back to article Judge Dredd 'Black Box' recorder/spy kit for guns unveiled

A major weapons manufacturer has exhibited a so-called "Black Box" which could be fitted to small arms - for instance rifles or submachine guns - and record details of every shot fired, potentially including location, target and even user identity. The 'Black Box' gun-manager gadget. Credit: FN Herstal Government spy kit …


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  1. Alan 6

    Dirty Harry re-write

    I know what you're thinking. "Did he fire six shots or only five?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself, but thanks to this new Black Box gizmo my onboard computer tells me it's in fact 6, so you're OK.

  2. Evil_Trev


    The soldier could carry the gun to the battle, but the gun could be controlled and fired remotly by the electronics, hence even being useful after the soldier has got shot.

    If we thought about it we could send all the gps positions back to a computer, plot where all 'our' guns are and not have any more 'friendly fire' incidents.

  3. Craig 12

    I like

    This should be mandatory on all Police/Army weapons. I can't see why anyone would complain about an accurate record of weapon use...

  4. Nic Brough 1


    You can almost hear the beancounters dribbling - "You fired 51 shots yesterday, but we only have 3 corpses. The price of a box of 48 shells will be deducted from your salary"

  5. Seanmon
    Big Brother

    Watch out

    I think Eric Raymond's head just exploded.

  6. Ally J

    It wasn't just in the movie

    As I recall (although it was a long time ago), Dredd was fitted up in the comics, too. I'm sorry to say I gave up reading it about 15 years ago, so don't know if there have been subsequent attempts to frame him.

    (Mine's the coat with 'Chopper is a joob!' on the back.)

  7. Hermes Conran

    God Dammed Gubmint

    Allway wantin' ta know where I go, what I spend , who I shoot. Whatever happen to freedom?

  8. Casper Orillian


    Yeah this is going to help with who shot the guy more times then was needed,

    but it looks to me like the black box goes inside the handle, where the magazine goes on pistols, which means either there going to have to have an added stock or a new model of pistol

  9. Eugene Goodrich
    Paris Hilton


    " spy modules required in every licensed weapon [...] would seem like a vaguely plausible bogeyman to disturb the sleep of many a righteous, free, gun-toting American."

    Righteous, free, gun-toting 'Mer'kins lose sleep simply at the point of registering a firearm. This is because once a firearm is registered, the right to possess it is no longer practically enforced by the difficulty the government would have in proving the gun's existence, locating it, and removing it from you. A registered gun is effectively leased, not owned.

    Paris, because next thing you know we'd have to register her.

  10. Kurgan5


    Fabulous idea! Now, where shall I put the actual bullets now the magazine space is full of health and safety equipment..?

  11. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Yo dude!

    I gots teh high score on dis' game!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @Eugene Goodrich

    "...the right to possess it is no longer practically enforced by the difficulty..."

    No, it's enforced by the 2nd Amendment and the recent supreme court rulings that expanded/clarified that right.

    Frankly if you are afraid that "the government" is going to "take your guns" you're probably a paranoid schizophrenic and probably shouldn't have gotten the gun in the first place.

  13. Eddie Edwards

    @ Seanmon


  14. Mike Plunkett

    Obscure Reference

    Reloaded twice eh? That would Sgt Axly then I presume?

  15. Anonymous Coward

    @ insomnia

    "This is because once a firearm is registered, the right to possess it is no longer practically enforced by the difficulty the government would have in proving the gun's existence, locating it, and removing it from you. A registered gun is effectively leased, not owned."

    This is poor-quality logic. Either you overthrow the government with your gun-nut friends - in which case you "own" the gun (in your sense) - or you leave the country and be "truly free" on some island somewhere - in which case you can take the gun with you quite legally, which you could not do with a leased car, for instance. Difference between "lease" and "own", you see. Doesn't really depend on whether or not an item has to be registered in a specific country.

  16. Brian Miller

    For "assault" rifles, not pistols

    There is no space to put the requisite kit on a pistol. The reason this is for something like the "Isn't it swell, Mattie Mattel" M16-A3, etc., is because there is a lot of hollow space in the pistol grip and the stock.

    A pistol like the Glock has a little bittie space behind the magazine, but the battery definitely wouldn't be large enough to have a 10-year life.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I agree with Craig 12

    there's no reason why weapons in the hands of the police and the military shouldn't be accountable in this fashion. Taking it a step forward, pop some GPS and an accelerometer in there and you could even have an idea of exactly what the weapon was pointed at during discharge. Hugely useful for those occasions when, say, a Brazilian electrician gets all shot to shit and the various officers' stories don't entirely tally. Of course, the existing whitewashing machinery could be left in place to prevent any inconvenient carriages of justice

  18. Mathew White


    @%!*& the damn things out of batteries. Who the $%!@ soldered it in!

