Archive for the ‘Light Weapons’ Category

Author of Gunpowder and Lead and Twitterati extraordinaire Diana Wueger was bringing it with some great tweets this week including one on these great Small Arms ID playing cards (PDF).  On a similar theme, Wueger turned her followers onto DAVA Consulting’s small arms and light weapons encyclopedia app, Modern Weapons: Small Arms, for the iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad (available via iTunes for $0.99). I do love me some militant Apps, so I thought I would give this one a whirl.

If you have visited the English and Russian-language Modern Weapons web site, the layout of the app will be familiar. When you open the app, weapons are first listed according to general categories including handguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, machine guns, and so on. Aside from what the title suggests, the app also includes a variety of light weapons including Rocket & Grenade Launders and MANPADS.  Right from the get go, the feel of that app is a little too ‘video gamey.’ For example, developers could swap the term “sniper rifles” for “precision rifles.”

Within each of these categories, individual weapons are listed. The user can organize according to name, caliber, or country of origin. Resorting the list is quick and easy–a welcome feature. Naming conventions, however, are inconsistent. Some weapons are listed according to manufacture then model name; others give the US or another country’s military designation alone.

Individual entries were more pedestrian offering basic specs (weight, dimensions, magazine capacities, etc.). Here, there were some missing pieces.  In the technical specifications, listing the action/mode of operation and the barrel’s rate-of-twist would be would be even more useful than the token muzzle velocity entry, which is variable with ammunition. The manufacturers are absent unless listed in the title of each entry. This would be good to reference particularly in the cases where multiple manufacturers produced the weapon.

The AK-47 family is particularly thin in this regard. Anyone can identify an AK-47. I want to be able to differentiate between a Tobuk and Zastava! Where are the proof marks, stampings, and other identifying markings?  Random images are great for the amateurs ogling guns; professionals want to be able to identify weapons.

There is also a “favorites” feature, which allows users to ‘bookmark’ a short list of frequently referenced weapons.

The app also offers an internal browser that takes you to each weapon’s Wikipedia page, which is helpful given some missing information in the descriptions. However, the browser has no back or forward buttons, which can be a hassle if you click one or two successive links on the Wiki page.  Plus, resorting to Wikipedia is a real inconvenience without access to an internet connection. The YouTube and gun store/shooting range locator are puff features for the hobbyist–a waste of resources in my opinion.

A “pro” version of the app might include manuals for each of the weapons. At the very least, I would like to see instructions on clearing and field stripping.  This would be would be worth a good bit more than its extant $0.99 price tag.

There is some real promise here. I love that this app does not stop at small arms but also includes many light weapons including MANPADS.  (Even with some recent additions with version 1.4.9, the developers could greatly expand on this feature.) However, it lacks some vital features to aid small weapons and light weapons identification. All things considered, DAVA Consulting has made a very handy SALW ID app with some room for growth–particularly in terms of a professionalism upgrade.


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