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Magnetic Weapons
aka: Magnetic Weapon

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You do NOT want to be on the receiving end of that.

"This, recruits, is a 20-kilo ferrous slug. Feel the weight! Every five seconds, the main gun on an Everest-class dreadnought accelerates one to one-point-three percent of light speed. It impacts with the force of a 38-kiloton bomb. That is three times the yield of the city-buster dropped on Hiroshima back on Earth. That means: Sir Isaac Newton is the deadliest son-of-a-bitch in space!"

Call it a railgun, a magnetic accelerator, a mass driver, a MAC, a Gauss cannon, whatever, they all refer to the same category: a weapon that uses pressure of magnetic fields instead of an explosive chemical reaction to propel a projectile. This is a fairly common weapon in Science Fiction. In Real Life, they are only just beginning to enter military use (as of 2015), but have long existed as experimental devices and toys. The Other Wiki elaborates.

Note that there are 2 main types of magnetic weapons:

  • Railgun — projectile connects an even number of conductive rails with a strong electric current flowing through them and through the projectile, which is accelerated along the rails due to Lorentz force; essentially a linear electric motor. Not to be confused with rail-mounted artillery.
  • Coilgun — uses a series of electromagnets (coils) switched on and off to accelerate a projectile. This device is what "mass driver" meant originally.

Railguns have the advantage that they are relatively simple devices and yet are still capable of very impressive muzzle velocities, limited only by the amount of available electric current and the robustness of the gun.note  Their primary limitation after the amount of available power is the direct contact between the rails and projectile moving at great speed under current; the stress on the rails is immense, leading to extreme wear and tear. Heat adding up from friction and imperfect electric contact leaves vapors and plasma trailing after the projectile. Earlier railgun designs (proofs of concept rather than anything practical) often needed to completely replace the rails after each shot. Also, the whole circuit from the capacitor forward is under full current and thus pressure.

Coilguns, on the other hand involve far less stress on their components, and therefore don't wear out near as quickly. Instead, they are limited by needing far more complex control systems to activate and deactivate the coils in time,note  and the speed at which the coils can be turned on and off is limited by the coils' inherent inductancenote  (with exotic proposals such as superconducting coils that are laser quenched to turn them off) and magnetic saturation point of the projectile. They are however better suited for launching more massive projectiles at low speeds. The original idea of "mass driver" was to hurl tons of ore from the Moon's surface for orbital or suborbital pick up.

A subtrope of Fantastic Firearms. See also Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better. Compare Magnetism Manipulation when people themselves control magnetism to hurt you. When it's the main weapon on a ship and it's pointed forward, it's a Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon. It is in no way related to the trope of Sticks to the Back or Magnet Hands.

If you were looking for the anime with the name "railgun," please see A Certain Scientific Railgun.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • These pop up occasionally in the various Gundam series. Older series (Universal Century) treated railguns as unique prototypes or curiosities. They were more ubiquitous in the newer series (Cosmic Era) but were pretty much a "filler" weapon added if a unit had extra space left. The newest series (Anno Domini) have these being the most advanced conventional weapons available before Applied Phlebotinum makes energy weapons commonplace and even then the vast majority of military mecha (being of older make) still use them.
    • Also, the launching mechanism for Humongous Mecha in Gundam SEED used these: The mecha was given an initial boost of speed via an aircraft carrier-style sled and then propelled forwards by magnetic rails extending from the ship. Very large mass drivers were also the standard method of launching spacecraft from Earth to orbit. The fact that only a handful of these mass drivers are intact during the war makes them key strategic resource: two major battles are fought to secure mass drivers in order to send large numbers of troops into space.
    • The Gundam Wing spinoff manga G-Unit/Last Outpost introduces an Energy Weapon version of this; the Gundam Geminass' accelerate rifle has a spiral particle accelerator lining the barrel, which can turbo-charge its output for "Hyper Burst Mode."
      • Likewise, there's a semi-official variant of After War Gundam X's Gundam Virsago with "beam railcannons" on its hips, which function the same way.note 
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans has several versions of this kind of weapon, most notably on the Gundam Flauros. Of particular note are the Dainsleifs, special armor-piercing rounds capable of slicing through even the thickest Nano-Laminate armor like a hot knife through butter.
  • Starship Operators:
    • A railgun is used as a turret against the Amaterasu, with an onboard ammunition manufacturing plant to create more ammunition (it's near an asteroid). Also, since the anime lacks Arbitrary Weapon Range, it has been shown to fire from extreme ranges.
    • The main gun of the Amaterasu herself would qualify, being some sort of particle accelerator it's basically a coilgun accelerating very small projectiles (molecule-sized). In one of the latter battles of the series, the main gun is used as a sort of massive shotgun accelerating a very large number of projectiles, presumably rocks.
  • Misaka Mikoto of A Certain Magical Index is a master manipulator of electricity, well-known for her signature "railgun" attack (she usually uses coins as ammunition, but can launch large pieces of metal). Eventually she got a spinoff series of her own, aptly named A Certain Scientific Railgun. Despite the lack of actual rails for her to use, this is theoretically feasible because she doesn't just emit electricity, she controls electricity. By shaping electricity into virtual rails in the surrounding air she can generate the required magnetic field without any physical conductors.
  • Arifureta: From Commonplace to World's Strongest: Hajime utilizes quite a few forms of these, in both of his dual pistols labeled "Donner" that, while looking like normal six-shot revolvers, are actually miniaturized-railguns utilizing bullets that pack a major punch. Later on, he creates an anti-material rifle that, while only holding a single rifle round, it acts as a heavy-hitting magnetically powered artillery round, and if the victim it's fired at isn't durable, they'll be reduced to dust.
  • In Crest of the Stars, the Gosroth has four very large "electromagnetic guns" that appear to launch missiles.
  • The titular starship of Infinite Ryvius comes equipped with two detachable railguns referred to as the "Barge Cannons." They can be used by the ship itself as offensive weapons, or picked up and used by the ship's resident Humongous Mecha, the Vital Guarder as twin rifles.
  • Firearms in Code Geass developed in different ways than in our history. From their earliest iterations, actually, they seem to all be what amounts to a small coilgun; gunpowder as we know it either came later, or not at all.note  That giant silver pistol that everyone and their dog is seen totting? Look closely; it's got a revolving cylinder around the middle, and the rest of it is just coil bearings inside. If our world had naturally-mined non-cooled superconductors around, we'd probably have dispensed with gunpowder soon after we figured out magnetism too. Though strangely enough given the short range of their cannons and handguns that don't penetrate all the way through the body cavity they may be significantly weaker than chemical fire arms.
  • Black Cat: The aptly named Railgun, which is actually just Train Heartnet's Hades six-shooter electric-powered.
  • The Spider Gun Platforms that defend Olympus in Appleseed have a massive railgun as their main weapon. In the 2004 film, we see it charging up a shot in the finale but is stopped before it fires. Another railgun appears in Appleseed Alpha, when the SGP prototype does fire it and takes out a skyscraper in New York which is miles away.
  • 86 EIGHTY-SIX has the Morpho, which basically takes the Schwerer Gustav and substitute its 800mm cannon with a 800mm railgun. The ability to shoot a 1 ton shell at 8km/s poses a massive strategic threat to multiple nations involved in a Robot War against the Legion, given that the cannon has the range of 400km and there's no way to shoot the shells down.

    Fan Works 
  • The military of Greengaft uses EM weapons aquired via STC in Age of Strife.
  • Ashes of the Past: Pikachu uses a makeshift railgun to defeat Brandon's Registeel — not by hitting it, but by launching it.
    Ash: Does that count as ring-out?
    Brandon: ...almost certainly, yes.
  • Child of the Storm: in the sequel, Harry uses a few lessons in Magnetism Manipulation (via Functional Magic) from Magneto to make like Misaka Mikoto note , demonstrating his capacity for a) lateral thinking, b) mass destruction (though the latter was never really in doubt).
  • The Kerbals equip their prototype FTL starship with a spinal-mounted railgun in The Next Frontier, causing a certain amount of in-universe controversy given that this is ostensibly a mission of peaceful exploration. The ship's crew end up being quite glad they have it.
  • With This Ring:
    • The railgun is the favored weapon of the main protagonist. It's Boring, but Practical, since it costs very little avarice or ring charge to create one (he normally makes them in batches), and they can easily be loaded with various kinds of specialist ammunition (such as "Crumbler" bullets that disintegrate matter and collapse force fields). Also, since he can just recreate construct railguns at any time, he doesn't have to worry about accumulating wear and tear on them like a real railgun.
    • He later collaborates with a local firing range to make a weapon even more practical and reliable than the AK-47, resulting in the "Cobra" coilgun. Replacing the usual rounds with magnetically accelerated plain iron slugs gives it a better rate of fire, better accuracy in full-auto mode, the ability to dial the power up or down, and lower ammunition costs (offsetting the slightly higher up-front cost), while being even more rugged than the AK-47 and having more easily interchangeable parts.