  19. Andy 75

    Ah, good old Sgt Axly

    Also ex-Sgt Axley, Officer Axly, soon-to-be-ex-Officer Axly.

    But hey, if you had his doctor then you'd be firing first and not asking questions later too!

  20. James 55
    Thumb Up


    This will be enforced in the police (although it may 'malfunction' at any sign of wrongdoing) but freedom fighters in the US of A will be able to remove/drill it out without too much trouble.

  21. Chris Seiter


    Now receiving 3 of 7 updates... Please wait to fire.

  22. Nev

    Never mind Judge Dredd...

    ... sounds more like Rogue Trooper.

  23. Brennan Young


    The gun lobby tend to have a "nothing to hide = nothing to fear" attitude - at least those that have any claims to respectability. This device will certainly split them into two camps. Bravo!

    BTW - why does 'Remember me on this computer' never remember my password? (A password which I can not change to something easy to remember). Yes I do have cookies enabled.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good news...

    This sort of thing is already built into tazers and everyone known that noone gets tazed (?) by trigger happy coppers.

    Oh, wait...

  25. Robert Hill

    @ Eugene Goodrich

    As a NRA UK member, I have to say that your logic is incredibly silly. As a society, we require registration for lots of things that we do not want unsuitable people to own, or we might wish to tax - cars, motorbikes, guns, airplanes, boats, TVs (in the UK), etc. None of these consitutes a "lease" - it may be a tax, it may be a prohibition, but it is not a lease because you are not paying off the cost of purchase.

    So, yes, registration IS prohibition - to certain people. We specifically register guns because we do not want mentally unstable, murderous people to be able to own them. If a guy does 20 years for a double murder, he should not be allowed to get out and buy an AK-47, two shotguns, and a Remington 700 Tactical sniper rifle...or is even that too restrictive for you? I'm all for guns - provided that the bearer can be proven to be competent, show training, show he stays current with that training, and doesn't abuse the weapon to commit crimes. THAT requires registration.

    People that can't show that they are trained to handle guns shouldn't own them (we require it for cars, planes, and other dangerous items), and I am beginning to believe that people that can't understand THAT might not be suitable candidates to own them either...

  26. Havin_it

    Sod the GPS

    I'd sooner see that other Dredd innovation: anyone except the registered owner attempting to discharge the weapon gets their frickin' gun-hand blown off.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I believe Tasers have had this for a while, they record the date and time the weapon was discharged along with the amount of voltage delivered and for how long it discharged. It will be interesting to see how well this sort of tracking can be integrated into a normal gun and how easy/hard it will be to tamper with.

  28. Eugene Goodrich
    Paris Hilton

    @Anonymous Coward, ibid

    >>Frankly if you are afraid that "the government" is going to "take your guns" you're probably a paranoid schizophrenic and probably shouldn't have gotten the gun in the first place.<<

    * Citation needed. Please credibly establish the "probably" link between fear of government gun seizure and paranoid schizophrenia.

    >>This is poor-quality logic. Either you overthrow the government with your gun-nut friends - in which case you "own" the gun (in your sense) - or you leave the country and be "truly free" on some island somewhere - in which case you can take the gun with you quite legally, which you could not do with a leased car, for instance. Difference between "lease" and "own", you see. Doesn't really depend on whether or not an item has to be registered in a specific country.<<

    * I was talking about a "practical" right, not a legal or Constitutional one. Once a right is legally abolished, it's not actually gone until enforcement. (Nobody has the legal right to ride motorcycles without mufflers around town, but they do anyway, don't they?) My assertion was that guns whose ownership, serial numbers, and addresses of storage have been communicated to a partial overseer are far easier to seize than guns that are more or less unknown. Thus my logical argument is one of negation: the (practical) right to possess such guns is strengthened when these prerequisites to easy seizure are not performed because physical abrogation of the right remains more difficult. Criminals recognize this and refrain from registering their firearms even when directed to by law[1]. (And then the courts respect the criminals' position - U.S. v. Haynes [1968].)

    I further claim that when those who disapprove of a right know that enforcement of the removal that right would be difficult, they are less likely to seek legal removal of that right. This is my "poor logic[al]" suggestion of registration being the "thin edge of the wedge" and causing lost sleep among some people - even without the mandatory spy kit installation suggested by El Reg.

    Paris, because she's her own country, and I suppose I wouldn't mind living on her shores. She also doesn't use the second person in online posts thereby ambiguously implying things about other posters.

