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Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better

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"Slugthrowers. I hate 'em. But they're easy to maintain. Day or two in the jungle and your blaster'll never fire again. A good slug rifle, keep 'em wiped and oiled, they last forever."
Phloremirlla Tenk, Star Wars

The story is set in some high-tech and/or futuristic society. There are massive computer networks, sentient robots, and ships that can zip across space with the same amount of effort it takes you to go to the store down the street. Despite all this technology, however, combat isn't all that different. Battle armor may have some gizmos on it, the guns may have higher muzzle velocities and an ammo count greater than the population of several rural communities, war vehicles may be able to do some fancy new tricks, but combat is the same at heart, bullets and shells still rule the battlefield.

If there are energy weapons in the universe, they either are experimental and wracked with issues like overheating and unwanted by-products, or they're horribly disadvantaged with few available shots before a recharge or a new power pack is required. They will often also be the first type of weapon to go wrong; the more complex parts a weapon has the more likely it is to break.


The reason for favouring projectiles in fiction is Rule of Cool — while subjecting stuff to melting or explosive evaporation is cool, broken pieces of the same stuff flying away with a boom may be even better than the mediocre zap of a laser. This does of course have its roots in the fact that Reality Is Unrealistic: serious laser weaponry actually uses short duration pulses with incredibly high energies that would simply explode an object into plasma the same as if it were hit by a high-velocity projectile... but audiences still expect to see Laser Cutters, so we're stuck with them.

For a detailed look into why one may or may not use projectiles over energy weapons, visit our Analysis page.

There are also real world scientific reasons for using projectiles instead of energy weapons, especially against shielded ships. In defending against lasers, the in-universe shields may be extremely effective at re-radiating heat back into space. To stop a projectile, the shield has to decelerate it, and any force applied to the projectile is in turn applied to the shield generator. Mike Wong of does a good job explaining how the strength of even the strongest shield can come down to how well it's attached to the superstructure of the ship.


Sometimes kinetic weapons themselves don't appear to have advanced, either. Future weapons won't necessarily ''look'' more "advanced" or really be that different from modern ones: whether rounds are fired from a modern rifle or a space railgun, it still functions the same. Precise guides held by a solid external structure are still required to accelerate the projectile downrange to the target.

Compare Rock Beats Laser, Boring, but Practical, Modern Stasis, Break Out the Museum Piece and Video Game Flamethrowers Suck. Usually goes hand in hand with Our Weapons Will Be Boxy in the Future. Contrast We Will Use Lasers in the Future, where energy weapons are more prevalent than kinetic weapons. For cases where certain specific kinetic weapons are preferred, see Revolvers Are Just Better or Shotguns Are Just Better. And if you're looking for the trope taken to its logical extreme, there's the Colony Drop.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Kinetic weapons are the big thing in Cannon God Exaxxion. While lasers are common, they cannot penetrate the Deflector Shields used in the series since they are based on Artificial Gravity tech & can thus redirect lasers using the gravitational lensing effect. Notably that's the exact opposite of how things should work: solid projectiles would be much easier to affect with gravity. They do give a Hand Wave of sorts for this, in that the shields are not really based on gravity so much as inertia. Anything with less inertia than the shield can generate is deflected away, including lasers, since they're effectively massless, while anything with more inertia, like bullets traveling at a significant fraction of c. plows right on through.
  • Code Geass subverts this. Even though the majority of grunts use bullets for their knightmares the black knights' best mechs instead use some form of laser or energy blast as their method of attack. The Guren even uses it more like how it would work in real life, they explode.
    • Specifically it has a microwave claw that cooks enemy pilots alive. Wonder what the Geneva Convention would have to say about that?
  • The Mazinger franchise has a special relationship with this trope:
    • Mazinger Z: Mazinger-Z was the first Humongous Mecha -how many times have we repeated that sentence?- used Eye Beams. Photon Beam was the weapon Kouji used more times, and many Mechanical Beast were equipped with laser beams. However, Mazinger-Z used also missiles, and so did most of Mechanical Beasts. And Dr. Hell was more than capable of building beam weapons for his troops, but his minions nearly never used them. His Co-Dragons and mooks preferred guns or machine guns shot bullets.
    • Great Mazinger: Great Mazinger reinforced this trope. Unlike Mazinger-Z, Great Mazinger had no Eye Beams (although he got Thunder Break in exchange). However it kept the missile launchers into the midsection. Tetsuya was the one introduced the Heroes Prefer Swords trope into Humongous Mecha, and most of Great Mazinger weapons were bladed.
    • UFO Robo Grendizer: On the other hand, Grendizer averted the trope. It had few kinetic weapons (its Sinister Scythe, its Rocket Punch...), and most of its weaponry were different kinds of laser beams. The Vegan troops also used gun rays more often than not.
    • New Mazinger: Reinforced. Energy beams could not pierce through the armor plates of enemy combat machines, but Mazinger's metallic blade could slice them easily. Also, many enemy mechas wielded light sabers. Guess who won every Sword Fight.
    • Mazinger Angels: Mazinger Angels' mechas' main weapons are missiles. And they are equiped with swords.
  • In Heavy Metal L-Gaim. although characters relied on energy-powered weapons most of time, this trope was played straight sometimes. In episode 12, Daba shoots his robot's laser rifle at another heavy metal, but it did nothing (due to the energy shield of the enemy mecha). Then he picked a -normal- bazooka, left his mecha and shot his weapon at point-blank range, effectively cracking the robot's head.
  • The Buff Clan in Space Runaway Ideon uses simple iron rods propelled to an almost-speed of light to bombard human-controlled planets. As you may imagine, not much is left of said planets afterwards.
  • In Lyrical Nanoha, the TSAB places heavy restrictions on the use of mass-based weaponry. It is implied that this is due to the devastation caused by interplanetary warfare with such weapons in the Backstory, as well as because while all magical weapons are set to stun by default, the same can't be done with kinetic ones. It is worth noting that the fear is not of small arms, which even a B-ranker has little to fear from, but WMD. However in the Darker and Edgier Force manga, where magic has been proving completely useless against the new antagonists, we've had gunblades, rocket lanchers, miniguns, explosives and even giant recoilless rifles introduced.
  • In Cowboy Bebop combat has switched from aircraft to starships, but most of it is still done with good old-fashioned machine guns and pistols. Energy weapons exist, but are implied to be rare and hard to get, as the only one we really see is the large energy cannon on Spike's ship, the Swordfish II. They also seem to be very difficult to control; whenever Spike fires the energy cannon, it causes the ship to recoil and waggle slightly from the sheer power.
  • When the Earth-aliens infiltrate the protagonists' ship in Vandread, it turns out that said invaders could deflect energy weapons, but not a few .50 caliber clips. Having an avid gun collector among the crew with quite a few museum-piece guns onboard sure was convenient...
  • Played straight through most of The Big O. The eponymous machine's energy weapons can sometimes get the job done, but usually its most reliable weapons are its huge arm pistons.
  • In the Gundam franchise, beam weaponry is generally much stronger than kinetic (though it's for that exact reason that regular guns are still used; suits often are forced to fight in colonies, where a stray beam would blow a hole in the side of the colony, whether it hit its intended target or not, and destroy the whole thing) but this trope comes into play to a small degree in Gundam 00, with the presence of anti-beam countermeasures that render all beam weapons affected useless. The only way to combat this is old-fashioned solid ordinance.
    • In the meta-series, it is a very notable example of this trope, especially the transition from the original Mobile Suit Gundam from the late '70s, where beam weaponry was simultaneously the Infinity +1 Sword over kinetic weapons (the Gundam was the first mobile suit to have a beam rifle, and it was the reason it one-shot everything Zeon could throw at it) but also almost ridiculously prevalent (even basic Federation Red Shirts had beam weaponry by the time a mass-produced version of the Gundam started to see combat about halfway through) through to later Universal Century series early in the '80s (Zeta, ZZ) where beam weaponry all but entirely replaced machine guns, and then to the second half of the '80s (Char's Counterattack, 0080) and mostly through the '90s (0083, 08th MS Team) where kinetic weapons like rockets, gatling cannons, and the like became much more prevalent, with beam weaponry still appearing and being incredibly dangerous (0083 shows a Gelgoog's beam rifle taking out a cruiser in one shot), but usually being extremely rare and expensive (the 08th Team only gets beam rifles late in their series), having actual countermeasures (several late-series suits in 0083 have devices to generate "I-fields" which completely nullify beam weapons that hit them), or just being Awesome, but Impractical (0080 takes place almost entirely in a colony, so guns that don't punch big holes in it and kill everyone are the order of the day).
    • Full miniaturization of the technology is still a ways off in every series; while the amount of weaponry downsized from "battleship cannons" to "used by Mobile Suits" varies, human-to-human combat is still conducted entirely with projectile weapons.
    • The shot lancer in Gundam F91 is a lance weapon with pile-driver spearhead, specifically designed to provide the one-shot-one-kill power of a beam rifle while limiting collateral damage in a colony attack. They are used to devastating effect throughout the movie.
    • In Gundam SEED most anti-infantry weapons are of the projectile variety. All of the Gundams are equipped with Vulcan cannons in their heads for beating off infantry attacks, and many other mobile suits have outsized machine guns or automatic rifles that serve a similar purpose, as automatic fire is much more effective in breaking up mass infantry attacks than a single shot beam weapon. They also don't run out of power just because the mecha has. On the other hand, Phase Shift Armor tecnology makes Gundams immune to live ammunitions as long as they have power, which was an issue with early battery-powered models but became much less problematic when N-Jammer Cancellers re-enabled nuclear power plants.
      • Kira's Freedom and Strike Freedom both have a pair of railguns that don't see much use outside of helping shoot down screens of missiles, but he has also used them to counter underwater mobile suits on occasion, since beam weapons don't work very well underwater.
      • Another example in Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny, where the Archangel and Minerva duel (again), during the ZAFT invasion of Orb. With both ships equipped with Laminate Armor, they could take several beam shots from each other with no damage. The Archangel eventually wins by abandoning the duel, going underwater, and sinking ZAFT submarines with it's railguns, forcing the entire army to retreat.
    • Played to the hilt in Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, as unusual to the franchise physical weapons, both melee and ordinance based, is the only type of weapon really seen used. Beam weaponry doesn't even appear to exist in Post Disaster technology at first, but as it turns out it isn't nonexistent, just mostly forgotten. The reason is implied to be partially that they are a power hog, which is why they only show up used by massive mobile armors with redundant power cores, and that the highly durable nanolaminate armor (which is already particularly resilient against solid ordinance) was developed in part to directly counter beam weaponry, as such even basic mobile suits are functionally immune. While that makes it seem to be useless in combat, the continuous burst fire still has higher destructive potential to anything not armored like civilian transports and settlements.
      • The most destructive weapon in the setting is the Dáinsleif, a type of railcannon that fires large spears that can even pierce nanolaminate armor; it is so dangerous that its use is formally banned. They start popping up in the second season, The Gundam Floures is revealed to come standard with shoulder mounted railguns for use against a mobile armor, Tekkadan didn't even realize what they had at first as the warhead itself was different and in a legal grey area. Iok used that information and framed the Turbines for possession of such weapons and then used similar weapons against them. Iok's commander Rustal Elion did a similar version of the same plan during an Enemy Civil War with Tekkadan on the other side, having The Mole use such a weapon against them so they could justify deploying their own squadron armed with them. Shino attempts to use a Dáinsleif warhead in Gundam Floures in a failed attempt to take down Rustal's flagship. Much later in their Last Stand, the only thing that took out the remaining Gundams was another Dáinsleif barrage.
  • In Venus Wars, the militarized monocycles are armed with railguns.
  • Because they appear as glowing shafts of light, the ranged weapons used by the robots in Bokurano are often referred to as lasers, but are identified, via All There in the Manual, as being material weapons, specifically nanoparticles of the mechs' own armor material accelerated to near-relativistic speeds.
  • In Macross, the majority of Valkyries in the earlier series rely on gatling gunpods to deliver More Dakka, though beam weapons have also become fairly common (at least among more elite units) by the time of Macross Delta.
    • For a fire-rate comparison in Macross Frontier: The VF-27 (which uses a beam gunpod) and the VF-25 (which uses a 57mm kinetic shell gunpod) appear to have identical rates of fire, based on their tracers... until one remembers that the standard mixes of tracer to live ammo are 1:5, 1:7, and 1:10.
    • Either way, against large numbers of highly maneuverable opponents, Macross Missile Massacre is more reliable than dakka (kinetic or laser).
  • Space Battleship Yamato 2199 touches on this. The Yamato's turret guns can fire energy beams or large shells. The shells can do serious damage to lighter enemy craft, but they come into their own later in the series. When traversing a warp gate, normal beam weapons are useless and the Wave-Motion Gun is not entirely safe to use. Good old fashioned shells work just fine. Dessler was not pleased.
  • In Sword Art Online, the game Gun Gale Online has two types of weapons: Energy weapons and physical weapons. Energy weapons always shoot straight without worrying about wind and have lightweight ammunition, but energy shields automatically cut their damage in half, and all players have those. Physical weapons ignore shields, but their projectiles are affected by wind and their ammo is heavy and bulky. Therefore, energy weapons are only used against monsters, which don't have shields.
  • The Espada of Bleach fire projectiles of spiritual energy called Bala. While not as powerful as the Cero energy blasts fired by all Hollows, Balas are 20 times faster and can be fired in rapid succession.

    Comic Books 
  • Judge Dredd:
    • Dredd's pistol, the Lawgiver, fires a variety of rounds, all which are kinetic based.
    • Averted by the Stub Gun, introduced during the Apocalypse War. This weapon is a laser capable of cutting through almost anything.
      • The Stub Gun is more of a subversion. It's enormous energy output makes it notoriously volatile to use, causing the weapon to fail all trials for field use. The decision to fetch the few existing prototype models out of their storage, was one of the signs that the war had long since crossed the Godzilla Threshold.
  • Iron Man: The reason why Tony Stark created the Variable Threat Response Suit (better known as the original War Machine Armor) is that against the Masters of Silence energy weapons are useless, but the slugs of normal firearms work just fine.
  • In Albedo: Erma Felna EDF the characters guns fire ordinary bullets. And kinetic weapons are also the usual used for Orbital Bombardment.

    Comic Strips 
  • Memorably mentioned in Larry Elmore's SnarfQuest comic that used to run in DRAGON Magazine back in the 80's, when a group of space-travellers from a medieval fantasy world, posing as a rock band (it makes sense in context, trust me) angered a group of space miners, resulting in a high-speed chase with both parties exchanging gunfire; while the miners weren't too worried about the heroes' lasers, when Snarf pulled out his .357 Magnum (that he once killed a dragon with), they started to panic because "lasers'll burn ya, but them slug-throwers will rip yer head off!" The matter became moot, anyway, after the team wizard hit the miners with a Lightning Bolt spell, but still...