  • An experimental railgun mounted on a battleship is used in Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen, and manages to literally rip Devastator apart.
  • The hand-carried railguns (or "rell guns," as Arnie calls them) from Eraser, which brought the concept to popular attention and influenced the games of the time. Their actual name is "EM-1 Rifles."
    • Arnold's character also mentions that the Navy already has ship-based large-caliber versions of these, likely similar to the one that annihilated Devastator in the above example.
  • The Meteor Gun used to destroy the Starfighter staging base in The Last Starfighter is one of the most overlooked, forgotten, yet freaking awesome railguns in sci-fi movie history.
  • The protagonist of Elysium picks up a ChemRail near the end, a massive full-auto rifle whose name implies that it's a hybrid chemical-magnetic gun, probably firing a bullet with an explosive propellant and then continuing to accelerate it magnetically while it passes through the barrel. The thing is hideously powerful, capable of punching through an armory's thick walls, reducing the guy on the other side to Ludicrous Gibs, and then still having enough kinetic energy left to perforate the wall behind the gibbed guy. Strangely, it appears to have no recoil worth mentioning although a gun this powerful should be virtually uncontrollable even in the hands of someone welded into a powered exoskeleton.
  • Firebase. As conventional weapons are useless against the River God, the protagonist is provided with a Schizo Tech electromagnetic coil gun, firing projectiles at 1/20th the speed of light.

  • Ark Royal: The titular armored carrier is the only human ship armed with mass drivers. It's also the only ship of its kind, by virtue of being a 70-year-old relic kept in service for political reasons. It's also the only weapon that is reliable at taking out the more advanced alien ships. The shots aren't very fast, since alien point defenses are usually capable of intercepting most of them, requiring the Ark to fire the rounds like shotgun shells (fortunately, even a single successful hit can cripple an alien ship). Since modern human ships are utterly incapable of going up against the aliens, the human space navies are working on developing old-style ships with mass drivers.
  • Fyodor Berezin's Ash 2001: Automated orbital magnetic weapons are used by Earth forces as the first line of defense for the base against their former colony. They come in handy when the latter launch thousands of nuclear missiles. Additionally, there are large variants that fire first type of magnetic weapons.
  • The Big U also uses a railgun, used to defeat the giant mutated rats in the sewers.
  • Bolo supertanks use magnetic weapons as part of their secondary armament from time to time.
  • Dale Brown: The "Tin Men" can use an anti-tank railgun. On the other hand, they use them on more than just tanks. The Tin Men have used those railguns on everything from tanks to bombers to cruise missiles. About the only thing they haven't used them on is a human-sized target, and that's mainly because the Tin Man suit is able to No-Sell anything smaller than an anti-tank weapon or a tank shell. And comes with a "auto-bugzapper feature" for dealing with uppity infantry.
  • Book of the Long Sun: Needlers are small guns that shoot poisoned needles using magnetic propulsion. It's a rapid-fire weapon but it's weak and depends on its poisoned ammo. The real firepower comes from standard ballistic assault rifles and machine guns which used depleted uranium bullets.
  • Deathless Divide: The tinkerer Gideon Carr builds a rail gun (in the 1860s!!!) for the town of Nicodemus to deal with an incoming horde of "shamblers". It's almost Awesome, but Impractical because while it can wipe out lots of shamblers per shot, the rail gun can only be fired at most once per hour — otherwise it'll overheat.
  • Death Zone: Rifles used by the military and some merc groups fire magnetically-accelerated needles that can easily pierce flesh. At full auto, the weapon is capable of shattering heavy concrete blocks. However, staltech armor is typically too strong, and the needles just bounce off it.
  • The Doctor And The Kid: Billy the Kid burglarizes Thomas Edison's hotel room and steals a Lightning Gun that generates an electric Deflector Shield. To deal with this, Edison gives Doc Holliday a magnetically-powered long gun that shot ten negatively charged silver pellets a second from a drum clip of a hundred. The Doc turns Billy the Kid into swiss cheese.
  • Doom: In Endgame, the Fred ship comes under railgun fire when crashing on Skinwalker. This frightens Fly because railguns were experimental in his time, capable of destroying their target but suffering a catastrophic meltdown. If the Newbies have functional anti-ship railguns then they have already surpassed human technology.
  • In The Expanse the predominant medium-range ship weapon is the railgun. It's useless at long-range because ships can just move out of the way of the shot, but it's also unable to be shot down by point-defence cannons which is a major advantage over torpedoes. Persepolis Rising takes magnetic weapons literally, with the Magnetar-class ships having a weapon on it that shoots a directed magnetic beam so powerful it spaghettifies everything in its path.
  • Gaunt's Ghosts: The Nihtgane, low-tech partisans, use big bows powered by twin magnetic generators. They're ludicrously effective compared to lasguns, in part because the arrows are coated in an immensely lethal poison.
  • Hammer's Slammers: While the Slammers favor powerguns, some other mercenary companies use railguns or coilguns that have better armor penetration but don't scale up as well and are just as expensive since they need diamond barrels.
  • The History of the Galaxy: All commonly-used kinetic weapons are of this type. Handheld weapons fire magnetically-accelerated tiny steel balls. However, they're not very good against armor. In many novels, this is when the protagonist usually finds some centuries-old plain old assault rifle firing chemically-propelled bullets. While it's justified that those found on derelict hulls in space would still work (no oxygen to rust the weapon or bullets), there's no justification for those found on planets still working even after 1000 years, except an extreme case of Ragnarök Proofing (this may be justified by many of them being found in or near colony ships sent into the unknown during the early period of space colonization). Space-based kinetic weapons don't usually rely on kinetic energy alone and explode on impact. Same for Humongous Mecha-based ones.
  • Honor Harrington: Pulsers are like coilguns, but they use gravity manipulation instead of electromagnetism to propel explosive ceramic-coated darts.
  • The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress: The inhabitants of Luna used their electromagnetic catapult (normally used to send grain to Earth) as a weapon to drop steel-coated rocks on Terran targets.
  • Revelation Space: The Demarchists have the space equivalent of a musket: enormous railguns that fire huge chunks of metallic hydrogen out at high speed using thermonuclear bombs as a boost phase. One shot weapons, since they blow themselves up to fire, but really, do you need another shot after that? Well, yes. The Conjoiners still kick their butts. They have identical weapons that aren’t one-shot and take less time to fire.
  • Small Medium: In Small Medium: Well Done, the "Lightning Road" in Gnome was built as a maglev track in antiquity (it's failing in part because it ends on a hill and in part because the person building it forgot to implement a way to stop) and accidentally operates as this whenever it gets charged. It's used to attack the dragon.
  • Snow Crash has Reason, an arm-mounted Gatling railgun.
  • Star Carrier uses both small and large versions of this. One scene in Center of Gravity has a Confederate Marine sniper using a railgun rifle, and the weapons are a staple of space combat. In a later novel, a USNA cruiser even fires what amounts to a space shotgun, which gets off two fairly effective shots before the enemy Macross Missile Massacres it.
  • Starworld: La Résistance develops coilguns as their secret weapon and use them to obliterate the Earth fleet. Prior to that, all space combat was fought with missiles. The ammo for the big guns that ran through the spine of the ships was regular old cannonballs, while the ammo for the smaller, turreted versions was explosive bullets. The main character even plays a crucial role in resolving the bugs with the magnet timing system thanks to his skill as a computer engineer.
  • Voidskipper: These are popular for surface combat, making use of guided exploding armor-piercing ammunition as their standard projectiles. Not so popular for space combat on account of the ships being outright faster than the bullets.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, railguns are used on Earth's first starship, the Prometheus and later, on Daedelus-class starships. They are also mounted at ground bases to serve as anti-fighter weapons. Eventually, after the Asgard commit mass suicide and give all their tech to the United States, Asgard plasma beam weapons become the primary armament of the Daedelus-class, arguably subverting this trope, though those ships also maintain their railguns and nuclear arsenals. They stay effective as anti-fighter platforms. And, given the Wraith's ability to shoot down nukes before they even get close, railguns are occasionally used to great effect against their hive ships, though only when their projectiles caused secondary explosions inside the hive. Otherwise, the hive ships' sheer massiveness prevented the guns from doing any significant damage.
  • Mass drivers are classed as "Weapons of Mass Destruction" in Babylon 5 and we see them used to pummel the Narn homeworld with asteroids.
    • There are also less powerful railguns used as ship-mounted weapons on two Earth Alliance warship classes (the old Olympus-class corvettes and the more recent and powerful Warlock-class destroyers), with the expanded universe adding a number of Earth Alliance warships using railguns (most notable being the Artemis-class frigate, extremely cramped due the ammunition bunkers and the reactors to feed six railguns but devastating in combat) and the entire Orieni fleet using railguns of both smaller and larger scale on all their warships.
  • In a somewhat less militaristic context, Joan of Arcadia had an episode where Luke and Grace worked together to assemble a demonstration of the principles behind a railgun for the school's science fair. The results were... interesting to behold.
  • In Firefly, railguns and other futuristic weapons appear, but their use is limited compared to good ol' revolvers and shotguns.
  • Most projectiles in Andromeda are magnetically-fired. In most cases, they tend to be of the homing and exploding kind (effectively, bullet-sized missiles). Ship-based missiles are launched magnetically before engaging their own propulsion outside the ship. The few projectiles we've seen that aren't of this type are from older, obsolete weapons (such as on the millennia-old Bellerophon).
  • Railguns are large, mid-ranged ship-based weapons in The Expanse. Capital ships like the Martian flagship MCRN Donnager have railguns mounted on turrets, giving them more firepower than smaller frigates like the Rocinante which have to make do with gatling guns and torpedoes.
    • Protogen's Amun-Ra-class stealth ships ships are unique in that they are frigates armed with Fixed Forward-Facing railguns, allowing them to fight well above their weight, much to the surprise of the Donnager's captain.
    • In season 4, the Rocinante gets upgraded with a spine-mounted railgun as well, the technology apparently having become more widespread by that point.
  • In Revolution, the underground facility, the Tower, still has working electricity because the nanobots that caused the blackout are (semi)controlled from there. This place was built by the government and has all sorts of super-tech, including handheld rail guns. These guns look like multishot grenade launchers and make people explode from sheer force of impact. The 1st season villain, Monroe, gets his whole team wiped out.
  • A non-rail gun example shows up in Lost in Space (2018). Future humans have developed the EMF projector and its variants. These weapons can generate a magnetic field powerful enough to crush even an alien robot's armoured carapace, but only when on maximum power. Maureen's room-sized EMF, at 83% of maximum power, can only slow down the enemy robots.
  • Batwoman (2019): In "Down Down Down", someone breaks into Bruce Wayne's arms safe and steals a railgun pistol which Bruce developed as a contingency plan in case someone stole his million-dollar nanofibre-enhanced batsuit. Given that the thief only stole that weapon, it's clear someone is itching to take on the Batman whom the people of Gotham mistakenly think has returned. Luke Fox demonstrates by firing a .50 Desert Eagle at the suit and the bullet just bounces off; the railgun round goes straight through it. In "Tell Me the Truth" the coilgun version is the MacGuffin, created by Hamilton Dynamics for the same purpose of penetrating the Batsuit.
  • Cowboy Bebop (2021): In "Binary Two-Step", Faye Valentine gleefully spends her money on a Blitzer Railgun, but everyone else regards such weapons as a scam which is useless for bounty hunter work. Of course, it turns out to be just what is needed when they need to break through a sheet of bulletproof glass, but at the end of the episode Faye gifts it to the lesbian Wrench Wench who took a liking to it.

