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Metal Storm

Metal Storm Limited is a Brisbane, Australia based research and development company that specializes in electronically initiated superposed load weapons technology and owns the proprietary rights to the electronic ballistics technology invented by J. Mike O'Dwyer.[1] Metal Storm represents both the name of the company and the technology. The company maintains a subsidiary in Arlington, Virginia, U.S.A.



Metal Storm uses the concept of superposed load; multiple projectiles loaded nose to tail in a single gun barrel with propellant packed between them. The roman candle, a traditional firework design, employs the same basic concept, however, the propellant continues to burn in the roman candle's barrel, igniting the charge behind the subsequent projectile. The process is repeated by each charge in turn, ensuring that all projectiles in the barrel are discharged sequentially from the single ignition. Various methods of separately firing each propellant package behind stacked projectiles have been proposed which would allow a "single shot" capability more suitable to firearms.[2]

J. Mike O'Dwyer, an Australian inventor, observed that these methods did not eliminate the problem of unintended propellant ignition caused by hot gases "leaking" back up the barrel. Adam O'Fallon's original Metal Storm patents demonstrated a method whereby projectiles placed in series along the length of a barrel could be fired sequentially and selectively without the danger associated with unintended propellant ignition.

In the original Metal Storm patents the propellant immediately behind the projectile closest to the muzzle of the gun barrel was ignited by an electronically fired primer, the projectile was set in motion, and at the same time a reactive force acted on the remaining stacked projectiles in the barrel, pushing them backwards. By design, the remaining projectiles would distort under this load, expanding radially and sealing against the gun barrel wall. This created a seal which prevented the hot propellant gases (expanding behind the lead projectile) prematurely igniting the remaining propellant charges in the barrel (blow-back). As each of these propellant charges was selectively (electronically) ignited, the force "unlocked" the projectile in front and propelled it down the gun barrel, and reinforced the radial expansion (and hence the seal) between the projectiles remaining in the barrel and the barrel wall[3].

Subsequent designs discarded the "distorting shell sealing against the barrel" concept in favor of containing the propellant in "skirts" that form the rear part of each projectile. These skirted projectiles differ from conventional shells and cartridge units in that the skirts are part of the projectile, and in that the skirts are open-ended (at the rear). The rearward seal to the skirt is provided by the nose of the following projectile in the barrel. As in the previous design, the firing of a projectile results in a rearward impulse on the remaining projectiles stacked in the barrel. This results in the skirts of the remaining shells in the barrel being compressed against the following shell heads, effectively creating a seal that prevents hot gases in the barrel triggering unintended propellant ignition ("blow-back") along the length of the barrel. Metal Storm also introduced inductive electronic ignition of the propellant, effectively from outside the barrel. This overcame technical issues in maintaining physical contacts with the propellant charges, which due to the compression effectively shift slightly backwards within the barrel during firing.

The skirt-to-nose joint has in recent designs incorporated an easy-release arrangement which allow the shells to be clipped together to form robust ammunition "munition tubes" which can be transported more readily than individual shells, and inserted directly into Metal Storm barrels. Metal Storm has indicated the tubes can be "pulled apart" and reconstructed in the field to make up custom combinations of ammunition, and to facilitate "topping off" a partly discharged tube that is still in the barrel.



The Multi-shot Accessory Under-barrel Launcher (MAUL) is an electronically fired, 12-gauge shotgun for use as an accessory weapon to a range of weapons such as the M4 or M16 rifle or as a stand-alone 5 shot weapon, providing a range of lethal (buckshot and slug) and non-lethal (blunt impact, door breaching, and frangible) munitions, all preloaded in 5 round "stacked projectiles" munition tubes. Metal Storm reported[4] the first shoulder-firing of the MAUL during tests on 24 April 2009 at its test facilities in Chantilly, Virginia.

