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Smart Gun

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"Weapon License upgraded for the LOK-1 Smart Rifle, our smartest weapon to date. Less time thinking means more time working. You're welcome!"

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

For example:

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

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


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

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • In Plan 7 of 9 from Outer Space, an Arms Dealer tries to sell Captain Proton the XM-500,000,000 smartgun, firing a microshell so sophisticated it can track down a target by disguising itself as a member of the Internal Revenue Service.
    "No smart weapons!" cried Proton. Albert Einstein had once said that regardless of what weapons were used to fight the next world war, the following war would be fought with sticks and stones. His prediction turned out to be unerringly true — as armies became equipped with weapons so intelligent they negotiated their own truce, and the opposing soldiers had to resort to bashing each other with the nearest blunt object.

    Film — Live Action 

  • Against a Dark Background: Reacquiring a Lazy Gun, a whimsical gun smarter than some of its users, drives the plot. Basically, a Lazy Gun has unexplained Reality Warper powers and, when something is in its sights and the trigger is pulled, something will happen that destroys the object, almost no matter how big it is. (It didn't work on a sun — instead, it took out the person trying to fire it at said sun, doing the world a massive favor.) Also, they don't want to be taken apart and studied. Don't try it. Oh, and they weigh three times as much when upside down as they do when right-way-up — which is only a minor bit of weirdness when set against the rest of their abilities, which include possibly communicating with the main character through her dreams and possessing something alarmingly like a capricious sense of humor.
  • In Old Man's War, the Colonial Marines' weapons are biometrically locked, computer-controlled and programmable, and use nanomachines for ammunition which allows them to go from assault rifle to flamethrower with a command. In one instance the Monster of the Week has equipped itself with personal Deflector Shields, which viewpoint character John Perry defeats by programming his gun to fire Double Taps.
  • Any weapon with "intellectual circuitry" from Line of Delirium, such as the Argument 17 or the polycharger Argument 36.
  • The guns sold in A. E. van Vogt's The Weapon Shops of Isher are smart weapons than can only be used for self-defense, suicide, or legitimate (as defined by the Weapon Shops) hunting. Although a few special agents have "unlimited special" guns that don't have the "self-defense only" limit built in.
  • In the Known Space short story "The Soft Weapon", an alien espionage device is a Swiss Army Weapon that can change into various forms, including a sonic stunner, a monofilament sword and a total conversion beam. One of the forms is a computer that can communicate with its possessor.
  • A subplot in the Doctor Who New Adventures novel Cat's Cradle: Warhead involves a police officer field-testing an experimental smart gun, which has a status display screen and proves to be able to target and fire itself. It is eventually revealed to have a complete personality created by Brain Uploading another police officer, and various quirks it displayed through the novel were attempts by this personality to communicate beyond the limited repertoire of gun-related information the gun's systems were designed to permit.
  • Eldraeverse has Guntown Drift, a habitat established by smart guns that achieved sapience, acquired some remote bodies, and rebelled.
  • David Gunn's Death's Head series has protagonist Sven Tveskog's SIG-37, a Hand Cannon with a true A.I. that can select various ammo types for Sven, aid in targetting enemies and fire a built-in Plasma Cannon for harder targets. The SIG will also offer conversation, tactical advice and whatnot. It also freaked out when it was given a poor paint job.
  • The Culture: The titular gift in A Gift from the Culture (from The State of the Art) is LPP-91, a Light Plasma Projector, "peace" rated weapon, not suited for full battle use. Fabricated by the the Culture, it has a .1 intelligence value, self-aiming, voice controls, auditory and holographic interfaces. An epidermal gene analysis to ensure only Culture genofixed individuals can activate it. The gun was designed to irreversibly disable itself if an attempt to dismantle it was made.
  • Genocidal Organ: The protagonist assumes that the men following him are intelligence agents because one is carrying the fingerprint-safety version of a firearm.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Andromeda, the Systems Commonwealth's force lances have DNA readers and shock unauthorized users.
  • Chuck: In "Chuck vs. the Suitcase", Team Bartowski is tasked to retrieve one from a Volkoff Arms Dealer. In this case, it's actually a Smart Bullet Clip; the bullets are said to have a built-in GPS that allows them to be microchip-controlled, guiding them to the target. Casey scoffs at the idea, saying that a real spy would have no need for such a thing.
  • Continuum: Kiera's pistol from the future unfolds from an innocuous handle, has a holographic targeting system, can fire multiple types of ammunition including stun, is linked up to the chip in her head, and kills anyone else who tries to use it.
  • Drop the Dead Donkey: A journalist relates how he saw a smart bomb in Iraq change course to avoid a school and blow up its target instead. His colleagues then say that after he's had a few beers that the bomb was so smart it stopped to ask him for directions.
  • In the Firefly episode "Heart of Gold", Rance Burgess brags to Mal about his custom and apparently highly illegal laser pistol, which among other things features an automatic target adjust (something not even Alliance-issue guns have). Unfortunately for Burgess, the gun runs out of power after only a few shots.
  • The Flash (2014) features a villain named Plunder whose Swiss Army Gun is able to aim and shoot autonomously.
  • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Return to Grace" states that Federation Type-3 phaser rifles feature a number of technologies: sixteen power settings, multiple target acquisition, gyro-stabilization, and fully autonomous recharge capability. However, Kira Nerys says all that means is more parts to break in the field compared to the simpler Cardassian disruptor rifle. (At which point the power cell literally falls out of the prop and Nana Visitor visibly struggles not to laugh.)
  • The guns in Westworld are smart enough to distinguish between hosts and humans, and fire non-lethal rounds at the latter. That is, until Ford turns off the safeties.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Shadowrun: Many options ranging from recoil compensation to flight are available as gun modifications as well as the venerable Smartlink system. In certain cases, the user must purchase a special optic implant or Augmented Reality goggles that allows direct control of a Smartlinked gun in order to fully utilize its features as without it, the gun will either not function at all or operate as a regular firearm without any bonuses in accuracy or the ability to take advantage of its other features. Unfortunately they tend to leave the user vulnerable to hacking, especially as AR hacking became available.
  • In Traveller, "Intelligent" weapons at TL 11 and 13 have integrated computers that can run Expert programs, for instance an Intelligent gun running the Gun Combat program could fire itself. Biometric locks are available at TL 10.
  • In Eclipse Phase, biometric locks are a cheap mod for weapons. Smart-links that interface with the wielder's mesh inserts to place a targeting reticle in their field of vision for a 10 to shooting, are a moderately priced mods.
  • In Hc Svnt Dracones, a P.I.D. lock is a security lock for weapons that scans thousands of aspects of the wielder's person. And has a note for the GM that it cannot be hacked.
  • Various weapon gadgets such as biometric locks, tracking devices, ammo switching mechanisms and targeting sensors (which go from assisted targeting up to "build-your-own-Sentry Gun") are available for purchase on the d20 Modern expansion book D20 Future, restricted (well, without GM fiat) by Progress Level and how much it increases the base weapon's price.
  • Fates Worse Than Death, an "alternative cyberpunk" game which thrives on deconstructing genre tropes, features Intelligent Guns. True to their name, their powerful internal computers, gyroscopic and piezoelectric systems allow Intelligent Guns to maintain perfect accuracy in nearly all conditions, adjust rate-of-fire and change ammunition type on the fly in order to cause optimal damage, identify targets and increase their users' battlefield awareness... They are also so expensive that, in the mostly Crapsack World in which the game is set, very few people can actually afford to have them. Instead, most soldiers and mercenaries just make do with weapons slightly more advanced than we have today (with some build in electronics), while Intelligent Guns are reserved for the best of the best of the corporate elite squads.

