Smart Gun

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A Smart Gun is an advanced weapon, usually found in Science Fiction, that combines the action of a firearm (usually pistols and rifles) with the utility of a computer. While tropes relating to guns themselves are covered under Guns and Gunplay Tropes, the "Smart" aspect of the trope is unique, giving whoever wields the gun various abilities not normally achievable with a normal gun (or without extensive training).

For example:
  1. Security: A regular gun will work for anyone as long as they've disengaged the safety. A Smart Gun would require some kind of key or biometric scan to work. Anyone not authorized would find the gun useless, or in extreme cases, the gun would self-destruct. Thus far in Real Life, attempts to implement this kind of thing have been largely unsuccessful, as the recoil from firing the gun tends to quickly ruin the delicate electronics required (and firearm users need their weapons to be reliable at all times.)
  2. Communications: A Smart Gun might inform the user of needed maintenance/repair, give an ammo count or notify when ammo is low, or could give useful information to the shooter, such as the identity of a target (for friend/foe identification).
  3. Targeting: An everyday run-of-the-mill gun will fire at whatever its pointed at, and depending on ballistics, may or may not actually hit the target, give or take Gun Accessories like scopes and training. A Smart Gun, on the other hand, could help the user in various ways such as accounting for bullet drop, or refusing to fire on unintended targets. In extreme cases, perhaps supplanting the weapons own abilities for the users training.

See also: Sentry Gun, if its designed to be set down and work autonomously; Attack Drone, for when your smart weapon gets up to go without you; Impossibly Cool Weapon for stylish weapons; and for weapons which are smart in the literal sense see Empathic Weapon and Equippable Ally (which may overlap this trope).

Examples:

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     Anime and Manga  

  • Almost all mages in the Lyrical Nanoha franchise use so-called "Devices"—magical computers that function as weapons in combat and as universal tools during downtime. Some (but not all) of them even have artificially intelligent personalities, allowing them to act independently of their wielders in combat. Teana Lanster's Device, for instance, consists of a pair of handguns, but out of combat, she uses it akin to a personal laptop.
  • In Psycho-Pass a future Japan has developed a system to qualify a persons emotional state, personality profile, and likeliness to commit a crime, this system connects to a series of nifty pistols called Dominators. Smart guns with the ability to stun or liquefy failing targets but with a very inconvenient Transformation Sequence in-between safe and fire.

     Comic Books  

  • In Rogue Trooper: The titular Super Soldier uploads the biochip of one of his dead comrades into his rifle allowing his friend to fight on as his weapon.
  • In Albedo: Erma Felna EDF civilian guns have cameras that record everything they shoot.
  • Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire has guns that are outright sentient
  • A one-shot criminal that appears in the Dark Horse Comics Dirty Pair arc "Run From The Future" has a Smart Gun that thinks for itself a la Buck Godot... and the gun is a Trigger Happy psychopath that (by the time of the comic) has managed to smooth-talk the criminal into killing about 200-plus people in Quick Draw rampages.
  • Judge Dredd's Lawgiver pistol is a classic example of this trope. It can fire seven types of bullets (regular, armor piercing, ricochet, incendiary, grenade, high explosive, and heat seeker), has a stun function and will explode if anyone but its authorized user attempts to use it.

     Film - Live Action  

  • In 2007's The Last Sentinel featuring Katee Sackhoff the main character carries a sapient talking rifle.
  • Judge Dredd. All Judges have a Lawgiver II pistol. Its ammunition type can be changed by verbal command, it repeats back any ammo-change orders, it stores a DNA sample from anyone who uses it, and it electrocutes any unauthorized person who tries to use it.
    • The version in Dredd doesn't repeat the orders and explodes instead of electrocuting the unauthorized user.
  • James Bond
    • In Skyfall, Q equips James Bond with a version of his trademark Walther PPK semiautomatic that features a biometric trigger lock. It won't fire unless the handprint sensor verifies that Bond is the one holding it. Which as you might expect comes in handy when a mook gets his hand on the weapon.
    Bond: Good luck with that.
  • In Shoot 'em Up, assassin Mr. Hertz equips his men with pistols equipped with thumbprint sensors. Mr. Smith gets around it by cutting off a mook's hand.
  • The M56 Smart Gun from Aliens comes with a lot of nifty features most prominent being the servo-harness which makes it easier to carry, operate, and links to targeting processor.
  • In Lost in Space the guns have voice locks to restrict their use to authorized personnel only. Dr. Smith has to convince Will to say "enable gun for all users" before he can take the gun.
  • In The Fifth Element, the guns that Zorg tries to trade to Mangalores for the Element Stones come with a ton of smart features, and most likely a system to prevent a Rummage Fail... and a Self-Destruct Mechanism that Zorg doesn't tells them about and kills several of them, in retaliation for their failure at getting the stones.

