LAS VEGAS—CES is packed with plenty of offbeat gadgets, but the Precision Guided Firearm that TrackingPoint brought to the show this year is the first lethal weapon I’ve ever seen at a tradeshow. Of course, the PGF isn’t just a rifle; it’s a system of devices designed to work together to make hunting safer and more enjoyable through technology.
A processor inside the rifle collects environmental data like temperature, barometric pressure, distance to target, the orientation of the barrel and even the Earth’s magnetic fields from sensors built into the networked digital tracking scope on top of the rifle. The user can then choose to input more data like wind direction and speed, then use the digital tracking display inside the scope to find a target and “lock on” by pressing a big red button. The scope will then display a big red dot that automatically compensates for environmental variables like wind, distance and intervening objects to show the user where they need to point the rifle in order to hit their intended target. It will even track the target if it moves by employing digital image processing techniques to determine what object the user is trying to target (elk, deer, a paper cutout, etc.) and updating the targeting reticle as the object moves relative to the rifle.
During our demonstration (which took place in a crowded Las Vegas convention center and thus did not involve any live ammunition) the PGF would not fire until the user held down the trigger to arm the system; at that point the rifle itself will fire automatically once it was lined up precisely with the tracking system. You can turn this feature off so the PGF works just like a normal “dumb” rifle, but hopefully this sort of computer-aided tracking cuts down on human error and helps make users more successful (and safer) hunters.
Like pretty much every gadget we’ve seen at CES, there’s also a goofy social networking system built into the PGF. The rifle has a wireless server that streams images and video from the networked tracking scope (which has a 110m telephoto lens and a 14-megapixel image sensor) to mobile devices that connect to the rifle’s wireless network. Since the rifle is streaming the same digital video that’s being displayed inside the digital scope, this basically allows anyone nearby to connect their mobile device to the PGF and watch the action from the hunter’s perspective. You can also capture images and video from this stream at any time, so you could conceivably keep visual records of successful hunts on your smartphone and share them with friends and family on your social networks once you got back to civilization (or at least a place with decent cell reception.)
The PGF is a self-contained system that won’t work with any other hunting equipment, so you need to buy the whole package if you’re interested in trying out the cutting edge of hunting tech. TrackingPoint will be selling the system for roughly $20,000 starting next week, and for that price you’ll get a custom MOA Surgeon bolt-action rifle with a networked digital scope and guided trigger, 200 rounds of custom XactShot ammunition and a complementary iPad Mini so friends, family and trusted hunting partners can see what a great (or not so great) shot you are.