Precision Guided Firearms – GURPSing the Tracking Point

What you are looking at here is a .338 Lapua Magnum custom built XS-1 Precision Guided 338 LM, put together by Tracking Point.

For the low-low Price of $27,500, you can take this bad boy home.

For the low-low price of reading this blog, you can learn how to do it in GURPS.

Tag your target

Ironically, the first thing one is going to need to do is to make a Guns skill roll – though perhaps Beam Weapons should be allowed at no penalty – because you have to tell the scope where to shoot. This seems to be done by a laser, perhaps. But the process will give you an exact range to target, as well as the target’s velocity. The targeting computer will then give you a dot to aim at, somewhere on the scope.

The specs of the system state that the designator is good for 0.047 Minutes of Angle. Goodness gracious – that’s 4.7″ at 10,000 yards, more or less. A skull shot at more than five miles.

More importantly, it’s about Acc 9.5, using my MoA to Acc conversion guideline.

So you’re looking at +9 for the inherent accuracy and spread of the beam, and (depending on the model) about +4 (scope bonus for 16x-31x) or even +5 (the .338 LM rifles have a scope that goes up to +5). Furthermore the thing can cancel out penalties for constant movement (no jinking or even run/walk) of up to Move 10-12.

Designating the target would be a Guns roll following an Aim action. If you hit, your target has a “shoot here” dot on it. If not, I’d rule you’re off target by a distance that you’d read off the speed/range table somehow if you’re (say) targeting the vitals, you might still wind up on the target somewhere. Or just treat it as a miss (easier).

The charts say that a shooter typically achieves lock-on in about a second. If you take a shooter with Guns Sport (Rifle)-12 after an Aim and with the scope set to +4, you’re looking at a chance to hit (14 or less) a head (-5) at 1,000 yards (-16) requiring an effective skill of 35. Mechanically, the Acc and scope account for 13 of that. Braced and All-Out Attack give you another 2. A not-great-but-decent shooter as above gives 12 . . . total of 27, meaning we’re about 8 short.

But hey, no one’s shooting at us. So all the non-combat bonuses apply. We’re probably at an outdoor range for the demos, so let’s say +7 minimum. So we’re almost there, achieving (in one second) a “lock-on” to a head-sized target at 1,000 yards about 83% of the time. That means after two seconds you’re about up to 97%. A better sports shooter could do this even more reliably, which probably underpins the “one second to lock on” numbers.

I bet it also gets easier with practice; ask any First-Person Shooter player.

In combat, the rangefinder bonus stays (+3), but the rest drop away. Still, if you say that paying tens of thousands of dollars for the setup gives you full Acc+Scope+Rangefinding bonuses in one Aim action, that’s +16 right there. So at 1,000 yards, you’re rolling full skill less location penalties to designate, even without AoA/Braced. Not too shabby.

Now, it’s possible that the “one second” lock time is after target designation. You don’t actually know the range until you tag the target, but the other non-combat bonuses for relaxation (+3) still apply, along with the +1 for a nice outdoor range. So that’s Shooter skill (12) + AoA/Brace (+2) + Acc (+9) + Non-combat modifiers (+4) for 28 skill. At 16 for range, and 5 for head, that’s only 7 or less. Still, that’s a 15% chance, which means you’re looking at about six seconds to achieve the designation you want. But wait . . . then you get the additional bonuses for two more seconds of aim (+2) and the scope (+4), whcih pushes you to 13 or less by the time two more seconds go by. 

So what that means is that it might take a second to aim, then less than six seconds to designate. Then once you hit the button, one second of calculation goes by while it does it’s thing. Then you’re ready to shoot.

Looking at the videos, they mostly show the aiming dot already on the target, so I’m going to presume that it does, in fact, take a few seconds to get this done. 

Permission to Fire


Then comes the interesting part. Having designated the target, you guide your reticle onto the aim point until the computer decides you’re properly aligned. Pulling the trigger basically gives the gun permission to fire when it’s darn good and ready.

When it does shoot, you’re basically getting something very close to the perfect mechanical accuracy of the firearm. That’s given by the bench-rest accuracy of the weapon, or close to it. That’s given by about 22+2xAcc of the weapon (not the scope). For a weapon this good, you’re probably dealing with Acc 6 or even Acc 7, meaning that you’re shooting with an effective skill of 34-36 or so . . . when you shoot. Again, at a head at 1000 yards, that’s -16 and -5, for 13- to hit. 80-99%. 

Which you can’t necessarily do right away. You’re trying to put the crosshair on the dot. Which seems to take a few seconds. If it takes 2 seconds, you probably have a net skill of 10 to do this, 4 seconds is 8. 

Sounds like a Guns roll at -4 to me should do it. Succeed in that, and the gun fires, as above. Fail  . . . and nothing happens. I’m not sure what would happen if your target left your scope field of view. If you’d lose lock, that would make an excellent result for a crit.

Parting Shot

A weapon with all this cool tech on it can run you $30,000, which means that what we’re looking at is an outstanding example of TL9 targeting systems. That means that when/if it simply became “the way weapons are built,” you’d expect the weapons system to run you around $3,000.

What does Ultra-Tech have to say about that? Well, let’s see . . . the firearms in UT frankly stink. The best you can do is an Acc 4 7mm hunting rifle. 

Forget that. 

Let’s grab a CheyTac M200 for stats. It’s more than $10,000 and Acc 6 without the scope. That leaves us something like $15,000 for the targeting scope and program.

Back to UT for some gadgets. The Compact Targeting Scope is $1,000 at TL9. If you apply a 10x multiplier for being TL9 gear at TL8, you’re looking at $10,000 for the optic, and another $10,000 for the rifle, for about $20K, which is in the ballpark.

This just shows that UT was conservative. This scope system allows you to recover the full mechanical accuracy of your firearm assuming that you’re capable of a good target lock and can put the reticle on target. That second part seems like it’s harder than you might think, but if you can achieve that melding of dot and crosshair for even an instant, you’re going to hit unless your prey does something that alters the truth of the ballistic prediction. It going to have to be big, though – the scope is stabilized, and seems to adjust the aiming dot dynamically too.

If this reads like a giant wet kiss to TrackingPoint, well, maybe. I don’t own one, nor do I expect I ever will unless I win the lottery. I’d surely love to, though, and I’d relish the chance to put one through it’s paces.

I have to think that the Army, especially the SFOD-D guys, the USMC, and SEALs would simply love this system. More scary, though, it’s clear that given the WiFi capabilities of the system that a The Jackal remote-mounted sniper platform of ridiculous accuracy is more than possible . . . it’s here.

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