    Fan Works 
  • Kalash93 has a number of examples.
    • In Racer and the Geek, the mercenaries all use firearms despite their magical talents. The advantages of guns over spells are discussed.
    • Shows up again in Shell Shock, where it is made brutally clear that magic is no match for automatic weapons.
    • Implied in Welcome to the Brothel, where there is no mention of magic being used in battle.
  • Enforced In-Universe in Origins, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands/Halo Massive Multiplayer Crossover. The Applied Phlebotinum used to make turbolasers and other Star Wars tech work is more like Unobtanium in most galaxies. So if you want your ship to have any staying power, you can't really use those technologies, which requires a fallback to physical weaponry whose principles are universal across civilizations.
  • Red Fire, Red Planet: The "strike package" that Norigom came up with to attack the shipyard, a ten ton block of uranium-238 with a crude chemical thruster and radar guidance (to make minor course corrections), dropped from the cargo bay of a Bird-of-Prey at 25,000 km/s. It apparently obliterates the shipyard control center and part of it keeps going to hit the planet. Norigom apparently did the same thing to the IKS HoSbegh during the Klingon-Gorn War, and sums it up quite well:
    "Basic physics. High mass plus high velocity equals ouch."
  • In one Elite fanfic, an assassin manages to smuggle a disassembled shotgun onto the space station, despite its strict anti-weapon laws, and successfully kills his target. Kinetic weapons became so rare in the galaxy that nobody thought to check for them.
  • Played with in the Babylon 5/Star Trek crossover Shielded Under the Raptor's Wings: railgun shots are devastating in space combat (with the Minbari having a healthy fear of the railgun-armed variant of the Hyperion cruisers, nicknamed "killcruisers" due the effects of scoring a hit), but, being slower and unguided, have reduced range compared to energy weapons and missiles and are easier to intercept, making rather difficult to actually score a hit on a target.
  • Rocketship Voyager is ostensibly a 1950's Pulp Magazine story, but has this trope to give it a Retraux look (actually sci-fi stories of The '50s used either contemporary firearms or an 'atomic blaster'). UNRS Voyager has atomic torpedoes and autocannon, with the Space Marines armed with machine guns and (albeit nuclear-powered) flamethrowers. The only Ray Gun we see is a crew-served weapon burdened with a radiation shield, liquid-helium cooling unit and portable atomic generator.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Avatar: The weapons used by the humans are just futuristic-looking versions of ours; they still sling ammo exactly like present day Earth. However, in some sources it is said that weapons on Earth are far more advanced than weapons used on Pandora, but the latter are far easier and cheaper to produce, especially when you are more than a few lightyears away from Earth. They are still kinetic though, just electromagnetic-based rather than using chemical propulsion (another reason they are limited to Earth's much weaker magnetic field).
  • In the two Predator films, the protagonist defeats a plasma-toting, power-armored Predator with only guns and bows.
  • The Matrix: The most advanced weapon in the real world is a handheld lightning gun, but almost all of the other weapons the rebels wield are either firearms or rocket-propelled munitions, much like those used within the titular simulation.
  • Terminator Salvation, although to be fair, it is set years before the other future scenes seen in the other movies, so perhaps handheld energy weapons haven't been invented yet. The giant robot though seems to have a energy weapon of some sort.
  • Aliens. The Colonial Marines are armed with caseless assault weapons, which have the distinctly energy-weapon sounding moniker "pulse rifles", though this refers to the electrical triggering system (as opposed to mechanical pin-and-primer in normal guns) for its caseless ammunition (a technique used by modern experimental weapons such as the H&K G11).
  • Outland: Both criminals and police employ shotguns hardly changed from today. The novelization describes them as being a little more sophisticated than today's weapons, with "sleeker lines and some complex instrumentation built in." Apparently the propellant charge can be adjusted: "O'Niel checked the velocity setting, making sure it read INDOORS — CLOSE QUARTERS..."
  • In Star Trek: First Contact, Picard lures a couple of Borg drones into the Holodeck, and shoots them with a tommy gun (though whether or not a Holodeck tommy gun with the safeties off is a real gun or merely a forcefield simulation of one is up for debate because the evidence is inconsistent and points both ways. Though notably, he only kills two drones with it, and the number of drones you can kill with a phaser before they adapt is about three.). The idea of physical objects being useful against them is supported in the visual effect of the Borg adapting to weapons fire. The series had what looked like an actual shield pop up and the phaser shot doing no damage. Starting with this movie the phaser blast seems to be dissipated into the full body of the drone, which suggests that it isn't a personal shield but the actual body armor of the drone allowing it to absorb energy. This makes projectile weapons logical.
    • Data kills multiple Drones with his bare hands, and Worf kills some by smashing them with his gun or with a knife. However, they are both extremely strong which seems to make the difference. The one human Red Shirt that attempts to Phaser-butt a drone gets his ass handed to him in short order (Though worth noting, he hit the drone in the chest whereas Worf went for the neck/head, which may make the difference) . Another officer balks at the idea of hand-to-hand combat, clearly aware that such an attempt would fail horribly. Unless you can shut down the drone in one hit, you have no real chance in a prolonged fight; they're super-strong zombies with assimilation tubes, and if they grab you, you join them.
  • Minority Report: The weapons used are pretty much just like weapons today. The most advanced weapon is a concussion gun of sorts, that's only used in the car factory sequence. Slightly confusing the issue is that fact that the concussion gun appears to be a non-lethal weapon (designed only to knock the target down); if so, the trope is true only provided that you're trying to kill someone — if you want to avoid killing them, the concussion gun is a better bet.
  • I, Robot includes conventional firearms, albeit more futuristic versions of them.
  • The Chronicles of Riddick features projectile weapons that, while more beefy looking, still use the good old gunpowder and slug ammo. The Necromongers from the second film, however, have concussion guns as standard infantry armament, although they still prefer to fight up-close-and-personal with blades and axes. It is also not shown how these guns match up against firearms.
  • The alien invaders in Battle: Los Angeles use seven-barrelled arm cannons rather than the usual death rays.
  • The Kill Sat from G.I. Joe: Retaliation uses tungsten missiles instead of anything laser-based, and most of the energy comes from simple gravity. It's based on the real-life blueprints for Project: Thor.
  • In Masters of the Universe, everybody wields dodge-able laser weapons. When Detective Lubic gets dragged into the final battle, he blows away several of Skeletor's minions with his shotgun, and they seem bewildered by the attacks they cannot see or dodge.
  • The Magitek ray guns used by the Red Skull's men in Captain America: The First Avenger prove too bulky and slow to handle an assault from Allied troops using conventional semiautomatic rifles.
  • Zig-zagged in Starship Troopers. The Mobile Infantry use conventional gunpowder-based firearms as well as shotguns, grenades and miniature tactical nukes. The standard-issue Morita rifle fires a high-caliber round that can punch through two inches of titanium and blow limbs clean off an Arachnid, but this means little because the Arachnids Feel No Pain and have no self-preservation; a trooper could empty an entire magazine into one, and the high power of the round makes aiming in full-auto extremely difficult, an issue compounded by the fact the Morita even lacks basic iron sights. Later on, the Federation scientists figure out that an Arachnid can be put down in one careful shot aimed at a specific nerve cluster, and troopers seem to take on the advice. The Arachnids use nothing more than fangs and mandibles, but there is a specialised creature at the Battle of Klendathu that fires bio-plasma, which devastates the orbiting Federation landing ships.