     Literature  

  • Against a Dark Background: Reacquiring a Lazy Gun, a whimsical gun smarter than some of its users, drives the plot. Basically, a Lazy Gun has unexplained Reality Warper powers and, when something is in its sights and the trigger is pulled, something will happen that destroys the object, almost no matter how big it is. (It didn't work on a sun.) Also, they don't want to be taken apart and studied. Don't try it.
  • In Old Man's War the Colonial Marines' weapons are biometrically locked, computer-controlled and programmable, and use nanomachines for ammunition which allows them to go from assault rifle to flamethrower with a command. In one instance the Monster of the Week has equipped itself with personal Deflector Shields, which viewpoint character John Perry defeats by programming his gun to fire Double Taps.
  • Any weapon with "Intellectual Circuitry" from Line of Delirium such as the Argument 17 or the polycharger Argument 36.
  • The guns sold AE van Vogt's The Weapon Shops of Isher are smart weapons than can only be used for self-defense, suicide, or legitimate (as defined by the Weapon Shops) hunting. Although a few special agents have "unlimited special" guns that don't have the "self-defense only" limit built in.
  • Larry Niven's Known Space short story "The Soft Weapon". An alien espionage device is a Swiss Army Weapon that can change into various forms, including a sonic stunner, a monofilament sword and a total conversion beam. One of the forms is a computer that can communicate with its possessor.
  • A subplot in the Doctor Who New Adventures novel Cat's Cradle: Warhead involves a police officer field-testing an experimental smart gun, which has a status display screen and proves to be able to target and fire itself. It is eventually revealed to have a complete personality created by Brain Uploading another police officer, and various quirks it displayed through the novel were attempts by this personality to communicate beyond the limited repertoire of gun-related information the gun's systems were designed to permit.

     Live Action TV  

     Tabletop Games  

  • Shadowrun: Many options ranging from recoil compensation to flight are available as gun modifications as well as the venerable Smartlink system. In certain cases, the user must purchase a special optic implant that allows direct control of a Smartlinked gun in order to fully utilize its features as without it, the gun will either not function at all or operate as a regular firearm without any bonuses in accuracy.
  • In Traveller "Intelligent" weapons at TL 11 and 13 have integrated computers that can run Expert programs, for instance an Intelligent gun running the Gun Combat program could fire itself. Biometric locks are available at TL 10.
  • In Eclipse Phase biometric locks are a cheap mod for weapons. Smart-links that interface with the wielder's mesh inserts to place a targeting reticle in their field of vision for a 10 to shooting, are a moderately priced mods.
  • In Hc Svnt Dracones a P.I.D. lock is a security lock for weapons that scans thousands of aspects of the wielder's person. And has a note for the GM that it cannot be hacked.
  • Various weapon gadgets such as biometric locks, tracking devices, ammo switching mechanisms and targeting sensors (which go from assisted targeting up to "build-your-own-Sentry Gun") are available for purchase on the d20 Modern expansion book D20 Future, restricted (well, without GM fiat) by Progress Level and how much it increases the base weapon's price.
  • Fates Worse Than Death, an "alternative cyberpunk" game which thrives on deconstructing genre tropes, features Intelligent Guns. True to their name, their powerful internal computers, gyroscopic and piezoelectric systems allow Intelligent Guns to maintain perfect accuracy in nearly all conditions, adjust rate-of-fire and change ammunition type on the fly in order to cause optimal damage, identify targets and increase their users' battlefield awareness... They are also so expensive that, in the mostly crapsack world in which the game is set, very few people can actually afford to have them. Instead, most soldiers and mercenaries just make do with weapons slightly more advanced than we have today (with some build in electronics), while Intelligent Guns are reserved for the best of the best of the corporate elite squads.
    • Smart enough to make an Intelligent Gun look like a potted plant is the IWS, or Integrated Weapon System, a suit of Powered Armor designed to accommodate all of a fighter's combat needs in one piece of gear. Among its countless features (including adaptive camouflage and a smart pharmaceutical synthesizer which makes up new combat drugs on the fly for maximum effect), the suit has a built-in caseless machinegun on an articulated "arm" coming out of the shoulder. A literal "smart weapon", this gun can be given orders via the suit's neural link, including "just fire at everything without the right IFF tag", and is flexible, accurate and smart enough to land 80 headshots per second against targets in a 360 degrees circle around the suit. Unfortunately, while it can turn a person into a one-man-army, a single IWS costs as much a stealth bomber and there are few, if any situations in which deploying it wouldn't be less efficient than deploying the amount of men and hardware which could be used for the equivalent price.

