Tom Maffin, senior gunsmith for Transformational Defense Industries Inc. demonstrates the company's revolutionary Kriss Super V 45 caliber submachine gun at a range on the Blackwater USA campus in Moyock, N.C.
By Jon W. Glass
His Ford Crown Victoria disabled by hostile fire, driver Tom Maffin scrambled from the car, crouched behind the hood and sprayed a target with automatic gunfire to cover for a passenger.
Maffin's weapon: a KRISS Super V .45-caliber submachine gun.
If you're military or law enforcement and haven't heard of it, chances are you soon will.
Maffin is senior gunsmith for Transformational Defense Industries Inc., a weapons technology firm that conducts its research and development from a Virginia Beach office park near Lynnhaven Mall
By early next year, the Washington-based TDI plans to open a production facility in Virginia Beach to begin manufacturing the submachine gun for police and military use and a .45-caliber semi automatic carbine for the commercial shooting market.
Industry experts say the weapons are unlike any other now on the market and could shake up the firearms world.
What makes the weapons special, company and industry officials say, is a new patented operating system that substantially reduces recoil and muzzle climb when fired.
The recoil, or kick, of a conventional weapon is directed backward into a shooter's shoulder, causing the gun to rise off target. TDI's "Super V" bolt-and-slide mechanism directs the energy downward in front of the trigger.
Company tests indicate the mechanism reduces recoil by 40 to 60 percent and muzzle rise by about 95 percent over conventional gun operating systems.
At a Thursday demonstration for media at a Blackwater USA firing range in Moyock, officials said their system improves accuracy and reduces user fatigue. The submachine gun can be fired with one hand and remain on target.
"This is the future of weapons right here," said Andrew Finn, TDI's senior vice president.
TDI has worked with the Army and special operations forces to develop the technology. It uses Blackwater's facilities to field test the weapons.
Officials set up the disabled vehicle scenario to demonstrate the maneuverability and firepower of the .45-caliber submachine gun, which TDI says is ideal for close-quarter situations the police and military encounter in urban settings.
The gun, which weighs about 5 pounds unloaded and collapses to a length of 16 inches, can be easily carried in helicopters, Humvees and other vehicles, said Maffin, a retired Marine who began working at TDI's Virginia Beach operation about a year ago.
"Seeing this product for the first time in my interview, I was sold," Maffin said. "It's got the knockdown power a lot of guys want."
Members of the media at the Thursday event, heavy in such trade publications as Guns & Ammo and Small Arms Review magazines, were allowed to shoot the submachine gun and the carbine.
"The reduction in recoil is absolutely amazing," said Wendy Henry, who works in Pennsylvania for Women In Scope, a TV series that promotes women's awareness of firearms. "It's very easy to maintain your control over it."
Frank Borelli, a law enforcement and military consultant in Maryland, said the weapon is "going to rock the firearms industry." He has fired the TDI submachine gun but did not attend the event.
"What they're doing is very different," Borelli said.
Some industry experts question whether the company will make significant inroads with military and police, which have moved away from submachine guns - in part because their pistol-caliber rounds can't pierce body armor. The gun's price tag - now expected to retail in the $1,200-to-$1,300 range - also could chill sales.
Company officials said interest is high, noting that they worked with the Army's Picatinny armament research and development arsenal in New Jersey to develop the technology.
These guns are the first product that TDI, a five-year-old subsidiary of Switzerland-based Gamma Research and Technologies Holding SA, has brought to market.
Chuck Kushell, TDI's chief executive officer and director, said the Virginia Beach operation, dubbed Viking Works, will grow once production starts in January or February.
Prototypes of the KRISS Super V .45-caliber submachine gun and carbine are displayed at TDI’s production facility in Virginia Beach.
Currently, eight engineers, machinists and gunsmiths work in a 4,000-square-foot facility. Kushell said he expects to more than double the space and add 15 to 20 employees as the company ramps up over the next few months.
To reach the civilian market, the company developed the .45-caliber carbine. Plans call for marketing it primarily to shooting enthusiasts who would use it for competitions and target practice, but it also could be used for hunting.
"This is not going to be a gun for everyone," Kushell said.
Company officials said the Super V mechanism can be adapted to any caliber weapon. Work currently is under way on a 12-gauge shotgun. And the company has won an Army contract valued at a little over $1 million to develop a lighter-weight, more user-friendly .50-caliber machine gun, Kushell said.