Missives from Dystopia…I mean, America


I hope all the gun-fondlers have tissues at hand, because they’re probably going to need some cleanup. The rest of us are going to need puke buckets.

Recently, Sig Sauer won a huge military contract to provide the next generation of squad weapons. These will be the replacements for the existing M4 and SAW. They will be better at punching holes in people! I guess that’s what you want for the military.

The SIG-LMG lightweight belt-fed machine gun and SIG MCX-SPEAR Rifle are purpose-built to harness the energy of the SIG FURY 6.8 Common Cartridge Ammunition enabling greater range and increased lethality while reducing the soldier’s load on the battlefield. Both the SIG-LMG and MCX-SPEAR deliver significant weapon and technology advancements to the soldier and provide a solution for battlefield overmatch in comparison to the current M249 and M4/M4A1.

FOR THE FUCKING MILITARY. Sig Sauer, evil hell-sucking demon corporation that it is, is not satisfied with the billions they’ll get from the army, so they have also announced a civilian version of the weapon. Because we need it, apparently.

“This is a weapon that could defeat any body armor, any planned body armor that we know of in the future,” then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told the Army Times in 2019. “This is a weapon that can go out at ranges that are unknown today.”

“It’ll shoot through almost all of the bulletproof vests that are worn by law enforcement in the country right now,” said Ryan Busse, a former firearms company executive who is now a senior policy analyst with the Giffords Law Center and author of Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry that Radicalized America.

I am no fan of the cops, but I don’t think selling a cop-killer is a good idea. I also don’t want to imagine what this thing could do to small children. I suspect it won’t be long until we find out.

The only saving grace here is that the thing costs $8,000. That will not deter any of the fanatics, unfortunately. Of anyone planning to buy one, I have to ask…what the fuck is wrong with you, sicko?

We’re not done with news from the hellscape, though.

Somebody suggest to one of the reality TV shows that moving a team of MAGA-hat-wearing, Confederate-flag-waving yahoos who have bought an MCX-SPEAR into some desolate wasteland somewhere where they have to fight Funny Dancing Robot Dogs to the death. I wouldn’t watch it, and I wouldn’t want to guess who’d win, but I’d be hoping for mutual extermination.

Comments

  1. StonedRanger says

    That robot dog thing is not a threat to anyone with its gun. It is completely unable to handle the recoil. Every time it shoots, it puts one round actually towards any target and the rest are off in the sky somewhere. I cant see any possible use for it to be armed if all it can do is shoot at clouds.

  2. says

    I want heavy artillery. In fact, I want to just be given the stuff. I have a good purpose for it: blast some coal-fired power plants. It’s self-defense.

  3. raven says

    They will be better at punching holes in people! I guess that’s what you want for the military.

    My old understanding of military weapons and ammunition is that they were designed to be…less lethal than hunting ammunition. That is what the steel jacket on the bullet is for.

    Because if you kill a soldier, then they are dead.
    But if you wound a soldier, they become a significant cost to the army. You have to carry them back to the hospital and give them medical care until they recover and/or the rest of their life if they don’t.

    The usual ratio of wounded to dead on the modern battlefield is said to be 3 to 1.

    I guess that idea is obsolete with the new more lethal combat rifle.

  4. René says

    StonedRanger:

    It is completely unable to handle the recoil.

    To me that seems an AI problem: have the thing learn from its misses, and have it exercise the learned extra pressure on the hind legs when firing.

    Do I need to say this is a completely sick idea, ONLY POSSIBLE IN AMERICA?

  5. says

    I think the robot dog is especially a threat to everyone. All that sloppy inaccuracy means passers-by — and people in the far off distance — are going to be shot.

  6. christoph says

    @ StonedRanger, # 1: There’s a Russian weapons manufacturer (can’t remember the name) that mounted a semiautomatic shotgun on a drone. The drone is pretty light, but it was designed to effectively compensate for recoil.

  7. Pierce R. Butler says

    StonedRanger @ # 1: Every time it shoots, it puts one round actually towards any target and the rest are off in the sky somewhere.

    Re-watch the video starting around the 40-second mark. The robot’s steadiness probably exceeds that of most human gunners – even before the inevitable re-design that puts the gun in or below the robot’s body and thereby stops putting more leverage into the recoil.

    René @ # 4: … an AI problem…

    The first few frames in that video show the view from the robot’s cam, right over the sights. I suspect the damn thing operates by remote control by some human in an ops control center somewhere.