  • In Embers in the Dusk, the excavations on Avernus dug up the blueprints for a few Impaler Weapons, a Dark Age railgun variant. While better weapons have been found later, at the time this was a priceless find, finally giving the Imperial Guard a noticeable chance of getting past Astartes Power Armour.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Rifts: Common as dirt in that setting, "railgun" is essentially a shorthand for "megadamage machinegun"... to the point that none of them are ever depicted as having actual rails, or even coils for that matter (though it could be argued that the almost always round barrels could have thin coils built into their length)... and often have ejection ports... and are insanely rapid-fire.
    • The game's signature weapon is the Boom Gun, a massive single-shot railgun wielded by the Glitter Boy Powered Armor. It's so powerful that the Glitter Boy has to anchor itself to the ground before firing.
    • Rifts also has wooden railgun ammo for use against vampires. Roll that one around in your head. They try to justify it with iron cores buried in the rounds, but while that might work for coil guns, a rail round has to be conductive edge-to-edge and fit the rails snugly. However, this can work (assuming the wood doesn't combust) provided that the core is shaped in such a way that it touches the rails — for example, if it has a cross-shaped cross-section.
    • Phase World, and other space-heavy Megaverse worlds with Artificial Gravity technology, have gravity-based slugthrowers as an alternative to railguns. Magnetism is of course stronger than gravity according to physics, but the gravity guns can use any material as a projectile.
    • Techno-wizards build railguns that use telekinesis magic to throw silent, invisible slugs of pure force.
  • Traveller:
    • Traveller Classic had the Gauss Rifle and the VRF Gauss Gun (artillery). An adventure in Supplement 6 76 Patrons had a mass driver being used as a weapon very much like The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress literature example.
    • MegaTraveller introduced the Gauss Pistol.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Tau Empire make good use of railguns, be it in the form of "rail rifles" that some of their infantry carry or as the main guns for their heavy tanks and battlesuits.
      • In most editions, there's some Gameplay and Story Segregation regarding their effectiveness. In novels and background lore, Tau railguns are so powerful that one shot can kill a tank by going right through it with such force that its crew is sucked out the exit hole. In-game, they're powerful but not astoundingly so. This trend is broken in the 9th Edition Tau codex, which makes their railguns significantly stronger.
      • For once in 40K, the physics behind them would actually work and is accurately depicted on the models... although whether their pulse rifles, coilguns that fire tiny globs of plasma via magnetic acceleration, would work scientifically is anyone's guess.
    • Tyranids use biological variations on these for some weapons. For example, a Venom Cannon fires toxic crystal shards which are covered in a conductive metal-based mucus and launched by a powerful bio-electric jolt. Likewise, bio-plasma vomited up by some large Tyranid organisms, using their esophagus as a living Plasma Cannon, with a bio-electric field containing the plasma as it builds without melting the creature spitting it.
    • Eldar shuriken/splinter weaponry are almost this trope. What excludes them is that weapons like the shuriken catapult use artificial gravity instead of powerful magnets to propel their projectiles.
    • According to Battlefleet Gothic, the Imperium also uses railguns on some starships ("macrocannon" is a catch-all term for any starship weapon that isn't a lance, torpedo or a nova cannon. This includes giant conventional guns, laser batteries and railguns, among other things).
    • The Necrons' original codex describes their gauss weapons as creating magnetic fields that strip their targets apart and pull them into the gun, one molecular layer at a time. This is dropped soon after in favor of them being more standard Disintegrator Rays that turn you into dust, though they've kept the "gauss" monicker. In either case, their main advantage is that they can do consistent damage even to targets that would normally not be bothered by a standard infantry rifle. In French, they are called "Fission" weapons instead.
  • BattleTech features coilguns (termed Gauss Rifles) sized for both combat vehicles (including BattleMechs) and people. The first 'Mech-sized version introduced into the game is still universally respected for being one of the few weapons in the game that can take a 'Mech's head clean off (killing the pilot) with a single shot from a considerable distance. Later versions include the Hyper Assault Gauss Rifle which is basically a magnetic shotgun that inexplicably has better range than a standard Gauss Rifle, the Anti-Personnel Gauss Rifle (fires a small burst of projectiles for killing infantry but still capable of threatening heavier units, originally developed for Battle Armor), the Light Gauss Rifle (a lighter weight version of the standard Gauss Rifle that shoots slightly farther but does less adamage), the Magshot (scaled-down small enough for use on Battle Armor), the Silver Bullet Gauss Rifle (also a magnetic shotgun, though less sophisticated than the HAG), the Heavy Gauss Rifle (bigger, heavier, and so powerful, it needs to be installed in a side torso since the recoil would rip a 'Mech's arm off), and an Improved version of that. The Word of Blake later introduced mass drivers for WarShips, which is basically a Gauss Rifle that shoots 30 to 90 ton metal slugs, spinally mounted onto a ship.
  • The TSR roleplaying game of Buck Rogers, the 25th century uses gyrojet-style rocket guns as projectile weapons for infantry, but there are acceleration guns and blunderbusses (an acceleration gun specifically designed to shoot chopped up junk as ammo in a fan-like spray) for vehicle weapons. Planets and moonbases get the immense mass drivers which are capable of blowing up entire cities.
  • Gamma World has slug throwers which are coilguns. In 3rd edition, this will also electrify the bullet when it leaves the barrel. This gives the slug thrower it's stunning effect and they come in 3 sizes - a tiny .17 to the gigantic .75 with the .38 being the most common size. Interestingly slug throwers aren't superior to standard assault rifles, gatling guns or machine guns in taking down a target. In the Gamma Knights expansion, there's the devastating Shrapneler weapon that's designed for vehicles or larger power armour suits and have the same effect as a blunderbuss from Buck Rogers game mentioned above.
  • GURPS places railguns as superior to coilguns in terms of damage but they're otherwise the same. The defining characteristic of both is their armor piercing ability and high rate of fire. They also have variable power, you can overcharge them to punch through thick armor or undercharge them to save energy.
  • All of the ordinary kinetic guns in Eclipse Phase are available in railgun versions. They deal more damage, have better armor piercing ability, longer range, but are more limited in the types of ammunition they can use (as they need metallic rounds and the EM fries the electronics in smart rounds) and need power as well as physical projectiles.
  • Stars Without Number: standard TL4 handheld projectile weapons include the mag rifle, the mag pistol, and the spike thrower, which is basically a rail shotgun; the only non-laser handheld TL4 weapon that doesn't rely on this is the void carbine, a gyrojet weapon. Full-scale railguns are available as gunnery weapons, which require tripods or vehicle mounts, and when you get up to a cruiser you can pick up the mag spike array.
  • FASA's less well known (as compared to BattleTech) tabletop game Renegade Legion was replete with Gauss and Railguns, to the point of them being far more common (and, frankly, more useful) than the various energy weapons.
  • Ancient and Modern Martian Radium Rifles from Rocket Age are radiation powered rail guns. The modern versions tend to overheat and leak radiation, as well as only being feasible as artillery pieces.
  • Car Wars had these as options. Originally the Gauss Gun did about the same damage a laser or an autocannon, but less accurate ... and taking both power and ammo to use. (Power, by the way, was also your car's fuel source.) Handheld versions came later. The game also has, for tanks, a magnetic cannon doing ... a good amount of damage.
  • In Planet Mercenary gauss and railguns are generically known as Pulsilinear Electromagnetic Array (P.E.A.) weapons. Many guns, such as the Strohl G/G 29s favored by many Schlock Mercenary characters, can switch between P.E.A. and caseless chemical propellant ("gunfoam") bullets.
  • Interestingly, SLA Industries has a gauss rifle but these are very ineffective compared to the standard ballistic weapons in the World of Progress. Law enforcement forces, the Shiver Units, are issued gauss rifle because they're non-lethal weapons that fire ball bearings instead of proper bullets. When the Shiver asked for more lethal weapons, Mr. Slayer told them no and they should just be issued some extra meds.

