Follow TV Tropes


Fantastic Firearms

Go To

Fantastic Firearms are when an author thinks guns are fine, but they aren't, well, fantastic (ie, "from the writer's imagination") enough. The end result is a weapon that goes "chik-chik... bang!" like a gun, is used by pointing it at people and pulling the trigger like a gun, but it's not a gun because it doesn't use gunpowder. Instead, it uses magic, steam, compressed air, or some other, more esoteric functioning to propel bullets or Magic Missiles.

The direct opposite of Fantasy Gun Control. Weapons like this are often used by a Mage Marksman (but that's more about a guy who makes enchanted bullets or uses a gun as their Magic Focus Object).

See also Automatic Crossbows (a crossbow that is functionally an assault rifle), Magic Wand, and Magic Staff (a stick a magician uses to cast spells, with the latter having the ability to be forcibly applied to the enemy's face in a pinch; these could be a sort of wand even Muggles can use) and Magnetic Weapons (projectile weapons that use Real Life's Applied Phlebotinum, electricity, to fire; a few examples use the principles of a railgun or gauss gun, but with a magic power source, and/or an enchantment to get around their current status as Reliably Unreliable Guns. Fully technological magnetic weapons should go under that trope). Crosses over with Living Weapon if A) it's a gun, and B) it's Organic Technology. Also compare Family-Friendly Firearms, which are guns given a coat of "fantasy" paint (often changed to stunning lasers) to avoid encouraging IRL gunplay.

It does not mean that guns are really cool (if you're looking for that, see here). For a character who holds such a worldview, see Gun Nut. For normal guns given magical enchantments, see Post Modern Magick. Contrast Abnormal Ammo, where it's the bullets that are fantastic rather than their delivery system, although the two may go hand-in-hand (or bullet-in-chamber, as it were) in extreme cases. For magic spells fired with the Finger Gun gesture, see Hand Blast. For sci-fi weapons that fire mundane (or at least, Techno Babble) energy beams, see Ray Gun (which have the honour of being the Ur-Example, with authors deciding that boring old gunpowder wasn't advanced enough for Space Opera and cooking up guns that fire blasts of Pure Energy) and Sonic Stunner. If they fire rockets instead of bullets, it goes under Pocket Rocket Launcher.

Examples include:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach:
    • Starrk's Resurrección transforms Lilynette into a pair of pistols that fire blasts of spiritual energy. Though he can do that on his own, the guns hugely increase the power and firing rate, to the level of a thousand-shot volley.
    • Whereas Sui-Feng's Zanpakuto normally appears as a precision weapon befitting her role as a covert ops agent, her Bankai transforms it into a handheld missile launcher. It's tremendously powerful but overtaxes her spirit energy, and its lack of subtlety embarrasses her.
    • Quincies can gather and manipulate spirit particles to create weapons which fire projectiles made of the same. Initially, this just seems to be bows or similar, but we eventually see Quincies use pistols, a sniper rifle, and even a gatling gun.
  • Mikoto from A Certain Scientific Railgun uses her Psychic Powers to project twin (Positive and Negative) lightning bolts, which she then uses to shoot coins at people. This is what gave her the nickname "The Railgun" in the first place.
  • Doraemon: The franchise has more than one futuristic firearm among the various Gadget-of-the-Week.
    • The Air Cannon, one of the series' most recurring gadgets, is a metal tube worn around the user's hands that fires compressed air blasts. It could fire an infinite amount of shots since it uses, well, recycled air, but it's rather weak and lacks range. As it's one of the cheapest gadgets available, the Air Cannon has been around for at least 70% of the movies.
    • Another gadget, the Bullet Liquid, is applied by dripping drops on the users' fingers. After drying, each drop can fire a single knockout round that renders a target unconscious for an hour without any ill effects (since it's a toy used in the future).
  • In the Anime version of Fairy Tail, Wally Buchnan uses a "Polygon Rifle," which uses "polygon magic" to make objects (ie, the rifle and its projectiles) out of shapes of Hard Light (like a 3-D model on a computer). He uses a real gun in the manga version.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha: Nanoha's Device, Raising Heart, is a Magitek Magic Staff which she tends to wield more like a Gundam-style beam rifle, particularly while in "Shooting Mode" which reshapes its head to resemble a Wave-Motion Tuning Fork.
    • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's: The "Cartridge System" used by the Knights of Ancient Belka consists of a shotgun chamber built into their (weapon-shaped) Device, which can be fired in order to inject pellets of concentrated Mana into the weapon for an explosive boost of power (or fire multiple times in order to charge up for a spell beyond their normal limits). When they first appear, they so overwhelm Nanoha and Fate that they're forced to adapt experimental rifle- and revolver-style Cartridge Systems into their own staff-shaped Devices to keep up. This has the effect of taking Raising Heart's resemblance to a beam rifle even further.
    • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S: Years later, the replica Cartridge System has become stable enough that it's now a common feature of high-end Devices, particularly for mages who adopt reconstructed Belkan fighting styles. Of particular note is Teana, a Gunslinger whose Device is shaped like a pair of pistols, meaning that it "fires" out of sync with it actually casting spells.
  • In Outlaw Star, Gene Starwind and Ron MacDougal wield caster guns, which fire spells contained in shells. Unfortunately, ammo is rare and expensive, and the three most powerful shells drain the wielder's life force when fired. The casters themselves resemble a bulbous pistol (Gene's) and a priest's staff (Ron's), and have glowing turbines that give off a light show when fired to give the viewer the idea that these aren't using gunpowder to fire.
  • Soul Eater: Liz and Patty Thompson are twin sisters who can turn into pistols that are wielded by Death the Kid. It is established that they fire their soul energy.
  • Trigun: Vash, and his brother, Knives, can fuse with the Phlebotinum power cells in their revolvers and transform their whole arm into a Wave-Motion Gun. When Vash manages to get ahold of Knive's revolver, he does this with both arms, The weapon is powerful enough that a beam from the planet's surface managed to punch a hole in the moon overhead.

