TTAG’s been tracking TrackingPoint’s “precision guided rifle” for some time. We just blogged Remington’s announcement that its super-secret Venture X project is a TrackingPoint rifle of one sort or another. The Austin company’s software/hardware combo makes it possible for just about anyone to hit a long range target with a rifle. That’s a good thing, right? Public radio station KUT is not so sure. In fact, they found someone, a vet no less, to throw cold water on the whole idea . . .

Some worry what will happen when these computerized rifles are available to the public. Chris Frandsen is a West Point grad, who earned a Purple Heart and Bronze Star in Vietnam.

Frandsen says he doesn’t think the TrackingPoint technology should be allowed in the civilian world, because the gun makes it too easy for a criminal or a terrorist to shoot civilians from a distance, without being easily detected: “Where we have mental health issues, where we have soldiers who have PTSD, where we have children that are disassociated from society early on, where we have terrorists who have political cards to play, we have to restrict weapons that make them more efficient in terrorizing the population.”

Yup, a gun grabber’s applying the “who needs an AR-15 Weapon o’ War” thing to the most modern of modern sporting rifles. Can’t say every single member of TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia didn’t see that one coming.

What is surprising: what TrackingPoint’s president has to say about that.

Jason Schauble, TrackingPoint’s president, says because the company sells directly – instead of going through gun dealers – it knows who its customers are, and can vet them. And he says there’s a key feature that prevents anyone other than the registered owner from utilizing the gun’s capabilities. Schauble said “It has a password protection on the scope.  The gun will still operate as a firearm itself, but you cannot do the tag/track/exact, the long range, technology-driven precision guided firearm piece without entering that passcode.”

Seriously? Password protected optics? Will that apply to the Venture X guns as well? I don’t like the way this is going, from a practical or a political point-of-view.

75 Responses to TrackingPoint Rifles to Be Password Protected

  1. What’s the problem with having the option of password protecting your own scope? Do you have a problem with gun safes or trigger locks? Conceptually, there’s no difference.

    • Anyone really wanting that tool can still take it and use it. It will have to run on a software, that can be changed, cracked, etc. If someone has the money to pull this off illegally, he will do it. A meager password won’t stop him. Same, on the long shot, with biometrics. There is no 100% protection.

      This is a complete farce. It won’t make anything safer.

    • What’s wrong with password protection on your own scope?

      Well remember this comes from someone that know zero about this product. I always think about what could go wrong. Suppose you have an urgent need, a charging big mean nasty bear or badger or something on two legs like a gorilla. Suppose the batteries go dead, or you accidentally in the heat of the moment enter the PW incorrectly, etc., etc. I worry about the added complexity and the higher likelihood of failure of the human/machine interface. That’s what could be wrong with a PW protected scope.

      • A Gorilla? A GORILLA??

        The unlikeliness of that aside, if it’s charging you, you don’t have time to use a scope, PERIOD. Maybe you meant a Hippopatamus, huh? My ‘hood is reeking with those.

        Personally, I can’t WAIT for password-protected fire extinguishers. Some poor sucker’s gonna get badly squirted.

  2. Hey RF, I’m pretty pro-2A, but you’ve got to admit that this technology could be abused. I certainly hope that is not the case, but there it is. I think password protecting the tracking feature is a good idea – more or less.

    But I’m open to suggestions and intelligent criticism, and I must admit that I don’t completely understand that application(s) of this new tech.

      • I think that the idea, as I understood the article, was to allow more shooters to hit targets at a longer distance with less practice. It takes a lot of time, practice, and dedicated training to hit long range targets with a normal scope, which is why most mass shooters engage at a fairly close range.

        In the minds of gun-grabbers, that translates to, “Snipers will use this death machine/weapon of war to murder children in schools with no practice!”

        Because criminals definitely have the time and money to devote to buying, building, customizing, and practicing with prohibitively expensive gear. -eye roll-

        • Let’s consider that to make a long range shot requires a lot of time and practice.

