First Strike Round Intellectual Property
I'm posting this for reference as a lot of folks are unaware how First Strike Rounds came about. Here's a summary:
Tom Kaye and Gary Gibson develop the "Perfect Circle" paintball and Tom spins off a company around it (Perfect Circle Paintball). The paintball was designed to be nearly spherical (Later patents admit that they were as good as +/- .002" roundness), in the hopes of improving accuracy. The patent applies to the design of the round (generally spherical, a sealing joint at the equator) and the material/manufacture (a photodegradable pre-stressed polystyrene that can handle loading, chambering and firing but, still break on target). It doesn't catch on in paintball (cost vs performance) but, it's used extensively in the less lethal and, movie F/X industries.
Later on, Perfect Circle Paintball developed a spin-stabilized round (patents here and here) by using the polystyrene shell they had already developed and, a weighted section in the nose (to put the center of gravity forward of the center of pressure), a fill portion in the back, and a skirt with spin inducing fins. This round coincided with the development of the XM303 'projectile launcher' developed by Airgun Designs and, Gun F/X (of Pro Team Products). Ultimately, the launcher and the rounds were designated as the FN 303 launcher and ammunition.
Ultimately, Gary Gibson of Perfect Circle Paintball appears at PB Extravaganza in 2009 at the Tiberius Arms booth, and he's pitching the new First Strike Rounds. By this point, they have already applied for a patent and he reveals that the rounds will be made by Perfect Circle Paintball but, marketed by Tiberius Arms.
The patent describes key design features of the round:
Pretty much a styrene Foster slug with paint fill. I like the product but I hate the patent.
This product required a fair amount of knowledge of external ballistics and aerodynamics and, plastic manufacturing techniques, and, devising a method of aligning the polymer molecules so that they break under the right circumstances. As for the fins on a foster slug:
I understand there are some differences still it's a derivative work, the bastard lovechild of a paintball and a foster slug. I'm not trying to denigrate Tom's work I just see it as an obvious adaptation of existing technology. That and I'm opposed to the notion of ownership of an idea.
Regarding spin stabilization vs fin stabilization, the jury is still out. All I know is FSR maintain velocity better and yield tighter groupings which is enough to get my $.
the concept of "intellectual property" is philosophical in nature and, enough people believe/ed in it to build a legal framework to support it.
The way I see it, AGD needed a certain level of pre-requisite knowledge, obtained through prior ballistics, aerodynamics research, and their previously developed polystyrene, and then apply it to the challenge of making a frangible, round that is safe for recreational use. According to Tom, Perfect Circle Paintball fired thousands of rounds in their testing to get it right (fin angle, number of fins, location of center of gravity, denser fill). In my opinion, it would be pretty crappy for them to do all that research and experiment for some tool to simply make a mold of the round and then start producing them for less (because they didn't have to do the research.
I like to call it 'fin, spin-stabilization' but, technically, I believe it to be 'spin stabilization' since the round relies upon gyroscopic principles to maintain orientation rather than the fins themselves (like fins on a missile or rocket).
I don't want to get into a debate regarding "intellectual property" (really I do but I know political discussions are frowned upon) I just find the notion morally reprehensible when followed to it's logical conclusion.
I think the FSR work more like darts than bullets. I'm not saying the fins don't impart some spin, just that if spin isn't imparted prior to leaving the barrel it can't favorably effect accuracy or range. I'd like to see some actual testing regarding spin rate and effect. I'm sure Tom has done the work but I haven't found his results.
The fins do cause the rounds to spin once they leave the barrel, punkworks shows it in their High Speed Video. I've seen but cannot share additional video from another independent source that shows that the Rifled LAPCO barrel does impart a spin on a round before it leaves the barrel.
Assuming that out of a smoothbore barrel that they ultimately reach their optimal RPM downrange, they will maintain the orientation they have as they stabilize. While this is not ideal it would help keep the round from tumbling. This lag in stabilization may be a contributor to the spread on these rounds even in an indoor facility from bench-locked marker. The manufacturer also claims that the spinning helps prevent/reduce random vortices from forming behind the round and pulling it off the intended trajectory.
I have several reasons why I think a rifled barrel that successfully applies a pre-spin could improve the accuracy and/or range of these rounds but, I'm waiting for performance testing to confirm it.
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