  • In the expanded universe of Aliens, the novelization of the movie and the Colonial Marines handbook state that man-portable plasma cannons exist. And with good reason, nothing a Marine can hold will rip apart tank armour faster than the PIG plasma weapon. Unfortunately it's also extremely heavy and the rocket launcher of the day is much lighter, guided and more than adequate at killing tanks in one shot. The PIG is the only energy weapon that Marines can carry. Electron lasers and particle beam weapons are so energy-intensive that they can only be mounted on vehicles, and the laser in particular has its range and firepower greatly affected by atmosphere and weather conditions. In outer space, energy weapons are more used for destroying projectiles. They have a massive accuracy and speed advantage over kinetic-kill vehicles and heavy missiles, but they do a lot less damage and space ships have armour and maneuvers that greatly reduce the effect of energy weapons (pilots are trained to move ships so that energy attacks don't concentrate on one spot for long and ship armour has ablative material that explodes out in a cloud of foam and metallic dust that further dissipates the energy).
  • Star Wars goes back and forth on where exactly it stands on this trope.
    • Blasters (which fire particle beams) are overwhelming the most common weapon, particularly in millitary applications. "Slugthrowers" do still exist and are used for civilian applications like hunting (for instance, Luke's weapon that he tries and fails to use against a Tusken Raider in A New Hope). There are some obvious advantages to blasters, like minimal recoil, more shots before reloading, and the logistical advantage of all using the same power source, although the reasons given aren't always consistent. It's also worth noting that Star Wars firearm technology seems to have stagnated, resulting in slugthrowers most closely resembling World War I-era technology which gives an obvious advantage to blasters which are more similar to modern firearms in terms of effectiveness - Luke's slugthrower rifle from A New Hope is an old-fashioned wooden-stocked rifle which looks like it only holds one shot at a time, while the blaster rifles the Rebels use in Return of the Jedi are built out of M16s.
    • Slugthrowers are also a good choice for anyone expecting to fight Jedi. Using their preferred method of deflecting blaster bolts against a lead slug would only result in you getting a faceful of molten lead, as it is highly unlikely that the lightsaber would instantly vaporize the slug, and even if it did, the ensuing blast of searing vapor wouldn't be significantly more pleasant than the molten lead. In the Expanded Universe, more than one Jedi has been on the receiving end of this, including Obi-Wan in the Obi-Wan and Anakin comic.
    • The scatter gun proves to be very effective in Star Wars: Battlefront. It's basically just a double-barreled shotgun. Despite firing pellets, it can one-shot armored Stormtroopers at a pretty decent range, and is even very effective against the personal Deflector Shields you can get. In the same game, the slugthrower Cycler rifle (which looks and acts like a beaten-up mid 19th century breechloader) is very powerful. It's highly accurate and will generally one-shot the target, the main weakness being that it is single-shot.
    • The main guns of AT-TE walkers look like energy weapons, but are actually stated in the technical books to be mass drivers (the blue glow of the rounds is presumably super heated air). They're quite effective, even being powerful enough to destroy capital ships.
  • As for as Star Wars Legends
    • Various literature tried to explain how this was averted by the fact that plastoid armor could No-Sell most bullets, yet not blasters. This was almost never shown, in fact in some instances this is directly contradicted (see below). More often than not if a firearm was used on page it was explicitly capable of piercing plastoid armor. For example, the .48 caliber Enforcer pistol was stated as capable of piercing heavy body armor. While this would be a relatively high caliber pistol, heavy modern body armor would certainly be able to stop such a round.note  Even the Protector Revolver, which is noted as a relatively primitive firearm, is still deadly against light and medium armor. Revolvers Are Just Better, even in the Star Wars verse.
      • It's been said that the ubiquity of blasters also increased the use of slugthrower by making heavy body armor useless. If the vast majority of people are using blasters there isn't really any benefit to carrying around heavy armor to try and be bulletproof. Of course this directly contradicts the concept above that plastoid armor is highly effective against slugthrowers.
    • The novel Shatterpoint also suggests that slugthrowers in general are more rugged and reliable. Presumably repairing a blaster takes considerable expertise and equipment, while conventional firearms are relatively simple to maintain or repair. This is noted on the wiki's page quote for slugthrowers, an expansion of our page quote for this trope.
      • The book also features the DOKAW (De-Orbiting Kinetic Anti-emplacement Weapon), a hundred-kilo hunk of durasteel that falls from space to hit the ground at ten kilometers per second.
      "In a word: WHAM."
    • In the novel Before the Storm, the New Republic Fifth Battle Group goes on a live-fire military exercise against a moon armed with a hypervelocity gun, an anti-orbital weapon which is a mass accelerator rather than an energy weapon. More of them turn up in the Star Wars RTS Empire at War.
  • Heinlein's Starship Troopers mostly averts it: kinetic weapons are widely used for training, but rarely for the actual combat. The movie plays it straight, though. That aversion is certainly justified, however, as the Mobile Infantry don't use many energy weapons either. They instead prefer to use small nukes, conventional explosives, and huge flamethrowers, all of which we see used in the first few pages of the book alone. The Pseudo-Arachnids, who do use beam weaponry, are notably inferior to the Mobile Infantry on a 1v1 basis.
  • In Stephen R. Donaldson's The Gap Cycle, the Starfish Aliens Amnion have a "super-light proton cannon". According to Donaldson, it's "mass (in this case, protons) accelerated to the speed of light." The weapon is The Dreaded because there is no defense against its immense power.
  • In The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (also by Heinlein) the Lunar rebels 'throw rocks' (i.e., 100-tonne boulders, jacketed in steel and fired out of a magnetic catapult) down Earth's gravity well. It proves VERY effective. Cheap too.
  • Beyond This Horizon: the hero uses an "old fashioned" .45 pistol when every other man in his society uses some form of laser or similar pistol because he likes it and the noise is extremely disorienting to his enemies, who expect a silent gun.
  • In Tomorrow War shields work only against beam weapons, so while lasers are used to shoot missiles and fighters, main weapons are missiles and high-caliber (e.g. 610 or 800 mm) guns with guided shells. At least as far as wars between human are concerned — others use weirder weapons, up to gravity-based.
  • In Prince Roger, while plasma weapons are available for use by personnel, more common are pistols and rifles that drive glass beads to hypersonic velocities. For space combat, mass missile salvoes are the norm.
  • Honor Harrington:
    • Semi-automatic pistols are traditionally used for duels on Manticore due to the fact that they are less lethal than pulsers. Pulsers themselves are miniature mass accelerators, using gravitic acceleration to fire physical rounds. Honor herself practices frequently with a (reproduction) Colt M1911A1 .45 automatic, simply because she enjoys the challenge of hitting a target with a weapon that doesn't do half the work with advanced sensors, etc. In one case this "saved the day", when she was able to sneak her .45 into a hostage situation because it had no electronics or energy cell that would trigger inboard sensors keyed to look for weapons that had both- like pulsers.
    • While most ship-to-ship missiles come armed with some kind of warhead or electronic warfare suite - and the author has explicitly shot down the use of kinetic antiship attacks - countermissiles work by simply smashing their wedges into those of the attacking missiles at ludicrously high fractions of c.
    • The Solarian League's Eridani Edict also expressly forbid kinetic strikes on populated planets, unless you hold the orbitals, because the destruction caused by the sheer velocity of the missile is so much greater than any payload it could carry.
    • Averted in regards to final point-defense systems for Honorverse warships, where laser point defense clusters are vastly superior to autocannon in engaging any incoming missiles the ECM and countermissiles fail to intercept.
  • Also from Weber there's the "Rakurai" orbital bombardment platforms from Safehold which was used by Langhorne to wipe out the people who disagreed with his philosophy for running a colony, Dropping large rocks from orbit is pretty effective for wiping out a town. And a good part of an island.
  • Again from Weber, in In Fury Born soldiers tend to use projectile weapons in infantry battles because laser weapons don't very well in atmosphere (Though some people do use them in outer space boarding actions, where much of the fighting would take place in vacuum). Plasma weapons are used in atmosphere and vacuum, but these are heavy weapons that only one person in a squad would be carrying at most.
  • H. Beam Piper's assorted science fiction novels, including Little Fuzzy and Uller Uprising, have faster-than-light travel and antigravity, but modern-style guns are still universally used (they also have huge mainframe-style computers programmed by plugboard, but that's Science Marches On). His justification for this was that Earth had fought a nuclear war in the early 21st Century, that had destroyed most of the Northern Hemisphere. While civilization was being rebuilt in the Southern Hemisphere, such technologies as hyper-space drive were developed, but weapons technology didn't change much, because what they had was more than adequate for the job at hand. This is why the Nemesis and the Enterprise (no, not that Enterprise) in Space Viking shot it out, in low planetary orbit, with autocannon and guided missiles. Interestingly enough, in spite of hyper-space drives and contragravity normal-space propulsion, both "field drive"- type systems, Piper never assumed the existence of defensive "deflector shields" or "force fields"; the space warships in his stories relied on heavy hull armor to keep enemy fire out. In Uller Uprising the weapons used by all concerned were automatic pistols, automatic rifles, machine guns, etc, the main difference with present-day warfighting technology being that self-propelled artillery was on contragravity vehicles, tanks had contragrav in addition to tracks, and contragravity airjeeps, air lorries, lighters, etc., substituted for tactical aircraft like fighter-bombers, helicopter gunships, and so on (the plot of Uller Uprising, by the way, was based on the Sepoy Rebellion in India).
  • Starworld by Harry Harrison has the rebel admiral explain to the protagonist why energy weapons don't work in the vast distances of space. Although missiles are being used by both sides, the rebels use linear accelerators firing unguided cannon balls to gain the decisive edge, then finish them off with a Flechette Storm of rocket-propelled bullets.
  • In the Deathstalker series, projectile (kinetic) weapons are actually banned throughout The Empire due to their ease of use and production making revolts easier to arm. They were replaced by swords and blasters - the latter of which are powered by Green Rocks. The blasters take two minutes to recharge, and force shields will stop most projectile weapons... though that drains the fields' power fast. Ultimately, this trope is even lampshaded during a siege.
  • One character in the Niven-Pournelle alien invasion novel Footfall describes the alien invaders' primary weapons as "crowbars dropped from orbit". For that matter, the personal weapons used by the aliens are just scaled up versions of ordinary machine guns.
  • In Legends of Dune, both the Thinking Machines and the League of Nobles (and later the Butlerian Jihad) almost exclusively use kinetic weapons, bombs, and missiles for aerial, space, and ground combats. While it is revealed that lasguns were popular during the days of the Old Empire, they didn't have the destructive capability of kinetic weapons. Plasma bombs are mentioned to be used occasionally by the cymeks, but those cases are rare.
    • Thousands of years later, both types of weapons were phased out due to the invention and widespread use of Holtzman shields, which could stop any physical object moving above a certain speed and created a nuclear explosion when hit with a laser beam. However on Arrakis shields have a tendency to attract worms, so the native Fremen use spring-loaded dart guns in addition to their more famous crysknives.
    • At one point, the Harkonnens used artillery against survivors of the attack on the Atreides complex who had holed up in caves, without being able to bring the large household shield generators. The attack is noted as extremely demoralizing specifically because in modern combat, the role fulfilled by artillery is obsolete; no artillery does any good against shields.
      • This is why the Baron has the artillery pieces immediately dismantled after their one use, despite his nephew Rabban begging him to let him keep them.
  • From the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine novels:
    • In Fallen Heroes, the invading Bekkir have body armor that renders them immune to phasers, so O'Brien rigs them into grenades. Dax discovers that their armor isn't Immune to Bullets, so she replicates a machine gun. A Klingon machine gun.
    • In one novel Worf is with a detachment of Klingons trying to breach a heavily shielded base. They can't get through with their normal weapons, so Worf replicates a catapult and smashes the outer walls to pieces.
  • Both subverted and played straight in Mikhail Akhmanov's Arrivals from the Dark series. In the first novel, an entire human fleet armed with kinetic, plasma, and missile weapons is annihilated (literally) by an alien starship armed with anti-matter cannons and equipped with Deflector Shields. In the third novel, human mercenaries working for a different alien race are given patrol ships armed with kinetic weapons that are somehow able to ignore shields on enemy ships. These are shown to be extremely effective.
  • From David Drake's works:
    • In the stand-alone novel Redliners, the human Strike Force commandos use electromagnetic pellet rifles as their primary personal weapon, while the aliens use laser beams. This is because the pellet guns are massively damaging at the close range Strike Force mission usually take place at.
    • In his RCN novels, warships use kinetic missiles as their primary weapon, with plasma being a secondary weapon. Plasma disperses far too quickly to be used at normal combat ranges, while the missiles become much more powerful the further away the target is (because they carry no warhead, their damage is based purely on velocity, and further targets give more time for acceleration). Personal weapons in the RCN vary but most of the ones shown are magnetic pellet guns.
    • Zig-Zagged in Hammer's Slammers, some armies use railgun rifles because they have better armor piercing capabilities than powerguns. However, railguns are no cheaper, since they require diamond barrels, and don't scale up the way powerguns do. laser guns can't be made in man-portable sizes because they require a 400 pound fusion reactor to reach killing power, and explosive bullets are just as likely to vaporize a leaf as kill an enemy.
    • In The Citizen Series, laser small arms do exist and are effective in planetside battles, but they result in self-immolation if used in the Continuum since they reflect off the field that protects the traveler. Space combat is mainly a realm of antipersonnel "spring guns", basically crossbows or spearguns (or actual spears in the case of the Riders). Late in the book an Arms Dealer whom Allenson recruits into the Militia has the idea to bolt them to the front of the frame to make a Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon that can be aimed much easier, mirroring the development of air-to-air combat in World War I. Allenson also initially equips his Militia with firearms rather than laser weapons simply because they're cheaper and make logistics easier.
  • John Ringo's Legacy of the Aldenata has the ACS using grav-guns, which fire depleted uranium pellets propelled to just short of the speed of light. The first Posleen they hit explodes. They go through several more.
  • From Peter F. Hamilton's works:
    • In The Night's Dawn Trilogy, energy weapons of all kinds are not only available, but widespread. They're even available as nanonic implants under the skin. However, against the Possessed, electronics of all forms are horribly glitched at best, and completely shut down at worst. This means that the most effective weapon against them is a good old-fashioned chemical projectile weapon - a.k.a. a gun.
    • In the same trilogy, despite the plethora of energy weapons on display, the standard 'kill' weapon is a 'combat wasp'; which is essentially a missile that relies almost strictly on its kinetic force to do damage. Also planet-busting weapons are all old-fashioned bombs, ground strikes from orbit with energy weapons being rarely seen.
    • In The Commonwealth Saga, a favored weapon in starship combat is the Douvoir missile. Essentially, the idea is that it's possible to control the speed at which the endpoints of a wormhole are moving. It is therefore possible to leave a wormhole at whatever relative speed (compared to whatever else is nearby) you want, without expending time and energy to accelerate to that speed. Douvoir missiles are simple projectiles that are shot out of a wormhole at a significant percentage of light speed, and as such do an enormous amount of damage.
  • In E. E. “Doc” Smith's works:
    • Dick Seaton in the Skylark Series has invented interstellar travel, a repulsor field of sorts and a mechanism for the generation of unlimited energy, but until he meets Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, his Skylark of Space is dependent upon .50 calibre machine guns for its armament (albeit with ludicrously potent ammunition). Played straight in that when the ship is attacked by an alien beast he can't use the super-bullets in his handgun for fear of wrecking it, and the situation is saved by the last remaining crewmember loading and firing solids. Hand-to-hand fights on the ground continue to be sorted out by projectile small arms right to the end of the series; even when Seaton's grasp of beam weapon technology has evolved to almost godlike levels of capability (and at the same time as the author was writing stun guns and hand blasters into the Family d'Alembert universe).
    • From the Lensman series:
      • The Lensmen universe is acrawl with energy weapons, but minimally or non-portable heavy machine guns ("high calibre machine rifles") are still useful weapons against soldiers in personal armour. Kim Kinnison has an unfortunate encounter with one of these and barely gets away with his life. The next time he goes where angels fear to tread he wears a suit of armour so heavy it has to be power-driven, and he first takes pains to demonstrate its immunity to ammo 20% over what he encountered previously. Later in the canon, he actually uses the kinetic energy of a bullet stream to tilt his opponent's armor off balance and expose him, which he couldn't have done with an energy weapon.
      • Conway Costigan uses a combination energy rifle (implied to be more powerful than the standard-issue blaster) and grenade launcher against the unnamed saboteur in Triplanetary. When even the energy rifle takes too long against the saboteur's personal shield, Costigan loses his patience, fires the grenade and blows his opponent into a fine mist. At this stage, the Triplanetary Patrol is still using a mixture of shell-firing guns and energy beams on some of its ships (specifically the armed liner Hyperion). Later in the same book, there is a tractor-beam tug of war between enemy ships, and physics does come into play because the tug of war ends not due to any of the tractor beams failing but because one ship was using a tractor beam to anchor into the ground, but the opposing ship pulled so hard the plug of earth caught in the beam simply got pulled out of the ground. Later still, the trope is played with again: this time combining a shaped energy shield with inertia to penetrate another shield.
      • The reason kinetic weapons maintain prominence is that the energy shields of the Lensman universe only work against things approaching at or near the speed of light (e.g. energy beams). Thus, kinetic weapons and especially the trusty space ax (that's right, a melee weapon) actually subvert energy shields because they're too slow. Then the whole business gets tossed aside as combat goes increasingly beyond standard physics (ship combat begins using anti-matter bombs while personal combat goes increasingly psionic).
      • This even applies in ship-to-ship and larger scale combat. Energy beams are all well and good, and constantly improving in the trope-naming Lensman Arms Race, but if you really need to squash a heavily-defended target, you hit it with a high-speed planet or two.
  • Arthur C. Clarke:
    • In Earthlight, the lunar observatory's secret weapon fires a bolt of white-hot molten iron at its attackers. Damage is done not from heat, but simply from the force of the impact.
    • It's implied in The Songs of Distant Earth, another of his novels, that firearms remained in use even up to the planet's destruction thousands of years in the future.
  • In Tanya Huff's Valor's Choice, the main protagonist is asked by a pacifist member of the Confederation (humans and two other species were recruited to do the fighting) why they use stretchers that need to be carried, rather than the local equivalent of anti-gravity. She responds that both they and "The Others" routinely attempt to disable all electronic devices used by their opponents, and they use hand-carried stretchers for the wounded for the same reason they use "primitive projectile weapons" that have to "be physically smashed to stop working".
  • The plot of the Tom Clancy novel The Cardinal of the Kremlin centers around the US and USSR developing strategic laser weapons and trying to steal the plans of their counterpart's systems from each other, but after that book, laser weapons are forgotten about. Eventually in The Bear and the Dragon, the lead researcher of the US team reappears and mentions that they never succeeded in making a laser large enough to be useful. All militaries in the series use conventional weaponry when fighting each other.
  • The Killing Star shows how destructive the liberal application of kinetic energy can be when a barrage of solid matter accelerated to near light speed is used to destroy all advanced life on Earth. They are appropriately called relativistic bombs.
  • In Animorphs guns aren't necessarily "better," but when Visser Three mocks humans for their "primitive projectile weapons" Visser One points out that a single bullet can still kill a Hork-Bajir quite effectively.
  • In The Course of Empire, the Jao and the Ekhat are used to laser and plasma weapons, and their armor and force fields are geared for reflecting laser or deflecting plasma. They are thus vulnerable to raw kinetic force, making "primitive" human artillery very effective.
  • In the Nameless War series railguns heavily used by humanity in a number of capacities ranging from point defence guns through to large caliber guns for orbital bombardment and the anti ship role. While they have a short effective range against targets that are able to maneuver, they are massively destructive. During the course of the war the humans also use recoiless rifles to put up walls of shrapnel between their ships and incoming Nameless missiles.
  • The Star Carrier series uses kinetic weapons heavily, though in conjunction with nuclear warheads and Frickin' Laser Beams. In particular two capital ships in the America battle group are described as using railguns for their primary weapons, and in addition to their other armaments SG-92 Starhawks are armed with Gatling railguns that fire steel-jacketednote  depleted uranium slugs. America herself sometimes uses her fighter launch catapults to accelerate slugs instead. And of course there's the non-standard tricks Lt. Trevor Gray has used with AMSO canisters, fighter-scale anti-missile countermeasures filled with "sand" (actually nodules of degenerate matter).
  • Discworld has this effect as well. A Wizard might be able to lob a fireball with the power level of a small nuclear device, but would probably fall over unconscious from the effort. Meanwhile, Sergeant Detritus of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch would be loading up for his fourth shot with the Piece Maker: A converted siege ballista he handles as easily as a human handles a regular crosssbow. Piece Maker, however, fires a huge bundle of arrows...which usually break apart and catch fire when fired. It is very effective at removing the front door of a house. And the back door. At the same time. And both door frames. And a large portion of the surrounding walls.
  • The Dirigent Mercenary Corps series does have hand-held energy weapons, which are useful in specific applications because they're basically silent. However the primary weapons used are chemical firearms.
  • The Ark Royal is primarily armed with powerful mass drivers that while considered decades obsolete, still pack a major punch. Capable of destroying most alien carriers with a single hit.
  • In The Pride of Parahumans the protagonists' ship uses coilguns to deflect meteors because "hitting a stray rock with a fast-moving iron slug tended to get it out of the way a lot faster than melting it with a beam of concentrated light." Also, they're cheaper.
  • Oddly enough, this applies to spells in The Dresden Files if the target has magic immunity. Take the Genoskwa, for example. Throw a freezing spell capable of crystallysing an ogre at it? Grounded. Force magic? No-Sell. Stone-hard, watermelon-sized ice cannonballs propelled by force magic? Those hurt. Also, if the wizard's powers are weak, or is trying to kill other humans without violating the First Law of Magic, they'd better use a gun in a battle.
  • Deliberately invoked by some Catachan Jungle Fighters in the last The Last Chancers novel Annihilation Squad. One of the Last Chancers asks why they don't use lasguns against the orks since they are quieter, they could carry more ammo per kilogram and logistics would make it easier to resupply. The leader of the Catachan squad explains that orks have a great deal more respect for weapons which are loud and flashy, and that it is much easier to stop a charging bull ork with a bullet than a laser beam.
  • We Are Legion (We Are Bob): The Brazilian probes use explosive missiles, but Bob is worried about the substances exploding when built with his 3D printers. He considers using lasers, but dismisses them as inefficient due to power constraints, so he goes with guided non-explosive missiles called "busters" instead. They work by suicidally ramming the target at high speed.
  • Downplayed in The Cinder Spires. The primary weapons of the setting are etheric "gauntlets" and the rifle-like "long-guns", which shoot streams of etheric energy. However, such weapons are worse than useless against an etherealist, who can redirect the blasts back at you. Against them, kinetic firearms are the only weapons with any chance of working.
  • The Anglo/American – Nazi War : After the titular war has ended, the Atomic Four (A4), an alliance made of America, Canada, the UK, and Australia, begins building mass-drivers and eventually construct a kinetic bombardment weapon system on the moon. This is put to use to stop a pro-German unification insurgency in Stettin using three kinetic strikes, each with an equivalent yield to 57.5 kilotons. Most of Stettin and its 275,000 citizens are wiped out and the insurgency collapses.
  • Subverted in the case of Ciaphas Cain, who much prefers his regular laspistol to a bolt pistol (ubiquitous among commissars) for several reasons: Lasguns have a much greater number of shots, are more accurate, and the noise they make (while useful for drawing attention to the guardsman you just executed for cowardice) draws enemy attention (not to mention that he's never had to shoot anyone for insubordination).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who dances around this trope in episodes set in the future. One future setting will have weapons identical to modern day ones, yet another future episode, sometimes even set before a "kinetic" episode will have highly advanced energy weapons. Could be justified with the Human Empire rising and falling repeatedly, which could result in a loss of technology with every fall.
    • When it comes to effectiveness though, energy weapons are shown to be only slightly more effective against certain foes like the Cybermen and the Daleks. When it comes to defeating them, the only kinetic weapon shown to outright destroy them are rocket launchers.
  • The new Battlestar Galactica series: The show uses real-life guns in the show, or at least slightly dressed up ones. Even the starships slug it out like WWII battleships with heavy cannons and walls of small-caliber AA fire, along with nuclear warheads.
    • Commander Adama even tells his XO to "find me some bullets" after all the ammunitions had been removed while prepping the Galactica to become a museum ship.
    • During the briefing prior to the Battle of the Colony, Adama orders the gun crews to keep firing until they run out of ammo, and then to start throwing rocks.
    • The nature of the kinetic weapons (regular guns or railguns), though, was a point of disagreement between the writers and the visual effects team, with most visual evidence pointing to these being the more familiar type of gun/cannon, rather than railguns.
  • Space Rangers: Takes place in 2104, however rifles and other projectile weapons are used in combat.
  • Firefly is set some 500 years into the future. Projectile weapons are mainly used (though with a different sound effect than contemporary guns), since they are cheaper and more reliable than energy weapons. Hand-held energy weapons do show up at a few points:
    • The target of the heist in "Trash" is a valuable antique prototype laser. When the time comes, though, Inara tries to shoot her, fails, instead pulling out her own piece. Though logically, a display piece wouldn't be kept loaded in the first place.
    • In "Heart of Gold", a rich cowboy got himself an illegally-modified laser pistol, which caused some severe harm, but becomes useless once the battery runs out.
    • In "Ariel," as Jayne and the Tams flee the Hands of Blue, Jayne fails to blast open a locked door by shooting it with a high-tech sonic stun rifle. A moment later, Mal and Zoe shoot out the lock from the other side with good old kinetic slugthrowers. That said, the sonic weapons seemed to be designed for non-lethal takedowns, so you can't really fault a weapon specifically designed not to cause property damage for failing to cause property damage.
    • The Word of God explanation is that the reason that energy weapons are rare is that they have a tendency to cut through solid metal, which is an undesirable effect when you live on a spaceship.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • Even though the humans of Earth have access to tons of alien technology, modern-day weapons are still used for ground combat. Justified since it has been shown that firearms were often more effective than their energy counterparts, particularly when used against the Replicators. Additionally, in the case of the Goa'uld, their weapons were designed for subjugation rather than combat effectiveness, as O'Neill's often-quoted line below shows.
      O'Neil: [hefts a staff weapon] This is a weapon of terror. It's made to intimidate the enemy. [returns staff to owner and hefts a P90] This is a weapon of war. It's made to kill your enemy.
    • So much so that, in later seasons, even Teal'c largely abandons his own Staff weapon in favor of dual-wielding the standard-issue P90.
    • In one episode, Thor specifically uses bullets as an example of the human race's outside-the-box thinking. Asgard are so intelligent, their first instinct when faced with an unforeseen problem is to build a hyper-complex gadget — this means they can be caught flat-footed when the best solution is simply to get a hammer and swing it.
      Thor: The Asgard would never invent a weapon that propels small weights of iron and carbon alloys, by igniting a powder of potassium nitrate, charcoal and sulphur.
    • Averted in ship-to-ship combat. Rail guns are, at best, useful as point-defense and anti-fighter weapons, and Tau'ri ships are seriously outgunned until they got the extremely powerful Asgard plasma beam cannons. The nukes are kept, too, because there's always something that needs to be nuked. The reason railguns seem weak in Stargate Atlantis is probably that the targets they are used against are freaking humongous. Those hives do pack some bulk, after all. Not to mention that they have a great deal of experience fighting the Ancients and their vastly superior kinetic kill weapons.
    • Played straight by the Ancients. After going through energy weapons in all sizes, powered by all kinds of things (another dimension, for example...) they still arrived at remotely-controlled drones that simply fly very fast and punch holes in their targets (albeit with the help of their weaponized force fields).
    • Partially averted in later seasons once the SGC has presumably gathered a significant stockpile of Zat'nik'tel. Though they don't appear to ever become the official SGC sidearm, SG-1 seems to carry Zats in hip holsters frequently rather than waiting to salvage them off Jaffa mooks. They're just that useful. Likewise, Wraith stunner pistols fill the same niche. Also averted by Ronon's Traveler gun. An energy pistol in the shape of a hand cannon, it is easily superior to Tau'ri firearms and several characters express appreciation for just how effective it is.
  • Star Trek
    • The general tech level allows for the characters to easily use phaser weapons, both hand held and ship mounted, but it's made very clear that the physical photon torpedoes are more deadly in combat situations. As such often the combat method is using a burst of phaser fire to distract and disorient targets and then follow up with a barrage of photon torpedoes, later the blue-colored quantum torpedoes.
    • In the episode "Shore Leave" of Star Trek: The Original Series, an energy field coming from the planet they're studying drains power from multiple ship systems aboard the Enterprise, and also affects the handheld phaser weapons of the landing party, making them useless. When a knight attacks the landing party, Kirk uses an old earth revolver to take it down.
    • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Starfleet developed a projectile weapon known as the TR-116 rifle, in the event that personnel were in environments where phasers would be undesirable; EMP-like areas, or simply atmospheres that might be ignited by phasers. The rifle had some interesting uses; Chu'lak modified it with a mini-transporter, allowing it to beam its bullet to other rooms only a few centimeters from its target, and a high precision visual sensor, allowing for lethal targeting up to the maximum range of the micro-transporter (plus the effective range of the rifle). The rifle never entered service due to the invention of newer technologies. In some of the Deep Space novels, however, the rifle is said to be quite useful, especially against the Borg. It is also implied that another reason Starfleet doesn't use the weapon is because it is too good, since one can modify it to transport bullets, allowing potential assassins to do their work with little effort. Whether or not it has a semi or full auto function isn't mentioned... but all things considered, it can be assumed.
      • It's been established in the expanded Trek universe that the Borg drones have a distinct, specific weakness to kinetic weaponry, since their personal shield technology does not include particle shielding. It is unknown if their ships suffer the same fault.
    • Between the aforementioned newer technologies and the fact that the weapon lacks a non-lethal option, Starfleet would have happily discontinued the TR-116 as soon as possible. Less a case of "too good" and more a case of "This is only good for assassination now, so the United Federation of Planets does not need it." After all, humans in Star Trek tend to be good and prefer diplomacy, so such an effective assassination weapon doesn't fit their modus operandi as well as the phaser, which has more utility and can be set to stun. Of course, the plans still aren't classified enough, and in the only episode featuring the TR-116, this fact plus crazy person plus Matter Replicator equals murder.
      • It also leads to an embarrassing incident of Dax accusing an innocent man of the murders because he'd accessed the plans and replicated one. He collected exotic weapons as a hobby.
      • You just know if some old eccentric kook can access the plans, Section 31 has probably mass produced them and uses them quite liberally.
      • And, of course, since it uses a transporter signal, once the enemy figured out what sort of weapon you were using, it would be a relatively simple process to pinpoint your location and/or use shielding to block the rifle's transporter. Except that O'Brien specifically noted that the mini-transporter's signal is too faint and too quick to get a workable trace, which is why they couldn't trace the killer that way in the Deep Space Nine episode.
  • Babylon 5 plays with it:
    • As small arms, kinetic weapons such as firearms are too good, and when used on a starship they could ricochet or penetrate a hull or something important, as explained by Garibaldi when he whips out his grandmother's Smith & Wesson .38 Special. Hence why most everyone uses PPGs (a plasma-based weapon with poor penetration) on spaceships, and EarthForce and the few others who still use projectile-based small arms confine them to planetbound environments, where overpenetration doesn't carry the same risk.
      • That said, even EarthForce is moving away from projectile weapons, as while they're powerful they carry too little ammo and weigh more, and the only reason they haven't yet is that they're still figuring out how. The Expanded Universe explains the PPGs that appeared only in the first episode as one such attempt, with about the same penetration as a kinetic weapon, more munitions, and no way to regulate the power, leading EarthForce to revert to the previous model at least for the station crew.
    • As vehicle-mounted weapons, the RPG shows that kinetics fare well in planet-bound environments, and the major armies all have some sort of artillery. In space they're also devastating, but suffer from reduced range.
    • When it comes to Orbital Bombardment, "mass drivers" — cannons that drop asteroids on a planet's surface — are the most effective weapons. However, they are banned precisely for that reason: during the Dilgar War many planets were devastated (and one made completely uninhabitable) by the use of mass drivers, and over two centuries earlier the Centauri-Orieni War saw multiple worlds made uninhabitable with their populations wiped out by the weapon, that was first deployed during this conflict. Then, in season 2, the Centauri chose to ignore the treaties and used them to bomb Narn into submission. Every other member of the League of Nonaligned Worlds lodged an official protest against the Centauri for this; even the Vorlons. Later seasons noted that cosmic winter effects would continue for years afterward.
  • In Andromeda, most large ships only use energy weapons for point defense; most combat uses relativistic missiles or, at extreme close range, anti-proton cannons. As for hand-held weapons, people typically carry gauss pistols with smart bullets or force lances that can fire mini drones or plasma bursts depending on the situation. Andromeda tries to stretch known physics only as far as necessary. The main sci-fi element in space flight and combat in this series is mass manipulation. Spaceships can fly fast because they can adjust their mass to a tiny fraction of reality, whereas kinetic missile warheads pack a punch by reducing their mass in-flight (to get to 90% speed of light) and then re-amplifying their mass just before impact so they tear through enemy ships (which are thus designed with small parts with lots of open space between so that any kinetic impacts pass clean through and have less chance of impacting a vital area).
  • In one of the Godzilla episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, the characters stumble across some human skeletons in a cave:
    Guy #1: Aaaah!
    Guy #2: Relax. They're dead, they can't hurt you.
    Crow: If they were going 90 miles an hour, they could hurt you!
  • Largely averted in Cleopatra 2525 but played straight in one episode. One of the characters turns out to be a Thaw - someone frozen back in the 20-21st centuries and recently found and revived. The guy still has his 9mm, which he cleans and maintains every day. Nobody else uses ballistic weapons in the 26th century. So, when the episode's bad guy turns on an impenetrable shield, Sarge pulls out the gun and shoots him, the shield not being calibrated to stop projectiles.

