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Gun porn courtesy of Tracking Point

A couple months ago TrackingPoint was apparently circling the drain. The guns were selling and things looked rosy, but some remarkable downsizing within the company gave the impression that they were looking to shed some dead weight in order to maintain their profit margins. It looked like TrackingPoint may have reached market saturation with the civilian population and the military and law enforcement agencies hadn’t fully bought in just yet. After a couple months without taking orders it looks like TrackingPoint is getting back on its feet and re-launching once more . . .

From the press release:

TrackingPoint announced today the successful completion of a financial and operational restructuring.  The company is accepting new orders while fulfilling its backlog of existing orders.  In the spring of 2015, TrackingPoint temporarily suspended production and deliveries in order to put the company back on a strong financial footing.  TrackingPoint previously announced 2014 year-on-year unit growth of 281%, and its management indicated that the rapid growth subsequently outstripped the company’s ability to manage its operations.

TrackingPoint’s founding team of John Lupher and John McHale has returned to manage the company going forward.  John Lupherreassumes his founding role as Vice President of Engineering, while John McHale, formerly Chairman, returns to his original role as CEO.  “We were successful early on, so John Lupher and I decided to go back to our roots and take TrackingPoint to the next level,” said McHale.  Frank Bruno, Chief Operation Officer, and Richard Wierzbicki, Chief Financial Officer, bolster the team to ensure the company operates efficiently going forward.

The company has a five person board of directors that includes Eric Olson, the first Navy Seal to rise to the rank of four-star Admiral.  Olson, a Navy Seal for 38 years and retired former Commander of the US Special Operations Forces, helps lead TrackingPoint’s defense strategy and initiatives.  “I’m glad to see TrackingPoint moving forward with renewed focus on law enforcement and the military.  This is innovation at its best, with a real and meaningful purpose for security forces and war fighters,” said Olson.

“This is a new beginning for TrackingPoint,” said McHale.  “We will focus intently on the consumer, continue to innovate, and operate in a way that ensures long term success.”  The company’s investors include the Friedkin Group, Goff Capital Partners, and McHale Labs.

The astute reader will notice no mention of a new business plan or any semblance of an idea of what they’re going to do differently this time. I had a chat with returning CEO John McHale this afternoon and he confirmed that, as suspected, “meet the new business plan, same as the old business plan.” The focus will still be on presenting their line of commercial products for sale while working with military and law enforcement partners to meet their needs. The restructuring the company went through was mainly based on back office issues dealing with the 200%+ growth they had experienced and not any cash flow issues after all, so a change isn’t really warranted in their eyes.

In terms of the commercial side there is a little bit of a change. Where previously TrackingPoint had simply manufactured the rifle and shipped it to the customer, the new focus will be on creating more of an experience around the product. McHale talked about bringing new owners down to Texas for a walk-through of the technology and a familiarization course, among other projects. If they can create a community around these firearms, there might be more of an appetite for subsequent sales from that pool of clients. That could provide a revenue stream that would otherwise be difficult to maintain as they reach market saturation among those capable of purchasing their rifles.

There might be some changes on the horizon, though. “We’ll never be in Walmart” John says, but he also mentioned that there would be a down-market line extension some time late next year to finally put a TrackingPoint rifle within the price range of a larger audience. He mentioned that they’ve been inching lower on the MSRP with their line of AR-15 rifles ($8k instead of $13k to $27k for the bolt action rifle systems), and while they’ll never be as inexpensive as a Wally-World Bushmaster there’s hope that eventually that number will be below the “used car” price point point.

In terms of the market for their firearms, John isn’t concerned. He noted that TrackingPoint had grown significantly year over year, and hasn’t seen any indication that the market for their guns isn’t going to dry up any time soon. The business was profitable last year and continues to be profitable, and they expect to chug through the backlog of orders and expect to have the existing orders shipped out in the next 60 days or so.

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  1. So what is the “used car” point? I’ve bought used cars for under $500. Some used cars go for more than 30 grand??

    • The six people that want them and can afford them have them. The rest of us dont have enough kidneys to sell.

      • That’s why you outsource to selling other peoples kidneys. In addition, its not about the kidneys, its about the experience and lifestyle. You aren’t selling kidneys, you are selling a life without dialysis machines, jet setting across the country with other high class dual kidneyed people.