          Once upon a time, to be a combatant at all, effectively, required you to be a knight or “man at arms” or professional soldier.

          During that period in time, when any dissenting peasant or farmer had little chance against the king’s well-trained (“well regulated” meant well-trained, BTW) soldiers, feudalism and despotism were the order of the day. Admittedly medieval politics were not as simple but I digress.

          The truth of the matter is that when you have one little sword and the guy coming to collect your last silver piece because of a tax hike has a war horse that eats more food than your entire family (and that horse, too, is also trained to fight) and weighs a ton, and the man on that horse has armor impenetrable to anything you have on hand, and carries a shield too, being a tax collector and all (if you stop paying taxes and bar the door, eventually you too will see shields, just a bit smaller).

          The gun changed all that. It made the armor obsolete. The horse became a huge moving target that, given the time and money to train them, felled by a musket ball, made infantry cheaper. Darkening the sky with arrows became a joke because the arc shows the inferiority to the flat-shooting musket.

          But best of all, and this is what made modern liberty possible, any farmer could pick up a musket and stand up for his rights.

          So we can be sure that any technology that allows just about anybody to have their force multiplied – being able to go from just a citizen who wants to be free to being on par with an expensive and dedicated soldier – is going to be given the stink-eye by those powers who have the upper hand and seek to maintain it.

          Sure “They” will say that terrorists and nut jobs will use it. They say the same thing about the internet and crypto too. They say the same thing about 3D printing of gun parts. They will say it about any technology that has the power to liberate the mind and the physical as well. And “they” will do anything. I would not be surprised if one of them just so happened to end up in the hands of the next windup toy, all coincidental like, so “oh noez dead children! ban ban ban!!!!!1!!!eleven!!!”

          Yeah the people who use a printing press to print up all the ammo and training money for “their” trigger pullers are not going to like this technology, and they will lie to get consensus.

          Thus, the idea of password protecting it, while seemingly harmless, is conceptually opening the door for them. And they can see bonus points in setting other precedent, like restricting computer use overall too. They won’t say “the people have no business being able to shoot at very long ranges because we should be the only ones to have that”. They will say everything but that, like calling Martial Law “sheltering in place” for example.

          Anybody who see’s otherwise should strongly consider then a GPS tracker in every gun they have, a sensor in their gun safe that alerts the police every time they open it, a breathalyzer in their car so it won’t start if their BAC is too high (called a “blow and go”), and a special sensor on their willies along with a gps to ensure they don’t get a woody near a church or a school too.

          You know, like “they” will say, if it “saves just one life” it will be worth it.

        • “In the minds of gun-grabbers, that translates to, “Snipers will use this death machine/weapon of war to murder children in schools with no practice!”

          I’m 100% pro-2A, but I must say, that was my first thought.

    • For shooting holes on paper or for self defense, I cannot think of an application.

      As general matter for myself, I drive stick vs. automatic becaue I want to drive the car and not the car drive me.

      However, for long range hunting, yep, I can see it being used. In my mid 20s my brother and I went to Idaho for Mountain Goat and Big Horn Sheep. Even with a Guide, we trekked for half a day, then tracked some goats around a mountain. I am not comfortable at more than 400yrds but we had one lined up at about 460yrds per the range finder and it was give it a shot or go home. By that time, a front had moved in, it was colder than when we started, there was a big breeze going down the mountain. Not an easy shot. My brother and I both lined up for it in case I missed. Sure enough, conditions had changed enough and I was not skilled enough I hit low. My brother was able to adjust and get the shot off just as the goat decide to scoot and hit him mid jump.

      While it would take the sport of hunting out of the equation, I can see it for those guys who trophy hunt. For annual deer hunts, not worth it for me. I am sure it will not be cheap either.

      Now, if they had tech that could help me climb up and get the goat easier, that I would buy

    • Any technology can be abused.