    Comic Books 
  • In IDW Publishing's Transformers comics, it's eventually revealed that most Cybertronian weapons are fueled by Energon, and bullets that don't have an Energon core are basically duds. The Autobot deep-cover spy Agent 113 uses that fact to conceal information in bullets, which he then shoots into the "eyes" of fellow Autobots' insignia during battle. Energon also serves the same purpose as blood and a foodstuff for Cybertronians, a fact that weirds out at least one human character (the Autobots, for their part, never gave it much thought).
  • Marvel Comics has the Breathing Gun, a gun that lives up to its name, appearing to be made of flesh, and is most notable for being an effective weapon against supernatural forces.
  • Miracleman: The Silver Age has one story where a corrupted Kid Miracleman is taken out by an alien police officer using a gun with no barrel openings. Instead it accelerates bullets to light speed then teleports them directly into their targets, which is probably the only thing that could bypass KM's invulnerability.
  • In one of Rocket Raccoon's solo series, he comes across a vendor offering plant based guns that fire seed bullets which will grow more guns out of people's bodies.

  • Despicable Me: Gru's fart gun (created due to Dr. Nefario's poor hearing-Gru wanted a dart gun), which fires exactly what its name implies. Its report sounds like... well... and its projectile is a gently-drifting brown smoke ring powerful enough to knock a minion off its feet. They're surprisingly useful against mutated superhumans, as we find out in the second film.
  • Heavy Metal: The barbarian horde that attacks the city and its civilian populace in the final vignette have firearms that launch darts. These are like huge nails but without the head. There isn't the usual "bang!" of gunpowder or other explosive propelling these darts, so it must be compressed air (some guns have hoses) or else a pressurized striker (other guns have a reciprocal piston mechanism). The darts are propelled with sufficient force to skewer people through the thorax.

  • Attack of the Clones: The Geonosians are shown using large guns that fire an explosive green energy orb of some kind. These are explained to be a form of sonic weapon in supplemental material, and very much not of the Sonic Stunner variety: one shot depicts one the size of a field artillery piece that blows a cluster of Jedi off their feet.
  • Captain America: The First Avenger: Using the Tesseract, Johann Schmidt, Dr. Arnim Zola, and HYDRA manage to develop advanced weaponry based around its energy, including a number of pulse weaponry both handheld and mounted. These weapons use the Tesseract's energy to either blast a hole into anything made of metal or outright disintegrate anything organic in one hit. Unfortunately, for all their power, they prove to be Awesome, but Impractical, being overall heavier and more cumbersome than conventional firearms and also having much slower firing rates. The tesseract itself is a 4-dimensional storage box for an Infinity Stone, making them effectively Magitek rayguns.
  • eXistenZ has the protagonist Pikul jerry-rig an organitek "gristle-gun" out of the remains of his lunch (some kind of bioengineered giant frog). It uses jawbones as a magazine and fires the teeth.
  • Played for Laughs in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005) with the Point-Of-View Gun, which when fired at someone causes that person to see things from the perspective of the person who fired it. When Zaphod attempts to fire it at Trillian, she notes (or perhaps bluffs) that it doesn't work on her because she's "already a woman" and therefore automatically knows what his point of view is. Marvin saves the day at the climax by setting it on wide-shot mode and afflicting all the vogon soldiers attacking the group with his Manic Depression.

