Caseless ammunition demo action

The US Army (as well as other armed forces) has experimented with a bunch of interesting arms design ideas, and one that keeps coming back to the surface is the use of caseless ammunition. The basic idea is to form gunpowder into a solid block and embed a primer and projectile into it. This offers several theoretical advantages over standard cartridges:

  • Lighter weight ammunition
  • No chance of ejection-related malfunctions
  • Fewer operations in the firing cycle, allowing a higher cyclic rate

It also has a couple theoretical problems:

  • More heat retained in the action (instead of being ejected in the form of hot brass)
  • Potentially fragile ammunition
  • Greater likelihood of cookoffs
  • New mechanism needed to seal the breech (with standard ammo, the brass case expands on firing to provide a gas seal between the powder and bolt)

Despite numerous experiments, most notably the Heckler & Koch G11, the advantages have never been able to outweigh the disadvantages. But that doesn’t stop the idea from being pretty intriguing. We had the opportunity to take a look at a demonstration mockup of a caseless ammo rifle made by the Hughes company. Hughes is best known as an aircraft manufacturer, but also did a lot of weapons work, including designs like the Heligun (lots of aircraft-to-guns spillover used to happen – like Fairchild and the AR15). Anyway, this caseless demonstrator is pretty neat, so we put together a video for you: