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A new and revolutionary rifle was recently developed by an independent gunsmith out of his garage in Colorado, and it grabbed the attention of the U.S. Army.
The L4 “ribbon gun”, developed by Martin Grier, combines four bores in one barrel, meaning its business end has four holes instead of one, and it can simultaneously fire up to four bullets.
Another advantage it holds over existing guns in the market, is that it is easier to carry, fire and clean than existing weapons are. According to Grier, “the L4 is the first of a whole new class of weapons.”
According to Grier’s brother, the U.S. Army wants to test the new rifle. “We met with the Army twice and they are interested,” he said. Grier is working on finishing what is described as a new “military-grade” version of the L4 for the Army to experiment with.
The U.S. Army on a general hunt to replace older weapons, and the L4 is not the only one on their radar. The L4, however, does stand out from the rest.
The L4’s newness is the secret to its appeal. But that same novelty could prove to be a big problem as the Army struggles to acquire a new rifle that it can mass-produce at reasonable cost and deploy with minimal disruption.
Besides its four bores, the L4 ribbon gun has fewer openings that could allow dirt to get into its moving parts, making it easier to clean. At six pounds, it’s also slightly lighter than the current M-4 is.
The L4 also features a new kind of ammunition: a solid block, roughly the size of a deck of cards, that holds four six-millimeter-diameter rounds. A side-mounted device feeds a block at a time into the weapon, neatly aligning the four projectiles with the four bores. The mechanism allows for a potentially very high rate of fire compared to older weapons, according to motherboard.vice.com.
Most military guns, in use for many decades, are very similar – they contain a single barrel, and ammunition that came packed in detachable magazines. No new innovation took place since the 1920’s. This is not only according to Grier, but according to several military officials.
The U.S. military’s main rife is the M-4, which is a lighter version of the M-16, which has been around for decades. The two models are notorious for their tendency to jam.
Despite the drawbacks, the U.S. military repeatedly has failed to come up with replacement weapons that are worth the billions of dollars it would cost to mass-equip troops.