High-Tech: Caseless Ammunition and the H&K G11, MP11, and MG11

The streamlined plastic butt of an H&K didn’t exactly hurt, either, and Rydell could see one peeking out of Svobodov’s open flak vest. Couldn’t remember the model number … Shot that caseless ammo looked like wax crayons, plastic propellant molded around alloy flechettes like big nails … Orlovsky was pulling out his H&K … Nothing in the world ever sounded like caseless ammunition, on full-auto, out of a floating breech. It wasn’t the sound of a machine gun, but a kind of ear-shattering, extended whoop.

– William Gibson, Virtual Light (set in 2005)

Ever since the 1980s and for much of the 1990s we have been promised caseless ammunition and the advanced weapons firing them. If not now, then very soon. Science-fiction authors and designers of games like Cyberpunk 2020, Shadowrun, and Twilight: 2000 were positive that we would see them in the immediate future. Even industry authorities were taken in by the hype. Master Gunner Ian Hogg claimed in Jane’s Infantry Weapons, 17th Edition (1991) that the famous H&K G11 assault rifle and its 4.73×33mm caseless ammunition were in production and had already been issued to West German “special forces” in 1990 ‒ when in fact the rifle actually never entered production and furthermore the Bundeswehr had no such forces at the time, unless one counts the tiny Kampfschwimmer (combat diver) and Fernspäher (long range recon) units. Similarly, Sergeant Kevin Dockery erroneously reported in his appropriately titled book Future Weapons (2007) that at least 1,000 G11 rifles had been produced …

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High-Tech: MilGov M16EZ

In use the EZ model was inaccurate, unreliable, and often dangerous to the user. But it succeeded admirably because it fulfilled its purpose. It retained the basic silhouette of the M16 rifle and lent an air of authority to any force armed with it; the militia looked less rag-tag when it was not armed with deer rifles. It used standard military ammunition and magazines, which helped resupply situations. During the cold days of World War III, it was the rifle that the average citizen saw in the hands of the local militia; it represented a calming voice of authority in the midst of hard times.

‒ Loren Wiseman, Small Arms Guide


One of my favourite game settings is Twilight: 2000. Back in the days, we played both Twilight: 2000, First Edition and Twilight: 2000, Second Edition, although I soon switched to GURPS as a rule system. The Small Arms Guide introduced the M16EZ, a government-issued kit to assemble a militia rifle from second-hand parts and scrounged materials, banged together by a local mechanic.

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