Author’s note: I’ve been hired to write marketing material for software company Ubisoft to help promote their new game Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. My dispatches explore the real-world roots of the game’s weapons and technology.
The best firearms in the world aren’t created. They evolve. And in the new Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, they’re available in almost every conceivable species and subspecies.
Today’s frontline troops use weapons with the latest enhancements: new, more lethal ammunition; compact, lightweight barrels; rails for mounting grenade launchers, mini shotguns, and laser or infrared sights. In the world of Ghost Recon®, enhancements like these are available for every weapon type, creating essentially limitless firearm permutations.
But in the real world, many of the guns’ basic designs – their breeches, bolts, triggers, and magazine ports –- date from the middle of the 20th century. Every generation or so, the packaging gets a high-tech makeover, but the stuff inside hardly changes. There’s no improving on perfection. And when it comes to the tools of their trades, today’s commandos from East and West stand on the shoulders of weaponeering giants.
The Heckler & Koch HK417, the latest assault rifle in use by U.S. Special Forces and one of the main firearms in Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is really just the sixth-generation descendant of the AR-10, designed in the 1950s by brilliant firearms inventor Eugene Stoner.
In 1956, the U.S. Army was looking for a new battle rifle to replace the World War II M-1 Garand. Predicting the Army would want a lighter, faster-firing weapon, Stoner and his partners at ArmaLite submitted Stoner’s hand-built AR-10, a fully automatic, mostly aluminum assault rifle that fires a powerful 7.62-millimeter round but weighs just 8 pounds — about a pound lighter than the competition.