  2. Without a government contract, TrackingPoint is just another small-market company able to make a reasonable living for its owners if they are prudent in their management. With a government contract, the owners might be able to make enough money to retire comfortably once the government deal runs its course and the cash runs out.

    It’s a nice product. Not one that would interest me at any price, but that’s just me.

  3. Mmmmmm. If you need that much help to hit a moving target at 1000 yards, you need another hobby. Preferably cheaper.
    Spend more long range time with the rifle you have.

    • How good is it at tracking. I understand 1k shots at a man size target are no big deal for long range shooters. A moving target esp multiple engagements at that distance might be harder.

  4. Hopefully they will focus on more of what these scopes offer all the people that poo poo TP.
    It would be nice to see a stand alone scope, instead of having to buy a rifle along with it. That will dramatically reduce the price point to compete with the Burris price range.
    It’s easily a $1,500 scope. Worth every cent to a handloader that likes precision loads.
    I dail mine down to .1 MOA to test my handloads for group size, then confirm with an identical .308 except with glass.
    The real world data it gives me is outstanding.

    Maybe they will start updating the software again and let the user add handload info or plug in a wind guage to the USB port on the scope 🙂

    • If you are shooting 1000 yards (or even 600, say), plugging in a wind gage at the rifle is pretty meaningless. The bullet is moving the fastest that so it is least susceptible to THAT wind, and the wind won’t be the same the whole flight.

      Gonna be real hard to let technology solve the windage problem…

      • I’ve actually talked to them about how they plan to solve that.
        I suggested maybe some sort of laser partial detector that measured direction and speed of particles moving thy the laser.
        They said they didn’t have prototypes yet, but had drawing board versions of something similar.

        But who knows really..

        I know If I was DARPA, Id much rather be investing in tracking point optics than that curving EXACTO round that no rifle can shoot…

        • That would have to be some laser set-up to detect particles that precisely at 500 yards….and distinguish them from the particles at 200 yards and those at 900 yards..etc. Particles don’t reflect much light.

          How is it going to distinguish between a short gust and a longer one? Long range shooters look at wind patterns to develop a “feel” for what the wind is doing, not just “measure” a single windspeed and shoot. The windspeed and direction is not static … shooters and sailors know this.

          Wind doping is as much “art” as it is “science.” I maintain that it is going to be mighty difficult to solve that problem technologically.

          2013 Aggregate Record for 1000 yard Benchrest (James O’Hara) included a 1000 yard group of less than 3 inches. If you read his accounts of his BR shooting, there is a LOT of “intuition” involved…especially concerning when/how to read the wind and timing his shots.

          Actually, ditto that last comment for Hathcock’s account of winning the Wimbledon at 1000 yards. Basically, his “gut” told him the wind was going to drop (ie, “change”) and he waited for it. It did, and he won. He almost didn’t get his shot in time, though…

          You could probably “ditto” that for anyone shooting Wimbledon, Palma, F-Class or Benchrest.

          Lasers and computers don’t have instincts.

        • JR in NC: It sounds science-fiction, but its science fact. My family (father, brother, and myself) work or worked for NOAA’s Hurricane Hunter aircraft (we fly through hurricanes for weather research). In addition to our standard complement of instruments and drop sondes, most seasons the planes are equipped with other specialty equipment, sometimes experimental/development/proof-of-concept stuff from various universities or research groups. For many years we have hosted a device that does exactly what you are talking about. It is a Step Frequency Microwave Radiometer (SFMR, or affectionately “Smurf”) which measures size and velocity of the water droplets being blown off the wave crests by surface winds, and from this information can very accurately calculate surface wind speeds. Granted, this is a fairly large very expensive piece of equipment, but its doing all this while travelling at a few hundred miles an hour, from a few thousand feet in the air, in the middle of a hurricane. I’m assuming a simpler version with much less rigorous demands would come down a lot in size/price. So while I’m pretty sure there’s nothing currently on the market to estimate wind speed at range for firearms applications, it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility.

        • I’m well aware of stepped frequency microwave…AND familiar with it’s intrinsic inaccuracies at the lower end of the windspeed range for hurricanes. Those instruments consistently overestimate surface level winds for TS’s and Cat 1 (up into Cat 2) storms when compared to surface anemometer readings.