    [1] Alas, citation needed for me here, also.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Great Name!

    MILIPOL - Eric Blair quietly weeps in his grave at not thinking that one up.

  30. RobE
    Thumb Up


    Im surprised no one has mentioned yet that this would make a great antitheft device for cars and or other devices, so long as you can some how authorise others to use your devices for a certain number of times.

  31. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Guns in the shop

    for its 100 000 service.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    "Weapons Manager": DOA in USofA

    That sucker won't make it out of the crib on this side of the pond.

    With all the increasing reliance on wireless communications on the battlefield, I'd put money on governments willing to pay huge rewards for hackers able to crack the codes. All kinds of really fun things could happen then.

    Especially when you look at almost any manufactured good on Earth, and see "Made in China."

  33. SirTainleyBarking

    Remote locking? Not sure that will work too well.

    I remember there was a move to enforce gun safety by having a proximity sensor fitted to handguns.(Colt IIRC did some work on it)

    The idea being that if junior got hold of mommys loaded weapon and pointed at his playmate, nothing would happen as the trigger system would be locked without the prescence of an "Arming dongle" in close proximity.

    After a splash of publicity about responsible gun ownership and the like, the idea was quietly dropped as the technology wasn't quite good enough, and when you are dealing with something that can cause big spurting holes in people, not quite good enough REALLY doesn't cut it.

    There were two BIG problems. Deactivation of the trigger wasn't good enough, and the weapon could be accidently discharged, and conversely when it was required for a real reason of being fired, the deactivation weren't all that good either. Just what you need if you have to have a firearm for home protection.

    Good old fashioned mechanical safeties, and common sense approaches such as securing a weapon and making sure that the ammo is out of childrens reach is cheaper and more effective

  34. Anonymous Coward

    Yeh but?

    The gps in the firearm shows a position and time at variance with the gps in the headcam that shows time and gps variance with the gps in the gps unit that shows variance with the ...

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Batteries good for 100,000 shots?

    I hope they're not too hard to replace - just what I need, another chore to do every Friday...

  36. Jim Black 1
    Thumb Down

    Re: Gun Nanny

    No problem. Give the average GI a few minutes and they will figure out how to cheat the system. How many rounds fired? Basic load less what is now on the person. Can't borrow from your buddy because the buddy would be short rounds. Module is working and must be in place? Find a blowtorch or even a bucket of boiling water, "accidentally" drop the module into the heat, wait a few minutes, and it will most likely be "broke". Or find the information transfer mechanism between the weapon and the module and "modify" it to prevent unwanted data from being transferred. And I would bet that someone would figure out a way to feed wrong data into the weapon - say have the module show it was fired while in a locked cabinet with no one within 10 miles of the weapon. Easily disproven data ruins all the credibility of the device.

    And in an emergency, a 5 kilo sledgehammer and an anvil would provide suitable energies to "adjust" the device.

  37. frymaster

    @Robert Hill


    Sensible attitude from a gun-owning person... the extremes moan so loudly that sometimes it's nice to be reminded that it's possible :)

  38. Daniel Wilkie

    Maybe it's just me

    But Pistols don't seem to have much void space? So does this just mean that if you don't want anyone to know you fired rounds when you shouldn't have, you'd just use your pistol instead?

  39. Alex 32
    Thumb Up

    Firstly, then secondly

    1st : "The scheme is somewhat reminiscent of the idea, sometimes suggested for US police, of automatic gun cameras intended to record the target of every shot fired for use in subsequent investigations."

    So in other words a bit like "KillCam".. Gruesome. I prefer this Blackbox idea.

    2nd : I like this, although it really wouldn't work for the home market, as it could quite easily be tampered with. For Law Enforcement and the Army would most proabably benefit.

    Carry on!

  40. David 146
    Jobs Halo

    Needs barrel camera

    There was talk of introducing barrel-mounted cameras to police guns a few years ago, which whilst being less useful for the armed forces as this thing would be great for the police, especially in cases of suspected police brutality or "on-duty murder".

    Maybe they could make a version that does that too?

    /St.Steve because the iGun would have an app for this

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ShadowRun Smartgun tech?

    If anyone remembers the pen & paper RPG Shadowrun (not the abortion of a computergame released recently) then this isn't that far off of one of the fictional-tech weapon mods used in the game - the smartgun / smartlink.

    True, the smartlink allowed for a cybernetic control of a weapon, but with GPS and a couple more Accellerometers inside the weapon, combined with a ballistics program in hardware and hooked up to a set of LCD glasses (something similar to the ones leaking out onto the market at the moment), think of the possibilities....

