A rheological fluid-based mechanism (or RB-MECHANISM) is a method for designing and powering firearms and ordnance. The mechanisms currently used by firearms and ordnance utilize combustion of gunpowder to propel ammunition. An RB-MECHANISM controls the recoil and the reloading process by altering the viscosity of a rheological fluid, or "smart fluid," to control the force necessary to accelerate a piece of ammunition to high speeds. This can be used in both small arms such as pistols and heavy ordnance applications, minimizing moving parts and streamlining the fire control system. A computer chip is needed to control the fire and other weapon “settings”. Typical power requirements are approximately 1 ampere/12 volts. If electricity is unsuitable or unavailable, a magnetic field may be applied to the fluid by the use of magnets.
Rheological fluids, or smart fluids, are fluids whose viscosity can be controlled by applying an electric current or introducing a magnetic field. Rheological fluids are thus considered valuable for the ease of manipulating viscosity without consuming or degenerating the substance, as might be necessary with other fluids.
In devices that feature multiple weapons, such as a combined rifle and grenade launcher (XM29/ OICW), there is a penalty in weight because each weapon requires separate systems for firing, reloading and recoil control. A single computer-controlled RB-MECHANISM, however, can support and control both weapons and thereby save weight as well as streamline the control system.
Old simple blowback-type submachine guns like S&W 76, "Swedish K", Sten etc. are unsuitable for powerful rifle ammunition. With rifle ammunition a bolt with a mass nearing 10 kilograms would be necessary to safely absorb the recoil for the time the bolt-head must be locked to the barrel. This makes it impractical for use with higher-power ammunition. Instead, the computer-controlled RB-MECHANISM can absorb the recoil as effectively as a 10-kg bolt without the added weight disadvantage.