  • The Getaway: High Speed II has the Supercharger, which magnetically accelerates pinballs around an elevated loop before throwing them back onto the playfield.
  • Also appears as the Jumps Loop in Steve Ritchie's No Fear: Dangerous Sports, but the player must make well-timed shots with the upper-right flipper to continue the loop and build up speed.
  • Stern Pinball's NASCAR features an oval raceway around the playfield that magnetically accelerates pinballs into the game.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Traveller: Energy weapons do more damage than kinetic weapons and have a far greater ammo capacity, but while a laser pistol does as much damage as a slug thrower rifle it also weighs the same and costs as much as a rocket launcher (2,000 cr., for comparison a revolver costs 150 cr. and most rifles cost 1,000 cr. or less).
  • Played with in Warhammer 40,000, where due to the Schizo Tech setting, Frickin' Laser Beams coexist with more conventional firearms. Lasguns are easier to mass-produce, more reliable, and are easier on logistics since their "ammo" is rechargeable and robust power packs. Autoguns are easier to fire on full-auto, don't draw a line to your hidden position, and allow for different ammo types to adapt to different enemies and situations. Lasguns are good assault weapons, and autoguns can make good tactical weapons. But on the tabletop, the two are both interchangeable and among the weakest weapons available.
    • ...but when you start to scale them up, Linear Kinetic, Quadratic Energy comes into play. Kinetic guns such as Bolt weapons, which fire armor-piercing mass-reactive explosive gyrojet rounds, are much better at shredding infantry than a Multilaser, which packs slightly more punch but is unable to penetrate even a basic flak jacket. But when it comes to annihilating a hard target, laser, plasma, or melta weapons are preferred, while most big kinetic weapons are still being focused on cutting down hordes of light infantry. That said, a Leman Russ battle tank's main cannon is capable of blowing a hole in a squad of Space Marines, while a Basilisk artillery piece has two advantages over a Lascannon: it can fire indirectly over intervening terrain, and at a much greater distance.
    • In space things are a bit more muddled. On the one hand, a laser "Lance" weapon is more reliable at dealing damage than a broadside of more conventional guns. But a shell from a Nova Cannon fires a massive, exploding shell at relativistic speeds, and is capable of destroying entire squadrons of kilometre-long spacecraft, thousands of kilometres apart, in a spectacular explosion.
      • Subverted in the Ascended Fanfic "Rock Are Not Free!", where a starship captain figuring he'd just drop an asteroid on the planet (admittedly a time-honored tactic, among orks) is sent to remedial accounting because it ended up costing almost three times as much as a standard orbital bombardment.
    • Spinoff game Necromunda, by virtue of its slum-style setting, makes armour and energy weapons hard-to-get elite gear. Ordinary slug-throwers and shotguns are the predominant weapons in the game.
    • In the RPGs Dark Heresy and Only War the need to worry about logistics makes Lasguns some of the most popular weapons simply because the ammunition for them is much easier to acquire than bullets for other weapons (and empty power packs can be recharged). They're also nearly impossible to jam, thanks to having very few moving parts.
    • The Eldar follow the Imperial model for the most part, and their Shuriken-based weapons fire hails of molecularly-thin crystalline projectiles comparable to Bolt weapons in effectiveness, making up in rate of fire what they may lack in range. Their most potent weapons remain lasers such as the Bright Lance, or the more esoteric Distort Cannon.
    • The Tau however play the trope straight. Their Pulse Rifles fire bursts of magnetically-accelerated plasma, making them among the deadliest weapons fielded by any army's basic infantry. But their most dangerous weapons are Railguns capable of punching two neat holes on opposite sides of a battle tank (while leaving a twenty-metre red stain on the ground extending from the exit hole).
    • Also played straight by da Orks. A common attitude among Ork boyz is that a shoota isn't "proppa" if it doesn't leave a hefty chunk of something in it's target. This may have something to do with their experiences with the Imperial lasgun coupled with their own Super Toughness. Orks will, however, make some exceptions for beamy guns that are sufficiently "killy", like a good Zzap gun or Plazma Deffgun.
    • The standard weapon of the Space Marines during the Great Crusade was a weapon called the volkite charger, literally a Martian heat ray which could punch like Tau pulse weaponry and cut through thick armour like butter. As the Great Crusade wore on however, the legions expanded and the foundries couldn't keep up with demand for more volkite weapons. Bolters were antiquated, but cheaper and easier to manufacture, and they could accept different types of bolter shell for different situations. They also had the distinction of being especially effective against Orks, by far their most common enemy. The bolters won out and volkite weapons were relegated to special weapon status, the kind of "one man per squad" deal that meltas and plasma guns have now. After the Horus Heresy, the know-how to create more volkite weapons was lost and nowadays only the Mechanicus have a few working examples, which they fervously cling to.
  • In Battletech chemically propelled cannons and lasers coexist. Energy weapons generally have the advantage in firepower-per-weight, and don't run out of ammunition as long as the mech's reactor is still working. However, energy weapons generate large amounts of heat, and an energy-heavy mech needs a lot of gear to deal with that, reducing the overall amount of weapons and armour. Plus, The highest-damaging weapons in the game are all kinetic(or explosive), and they often have the added versatility of using different kinds of ammunition. There are still discussions which is better in-game. It's also worth noting that even in the far future, there is no better weapon for anti-infantry duty than the lowly but battle-tested heavy machine gun and even the lightest mech can carry a large amount of ammo for one.
    • Gauss weapons also exist in the setting, and are some of the deadliest pieces of equipment around. At the high end there's starship-mounted mass drivers, which can lob 90-ton projectiles around in combat. On the downside, while the rounds themselves are made of inert metal, the huge electrical capacitors that power the launchers can do some serious damage to their own users if they get hit and explode.
    • The Federated Suns love using Autocannons, many of their mechs such as the Jagermech and Hammerhands have autocannons as their primary weapons.
  • The TSR roleplaying game of Buck Rogers, the 2nd deadliest ship to ship weapon is the K-Cannon which is a massive ballistic weapon (the deadliest is the graser but using one is considered an atrocity). Planets can attack each other by firing mass drivers that can be up to a mile in size and the larger mass drivers can quickly wipe out an entire city.
  • In Shadowrun, laser weapons exist, and can penetrate armor better than their kinetic brethren, but several factors keep them from being used that much. They're expensive as hell, their ammo is expensive as hell, they're very hard to find, let alone get your hands on, and they can be quite unreliable in a pitched firefight. For those reasons, most runners tend to stick with cheaper, more reliable weapons.
  • In GURPS kinetic weapons generally do far more raw damage than energy weapons. Early lasers are also very dangerous to use as the chemical fumes slowly kill the wielder.
    • In fact this trope is enshrined within the GURPS rules. The developers calculate weapon damage based on the square root of energy for kinetic weapons and the cube root of energy for beam weapons.
    • The Transhuman Space setting exemplifies the trope even more than the main generic rules. It's a near-ish future setting with fairly realistically plausible power supply/battery technologies. That means that lasers make poor personal weapons (though there are a very few); firearms still work just fine. Less-than-lethal "electrolasers" exist as a useful option, though.
    • On the other hand, energy weapons are generally far more accurate than their kinetic counterparts, possess the lowest (and best) Recoil statistics, can hold truly prodigious amounts of shots per battery/energy cell, fare better against machines (Burning damage is not reduced the way Piercing damage is against the unliving) and ultimately output the most damage at the highest Tech Levels.
  • In the discontinued Babylon 5 Wars tabletop game, kinetic weapons ignored armor and did standard damage, which means that you could deal the attack's full damage to the component you hit, so if you hit the hull, there was a good chance you could tear a giant chunk out of it. It's main downside was that if you hit a less-than-vital component (like one forward gun out of thirty), then the damage would not transfer to the hull like the other weapon types.
  • The classic Car Wars did have lasers, but as a rather expensive weapon. Most combat was with bullets, shells, and rockets. One Splat Book calls out lasers as being not used in the military except for things like range finding and detecting.
  • In Eclipse Phase most energy weapons are designed to be "less-than-lethal", so with the exception of the plasma rifle they tend to do less damage and are less effective at penetrating armor than kinetics (especially railguns).
    • Considering that killing people isn't actually that useful since everyone just wakes up in a new body, debilitating and capturing them is often much much more useful in preventing them doing something. Robots and the like are pretty good at dealing with energy weapons while physically breaking them up works better to hurt them.
  • The majority of weapons in Myriad Song are kinetic and in fact very similar to modern-day weapons; the book states that even with how far technology has advanced, few weapons can rival the efficiency of a simple bullet. Consider the alternatives: energy weapons don't use ammo and can be used for hundreds of years, but have a problem with overheating. Then there are xenharmonic weapons, which use long-forgotten and poorly-understood technology to attack by creating miniature hyperspace warps... but they're extremely rare and scientists fear that using them could end up destroying the universe.
  • In Hc Svnt Dracones all personal ranged weapons except the non-lethal "Purge Wave" fire some sort of projectile, whether it be bullets, grenades, arrows, poisoned slivers, burning fuel, explosive bullets, or the 50-credit apiece shells fired by a Mag-Lance. Energy weapons only appear in spaceship combat, where lasers are more expensive and have a lower rate of fire than railguns but have longer range and deal more damage per hit, while particle fields deal massive damage to everything in the one hex directly in front of the ship.
  • One published campaign for AD&D took the Greyhawk setting centuries into the future where Magitek made the world look more like the 20th Century instead of quasi-medieval (dragons vs fighter jets!). Combat weapons were projectile-throwers that looked like guns, but instead of using a propellant operated via a combination of magic and science. When the weapon was fired, the gun used a spell that teleported the bullet into the vicinity of the sun and allowed it to fall for an hour or so, gaining very high velocity from gravitational acceleration. An instant after using the teleport spell, the gun used another teleport spell that pulled the bullet backwards in time so it reappeared the instant after it left, but now carrying very high velocity from its hour-long freefall.
  • In Paranoia, lowly Red-clearance Troubleshooters (just one rank above the dumb masses who work in the food vats) are typically outfitted with lasers and reflec armor (shiny stuff that kinda sorta reflects lasers), while slugthrowers and kevlar are restricted to somewhat higher clearances. That said, lasers and standard slugthrower bullets do the same amount of damage to an unarmored target.

