Background: You may remember NATO’s “Powered Rail Team”, consisting of 10 nations with the common goal of bringing forward a STANAG (NATO standardization document) for a Powered Accessory Rail for small firearms? Think a Picatinny rail, but with power inside for your lamp, laser, sights etc.
Many of our wanted accessories contain batteries of different types, accounting for up to 50% of the mass and volume of the item, Most are also mounted around the hand guard, affecting then handling of the weapon to the worse as the balance is moved forward.
A powered accessory rail built on STANAG 4694 would give the possibility to move the center of gravity and reduce weight. It would possibly also increase battery life. The path forward for NATO’s team was to create a Powered Rail based on the Accessory Rail STANAG 4694.
This may sound like a dream come true, but I’m not so sure. I can buy some of the advantages, but what if your main (and only) batter source runs out of power? Your sight goes dead?
I’m sure most can live without a weapon light or a laser, but if your red dot goes dead it is far more serious. Especially since a lot of the red dots consume minimum power already. An Aimpoint dot almost lives forever on a small battery.
So I am quite skeptical of the idea of NATO’s “Power Rail”, and I have heard few news from the group, if it even exists?
One clue I have found is “The Intelligent Rail” from T Worx Ventures. See link for more information, but also some TFB articles like this one. If you know more, please let us know in the comments below.
Below: Schematics over a concept Swedish Ak5C, with battery centrally placed inside the pistol grip to power the sight and any other accessories.
Power was supposed to be transferred via galvanic (contact) or induction (magnet field). I guess NATO are still investigating this, or waiting for a miracle. It’s not an easy task.
In wait for that Miracle NATO Power Rail, it was therefore interesting to see Beamshot‘s solution at IWA 2016 in Germany. I understand they have shown this concept at SHOT Show 2016 as well, but haven’t read about it before.
Beamshot’s “Insider” consists of multiple, plug-and-play components which can be quickly configured. The battery power supply is contained in the pistol grip, just like NATO planned. The “wires” can be seen on the side of the weapon, and the pistol grip has a built-in switch for on/off.This means that only one hand is required to operate the rifle, laser and light.
They system is waterproof according to IP67.
The “Insider” incorporates 2 and up to 4 different aiming and illumination combinations, like a visible laser sight (Red or Green) with either an IR or White LED or even an IR laser sight or laser illuminator. Multifunction light modes give you the flexibility for momentary, constant on, strobe and dimmer operation ambidextrously. The base model offers an infrared or 500 Lumen LED light. Upgrades include a red or green visible laser sight, an IR laser sight, a laser illuminator as well as a camera module or thermal camera module.
Features of the “Insider” according to Beamshot:
- One-of-kind, patent-pending technology for both AR15/M4 rifles and AK47
- This modular system allows for customized distinct targeting configurations. You can choose from the base model with an infrared or 500 Lumen LED light, or upgrade to include a red or green visible laser sight, an IR laser sight, a laser illuminator, or even a camera module or thermal camera module!
- Hidden/enclosed wiring combined with a series of internal contacts, eliminating the potential for a snag-free & seamless design.
- Built-in grip switch allows for easy and intuitive activation, allowing one hand to operate rifle, laser and light to free another hand for another task such as opening a door or dropping a flash-bang.
- The battery pack is conveniently engineered into a custom grip, just push button to “fast reload” battery.
- Multifunction light modes gives you the flexibility for momentary, constant on, strobe and dimmer operation.
- Ambidextrous operation in an IP67 Certified dust & water proof rugged system.
- Break down the rifle without having to remove your Insider
“Insider” mounted on an AR-15, from IWA Germany 2016.
Close-up of the system.
Beamshot’s homepage doesn’t mention a lot about the system. I guess it is still in R&D and I look forward to see more about it.