I have written in the thriller and ‘cruel tales’ genre but speculative fiction isn’t something I approach. The editor asked for a look into the future. The result is speculative but not fiction, a report based on fact and experience. The assignment took more research notebooks and drafts than I first imagined.
A delve into the past came first, then a look at how guns have changed in 100 years, and finally a look at trends. This helped me to speculate on firearms of the future. I am not qualified to comment on military rifles and development and will save that for another day or perhaps a writer (editor) named Dr. Dave will work that one up.
Just the same, the military usually fights a war with the firearms of the previous conflict sometimes much further back, so we may make some predictions. Handguns tend to last a long time and I have concentrated on my specialty, handguns.
The 1911, Walther PPK, and Smith & Wesson Military and Police are just a few handguns that have survived for several decades. They have been in continuous use and remain on the front line today. Even the Single Action Army is in daily use in America.
I will touch on shotguns. Shotguns have changed quite a bit as far as looks. I’ll grant you that. However, 100 years ago the pump action, recoil-operated automatic, and double-barrel shotgun were firmly established. The shotgun has come to the point that a reliable and fast handling shotgun may be had for a very reasonable price and do decent all-around duty. The Benelli is a highly-elevated war fighter.
Pump-action shotguns remain a model of reliability. In fact, as I write this, laid across my lap is a Marlin 1898 pump action. The Marlin features a bolt release that is handier than most modern shotguns, an inertia lock and firing pin block. In common with quite a few guns of the era, including the famous Winchester 1911 ‘widowmaker’ shotgun, the Marlin is dangerous if mishandled. But what animal or machine isn’t?
Shotguns have advanced a great deal in material and reliability not to mention easily changeable choke tubes. In the future, I predict the shotgun may gain more ground as a hunting gun for medium-size game as hunting areas become more crowded.
More development in slugs is likely. Detachable magazine shotguns will probably be recognized as less desirable than tube-magazine shotguns, due to poor handling and limited (practical) capacity. Shotguns will probably be supplied with a spare slug barrel more often, and a truly effective screw-in rifled slug stabilizer will be offered.
I am not imagining a dystopian future, but one with relatively the same crime and violence and today. Two to four percent of the population in most areas are active criminals. They outnumber the police and are a nuisance and dangerous, but tightening of laws is sometimes a detriment to liberty. That is fodder for another report.
I don’t have a crystal ball, only a sense of history and common sense. Speculative writers of the prewar era failed to predict the three stage rocket, nuclear bomb, and the X 15 — and they were pretty smart. Star Trek’s Bones never checked alien DNA and Spock didn’t have a smartphone. There is always the brilliant discovery that blunts our plans for the future.
If we press this report into a time capsule (Better print it out, storage methods change often… Can you still read a floppy disk?) I have perhaps a 10 percent chance of getting it right. As an example, I read a decent space epic in which the main protagonist was stranded on a 1980s earth. The author was writing the story in 1948.
The hero went in a shop and purchased a .410 revolver, something that did not exist in the writer’s time but is common today. Sure, he predicted the Taurus Judge, but the writer missed one thing…there was no special paperwork to purchase the handgun. A 4473 did not exist in his day. So, look at the whole picture.
Economy will be a big point in the future. Metal guns will be increasingly expensive barring another industrial revolution of some type and polymer doesn’t seem to have a viable substitute. Handguns are handheld. So is a bayonet. I believe it to be likely that handguns survive in combat use — at least as long as the bayonet has.
The average gun will be polymer or something very similar while steel will be more expensive. I don’t think complex operating mechanisms will survive. The double-action first-shot self-loader is probably in its last generation. Pistols will probably be offered with and without a manual safety and the safety may be used or ignored.
Lightweight materials are plentiful, but the kick of the beast becomes too much for most shooters, so the size and weight of present firearms is probably the basic template that will survive. After all, the Colt 1903 and Smith and Wesson Equalizer serve the same purpose, but the modern gun is more effective.
Each is a single-action handgun with concealed hammer, manual safety, and grip safety. The material is much different. Sam Colt specified pocket, belt, and service revolvers. No surprises there. Size, weight, and grip circumference are dictated by the human interface and should not change much.