    Video Games 
  • Despite the futuristic setting of Titanfall, there are only three energy weapons present, two of which are so massive that they have to be used by Titans. Old-fashioned machine guns and (futuristic) rocket launchers are still used by pilots and Titans alike. Hell, with the exception of the revolver, the sidearms barely look different from what you might find today.
    • The sequel backs off from this slightly. There are a few more energy weapons in the game(most of them man-portable), and one Titan with an almost all-energy loadout and the Catch and Return shield that makes it a tough oppnent for the other Projectile-using Titans in the right hands. Although one of those other Titans is an equally-strong contender for best Titan in the game.
  • EVE Online. Depending on the current patches and balance changes, kinetic weapons may or may not be better than lasers.
    • Caldari favor kinetic missiles, which have very low overall damage and suffer against fast-moving targets but never miss if they're in range, and kinetic railguns, which have a very long optimal range but very low damage.
      • Actually strongly averted in the case of Caldari Missiles. If you look at the parts list it becomes clear that what the Caldari are shooting at you isn't a Kinetic Impactor, but an artificial Black Hole Generator.
    • Gallente favor kinetic blasters that are essentially particle shotguns. They have extremely high damage but require you to be practically sitting on your target to damage them.
    • Minmatar have artillery, which has a long range and high damage but a massive reload time, and autocannons, with a short range and fairly high damage. These are the typical gun-type kinetic weapons, and as such have accuracy problems (represented by their short optimal but high falloff) but are capable of dealing varied types of damage and have a lot of versatility.
    • Amarr use beam and pulse lasers, which are general-purpose weapons with no particular advantage or disadvantage in combat statistics, having solid damage and medium range. Their main upside is their lack of ammunition use and their ability to quick-change ammunition, but the downside is their high capacitor usage.
  • In PlanetSide, New Conglomerate and Terran Republic weapons follow this. The Conglomerate uses a lot of railguns and shotguns, whereas the Terrans just rely on regular guns shooting a ton of bullets everywhere.
  • In Borderlands Sooner or later, you will find an Eridian weapon, which shoots energy. But it soon becomes obvious the Eridian weapons are Awesome, but Impractical - and even the "awesome" part is arguable at best. While they do shoot highly damaging bursts of energy, said bursts are slow, often blind the player, and are taxing on the gun's very slow-recharging ammo pool. On top of that, the only thing they work somewhat well against is the Guardians – and that's when we're talking about the Thunder Storm, the only reasonably useful gun of the pack. Last but not least, by the time you get these alien weapons, you'll have a fair amount of levels in the proficiency of the basic weapons, an advantage you won't get with the Eridian ones unless you're willing to go Level Grinding.
    • Inverted with E-tech guns in Borderlands 2. E-tech weapons use Eridium and Eridian technology to convert regular bullets into "stuff that ain't bullets" like laser beams, exploding balls of energy, plasma, or massive globs of elemental fluid. And E-tech weaponry is with very few exceptions much more awesome and damaging than regular kinetic weaponry, with the caveats that they are extremely rare and consume twice the ammo. The main exception to this are the Spiker pistols, E-Tech pistols that fire bolts of energy that stick to enemies and explode some time after. They're powerful, but quite unwieldy to the point of being frustrating to use. Besides, if you want to focus on pistols, you do as everyone else does and grab a Jakobs.
    • Averted in Borderlands The Presequel. They're just... other options, and stand on roughly equal footing as the game's mostly-kinetic arsenal (heck, some of the best Game-Breaker items are lasers). However, it is played straight in universe, as Mr. Torgue of Torgue fame hates them with a passion and considers them an insult towards his explosions. A number of missions have you destroying laser weapons for him, and it is implied this is one of the many reasons lasers aren't around for Borderlands 2.
  • Halo is all over the place with this:
    • The games are set around 500 years in the future, with all the AIs, faster-than-light spaceships, heavy lasers, Magnetic Weapons, artificial gravity systems, and powered armor suits that come with The Future; however, the human UNSC military is still mostly fighting with weapons and vehicles not that much dissimilar to those of today: bigass tanks, buggies, warplanes, missiles, etc, to the point that the standard UNSC assault rifle's round is literally a conventional 20th century 7.62x51mm battle-rifle bullet. Nonetheless, these can still hold their own against the Covenant's more advanced energy weapons, and even do some damage to lower-grade Forerunner robots. Even after humanity upgrades its tech substantially after the end of the Covenant War, their military still mostly uses conventional ballistic weapons. The novels (and games) also show that a heavy machine gun rounds from roughly the World War I era (.50 BMG) can still chew through most of the Covenant's vehicles pretty easily, even penetrating the back armor of a Wraith!
    • While most Covenant weapons like the Plasma Pistol/Rifle are energy-based, the Brute weapons from Halo 3 onward tend to be projectile based, mainly because the Brutes enjoy being... brutish. In fact, Halo 2 shows that Brutes like human shotguns, for similar reasons. This stands in contrast to the attitude of the Elites, who hold human projectile weapons in contempt. That said, even the regular Covenant military commonly uses projectile weapons like the Needler and Carbine; it's just that those projectiles tend to be things like exploding crystal needles and radioactive compounds.
    • Gameplay tends to zig-zag this. For the most part, players generally find human kinetic weapons (pistol, battle rifle, DMR, rocket launcher, etc.) to be superior to Covenant energy ones, in large part because the former's shots generally travel faster and farther; heck, even several of the most useful Covenant weapons to be the projectile-based ones. That said, while UNSC weapons deal out more damage to unshielded opponents, Covenant weapons bring down shields faster; a player who takes advantage of this fact with UNSC/Covenant combos can bring down enemies with ease. On the other hand, Forerunner weapons, which tend to use Hard Light and other exotic energies, have been among the most powerful guns in the series since being introduced in Halo 4.
    • As noted earlier, the UNSC does have laser weaponry, the best known being the Spartan Laser introduced in Halo 3; it is a lot more powerful than normal human weaponry but it takes a long time to charge, uses up its battery quickly, and is tremendously expensive (costing as much as six Warthogs), making it more of an anti-tank weapon than anything else. Even in the post-war era, human laser weapons are still rare and expensive.
    • The defining example of this is the UNSC Super MAC, which is an entire satellite that's just one massive coilgun. It is one of the most destructive non-Forerunner weapons in the entire Orion Arm. Upon impact with a fully shielded Covenant ship, said ship promptly either explodes (it's speculated in-universe that a ship beneath a certain tonnage threshold would be outright vaporized) or - more likely - has a humongous hole punched through it, as the hyperspeed shell maintains enough forward momentum to punch through a second ship, and possibly even keep going after that. That's what happens when you shoot a 3000-ton slug of ferric tungsten and depleted uranium at 12,000 kilometers per second (.04c). Some quick-and-dirty math means it's about 51.56 gigatons, and if fired directly at a planet's surface, it should theoretically cause cataclysmic damage, maybe even a mass extinction; in practice, the UNSC can use them to support ground troops just fine. The UNSC also has plenty of smaller-scale Magnetic Weapons, like the vehicle-mounted Gauss Cannon, the infantry-scale Railgun, and the Stanchion anti-material sniper rifle, though that only shows up once.
    • That said, while UNSC ground weapons can hold their own relatively well against their energy-based Covenant counterparts, Covenant ship-to-ship weapons are painfully superior to their UNSC counterparts, capable of boiling away a human ship's reinforced titanium hulls in seconds; Halo: The Fall of Reach describes a gigantic Covenant energy projector that is proven capable of slicing through human ships in one stroke, with Halo Escalation featuring a version capable of crippling humanity's most advanced flagship with only one shot. In general lore-wise, while kinetic weapons can hold their own at infantry and, to a lesser degree, terrestrial vehicle scales, the advantage at Humongous Mecha scale and above tends to go to energy weapons; this is part of why the UNSC could put up a good fight on the ground, but got their ass kicked by the Covenant in space. This is part of why the Covenant just started glassing human worlds instead of trying to conquer and hold them.
    • Covenant armor is repeatedly shown to be completely useless against kinetic weapons throughout the various games (both gameplay and cutscenes), books, movies, and novels, with even heavily-armored Elites folding to a handful of pistol rounds or shotgun pellets that would have done nothing against a regular human in body armor. The Grunts, Jackals, and other lower Covenant troops are worse-off. It's implied that Covenant armor is designed primarily to ward off energy weapons that they themselves use, hence its uselessness against human kinetics (this could also explain why their tanks are susceptible to .50 BMG). For that, their sole protection comes from their shields, which only a minority of troops have. The sole exceptions are the Brutes- who instead of wearing Powered Armor with various sensors, shield generators, gas masks, strength enhancers, etc. like the Elites, just choose to either go naked or wear a (literal) ton of metal. It's very effective, given that a Brute Chieftain in ODST was shown no-selling the kind of gunfire that would have killed an equivalently-ranked Elite ten times over, requiring a 14.5x114mm AP round to put down.
    • Gameplay balancing lands on the energy weapons of the Covenant doing more damage against target shields, while the kinetic weapons of the UNSC deal more damage against armor. Functionality, UNSC weapons are favored over Covenant weapons by players due to better targeting, handling and versatility with picking up more ammo, as most Covenant weapons use battery packs equivalent to two-three "reloads" of comparable UNSC guns but have to be discarded once depleted.
  • Civilization: You can go into the far future in the base game yearwise, but weapons technology (and technology in general, save for the space-related tech and the ambiguous "Future Tech") will never go past modern era.
    • Averted in Civilization: Call to Power and its sequel since weapon technology development continues past the first half of the 21st century. This eventually grants you access plasma and fusion-based weaponry.
      • Similarly, the Beyond the Sword expansion featured a near-future scenario, with the option of adding some of this technology into the later end of a normal game.
    • Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, the "sequel" to Civilization 2, quickly does away with this trope, as Conventional weapons are too mundane.
    • V also eventually averts this; the Giant Death Robot carries Eye Beams and Brave New World introduces the plasma-toting XCOM Squad.
  • Descent arguably falls into this; the vast majority of primary weapons ARE energy-based, but most secondary weapons are rockets, and Descent II's Gauss Cannon is regarded as a Game-Breaker for good reason, mostly damage and fire rate-partially because the kinetic primary weapons here are hitscan and the "lasers" are not. (Except the Omega Cannon, but its range is very short.) Same goes for Descent 3's Mass Driver, which functions much like a Quake railgun in hitscan, damage, and fire rate, with that last point balancing it out compared to the Gauss Cannon, now Nerfed into the weaker Vauss Cannon.
    • To top it all off, the most feared Demonic Spiders in the series are Class 1 Drillers, which are equipped with Vulcan Cannons just like yours. That means they're the only enemy with hitscan weapons. Oh, Crap!.
    • Also, Descent 3 has breakable glass. Only kinetic weapons can break glass. This is required to progress in certain levels. See where we're going with this?
  • Phantasy Star Online features the Yasminkov series of weapons. The Yasminkov 9000k is one of the most popular weapons for the ranged class, due to being a Mechgun (which usually barely have ranger greater than melee weapons) with the range of a Rifle (the longest range of any weapon in the game). In addition, all of these hit instantly, while the Photon weapons have a slight delay.
    • Even beyond the Yasminkov guns, PSO has an odd fixation on kinetic weapons being leagues better than their energy equivalents. Sword or spear, gun or rocket launcher, one of the signs you've found a really, really good rare is that it looks like a plain, old, ordinary kinetic weapon from the real world.
  • Quake especially 'Enemy Territory: Quake Wars'', seeing that the Armadillo resembles a Humvee, and Titan resembles a real life M1 Abrams Battle tank, aside from the fact that it has a chain gun on top. The helicopters are little more futuristic though, along with the computer displays inside the Armadillo, the Trojan, and the MCP.
  • Essentially the name of the game for the Unreal Tournament 2004 modification Ballistic Weapons. The backstory is that humanity got into a war with an alien race known as the Skrith, who utilized powerful shields that completely nullified humanity's energy-based weaponry. In desperation they took their old kinetic-based weapons out of storage and tried those - and found that the Skrith's shields had next to no effect on them. In gameplay this is represented by having energy weapons generally fire powerful but slow-moving projectiles, along with some other useful attributes, but having the eponymous ballistic weapons be much more plentiful and far easier to use properly.
  • Battlefield 2142 aside from the floating Titans, the other air vehicles, hover tanks, speeders (for the PAC at least) the Goliath, the anti-ground vehicle and anti-aircraft emplacements, and gadgets you could unlock, the EU guns still slung lead (The PAC technically use plasma weapons but for all intents it still functions like a bullet because it requires a delivery system to hold the plasma energy). Hell, the side arm for the EU was a revolver which had a speedloader cylinder. The developers stated in interviews that a gun firing bullets "felt more real to them" than just "pew pew you're dead."
  • Sins of a Solar Empire features the TEC faction, the games obligatory "normals". The Advent (Psionic Humans) and the Vasari (Evil Aliens) use a variety of plasma, phase, and laser weaponry, but the main gun of many TEC ships is the autocannon. More Dakka ensues.
  • In Deus Ex the only energy weapons in the game are the Awesome, but Impractical Plasma Rifle (all the fire rate of a cannon, poor accuracy unless you are a master in heavy weapons, slows you down and most of the time, its power is off set by the fact that only a handful of enemies have the health to survive most attacks) and the PS20 (like a plasma rifle with instant fire, perfect accuracy... but you can only use it once and in the unmoded game, hold only one at a time). A quick Sniper Rifle/pistol shot to the head disposes of most enemies quickly and silently plus their ammo is nowhere near as rare.
  • Deus Ex: Invisible War still followed this trope, although it took the Universal Ammunition route. This was hand waved by saying that the ammo was formed from nanites that formed the type of ammo that was needed for the gun. The weapon itself contains the dedicated micro factory needed to configure the programmable matter.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution: A variety of energy weapons are available in the game that are Awesome, but Impractical for most uses. The Direct Energy Rifle fires a pinpoint-accurate beam that can penetrate walls and obstacles, while the Plasma Lance launches blobs of energy along an ionized trail. In addition, there's also the P.E.P.S., which is essentially a short-ranged, (mostly) less-than-lethal plasma weapon that knocks down its targets. Despite their power, they take up a lot of inventory space, tend to be pretty loud, are rather hard to find ammo for, and are generally obtained late in the game. That said, they're not truly useless. The Direct Energy Rifle can be combined with some tracking augmentations to eliminate enemies through walls without ever being seen and can also bypass the shields on the final boss, finishing the fight in seconds, while the P.E.P.S. can be used to push aside heavy objects without needing to unlock the requisite strength augmentation.
  • Red Faction is set in 2158 and on Mars, but weapons are pretty much the same, not including the fusion launcher.
  • Perfect Dark has flying cars, sentient computers, and flying sentient computers, but most of the weapons are just shinier versions of ours. The human weapons, anyway; Maian energy weapons are pretty much Gamebreakers.
  • In Lost Planet, energy weapons draw energy from the same reserves your environmental suit uses to keep you from burning to a cinder or freezing solid. In the sequel, you can use abilities that reduces costs from the energy weapons.
  • Kill Zone: The weapons used are very little different from modern day weapons. Concept art detailing the history of the Killzone world has a present-day looking Humvee and a soldier is holding a M16 rifle. The former photo is set in the 22nd century, and the latter the 23rd.
  • In Mass Effect the weapons are highly advanced Magnetic Weapons, using magnetic accelerator coils and the titular mass effect to alter mass and gravity and speed up small pieces of metal, about the size of sand (though on the upper end of sand grain range, perhaps around the size of modern 1-3 gram microcalibers), to speeds that make it more lethal than modern firearms. This allows for some magazines to hold thousands of rounds, thus negating the need to reload over the course of a single mission. The weapons have power sources as well, though higher-end for more velocity in a smaller package are expensive. Unfortunately, they overheat rapidly unless special weapon modifications are used. In Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3, weapons have been modified to use "thermal clips" that allow for one to fire a weapon and then eject the clip and load another one, akin to ammunition reloading. This allows the weapon to fire much more powerful shots than before (when they were only slightly stronger than their modern equivalents, according to the first game's website), at the expense of heat buildup being so high that the weapon is unable to fire without a thermal clip installed without completely melting its internals.
    • The Phasic and Proton Rounds ammunition mods can convert whatever weapon you slot them in into a partially energy-based weapon which combines mass and charged particles, according to the fluff. Even then, though, the trope is upheld; neither of these mods are all that useful, dealing out LESS overall damage in return for some of that damage being dealt to the target's health through their shields. Specialist solid rounds often do better just through sheer damage output.
    • Many non-standard weapons superficially resembling Beam Spam are still considered mass accelerators:
      • The Collector Assault Rifle uses "metallic enamel" as a physical projectile, and the geth weaponry is exactly the same as other guns, except with a phasic envelope. Geth "plasma" weapons actually shoot superconducting, electrically-charged toroids that explode to generate plasma on contact, effectively becoming exploding munitions.
    • The Incinerate power from 2 actually is a directed-energy weapon, namely a plasma round that primarily deals thermal damage. While it is both extremely powerful (enough to gib people on a direct hit) and homing, it is of limited use compared to kinetic weapons against shielded foes, because plasma still has mass, and thus kinetic barriers can block it with little trouble. Its negligible kinetic energy means it doesn't tax the barriers to do this, and heat transferred through a meter or so of air does basically nothing to someone in a hardsuit.
    • The Annihilation novel shows more plasma small arms in the form of some back-mounted plasma cannons used by the elcor. They still mostly prefer bullets.
    • Mass Effect 2 explains that the weapons Sovereign uses look like energy weapons but actually aren't either — they instead operate somewhat like coilguns, only firing an elongated projectile of superheated metal at the target instead of a solid slug so that not only does the target suffer the impact of the jet, but the jet itself burns through the target like a torch. It took less than a year after the end of Mass Effect for the normal races to build a prototype of the same type of weapon, and you can upgrade the Normandy with one (two cannons, actually, which fire together to look like one big weapon). And boy, oh boy is it effective! The one time they're actually used, the Normandy SR2 proceeds to utterly vaporize a much heavier and (ostensibly) more advanced warship with a mere two shots. Suddenly, your Frigate hits like a Dreadnought!
    • Mass Effect 2 also features an exposé on kinetic weapons by an ornery drill sergeant bringing a couple of cadets up to speed on coil guns. 20kg of solid metal flung at 1.3% of the speed of light impacts with a force of 38kt, and due to the lack of friction in space, should one happen to miss their target, it's certain to ruin someone's day somewhere, sometime. More importantly, while a nuclear explosion spreads out as a sphere, that 38 kilotons is entirely focused on tiny slug no more than a few dozen centimeters in surface area, coming out to hundreds of kilotons per square meter or thousands of times more intense than an equivalent energy nuclear detonation at near point blank. Sir Isaac Newton is the deadliest son-of-a-bitch in space!
    • Compared to kinetic weapons, the GARDIAN laser systems aboard most warships possess a number of advantages: they are near 100% accurate under optimal circumstances and also ignore kinetic barriers, which make them very effective at providing point defence against fighters and projectiles, as well as in short-range "knife fights" against larger ships. That said, they are very short-ranged weapons: even in space, light diffraction causes lasers to attenuate rapidly, while (as explained above) kinetic weapons (and to a lesser extent, torpedoes) can keep going for damn near forever without any decrease in lethality. Furthermore, they tend to overheat under extended use, which decreases their range, accuracy, and power if an engagement drags on.
    • The Protheans, apparently used to abide by this trope. They later developed particle beam weaponry in order to avoid supply problems; the rifle in question is very useful and practical, provided you can keep it from Overheating.
    • It turns out that the Derelict Reaper, the only known Reaper to have been killed in combat by a civilisation before Sovereign, was gunned down in a single shot by an enormous Mass Accelerator. The round proceeded to cut through the target and sliced a ten-thousand-kilometre long gash in the side of a planet in a completely different solar system.
    • In the Citadel DLC for Mass Effect 3, you can get your hands on an assault rifle from Mass Effect 1 that uses the first game's cooldown mechanic (i.e. no heat sinks) yet has been modified to pack a punch of modern (i.e. ME3 standards) weapons by a "master weaponsmith". Thus, you have a weapon with virtually unlimited ammo but can't fire it in long bursts.
  • The Fallout series gives the player access to energy weapons, but kinetics are often the weapon of choice, especially for starting off. And there's a wide choice, from hand-thrown spears to the electromagnetic minigun (Fallout Tactics).
    • In the second game the Salvatore gang in New Reno is widely known and feared for its exclusive use of Enclave energy. Ingame NP Cs claim that one thug with a simple laser pistol could wipe out an entire squad armed with regular weapons. Quite the opposite in actual gameplay, asearly energy weapons do barely any damage and are almost completely ineffective against metal armor. This is evident, for example, if you start a gunfight in the Salvatores' bar: the thugs with laser pistols will do almost no damage to you, while the bartender with ye olde double-barreled shotgun does 20 times more damage than them.
    • Fallout 3 (without expansion packs at least) plays this trope much more straight than the previous games. Small arms are better than laser weapons, and even the late-game plasma weapons aren't a big improvement, have much more common ammo, and have a huge selection of weapons from short ranged devastators like combat shotguns to long ranged sniper rifles. The unique alien raygun is good, but so are many unique small arms like the Lincoln's repeater.
      • However, as the game progresses this trope is averted. Plasma weapons become more available as does their ammunition. If the PC acquires A3-21's Plasma Rifle this weapon is easily a match for the damage and effectiveness of any conventional firearm. Also if expansion packs come into play the Metal Blaster Laser Rifle is a match for the most powerful shotguns. The alien Destabilizer, MPLX Novasurge Plasma Pistol, Microwave Emitter, and Tri-Beam Laser Rifle are also very powerful energy weapons. Ultimately though, the best "energy weapon" is probably the Gauss Rifle, which as the name indicates, is actually a kinetic weapon that fires 2mm slugs with electromagnetism.
    • Fallout: New Vegas works more to put energy weapons and regular guns on equal footing, as it has perks and several high-tier energy weapons that are among the best guns in the game. Even default energy weapons will often have a Damage Threshold reduction effect, which means that they do more of their full damage to heavily armoured targets such as robots or deathclaws. The only serious problem you may encounter when using energy weapons is that both guns and ammunition are uncommon and expensive.note 
    • In Fallout 4, many radiation and energy weapons, namely the Gamma Gun and Gauss Rifle, will appear to have massive damage, but so many enemies are resistant to those damage types and their resistances are so high that there's little point. Radiation damage, for instance, is wholly ineffective against robots, ghouls (sentient and feral), super mutants, animals, and humans in power armor; combined, these make up about 70% of the baddies you'll be dealing with. They also tend not to benefit from sneak bonuses to base damage and crit, as most weapons of these types cannot be modified with silencers. Bullets, however? Nothing in the game has full immunity to those.
  • In UFO Afterlight, Earth technology based projectile weapons have better stats than laser-based weapons and electricity-based weapons. And all other ranged weapon types become unwieldy heavy weapons in human hands. Your main opponents also use primarily projectile weapons, but tend towards Abnormal Ammo. Although, like every other game in the Afterblank series, the best weapon depends on the enemy: projectile weapons are either decent or great against most enemies, which is why they are universally favored, but lasers are exceptional against robots and enemies susceptible to fire, and plasma weapons are devastating to most enemies with shields (which are not designed to defend against plasma). More specialized weapons have more specific applications. In all three games, for example, warp weapons are murderous against armored foes and almost completely useless against unarmored foes (since there's not enough mass to warp).
  • Master of Orion
    • In the first game, while energy-based weapons don't have particular weaknesses, in their tech class, particle/ammo-based weapons halve the effectiveness of shields. A side effect of this is that projectile weapons take longer to become ineffective due to the onward march of technology.
    • In Master of Orion II both types have their advantages: artillery have fixed damage and always can get Auto Fire and Armor Piercing (also gives early Critical Hits) modifications while beam weapons have damage decreasing with range, but also special properties like extra destructive effects or Shield Piercing.
  • In Front Mission the only instance of energy weapons are from orbital lasers and in 4 where laser weapons were developed at last. Most of the time however, Wanzers relied on smoothbore guns, grenade launchers, antitank rifles and autocannons. The Siege Rifle is essentially a giant railgun for Wanzer use.
    • There was also the secret experimental beam weapons in Front Mission 3. One of which was on an enemy mech, the other could be gotten through a secret code used on the in-game Internet. It did tremendous damage, but the fact is you wouldn't be very skilled with it due to how late in the game you got it and it was difficult to fire due to it's high AP cost. Pretty though.
  • Planet Alcatraz plays this trope straight with hand-held firearms. Most of them are made with materials and technologies available on the planet, so this is pretty much expected. Even the "Imperial Weapon", state-of-the-art weaponry used by main peace-keeping forces, also uses ammunition. The Kill Sat, however, uses some sort of thermal/laser beam.
  • Homeworld plays this straight in the first game, where directed-energy weapons are expensive, bulky and slow-firing compared to coilguns and particularly useless against fighters or corvettes. It slips a bit in semi-sequel Cataclysm, insofar as a gun that fires 'magnetic bottles' full of superheated gas counts as a directed-energy weapon, but returns in full force in Homeworld 2.