    It does seem questionable that we don’t see the targets so much as twitch when fired at – does that damn machine even hit them?

  8. raven says

    This is a good example of modern America.

    Someone invents a Funny Dancing Robot Dog.
    Shortly after that, someone gives the robot dog an automatic rifle and changes its name to Funny Battlefield Killer Robot Dog.

    Here we are in 2022, the (not very) United States of Dystopia.

  9. says

    Having worked on a literally tons of automated machinery, I fear no robot uprising. You look under the hood of a Terminator, you will find the same cheap ass Festo solenoid valves and Keyence reed sensors you find in any piece of automated production machinery.

    It’s a common sci-fi trope that robots don’t age and last hundreds of years. Reality is, not so much. We can’t build cars that last a century. How are we supposed to build robots that outlast us? Another trope is that robots are “immune” to hard radiation. Not so much. The smaller you make the transistors the more sensitive they are to radiation. The hard radiation of space or a nuclear reactor scramble the atoms of the doped regions of the microscopic transistors. A few hard rads completely scrambles them.

    I can build a device that can scramble your smart phone at 10ft for less than $100 in parts. In fact this is one of the reasons I’m on an FBI watch list. I just wanted to build an EMP emitter for fun. Also I hate people who watch videos on full volume in public. You sitting at the bar and watching an old episode of Seinfeld on your phone while I’m trying to have a quiet drink? ZAP! It won’t destroy your phone, but it will force it to reboot repeatedly. At least until I turn it off.

  10. numerobis says

    raven: the new US rifle was intended to punch holes in the new Russian body armour.

    Which it turns out they aren’t actually producing in any volume.

  11. ardipithecus says

    Automated firing platforms are an FSMsend for the wannabe shooter upper of public spaces. Now, you don’t even have to be there, and if your platform gets neutralized, just build another.

    Inaccurate shooting isn’t a bug, it is a feature, especially if there are multiple stories in the building. Wahoo!

  12. christoph says

    @ Ray Ceeya, # 9: Have you found a way to make the EMP pulse directional? That’s beyond my skills at present.

    I realize the robot is a prototype, but it looks like it won’t be able to right itself if it gets knocked over, similar to ED 209. Also, a class IV laser would disable the targeting camera-even scatter radiation can damage a digital camera sensor.

  13. robro says

    I assume the dancing dog is from Boston Dynamics.

    Interesting factoid. Sig Sauer is a multi-national company that started in Germany and has subsidiaries in Switzerland and the US. They are owned by something called “L & O Holding” which, according to the German Wikipedia, is not an independent company but comprises two management holding companies: L & O Holding Verwaltungs-GmbH and L & O Holding GmbH & Co. KG based in Emsdetten. The two companies are registered to entrepreneurs Michael Lüke and Thomas Ortmeier. There have been investigations of the companies for violations of the “Foreign Trade and Weapons Act”…apparently a German law.

    Further note that in 2009 the owners planned a new headquarters with a shooting range in the basement. Due to a 2006 school shooting in Emsdetten, public outcry forced them to abandon that plan. The school shooting involved a former student who entered the school, fired several shots and set off a smoke grenade. He then killed himself. While he was the only fatality, there were 22 injuries making it Germany’s worst school shooting.

  14. JustaTech says

    Like many optimists, I hoped the robot dogs would be used for things like search and rescue, bomb disposal, cave exploration, maybe wildlife monitoring (if it’s not too upsetting to the wildlife). Heck, maybe even some kind of hypoallergenic guide dog.

    But I also knew that someone would inevitably put some kind of weapon on it. It’s a thing made by humans, someone will find a way to turn it into a weapon. Like, people have taped knives to Roombas (mostly as a joke) and probably every tool ever made has been turned into a weapon at some point, because that’s people. Heck, see attack dogs, war elephants and a knight’s charger (horse).

    That doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed about the gun-dog. I’m just not surprised.

  15. steve1 says

    That $8,000 gun is for the first realesed limited edition. There will be less expensive not so limited editions soon.

  16. says

    These guns change nothing, they are just more of the same old. And the 6.8 round is just another twist on cartridges that have been around for more than a century, only a tad more compact. Any extra armor piercing capability will primarily be due to bullet design and will (at least in theory) apply to all existing calibers. And if I’m not mistaken the US are pretty strict on small caliber armor piercing ammo.

    Military tech has always been popular in the civilian marked, for all the same reasons they are chosen by the military. But today the civilian guns are better suited for virtually all civilian use.