  • The crew of the Nautilus from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea use compressed-air guns loaded with elecrified pellets, since gunpowder won't work underwater. The bullets' High-Voltage Death properties are to compensate for their lack of kinetic stopping power.
  • Alderamin on the Sky: Guns in the series are fired with compressed air, generated by the gunner's air spirit familiar which is fitted into a compartment inside the receiver; as such, guns only work for people with air spirits as opposed to the other three elements. Up until partway through the series, they're smoothbores with relatively short range, but during the conflict with the Sinack tribes, Ikta introduces air rifles he imported from the Kioka Republic with the help of his exiled former mentor, allowing his troops to snipe Sinack defenders out of their positions.
  • Amagi Brilliant Park: Isuzu Sento has Steinberger, a muzzleloader infused into her body, meaning that if any flesh is exposed, she can draw the weapon, seemingly from thin air for those not familiar with its workings. It has specialized ammunition that can allow her to erase a target's memory, or simply inflict severe pain without lasting physical damage. She does have to purchase the ammunition, though, and notes that the memory-erasing rounds cost much more than the pain-inflicting ones, so she prefers to keep those in reserve for absolute necessity.
  • Arifureta: From Commonplace to World's Strongest: Hajime's primary weapon beginning in volume one is a revolver (later a pair after he acquires a prosthetic arm to replace the one that was torn off by a monster) that fires bullets accelerated by using his electric magic to produce a railgun effect.
  • Books of the Raksura: The Imperial Kish have solar-powered Organic Technology firearms — one trigger launches wooden targeting disks; a second ignites a fireball at the disks' location. They range in size from handguns to ship-mounted artillery.
  • In The Chronicles of Amber, Corwin equips his army with guns that use jewellers' rouge as a propellant, because it's the only substance that functions as an explosive in Amber.
  • Coffin Princess Chaika: The "gandr" which wizards use to cast spells normally aren't man-portable, making them purely a defensive or utility tool. However, Chaika owns a custom Gandr which has been miniaturised to the point where (while still bulky) she can tote it about in combat, its overall design resembling an anti-materiel rifle with some exotic curved/glowing components thrown on. Rather than ammo in the conventional sense, it's loaded with mana-rich fuel which it uses to shoot magic circles. Expanded upon by the Animated Adaptation, which introduces another wizard with a gandr shaped like a shotgun or lever-action rifle, and implies that such weapons were reasonably common among the Gaz Empire's elite Military Mages.
  • Harry Turtledove's Darkness Series is a fantasy version of WWII where instead of guns they use "sticks" that fire a burst of magic energy.
  • Gun-like magitek weapons appear from time to time in the Dragaera series. Starting out, we have musket-like magical guns just as likely to rip off a soldier's fingers as they are to kill an enemy. Further along are "Flashstones," which slap enemies with a curse that makes them explode; however, a wizard develops a spell that destroys these weapons quite enthusiastically. And it's a Herd-Hitting Attack that can hit an entire army at once.
  • The Everything Box: Behind the Masquerade, some people use hexguns that fire bolts of destructive magic in lieu of, or alongside, conventional firearms. This is good news to the thief Coop; his innate Anti-Magic causes the bolts to pass through him like he wasn't there.
  • The protagonists of Guardians of the Flame teach people about guns upon being Trapped in Another World. This inspires a wizard to invent a spell that contains and compresses superhot steam until he wants it to suddenly not anymore, creating steam-powered guns in an arms race..
  • Heralds of Valdemar: The prequel novel Beyond mentions the Imperial weapon known as a "Spitter", which is basically a magitek compressed-air pistol. They're officially dueling weapons, limited to the nobility, though there's a reference to a larger version used on the front lines of the current war.
  • A Hero's War:
    • The first collaboration between Cato and "Mad Alchemist" Landar results in the bowgun, which standardizes and simplifies the use of magical arrows by providing an easy, safe and reliable way to activate their enchantments. The arrows carry an enchantment that makes them fly forward at great speed, but in a disabled state; the gun stock contains an enchantment, linked to the trigger, that touches an arrow and activates it. Visually it's closer to a crossbow, but its simplicity of use and penetrating power are more like a pistol.
      "A magic gun! He had been in this world barely three weeks and he already helped invent a gun. With magic!"
    • Landar's research into standardizing and automating enchantments later leads to the "spell cannon". Operators can simply fuel it with magical crystals and select the firing mode: fire bolts, force bolts, even ice. Not only is it more powerful than a human caster can manage, it doesn't require any magical skill to use. It quickly becomes a mainstay of the Minmay Guards, not only allowing them to fight armies of professional knights, but also useful for mundane tasks like firefighting.
  • The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter: Luna Heela casts her Healing Hands magic using a pair of pistols.
  • Touya from In Another World with My Smartphone is from our world, but was sent to a fantasy world set hundreds of years ago. The natives have no clue what a gun is, but Touya makes one. Using his magic to craft materials into a gun and bullets is no problem, but making gunpowder is another story. No problem, he simply casts spells on the gun and bullets to substitute. That is, pulling the trigger automatically sets off an explosion spell behind the bullet to shoot it out of the barrel.
  • Keys to the Kingdom: Denizens of the House are quite hard to kill, but Grim Tuesday finds that they can still be badly hurt and injured with jets of steam, potent enough to strip the flesh off their bones. His overseers use portable steam guns to keep indentured servants in line, and larger steam cannons are used to fight flying Nithlings (or whatever else needs shooting).
  • Knight's & Magic: One of Gadgeteer Genius Ernesti's first inventions is the Winchester, an ergonomic upgrade to the kingdom's standard-model blasting rod, which places its core components inside a new chassis shaped like a rifle with attached bayonet. This is both to improve accuracy while aiming, and because Ernesti's small hands make standard rods awkward for him to use. While the design never really takes off on a large scale, once Ernesti advances to developing Silhouette Knights he begins constructing upscaled versions as a signature feature of his own Ace Customs. The Animated Adaptation renames Winchesters to "Gunlike Rods" and (due to Adaptation Explanation Extrication) implies that the design improves their power instead.
  • The first book of the Lensman series, Triplanetary, includes a pistol that uses compressed air to shoot fast-acting poison darts. Later books rely instead on Ray Guns, though.
    "One touch anywhere on the skin and the guy dies right then. Two seconds max."
  • The Lotus War:
    • Shimans have several gun-like weapons that use no gunpowder. Shuriken Throwers fire, well, throwing stars (no lightning though), and Iron Shooters use a chamber with fuel vapours to create a fuel-air explosion, both in handgun and cannon sizes.
    • The Morchebans use Magitek Lightning Guns as their ranged weaponry
  • The Machineries of Empire: The Hexarchate Galactic Superpower's Magitek arsenal includes guns that cause random amputations, guns that transmute their target into twisted effigies of carrion-glass and trapped memories, and guns that paradoxically collapse the target's lifespan into the present, alongside conventional pistols.
  • Matador Series: Spetsdöds are self-defense weapons that adhere to the back of the hand and fire chemical darts with compressed air, triggered by touching a sensor at the end of the barrel with a fingernail. In The Man Who Never Missed, Emile Khadaji uses spetsdöd darts tipped with Spasm (a chemical that causes every skeletal muscle in the human body to contract simultaneously and get stuck that way for roughly six months) in a one-man guerrilla campaign against the Confederation on Graves. They later become standard weapons of the Matadors, an order of bodyguards founded by Pen in Matadora to protect political dissidents.
  • Men at Arms of the Discworld series is a murder mystery where the weapon happens to be the first ever firearm in the fantasy setting. While that seems mundane, the gun itself is implied to have a power to corrupt its wielder through voices in their heads and is later revealed to be an Evil Weapon with a mind of its own, working to prevent its own Uniqueness Decay.
  • Mordew: One handheld magical firearm projects a light that purges the Soul Power from whatever it touches. Most creatures simply die, their life energy discharged, but creatures that contain a lot of external magic might lose it instead of their life — Bellows had undergone a magical Metamorphosis and is only turned back to a normal human by the light.
  • New Jedi Order:
    • Yuuzhan Vong Organic Technology's answer to the laser cannon is the yaret-kor, variously translated as "plasma cannon", "volcano cannon", or "lava cannon", an organ that takes in rock or other waste, heats it until it's molten, and expels it at the enemy.
    • Kyp Durron comes up with the idea to use the Force to telekinetically propel a proton torpedo to its target without the thruster engaged, in order to keep Yuuzhan Vong ships from seeing the missile and intercepting it with a dovin basal-generated Unrealistic Black Hole. The shadow bomb does this one better by removing the thruster entirely and filling the fuel reservoir with more explosives. Because they're propelled purely by the pilot's use of the Force, shadow bombs are nearly impossible for non-Jedi to use effectively.
  • Nightside has the Speaking Gun, an utterly evil, immortal-slaying Artifact of Doom made from Lilith's flesh and bone. Instead of firing, it speaks its target's True Name backwards, un-creating it.
  • The Salvagers: Slingers are magical guns that can fire a wide range of projectiles, capable of doing anything from knocking someone out to blowing a hole in a spaceship depending on payload. They are, however, vulnerable to Anti-Magic as their projectile are essentially a form of spell
  • Shadows of the Apt: Downplayed. While gunpowder exists, gunpowder firearms are considered dangerous and unwieldy and are consequently never smaller than artillery (aside from specialist pieces used by larger characters). Instead, an arms race is kicked off by the introduction of "snapbows", which use compressed air to launch projectiles. They shoot further, hit harder, and reload faster than the crossbows that are the norm at the start of the series, and so quickly and completely change the way wars are fought.
  • Shannara: By the later books of the series' long timeline, firearms have been reinvented in the form of flash rips. Like much of Shannara's later-series technology, they run on diapson crystals and are thus solar-powered, and their output is closer to energy blasts than bullets.
  • Numenorians in The Silmarillion are said to have arrows that can be loosed from several miles away from an enemy, and strike unerringly. This sounds an awful lot like a sniper rifle to modern ears; maybe even with target-seeking ammo. They also have "eagles who carried lightning beneath their wings," a clear analogy to a fighter/bomber aircraft. "Magic" in Tolkien's Legendarium is said to be more akin to sufficiently-advanced science learned straight from God Himself (elves, and presumably Numenorians, can/could just run the equations mentally, making it *look* like they do magic), so whether they're literally magicked bows-and-arrows and literal thunderbolt-dropping eagles or hypertech weaponry seen from the point of view of their primitive descendants is unknown.
  • Stardoc: The Jorenians equip their ships with sonic weapons. Yes, in space.
  • Tress of the Emerald Sea: In place of black powder, firearms and cannons use zephyr spores, an abundant natural resource that explosively release air when exposed to water.
  • The Wheel of Time: In the Age of Legends, the most common type of weapon was called a shocklance. Given the magitek nature of the setting in that time, it was probably some kind of magically-fueled rifle or Boom Stick, but details are unknown.
  • In World War Z, those fighting in the sewers under Paris use compressed-air guns, because of the danger of explosions that would result from the use of gunpowder in the sewers.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One of the many artifacts central to the mystery in the first season of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency is toy-like raygun with a horn shaped barrel that fires blasts of air powerful enough to knock people back a few feet.
  • Mahou Sentai Magiranger/Power Rangers Mystic Force: MagiShine/Solaris Knight's weapon of choice is a magic lamp-shaped firearm that can shoot bolts of golden energy after he rubs it first. It comes complete with a genie who is shot out of the lamp as the finishing move.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: Enterprise: "Broken Bow" features a plasma rifle that looks exactly like a double-barreled shotgun, albeit one with a snazzy silver paint job.
    • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Field of Fire" has a prototype TR-116 semiautomatic rifle that was modified to contain a transporter that beams a fired bullet to strike a target in another location. This is paired with a headset that lets the shooter see through walls. A Serial Killer uses it to kill two Starfleet officers in a Locked Room Mystery. Miles O'Brien successfully duplicates the modified TR-116, which Ezri Dax ends up wielding in a Sniper Duel with the killer from different parts of the station.
    • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "A Taste of Armageddon", the Eminians use sonic weapons, both as sidearms and to shoot at the Enterprise. Captain Kirk uses one such sonic pistol to destroy a disintegration booth. Fridge Logic reasons that sound waves dissipate in the upper atmosphere, and thus cannot harm an orbiting starship. They'd also demand a huge amount of power to generate any significant destructive effect; it'd be like spending a sawbuck to get a dime's worth of results.