          “They” are continually monkeying with the data massaging calculations to get the surface level winds from the MW data itself. It’s a non-trivial calculation based on a model that is not completely understood. In other words, while useful at this stage, it’s still technically “research.”

          And, here’s the thing: If the storm windspeeds are off 1 mph, no big deal. Or, even 5 mph.

          Try that with shooting at 1000 yards. Do the cross wind calculation on a 1000 yard shot for 15 vs 14 mph.

          For simplicity, let’s assume the wind is constant in time, direction (90 degrees) and constant over the 1000 yards. Take a sample, hypothetical shot: 168 gr bullet with BC of 0.500 launched at 2800 fps. The wind drift difference for 15 vs 14 mph, a mere 1 mph ‘error,’ is about 8 inches.

          That’s 8 inches off aim point for an IDEALIZED, best case calculation. Now, add the complications of the real world in terms of gusts, and differences along the path and direction changes, etc, things get much worse in a hurry.

          Further, the MW data does not have to simultaneously give accurate windspeeds at all points in the wind column for the storm measurements. The dropsonde data provides that.

          Finally, it is a FAR cry reading MW of water particles blown from the bulk liquid (which the MW reads) than reading other particulate matter in the air. Water has a high MW absorption cross section and you won’t likely have that (or at least reliably so) just shooting a ‘laser’ down toward your target on a dusty firing range.

          And…how field portable is the stepped frequency apparatus?

          So, my conclusion is comparing the tech you are describing to what would be useful for this application is apples to banana peels. Just not the same thing at all.

        • Jesus tapdancing christ, youre a fucking moron, aren’t ya? I’ll re-type it here for ya, since you missed it the first time through:

          “Granted, this is a fairly large very expensive piece of equipment, but its doing all this while travelling at a few hundred miles an hour, from a few thousand feet in the air, in the middle of a hurricane. I’m assuming a simpler version with much less rigorous demands would come down a lot in size/price. So while I’m pretty sure there’s nothing currently on the market to estimate wind speed at range for firearms applications, it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility.”

          And in case you DID read it, and just can’t parse that SUPER complicated statement to get any meaning, I’ll try and dumb it down some more: I am not saying that the SMFR units we’ve been flying on our planes since the mid80-s are ready to be strapped on a rifle and used for wind speed estimation. They are very big. They are very expensive. They would not work on a rifle. But the technology to do similar things with similar techniques (use laser/radar to measure wind speed based on particle velocity from a distance) already does exist in some form, and its not unreasonable to think that it (or something similar to or based on it) could, with time and money, be developed into something that was small and cheap enough to fot on a rifle to be used for windspeed estimation at range based on particle velocity. To you use apples example, I was not comparing apples to banana peels, I was saying we already have apple saplings, so its not too crazy to think that at some point we might have apple pies.

          Also, good job on googling SFMR. You regurgitated the (dated) talking points available on the front page google results very well. If I didn’t ACTUALLY know what I was talking about, I’d probably think you did too. Anytime you want to correct me on information about the job i do on a daily basis, I’d appreciate it. Apparently a lot of what i know is wrong.

        • Wow. I’m a moron because I stated my reasons for rejecting the current MW tech as being relevant to shooting a rifle at long range…regardless of what you said in YOUR comment.

          Also…nice try on the Googling insult. I did not “Google” the MW tech. I’ve read those research papers a while ago. As I said, I’m FAMILIAR with the tech and its application….and it’s limitations.

          Why don’t you spend less mental energy on trying to be insulting? You opened with a condescending “Oh, but JR it’s not science fiction” like no one but you has ever heard of using light to make physical measurements.

          Look, here’s the pointed question, and the only debate I’m interested in having: do you or do you not think the wind doping problem in long range shooting is readily solvable by technology? By “readily solvable,” let’s put some parameters on it: within 3-5 years, field portable, accurate enough to be useful and affordable to the general public.

          I do not.

          No matter what tech is used to guess surface level winds from Hurricane Hunter flight level instrumentation, I do not think TrackingPoint will have a servicable and marketable product for this problem any time soon….meaning, I think they will continue to be a rich man’s toy trinket and may well not last as a company long enough to actually develop the tech.