    Video Games 
  • In the DOOM total conversion Ashes: Afterglow an optional upgrade to the Junker Rifle adds a chargeable magnetic coil which increases the velocity — and thus the damage — of the already conventionally fired projectile.
  • In Barotrauma, submarines of the future don't use torpedoes. Instead they use coilguns and railguns as their main arsenal. And they'll need all the firepower these provide as on the moon of Europa, they'll have to deal with hostile wildlife and still active alien defense turrets.
  • X has Mass Drivers, which are basically giant miniguns. They shoot their ammo (metal balls) at such tremendous speeds that they go straight through shields and impact on the hull of the ship. Players quickly learn to hate Pirate ships equipped with these with all their heart. X3: Terran Conflict introduces the Gauss Cannon, a Teladi capital-ship weapon which deals tremendous hull damage, and instead of relying on the ship's generators to fire, uses crates of ammo. The Xtended Terran Conflict Game Mod adds the Meteor Cannon, a Split-exclusive mass driver which fires refined asteroid fragments at ships.
  • Halo has its MACs (Magnetic Accelerator Cannons), which are the main armament on UNSC ships and orbital defense platforms. The ones on ships take a rather long time to charge (they can be fired quicker, at sub-full-charge, at the expensive of power), up to several minutes going by a quote from Halo: The Fall of Reach, but at full charge they hit with the force of tactical nuclear weapons and are capable of killing enormous shielded enemy warships in usually only one to three hits. Rather more down-to-earth versions include the M68 Gauss cannon mounted on some stationary defenses and Warthog jeep variants.
    • The supporting novel Halo: Contact Harvest speaks of the origin of the MAC as a waste disposal method. It was used to launch garbage at the parent star from the surface of a planet, meaning it had to reach well beyond escape velocity after accounting for atmospheric drag. Its use as a weapon came when the Covenant attacked Harvest. Previously, human warships mostly just used missiles (both conventional and nuclear), because their only opponents were other humans. They were all glass cannons as a rule, lacking Deflector Shields, and even a single well-placed Archer HE missile could mission-kill a human warship. When the Covenant came onto the scene with shielded ships capable of shrugging off literally hundreds of HE missiles each (with point-defense capable of picking off more), giant MAC guns taking up a significant area of the ship started to be deployed because they were the only weapons that could reliably kill Covenant capital ships.
    • The quoted powers of the MACs and coilguns indicate that some details of physics were skipped over. For example: the orbital Super MAC stations can fire 3000 tonne projectiles at 120 km/s. Their relativistic kinetic energy is therefore equivalent to a 51 gigaton explosion. For comparison, that's equivalent to about 1,000 times the Tsar Bomba, the largest nuclear bomb ever detonated. At the very least though, it would explain why just one shot from said super-MAC can punch clean through a Covenant Capital Ship with fully-powered shields and do the exact same thing to the ship or two behind it when even normal MAC guns mounted ships usually need to weaken the enemy shielding with a hit or two before hoping to punch through the armor. Later sources clarified that the Super MACs for which that figure was given were abnormally powerful, and that most have lower projectile velocities... though it does make one question why they'd go for such overkill, considering regular ship mounted MACs (which dish out shots in the kiloton range) are more than capable of killing nearly every Covenant warship with a few shots.
    • Proper infantry-scale railguns are available from Halo 4 onward. They take a second to charge up, but they can kill the vast majority of enemies in a single hit. However, their dedicated anti-infantry role means that standard railguns don't do quite as much damage to vehicles as you'd expect them to; they'll one-shot a Spartan, Sangheili, or Promethean, but a Banshee or Warthog will shrug the hit off with fairly little damage. However, the "Arclight" variant in Halo 5: Guardians has armor-piercing high-explosive rounds designed to do extra damage to vehicles.
    • A smaller-scale MAC, the Onager, is usable by the player in the final level of Halo: Reach. It fires a 15 cm tungsten slug at hypervelocity for a yield of 1.1 gigajoules (about a quarter of ton of TNT equivalent), and its coils charge fast enough to launch one of these shots every three seconds (22 GJ/minute). At 32.6 meters, it's 5.6 times smaller than a standard frigate MAC by length and about two hundred times smaller by volume. However, when deployed in ground warfare, its power is completely overwhelming; the Player Character uses it to outright shatter several Phantoms with single shots, before placing a single well-aimed shot to a battlecruiser's Wave-Motion Gun, causing a backfire that destroys the whole ship.
    • The M99 Stanchion is a coilgun sniper rifle capable of reducing targets to a cloud of Ludicrous Gibs. Originally introduced in the Expanded Universe, it makes its first in-game appearance in Halo Wars 2.
    • Various guidebooks note that the point-defense turrets on UNSC ships and stations are all coilguns.
  • The Eden faction of Outpost 2 has a railgun as one of its weapons.
  • MegaTraveller 2 (based on the Traveller Tabletop RPG) had Gauss weapons.
  • The Global Defense Initiative first brought railguns to the battlefield in Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun on their Mammoth MkII. By C&C 3, all of their main-line tanks came equipped or could be upgraded to fire railguns, while their Zone Troopers carry infantry-sized versions. The Snipers have a small caliber long range version while the Commando have a rapid fire carbine version, these modified variants are only effective vs infantry (though still powerful enough to punch through Cyborg armor effectively).
    • On the other hand, those infantry-sized railguns (especially the Commando variants) are mentioned to be horrendously expensive to build and maintain, hence their only being issued to Commando forces.
  • In Command & Conquer: Red Alert Series: the 2nd game had Yuri's faction use weapons based on Magnetism Manipulation such as the Magnetron, a tank capable of yanking a capital ship out of the water and dropping it. The 3rd game had the Soviets as the main user of magnetic weapons, from their Magnetic Satellite superpower to the Apocalypse Tank's magnetic harpoon that dragged enemy vehicles into its grinders. Finally the Soviet's Hammer Tank had the "Leech Beam" which was a magnetic energy beam that would slowly shred the metal off of an enemy vehicle and would yank out then use a destroyed vehicle's main weapon.
  • In Act of War, the technologically advanced factions Task Force Talon and the Consortium would mount 105mm railguns on their main battle tanks and also their base defense turrets. In the expansion, Task Force Talon's DDX destroyer was also carrying railguns too. This is a case of Awesome, but Impractical, the railguns are somewhat underpowered...they actually do less damage than U.S. Army's coventional 120mm cannon on an Abrams tank and the missiles on an ADAT defense turret.
  • Cyberpunk 2077's "Tech" class of weapons are railguns that can be charged by holding the trigger down to penetrate cover. Some particular examples are the Nekomata, a sniper rifle that fires tungsten rods, and the Satara, a conventional double-barreled shotgun that uses magnetic accelerators for more muzzle velocity.
  • Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II features a weapon called the Rail Detonator. Its actual functions are unclear: ancillary media states it's a coil gun, but actual in-game usage definitely suggests it's simply a rocket launcher. Plausibly, it's a rocket launcher that uses a coil launch mechanism to launch the rocket at a safe enough distance for the thruster to kick in. For example, when visiting the local Bubblegloop Swamp planet in Mysteries of the Sith, all weapons besides the lightsaber fail, with the rail detonator simply flinging dud rockets into the air which then plunk into the water.
  • Besides missiles, the primary direct weapons of the Caldari in EVE Online are railguns.
    • Gallente players often use them too, if only because their own Particle Blasters are terrible.
  • The Fallout series features a few Gauss (coil) rifles, and even a Gauss pistol. They tend to be in the top tier as far as weapons go.
    • Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel has a Gauss minigun.
    • The Gauss rifle makes a return in Fallout 3, where it was an Infinity -1 Sword limited only by its VATS-related bugs and single-shot capacity. In New Vegas it's still a powerful gun but drains ammo much faster. It also has a unique variation called YCS-186 which has a longer barrel and higher damage output but needs repairs more often. In both games it's beaten only by the Tesla Cannon, Alien Blaster and Gatling Laser as the best energy weapon (all of which have their own issues) and is capable of knocking down a Deathclaw (if not outright killing it.)
    • The Gauss Rifle returns yet again in Fallout 4, looking more like a futuristic crossbow than its previous iterations. It has been retooled for Fallout 4 as well, featuring a charge mechanic (where you can hold the trigger down for some extra kick) and a 7-shot magazine, however, it now uses the expensive 2mm Electromagnetic Cartridge. The Gauss rifle (like many other weapons in the game) can be modified into a good option for picking off powerful targets.
  • In Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, Jill has to use a gigantic experimental stationary railgun to kill the final boss. It's called "man-portable" instead of "handheld" for a reason, being as big as a small truck. Jill can't even aim it, she has to lure Nemesis into the firing line.
  • Metal Gear REX of the Metal Gear series uses railguns to fire a nuclear warhead. This has the advantage of subverting most nuclear disarmament treaties and being undetectable by radar due to the fact that no fuel is used to propel the warhead. note 
    • Metal Gear Solid 2 has Fortune, a terrorist leader, use a massive handheld railgun she stole from Lockheed-Martin.