      There’s a whole bunch of people who want to be terrorists, but don’t know how to make bombs because they were liberal arts majors and didn’t study chemistry.

      So…. should we control access to libraries to prevent another domestic terrorist group like the Weathermen Underground from recurring?

      • Point of information: they were called “Weathermen”, and the name of the group was “WEATHER Underground”, not “Weathermen Underground”.

    • Every technology can be abused.

      I say we ban flammable liquids and glass bottles. Why? Combine them. Makeshift firebomb. Oh…

    • Every technology can be and is abused. That is no reason to restrict the moral, law-abiding public from access to said technologies.

      • Will this technology push us into a “need to hunt” dilemma? It sure seems the possibility is there.

    • And as usual the California LEOs have no problem with gun control. Hey Accur81, if you saw someone with a rifle which violated your states AWB, would you arrest them and grab their gun, or would you look the other way?

  3. If they want to include this feature on their product they are welcome to do so. I just hope some clueless senator doesn’t suddenly think that this technology should be required for all firearms and try to force it on everyone.

    “This is not about restricting the 2nd amendment. This is about common sense measures to protect…blah blah blah….”

  4. I am going to call that a wink wink nudge nudge. The gun is the serialized part so if you have it you can always purchase the electronic gear separate. Granted it might be more expensive but work arounds often are.

  5. I guess I just don’t see the big deal. It’s not even a lock on the firearm itself, just the computer-aided targeting scope.

    Even if it were a lock on the firearm itself, I don’t see a cause for fuss. It’s no different than putting it in a gun safe or something for storage.

    The only thing I’m against are stuff like the biolocks or RFID locks that cannot be manually disengaged, because a mechanism that is supposed to automatically enable/disable the firing mechanism on the fly is a major liability.

  6. One of those “this will not end well” moments. I think the password protection thing was more of a “cover their ass” decision, since there’s always a smorgasbord of litigation every time some SSRI-doped windup toy does something.

    The best counter for this would be for this technology to become open source. I don’t expect them to open source their product – it was probably expensive to produce, but it’s time for programmers who know the ways of the gun to put something together.

    • “I’m an assassin, dad, not a crazed gunman!”. I can SO see the Sniper using this kit.

  7. I’m not sure where RF is going on this, either, but it’s not difficult to envision the arc here – increased use of technology for monitoring and reporting. Geolocation and targeting information uploaded to a central repository for monitoring, etc etc. We have similar use with our smart phones. Do you know that when you talk to Siri on your iPhone, or use Google’s voice recognition/response software on Android phones, that your voice is sent back to Apple/Google for safekeeping? We see similar tech with Progressive Insurance’s “Snapshot” tracking/reporting offering.

    It’s good to be thinking about this stuff, because the arguments for its use will be coming soon enough, no doubt.

  8. Y’know, this doesn’t bother me one bit.

    Passwords – hopefully mandated to be at least eight characters, mixed-case alphanumeric and not based upon a dictionary word – are fine. Hell, put a thumb-print reader on it. Whatever.

    It’s not going to disable the firearm (or probably even the basic scope) so it’s still a gun. You can still defend yourself with it and no fancy doodad will be delaying or preventing that – either through malfunction or in the course of normal operation.

    Hell, I’m certain that the unlock mechanism will be just as robust as rest of the whizbang scope, so there’s no argument to be had about that either.

    Unless you are “defending” yourself from someone two sections over, this won’t and can’t interfere.

    This, to me, seems eminently sensible. It’s not the start of doomageddon, the radio-remote overriding of firearms by police or GPS tracking of every gun, knife and steel crossbow.

    It is actually [un]common sense.

    • As long and I as the end user have the option on disable this “feature” no problem. (If there is not, I will find one.)

      • We have the option to disable this feature. We disable it by not buying the rifle or goodie package. It’s a 15,000 buck rifle. The company needs good customer service and PR or they are soon out of business. The buying public lets them know how they feel and this feature becomes an option that can be left off.