The polymer revolution gave us a great material. Polymer is light, doesn’t require coating or finishing, and features good natural lubricity. In revolvers, aluminum is cheap enough and will remain a primary material.
As for ammunition, combustible propulsion is the only viable choice. Advancing from loose ammunition to rimfire and then centerfire ammunition, we have stayed with brass case ammunition almost exclusively. Steel and polymer cased ammunition is cheap but not ideal.
Perhaps steel and polymer non-reusable cartridge cases will be more common. The Volcanic pistol used caseless ammunition long before the Civil War, and the German Air Force developed electrically-fired ammunition before World War II. Remember, the electrically-fired Remington EntroX? No? Good.
I have tried to remove it from memory as well. The brass-cased central primer cartridge is simply too good to replace. Perhaps all-copper and brass bullets will more or less replace lead core, or perhaps not. It is a good bet the 9mm and .38 will be on the shelves in 2123.
Ammunition reliability has been solved for a long time. Winchester was producing military ammunition with a failure/reject rate of less than one in 100,000 in 1916. I have fired .32 Rimfire over 100 years old with a high success rate. Reliability is no longer a concern. While caseless ammunition may have a future, it remains to be seen.
The history of handguns shows that inventions with real innovation, but grounded in reality, are successful. Economy plays a huge part. Targeted sound applications or weaponized drones probably won’t be available, so the handgun will remain.
I have lived long enough to see the promising Hudson — a victim of a comedy of error — go belly up not to mention the Bren Ten (a questionable bit of business at best), and the ill-fated Rogak P18. Not to mention the Gyro Get and Dardick.
Instantly-effective stun guns are postulated in the JD Robb thrillers set in 2060 or so. They seem not to shoot electric darts but some type of particle. Unlike some authors, J D Robb doesn’t concentrate on weapons and simply mentions ‘she drew her weapon’ or something like that. Therefore, she doesn’t make glaring errors, an intelligent decision.
The stories are excellent procedural and dramatic works. As one associate pointed out during my research, the stun gun firing an electrical field doesn’t sound too bad. If you miss and light up an innocent, well, they will only be sore at you and have a bit of muscle pain the next day.
We are a long way from modulating electric waves in a short range device. We can fry a man, but not easily subdue him. Thermobaric weapons also seem far-fetched. Despite the deadly efficiency of a flare gun in the movies, most flares would simply bounce off a person. More handguns will be of modular construction as is the case with the SIG P320, Masada 9mm, and Beretta APX. This simply makes sense.
Perhaps, the same firearm will be morphed from a sub-compact to a full-size pistol or even a carbine. I don’t think we will see Blade Runner guns with two barrels, one with a lethal load and the other with non-lethal. Tragedies have occurred because peace officers cannot keep their taser and 9mm separated — or so they say. I do not foresee a single platform with the option to fire both lethal and non-lethal, selected by the user.
The double-barrel Strike .22 Magnum, as an example, is among the most difficult handguns I have ever attempted to use. It is an oddity at best and should die a quite death (in my person opinion, yours may vary). Just the same, we will see more of them.
Law enforcement may evolve mob control drones, but the handgun will remain the same. The Glock will probably dominate the market for at least another 50 years. Gas and electric flechettes are not instantly effective, so they will not replace the cartridge gun. Handguns are likely to remain standard issue for a very long time.
Features and Accessories
Quite a few changes have been made based on consumer appetite and for aesthetics, more than function. Bling is good and a fine reason for purchasing a firearm. A huge change came with aluminum material, then stainless steel, and finally polymer. It would be hard to predict what comes next.
Anti-corrosion coatings are almost incredibly effective, and many are self-lubricating. These coatings are a good thing for longevity and reliability. Handgun iron sights operate on the same principle as 100 years ago but have enjoyed great improvement including the addition of self-luminous Tritium.
Target and combat sights are more similar than ever before. But optical sights are becoming popular. Holosun has a red dot that is solar powered, and Ruger has a red dot with no battery at all —it’s kind of like the old Quik Point.