      • The Rail Gun returns in Metal Gear Solid 4, initially as Crying Wolf's weapon, but later acquired by Snake. A fully charged shot from it will take a Gekko out in one hit.
      • Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker has the railgun as the primary weapon of the AI Weapon Chrysalis, from which it can be salvaged for use on Metal Gear ZEKE. A portable version also appears, but, as it requires a separate player to charge up the power to fire, it's a multiplayer-only weapon.
  • The railgun has become the de facto Sniper Rifle in the Quake series since the second game.
  • Master of Orion 2 has quite efficient rail guns (called mass drivers) and coil guns (called gauss cannons).
    • From the original game, there's the Gauss Autocannon. Each round doesn't do much damage, but it fires 4 times each turn, and unlike the sequel's Gauss cannons, they halve the effectiveness of shields, making them viable for longer than their energy-based contemporaries. 4X, meet More Dakka.
    • In the second game, auto-firing (3x shots) Mass Driver is the best point defense weapon in early and middle game — enveloping Fusion Beam hits 4 missiles (or fighters), but due to bad range dissipation is really good only for the last-moment shot at incoming threat. Conversely, non-dissipating Mass Driver is better against far missiles — ones striking in the next turn or heading to other ships, so you can get 6 shots per weapon instead of 4.
    • Gauss cannons are also an option in the third game.
  • Following on from the Master of Orion series, these have become a standard part of the three weapon types frequently seen in similar games — mass drivers, lasers and missiles. Usually, mass drivers are better at penetrating shields but are blocked by armour. They may also have shorter range but not suffer from damage falling off with distance. This can be seen in Stellaris, Galactic Civilizations, the Master of Orion 4 reboot, and many others.
  • Crysis also features Gauss sniper rifles near the end of the game.
    • In addition to an improved Gauss rifle, both Crysis 2 and Crysis 3 have an underbarrel Gauss cannon that can be mounted to assault rifles.
  • X-COM:
    • XCOM Terror From The Deep has Gauss weaponry, which based on the in-game description is a railgun mated to a particle accelerator. Specifically, it's a variation on the plasma-based weapons of the first game. Since plasma doesn't do so well underwater (and the amount of power requires Elerium-115, which goes inert in salt water), they repurposed the magnetic accelerators used to accelerate plasma to accelerate a slug instead.
    • XCOM: Enemy Unknown, specifically its add-on Enemy Within, has a strange deviation in its weapon progression. All of XCOM's soldier classes wield laser weapons as their tier-2 armaments... except the MEC troopers, who get a freaking enormous railgun instead. It's never explained (or even mentioned) why they don't just get a giant beam cannon like their squishy comrades, and once plasma weaponry becomes available, MECs start using it along with all the others. The Tier 3 shotgun equivalent is also one of these, launching pieces of repurposed alien hull material using a magnetic field that's pretty similar to the one the alien plasma weapons use. Presumably this was considered less silly-sounding than a "plasma shotgun", which makes even less sense than its laser equivalent.
    • In XCOM 2, ADVENT forces use these, and they also serve as the second weapon tier available to XCOMnote . The research project for them is even outright named "Magnetic Weapons." The Long War 2 Game Mod also features coil weapons as an equivalent to stock magnetic weaponry, but with a small aim penalty, higher damage range and the innate ability to shred one point of armor.
    • In XCOM: Chimera Squad, these are your starting weapons, and gain overall damage upgrades instead of plasma replacements. This is mostly to justify why you can use non-lethal ammo in S.W.A.T. situations constantly.note 
  • UFO: Alien Invasion has a railgun with disposable rails packed with each magazine called Bolters, and the in-development version 2.3 features coilguns.
  • The spiritual successor to the original X-COM, Xenonauts, has MAG weapons as a final tier for both small arms and heavier weaponry. These weapons are designed to fire alien alloy slugs at far higher velocities than would be possible with normal firearms, providing both increased damage and a counter to heat-resistance advances in alien armour. Infantry weapons are coilgun-based, with the barrels repurposed from the previous tier of plasma weaponry. They come in Rifle, Carbine (actually shotgun), Precision Rifle, and Pistol varieties. Crew-served weapons, by comparison, are explicitly referred to as MAG Railguns, mounted standalone to armoured vehicles or in larger Batteries of eight for air defence.
  • Liero (version 1.33) has the Gauss Gun, which fires a projectile so fast, it gouges a deep groove in the soil when you fire and is barely affected by gravity.
    • Turn the reload times down to zero and you have a Gauss Autocannon, perfect for chewing up the landscape and jetting around the map as an improvised jetpack.
  • The Warhammer 40,000 FPS Fire Warrior was the first appearance of the Tau Empire's rail-rifle. They already had the railgun as the most powerful long-range anti-tank gun in the game; this was the introduction of the man-portable version. The Rail Rifle was iconic enough for rules and stats to be included in the tabletop game itself.
  • Ace Combat:
    • The Stonehenge weapon in Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies is a set of eight railguns designed to launch projectiles into space to destroy incoming asteroids. One of them is hit by debris from said asteroid and rendered inoperable, as seen in the mission where you have to destroy it. It's later used as an anti-aircraft weapon with an effective range spanning practically the entire continent it was built on. Fridge Logic kicks in when you realize that the curvature of the Earth should make that impossible.
    • Expanded media on Stonehenge reveals that it zig-zags this trope, because it actually only partially a railgun; the weapon uses an explosive charge to get the slug up to speed, then a rail system takes over and accelerates it to maximum velocity. The reason behind this unique system is that launching the projectiles using only the rails built up too much heat to be manageable.
    • Chandelier, a weapon of similar design is seen in Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation. Like Stonehenge, it was built to shoot down asteroid fragments; however, Estovakia, the country that built it didn't complete it in time for when the "big one" struck the planet and the country suffered significant impact damage as opposed to all the other nations with similar operational systems. The fallout from its failure leads to the continent-wide Emmeria-Estovakia War that is the focus of the game itself. A portable railgun also exists in the form of the Electromagnetic Launcher exclusive to the CFA-44 Nosferatu, which has since reappeared in Ace Combat: Assault Horizon and Ace Combat Infinity alongside the CFA-44.
    • Ace Combat: Joint Assault also features an enemy railgun, used largely as the obligatory altitude-restriction mechanism. You do get to destroy it eventually.
    • In Ace Combat 7, the Electromagnetic Launcher reappears as a special weapon for a couple aircraft. Mihaly also utilizes one on his aircraft during his final fight with Trigger.
      • The game's DLC missions revolve around the Alicorn, a gigantic submarine of incredible power that carries an entire array of EMLs in AA turrets that fire in salvos, plus an enormous forward-facing railgun artillery piece that can launch nuclear warheads at targets thousands of kilometers away.
  • According to the canon, Marines use Gauss rifles in StarCraft. This doesn't stop the muzzle flares and "budda budda" sound affect of them firing, though. In the sequel, Reapers use dual Gauss pistols and Jim Raynor goes for a ludicrously huge railgun with double laser sights (because one isn't cool enough).
    • The Gauss rifle is canonically actually a hybrid weapon combining both primer and propellant as well as a coilgun system. This is borne out by the in-game cutscenes, which show the weapon using cartridge ammunition with primers. There's also a sharp whining noise that underscores the report, which also indicate that it probably isn't a conventional firearm either.
    • A campaign-only upgrade for the Bunker in StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty essentially installs a second coilgun-type mechanism that speeds up projectiles that pass through it, increasing effective range. It even increases the range of the Firebat's flamethrowers. This isn't even justified by the background; while the flamethrower-equipped ATV has an upgrade that adds thermite to its attacks, the flamethrower-equipped powered armor is explicitly stated to use pressurized gas as fuel.
    • Another campaign only feature that uses this trope is a unit called the Diamondback. They are armed with twin railguns, and have the ability to shoot whilst moving. These units are unlocked for use in level "The Great Train Robbery", as you need their anti-armor railguns and unique Move-and-Shoot ability to chase down and loot a Dominion cargo train.
  • Magnetic weapons show up throughout the Escape Velocity series. The Mass Driver weapon in the first game is suggested to be a railgun or coilgun, and in Nova railguns are one of the primary weapons of the Aurorans. The 200 mm railgun is particularly good, having the best range of any primary weapon and a lot of damage.
  • The projectile weapons in Mass Effect are essentially small-scale railguns which use the titular effect to lighten the projectiles they fire. This allows the projectile itself to be accelerated to greater speeds, increasing the damage done significantly while also decreasing the recoil (as there's no propellant ejected). The main guns of all warships use the same principle. Larger ships can mount longer rails, allowing for greater acceleration and damage. The main gun of every ship is a spinal cannon running 90% of its length, with secondary weapons including broadside railgun turrets running 40% of the width (the Kilimanjaro-class dreadnought, for instance, has 156 such turrets- each side of the ship having three decks of twenty-six turrets each). Tertiary weapons include point-defense lasers and torpedo tubes. Because of the effectiveness of point-defense weaponry, missiles have largely been rendered obsolete in space warfare (at least against modern warships), leaving railguns as dominant.