        • Remember the “Batman Shooter” was well-funded on some student DARPA program, so I can see a situation where the next windup toy gets such firearms technology that “could have been password protected” and then we’ll all be listening to the female reporters in their “hallway monitor who just busted a kid for doing something wrong” tones saying something like “a new look at requirement is needed” or something like that.

  9. I think the price point is enough protection to keep this out of the hands of evil-doers. When’s the last time you heard of someone being murdered with a $15,000 gun?

    • Zackly,
      Right up there with fat boy banning the Barrett.
      I saved a long time for my 50. No way it’s going to be used in a crime or out of my sight for that matter!

    • Doktor Jeep: Holmes worked at Colorado University’s Anschutz Center, on a program concerned with “prevent(ing) fatigue in combat troops through the enhanced use of epicatechina, a blood-flow increasing and blood vessel-dilating anti-oxidant flavonol found in cocoa and, particularly, in dark chocolate.” Candy company Mars was also involved in the study, not surprisingly.

      Holmes had also worked for the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA. The DARPA study was part of the Pentagon’s “Peak Soldier Performance Program” – which sounds right out of the X-Files.

      Holmes father also worked with DARPA to “develop cortronic neural networks” that allow machines to “simulate human thinking”.

      No ordinary nut case, for sure.

  10. Whatever the argument a mature and honest society can handle it.

    But this is not such a society.

    If a scope had the ability to geolocate itself and all that other fancy stuff (target recognition perhaps), a mature and honest society might see that a password lockout scope with additional safeguards would be a good idea.

    But we have a majority of ignoramuses who vote, led by “leaders” and a compliant media who seek every little nook and cranny out as any avenue towards total disarmament that they can lay their hands on. So even if they can’t get their “turn them on now or else” proclamation, making life difficult is still some means of satisfaction to them.

    So it’s correct to see the concept of a password protected scope, see an iPhone, and think “oh oh”.

    Then comes the day when you are desperately trying to wipe the blood and dirt off your palm because the sensors in your pistol grip won’t recognize your hand while somebody is trying to kill you.

    The latte-slurping effete brigade won’t care one bit about your demise and we’ll still have a system where a drunk can fall off a ladder and make millions from a lawsuit but failed smart gun tech will be gov subsidized and immune from litigation. It can happen as surely as felons and foreigners can’t vote nor have guns yet we only have background checks for guns. Certainly a pattern here.

    And so, because we have people constantly looking “for any and all” avenues of disarmament, restriction, and “making it harder”, we have to resist any and all changes to the technology in that direction and any laws they dream up.

    • I’ll have a biometric lock on my firearm when “they” force it into my cold, dead hand.

      That said, this is not the same thing as it neither disables the firearm nor reduces its efficacy in a defensive situation.

      And watch what you say about lattés; not everyone who likes a decent cup o’ strong Italian “giù” is one o’ “them,” and I’ll take both your arms with one.

      Narf.

  11. Firearms that require any sort of software are a fuc#ing stupid idea for many reasons. Consider the poor reliability of computer software, and the near-fatal spike in blood pressure that we have to endure when trying to speak to the Pakistani tech-support drones who understand neither the software or the English language.

    Add to that the very likelihood that the scope will record and upload your shot information just like a cell phone reporting your location, and then consider that the company will be able to remotely deactivate your scope and turn it into a fancy but useless spyglass.

    No firearm system should be tethered to its manufacturer, or to any active information network in any way. This has the potential to be even more intrusive to privacy than Chiappa’s ill-considered RFID fiasco a few years ago.

    This whole concept just went from being a fascinating leap forward in gun tech, to being a huge leap backward in liberty and privacy. Count me out. Forever.

  12. Anyone who can afford a $15,000 rifle to shoot someone with can afford a $15,000 hitman who can figure out his own trajectory and windage.

    • A $15K hitman might be able to put down the crack pipe long enough to beat the target to death. He will likely leave much evidence behind.