    Video Games 
  • darkSector, enemy guns have been chipped and have sensors detecting unauthorized users, while they are still usable they will eventually self-destruct so Hayden Tenno will have to steal himself a new gun or be stuck with the "glaive". Eventually he can buy guns from the black market (cool as the glaive is, it's no replacement for a fast-firing stream of bullets).
  • In Dead Target and other games from VNG Game Studios or FT Games, one recurring weapon is the AI AS50 which looks like a even more futuristic version of the FN F2000 complete with various computer modules. The AI AS50 has a target sight that generates a huge box. Any target within that targeting box can be locked on, with up to the 1st three in a group. Once locked on, a single pull of the trigger will fire 3 seeking bullets that will spread out (against a single target, they'll all hit for massive damage) to find their targets - reliably striking them in the head. For Dead Target, there's also a futurized version of the FIM-92 Stinger which will lock on to many targets to do a Macross Missile Massacre with the huge payload of missiles it carries.
  • Titanfall: Features the Smart Pistol MK5 which can automatically track five targets with bullets that Robotech. It is difficult to lock onto pilots due to their movement speed, but very good for taking out Spectres and Grunts.
  • Mass Effect uses mass accelerator weapons that shave tiny bullets off a solid ammunition block, customizing each round for atmospheric conditions at time of firing and making for Bottomless Magazines (until Mass Effect 2 retconned in thermal clips over Mass Effect's cooldown system). Expanded Universe works such as Mass Effect: Revelation state that the guns also feature automatic aim adjust that reportedly takes two or three seconds to lock onto a target.
  • Quite a few guns in Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! have artificial intelligence. There's a shotgun that can be loaded with the A.I. core of Hyperion loader #1340, The Morningstar sniper rifle, The Bane, the foul-mouthed Boganella, among others.
    • In the third game, Atlas returns as a gun manufacturer with their new niche being that their bullets can track and home onto targets.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2 uses this as the explanation for why Raiden cannot simply scoop up enemy weapons and immediately use them as part of his own arsenal. The weapons are keyed to authorized users based on nanomachines injected into their bloodstream. By Metal Gear Solid 4, they've become so commonplace that Solid Snake can no longer rely on the On-Site Procurement that helped him in the past. Instead, he needs to funnel enemy weapons back to the arms dealer, Drebin, who can get around the lock out, and resupply Snake for a fee.
    • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: Jetstream Sam's custom High-Frequency Blade is a smart sword — its functions are ID-locked to his biometrics, meaning that in the hands of a thief it won't be any better than a mundane weapon. This is why Raiden can't use the sword after killing Sam and taking it from him. Unbeknownst to Raiden, however, Sam set the ID-lock to deactivate a couple hours after his death, allowing Raiden to use Sam's sword in time to defeat the Final Boss.
  • In Homefront: The Revolution, the KPA weapons are biometrically secured and the resistance, including the player, must make do with traditional weapons.
  • In Escape from Butcher Bay, the prison guards use biometrically locked weapons. When Riddick is escaping, he finds the mainframe and gives himself weapon privileges. Additionally, most of the weapons have an ammo indicator and a Laser Sight or flashlight, befitting a game with almost no heads up display.
  • A smart gun shows up in the Alien vs. Predator, where it combines high damage, high rate of fire, and computer-assisted aiming that makes it great at splatting Facehuggers before they get into Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong range. Downsides include being Too Awesome to Use, eating through ammo in a flash, or depending on the game being so bulky that your character can't run while carrying it.
  • Shown in Aliens: Colonial Marines as the game's equivalent of LMG, only with higher damage, relatively lower rate of fire, lack of recoil, and auto-targeting system basically making it an aimbot. To keep it from being a Game-Breaker, the weapon can't be reloaded and must be discarded after emptying the rounds.
  • Bit Monster's Gunner Z has the VX-202 Smart Gun. In its basic design, it generates a fairly big targeting window that you can move around. Enemies in the targeting window will then cause the Smart Gun to automatically aim at them and you can then shoot. With its great accuracy and low recoil, it's almost guaranteed a successful hit with misses coming from the weapon not being hitscan. With upgrades, the Smart Gun can acquire targets quicker and the targeting window grows significantly larger. Despite doing less damage than your starting .50 calibre machine gun, because of its accuracy and target acquisition - the 5.56mm Smart Gun is often the superior weapon.
  • Cyberpunk 2077 brings us the "smart"-class of weapons, which cover this trope: Smart weapons fire small rocket-propelled darts that track into enemies that are highlighted by the shooter, making them capable of hitting targets from around cover or hitting fast-moving targets, along with making headshots almost too easy. They do, however, come with their downsides: for one, their projectile speed is slower, you can't put external mods (such as silencers) on them, they require a rather expensive implant that takes up your only hand slot, and certain enemies can counter the smart-aiming system, causing the projectiles to go off in random directions and rendering the weapon practically useless against them.
  • Deep Rock Galactic: The LOK-1 Smart Rifle, available for the Engineer, comes with useful AI detection and guidance that immediately pinpoints threats in its visual range, assigns them individual bullets, and steers them into the target once fired, stopping the barrage automatically if it runs out. One additional upgrade even prioritizes injured bugs and automatically knows how many bullets will kill a particular target.