    Physical Games 
  • Paintball and Airsoft use compressed air guns (although a paintballer will insist on it being called a "marker") to shoot plastic balls, either squishy and full of dye or hard and not, respectively. The compressed air is provided by a disposable cartridge or rechargeable tank.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: In addition to lasers there are the needler pistol, needler rifle and gauss pistols. Needlers shoot lots of sharp shards from a composite block fired by compressed gas while the Clan's gauss pistols are Magnetic Weapons.
  • Cyberpunk 2020 has "electro-thermal enhancement". A bullet has a cartridge full of water, a capacitor turns that to plasma and that fires the round. The guns hit harder but now need batteries.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition: The Artillerist subclass for the Artificer (originally a class specific to the Eberron setting but made a Canon Immigrant optional class in 5E) has the ability to build a custom Magitek gun the size of a cannon.
    • Forgotten Realms:
      • Gond, god of craftsmen, divinely enforces Fantasy Gun Control by decreeing that the chemistry behind gunpowder just plain does not work in the setting. Instead, he permits his priesthood to manufacture small amounts of "smokepowder", an alchemical and therefore partly magical substitute, which is sometimes used in the extremely rare firearms. In addition to being rare and extremely expensive, smokepowder is much more prone than gunpowder to accidentally exploding, making it sort of like trying to charge a gun with nitroglycerin. It also doesn't work in an antimagic field.
      • Drow commoners often use Saturday Night Special-style dartguns that fire using compressed air, invented because they're easier to hide than a pocket crossbow.
    • Greyhawk: One issue of Dragon Magazine takes the Greyhawk world a few centuries into the future and postulates jet fighters dogfighting dragons and a gunpowderless magitek rifle: the rifle fires by teleporting the projectile close to the sun, allowing it an hour to accelerate due to the sun's gravity, then teleporting it back combined with a time-travel spell so it returns an instant after it leaves. Gunpowder-using guns are also mentioned as being an outdated technology, still in use by dwarves.
    • The Dungeons and Dragons miniature combat game Chainmail that was released in the early 2000s had a faction of heroic, communist dwarves that used fought with what looked like muskets but were actually tubes that contained an Air Elemental that would propel a stone out the barrel at high speeds. The game was discontinued before any minis for that faction were released, so all it got was a single page mention in Dragon Magazine.
  • "Prayer Pieces" in Exalted use tiny "shrines" along the barrel to pull bullets towards them sequentially, not unlike Gauss guns.
  • Although Magic: The Gathering has historically shown guns, current restrictions mean alternatives to firearms had to be designed:
    • In the Gothic Horror setting of Innistrad, crossbows can get pretty small, making them almost pistol-like.
    • In the Art Deco plane of New Capenna guns are alternatively replaced by magical violins (in homage to violin cases holding guns in noir movies).
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Aeldari (nee eldar) shuriken weapons use gravity manipulation to make their projectiles—monomolecular plastic discs—move like they were dropped off of a very high cliff on a very high-gravity planet. Once they exit the weapon, their momentum keeps them going forwards.
    • Drukhari (nee Dark eldar) splinter weapons use spikes of crystalized toxins, but otherwise use the same mechanism to launch them as shuriken weapons.
    • Ork weapons:
      • Sluggaz (pistols) and Shootaz (rifles) only look and act like conventional (if big) machine guns because the orks think they ought to, and what orks think takes precedence over reality. They're actually boxes full of odds-and-ends ("bitz" or "gubbinz") in the rough shape of a gun that the orks "fire" with their Psychic Powers. This doesn't stop at just projectiles-or guns in general-either. This seems to have a fair bit of Depending on the Writer, though. In some works, they NEED to be used by an ork to function at all (one example was an ork armed with a lead pipe attached to a stubber ammo belt), and in some works, their guns are actually functional, but only an ork can make them work properly.
      • The Shokk Attack Gun works by opening a tunnel in the Warp to its target (inside a vehicle or suit of Power Armor). Gretchin are shoved into one end of the tunnel, driven mad by the horrible things they see, and emerge kicking and screaming into the target zone, tearing the crew apart. ...At least, in theory: this being an ork weapon, it can fail in any number of darkly hilarious ways, such as the gretchin panicking and running the wrong way, the gunner being sent into the target, the whole thing exploding and being sent into the Warp, etc.
      • The Bubble Chucka is based on Void Shield technology and fires energy bubbles that do completely random damage. It seems to be based on how much air it compresses into a bubble, as big ones feel like being slapped and small ones explode like missiles.
    • Chaos Space Marine Weapons
      • Daemons can possess normal weapons, causing any number of strange things to happen with the guns used by Chaos Space Marines, like spewing tortured souls, globules of hellfire, and daemonic ichor. These usually just happen to look like a rusted-out old bolter, with the guts of the weapon replaced with just about anything-including actual guts.
      • Chaos Sonic weapons are repurposed instruments from a symphony dedicated to Slaanesh performed at the time the Emeror's Children legion fell to Chaos. Over the millennia, the musical instruments mutated (yes, really, Chaos can mutate non-biological matter) to the point that they look like guns to reflect how their wielders use them. They "fire" sound waves at such intensity they make the air glow purple and kill enemies right through their armor by liquifying their insides.
    • Tyranid guns are symbiotic and resemble gun-shaped insects. They fire living ammo by way of peristaltic muscle spasms, or by persuading the (viciously hangrynote ) ammo itself to jump out of the muzzle by giving it a bio-electric shock.
      • Devourers fire swarms of flesh-eating maggots. These worms absolutely love nerves and will try to eat as much as they can, eventually gobbling up the victim's brains.
      • Fleshborers launch beetles that try to munch through anything in their way. They're a rough analogue to a tyranid assault rifle.
      • The Deathspitter shoots acidic worm guts, and is fired by having one part of it ("a spider-fanged set of jaws," and whether that means its jaws look like a spider or it has chilicerae is unclear) grab a worm, skin it alive for its nummy outer layer and toss the yucky insides away, which the barrel reacts to with a spasm similar to being violently sick, launching the projectile, which splats against the target like a water balloon full of Hollywood Acid.
      • Spinefists have an air bladder that parasitically links to the wielder's lungs, and is roughly analogous to an assault shotgun.
      • The Spike Rifle (DMR), Impaler Cannon (sniper rifle), Barbed Strangler (grenade launcher), and Venom Cannon (Anti-Materiél Rifle) fire sharp bone spikes, insanely-fast growing thornbush seeds, and crystalized venom, respectively, by peristalsis of the intestine-lined barrel. The Impaler Cannon's ammunition is actually able to see, and guide itself to the enemy in the few seconds it has to live before it bleeds to death.
      • Moving up to artillery, the Spore Launcher uses peristalsis to lob spore mines (self-aware living bombs filled with acid, chitin shrapnel, or fungal spores) vast distances.
  • Worlds Without Number: In most of the setting, traditional firearms don't work at all due to the collapse of natural laws, but Magitek firearms called "hurlants" exist. On the island of Ondas, the local magical fields permit for the development and mass production of normal firearms, but they don't work off the island at all.