      Quality wet work (the kind that never comes back to you) runs through several intermediaries, starts in the 6 figure range.

      • Hmmm. Is this a part of the article, “How Much You Know about Hit Men Reveals Your True Personality”?

  13. In my opinion, the practical uses for this in the civilian arena is limited. Competition shooting… probably going to be restricted in many types of shooting, if not already. Perhaps the more operator focused comps might allow it, but I doubt it. Hunting… I would guess that once state hunting regulators see it become more prevalent in the field that it will soon be outlawed, as it takes much of the sport out of hunting. However, many have said the same thing about range finders and BC compensating range finders, and they are very common in the field now. Granted, the shooter still has to do his/her part…. proper breathing, trigger control, etc. Perhaps this will be allowed in varmint and predator hunting, but I see it being restricted for big game hunting.

  14. Chris Frandsen is a West Point grad, who earned a Purple Heart and Bronze Star in Vietnam…………” where we have soldiers who have PTSD,…………….. we have to restrict weapons that make them more efficient in terrorizing the population.”
    The guy is a war vet, many of whom have PTSD-Irony here? Question is-how would he feel if he wanted this, then was told that he being a war vet would be reason enough to forbid HIM from getting it?

  15. It’s probably marketing. “Our system is so super effective and double lethal that we have to password protect it!”

    Until I get to try it and am convinced otherwise, I remain a skeptic. I’m sure it can compute a trajectory given all inputs, but what novice can accurately estimate downrange wind conditions?

    Without accurate wind info, this is a 500 yard rifle…which is the same as any hunting rifle with a BDC reticle.

    SSRI-turned-super-sniper won’t be any more or less effective with this $15k rig than he would with a $600 package from Dick’s.

    • There’s ways to do wind that are state-of-the-shelf. It will likely be integrated into this piece before release.

  16. How is this password substantially different than requiring a breathalyzer for every motor vehicle. While you can be trusted to use your motor vehicle responsibly, someone, someday, at some time in the future, may take it from you who can’t be trusted. So while you are clearly blameless, it is you who will bear the lion’s share of the inconvenience.

  17. If I was a terrorist, why would I bother with a gun like that? I can build a few bombs much easier and and cheaper. And use them much more efficiently.

    As for password protected optics…. LOL! Yeah, that’ll work exactly for… uh… roughly 5 minutes.

  18. It depends on whether the password is mandatory or not, and how secure the password is required to be. If it is purely optional I don’t see it as a problem. Otherwise it would be a nuisance.

  19. Tech Support: Thanks for calling Trackpoint technical support, this Kenish Mahopaloopasaa-sa. How may I help you? Shooter: Uh, my rifle just blue screened and Im in the middle of taking a shot. Tech Support: Have you tried rebooting sir?

  20. Too expensive, would never buy it, don’t care.

    I’m willing to bet the people with enough grub to buy them are older folk and probably won’t like this feature at all.

  21. Bad guys are pretty notorious for being terrible shots. A password protection on this system is not a bad thing, nor is it really a great thing. This is not a self defense weapon system. The password would not inhibit operation of it or the enjoyment. Password protecting a system that would make a shitty shooter a brilliant shooter is totally fine by me. Cause if Johnny Taliban gets a hold of one, I would really rather he just hear a click when he pulls the trigger.

  22. Any gun enthusiast who is for firearms that include hardware/software that can monitor where, when, how and who fires every single shot from that weapon, are not gun enthusiasts at all. They are sheep.

    Who needs this type of firearm? People who can’t shoot who have too much money. Enjoy.

  23. anything connected to a computer can be hacked. that being said, if it’s illegal for Citizens to use, it should be illegal for the military and government to use.

  24. Yeah, restrict them to LE only. It’s not like a cop in California is going to go nuts and shoot people for a week before they catch up to him in a cabin.

  25. The owner of the company has a way to vet his clients? Not many of us have the $27K in our back pockets laying around to purchase such a fancy scope.

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