    • It's more accurate to say that energy weapons are useless against small ships. Those ion beams and plasma launchers of bombers, are very effective against frigates and capital ships.
      • However, in Cataclysm, Somtaaw engineers manage to develop an energy weapon system that specializes in destroying fighters and other small craft. Unfortunately, Somtaaw either doesn't share this technology or the Hiigarans promptly forget it since it isn't present in Homeworld 2.
  • Darkest of Days future weapons are just BFGs. Interestingly, the sniper rifles from historical wars are more accurate than the future gun, which is affected by wind and gravity, but historical rifles aren't.
  • In EndWar the JSF (America)'s WMD is a Kinetic Strike from the Freedom Star space station. Basically a large metal rod fired from space. The trailer shows 3 rods being fired at Paris to defeat the Russian forces overwhelming an American battle group.
  • The Half-Life series simultaneously plays this trope straight and averts it while providing justifications for both. Energy weapons are repeatedly shown to be horrifically powerful (the Tau Cannon and Gluon Gun in Half-Life, the former capable of destroying tanks and helicopters, and Combine Dark Energy weaponry in Half-Life 2 and its Episodes) and also the epitome of Awesome, but Impractical, requiring enormous amounts of radioactive fuel to function. As a result, while every faction (the player included) uses kinetic weapons almost exclusively, energy weapons are still used in situations that require a Bigger Stick and/or when the requisite fuel is readily available. This can be justified as the energy weapons being still in the experimental phase.
    • The Gravity Gun manages to count as both — on one hand, it's plainly an energy weapon (a zero point energy-powered weapon in fact); on the other hand, its "ammo" is decidedly material. It also averts the drawback energy weapons had in the first game by requiring no external power whatsoever, due to an extradimensional crystal.
  • Half-Life's sister franchise, Portal loves bullets so much, they fire the WHOLE Bullet. That's 65% More Bullet, Per Bullet
  • The Alt Eisen of Super Robot Wars Compact 2. In a setting where most Humongous Mecha are powered by Applied Phlebotinum, tinkered with by aliens, shoot Frickin' Laser Beams and Sphere of Destructions and other unworldly powers, this Real Robot uses solely solid-based weapons. Unfortunately, it's an Awesome, but Impractical unit, due to its specifications and difficulty in handling in-story. However, it functions on Rule of Cool, due to its pilot having been Born Lucky and in his hands, is able to take it to a point where it rivals Super Robots in damage capabilities. Demonstrated here in 2nd Super Robot Wars Original Generation. OUCH!
  • Kinetic weapons makes up a substantial minority of the weapon options found in Sword of the Stars, where they are favored by the Hivers, Zuul and Tarka. Kinetic weapons deal more damage and generally have longer ranges than energy weapons (though less so than missiles and torpedoes) and cause their targets to veer of course from the force of the impact. The game's premier anti-planet weapon, Siege Drivers, are also kinetic. Kinetic weapons are, however, wildly inaccurate without targeting tech and deflectable by armor technology, fire more slowly than energy weapons, and up until Argos Naval Yard lacked the late-level exotic weapon variants that you could get up the energy weapons tree.
    • The latest expansion, however, did introduce the Rail Cannons, two or three of which are mounted on Impactor cruisers and six (or seven... or ten for Liir) on Impactor dreadnoughts. Their decent enough reload rate makes them deadly against most ships. The only way to avoid being destroyed by these is to use deflectors (type of shield that blocks all kinetic weapons) or shield projectors.
      • Even with the shields, the target ship still gets pushed by the impact. This can either cause the ship to collide with another object (such as a planet) or be pushed in such a way that the shield no longer protects it (deflectors only protect from frontal assaults).
    • The sequel adds another nuance to shipbuilding and gameplay that further murks up the waters - power requirements. Ship's systems and weapons must now share a power source, which means Beam Spam may no longer be an option for some designs as exceeding power availability causes reduction in rate of fire. This means that kinetic weapons, which require significantly less power, are once again an attractive option, although the new damage spread system shows that lasers offer better penetration than mass drivers. Also, kinetics have their own rate limiting factor, Supply. In the end the best way is still to make a balance of both.
  • In City of Heroes, you have access to a ridiculous number of ranged damage sets. Most of these are elemental or energy based, but three (Archery, Assault Rifle, and Dual Pistols) rely solely on kinetic weaponry. While firing a bow and Arrow isn't as cool as Playing with Fire, the Weapon Sets certainly aren't starving for damage. They also have a unique advantage in the fact that their "Nuke" powers don't leave their users exhausted.
  • In Galactic Civilizations, mass drivers are one of three choices you have for weapon tech paths, along with missiles and energy weapons. Which one was better depends on what form of defenses your enemies are using - shields defend against energy weapons, point defence protects ships from missiles, and plain old armour plating stops mass drivers. Mass drivers' advantage is being the cheapest option, if the second bulkiest after missiles.
  • In the X-Universe series, the Mass Driver gatling gun allows you to destroy hulls of enemy ships by bypassing shields (and non-capital ships usually have weak hull ratings, relying almost completely on shields). They use almost no energy, and their projectiles travel at very decent speed. To finish it off, let's remember that any hull damage inflicted on a ship may result in loss of equipment (including weapons and cargo) and can inflict penalties on their speed. Its main downsides are that you need to buy ammo for it (whereas energy weapons are powered by your ship's reactor), and that it is strictly a fighter-size weapon; furthermore, fighter vessels usually do not have large enough cargo spaces to justify carrying the corresponding ammunition for the gun and the gun itself is only compatible with a few specific fighter craft (only Argon and Split fighter vessels can carry the gun, unfortunately). You can kill a capital ship with it through the shields, but it takes FOREVER.
    • On the other end of the weapon spectrum is the Gauss Cannon, an anticapital weapon that is described in fluff as a coilgun. While it doesn't bypass shields like the aforementioned Mass Driver, it does more hull damage than any other weapon in the game. It's also popular among players for the fact that it can be mounted on the flank turrets of the Teladi Shrike frigate, which lets it take on full-sized capital ships. Made even more awesome in X3: Albion Prelude, which buffed all hull strength values by an order of magnitude, making the Gauss Cannon's high hull damage even more useful.
    • In general, ammo-using weapons are liked by some players because they allow ships to maintain a high rate of fire for longer since they don't draw on the ship's energy reserves (when they run out, ROF for energy weapons drops to about half, depending on the ship and weapon). On the flip side, other players prefer energy weapons because you don't have to stock ammunition, which in fleet-scale applications involves constructing an entire supply chain including factories; no Easy Logistics here. And when a kinetic weapon runs out of ammo, it stops firing entirely, whereas an energy weapon-armed ship with depleted energy reserves will keep firing at a reduced rate. Thus, ammo-based weapons are entirely not recommended for OOS combat.
  • Standard Weapons in System Shock 2 are superior in most respects to weapons falling under other categories such as Energy, Heavy, or Exotic. Whichever character class you start off with, you will almost certainly be using a Wrench, which counts as a Standard Weapon in terms of damage but does not have any skill requirements. Unlike other weapon categories, every single Standard Weapon is highly useful: the Pistol, Shotgun, and Assault Rifle are all powerful and versatile weapons that are capable of handling a wide variety of opponents, especially with specialized anti-armour or anti-personnel bullets. All of them use ammunition that is widely available and, with the exception of the Assault Rifle, have comparatively low requirements for their use. Two of the three classes start off with level 1 Standard Weapons by default (which they can then raise to level 3 with one of the prologue assignments). Unless following a specific play style by choice, it's pretty hard to justify not choosing one of the Standard Weapons as your primary weapon
    • Actually player can find ammunition quite scarce and without restrictions character development system the energy weapons using energy restored by power stations could be really life-saving. In the first game the energy weapons were very important alternative to bashing enemies with lead pipe in the first half of the game... Nevertheless the "boring" Scorpion submachine gun was arguably the most effective weapon.
  • In Vega Strike Magnetic Weapons are the most power-efficient weapons, have decent rate of fire and do some shield-bypassing damage, so they are good choice, though mostly in close combat. Same for rockets, and they don't even use ship's energy. Lasers usually pierce shields better, don't need ammo, and hit at a greater range, but eat lots of power and can be installed only on heavy fighters and larger combat vessels. Their shield-bypassing properties also make them very annoying when going up against Luddites: their low-caliber mass drivers aren't very deadly, but almost guaranteed to make the player pay for armor repair.
  • Contra for the NES invokes this on accident. The Laser Gun powerup is almost useless because firing a second shot will instantly erase the first shot from the screen. Thus, firing rapidly will reduce your gun to little more than a laseriffic chainsaw.
  • Starcraft contains a general balance between energy weapons and kinetics (although energy weapons make up a disproportionately larger portion of the very high end attacks). The Protoss rely pretty much entirely on energy weapons (including energy melee weapons), but they are pretty balanced against the bullet and missile wielding Terrans and the claw and acid-spit-or-something wielding Zerg.
  • In Star Trek Online, this is a major component of early space combat. Use your energy weapons to knock down shields then use kinetic weapons (photon torpedoes) to deliver the deathblows. Phasers will do around 100 damage to the hull of an enemy ship, a torpedo can easily go over 2000 damage.
    • For ground combat, it is possible to obtain the TR-116b via crafting. It's a field ready model of the TR-116 prototype (without the micro transporter). The primary benefit of having one is to fight the Borg, because their remodulating shields won't protect them from tritanium bullets.
    • There is also the Zefram Cochrane Shotgun, which is hard to obtain, but also fires conventional bullets.
  • In OGame, a browser game where you basically control a space empire, there is a Gauss Cannon. It apparently fires high-density metal bullets that weigh several tons in a railgun fashion, creating so much concussion that the ground nearby shakes and a huge sonic boom is created. And it is stronger than any other planet-mounted cannon sans the Plasma Turret, beating lasers.
    • In addition, the only ships that are described as having kinetic weapons are Bombers (plasma bombs) and Destroyers (has gauss cannons and plasma turrets). Death Stars however just use a graviton beam.
  • In Infinite Space, missiles, quantum torpedoes and the rail cannon, linear cannon and mass drivers of Escondido all bypass the deflector module, which blocks lasers and plasma.
  • Spectre 1991, though set in an explicitly virtual environment, uses projectile weapons on all characters (including the player) that shoot.
  • Nitemare 3D. The pistol is the only weapon in the game that can hit a target instantaneously instead of waiting for a slow projectile to cross the room. In fact, what exactly is the advantage of the first two weapons, again? It's intended to be ammo efficiency - your wand should drop magic-based enemies or your blaster tech-based ones using fewer shots than the equivalent in silver bullets. There are just enough bullets around that it doesn't matter much.
  • In The Conduit, although the Drudge and Trust weapons are extremely powerful, they tend to suffer from Crippling Overspecialization, as well as limited ammo supplies or other features often rendering them Awesome, but Impractical. Very often, you'll find yourself using plain old normal-tech human weapons, simply because they're much more versatile and more practical in most situations. The sequel has some upgrade blurbs which make reference to this trope. However, it's obvious that they're told from a completely biased perspective and Played for Laughs.
  • Subverted in Star Ruler. At the start you only have kinetics, and early game energy weapons are power hogs that don't do much damage in return. As you research further, however, energy weapons become steadily more efficient, travelling at lightspeed means that they're near impossible to dodge, and you have Bottomless Magazines with them but not with kinetics, so a parity is eventually achieved.
    • Once matter generators are discovered, kinetic weapons become infinite ammo as well. Ultimately, it is left up to the player as to whether or not kinetic weapons are just better. Likely, at this point it will be a tie between the Muon Cannon, which ignores armor, and due to the high level of particle sciences required for a matter generator, very high damage, or the Plasma Cannon, which is higher damage due to the similar level of energy dynamics research required, but shorter range, and NOT armor piercing.
  • Syndicate
    • In the 1993 game, The gatling gun is the best all-around weapon, with only Lasers and Gauss being more powerful (but with limited ammunition), and becomes a staple of enemies during Atlantic Accelerator. However, kinetic bullets are completely negated by the Energy shield.
    • The 2012 game subverts this: Kinetic weapons are still very effective, with such gems as the 30mm Gatling and Hand Cannon. However, this has led to the creation of Immune to Bullets Powered Armor used by Elite Mooks. In turn, energy weapons like the laser gun and Electron Mace that ignore the defence of aforementioned Elite Mooks have been invented.
    • Inverted by Syndicate Wars. The game only has four "traditional" kinetic weapons (which are technically actually energy weapons firing Hard Light generated bullets); The uzi, the minigun, the Launcher, and the Long Range Rifle. The latter two have good stopping power and range at the expense of a really slow firing rate and the former two are quickly outclassed by everything else in the game. Enemies tend to quickly start carrying Electron Maces and Pulse Lasers, while late game enemies start packing Plasma Lances.
  • FTL: Faster Than Light is an interesting case. Missiles are able to pass through shields and attack the innards of ships. However, you only have a very limited supply of missiles, so most of the time missiles will be used to take out shields so your Beam Spam can carve apart the enemies ship. Advanced Edition adds Flak Cannons—guns that fire multiple chunks of metal shrapnel. They don't take ammo like missiles do, and a single shot can do multiple hits (making them good at clearing multiple layers of shielding). The trade off is that they are inaccurate; both the number of hits they do and where they hit is up to luck.
    • Then there's the crystal weapons. They have low shield penetration, but make up for it by not costing anything to fire unlike missiles.
  • Space Empires, having both types, has this in a way. Most energy weapons have the advantage of not requiring ordnance to be built into the ship, only supply (which is essential for any ship). However, the damage potential for energy weapons falls away as the target is more distant. Projectiles and missiles, however, do not, always dealing the same range of damage when they hit, no matter how far away the target is (provided they're not beyond the weapon's Arbitrary Maximum Range.)
  • Oddworld. Yes, taking over a Slig's mind and then making him run into a meat grinder is pretty awesome, but the Sligs themselves make a good case for this, seeing as how in a straight up engagement, they will pretty much always shoot you dead before you can do anything.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 plays this straight on an infantry level. For infantry, kinetic weapons are better because they're available! The only man-portable energy weapons are the electricity weapons on the Tesla Troopers (slow rate of fire and rather short-ranged, but devastating against vehicles and infantry) and the Tank-Busters who can easily carve up tanks with their plasma-cutters but do pretty poor damage against infantry. It also plays this straight for ant-air weapons, as missiles and auto-cannons are the best for shooting down aircraft. The Archer Maiden's arrows look like energy bolts but they're really ordinary arrows with a explosive shell for a tip and the Cryo Legionaire only get their anti-aircraft freeze ray if they are garrisoned in a Multi-gun Turret or IFV. For vehicles, this is trope is largely averted, all 3 factions use energy weapons for high-end units because in a world where mad science reigns supreme, energy weapons hit a lot harder. Nothing can match the firepower of the Giga-Fortress, Harbinger Gunship and the Shogun Battleship. And unlike other games, most artillery is energy-based (the Pacifier is kind of a hybrid, it fires bomblets that deliver protonic energy blasts) for reasons of heavier firepower or in the case of the Athen Cannon, better accuracy. Even for the tier 3 tanks, the Apocalypse Tanks dominates because of its "magnetic harpoon" tractor beam, in a pure gun to gun battle it'll barely survive against King Oni and only because it has two cannons to the King Oni's one "blaster". (Althought it can be argued that the King Oni's single beam attack consists of firing both it's eye beams at once). And, for once, there isn't a conventional Nuclear Missile. The Soviets use what's essentially a short-lived Black Hole, the Allies have an Antimatter cannon, and the Empire uses large-scale telekinesis Powered by a Forsaken Child.
  • Zig-zagged in Sunrider, as the kinetic weapons are stronger than the lasers, but the lasers are much more accurate and have better range. Justified in that starships also have powerful shields that make lasers nearly worthless if they're not disabled first, while no such defense exists for kinetic weapons.
  • Remains true, somewhat humorously, for the various attachments for your Swiss Army Weapon in Star Wars: Republic Commando. Of the three common attachments available, the only explicitly energy based one, the SMG equivalent, is the weakest. The sniper attachment fires metal bolts via an electromagnetic/plasma sheath system (similar to how Wookiee bowcasters work), and the anti-armor attachment simply spits a big armor-piercing grenade at a target. While they have less ammo overall, these attachments, along with a variety of specialty grenades, are substantially more useful than the SMG, which will often take an entire magazine just to put a dent in a Super Battle Droid. The other energy weapon that you will usually have is your blaster pistol, but that's hardly worth the effort.
  • MechWarrior, like its BattleTech source material, has lasers, missiles, and kinetic projectile weapons all co-existing and being fairly balanced with respect to each other. Lasers are easier to use as they're lightweigh, hitscan, and have infinite ammo, but cannot hope to match ballistic weapons in pure damage. Kinetic weapons in Mechwarrior Living Legends are particularly horrifying to fight at both close and long range; while lasers require the gunner to keep the beam on target, Gauss Rifle slugs smash through armor with no warning and can deal catastrophic damage. Autocannons and Ultra Autocannons cleave through torso armor at alarming speed. LB-X shotguns swat Space Planes and Battle Armor out of the sky. The most powerful "gun" is kinetic - the Long Tom Artillery Piece, a 30+ ton high explosive cannon carried by only a single tank, which is so massive that it requires the tank to deploy anchors in order to fire, and has a range long enough gib battlemech from close to two kilometers away, requiring a Target Spotter.
  • Zig Zagged all over the place in the X-COM franchise.
    • UFO Defense had a linear progression in which Ballistic Weapons are outclassed by absolutely everything else in the game.
    • Terror From The deep takes place underwater, so most weapons are based around energy, however, most of them also don't work above the surface, meaning you'll have to keep ballistics handy.
    • Apocalypse gives you a less linear tech tree due to the involvement of other corporations and security firms developping their own technology, and while alien weapons and more gimmicky X-COM made weapons are useful and even Game Breakers, simply blowing up a building with demolition charges or chucking enough explosives at aliens will mostly always do the trick.
    • XCOM: Enemy Unknown has a linear progression of weapons where ballistics are weaker than lasers, which is weaker than plasma. But it's not all black and white:
      • The arguably best weapon in the game is the Alloy Cannon, a plasma-tier shotgun that launches shards of alien alloys (the stuff your endgame armor is made of) as pellets out of what's essentially a portable railgun. Its damage potential is only beaten by MEC weaponry.
      • Enemy Within adds the MEC Troopers, whose Kinetic Strike Module subsystem (a rocket-powered fist mounted on the armor) will kill everything in the mid-game with its raw 12-damage output. It only falls short of Elite Mooks at full health, and even then you have options: the Foundry project "MEC Close Combat" increases damage to 18 (and a bug from completing a campaign means it'll start at 18 in subsequent campaigns and go up to 27 with MEC Close Combat), and if the MEC starts the turn beside an enemy, which happens often with dumber melee-only aliens like Chryssalids and Berserkers, they can use both actions for punching aliens into paste. Especially notorious when the most viable tactic is running up to the end-game psychic enemies (that are nearly immune to everything and have the strongest psionic attacks) after softening them up and going for an organ-liquefying uppercut; in addition to that, Kinetic Strike Module + Electro Pulse absolutely mulches Sectopods, the most dangerous enemy in the game bar none. On a lesser note, it also has good utility value even if you don't use the KSM: simply having it on the MEC increases mobility by 3 tiles in regular movement, or 6 tiles when dashing, just like the Support's Sprinter skill.
      • If the "Damage Roulette" Second Wave option is enabled, regular weapon damage ranges between 150% of the base damage and a measly 1. Critical Hits work differently, too: instead of a 40-50% damage buff to an attack, a crit deals the weapon's base damage plus whatever damage was rolled by the shot, so it's more consistently powerful. Where the trope really kicks in is with the availability of Reaper Rounds, a special ammo type equipped as an items that raises critical chance by 20%, at the expense that any range penalties the weapon has are doubled (so trying to snipe with the Short-Range Shotgun or using the Sniper Rifle as a Short-Range Long-Range Weapon is an even bigger no-no; assault rifles and the Heavy's LMG are unaffected). With Reaper Rounds and the right tactics, your ballistic arsenal is just as practical as lasers for all troops outside of Squadsight Snipers, who can't deal crits at all from outside their own visual range unless they use Headshot, which has a one turn cooldown.
    • XCOM 2 has a similar progression to the previous game, except lasers are replaced entirely by Magnetic Weapons, which the bulk of ADVENT's forces also use.
  • In Xenonauts, weapon tier progression first goes from ballistic to energy weapons (laser then plasma), but then back to kinetic weapons for the ultimate weapon tier: Magnetic Weapons.
  • Defied in Grey Goo (2015), where the humans play the role of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, with all the energy weaponry that implies. One character has this to say about the relative primitiveness of the Beta: "They still use bullets in their guns."
  • Gears of War: The COG have access to energy weapons, evidenced by the Hammer of Dawn Kill Sat, however in terms of infantry firepower, it's all projectiles. The Locust weapons are also projectile-based.
  • Zig-zagged in Wasteland 2. Unlike the previous game, energy weapons aren't just straight-up required to beat the game as they knock old bullet-sluggers into obsolescence. Energy weapons are more powerful (especially against enemies with heavy armour) but kinetic weapons are still more abundant, reliable and easier to keep, and the same is true for bullets. An AR-15 might be a more useful main weapon pick over a laser rifle in the long run despite its statistical inferiority, but it's still handy to have an energy pistol on hand to deal with those special moments when ordinary bullets don't have the kick to punch through armour.
  • Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon: The cannon type weapons: Carronades, Laser Cannons and Plasma Cannons (which despite their names, function like and appear to be kinetic weapons) all deal much higher damage per shot than the game's true energy weapons (Lancers) when they are of the equivalent weight class, as well as being cheaper (with the exception of Plasma Cannons), making kinetic weapons a more cost effective option. Averted with Heavy Lancers however, which as as effective (if not quite as powerful) as their kinetic counterparts.
    • Certainly the case with the Royal Navy, as the only Lancers they have access to are Light Lancers, which is one of the weakest weapons in the game, which makes kinetic weapons preferable on a Royal Navy ship.
  • Warframe:
    • During the Old War, the Orokin originally tried using their blindingly advanced weapons to fight against the Sentients. But since the Sentients were themselves the most advanced Orokin technology, they were easily able to subvert these weapons, forcing the Orokin to rely on low-tech weapons. It says something about how advanced the Orokin were that they didn't see much difference in the technology level of a bow and a gun. The Orokin eventually created the warframes and the Tenno to wield these weapons, so even after the Old War the Tenno still mostly use low-tech. The primary exceptions are repurposed Corpus mining lasers.
    • The Grineer fall into this trope, but not out of choice; they just don't have the technology to reliably produce Energy Weapons (although a couple of their attempts have fallen into Tenno hands on occasion) on the massive scale of most of their other technology. Of course, it doesn't seem to hinder them much, since some of the nastiest weapons in the game, such as the Hek, Brakk shotgun pistol, Sobek autoshotgun, and the Marelok, are of Grineer origin.
  • This trope is the name of the game for the Unreal Tournament 2004 Game Mod Ballistic Weapons. The backstory involves a war between humanity and an alien race known as the Skrith who used energy shields to defend themselves, which left humanity at a distinct disadvantage with their use of energy weapons that those shields easily deflected. In desperation, humanity then pulled old bullet-firing ballistic weapons out of mothballs, and promptly discovered the Skrith's energy shields did nothing to stop physical projectiles hitting them around 900 meters per second, allowing them to turn the tide back in their favor. This is further exemplified in the actual gameplay of the mod, where the energy weapons tend to do more damage and have several other unique attributes, but they're much rarer and harder to use effectively between their flashy lights and all either firing Painfully Slow Projectiles or some sort of continuous beam with a short reach; in comparison, the ballistic weapons are much simpler, all having set ranges and uses where they're most useful, but being incredibly efficient at making things dead within that limit.
  • Overwatch Zig Zags this trope. Some of the heroes use energy weapons, other use bullets, a few use other kinetic weapons. Most of the energy weapons are slow moving projectiles that can be dodged, while most of the kinetic weapons are hitscan and have instant travel time so can't be dodged. There are exceptions on both sides. D.Va's fusion cannons and Winston's Lighting Guns are hitscan weapons, while Junkrat's Grenades and Genji's Shuriken's are slow projectiles. However, Bastion plays it straight as his bullet based Gatling Good does the highest damage per second of any weapon in the game.
  • Played with in Escape Velocity Override: you are very likely to develop this impression if you watch UE-Voinian battles (with the rocket-heavy human fleets tending to devastate the energy weapon-focusing Voinians), or discover the Emalgha (whose mass drivers chew through Voinian ships, hampered mainly by Emalgha ships being pretty poor due to their resource depletion)... but as you explore more of the galaxy, it becomes clear that energy weapons have advantages of their own, and the previous impression was because the game is balanced so that the Voinian design paradigm (slow, lumbering heavily armoured ships relying primarily on relatively slow-firing but powerful energy weapons) is countered by the UE design paradigm (fairly nimble rocket-heavy ships and with significant fighter usage) and relies specifically on what Emalgha mass drivers are good against (mass drivers are absolutely terrible against shields, and chews through armour like nothing else. Since Voinians have weak shields, strong armour and tend to be easy to hit...).

