Serial Bullet?

I need help from someone with both a military mind and a grasp of the English language. I have the first but not the second.

In military jargon, a Serial Bullet Rifle (SBR) or Serial Flechette Rifle (SFR)means one bullet or one flechette at a time. So why are they called “Serial” and not “Single”. Or did somebody simply type in the wrong word somewhere along the line, and it stuck?


From my reading of “SPIW: The Deadliest Weapon That Never Was”, it appears that they were simply using “serial” as another word for “burst”; the first time I can see the word pop up was during 1968, when various programmes were joined together for study under the US Army’s “Future Rifle Plan”; this was after the first part of the SPIW programme had been a disappointing failure, but with several bright points of interest, and they were looking at three distinct plans based on the original SALVO recommendations: a serial bullet rifle (SBR), a serial flechette rifle (SFR), and a multi-flechette weapon that operated something like a shotgun, firing a “cloud” of flechettes all at once. Perhaps the “serial” designator was adopted primarily to distinguish the one-flechette-at-a-time “burst” SPIW from the multi-flechette version? Both were operating one the same idea; increasing hit probability by scattering the projectiles around the point of aim, but trying different methods to get there.


Good points.

If you’ll look on page 105 of SPIW you’ll see some comments by GE Corp where they talk about using conventionally primed ammunition as adaptable “. . . to either a single flechette rifle (SFR) or a single bullet rifle (SBR) . . .” I’ve seen this same terminology used elswhere.

And I think the SBR concept was aimed at the 4.32mm (17 cal) cartridges. Were they intended to be fired in a “burst” mode?

Or maybe “Serial” meant “one of a series” such as the old Roy Rogers serials at the movies. (It just occured to me. What “Serials” did the Brits have??)

I still wonder if “Serial” wasn’t just another high class term to describe a simple concept. Kinda like Homologous to describe a bullet with the same shape as the M1 and M2.