    • In a hilarious instance of Shown Their Work, the writers slipped in this tidbit to show what the actual ramifications of space-age railguns with mass-reducing technology would be in military training.
      • This is referenced again later, when Shepard is told about a massive crater on a planet that turned out to be from a rogue shot by a massive, experimental railgun — located in a completely different solar system.
      • The implication of launching a projectile with a kinetic energy of 150 TJ every five seconds is that even assuming perfect efficiency in the launch system the ship needs to be generating at least 30 terawatts of power (30 TW * 5 seconds = 150 TJ). To put that into perspective, a typical nuclear power plant might generate about 1-2 gigawatts.note 
    • And note that the Everest-class described in the above quote is a nearly forty old design (it was still in use in the First Contact War). According to the codex, modern warships fire both their broadsides and their main guns every two seconds, making it more like 75 terawatts for an 888-meter dreadnought. And 888 meters is small for a dreadnought, being between 700-meter heavy cruisers (which are just volumetrically scaled down dreadnoughts) and the more common 1,000-meter long dreadnoughts in size.
    • In Mass Effect 3, on Tuchanka, there's a battery of three ground-to-space coilguns which are each easily 100m long, and presumably powered by ground-side generators. Multiple planet descriptions (e.g. Korlus) mention that ground-to-space weaponry is cheap and common in-universe, but have the obvious disadvantages of being static targets, making it easy for anyone with a warship crusier-level or up to simply pick off those positions from millions of kilometers away while easily dodging any counter fire.note 
    • And later, there's the massive coil gun in the Geth Dreadnaught, which is so massive that every shot sends a huge blast of electromagnetic energy through the maintenance corridors next to it. And then you use the barrel as a shortcut to get to the other end of the ship.
    • Even the Reapers use them: those Wave Motion Guns they like to fire? Not lasers. Not particle beams. They are streams of molten metal moving at relativistic speeds. The firing mechanism involves magnetism, even though molten metal has no magnetic properties. Given the sheer technological advancement of the Reapers, though, it's not out of the question that the metal may be superheated in a tiny fraction of a second after being already launched.
      • The Wave-Motion Gun mounted on the Reapers also runs into another problem when you realize that as massive as they are, the Reapers don't have an infinite supply of molten metal in their interiors to shoot at targets. The codex handwaves this by noting that the Reapers have no apparent need to refuel or resupply, and points out that this is physically impossible.
  • Railguns can be mounted on battleships in the Naval Ops series, though they suffer from low rate of fire and narrow firing angles.
  • In Wild ARMs 2, Brad's most powerful ARM attack is a railgun. Because of its destructive capabilities, it can only hold one or two charges at a time.
  • Steel Battalion has two railgun variations. They have limited ammunition (8 or 10 rounds), the non-fixed-mount version is very heavy and will limit weapon loadout options in addition to being limited to a few VTs, it consumes a lot of battery charge when firing, and there is a delay before it fires...but it will destroy any VT with just 1 or 2 shots, has a very long range, and the projectile travels too fast to slidestep out of the way once fired. The trick to dodging it is to slidestep just BEFORE it fires so that the FSS overcompensates and misses wide, but that won't do the victim any good if he's the target of TWO railguns, one fired a half-second after the other. Needless to say, it's one of the most feared and used weapons in the game's arsenal.
  • As it's an adaptation of BattleTech, the MechWarrior and MechCommander series have Gauss Rifles as a standard weapon for the mechs; massive range and firepower with no risk of Over Heating, but expensive with limited ammo and a tendency to explode when damaged. The games also usually feature the other two major variants, the Light Gauss Rifle that can poke an enemy across the map but deals less damage, and the hammer-of-god Heavy Gauss Rifle that can reliably punch a hole through most mechs with careful aim but has comparatively poor range and abysmal ammo efficiency.
    • In one MechCommander 1 expansion pack scenario, the MacGuffin of the battle is a cache of Star League era Railguns that dwarf the firepower, range and accuracy of the Gauss Rifles (but carry half as many rounds of ammunition). Fortunately, the Smoke Jaguars have only managed to excavate and mount one of these so far. Unfortunately, the ace piloting the specially-modified Vulture carrying it is good enough to take down most of your forces before you get into targeting range.
    • The Behemoth II and Marauder II in MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries' fan-made mektek expansion can both mount a dorsal railgun which is a BFG by even 'mech standards.
    • Mechwarrior Living Legends adds the Hyper-Assault Gauss Rifle, and the Improved Heavy Gauss Rifle. The HAG, available in salvo sizes of 20, 30, or 40 slugs, is a ultra-high velocity rapid fire Gauss machine gun that has extreme burst damage but mediocre sustain damage due to the capacitor having to recharge between salvos. The Improved Heavy Gauss deals slightly less damage than standard Heavy Gauss and has even worse ammo economy, but has no damage falloff at range and a higher overall maximum range.
    • In BattleTech, a Turn-Based Strategy game based closely on the tabletop version, Gauss Rifles serve as an extremely rare Infinity -1 Sword because in the pre-Clan Invasion era the game is set in, Gauss weapons of any kind are Lost Technology that nobody can build on their own. You only get a single gun in the entire campaign, mounted on an equally unique Royal-grade SLDF Highlander 'Mech, and if it is destroyed in battle (which will happen sooner or later), there's no way to replace it. On the upside, it retains all of its power, range, accuracy and headchopping capabilities from the tabletop, so with an appropriately skilled pilot at the helm, your Highlander has an 18% chance to One-Hit Kill any 'Mech from across the battlefield with a well-aimed Precision Shot to the cockpit.
  • In Sword of the Stars all the ballistic weapons are of this sort, from the most basic Gauss Cannons that are rapid-fire and relatively short-ranged and weak to the massive anti-planet Siege Drivers (which fire large metallic asteroids). There are also rail cannons (frequently called impactors), which are Fixed Forward Facing Weapons that fire sizable metal projectiles at incredible speeds. Unlike Siege Drivers, these are very effective in combat. Their impact also results in a lot of momentum transfer.
  • The Phase Rifle in Conduit 2 is actually a railgun.
  • The Gargoyle's Plasma Lorentz attack in Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten has it generate an electrical current between its arms for use as a makeshift railgun and uses coins as the primary ammunition, not unlike a certain other character. It launches a treasure chest at the end for additional explosive goodness.
  • Every Red Faction game since the first one has had the Rail Driver, a railgun which can pierce through walls and obstacles, has a scope that can see through said obstacles, and in the first and second games, was a one hit kill. The third game features the Gauss Rifle, which could inflict collateral damage, and the Gauss Cannon, an upgraded version only available on certain EDF vehicles and in the DLC.
  • The Forces of Corruption expansion to Star Wars: Empire at War introduces the Vengeance-class frigates for the Zann Consortium based on a new Imperial design that the Empire never got a chance to build (the plans were on the first Death Star when it was destroyed). Their main weapons are four mass driver cannons, which completely ignore Deflector Shields, making them invaluable in fights against Star Destroyers (several of these frigates could quickly take out the SD's shield generator, leaving it vulnerable to the rest of the Consortium fleet, especially if the SD is ambushed with the use of the Vengeance's cloaking device. The downside is the frigate's lack of its own Deflector Shields and the ship's slow speed.
  • In Sins of a Solar Empire, the TEC use twin gauss guns on their orbital defense platforms, the Kol Battleship's signature weapon is the gauss railgun, and the Novalith Cannon superweapon is a giant railgun that shoots giant nukes at planets at near light speed.
    • It may be firing at FTL speeds, actually, as you can fire the Novalith Cannon at a planet in another star system. If it were traveling at near-light speeds, it would still take years to reach its target, which means the nuke has a phase drive of its own that doesn't use Hyperspace Lanes.
  • The Farsight XR-20 from Perfect Dark, which is essentially a One-Hit Kill sniper rifle. That can track and shoot enemies through walls. It doesn't track particularly quickly, and its low rate of fire makes it awkward at close range, but it's still considered a Game-Breaker in multiplayer.
  • In a rare Eastern RPG example, one of the strongest guns you can equip in Shin Megami Tensei I is a railgun.
  • Mass drivers of different size are the most basic weapon in the Homeworld series, ranging from the aptly-named pea shooter (weak even for a fighter-sized weapon) to the gigantic and high-powered weapons mounted on cruiser-sized ships.
  • Vega Strike has these as the most efficient (damage/energy ratio) weapons — as kinetics, they also don't weaken with range and partially bypass Deflector Shields. Micro Driver (light gun, 10,5 kg at 4 km/s), Mini Driver (medium gun, 26,8 kg at 3.5 km/s) and Grand Gauss (378 kg at 20 km/s) weapons. The first two and metal balls for them are dirt-cheap and ubiquitous in Human space (and are weapon of choice for Luddites), four of the latter are used as spinal mounted weapons on Aera battleship. There's also a lot of "warhead-assisted kinetics," i.e. cannons hurling shells enhanced with various nasty stuff, up to antimatter cells (Reaper).
