change but man does not. The desire for war and the horror it causes remains constant throughout history, while the tools used to realize the same end are all that changes.