With its brutal, short-range fighting, the nature of urban combat has long resulted in combatants wishing for the ability to shoot around corners without exposing themselves to enemy fire. The CornerShot firearm accessory does exactly that, allowing the user to see—and shoot—from behind cover. The accessory is just one of many new technologies designed to benefit ground troops and give them an advantage against dug-in adversaries.
From Krummlauf to CornerShot
One of the earliest examples of this sort of technology was the Krummlauf. Developed by Germany during the latter half of World War II after years of bitter house-to-house fighting, the Krummlauf was attached to the StG-44 assault rifle. Krummlauf consisted of a curved barrel extension and periscope, allowing a soldier to see in the direction the Krummlauf was firing. Germany hoped it would give its soldiers an edge in urban combat and allow armored vehicle crews to shoot enemy soldiers without exposing themselves to enemy fire.
In part, the Krummlauf was a failure because the barrel quickly wore out, but more fundamentally because it was unrealistic to expect that such a minor gimmick—even a hundred of them—could help turn the tide of the war in favor of Germany. Although the United States and Soviet Union scooped up a variety of German “wonder weapons” after the war, the Krummlauf wasn’t one of them, and the concept went away for the next fifty years.
Ironically, the next iteration of the cover-shooting concept came from Israel. In the early 2000s, Israeli counter-terrorism unit commander Lieutenant Colonel Amos Golan introduced his invention – the CornerShot. CornerShot was designed to do much the same thing as the Krummlauf, allowing troops (and SWAT teams) to engage targets from behind cover, but with several marked differences.
CornerShot differs from its wartime predecessor in several ways. Unlike the Krummlauf, CornerShot doesn’t try to turn the bullet—as difficult as that sounds—but instead turns the entire weapon. CornerShot is essentially a hinged chassis into which a pistol such as a Glock 17, Beretta 92, or other handgun is installed. A video camera is bore-sighted to the pistol, providing a live feed to the shooter, and a built-in tactical light provides illumination in dark spaces. There is a separate provision for installing a visible aiming laser.
CornerShot has many of the same applications as the Krummlauf, including vehicle crews against enemy troops outside the vehicle they are riding in. The inventors particularly envisioned a use for it in counter-terrorism and urban warfare situations. SWAT teams and infantry might need to look into—and engage targets inside—a room or other enclosed space without exposing themselves to enemy fire.
Unlike its predecessor, CornerShot is only supposed to be one of many tactical advantages that a ground force has going into battle, not a gimmick borne of desperation. Although highly specialized, it can be reconfigured as a conventional, forward-firing weapon in the blink of an eye.
CornerShot is a great example of moving past a failed answer to a problem and tackling it in a new and unique way. The system has reportedly already been used in counter-terror operations of the post-9/11 era. The growing urbanization of modern warfare will probably ensure that it, or something like it, will continue to serve ground forces worldwide for decades to come.