  • The Austin Magic Pistol from the late 1940s used calcium carbide and water to create expanding acetylene gas that would launch a ping-pong ball through its barrel. It was a mass-produced firearm in everything but name, yet marketed to children as a toy. It was just as hazardous to the user as a poorly-made firearm as well, as it produced a respectable muzzle flash and had an unfortunate tendency to blow up in kids' faces and put them in the emergency room. This handheld hazard was recalled and banned in 1950 and is now classified as an actual firearm.
  • BIONICLE has several examples:
    • The Kanoka are essentially superpowered frisbee disks. These can be thrown by hand, or fired from spring-powered launchers.
    • There's also an arc that took place underwater; some of the good guys used air bubbles as ammo (toxic to waterbreathers) while the bad guys shot vampiric squids.
    • Near the end, the ammo of choice was Thornax, a kind of fruit. Hey, don't laugh; would you like to get hit with a coconut at high speed? A spiky, potentially explosive coconut?
  • Foam ring shooters, which fire spinning foam discs with a hole in the middle. They usually come with a clip of ten or twenty.
  • Nerf guns use compressed air (provided by a pump mechanism connected to the charging handle for the cheap versions, and more advanced battery-powered versions use an electric air pump) to fire hollow foam cylinders tipped with suction cups, colloquially referred to as "sticky darts."
  • Squirt guns use compressed air (these often have a pump mechanism as a foregrip) to spray jets of water.
  • Vortex ring guns (or "smoke-ring guns", as they're often called) fire smoke rings of water vapour due to the fluid dynamics of their muzzles. Some hobby projects scale these up to cannon-sized, and others shoot torroids (donut-shaped objects) of roiling plasma if their designer used flammable gas and an igniter.