Here is my most far out prediction. Eventually, optical sights will fold into the slide and pop out on demand for a heads-up type of display. Not that difficult, really. NcStar presently offers a flip-up red dot lens. More to come on this interesting subject.
As for combat lights, most of us agree they add unnecessary bulk to the pistol, but some shooters and security personnel find them essential. I predict service pistols will feature a powerful but miniaturized combat light — sooner than you think. After all the Wespi combat searchlight was available 100 years ago. So, it is just a matter of time until the combat light is powered up with a pen light size.
Will pistols gain in magazine capacity? We finally have rimfire handguns with 20-round capacity. We have quite a few service-size 9mm handguns with 20-round capacity. The problem is going much larger, and we will have a pistol that feels like a 2×4 in the hand, something we already have in multitude.
As early as 1930, Llama had a 20-shot .32 caliber self-loader. I am not sure how that type of thing was of any value, but today’s pistols are far more effective. Thirteen rounds in a sub-compact, 15 rounds in a compact, and up to 20 rounds in a service pistol is easily attainable with a good firing grip in 9mm caliber.
I suppose a 30-shot .30 Super Carry isn’t out of the question and seems a good bet for the occasional shooter. Magazines may be polymer-coated metal for the most part or very thin sheet metal.
As for operating systems, blowback for the .22 LR to .380 ACP and locked breech for larger calibers seems fixed in efficiency. Gas-retarded blowback in the HK P7M8 is reliable and the Walther CCP has had some success with a similar pistol. The problem… this action isn’t reliable with a wide range of bullet weights and velocities.
I have tested these pistols, and while the P7M8 will run forever with some loads, it will not run at all with others. The same goes for the Walther CCP. Each is a specialist’s gun. Blow forward is dead, and it seems that only gas operation in a pistol is fertile — if the engineers can get it right.
Smith and Wesson’s 5.7 is an innovation. Blowback and locked breech are here to stay. Will there be a revival of the automatic revolver? It seems promising with modern technology. There is increasing interest in Lite Rack and EZ Rack slides. Perhaps a modification of the HK roller block action in a compact pistol will be designed.
I predict a sharper distinction between the roles of the revolver and self-loader. The revolver will be a utility gun for dispatching pests and small game hunting. Small revolvers will be popular for pocket carry, but as for the larger defense-based revolvers, much less so. The problem is expense.
One major maker added a gun lock to the action and went to MIM parts in the operating mechanism making this revolver unacceptable for service use (for many of us). Ruger offers superbly-reliable revolvers at increasing prices. Kimber and Chiappa have arguably made older service and defense guns obsolete with their modern vision of the revolver.
Shortages are predictable and we will certainly see more. The 9mm and .38 will remain baselines. The .45 ACP will hang on. There are cartridges with excellent performance — the .40 S&W and .41 Magnum — that will not prosper and become footnotes in history along with the .38-40 and .41 Colt. The .22 Long Rifle has been with us for 136 years, so what is another 100 years?
While I think that specialization is good, most of us cannot afford specialization. This means fewer calibers and that isn’t a bad thing. The .25 ACP and .32 ACP will probably wither away. The 10mm will remain a specialist cartridge. While the .45 Super was a great round, the 10mm seems to have displaced quite a few contenders. The availability of so many calibers is more a sign of prosperity and good marketing than a real need.
The modern pistol in 2123 will be a mid-size polymer-frame pistol with a folding optical sight, self-luminous iron sights, a grip that fits most hands well, and a lightning fast lock time brought on by technology. It will be easily racked and loaded. An effective recoil control device, similar to the old Hart’s Recoil Reducer, may be incorporated into the recoil spring assembly.
I don’t see a resurgence of lasers, but who knows. In the wild or when hiking, we will carry a powerful double-action-only revolver with a grip of recoil absorbing material that separates the hand from metal. So those are the facts and my vision of future. Slip this in a time capsule if you wish. More importantly, I am certain there is something I have missed. Please share your thoughts and your predictions.
I’m thinking pistols with a lower barrel such as the Chiappa Rhino or the Czeck ‘Alien’ semi auto may dominate in future design. Although I’ve never shot this type of pistol reviews are that they are more accurate and have far less recoil than the traditional barrel positioned pistols.