  • The New Conglomerate in PlanetSide relies on a magnetic assault rifle, the Gauss Rifle, which fires powerful bullets with an odd firing noise - though it actually fires slower bullets than the more traditional bullet based weapons. The Conglomerate also has a giant rail gun for its BFR, which is almost hitscan and does huge amounts of damage.
    • Actually, all the Terran Republic weapons are Gauss-based as well, it's just less-explicitly stated. The only faction that don't use any are the Vanu (whom use plasma-weapons but ALSO use a magnetic-based propulsion agent).
    • In the sequel, Planetside 2, the New Conglomerate use magnetic weapons for all of their faction-specific weaponry (with the sole exception of certain rocket/missile launchers). The Terran Republic, on the other hand, have completely done away with all of the magnetic weapons they once used, and instead choose to only use High Rate-of-fire conventional Firearms for their faction-specific weapons.
  • The game Modern War by Gree has a railgun turret as its top-tier base defense. In addition, several of the upper-tier units are apparently armed with railguns as evidenced by their name.
  • In Super Robot Wars Compact 2 and the Super Robot Wars: Original Generation series the Alteisen has two gigantic shoulder-mounted electromagnets that spew hundreds of tiny ball bearings traveling close to the speed of light.
    • The Original Generation games also has the Lion series of mechs, which use railguns as their main weapons, ranging from rifles to artillery.
    • And of course the infamous LINEAR RAILGUN! that is to La Gias what the beam rifle is to Gundam. About eighty percent of all Masouki have one or two of these babies, whether built-in or wielded by hand.
  • One of the guns used in Wing Commander is the mass driver. It has the worst range and second worst damage of all the fighter-mounted guns.
  • The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series has the Gauss Rifle, which looks almost exactly like Fallout 2's Gauss Rifle, but with synthetic furniture. It is usually an endgame weapon that far outmatches all other weapons in stats, but counterbalances this for its rarity of ammunition and sometimes half-decent working condition. In Call of Pripyat, however, the gun is essentially an Infinity +1 Sword thanks to a mechanic in the first map who can sell you an unlimited amount of a lesser-quality ammunition (though it's still powerful of course, even though it lacks the power that normal battery packs have) at the price of 2000 rubles for each homemade battery pack. This is available once you show him the Gauss Rifle after the Pripyat Hospital ambush and complete his little side quest concerning information of the unique Item 62 weapon.
  • Descent II has the Gauss Cannon, an upgrade from the previous game's Vulcan Cannon, using the same ammo as the Vulcan (bullets, as opposed to your ship's energy). Not only were the bullets hitscan, they were also explosive, doing area-of-effect damage to nearby robots. On top of that, it actually consumed ammo at a slower rate than the Vulcan, making the Gauss Cannon an undisputed Game-Breaker.
  • Grand Theft Auto V features a railgun as an Old Save Bonus. Players of the enhanced version who are returning from the previous version will be able to buy it in Ammu-Nation for a whopping $250,000. While it does have a few disadvantages, such as a low ammo capacity, it essentially functions as a rocket launcher with no travel time, effectively creating an explosion instantly wherever the player presses the fire button. Is it any surprise that it's one of the strongest weapons in the whole single-player game?
  • Thunder Force IV / Lightening Force (sic) features a "Rail Gun" as its upgraded Back Shot. However, it is less of a proper railgun and more of a basic Beam Spam weapon.
  • In DOOM (2016), the only weapon that wasn't from a previous installment is the Gauss cannon, which is powerful enough to kill most lesser enemies in a single shot. (Though the game refers to it as a Gauss cannon, its appearance is that of a rail gun.) The weapon mods available for it are Precision Bolt (which lets you fire charged sniper shots) and Siege Mode (which lets you charge a beam that can rip through enemies, at the cost of killing your speed).
  • Starbase Orion has Gauss turrets, which are short-ranged weapons that spam projectiles that bypass armor entirely, going straight for structural damage. On the other hand, they are pretty much useless against shields.
  • Ships in Nexus: The Jupiter Incident use magnetically-launched projectiles to do hull damage, since energy shells only affect shields, and most Slow Lasers are horrible at hull damage (their purpose is Subsystem Damage). Later, more powerful, projectile launchers are also able to do shield damage, but dedicated energy shells are better. The only weapon that is better at doing hull damage is the siege laser, but it requires your target to stay still and requires four ships to pump all their power into the weapon for long periods of time (while being immobile and defenseless).
  • The first Star Trek: Elite Force game has your crew board a derelict ship that appears to have been built around a giant magnetic accelerator that fires sizable kinetic projectiles at incredible speeds. You need to activate it in order to hit a hostile ship heading for the Voyager.
  • Metro 2033 features the Volt Driver, a BB gun that operates on electromagnetic acceleration. It's easily one of the most powerful weapons in the game, and the alt-fire works as a lethal stun gun... as long as you keep it charged. It's also impossible to silence. It comes back in Metro: Last Light with a slightly different configuration and a new name: Hellbreath. It is also available in Metro Exodus, though it is treated there as an electromagnetic modification of the air-powered Tihar.
  • Children of a Dead Earth Has both main types of magnetic weapons as mountable weaponry for your ships. Railguns have better range, damage, and accuracy than regular autocannons (and are Insanely rapid-fire), where as Coilguns have a slower rate-of-fire but also more stopping power than both autocannons and railguns, and can be outfitted with a variety of ammo types, including Nuclear warheads.
  • Killzone Shadowfall has three: The M-6 Punt, a magnetic revolver; The Ls-44 Spoor, a SMG/Sniper rifle Hybrid that can change modes at the press of a button; And the Pnv-06 Voltage, a Shoulder-mounted, 3 round burst autocannon.
  • Titanfall has the Plasma Railgun, a powerful cannon used by the eponymous Titans as a massive sniper rifle.
  • Brigador has two railguns, the 25mm Zeus, a powerful cannon mounted to 'Main' weapon slots, and the 12mm Galinha, a slow firing autocannon mounted to 'Auxiliary' weapon slots. Both weapons can shoot through walls and enemies, and cause a small shockwave where the sabot lands, resulting in moderate amounts of AOE damage. However, the shockwave produced by the Galinha isnt all that effective, requiring the player to land direct hits to kill quickly, where as the Zeus will kill most enemies in a single hit, even with the shockwave. (information accurate as of Up Armored Edition Update)
  • Gauss cannons are the second most powerful planetary defense in the German MMO Ogame, surpassed only by plasma turrets. In-game flavor text describes how, when fired, they create a incredibly powerful shockwave that can be heard for miles, and how crews near them must take special protective measures due to the ear-splitting concussive effects they produce.
  • A railgun was added in the public beta update for Crossout. Its extremely expensive to buy and mount, but capable of one-shotting most vehicles.
  • Various types of magnetic weapons form one of the three starship weapon families in Stellaris. The largest models are Fixed Forward-Facing Wave Motion Guns capable of one-shotting pirate cruisers from several AUs away. They excel at stripping shields but fall a few ticks short against heavily armored targets, so they perform best when paired with armor-melting Energy Weapons.
  • Battlezone (1998) features the MAG Cannon that charges up in several stages, ranging from a machine gun burst to one big projectile. The sequel relegates this to an ISDF weapon where the combat variant, when mounted on most Hover Tanks, charge from varying levels of Short-Range Shotgun to a lethal Flechette Storm at full charge while the assault variant, if mounted on platforms like the Bulldog assault tank, features behavior similar to the first game.
  • In Bombshell, an Alternate Fire for the Ion Maiden is a railgun, which works by jamming a dart into the weapon's superconducting magnetic accelerator chamber that's supposed to fire ion bolts.
  • In Dungeons of Dredmor, the best crossbow available is the Clockwork Rail Launcher, basically a magneticly-accelerated crossbow (despite the name, it uses gauss coils rather than a railgun) that hits so hard it can Knockback enemies.
  • In EVERSPACE, your ship can equip a coilgun. The projectiles look like green bolts and they a metal-like sound when firing.
  • In the dark fantasy action rpg Wolcen, the United Republic of Mankind make use of Magitek rail guns and if your character is using a pistol or bow - they can use the skill Deathgazer Railgun.
  • Bit Monster's IOS game Gunner Z has the Tier 2 special weapon, the RG1Magnem which is a chargeable rail gun that's great as a mainstay for downing Titan Zombies and tanks, until you get your hands on the Tier 3 weapons.
  • New Jericho weapons from Phoenix Point are gauss weapons that fire iron bullets at such velocities they look like blue lasers (as opposed to Synedrion's guns, which really do use lasers). If you look closely, the muzzles have solenoids  running their length. They have slightly more power per-shot, but fire in lesser bursts (their basic assault rifle shoots 4 times for 40 damage/bullet) than the basic AR (6 times for 30 damage per bullet), and have bonus Shred damage (directly damages armor; 15 to the basic and laser assault rifle's 1). The upgraded Piercing version simply ignores 20 points of armor.
  • Deep Rock Galactic: The Gunner can unlock the ArmsKore Coil Gun as one of his weapons, a giant Hand Cannon of a sidearm that will fire a tungsten sphere the size of a golf ball through roughly everything, including thick walls of solid rock. The thing hits very hard and leaves a superheated trail that burns things for a few seconds afterwards, but it takes a while to load and charge, so it's not good for snapshots like the Bulldog is.