    Video Games 
  • Gunners in Arknights are outright a kind of magician, and their weapons won't work for anyone else. All firearm propellants on Terra require both Originum and some training in Originum Arts to be able to shoot. Besides which, Terran bows and crossbows hit nearly as hard as guns, with the average Terran being stronger than an elite military man from Earth noted for being strong even amongst the US Army Rangers. This strength lets them easily draw bows and crossbows that can pierce through most armor types, and are much easier to access and use, which is why most Sniper operators use them. Most Originum firearms are also controlled by the country of Laterano, where virtually everyone has access to one, and non-Laterano with guns are extremely rare due to their extreme cost.
  • The titular character from Azure Striker Gunvolt is armed with his trusty Dart Leader whose power source is the wielder himself, thus, he has no need for a conventional power source to rely on. The Dart Leader can also fire any projectile (like a pepple), so long as it can fit inside a nozzle, and supplementary materials show that when he plugs his distinct hairclip inside the gun's rear socket, he can directly use his septima as an ammo.
  • This trope is very common in the Borderlands series:
  • The main weapon of Control is the Service Weapon — a shapeshifting gun of supernatural origin belonging to the head of the Bureau.
  • Dead Space series:
    • Several Necromorphs (Spitters, Brutes, several boss monsters) have the ability to launch pods of explosive bile (while it's referred to as "spitting", they usually have a specialized organ dedicated to lobbing them), acting as grenadiers for the undead horde.
    • Others (Lurkers, Guardian Pods, kneecapped Fodder) have a whipping tendril that can cock back and fling sharp shards of bone so fast the air burns.
    • Lastly, some others (Nests, Medusae) can launch organic heat-seeking missiles through some unknown means.
    • The pulse rifle uses gravity manipulation to fire, and some models (the one in Dead Space 2) can shoot 25 shots at once to act as a Grenade Launcher.
  • Dragalia Lost: Manacasters are guns in all but name. True to their name though, their ammo is essentially concentrated mana.
  • Enter the Gungeon has a weapon that's a bundle of magic wands on a pistol grip, and its big brother uses wizard staves on a rifle receiver.
  • Epic Battle Fantasy series: Shoulder-mounted magical BFGs are Lance's weapon of choice after his playable debut in Epic Battle Fantasy 3. By default, his guns are capable of firing Thunder, Fire, and Dark-elemental projectiles.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VI: The Gestahlian Empire uses Mini-Mecha equipped with a magitek cannon that fires beams of elemental force. Terra's also conjures missiles, sprays of Deadly Gas, and can warp the enemy into deep space.
    • Final Fantasy XIV:
      • Firesand (gunpowder) reliant firearms are relatively new to Eorzea, with only Limsa Lominsa and Ishgard making extensive usage of them. However, the machinists at Skysteel Manufactory invent an "aetherotransformer", a power pack that draws on the user's internal aether and converts it into electrical energy. This energy powers the machinist's gadgetry, including an enormous Swiss-Army Weapon that fires drills, chained anchors, and rotary saw blades. This energy is also used to enable Bizarre and Improbable Ballistics and fire a magnetism-propelled Gauss Shot.
      • High-ranking Garleans make extensive use of weapons that are at least partly a gun, with the most popular being the gunblade. In addition to being used as traditional firearms, Garlean gunblades use ceruleum canisters instead of firesand and with proper know-how can be used for a variety of techniques, such as Gaius van Baelsar's signature Terminus Est attack. Other gunblade-like weapons include Nael van Darnus' gunhalberd and Rhitatyn sas Arvina's gunshields.
      • The gunbreakers of Bozja also made use of their own gunblades with designs reaching as far back as the Third Astral Era. These gunblades don't shoot bullets, instead using aether-charged canisters loaded into a revolver-like chamber to superheat and propel the blade with a trail of fiery explosions. This enables furious and rapid displays of swordsmanship enhanced by magical techniques. Gunblades can also fire canisters to shield and heal allies as well as fire a Sword Beam akin to the newer Garlean gunblades.
  • Genshin Impact: Fatui Pyroslinger Bracers are the only NPCs in Teyvat seen wielding firearms that are not bows and crossbows. Their guns are Magitek matchlock rifles that can shoot Pyro-infused projectiles at their targets and they can fire up to three shots at once semi-automatically. The fact that they have a seemingly-endless supply of rounds without running out strongly implies their ammo is purely elemental and can be recharged into their guns without reloading.
  • All the weapons in High on Life are self-aware (and mouthy) pistol-shaped Insectoid Aliens called "gatliens" (a Portmanteau Word of "Gatt," a street-slang term for a semi-automatic pistol, and "alien") who fire various projectiles from their, um, posteriors. The enemy Mooks use a zombified variant that not only permanently replaces one of their hands, but can't use any Alt Fire modes, which the PC's live versions can.
  • In Mass Effect, most guns function by scooping up a microscopic chunk from a metal slug and using the eponymous mass effect to accelerate it to nearly relativistic speeds in the enemy direction. Some use half-inch-sized slices room-temperature superconductor charged with massive amounts of electricity instead of metal shavings, which makes them turn whatever the projectiles hit into plasma, while one Sniper Rifle uses a jet of molten metal.
  • The orcish starfighter in Next Jump SHMUP Tactics is built around a gigantic wizard's staff that fires recursively-splitting bolts of magical force.
  • League of Legends: The Sentinels of Light, such as Lucian, Senna, Akshan, and Vayne, all use "relic-stone" weapons that run on light magic, perfect for fighting the undead and creatures born from darkness. This means as long as the user has their soul to draw from, they don't need actual bullets to fight.
    Lucian: "How do you kill what's already dead? With a fistful of gunlight."
  • Guns in Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom have varying designs implying how they would be used in real life but are explicitly stated to make and fire ammo magically, with the arms band even making a real-life pistol magical
  • Phantasy Star Online 2: Guns are divided into Assault Rifles, Twin Machine Guns, or Launchers. Assault Rifles are used by both Gunners and Rangers, while the former uses Twin Machine guns and the latter use Launchers. They're powered by and shoot photons, which are used by Forces and Techers to cast techniques.
  • Pirate101 has "Sparkthrowers," Magitek ball-lightning guns.
  • Turrets from Portal and its sequel are said in supplementary material to "fire the whole bullet." To do so, they are spring-propelled, which has the effect of making them far less deadly than they otherwise would be.
  • All weapons in Scorn are organitek weapons that fire glowing pellets that resemble insect eggs, and are reloaded by inserting a clutch of said eggs into a chamber in the gun's back.
  • All ranged weapons save grenades in Shardpunk: Verminfall utilize the energy of the emponymous shards to fire, as evidenced by a half-second of Sucking-In Lines during a "Shoot!" command. They have heat sinks instead of magazines, despite looking like early cartridge firearms. Some of them (such as Mycroft's heavy cannon) even have a visible power core.
  • Skylanders:
  • StarCraft:
  • Tales of Maj'Eyal has "steamtech" guns that utilize a boiler-and-valve system to shoot the very same lead pellets used in slingshots with much more force.
  • Terraria: has conventional firearms (if you count a revolver firing musket balls "conventional") as well as less conventional ammo types, like bullets wreathed in cursed flames, and bullets that contain ichor. There are also several weapons that deal magic damage that happen to be shaped like guns, such as the space gun and laser rifle.
  • Trails Series: Most guns in the setting work by firing charges of "orbal energy" at the enemy. It's a type of energy produced by a special mineral called "septium", which recharges over time. Gunpowder guns do exist, and they are more powerful than orbal guns, but they are underdeveloped and rarely used because few people care to carry ammunition for them.
  • Tunic: Some of the scavengers you meet in the quarry are armed with what appear to be sniper rifles. The scavenger boss also has a shotgun. They apparently consume mana, as you find out when you get one of your own.
  • Subverted in Wild ARMs. Arms are perfectly mundane firearms (or laser guns), but are almost universally regarded as accursed Evil Weapons wielded exclusively by demons.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 1: Kino in Future Connected uses Gunberries, which are weapons made from wood and fruit that work like conventional firearms but use Ether instead of bullets and gunpowder.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Dust is the most important source of energy on Remnant, having made its way into every aspect of technology. Modern weapons rely heavily on Dust both for their design and their ammunition. As a result, most of the weapons that a firearms function will be using Dust propellent and ammunition that ranges from basic Dust-bullets that just riddle targets full of holes to ammunition that produces the full elemental effect of the Dust type its using, such as blasts of fire or wind, gravity bursts, freezing ice, solid rocks, bolts of electricity, smoke screens, and so on.