  17. Hatchetfish says

    Given the military armor piercing ammunition won’t also be available for civilian sale, it doesn’t really pose any more risk than any other AR-10* based semi-auto rifle available, so at least there’s that. None of those should be for sale either, of course, and in no way meant to imply SIG Sauer aren’t amoral profiteering pieces of shit, but without the military AP projectiles the rifle isn’t really a new capability for mass shooters.
    *The AR-10 was the larger framed predecessor of AR-15’s and M16’s. Originally designed to fire 7.62 NATO/.308 Winchester and until recent years largely a historical footnote in the history of its scaled down successors. In cynical terms the Spear and its cartridge (AP or not) would really be a poor choice for mass shooters compared to the widely available AR-15’s, for the same reasons of increased recoil and concurrent loss of accuracy and speed that drove the military’s move from 7.62 M14’s to 5.56 M16’s ago.

    TLDR: It’s the AP ammo that makes this any more dangerous than any other semi-automatic with detachable magazines, and the ammo is going to be controlled. Selling it at all is despicable, as is selling every other semi-auto with detachable magazines, but it’s not a new threat to worry about.

  18. says

    @12, yes. You use a spiderweb antenna with a wave guide. It’s very similar to the technology used in your kitchen microwave.

  19. bcw bcw says

    @6 there was some CT kid that mounted a semiautomatic pistol on his drone a couple of years ago and used the “camera” solenoid to fire it. He posted a video and got arrested because, CT not TX or AK or AR or whatever. Oh yeah, he violated FAA rules, not gun laws.

    That said, I’m putting a pistol on my rhomba.

  20. silvrhalide says

    I can’t possibly have been the only one who immediately thought of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury the first time I saw the Boston Dynamics robot dogs. Tell me that thing doesn’t match the description of the firehouse “dog”. That thing is deep in the uncanny valley.

    “I am no fan of the cops, but I don’t think selling a cop-killer is a good idea. I also don’t want to imagine what this thing could do to small children. I suspect it won’t be long until we find out.”
    Well, it took a lot of time and a lot of dead bodies to get the Black Talon bullets banned… I expect it to take at least as long for this new generation ammo to get banned. What a species we are.

    ““This is a weapon that could defeat any body armor, any planned body armor that we know of in the future,” then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told the Army Times in 2019. “This is a weapon that can go out at ranges that are unknown today.””
    Terrific. Now when some asshat incel or alt right asshole decides to shoot up a parade, the bullets can punch through buildings and hit otherwise uninvolved people several blocks away. Progress! Only in America.

    @1,4 I was thinking more along the lines of a brace, like the kind that are used for certain SAMs and other rocket/missile launchers. You have the launcher which tends to be fairly lightweight, but it’s braced by anchors that punch into the ground to steady the launcher. Otherwise the SAMs would have the same problems as the robot dog. Look at the muzzle rise on that thing. It renders the full auto on the weapon kind of pointless, if your intention is actually hit an intended target.

    @11 Now I’m wondering how long it will be before this becomes the preferred weapon of terrorists, incels, alt right shooters, etc. Now you don’t even need a plane.

    @9,11 Wondering how much a regular laser pointer will futz with the camera sensor, not in terms of destroying it so much as rendering it useless for the duration. I became more interested in its potential after the Las Vegas concert shooter. Noticed a lot of the scopes have Fresnel elements, although just the fact that the scopes are lenses at all would certainly be helpful in directing the laser into the eye of the shooter. Laser pointers are cheap and legal in most places.

  21. microraptor says

    raven @3: That’s an old military “truism”, not a military doctrine and not one that really bears out in reality. If you wound an enemy, they can potentially stay on the battlefield and continue to fight. It does not actually tie up that much more in the way of resources vs killing them. The real objective is to incapacitate the enemy, stopping them from being able to fight back, and if you’re incapacitating someone using a gun that usually means killing them.

    There’s a reason that shootings where the gunman uses an AR-15 (which uses military-grade ammunition) tend to result in far more fatalities than ones where the gunman uses a pistol (which does not).

