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High-tech rifles let novices hit moving targets at long ranges

Self-printed guns aren't the only firearms altering the weapons landscape. Also out there: Precision rifles with high-tech scopes and auto-firing triggers, and iPhone adapters and apps that offer custom crosshairs.

TrackingPoint's firearms use technology to ensure precision shooting.

While 3D-printed guns have been grabbing most of the headlines lately, other types of firearms that make use of new technology are also hitting the scene.

TrackingPoint, a startup based in Austin, Texas, just began selling some of the most high-tech long-range shooting rifles available in the world -- they use 3D graphics, laser technology, and Wi-Fi, and allow users to live stream their exploits and post photos to social media and on personal devices.

"TrackingPoint introduces the world's first precision guided firearm -- the revolutionary new long-range shooting system that puts jet-fighter lock and launch technology in a rifle enabling anyone to hit moving targets at extended ranges," Tracking Point's overview video says.

The key to TrackingPoint's firearms is that anyone -- even someone who's never picked up a rifle -- could hit a moving target at distances of at least 500 yards (i.e., five football fields).

This ease of shooting is possible through technology like a guided trigger and network tracking scope, which can lock onto and track moving targets. Once the user pulls the trigger, the gun decides when to shoot based on distance, barometric pressure, temperature, the curvature of the Earth, and more.

Another new firearm technology also debuted Wednesday. The Inteliscope Tactical Rifle Adapter lets users attach an iPhone 4, 4S, 5, or iPod Touch to most types of rifles and then employs an app that helps users shoot more efficiently. This software features custom crosshairs, GPS, digital zoom, video recording, ballistics data, a compass, a flashlight, and a shot timer.

These new weapons and tools come amid much media attention on 3D-printed guns. Defense Distributed debuted its mostly all plastic "Liberator" handgun earlier this month. While the software is readily available, the gun needs an expensive high-end 3D printer for the finished product. However, according to Forbes, a Wisconsin engineer recently discovered a way to print the gun with a far cheaper Lulzbot AO-101 printer, which could make the guns more accessible. And Wired ran a piece today about 3D-printed shotgun slugs.

Technology like TrackingPoint's high-precision rifles, 3D-printed handguns, and high-tech firearm adapters, is coming up against opposition from politicians and gun control advocates, and it could even be opposed by the National Rifle Association.

Gun control advocates and some politicians worry terrorists or murderers will buy the firearms or adapters and be able to wreck havoc. According to BusinessWeek, the NRA doesn't like that high-tech weapons are not readily available to more people, and instead are distributed only to authorized users.

TrackingPoint told BusinessWeek that it does individual background checks on each buyer and that the rifles' high-tech scopes have password-protected locks. The rifles cost from $20,000 to $27,000 apiece, according to the BusinessWeek report.

(Via BusinessWeek and Forbes.)