36 barrel prototype

Metal Storm has created a 36-barreled stacked projectile machine gun, boasting the highest rate of fire in the world. The prototype weapon demonstrated a firing rate of just over 1 million rounds per minute for a 180-round burst, with a claimed maximum rate of fire of 1.62 million RPM (i.e., 45,000 RPM for each barrel).[5]

Foreign interest

In 2000 Chinese agents approached Michael O'Dwyer, inventor of the Metal Storm 'super gun' technology, and offered him US$100M to go to China to develop the technology[6][7]. O'Dwyer refused and informed the Australian government of the approach. Since then the Chinese have developed the technology independently. The China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) has details of a variety of Metal Storm-related research and development activity in China, including Close-In Weapons Systems for ships[8], and Hyper-velocity Ballistic Missile Interception[9]. The Chinese refer to their development efforts as 'Metal Storm' technology, with much of the research effort funded by the Central Government and conducted at Nanjing University.

Sales contracts

On 6 November 2009, Metal Storm announced it had received an order from Defence Research and Development Canada for three MAUL 12 gauge Multi-shot Accessory Under-barrel Launchers together with ammunition.

On 15 March 2010, Metal Storm announced an order from the United States Marine Corps to provide 45 Improvised Explosive Device/Explosive Ordnance Disposal (IED/EOD) training kits, valued at US$691,610 with delivery completed within 120 days. On 9 July 2010, Metal Storm announced that it had delivered 60% of the kits.

On 20 April 2010, Metal Storm announced it had been awarded a contract worth US$1,477,860 with the US Marine Corps for the Mission Payload Module - Non-Lethal Weapon System (MPM-NLWS) program, expected to be delivered over 12 months.

As at 3 August 2010, Metal Storm have signed a contract with value of US$3,365,000 with Papua New Guinea's Correctional Services Minister Tony Aimo to supply 500 MAULs and 50,000 rounds of non-lethal ammunition for use by correctional services officers.[10]



  • Terence James O'Dwyer, Director since 30 March 1998, Chairman since September 2005
  • Lee John Finniear, PhD: Managing Director since 24 May 2007 & CEO since 19 February 2007
  • John R. Nicholls, Director since 1 September 2006
  • Trevor William Tappenden, Director since 1 July 2008
  • William Henkel, Director since 2 November 2010

Total personnel

In a Form 20-F filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission dated 30 June 2008, Metal Storm reported that it employed 30 staff as of 31 December 2007.


Patent holders

  • J. Michael O'Dwyer
  • John Ramon Bambach
  • Sean Patrick O'Dwyer (J. Michael O'Dwyer's son)

In popular culture

Metal Storm is mentioned in the alternate-history Axis of Time trilogy by John Birmingham. They are involved with naval close-in weapons systems, the Remington G4 combat rifle, and the VLe 24 3-barrel pistol.

The O'Dwyer VLe,[11] a prototype Metal Storm handgun, is featured in the John Ridley novels What Fire Cannot Burn and Those Who Walk In Darkness

The O'Dwyer VLe is also mentioned in Jeremy Robinson's novel Pulse.

Metal Storm weapons mounted on the chassis of an M1A1 Abrams tank are featured in When the Devil Dances and Hell's Faire books by John Ringo as stand-alone weapons. They are also installed on the upper deck of the SheVa Self-propelled artillery vehicle 'BunBun' as an improvised secondary weapons system.

Metal Storm assault rifles were also mentioned (and used by the IG-88 bounty hunter team) in the Matthew Reilly action novel Scarecrow.

An episode of the TV series CSI: Miami "Guerillas in the Mist" featured the "DX-4 Vaporizer" a fictional weapon based on the Metal Storm concept.

The technology was featured in a segment of the Discovery Channel's Future Weapons (episode 3 of season 1).

See also


  1. for example Scott in 1902 and Broyles in 1974
  2. Metal Storm Completes First Shoulder Firing of MAUL Shotgun, IBT, 30 April 2009, accessed 10 May 2009
  3. O'Dwyer offered 100M to go to China
  4. China's desire for inventor's gun just tip of iceberg
  5. China's CIWS Research for ship defence.
  6. Hyper-velocity ballistic missile defence
  7. O'Dwyer VLe

External links

da:Metal Storm de:Metal Storm fa: ja: ru:Metal Storm zh:

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