  22. lochaber says

    It’s been a while since I’ve read up on any of this, but don’t most cops use body armor designed to protect against typical handgun rounds? And that generally, body armor won’t be of much use against rifle rounds unless it has those ceramic plates or similar? Rifles and handguns are completely different classes of weapons. Both in terms of accuracy and power.
    I heard about this a couple weeks ago(?), and did a bit of poking on wikipedia and such, the impression I got was that this round is in a similar class to the NATO 7.62, used in our medium machine guns and some anti-personel sniper rifles. Was briefly a machine gunner whilst enlisted, and you could chew through brick walls on a range pretty quickly…

    That robot dog… That just seems like a dumb way to mount it, but I guess it’s a prototype or proof of concept or something. Since it’s not being held by a human, you could eliminate the stock and the handle, and mount it much closer to the body of the robot. or maybe build a different lower receiver so the magazine can be side mounted, bringing the weapon closer to the center of gravity of the robot. It’s just dumb to put it on a big ass lever like they did. I expect them to justify it as saying it’s for taking out barricaded active shooters, etc., but if the cops get it, it will be used to shoot any and everyone for any reason whatsoever. They’ll be even more trigger happy if they don’t have to be right there, where they might get the gunsmoke in their eyes or something… The military… I don’t know what they’d do with it, likely some niche special forces shit. For more-or-less standard engagements, it’s hard to beat the versatility and adaptability of a bunch of grunts on the ground.

  23. unclefrogy says

    I saw the announcement a while back and can see the reasons for adopting it given the experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will probably work better in Europe as well. The M5 (m-16) is fine it the close combat in forests and jungles of south east Asia but under-powered (5.56X45mm vs 6.8X51mm) for the distances more typical in Afghanistan and europe where unfortunately war is no going on. They will not be very nice out in the civilian market however. When they do arrive on the street I would expect to see performances like were recently seen down in Texas become more common as police hang back and not rush right in. The dead will also be even more unpleasant to look at.
    the thing that will be slightly mitigating is the cost even the “cheap” ones will be a couple of thousand plain more with “extras”
    they have to make money after all and manufacturing will not be simple stamped sheet steel molded plastic.

  24. birgerjohansson says

    On the subject of killing machines made from improvised parts …
    I recommend the British film “Hardware” (1990).
    It even has Lemmy as a taxi driver and Iggy Pop plays the radio personality Angry Bob.
    For its budget, it wasn’t bad.

  25. says

    @silvrhalide#20: The black Talon was never banned, although Winchester stopped sales to the civilian marked after some bad press. The media hype was unfounded, they were on par with conventional hollow points.

    @lochaber#22: That’s correct.
    The soft armor used by most LEOs (Level 3) is designed to handle handgun rounds only. Even the small 556 Nato will cut right through. The ceramic plates are needed to stop rifle rounds, and these are quite heavy and bulky (7lbs according to my kitchen scale). The 6.8 is basically a 7.62Nato with a slightly smaller bullet and modified to handle higher chamber pressures, boosting performance ever so slightly.

  26. birgerjohansson says

    The new “high entropy” alloys can combine hatdness with high tensile strength so they might be lighter than ceramic plates.
    Still, police should not need to carry around the gear of a combat soldier to be safe.

  27. littlejohn says

    American cops typically wear level II-A vests, which are a compromise between bullet-stopping and comfort on a summer day. I used to work in private security and wore such a vest. They are really uncomfortable and hot. Anything heavier would be unbearable, especially since, despite what you see in the movies, cops almost never get shot.
    The II-A vest will stop most handgun rounds, most shotgun ammunition, and little else. Any centerfire rifle round will go through a cop’s vest, as will heavy-caliber revolver rounds such as the .44 Magnum. Fortunately, most bad guys don’t carry that kind of bulky, hard-to-conceal weaponry. But there is nothing really new about these guns and their ammunition.

  28. John Benson says

    @Ray Ceeya
    The smaller you make the transistors the more sensitive they are to radiation. The hard radiation of space or a nuclear reactor scramble the atoms of the doped regions of the microscopic transistors. A few hard rads completely scrambles them.

    There are “harder” semi-conductors. I stopped caring in the early 1990’s but at the time the DOE was looking at Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) as radiation hard semi conductors for use in higher radiation zones. As I said, I stopped caring in about 1992, but I cannot believe that research into hardening semi-conductors stopped. There’s a wild difference between the stuff they’ll sell us, and the stuff they want in their own toys.

    As an aside the guys down the hall were playing with with GaAs and told everyone if they smelled Pizza to evacuate the building. Naturally everyone brought pizza for lunch for the next week.