     Video Games  

  • Titanfall: Features the Smart Pistol MK5 which can automatically track five targets with bullets that Robotech. It is difficult to lock onto pilots due to their movement speed, but very good for taking out Spectres and Grunts.
  • Mass Effect uses mass accelerator weapons that shave tiny bullets off a solid ammunition block, customizing each round for atmospheric conditions at time of firing and making for Bottomless Magazines (until Mass Effect 2 retconned in thermal clips in favor of Mass Effect's cooldown system). Expanded Universe works such as Mass Effect: Revelation state that the guns also feature automatic aim adjust that reportedly takes two or three seconds to lock onto a target.
  • Quite a few guns in Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! have artificial intelligence. There's a shotgun that can be loaded with the AI core of Hyperion loader #1340, The Morningstar sniper rifle, The Bane, the foul-mouthed Boganella, among others.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4 uses this as the explanation for why Snake cannot simply scoop up enemy weapons and immediately use them as part of his own arsenal. The weapons are keyed to authorized users based on nanomachines injected into their bloodstream. Instead, he needs to funnel enemy weapons back to the arms dealer, Drebin, who can get around the lock out, and resupply Snake for a fee.
  • In Escape from Butcher Bay, the prison guards use biometrically locked weapons. When Riddick is escaping, he finds the mainframe and gives himself weapon privileges. Additionally, most of the weapons have an ammo indicator and a Laser Sight or flashlight, befitting a game with almost no heads up display.
  • The trope namer shows up in the Alien vs. Predator, where it combines high damage, high rate of fire, and computer-assisted aiming that makes it great at splatting Facehuggers before they get into Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong range. Downsides include being Too Awesome to Use, eating through ammo in a flash, or depending on the game being so bulky that your character can't run while carrying it.

     Web Original  

  • In Orion's Arm there are numerous examples of weapons with AI controls and other functions. In the story "Yes Jolonah, there is a Hell" one of the Queen of Pain's Collectors gives Jolonah a pistol and the choice between killing himself then and there, and eternal torment in the Queen's bowels. He tries to Take a Third Option and shoot the Collector, but finds the gun was programmed to only shoot him.

     Real Life  

  • Fire control systems were developed for naval warfare to make sure the big guns did what they needed to in conditions not known elseware in the battle space, eventually as the technology matured other large war vehicles mounted similar systems such as a tank's ballistic computer and shrunk down to the size of Precision Guided Firearms like the Trackpoint scope system.
  • Such systems for personal firearms are occasionally pushed for by gun control advocates but have many downsides and are always rejected by police, military, and civilian gun owners as a firearm above all things needs to be reliable at all times. Biometrics that don't work because your hands are dirty or a gun that doesn't fire because the batteries went dead would likely get the user killed in a situation when they really need it to work.


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