    Web Comic 
  • Schlock Mercenary
    • This strip has an explanation for why, in addition to energy weapons like Schlock's plasma cannons, ammo based pistols are so common.
    • A few days later, it also addresses the damage potential of "cee-sabot" weapons, large kinetic weapons traveling at relativistic speeds. RKVs (Relativistic Kill Vehicles) also turn up later in the story.
  • By Word of God (in the comments section of one page) the main weapons used in Terra are chemical-propellant firearms, despite the boxy, futuristic look and the fact that some of them produce unusual colors when fired.
  • In Quantum Vibe Nicole buys an ordinary gun after her "zringer" is disrupted by muggers. It also proves useful for maneuvering in space.
  • Discussed in GRRL Power. Halo and Maxima may be strong enough to blow up buildings just by pointing at them, but no civilian is going to be intimidated by having a finger (or a shiny orb) pointed at them. A gun, on the other hand, gives a pretty clear message.
  • Zig-zagged in Spacetrawler. The laser-immune Bollyck pirates are taken down by Dmitri's bullet-firing handgun just fine. Qwahntoo, however, has a subcutaneous fluid layer that functions as a natural shock absorber, so he's more annoyed than hurt.

    Web Original 
  • The five star nations in The Pentagon War, particularly Sol, rely heavily on kinetic weapons, primarily electromagnetically-launched slugs and high-speed ramming missiles.
  • Void Dogs uses the abbreviation KEG for firearms, short for Kinetic Energy Gun.
  • Zig-zagged in The Jenkinsverse in that energy weapons are recoil-less, ammoless, highly configurable, lightweight enough for an alien to carry, and powerful enough against most spacefaring races. Kinetic weapons are FAR more potent and can be equipped with specialist ammunition, but most are too heavy for an alien to lift and recoil alone is powerful enough to injure an alien wielder.
  • The web forum Sufficient Velocity got its name from this trope, after numerous debates on its sibling site SpaceBattles on the general subject of "how many X do you need to destroy Y?" were resolved with an answer of "One, traveling at sufficient velocity."