    - Crosshairs in the vision (like pretty much any arcadey computergame released since..... forever)

    - Projected impact point for ballistic weapons (grenade launchers, rubber bullets etc)

    - Graphical displays of shotgun spread cones superimposed over the real world

    - Ammunition counters in field of view

    And here's something to make anyone in a combat zone cringe :

    - "In [ 6 ] shots your weapon will be disabled due to having exceeded the manufacturer's recommended service interval." 5......4.......3.2.......1........*click*

    or even worse....

    *blam* *blam* .... AHH SHIT - BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH !

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What movie? There wasn't a movie. La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la, can't hear you!

  43. Mike Bird 1

    Does a Bear ...

    Yes officer .. I am going bear hunting, and yes I can only do that with my SG 550 with GL 5040 40 mm grenade launcher.

    oh and yes .. armor piercing bullets. you never know what those tricky bears are going to get up to.

  44. NightFox
    Thumb Up

    Please wait

    You round the corner to confront a terrorist pointing his AK47 at you... you bring your own weapon into the aim...

    "Your weapon would like to use your current location. is this OK?"

    [Allow] [Cancel]

    "Your weapon is determining your current location. Please wait."

    ...and so on. At least they could provide this with a 3G data connection so as you looked down the sights at the terrorists centre of mass you could see an augmented reality display of the location of the nearest McD's and Starbucks.

  45. Desk Jockey
    Thumb Down

    Pipe dream

    Firings and logistics info is fine. GPS, accelerometers and other gizmos will just add weight and kill the battery. The grunts grumble that they carry too much weight as it is and too much of it needs batteries. They don't want any more that is not of direct benefit to them.

    FN are just marketing a fancy gizmo, it is not going to be popular. Apart from the fact that the pistol grip/battery space has already been taken by the thermal sights, it is cheaper just to ask the soldier to note down how many rounds they fired when they get back. Paper and pen plus a computer system back at base. Far cheaper, less hassle and just as effective. The GPS thing would be onboard the grunt anyway, no halfwit would stick it on their rifle.

    The police might want this, but then they don't have to carry it on long patrols and they would want the GPS in order to find the rifle after they have lost it! As for this being on pistols... where?

  46. Ian Ferguson

    Be honest, people.

    The safest solution? Ban guns. Americans whinging about their rights? A truly cultured society wouldn't allow free access to tools designed purely for murder.

  47. Random Noise


    "Additional enhancements for increased functionality to the system are on the horizon as new technologies are explored."

    Cant wait for the sniper to updated in real-time that they are 'Unstoppable' & 'Godlike' with each successful head shot

  48. Symball

    dredds DNA

    You seem to have forgotten that Dredd was a clone- his DNA could have come from any number of sources (If I remember rightly there was an entire nation of australian judges- the Judda) who were all Dredd clones) /pedant

  49. Nimrod

    @AC 09.36

    surely that should be:

    *blam* *blam* .... AHH SHIT - BLUE SCREEN OF DE....

  50. Doug Glass

    @Brian Miller

    First, go here and take a look at a laser beam "sight" designed specifically for Glock. Note it's small size and consider how these devices have been made smaller in recent years.

    Trust me, these devices are neither delicate nor easily knocked out of sight zero. After over 1,000 rounds out of my G23 it's still bright as ever and dead on.

    Now go here and look at the front part of the Glock frame just forward of the trigger guard. On 3rd generation Glocks you'll see an "accessory rail" for mounting lasers, tactical lights, and etc.

    The unit in this article is not in it's minimum configuration yet (and there will be those) and they will be mounted to Glocks when/if the "need" arises.

    More than likely, they will be incorporated into a pistol's recoil rod like the Lasermax beam sight which you can see it here:

    And the Lasermax is 100% internal. Imagine that, a Laser beam that's no larger than your wife's eyebrow pencil.

  51. OzBob

    @Silkie - using your pistol instead

    Then you get the "Star Trek - Undiscovered Country" photon torpedo dilemma. Shaer and Enjoy!

  52. kain preacher

    Robert Hill

    The safest solution? Ban guns. Americans whinging about their rights? A truly cultured society wouldn't allow free access to tools designed purely for murder.

    I take it you are opposed to hunting then. Lets ban bows and arrows to.

  53. Mr Mark V Thomas

    Re: Shadowrun Smartgun llnk

    Wrong game, I'm afraid for this application, as R.Taslorian's Cyberpunk RPG 2nd edition (Cyberpunk 2020) had gun camera equipped pistols in their Chromebook suppliments...

    In the game itself , said weapons were intended to be sold in the European Market, for corporate security personell, as gun restrictions were far tougher, than in the (Dis)united States...

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