  • Secret agents in Collar 6 utilize Soul Powered firearms modulated by their wielder's emotions to fire orbs of pure Domme energy at enemies. Regular guns were invented some time in the past, but were outlawed for being "barbaric."
  • Oceanfalls: Reed's built in Quad-Core Blasters are capable of firing gusts of wind and laser blasts. While impressive, they do have limited fuel, and need raw Lampyridite, a metal that releases heat while decaying, in order to fire (similar to using a Radio-Thermal Generator to fuel a prosthetic).
  • Rusty and Co.: The wizard Prestige Perkins MacGyvers a Decanter of Endless Water, a Bag of Tricks enchanted with Summon Magic, a funnel, and some glue into a water-powered badger-launcher. By Level 7, she's refined the concept into a rhino bazooka.
  • One of Quentyn's gadgets in Tales of the Questor is an "Elfshot Pistol," a small crossbow which launches darts made of Hard Light. A broken-off regulator makes it fire its whole charge as a massive shotgun-like blast, which gives the principal of the Artificer's Academy (who'd been following Quentyn's adventures through the newspapers) the idea to give it swappable mags, a pump-action, and selectable fire-modes (how many darts in how wide of a spread), basically turning it into a Magiteknote  assault shotgun. The setting also has regular guns, called "Boomslangs," which are restricted to relatively big, tough racconans due to the weapon's fierce recoil and their small statures. In the story arc where Quentyn slays his first dragon, he gives the pistol to his half-elf friend Sam; and has subsequently gotten himself to a flintlock pistol.
  • One of the spheres in Use Sword on Monster was a Weird West setting where Thomas Edison invented a means of recording spells on wax cylinders small enough to fit in a revolver, which played when the trigger was pulled.

