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The Gyrojet (A Failure in US Weapons Engineering)

DRC21USAF

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blog-0903946001379823837.jpgTry to picture this: We've began a war in Vietnam, and our top Weapons experts and engineers are working around the clock to create faster, stronger, more lightweight weapons that worked efficiently at accomplishing it's task. In the midst of this, the Gyrojet, a pistol named for its method of gyroscopically stabilizing it's projectiles, as opposed to the standard method of aerodynamics guns and pistols use to stabilize the bullet. This weapon was specifically unique because, instead of inert bullets, the Gyrojet fired 13mm rockets or explosive rounds, called Microjets.

The velocity of the projectiles leaving the weapon were very low; however, the rocket could reach maximum speeds of up to 1,250 feet per second (380 m/s). The idea of such a powerful weapon intrigued experts at first, but there were a number of flaws with this design.

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Because the projectile began trajectory at an extremely low velocity, accuracy proved to be very poor, having a group measuring on the target board of 12", at only a distance of 26 yards from the target board. Originally the rounds had a pointer design (Bottom), but were redesigned with the wadcutter design (Top) in an attempt to decrease spiraling. This did little, however, in resolving the problem; because these rounds were designed differently, they were made with exhaust openings in the back of the cartridge to decrease the recoil on the pistol. Due to the poor manufacturing of the rounds, the exhausts were inaccurately measured, causing the bullets to lose their accuracy. The manufacturers attempted to solve this problem by sealing one of the exhausts, but this caused the bullet to whirl upon exiting the weapon. Even as the figures were projected to be poor, users of the weapon found even worse statistics, accuracy and efficiency.

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While the Gyrojet was clearly a failure on several levels, the idea of gyroscopically stabilizing rounds seems effective if it is implemented correctly. Has there ever been a new attempt at this technology, or was the concept abandoned altogether?

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Given the technology of the time and the lack of funding, attempts at re-adapting or recreating this model were abandoned; I wouldn't be surprised, however, if a new idea presented came out to be a success, because we most certainly have the know-how to make one of these work more efficiently.

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