Last year, we reported on the Army’s effort to develop a non-pyrotechnic tracer round which would provide “One-Way Luminescence” (OWL) revealing the shotline to the shooter only, and not in a 360 degree arc around the gun. The benefits of this kind of tracer go beyond low visibility, however. A non-pyrotechnic tracer would be low profile, able to be stuck to the back of the standard ball bullet, improving the effectiveness of the tracer rounds that actually hit the target. It would be cheaper, and would wear out the weapon’s barrel less quickly. Finally, the trajectory of OWL non-pyrotechnic tracers would more closely match that of the standard ball ammunition, improving hit probability, and could potentially allow every round fired to be a tracer.
At the recent NDIA Small Arms Forum, three presentations related to the new tracer effort were given, one detailing the possible mechanisms for non-pyrotechnic tracers, one covering simulations of the tracer’s performance in different conditions, and one on a propellant analysis done to aid the program.
One-way non-pyrotechnic tracers are a part of the current effort to improve small arms in a time of shrinking budgets. If the technology is perfected, US and allied soldiers could gain a major advantage in hit probability and stealth over adversaries using pyrotechnic tracer technology.