|This is one video from the TrackingPoint press kit. You can check out our Youtube Channel for all 8 of them.|
By Brian Jensen
The military contractor game has dried up some since the wars have slowed down so a lot of products that hoped for military trials are now trying to make it in the consumer world of guns and gun toys. Perhaps the most advanced at this year’s SHOT Show was TrackingPoint, a monstrous looking rifle and scope combination that is being marketed as fighter plane lock and launch technology for your deer rifle. Tag, Track, Fire.
The TrackingPoint system looks like a big huge rangefinder scope but it is actually an entire weapon system. You buy the rifle and electromechanical optics computer as a package, tuned to the ammo that comes with the gun. At first blush it felt more like the stuff of science fiction than that destined for the hunting camp, but TrackingPoint was the talk of SHOT Show 2013 for sure. The concept of this device is simple. Rifle accuracy and rifle ballistics have outpaced shooter ability for decades now, and most cartridges are generally not able to be shot at their effective distances because of potential shooter error. First shot hits at ranges of further than 600-800 yards are in the single digits for success percentages in human trials, even with ballistic computers, and if you think about it, there should be a technology that can make this better. From idea to finished working product, TrackingPoint is this technology.
Here’s how it works. Look through the scope and put your target in the reticle. Then you hit the “Tag” button. The scope starts recording video, and a laser, working with video analysis software tracks the target for you, while calculating your ballistics for an exact first shot hit. TrackingPoint contains a laser rangefinder and a host of other to calculate distance, temperature, angle as well as advanced ballistics calculations like spin drift and the Coriolis effect (from the turning of the earth). The only thing it doesnt’ do is calculate wind speed, which you have to enter manually with a rocker switch on the top of the scope.
After you hit the “Tag” button, the reticle changes to an “X” and the red dot stays on the target, even if your scope/rifle moves. You then track the target and align your reticle on the red dot. Once you have painted the target with the laser, imaging analyis software tracks the target and electronically and mechanically controls the trigger via a hardwired cable. If you are “on” the trigger pull is light. If you are “off” the trigger pull gets heavy, so it is difficult to fire the gun. The company calls it “Tag Track Xact.” Many of the reviewers from SHOT Show got this detail wrong, so be aware that the gun does not shoot itself, and it does not wait to fire until you are “on.” All of the shot control is still in the hands of the shooter, with the aid of a mechanically manipulated trigger.
The firearm is designed to perform with a specific load from Barnes Bullets and tolerances are set to be +/- 10 FPS precise. Two hundred rounds come with each rifle as part of the purchase. Rifle, optics and ammunition combine in what TrackingPoint refers to as a closed-loop system. The optics are wifi capable, and can electronically record your shot for documentation or Facebook bragging rights to an iPad or your Android.
TrackingPoint Vice President Brett Boyd said the founder began thinking about the gun after missing a shot while on a hunting trip in Africa. Tracking Point is the result of the entrepreneur’s three-year project. If the promotional materials and videos are any indication, there is some serious money behind the marketing of this product, and they are working and ready to sell. What do you buy the guy who has everything? We have not reviewed this product and can’t say how useful it is, but the rifles that it is mated to are not cheap so the technology itself seems to be reasonably priced comparatively, as a rich man’s (or woman’s) toy.
Chamberings available for the Tracking Point include .338 Lapua Mag. (27-inch barrel) and .300 Win. Mag. (22- or 24-inch barrels). The system comes with the gun/optic system, Harris bipod, ammunition, iPad Mini, and a hard case. The optic uses two re-chargeable batteries, and a third one is supplied as a spare. A more traditional McMillan stocked hunting version is also available, in addition to one with an Accuracy International AX chassis. Surgeon XL actions are mated to a Krieger barrel for the actual firearm, and the entire thing is made proudly in the USA.
Expect to pay $17,000 to $22,000, depending on options. Each rifle comes with a Harris Bipod with a LaRue Tactical QD mount. Boyd said the response so far has been overwhelming. If they have review guns we will try to get one. There are so many variables in a long shot, including the capabilities of the rifle itself, that nobody is going to guarantee an ethical 1,000 yard hunting shot from an untrained shooter, but if you are already at a skill level where 1,000 yard shots are in your perview, and you have the cash, TrackingPoint would be an interesting investment in this first generation technology available to civilians.