Nano technology is not a few years away from hundreds if possible at all.
Futurists have a terrible track record for prediction. The predicted flying cars without telling us how they would fly, floating cities, and failed to predict PC computers and the atom bomb.
Not to mention Facebook.
Society changes often the tools of society seldom. A personal armed with a 1905 Military & Police .38 would have a revolver of superior quality to most of today, and capable of good accuracy. Likewise with a Colt 1911 .45. Modern guns have better sights. Quality metal and reliability is present.
It is fine to speculate but as pointed out in the text- futurist or speculative fiction is just for fun. Michale Nostradame was more accurate.
Might as well go all Ray Bradbury on someone because if Chuck Norris or Steeve McQeen don’t save my butt then John Rambo better, otherwise I’m gonna hide in one of your basements playing Thermo Nuclear War with Ally Sheedy and watching Patrick Swayze go bad*** in Red Dawn. 🤣
Yeah yeah, more old people jokes.
Seriously though. I’m gonna throw rocks at some people, mainly because they’re brain dead.
Otherwise the fleas and bedbugs can take them out and leave some sheep for the rest of us to hump.
@ Dick Havoc.
The Soviets developed a Pyrotechnic Laser Pistol back in 1984 for their Cosmonaut program, but the KGB acquired all of them for themselves! It used a Pyrotechnic Source similar to that of a Disposable
Flash Camera, and only worked 40% of the time! It was also limited in range to ~20-meters! I very much doubt that any US Firearms Mfg. is likely to produce any even having more than 39-years knowing about them and their existence …
In 100 years, I see firearms with computerized day/night thermal sights “slaved” to the firearm itself – pick a target, lock on, and servos will move the barrel on target and fire with near-perfect accuracy. How “automatic” this will be remains to be seen, but some sort of “auto aim and shoot” is probably a given.
Material science will advance to the point where barrels will last longer – hard chrome linings may be replaced by diamond coatings or – by that time – something even better.
Smaller bullets at higher velocity – for less recoil – will probably be developed. It may be that in 100 years propellants will be as advanced over today’s smokeless powders as today’s smokeless is over black powder. Maybe a “booster” charge will be included with the bullet which won’t ignite until the bullet is partway down the barrel and the pressure from the original charge is starting to drop.
But there will still be a market for very basic but reliable guns – which will be made as cheaply as possible, perhaps entirely by some future development of 3D printing. (This would include ammo as well as firearms.) Nostalgic shooters will still pine for old-timey 1911s, revolvers, and Glocks. A segment of government will be VERY unhappy at the level of tabletop manufacturing available to the public.
You didn’t mention fingerprint or DNA encoded weapons that will only fire for the owner. That seems almost inevitable.
Something like a Taser but without wires – a dart that packs its own charge, capable of disabling without permanently injuring seems within the bounds of possibility too.
This article has entirely missed where the real revolution in firearms has been for the last 50 years: in manufacturing. From the lost-wax investment casting techniques of Ruger, to CNC machining and composites, the old techniques of rolled sheet metal are seen less and less. 3d Printing technology is making the idea of gun manufacturing by regulated and licensed manufacturers a thing of the past. So-called “ghost guns”, aka Constitutional gun production, enables anyone with a 3d printer and desktop CNC machine to produce gun parts on demand to tolerances previously reserved to well capitalized precision machining shops. In 100 years the average home replicator will be capable of churning out any manner of deadly weapons for any purpose.
Depending on whether you live in a region that respects individual rights to keep and bear arms, or whether you live in an area that tightly polices peoples every behavior with ubiquitous surveillance by AI overlords, this capability may be available to any person of average means. There may be AI that can recognize weapons patterns and refuse to allow replicators to produce them. This will assuredly create a black market in non-AI-Supervised replicators and trade in weapons from regions of high freedom to areas of low freedom.
The trend in individual 2nd Amendment protection has been for the past 30 years, on the upswing, with 27 US states now recognizing Constitutional Carry and the rest all having various levels of Shall Issue gun laws. May Issue is now Unconstitutional. It is debatable whether the US Constitution survives in its present form in 100 years.
