Do Pulse weapons shoot bullets?

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szeszej
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Do Pulse weapons shoot bullets?

Post#1 » Oct 19 2017 01:46

My friend told me to make holes in the barrels of the burst cannons on my models because without them they look silly. I kinda agree with that, I did some drilling and they look much better. However, I'm wondering if I should subject my pulse carabines/pulse rifles to the same treatment. At first I thought that they are some kind of laser weapons so they shouldn't need a barrel in the traditional sense (the tip would be just some kind of a lense) but I'm no expert on the fluff side of the hobby (I have yet to read the 4 pages included in the Xenos 2 index :D ).

So, could anyone more versed in the fluff tell me if these weapons actually shoot some kind of projectiles? To be honest I'm wondering the same about plasma and fusion weapons. All Ion weapons seem to already have a hole in their barrels.

EDIT:

It seems I have posted this in the wrong section, could someone mightier than me move it to the Library?

Not a Problem, post relocated to the Library. - Kakapo

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Panzer
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Re: Do Pulse weapons shoot bullets?

Post#2 » Oct 19 2017 02:02

If I recall correctly the Pulse technology based weapons indeed shoot a "bullet" but before it leaves the barrel it gets vaporized and encased by an electric field.
That being said I also remember that the few descriptions of how Pulse weapon technology works aren't very coherent or even very detailed to begin with. It's probably best to imagine it as low key plasma.

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TauMan
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Re: Do Pulse weapons shoot bullets?

Post#3 » Oct 19 2017 03:06

szeszej
Here is the link from the Warhammer40K wiki: Pulse Rifle. Basically a particle is accelerated down the barrel being turned into plasma by electromagnetic induction. It's the same for all pulse weapons. FYI one of the things they assert is that there is considerable recoil when firing the weapon. This is not correct as there is no chemical reaction in this process and therefore no recoil. That is no expansion of gasses propelling the round down the barrel.

TauMan
PS There's probably an entire thread dedicated to this from 2006 or 2008 but I was too lazy to look it up. (Under the weather today). :sad:
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Harkus959
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Re: Do Pulse weapons shoot bullets?

Post#4 » Oct 19 2017 04:20

Putting a tiny black dot on the end of the barrel can also serve to make it look hollow if you don't feel like drilling.

But yeah, there is something coming out of the barrel for pulse rifles. As to whether it's a bullet, well...

"a ferromagnetic, solid slug is chambered from the magazine and turned into plasma by electromagnetic induction" that's what the wiki states about the "theoretical functioning" of the pulse rifle (and presumably other pulse weapons like carbines, pistols, burst cannon, and longshot pulse rifles).
This puts pulse weaponry in a weird halfway zone between solid slug weapons and energy weapons, as they require physical shells as ammunition (plus a power cell to keep the induction coils functioning), but don't "fire" those physical shells, converting them into low-power plasma shots before they leave the barrel.

So, in summary: solid slug ammo, energy projectiles, but definitely something that comes out of a barrel.

EDIT: Fusion blasters and plasma rifles

Fusion blasters are said to function like Imperial melta weaponry, which fires superheated gas and thermal energy.

"A Meltagun works by inducing a minute, sub-molecular nuclear fusion reaction within a highly pressurised pyrum-petrol fuel mix located within an ammunition canister, and then projecting the resulting plasma through the cannister and from the weapon's barrel as a blast of incredible heat"

As to plasma, that's also superheated gas, but it shoots a blob of plasma from the weapon's barrel, rather than a fusion-powered stream of gas.

Really it seems to be a question of beam vs blob, and the fact that melta/fusion weaponry is hotter than regular plasma.

In both cases, they do utilise a barrel, and the gas does emanate from a physical opening. As far as I know, it's only las weaponry that works on lenses.

P.S. - Volkite weaponry seems like an even more souped-up version of melta weaponry, but it's said to fire pure thermal energy, rather than superheated gas of any sort.

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Kakapo42
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Re: Do Pulse weapons shoot bullets?

Post#5 » Oct 19 2017 05:45

The original 3rd edition Codex: Tau describes pulse weapons thusly:

Codex: Tau, pg. 19, 'Tau Weaponry' wrote:Pulse Rifle, Pulse Carbine or Burst Cannon
All three weapons are variants of the same technology. An induction field is used to propel a particle. The particle reacts by breaking down to create a plasma pulse as it leaves the barrel. The burst cannon is a multi-barrel version of the carbine able to sustain high rates of fire but lacking the grenade launcher. The pulse carbine sacrifices range for portability and the chance to mount an underslung photon grenade launcher.


Imperial Armour Volume 3: The Taros Campaign gives a similar description:

Imperial Armour Volume Three: The Taros Campaign, pg. 80, 'Tau Fire Warrior - 3. Pulse Carbine' wrote:The weapon generates an induction field which is used to propel a particle. The particle reacts to the field by breaking down into a plasma state (referred to as a pulse).