  29. says

    These new weapons may not actually come into full scale service. The initial batches are for trial purposes, and the record of attempts to field M16/M4 replacements has been rather mixed. The ultimate example was the OICW program, which was intended to replace the M16 family rifles with a high tech rifle/grenade launcher combo. Which ultimately didn’t work very well, and weighed too much. The spinoffs from that weren’t adopted either. And foreign attempts at the same concept didn’t do much either.

  30. StevoR says

    I guess its the old case of life imitating art imitating life in the Boston Dynamics dogs inspiring and now these latest developments echoing the robodog “aliens” (“mechanicals) of the problematic in a number of ways* but really quite emotionally powerful at times 2019 TV series War of the Worlds here :

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_of_the_Worlds_(2019_TV_series)

    WARNING :Spoilers on wikipage kinda

    See also here :

    https://www.vfxvoice.com/up-close-and-personal-with-the-aliens-in-war-of-the-worlds/

    Plus here : https://asylumsfx.com/work/war-of-the-worlds-quadruped-alien-robots

    Still pics really don’t do them justice BTW. Think you might still find the series on SBS On Demand maybe?

    Which, yeah, seems to be the direction these robotioc dog weapon things are moving in? Anyhow, anyone else see that and feel the same creeped out disturbing sense of recognition and vibe off them here?

    I gather there was an episode (?) of something called ‘Black Mirror’ with similar evil robotic creatures too.. (Havern’t seen but herad was good?)

    .* Oh ye-non-existent-gods, the infuriating endings to both seasons, the anti-climax and the WTF..

  31. StevoR says

    One more linked WotW article here :

    https://theconversation.com/at-least-were-not-being-exterminated-by-alien-attack-robots-watching-war-of-the-worlds-in-a-pandemic-167344

    Because, hell, shoulda known the that in reality we’d add a”..yet” and remove the aliens..*

    .* Again spoiler WARNING but Whfg yvxr va gur GI frevrf jurer gurl gbbx bhg gur vagrerfgvat gur rarzl ner erny nyvraf vqrnf naq vafgrnq znqr vg, JNVG, vgf shgher uhznaf qbvat JUNG jul abj? Yvxr gurer nera’g orggre jnlf naq gurl qba’g haqrefgnaq orpnhfr ..uhu? (rot13 coded for spoilers.)

  32. ollie8645 says

    I support an assault weapons ban and the ban of HC mags. That being said, it’s not clear to me exactly what is being sold to civilians.

    The military version of this weapon has the ability to withstand something like 80,000 psi chamber pressure and fires a special 3 piece round which includes a stainless steel base capable of withstanding the pressure which brass casings cannot withstand. Best I can tell (and I am not certain), the civilian version of this weapon will be chambered for .277 Fury which is an all brass case and will withstand pressures similar to the .270 Winchester round and generate about the same muzzle velocity. Velocity of the military, higher pressure 6.8 common cartridge, I can’t find and I can’t find the bullet weight. If the civilian version of the weapon can withstand only normal pressures and if the military ammo is not provided, then it would be of similar lethality to the .308 — deadly and powerful, for sure, but no more so than what’s already out there.

    In any case, it should be part of the contract for this weapon that a civilian version not be manufactured and sold and the contract for the ammunition should prohibit sale of the high pressure ammunition on the civilian market.

  33. ollie8645 says

    Ok, looks like marketing of the military hybrid ammunition is in the works so I was wrong and everybody’s concern seems justified. Perhaps my comments can be deleted. Sorry for any trouble.

  34. silvrhalide says

    @25 I thought that the Black Talon bullets had been banned in some municipalities but not nationwide. I guess the lawyers and bean counters talked some sense and money logic into Winchester. The legal liability would have eaten them alive. As far as the media hype goes, yes, it was wildly overheated but IIRC, the real reason for the Black Talon’s lethality was that the prescored round would burst apart on impact, curling back and creating the “black flower” form which would tear apart and cut tissue through the bullet path, creating extra bleeders within the wound. That it wasn’t just all hydrostatic shock and small-entry-hole, big-exit-hole that was the issue. My understanding was that it was the additional laceration along the tumble path of the bullet that was the issue. (As if the hydrostatic shock and large exit wound were somehow insufficient.)

  35. blf says

    @26, “police should not need to carry around the gear of a combat soldier to be safe.”

    Indeed. Almost everything else in this thread has been Shooty McShootface (apparent-)enthusiasts taking about this or that Shooty McShootface sort-of technical detail, ignoring the entire point all Shooty McShootfaces are pointless for almost all members of the public, and also for routine deployment by the so-called “police”, etc.

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