A Rant About the Failure of Tracking Point

What started out as a brilliant idea was seemingly handled by people who were uneducated on the subject matter and ultimately led to the demise of the first iteration of the company. It’s hard to think of a step taken or decision made or feature enabled that was done without harm to the company or the product or the goal. The real shame was that there was a product in there that could have been made great. TP decided to make a product whose superficial flaws almost completely obscured the fundamental flaws. Probably the single biggest flaw was forgetting their target market.

The pricing basically made this into unobtanium and moved it out of what might be considered for military procurement. The Pentagon telling them it’s ITAR classified doesn’t mean it’s worth a damn. In fact that ITAR restriction means TP can’t sell it to friendly nations without a big hassle. No regular joe is going to save up 9 grand for a base model TP rifle and since the scope is integral to the rifle the cost can’t be spread out at all. What we’ve got is a really really expensive scope and a terrible idea (electronically actuated trigger) bonded in such a way that it makes little sense. If TP didn’t get in the way of the fire control system and try to make a guided electronic gun then it might not have been ITAR’d.

Custom Ammo:
For the system to work the computer has to know the ammo performance and ballistics to a high degree of precision. This means you have to buy your ammo from TP or very precisely duplicate its performance. They don’t advertise the ability to update your ballistics inputs which means that this gun can not be reasonably fed from a shelf either. Enough bad things can’t be said about this. You can’t use your own custom ammo, or military ball ammo or whatever you have access to even if you have access to thorough, accurate and complete ballistics data for them. Just can’t.

Custom Gun:
What caused them to decide that they needed to interfere with the trigger is obvious. They were hung up on the idea of the gun improving the skill of crappy shooters artificially. The only justification for a 9,000 dollar rifle that’s no good in battle is to sell it to dolts with more dollars than sense who want the one-pill solution to all of the problems they encounter. These are the customers you don’t want. They’re not going to respect the weapon, they’re just going to use it. They advertised it as a military level solution to all problems a bullet could solve then implemented it in a way only good for dilettantes, fart-abouts and eccentric layabouts.

No wind handling:
This is a critical and fundamental flaw. The system cannot tell how fast the wind is moving or in what direction and worse it depends on a manual input. Winds change. The reason most serious shooters of long range targets hold off manually for wind because it changes so suddenly. TP offers half MPH increments to the wind inputs as well which is overly granular. Even the best readers of wind in the world can’t be that precise. Most of us like to use the 0-5, 5-10, 10-15, 15-20, 20+ rule and unless we’re in a competition environment that’s all that’s really going to be necessary. Even in competition because sighter shots are normally granted for long range matches the issue is doubly meaningless and useless to include. Again this is a case of catering to crappy shooters but not delivering a product that caters well to their actual needs so much as their personal fantasies of what their needs will be.

Fire control system interference
I can’t imagine the legal jeopardy that their EULA absolves them of. Design a lethal product and then make it make the decision to pull the trigger as long as the user doesn’t veto it by moving too far off the target or releasing the trigger before the gun fires. So what’s the first malfunction going to buy the user? A day in court? What about TP’s liability. Only a test case will decide. Additionally, good/proper trigger control is being deleted from this weapon system as a requirement for it to perform. The user then picks up another non-TP rifle and finds that they’re completely incompetent or even dangerous because they’ve trained themselves to a modified procedure. Well, we’ve now just made a weapon system that requires not just its own training and familiarization but those are going to be different than any other rifle that looks similar.

Fire control battery
The gun will fire with a dead battery. I’m not sure this is a good idea. The whole idea behind it is the guided trigger. As much a fan as I am of manual overrides one has to wonder what edge cases are going to be found.

Radiation emissions
The scope emits infrared radiation for the rangefinder to work. Prematurely broadcasting radiation across the battlefield is a bad idea. Plain ol’ optical scopes are really better suited to the kind of mission that TP rifles would be great for if it wasn’t designed with that capability almost specifically excluded: Use by skilled operators for hard target interdiction. You know what those operators use? Conventional optical scopes and conventional manually operated or semi-auto rifles without gizmos. If that won’t do the trick they call in an airstrike.

Weight and Size
The scope is huge and does not at all help the lines or balance and it increases the visibility profile of anyone using it. The red and blue lenses are beacons to any countersniper seeking to stop the user from successfully engaging their target.

Range limitation
Range is limited by the LRF inside the scope. The LRF’s don’t closely approach the range of these weapon systems and cannot lock on targets farther than the LRF is useful for against non-reflective targets.

If TP wanted to make this device really catch on they should have designed something more like a mix between a Timney trigger, a DBAL, a 1-mile capable laser rangefinder, a kestrel and a ballistic computer using something like Applied Ballistics software. That could be easily packaged into a rifle which was meant to have all that stuff packaged into it instead of retro-fitting already well engineered rifles like AR-10 and AR-15 and Remington 700 style rifles with what really is a bolt-on accessory.

You don’t make an integrated weapon system by bolting bits of other shit onto existing designs. That’s not what integration means or how it’s spelled.

Tracking Point took a great concept and ruined it with an abysmal implementation.

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