    Real Life 
  • Speculatively, small-arms laser weapons like those found in science fiction media are likely to remain quite inefficient compared to conventional (or unconventional) projectile weapons for some time. The power requirements are high, the ranges are short, the risks of blinding bystanders is high, the hardware is more vulnerable than a firearm's action, the list goes on. Kinetic weapons are also likely to remain useful into the future due to one very simple rule of the universe: anything will break if you hit it hard enough.
  • The most basic, ubiquitous kinetic weapon currently in use? Plain old firearms. A bullet fired from a handgun or rifle does damage to its target not by exploding, but simply by going really really fast. Every army on the planet uses them; only knives can claim to pass them up in ubiquity, and only because they serve purposes other than as weapons.
  • Flamethrowers suffer from this trope in real life. While being very psychologically effective and useful for destroying thick foliage and eliminating enclosed enemies and bunkers, they are heavy, have short range compared to kinetic weapons, consume fuel quickly, tend to give away one's position, paint a giant target on the user's back and are dangerous to both the user and their nearby allies. Because of this, they've stopped being made by firearm companies and have fallen out of service with most armies since the Vietnam War, and have generally been replaced by more effective incendiary rounds for rocket and grenade launchers.
  • Most explosive weapons actually have this trope to thank for their stopping power, rather than the fiery blast of the explosion itself. This is normally done by way of explosive fragmentation: either the casing itself or a dedicated layer of small metal objects are blasted out to do their thing. From the simple hand grenade to the Claymore anti-personnel mine to anti-aircraft shells fitted with the first practical proximity fuse to missiles like the AIM-9 Sidewinder, it's kinetics that do the real killing.
    • Conversely, this is actually a very common and reliable way to disarm bombs. Most modern explosives are extremely stable, i.e. they won't explode unless acted upon by a detonation mechanism. So when EOD doesn't want to take the chance of getting close to a bomb, they will often shoot the mechanism. Usually, it's done with a shotgun, PAN disrupter (an electrically fired shotgun that is basically just the barrel), or a large caliber sniper rifle.
      • When a minesweeper isn't available, surface ships will do their own sweeping - the main weapon being a sailor armed with a .30-06
  • The Armor-Piercing Fin-Stabilizing Discarding-Sabot (APFSDS) round, the standard anti-armor ammunition of the M1 Abrams tank and most other modern main battle tanks, is referred to by The Other Wiki as a Kinetic Energy Penetrator. It uses no explosives, and is merely a long arrow-shaped super-dense dart made of a tungsten or depleted uranium alloy which travels between 1,400 and 1,900 m/s (around Mach 4 to 5). It is specifically designed to penetrate the armor of the target vehicle: the resulting heat, spalling (breaking off of bits that make up the vehicle) and pressure wave generated by the projectile after it punches through vehicle armour is strong enough to kill or incapacitate crew members, or set off explosions in the tank's ammunition and fuel stores. It therefore requires a very high degree of accuracy, more so than other tank shells, and is considered a highly specialized round, more-so than older armor-piercing ammunition (which usually had an explosive component). HEAT (High-Explosive Anti-Tank) rounds are still the preferred round of choice for killing anything lighter than a tank, though.
    • Although HEAT rounds are generally preferred for use against lighter vehicles, canister shot is just as effective against unarmoured vehicles or low-flying aircraft as it is against infantry, as it basically turns the cannon into a giant shotgun. It's also particularly useful for knocking open holes in buildings, clearing barbed wire, or shredding vegetation. Also, it can't damage other tanks if used to blast infantry off of them.
  • There's some interest in creating Rods From God, telephone pole-sized flechettes composed of ultradense material (probably tungsten) dropped from orbit. There is the issue that numerous treaties are in place to prevent the weaponization of space, including orbital weapon platforms, but the treaties target weapons of mass destruction, and the Rods from God are not defined as such under the treaty or international law. However, if the system were ever to become a reality, there is a chance that an update to the treaties would ban its deployment.
  • The development of a man-portable, antipersonnel laser-based weapon, is for the sake of practicality rather than superior damage. Lasers only feature moving parts in their cooling system and have no need to expose their internal workings to the outside world like guns need to when reloading. But you would need a wickedly powerful one to punch through armor or even large amounts of airborne dust. Most lower-powered weaponized lasers would also depend on setting the enemy's flesh on fire and then letting them burn to death, not great for PR. So while it's possible laser rifles will be fielded in the near future, it will take a much longer time before they can truly replace conventional firearms.
  • The picture above is a round from the US Navy's prototype railgun, a weapon that uses electromagnetic fields instead of exploding gases, to propel projectiles to incredible speeds. It fired a shell at 10.64 MJ with a muzzle velocity of 2,520 m/s (over Mach 7), a good bit faster than even the above-mentioned state-of-the-art APFSDS tank rounds. The flare behind the projectile is not propellant — it is air that has been turned to plasma by the sheer amount of friction heat the slug creates. The expected performance for future railguns entering military service is a muzzle velocity over 5,800 m/s (Mach 17), accuracy enough to hit a 5 meter target over 200 nautical miles (370.4 km) away, and a fire rate of 10 shots per minute. Its damage per shot is expected to be roughly equivalent to a Tomahawk Cruise Missile, but each shot would be cheaper, not needing an engine, warhead or guidance system, and be much harder to intercept. The primary problem the Navy is facing is that the amount of energy rapidly wears out the "barrel" of the gun, with immense electromagnetic forces — the "recoil" of the railgun — trying to push the rails apart, and friction and resistance generating a huge amount of heat. Also, while nuclear-powered warships shouldn't have much trouble generating the energy for the railgun, smaller vehicles like tanks would need to spend a lot of effort charging them up. So, for the immediate future, railguns are Awesome, but Impractical. Navy fired BAE systems prototype railgun in late Febuary 2012. Unlike previous models, this railgun is the first model that looks like something that might get mounted on a ship. [1]
  • The only weapons deployed on spacecraft to date were 23mm rapid-fire cannons mounted on the Soviet Almaz space stations (the military versions of their Salyuts).
  • Laser-guided concrete bombs are an example of purely kinetic weapons being better than kinetic weapons that go BOOM. Need a target in an urban area destroyed while minimizing the collateral damage using shrapnel-and-blast-force-inducing high explosives? Just drop a slab of good old-fashioned concrete right on top of your pesky target. Who needs fancy high-explosive mixtures when you have the simple blunt force of a solid chunk of concrete dropped from the sky?
    • On top of the advantages for avoiding collateral damage, concrete is both cheaper and far safer to handle than high explosives are, making this a wonderful alliance of Rock and Laser.
    • These started out in the mid-20th century as cheap unguided training bombs until someone had the inspired idea of weaponizing them with the addition of a guidance system.
  • Modern missile interceptors like the Kinetic Energy Interceptor and THAAD rely on physically striking their targets to destroy them, rather than exploding. The reasoning is that proximity fuse detonations can't reliably knock out a missile, and the explosion risks scattering debris (like the warhead payload) over a wider area, and that's something you REALLY want to avoid when dealing with nuclear weapons.
  • This is how dual-stage anti-tank weapons such as the NATO Javelin work. Although they appear to destroy their targets through high-explosives, this is not actually the case. They are composed of two warheads. The first warhead defeats the target's explosive reactive armour. The second warhead is a shaped charge that propels a kinetic energy penetrator through the hull and out the other side, in essence turning the warhead into a gun at point-blank range. Aside from the catastrophic impact damage, the pressure wave created effectively turns the crew to pulp.
  • Speaking of anti-tank weapons, the military has an on-again/off-again interest in developing a tube launched version of the APFSDS. One of the more recent versions is the LOSAT, simply a dense steel rod that gets accelerated up to Mach 6+, and then slammed into a tank.
  • Another advantage of kinetic weapons is the ballistic trajectory, which allows you to arc projectiles over obstacles (which is how mortars and artillery are used). Beam weapons fire straight, meaning you can't target things behind obstructions or at extreme long distances due to the curvature of the Earth itself. This has also been used to great effect by snipers who have, using bullet drop and the environment's wind speed, actually curved bullets into targets behind obstacles. Long before that, slings, arrows, and early siege weaponry used the same arc to function as an early indirect weapon. They would also force warriors to consider the threat of death raining down on them, which can be devastating for maneuverability.
  • When you take ballistic weapons Up to Eleven, it turns out that an inert metal slug striking a sufficiently dense target at even a small fraction of light speed releases a phenomenal amount of energy. At a mere 3 km/s — one thousandth of a percent of light speed — any object contains as much energy as an equivalent mass of TNT. Firing anything at even one percent light speed turns it into a nuclear-scale destructive device. Of course, accelerating it to that speed involves its own brand of speculative technology, but at least they're not firing Frickin' Laser Beams.
  • As of 2016, Russia has started testing a new type of ICBM warhead codenamed "object 4202." It's designed to dive through the atmosphere at mach 15 and destroy its target entirely via kinetic impact. (c.f. this Newsweek article)
  • The energy of a kinetic warhead impacting with the velocities attained by intercontinental ballistic missiles exceeds that released by any conventional explosive of the same mass; the molecular bonds of the projectile itself are ripped apart in such a high energy impact, and the bonds between atoms in a kilogram of an inert iron slug contain more energy than detonating a similar mass of PETN or RDX. Because of this, all ICBMs are either kinetic energy weapons or nukes. And yes, the kinetic missiles produce mushroom clouds on impact.
  • Supernovae are an extreme example of kinetic energy impact. One type of supernova, the Type II, is what happens when the core of a massive star runs out of nuclear fuel and implodes into a neutron star. Leaving aside the gory details, the entire energy of the core's freefall is radiated away in about ten seconds, plus the rest of the star comes crashing down on the core so hard, the resulting shockwave literally blows away everything above the core, producing enough light to outshine an entire galaxy. At it's peak, a supernova can be over 10 billion times brighter than the sun, and even that energy is only about a percent of the total kinetic energy involved. The total energy released is so massive that if all of it were to be converted into radiation, even explosions thousands of light years away could roast us under light brighter than the sun.
  • Black holes are the ultimate example of the sheer power of kinetic energy of falling objects. The process of falling into them releases more mass energy than any known process in the universe, resulting in objects like quasars, which can be trillions of times more luminous than the sun. They also fire incredibly powerful jets from their poles using sheer rotational energy that can sterilize entire galaxies and knock out detectors from billions of light years away. The cosmic rays from a black hole are known to be the most energetic particles ever detected, millions of times more powerful than any particle accelerator.
  • In fact The first observation of gravitational waves involved two colliding black holes that released 3 Suns worth of mass energy (if the Sun were to be completely turned into radiation) in a fraction of a second in the form of gravitational waves. The energy comes from the kinetic energy of the black holes orbiting close to light speed just before impact. The power radiated was 50 times greater than that of all the stars in the entire observable universe, put together, making it the most energetic event ever detected - that's right, the energy of two falling bodies was more powerful than the rest of the universe. These black holes were absolutely puny though in comparison to the largest black holes weighing in at billions of solar masses, so even scientifically, there's absolutely nothing, nothing in the universe that really comes close to the power of sheer kinetic energy.
    • There is in fact a theoretical calculation of a black hole engine that implies that if a test mass were to be slowly lowered down to a Schwarzchild black hole and the energy used to do mechanical work, the entire rest mass energy can be completely extracted as useful work, something that only matter-antimatter annihilation is capable of. No other process comes remotely close to achieving such output. By comparison, nuclear fusion of hydrogen manages to covert only a measly 0.7% of the total mass energy into radiation.


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