  • Schlock Mercenary: Most of the guns the company uses are these. They switch between at least two ammunition types, fold away for easy concealment and storage, and have holographic sights that can easily compensate for local gravity (weird gravity plus a rotating reference frame is usually too much for them, though). Schlock's plasgun is the primary exception, being little more than a fusion generator with a trigger. It's repeatedly referred to as an obsolete antique.

    Web Original 
  • In Orion's Arm, there are numerous examples of weapons with AI controls and other functions. In the story "Yes Jolonah, there is a Hell", one of the Queen of Pain's Collectors gives Jolonah a pistol and the choice between killing himself then and there, and eternal torment in the Queen's bowels. He tries to Take a Third Option and shoot the Collector, but finds the gun was programmed to only shoot him.
  • Red vs. Blue has Caboose's pet mech/robot Freckles. After Freckles' body has been destroyed, all that was left of him is his primary storage unit, given to Wash and subsequently Caboose to hold on to by Locus. Soon, Freckles gets handed off to Dr. Grey to remove a tracking beacon and is placed in Caboose's assault rifle. Due to a series of mistakes made by Caboose in the past, she has given Freckles full control of Caboose's rifle, including the safety. If anyone pulls the trigger it makes a fun party sound and shoots confetti. The only time it can be used as an actual gun is if Freckles willingly aims and fires.

    Western Animation 
  • Reboot: The third season introduced Enzo Matrix's gun, Gun, which can take verbal commands, fly independently, plant tracking devices, interface with cyborg implants, and has multiple firing modes.

    Real Life 
  • Fire control systems were developed for naval warfare to make sure the big guns did what they needed to in conditions not known elsewhere in the battlespace, eventually as the technology matured other large war vehicles mounted similar systems such as a tank's ballistic computer and shrunk down to the size of Precision Guided Firearms like the Trackpoint scope system.
  • Such systems for personal firearms are occasionally pushed for by gun control advocates but have many downsides and are always rejected by police, military, and civilian gun owners as a firearm above all things needs to be reliable at all times. Biometrics that don't work because your hands are dirty or a gun that doesn't fire because the batteries went dead would likely get the user killed in a situation when they really need it to work. Thus far, the best security solution has proven to be a simple mechanical lock of some sort.
  • There have been a few attempts, some still on-going, to create this trope in real life, through unlike some of the classic examples of fiction, they don't always use biometrics.
    • The Armatix iP1 can only fire if within range of a special watch that links to the gun with an RFID and also tracks shots fired. Its design harkens to the various James Bond examples mentioned above, and its advertising notes it could be useful if you were disarmed (like in the examples above) or if the gun gets lost or stolen. However, the gun itself has been criticized as unreliable and too expensive, and the mechanism doesn't account for if you're the actual owner or just someone who took the watch and/or gun and, as famously demonstrated, can be easily disabled by magnets.
    • In the years following the iP1's release, a handful of startups popped up claiming to make their own versions of this trope. One of these, Lode Star Works, says it's making what it calls a "personalized gun" with multiple possible options for securing it, such as a smartphone app, a RFID in a bracelet/ring like the iP1, and the classic fingerprint authentication seen in fiction. Another company, Biofire, purports to also be making a gun equipped with a fingerprint sensor for security. As none of these have yet to actually release anything, only time will tell as to how the good the actual product will be and whether they'll overcome the problems the iP1 suffers.
  • Some companies, including the aforementioned Armatix, do a variation of this trope where instead of the gun being locked with biometrics or a PIN or whatever, it's instead the container holding it. So, a Smart Gun Cabinet or Smart Gun Rack. These have usually gotten much warmer reception, though they are still not without criticism.