          If I’m wrong about that, who cares. I sure don’t. That’s just my technical….and professional scientist assessment of the situation at this time.

          (Notice how I replied to you without insults and name-calling?)

  5. As long as they don’t allow users to enter custom load data, keep everything super closed source, and remain priced above $2k I don’t see many people buying these.

    Then when you add the fact that some models only adjust out to 500 yards it rapidly becomes a solution looking for a problem type product.

    I think its a cool product but the limitations put on it by the company reduce its actual use.

    Allow Custom loads, zeroing, and remove the restrictions on distances, while making the product less expensive will open it up to a broader range of customers which should in turn help their company succeed.

    • All good points. They’d be far better off populating the market at nearly any cost than remaining an interesting niche product.

      Plus, they’d get the benefit of free R&D.

    • “A peep sight for those who have no skill. A rich man’s tool to hit long range.”
      -Grandpa McLuddite, on the topic of rifle scopes

      “A Buckhorn sight for those who have no skill. A rich man’s tool to hit long range.”
      -Great Grandpa McLuddite, on the topic of peep sights

      “A musket for those who have no skill. A rich man’s tool to hit long range.”
      -Great Great Grandpa McLuddite, on the topic of rifled barrels

      “A bow and arrow for those who have no skill. A rich man’s tool to hit long range.”
      -Great Great Great Grandpa McLuddite, on the topic of firearms.

      Well, you get the point.

      • If Grandpa McLuddite can out shoot you using Mcluddite technology who is the Luddite? Just because something is new does not make it better. I will trust what is tried and true UNTIL it proves itself. This company hasn’t even proven that it can get off the ground. Finally if the SHTF their are many of us that don’t want to rely on battery power to make a shot. To each their own but this tool does not teach skills, it tries to let fat rich men who can’t shoot feel like Carlos Hathkock.

    • Progress happens. Using outdated gear and techniques does not make you morally superior, it just makes you a Luddite (one who resists change out of fear).

      That said, this technology is a LONG way from being practical, but the principle still holds.

      • Just for completeness, though, using technology as a replacement for skill doesn’t make you superior, either.

        Just like being against pointless technology or being overly reliant on technology does not make you a Luddite.

        For example, I can navigate on the open ocean or in the woods without a GPS. I can choose to use a GPS for convenience.

        The problem this sort of “tech” creates is that it has the potential to replace true marksmanship skills in a way that iron sights and regular telescopic sights don’t. There is still skill of the shooter at play.

        This kind of tech smacks of removing the shooter from the “shooting system” completely. Which is fine, I guess, if the ONLY goal is to put a projectile into the target. But, we are beginning to see the (non-positive) changes to society/culture when skills are lost wholesale.

        In short, loss of human skills equates with increased dependency. In the case of this tech, putting the projectile into the target is not something the individual has direct control over. It’s dependent the tech design, the tech operating properly and a number of other things.

        It’s a form of “outsourcing” …. the outsourcing of skill.

        It’s little different than Smart Guns. There are many individuals that believe Smart Gun technology is not a good idea for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with opposition of the technology’s existence itself.

        And again…once again…it all boils down to “control.” Who has control over when your firearm is used (in the case of Smart Gun tech) or it’s precision/accuracy (in the case of TrackingPoint tech)? Remove that “control” from the shooter him/herself, and one could well make the argument you are simultaneously limiting individual liberty.

  6. I just don’t see the point/need/use. No matter the price, it serves no useful purpose… As others have noted, its far too limited and strangled by the company trying to control it to the point that much of it’s potential is lost. We already-have the dumbed-down tech version of this; iron sights, conventional scopes. iPhone would have failed for the same reason if an alternative had already existed. It’s just a dumbed-down computer in your pocket. But the dumbed-down version of this product already exists… So, dumbing it down only makes it useless.

  7. It’s cool technology, but their closed system model stinks. A cheap ballistic calculator on a smartphone can calculate bullet drop and drift once you feed it some basic data about your load. There is no reason that TP couldn’t open up their system and allow the user to supply data on their own rifle and ammunition. If they want to produce a “down market” product, they should produce a ballistic compensating optic that works with any rifle and load. All the user has to do is provide the load data. If they could make it price competitive with premium optics ($2000 to $3000), they could probably sell quite a few.

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