AI may wind up in charge in a century, and the AI overlords may not trust stupid humans with weaponry. At All. It depends whether humans increase their individual intelligence with genetic engineering or not. After all, the true weapon is not in a man’s hands, but what is in his skull. When man is intellectually out-gunned, will he still retain any liberty? Intellgence augmentation beyond genetic engineering higher IQ will happen. Brain-computer interfaces to improve memory, reflex time, situational awareness, facial recognition, behavior analysis, etc.
Firearms will not even be physical objects you can hold in your hand. Nanotechnology will empower nanoscopic weapons that enter the body at hypersonic speed and detonate in key nerve centers to immobilize a target intelligently. Swarms of nanobots in the air around a person will immediately assemble into ballistic energy absorbing structures to blunt the energy of attacking weapons.
We are headed into a technological singularity, peaking around 2040-2050. What the future looks like after that is highly speculative, and assuming it will look a lot like today is myopic at best and foolhardy at worst.
The editors of CheaperThanDirt ought to seek futurism from futurists.
Not to quote Louie Armstrong song… but who thinks it’s a wonderful world? 🤣
I see William Shatner and David Hasselhoff fighting it out using laser beams and sharks up my rear, who knows, might be “Dr. Evil” holding the World hostage for… ONE MILLION DOLLARS?!
Besides some of the utmost of hilarious comedy stuff… not excluding Svengoolie or Mystery Sciecnce 3000.
Yup, i went there.
I don’t know. I sure want to predict the World.
What I do know is hangun design, hasn’t changed.
JMB designed a great lever action .30/30… the 1911 Colt design can s*** n***, never will own one. and that’s no offense to those who like it.
One thing I DO know is the price of ammo has reached a point where all we can do is toss rocks because no one can afford ammo.
Limited reserves. Can’t afford to shoot. Guess we’re all invading Canada or the Foreign Legion to join up to go fight Putin?
Handgun sights in the future will be mounted on the side of the slide, to assist users who insist on holding the weapon sideways.
One thing you failed to mention is rail guns, projectiles launched with magnetic propulsion, navy has some working examples now, there have been several low power rifle sized ones made already, another 25 to 50 years and they might be a real contender, biggest problems are power supply and heat dissapation right now, if that can be solved i see them being a up and comming contender.
You touched on this but if they can make a reliable effective stun gun, be it electric, particle beam or directed energy or something else it could replace firearms entirely. no more fatal ADs, hunting accidents, mistake kills or missing intended perp and hitting a bystander accidents. That would be a wonderful thing to me, especially if i need to defend my home with family inside, no risk of accidentally killing a family member ever again.
Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but I’m here to tell y’all, if we don’t win the next war with the globalists there won’t be any private citizens in the U.S. buying, selling, or even owning firearms of any kind. I know, he’s just a conspiracy theorist and doesn’t know how prepared we are to fight off the government, right? Well y’all better wake up, cause they got a huge lead on us, what do you think that the Covid thing was all about? And about 75% of those so called “conservatives” in Congress are totally bought and paid for by both the U.N. and China. We’re just a few short years away, or less, from a world wide attempted take over by the Elite class. I see two sinario’s, WW III, which appears to be well on its way, or a total collapse of the western, and maybe the world, economies, either or could bring on jcentury, I’d be imagining what it’s going to look like next year
Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but I’m here to tell y’all, if we don’t win the next war with the globalists there won’t be any private citizens in the U.S. buying, selling, or even owning firearms of any kind. I know, he’s just a conspiracy theorist and doesn’t know how prepared we are to fight off the government, right? Well y’all better wake up, cause they got a huge lead on us, what do you think that the Covid thing was all about? And about 75% of those so called “conservatives” in Congress are totally bought and paid for by both the U.N. and China. We’re just a few short years away, or less, from a world wide attempted take over by the Elite class. I see two sinario’s, WW III, which appears to be well on its way, or a total collapse of the western, and maybe the world, economies, either or could bring on jcentury, I’d be imagining what it’s going to look like next year!!
Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but I’m here to tell y’all, if we don’t win the next war with the globalists there won’t be any private citizens in the U.S. buying, selling, or even owning firearms of any kind. I know, he’s just a conspiracy theorist and doesn’t know how prepared we are to fight off the government, right? Well y’all better wake up, cause they got a huge lead on us, what do you think that the Covid thing was all about? And about 75% of those so called “conservatives” in Congress are totally bought and paid for by both the U.N. and China. We’re just a few short years away, or less, from a world wide attempted take over by the Elite class. I see two sinario’s, WW III, which appears to be well on its way, or a total collapse of the western, and maybe the world, economies, either or could bring on the other. I wouldn’t be imagining what it’s going to look like in a century, I’d be imagining what it’s going to look like next year!!
THE FUTURE HANDGUN WILL BE A DEATH RAYGUN…NUCLEAR POWERED…TOTAL DISENTEGRATION AT
THE TOUCH OF A BUTTON ! DARPA IS ON TOP OF THE POWER SOURCE AND TARGETING BUT RANGE IS THE STICKLER AS THE RAY LOSES ENERGY WITH INCREASED DISTANCE. BUCK ROGERS WOULD KILL TO HAVE ONE OF THESE BABIES, ONCE PERFECTED.
Realistically the civilian handgun if they are still allowed will have a limited number of rounds (stripper clips for an internal grip capacity) with the projectile containing the propellant and electronic primer. A non military midsized caliber (.357 Sig) and an encoder will exist. Alloy and synthetic will be construction material. Revolvers will be relics. Military pistols will be similar but with detachable mags and ammo.
I believe the Active Denial System projecting a focused beam of 3.2mm wave electromagnetic radiation at a human target will play a big part. This heats the water and fat molecules on the skin, causing their temperature to rise by up to 50C (122 degrees Fahrenheit). it is unbearably uncomfortable in todays iteration, like opening a roasting hot oven door.’ The immediate instinct is to escape the beam and seek cover — at which point the effect subsides.”
There is little doubt in my mind that the next hundred years will miniaturize and enhance this technology (already in use) to be lethal. This would eliminate the use of bullets for personal defense purposes, small game hunting.
Firearms will hold the owners genetic marker. and only that person will be able to fire the weapon. Older firearms will be heavely taxed if allowed at all. The progressives and leftists will finally succeed it taking most out of the hands of legal citizens.
Ammo will also carry a genetic marker, so when fired a tracker will be left in weapon and target, thus indentifing who shot it. Most ammo will be non-leathal, for the general public. Hand loading will be outlawed all together.
In general it will be a Utopia for Criminals, the easily lead, and weak.
That already happened in 1973, with the Century Mfg. Model 100 .45-70 Government Revolver…
Probably rifle calibre rounds fired in handguns.
You’re all missing the most recent changes.
Think of chemical changes to shotgun plastic to be the accelerant, decreasing case weight. Minimal metallic case needed to hold pressure and assist with load cycling.
Handgun changes polymer/metallic, fiberglass, Kevlar, Plexiglass, Lexan bullets with different nose geometry. Lighter weight, less powder, less barrel wear, less recoil, maybe return to larger diameter?
Rifle changes long tailed reduced ballistic coefficients. Back to the polymer accelerants with electronic ignition to decrease number of moving parts. No metallic case.
Or oversized pellet gun shaped bullets, think about shooting the case but no bullet.
And I’m new to shooting.
I think a hybrid round about the size and weight of a .22 round with a projectile capacitor charged by the gun, will arise and be adopted by police. A cross between projectile and taser. It would have many lighter weight rounds and would be non-lethal. The Ruger Mark VII?
On Railguns, I very much doubt it! The US Navy has all but abandoned Railgun R&D in 2020 until a magnetically conductive superalloy (i.e. Adamantium-steel) is developed, that doesn’t self-destruct once it is fired! And the likelihood of a Laser-based weapon hitting the civilian market within the next fifty years or so is a pipedream…
I think this actually all probably misses the mark on the majority of future firearms (no offense) for the simple reason of new technologies that are being worked on. I think some weapons like normal shotguns, revolvers, lever actions and some classic firearms will be available and popular on civilian markets. However I think that magnet rail, battery, and laser technology will advance enough so that we’re either shooting tiny bits of metal at extremely violent velocities at each other or we’ll be frying each other with laser weapons. Oh and I also think no matter what ammo counter displays and/or battery level indicators (see previous predictions) will become common on guns.