    Web Originals 
  • In the Doom edition of Judging By The Cover, a demon is noticed to have his Arm Cannon tapping a vein in his forearm, and Yahtzee jokes that they're actually trying to get a good look at Doomguy's gun, a perfectly normal assault rifle "wot dosen't shoot bits of himself." Doomguy shooting an imp is actually because someone jogged his gun-arm, causing an accidental discharge.
  • The SCP Foundation has SCP-127, a device that looks like an MP5K SMG, but actually fires teeth, which it grows in the magazine and fires with muscle power, it being entirely organic except for a thin skin of sheet metal. It's reloaded by soaking it in a pail of calcium-rich nutrient fluid for 3-5 days.

    Western Animation 
  • Chaotic: The world of Perim has weapons that fire Earth, Water, Air and well fire. Some of the creatures of Perim can't shoot certain elements so these weapons can compensate for that. They have their own bizarre power-sources.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "A Canterlot Wedding Part 2," Twilight finds herself standing in for an emplaced machine gun turret during the big battle scene near the end. Pinkie cranks Twilight's tail (and seems to be aiming for her) to make the unicorn fire a Magic Missile Storm, seemingly reflexively.
  • Rick and Morty: In "A Rickle in Time", the time cop Shleemypants wields a gun that looks more like a slug, but can revert a target into a fetus with a single shot. When Rick destroys it, Shleemypants proclaims "You killed my gun!", implying it was a living creature.
  • Winx Club: Timmy's Sci-Fi-looking blaster fires guided, Hard Light orbs. It's never explained what exactly powers it but given that most of the setting's technology is Magitek, chances are it's probably the round gem heaped on top of it since it's the same color as the blasts. Timmy's weapon also doesn't seem to need recharging.

    Real Life 
  • The Lewis and Clark expedition used Austrian-made (and in battlefield service) compressed-air rifles. Airguns had a few advantages that made them very attractive to the explorers; they're significantly quieter and invulnerable to getting wet powder, while still having the stopping power of a musket. Furthermore, the two wouldn't have to pack any gunpowder.
  • The pyrotechnic compound used in "volcanic cartridges" (see Forgotten Weapons here) burns much slower than gunpowder does, resulting in what was, effectively, a rocket firing backward to propel a bullet with its exhaust. They were also detonated by hitting a switch on the side, rather than a primer cap on the base. Volcanic cartridges evolved from entirely self-contained projectiles that had a load of propellant and a percussion cap fully inside the bullet with no casing, making them technically an early example of caseless ammunition. It's too bad that they were incredibly weak (76 joules of muzzle velocity, by comparison a .22LR round can pack from 178 to 259 joules depending on the load).
  • The potato gun is a hobby project made out of pipe fittings and superglue, that uses flammable aerosol, a lighter or BBQ starter piezoelectric device, and a fuel/air explosion to fire, well, potatoes.
  • Pistol shrimp have a claw that's evolved into a bona fide Arm Cannon, which uses supercavitation to fire sound waves so intense they make the water glow. They're named for the gunshot-loud snap of their claws.
  • Long-Range Acoustic Devices (LRAD) fire a concentrated barrage of sounds to deter rioters.
  • "Fart guns" weren't made up for Despicable Me. They fire a vortex ring of concentrated irritants to disable attackers in a less-lethal fashion. Note that their report doesn't sound like breaking wind, nor are the irritants brown.


Video Example(s):


Air Rifles

"Someday, for the Third Time". Ikta Solork leads a company of soldiers to retake a supply base that was overrun by the Sinack rebels. To soften them up, he equips Torway Remeon's sharpshooters with newly invented rifled air guns. Previously, the elemental spirit-powered air guns used in the setting were smoothbores with an effective range of about 40 meters. Rifling the barrel, a technique newly discovered by Ikta's exiled mentor, quintuples the effective range, allowing Torway's fireteam to graduate from mere gunners to true snipers, and eliminate the Sinack artillerymen without any possibility of return fire. This lets Ikta retake the fort with almost no casualties.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / FantasticFirearms

Media sources: