While not strictly military, one new small arms design unveiled at this week’s Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, has direct near term law enforcement and possible future defense applications.
The “Belt-Fed AR-15” prototype was unveiled by Texas-based Slide Fire, developers of a technology that allows shooters to ”bump fire” semi-automatic weapons accurately and safely – as rapidly as possible.
According to Joey Green, representative for Slide Fire, the new belt-fed design begins with a modified Slide Fire rifle developed in partnership with Colt.
“We use a Colt platform – an LE6920 – that’s been enhanced with our Slide Fire stock, our Slide Fire hand guards, our trigger pack – with 3 ½-pound trigger and short reset, and our Slide Fire belt-fed system,” he explained.
The belt-fed design will reportedly work with both military (including M249 Squad Automatic Weapon – SAW)) and civilian-designed links.
“Any link will work in here,” Green said.
“The great thing about this is that you can start firing it semi-automatic with our belt-fed system,” he added. “Or, if you run out of linked ammunition and you want to utilize a standard AR-15 magazine, you can pop your rear takedown pin; separate your upper from your lower; push in your magazine release; slide out the entire belt feeding unit; put your upper and lower back together; reattach your takedown pin; throw a conventional AR-15 magazine in it, and you’re ready to go.”
Green characterized the belt-fed option as “a new design,” noting, “We’ve got about five of them right now. It will be in production this year. We’re shooting for somewhere between May and summer – but by summer we should have some.”
Asked about potential user interest being generated by the SHOT Show unveiling, Green pointed to significant early law enforcement interest.
“The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office from California was in here,” he observed. “And the Hayward Police Department was in here today. They are looking at possibly utilizing this for their special tactics units. And Stanislaus County is looking at mounting one of these in a helicopter. They’ve got to find a solution for ‘a problem’ and they believe that Slide Fire is it.”
Earlier in the week, other company representatives also acknowledged what they felt to be the military utility of the concept, pointing to the design’s ability to utilize linked M249 ammunition belts on a significantly lighter patrol weapon than the current M249 SAW. Whether or not the concept could be further evolved onto a traditional military weapon platform remains to be seen.