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Harrington & Richardson SPIW

From Internet Movie Firearms Database - Guns in Movies, TV and Video Games
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Harrington & Richardson SPIW - 5.6x57mm Triple-Bore Tround (SPIW program), .17 Triplex Tround (FRS program) & 40x46mm (SPIW program).

The Harrington & Richardson SPIW was a prototype developed by Harrington & Richardson as an entry in the U.S. Army's SPIW (Special Purpose Individual Weapon) program that ran from the 1960s to the 1970s. The U.S. Army's ORO (Operations Research Office) had been working on Project NIBLICK, a follow up to the Project Salvo program that ran throughout the 1950s, to try and create a new grenade launcher when they came up with the idea of combining a flechette firing rifle and a grenade launcher, resulting in the birth of the SPIW program. The H&R SPIW would compete with three other entries which were the AAI SPIW, Winchester SPIW and Springfield Armory SPIW.

The H&R SPIW was the most complex design out of all the entries, using 5.6x57mm Triple-Bore Trounds as its ammunition, triangular shaped triplex plastic cased telescoped cartridges loaded with three 5.6mm saboted flechettes, long thin needle or dart projectiles, the same kind from AAI's XM110 cartridges that are also used in Frankford Arsenal and Winchester's XM144 cartridges. Being a multiplex casing, these trounds had three bores to hold the flechettes and had a rounded angle on its profile to allow a faster rate of fire than with other types of tround ammunition and because of their polymer nature the tround casings were very light compared to metal casings even with a loadout of three flechettes, themselves lighter than traditional bullets. The trounds were held together on a belt link made of plastic tape and loaded into a drum magazine with a capacity of 20 trounds, resulting in a max of 60 flechettes.

David Dardick, the inventor of the Dardick tround or just tround, also designed the H&R SPIW's open revolving chamber. The three sided chamber would pick up one of the trounds from the drum magazine suspended below the standing breech. The tround would be lined up with three bores drilled into the H&R SPIW's single barrel, pressure build up would push the sabots forward, carrying the flechettes along with them, the sabots would discard into pieces early while in the bores while the flechettes continued on down the barrel, allowing volley fire with three projectiles being launched for every shot. A top-mounted gas piston would cam the revolving cylinder by one third of a turn (120°) for every shot, with the spent casing being ejected out of the other side of the rifle while still attached to the tape link. The underbarrel grenade launcher was a semi-automatic revolver grenade launcher that had a three round carrying capacity, it was chambered for 40x46mm grenades and the chambers were loaded in the backside.

Ultimately the H&R SPIW would be disqualified from the program early due to several issues with the weapon. The rifles open revolving chamber cylinder was extremely dangerous to the operator and could cause serious injuries to their hands. While the ammunition was light, the gun itself weighed a 23.9 lbs. fully loaded, failing to meet the programs requirement of weighing no more than 10 lbs. while having a carrying capacity of sixty flechettes and three grenades. The rifle was made of a translucent plastic body and steel components but this weight was not evenly distributed resulting in it being unbalanced and front heavy, an issue further exacerbated by the underbarrel grenade launcher attached to the front of the prototype. Two more issues were with the trounds. If there was even as little as a variation of only a few thousandths of an inch in the plastic tape link it could cause excessive bulging in the tround and split them apart. The other issue was the bores sharing the same space, when the first flechette left the tround there would be a dramatic drop in pressure due to gas leakage, this resulted in less velocity, accuracy and range for the other two flechettes with the third getting the most dramatic reduction in power after the second left.

This also created a safety hazard as one or two of the flechettes could get stuck in their bores due to insufficient pressure, obstructing them and could result in damage to the weapon or even serious injury to the operator. In 1969 the U.S Army would launch the Future Rifle System program but did not begin actual tests till 1974 due to the United States Congress forcing the program to scale back, resulting in the FRS program itself becoming a fellow up to the SPIW program after it had ended. Years after being eliminated from the SPIW program Harrington & Richardson would re-chamber their SPIW rifle for the .17 Triplex Tround, switching out the flechettes for three sub-caliber bullets and remove the grenade launcher component as a possible entrant for the FRS program but it was once more rejected and the prototype seems to have been shelved indefinitely.


(Developed in ???? – ????, designed in 1951, prototypes only)

  • Type: Assault Rifle
  • Caliber: 5.6x57mm Triple-Bore Tround (SPIW program), .17 Triplex Tround (FRS program), and 40x46mm (SPIW program)
  • Weight: 23.9 lbs (10.8 kg) loaded
  • Length: ?
  • Barrel length: 22 in (55.9 cm)
  • Capacity: 20 Triplex Trounds in a detachable drum magazine (60 flechettes or 60 sub-caliber bullets), 3-round cylinder (grenade launcher)
  • Fire Modes: Semi-Auto / Full-Auto, Semi-Auto (grenade launcher)

The Harrington & Richardson SPIW and variants can be seen in the following films, television series, video games, and anime used by the following actors:

Video Games

Game Title Appears As Modifications Notes Release Date
Phantom Doctrine "AAR" Underbarrel grenade launcher cannot be used 2018

See Also

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