Lowa Zephyr Mk2 GTX

The Black Box from FN Herstal

Much ado has been made about the new Black Box technology from FNH, especially after information has come to light over the Army’s proposed wish list for the next generation carbine which includes a “round counter”.

Marketed on the FNH website under the heading “Armatronics”, the Black Box is designed to:

detect/discriminate/count shots
measure burst rates and burst lengths
record firing sequences
detect stoppages due to failures to cycle

The intent of the system is to aid the armorer in anticipating “necessary maintenance actions and consult all previous maintenance operations when and as required.”

FN's Black Box

I realize that the technology can be packaged in a variety of ways but the issue finger groove pistol grip is my least favorite. Of course, I guess it’s one way to make sure no one swaps out their issue pistol grip when they get downrange.

So all of the hoopla over this Euro technology is all great, but it isn’t really new. The Weapon Shot Counter from Advanced Design Consulting USA, Inc has been around for years and has seen limited testing by the US military. In fact, this is where the concept comes from and baseline data from limited use of the WSC was used to help craft this latest Army requirement.

So is the technology necessary? It would certainly assist an Army that is working their small arms hard. There is currently no program in place to record use of an M16/M4 to the same level as that of a M24 SWS or similar precision weapon. The Army looks at those weapons having components with finite lives and requiring regularly scheduled third shop maintenance yet currently, there is no system in place to provide the same level of care for the weapons that carry the bulk of the war load.

Sal Palma contributed to this report


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