  • Peregrine, the Cyborg Space Pirate from Voices, has an arm-mounted railgun. He later uses a Mini-Mecha which has an even bigger one, though it's only good for a single shot.
  • Schlock Mercenary has "gauss-gunfoam" pistols that act as coilguns in one of their two modes. It also has railguns as a fairly common armament on warships, although these might use gravy rather than magnetism.
  • In Girl Genius, as an army of war-clanks is being threatened by Gilgamesh Wulfenbach, the soldiers on board try desperately to kill him before he can attack. This included one of the commanders ordering his crew to "fire the coil gun," which is presumably the clank's main heavy weapon. We never see the result, because that particular clank was scrapmetal in a matter of seconds.
    • In what is a clearly an intentional subversion, another scene features a "rail gun," which is to say, it is a device which shoots out a length of newly-forged red-hot train-rails, though they do use it against Count Wolkerstorfer's magnetic weapon equipped Humongous Mecha.
  • The Whiteboard: Roger's paintball railgun.
  • S.S.D.D.: coilguns are in fairly common use in the future arcs. One arc revolved around the restoration of an old railgun called "Long Tom" that could theoretically launch a bus into orbit. (If they could get it to work.)
  • In Genocide Man the primary sidearm of the titular characters is a handgun-sized railgun that shoots darts tipped with sarin-m, which will put anyone on the ground in under two seconds, completely paralyzed and asphyxiating to death. The darts themselves aren't that dangerous if the target is immune to the neurotoxin, though they're at least strong enough to take down armed drones. And Jacob's gun is mistuned so it produces arcs of lightning when it fires. The electricity output is also enough that, at point-blank, it can act as a fairly effective taser, which proves key when fighting Joey.
  • Grrl Power: Dabbler (a genius alien succubus) has invented a weapon that she doesn't know the English word for, and tries calling it a "magnetic slingshot." Sydney realizes it's a railgun right when the tank she shot explodes.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • The US Navy has tested a 10 MJ railgun.
    • In December 2010 they broke their own record with a 32 MJ shot. The goal is to equip a ship with a 64 MJ railgun by 2020.
    • Navy fired BAE systems prototype railgun in late February 2012. Unlike previous models, this railgun is the first model that looks like something that might get mounted on a ship.
    • In January 2015, the completed weapon was finally revealed to the public, with sea trials to follow shortly.
    • On a more immediately practical, not-directly-a-weapon level, the cutting edge of aircraft carrier technology going out soon involves replacing the steam-powered aircraft launcher catapults with what are essentially low-speed coilguns, By eliminating literal miles of steam and water piping running from engineering to the flight deck, electromagnetic catapults are cheaper, less maintenance-intensive, more compact, have a more gradual acceleration (which means less shock stress on the aircraft being launched), and have a wider range of aircraft weights they can effectively launch.
  • As of April 2021, there is at least one model of handheld coilgun openly for sale within the United States. The ArcFlash GR-1 produces a muzzle velocity equivalent to the .22 Short and is legally considered as an airgun. As capacitor technology improves we will see the capability improve from the level of airguns to that of handguns and eventually true rifles and beyond.

Alternative Title(s): Coilgun, Railgun, Magnetic Weapon



The stock sci-fi railgun.

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