Air guns might see more common use for hunting and even home defense. They’re getting surprisingly advanced and are getting larger calibers. But basically with magnets and air pressure there’s a lot of variables related to the gun and the ammo that are dialed in way more accurately than with modern ballistics.
In short I think ballistics like we’re used to will probably be used in some capacity (we still have bows and crossbows) but I don’t think they’ll be the mainstay of most armed forces or the favorite of civilian markets. Imagine over 100 rounds in a handgun sized package that all pack the punch of a 45ACP and the penetration of a rifle round like 5.56. Or (laser) weapons who’s magazines can be reloaded by simply recharging some batteries. That allows for reloads just about anywhere without physical supplies of ammo. That, I think, is the future.
Perhaps the target and the bullet will be manufactured in a factory that understand Quantum Dynamics. Use Quantum Entanglement to ensure the bullet finds its way to the target.
Regarding folding optical sights, I handled one mounted on a S&W revolver at a SHOT Show back in the 1980s.
I foresee thermal scopes for pistols and rifles that aid the shooter to find and hold onto target, like a radar that locks on. It would take some type of built in gyroscope to move and hold the sight picture. Obviously it would be expensive and probably not too reliable at first but seems feasible and WAY COOL.
Ultra-microscopic nanomachines will one day pull raw materials from the environment and manufacture your ammo directly into the magazine. 😉
You mentioned that laser sights will probably not make it. But what do you think of laser weapons?
Also, what about vr heads up sighting displays?
Glock introduces the long awaited Glock Pistol Caliber Carbine, in metric 9, with various forearm configurations! It looks a lot like a 1930’s Tommy Gun, with modern upgrades like a picatinny rail, MagPul iron sights, and MagPul 50 round drum magazine in Glock PCC configuration. It also uses common Glock double stack Magazines, and comes with no other magazine adapter options. :-). Also a CA compliant version, complete with a 2 round Glock magazine will be offered.
I would expect in the next 100 years, the Stone-Age, Stoner rifle (the never really changing AR) will come out with ambidextrous safety, and charging handle, as standard equipment, and then in another 100 years, possibly add an ambidextrous magazine release. Maybe with the invention of Computer Aided Design, and Computer Numeric Controlled manufacturing equipment, a mirror image version of an AR could be made for the correct-handed crowd. I mean the possibilities are just endless. Or like the automobile industry did, make a retro version of the original Stoner rifle, by removing the ambidextrous controls. ;-). Be just like old times, or like today. In all seriousness, I think any real improvements in the industry will probably be in high-tech sights. And if done right, they may even be able to install them on that retro AR. LOL
Form has followed function for over a century. Handguns will have grips that are angled, so they can be sighted down the barrel or using sights. Other than the inclusion of a light, I don’t see many changes. A man who used handguns in WW1 would be able to point and shoot any handgun made in the 22nd century. Until we can fire a weapon with our mind, the trigger finger and hands on the grip will be the same action.
There may be safer safeties, handguns that will not fire if dropped, but price of manufacture will be more important. A semiauto handgun in the 20s cost more than a month’s pay for the average man. The quality was usually there and there were many machining and fitting functions. Now, with CNC equipment, the master machinist designs the program and the “machinists” watch the parts come out and fill with raw material. No real hand fitting and the cost of a handgun has just dropped to a day’s pay or a little more(depending on the firearm’s finish).
This is the true freedom. Now most everyone who wants/needs and handgun can have one.
I very much doubt that any Future-based Firearm will be Energy-based like a Plasma Firearm, when the US Military abandoned virtually all Plasma-based weapons R&D as a non-starter! Meaning that Plasma-based weapons won’t work inside an atmosphere, and the Earth where you Live and Breath is covered with an Atmosphere…