Created By: Dialga X on July 5, 2009
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Magnetic Weapons

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Call it a railgun, a magnetic accelerator, a mass driver, a MAC, a gauss cannon, whatever, they all refer to the same thing: a weapon that uses magnetic fields instead of an explosive chemical reaction to propel a projectile. This is a fairly common weapon in science fiction.

Note that there are 2 main types of magnetic weapons:

  • Railgun (not to be confused with rail mounted artillery) - accelerates projectile along 2 conductive rails.
  • Coilgun - uses a series of coiled electromagnets switched on and off to accelerate a projectile.

It is in no way related to the trope of Sticks to the Back or Magnet Hands.

Literature

Video Games

  • Halo has its MA Cs (Magnetic Accelerator Cannons)
    • Along with the Warthog's gatling gauss cannon.
  • The Eden faction of Outpost 2 has a railgun as one of its weapons

Real Life

  • The US Navy has tested a 10 MJ railgun.
    • They are also planning on equipping a ship with a 64 MJ railgun in 2020.
  • Homemade coilguns and railguns are fairly popular among hobbyists.
Community Feedback Replies: 16
  • July 6, 2009
    Arivne
    Literature
    • Harry Harrison's The Stainless Steel Rat series had gauss pistols in The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge.
    • In Robert Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, the inhabitants of Luna used their electromagnetic catapult (normally used to send grain to Earth) as a weapon to drop steel-coated rocks on Terran targets.

    Tabletop RPG
    • Traveller:
      • Traveller Classic had the Gauss Rifle and the VRF Gauss Gun (artillery). An adventure in Supplement 6 76 Patrons had a mass driver being used as a weapon very much like The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress Literature example.
      • MegaTraveller introduced the Gauss Pistol.

    Video Games
  • July 6, 2009
    Tacitus
    Tabletop Games
    • In Warhammer 40000, the Tau Empire make good use of railguns, be it in the form of "rail rifles" that some of their infantry carry, or as the main gun for their heavy tanks and battlesuits. Enemy vehicles don't stand a chance:
      "One of their light walkers carried a weapon of lethal effect. It fired a form of ultra-high velocity projectile. I saw one our tanks after having been hit by it. There was a small hole punched in either flank - one the projectile's entry point, the other its exit. The tiny munition had passed through the vehicle with such speed that everything within the hull not welded down had been sucked out the exit hole, including the crew. We never identified their bodies, for all that remained of them was a red stain upon the ground, extending some twenty metres from the wreck."

    Video Games
    • The Global Defense Initiative first brought railguns to the battlefield in Command And Conquer: Tiberian Sun on their Mammoth MkII. By C&C 3, all of their main-line tanks came equipped or could be upgraded to fire railguns, while their Zone Troopers carry infantry-sized versions.
  • July 6, 2009
    Pinata
    Video Games
    • There's a railgun in Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II.
  • July 6, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    These pop up occasionally in the various Gundam series. Older series like those set in the Universal Century treated railguns as unique prototypes or curiosities. They were more ubiquitous in the Cosmic Era series but were pretty much a "filler" weapon added if a unit had extra space left. The Anno Domini series have these being the most advanced conventional weapons available before Applied Phlebotinum makes energy weapons comonplace and even then the vast majority of military mecha (being of older make) still use them.
  • July 6, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Video Games:
    • Besides missiles, the primary direct weapons of the Caldari in Eve Online are railguns.
    • The Fallout series features a few Gauss (coil) rifles, and even a Gauss pistol
    • In Resident Evil 3, Jill has to use a gigantic experimental stationary railgun to kill the final boss.
  • July 6, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    The nature of the Metal Gear REX of the Metal Gear Solid series. A nuclear warhead fired via a railgun would subvert most nuclear disarment treaties, and not to mention avoid detection by radar due to no fuel needed to propel itself.
  • July 7, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    The experimental railgun in Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen.
  • July 7, 2009
    bigboy
    I vote on Rail Gun as tile. It's most used term.
  • July 7, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Metal Gear Solid 2 has Fortune, a terrorist leader, use a massive railgun she stole from Lockheed-Martin.
  • July 9, 2009
    Dialga X
    Bump.

    @bigboy:

    Railguns and coilguns work completely differently. Besides, Magnetic Weapons is unambigious.
  • July 9, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Don't know if this counts but in X Men Magneto's powers over magnetism essentially turn him into a living magnetic weapon as he actively uses those powers as a weapon.

    In regards to the Tau example, the Rail Rifle is a potent monster hunter but rarely sees play. Broadsides have twin linked forms of the Rail gun.
  • July 9, 2009
    Dcoetzee
    Would we count the magnetic landmines surrounding the human base in Terminator Salvation?
  • July 9, 2009
    Dialga X
    @Unknown Troper 76.227.148.203, Magneto's a bit of a stretch. Yes he can use his magnetic powers in a manner similar to these weapons but I don't think he really counts.

    @Dcoetzee, if the mines use magnetic force to fire a projectile (or are magnetically launched from a cannon), then they count. If they use magnetism as a weapon, then they do not count.
  • July 10, 2009
    Dcoetzee
    No, there are no projectiles involve - they're just activated by metal passing by.
  • July 10, 2009
    NielJacoby
    Stephenson's The Big U also uses a railgun, used to defeat : the giant mutated rats in the sewers.
  • July 11, 2009
    Dialga X
    @Dcoetzee: nope, magnetic mines don't count.

    I'm going to be launching later tonight under the name Magnetic Weapons with Coilgun and Railgun as redirects
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