To put these descriptions (largely accepted by most of the community, give or take some minor alterations) in other words, the commonly accepted version of pulse weapons is that they are essentially coilguns that fire small globs ('pulses') of plasma, generated by firing a small solid particle down the barrel which breaks down into a plasma state just before clearing the muzzle.

Exactly what this particle is is open to debate and interpretation. Tael's seminal work on the subject makes them tiny slugs and gives the standard pulse weapon ammunition canister (not to be confused with the pulse weapon power-pack, which is what that magazine-like box at the back of a pulse rifle or carbine is) a capacity of between two and three hundred such slugs. My own Kakapo Canon(tm) on the other hand uses much smaller ammunition particles that are just a few molecules big, giving the pulse weapon ammunition canister a capacity of just under a thousand such particles, and using some Minovsky Physics to generate additional plasma for the pulse from the surrounding atmosphere (this is also the Kakapo Canon(tm) explanation for the iconic blue crescent-shaped muzzle flash that pulse weapons are commonly depicted as having).

On a related note, this is also why using the word 'pulse' in the names for short-range weaponry carried by Firewarrior Breachers and on the Stormsurge could be seen as something of a misnomer, as neither of these weapons use the technology outlined above, instead working on a different technology called Aggressive Reactive Charge or ARC technology, and are thus not 'true' pulse weapons. This is why you will commonly see me refer to such weapons as ARC blasters and ARC blastguns instead.

But I digress. To answer your original question, they typically don't fire bullets, but do fire a glob of high-energy 'stuff', so would need a physical barrel opening. However, given the scales involved you can comfortably get away with not drilling out the barrels of your pulse rifles and carbines, as doing so would be rather fiddly and barely noticeable at the distances models are typically viewed at. Indeed, when building the original 3rd edition Tau army the GW studio only drilled out the barrels of burst cannons and other assault and heavy weaponry while applying simple black dots for the infantry weapon barrels.

Plasma rifles, ion and fusion weapons are a similar case. Tau plasma rifles work on the same principles as Imperial plasma weapons (albeit at lower power levels for better operator safety and reliability) and Eldar starcannons, using electromagnetic fields to fire globs of plasma. Ion weapons fire a stream of high-energy ionised particles. To my knowledge, there has never been a description of how fusion weapons work, other than that they are similar to Imperial melta weapons (and Eldar fusion guns/firepikes). Given this statement and the name used, it is likely that like melta weapons fusion weaponry fires a stream of incredibly hot material in a high-powered thermal blast, but uses nuclear fusion rather than compressed fuel to generate it. The resulting attack would effectively be, depending on several factors (not least among them being how soft a level of science fiction you're working on), somewhere between a low-level thermonuclear explosion concentrated onto an area just a metre or two wide and effectively throwing a tiny sun at the target - an extremely destructive weapon in either case. Regardless, in either case it's still firing high-energy 'stuff' so would need a physical barrel opening.

Thus, to summarise:

- Pulse guns fire small blobs of plasma, not bullets. However they still have a physical barrel opening.

- Plasma rifles also require a physical barrel opening, as they fire bolts of plasma.

- Ion and fusion weapons do not fire bolts of plasma in the strictest sense, but they do still fire highly energised 'stuff' so would require a physical barrel opening. Fortunately most GW models for ion weapons feature open barrels already sculpted.

For further information on the subject of possible pulse weapon mechanics, a famous discussion on the matter was held a long time ago on the forum and can be found here.
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Harkus959
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Re: Do Pulse weapons shoot bullets?

Post#6 » Oct 19 2017 06:07

Thanks for the extra info, always good to know.

I do find it strange how much overlap there is between supposedly "different" weapon types. Like, plasma, melta/fusion, and pulse, all operate by firing what is essentially superheated gas. Pulse weaponry is technically rail weaponry too, since it uses magnetic induction to propel those pulses, and requires solid slug ammunition. even though unlike other rail weaponry, it does not fire them as solid slugs.

Looking at it all, it's like they have three or four mechanics to work with, and they just attach different names to the same things for different factions.

I'm pretty sure you could classify all weapons in 40K as either solid slug (bolt weaponry, autoguns and stubbers, shurikens, missiles, rail weaponry, tyranid bio-weapons, okay maybe there's still variety within these classifications XP), superheated gas (plasma, melta, fusion), or pure energy (las and lance weaponry, ion weaponry, volkite weapons, sonic weapons).

Pulse weaponry and starcannons both seem to mix plasma-style projectiles, with magnetic induction railgun style propulsion methods.

Of course, this is a huge simplification, and there is definitely plenty of variety. I kind of changed my stance halfway through this post, so it probably sounds a little schizo.

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Panzer
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Re: Do Pulse weapons shoot bullets?

Post#7 » Oct 20 2017 12:14

I also prefer the interpretation of pulse weaponry using tiny particles instead of solid slugs since it makes ZERO sense to turn a high velocity solid slug into super heated gas. It's basically adding more technology to nerf the weapons destructive power. That's just silly. Especially when considering that T'au know and use actual Railweapon technology.

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Kakapo42
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Re: Do Pulse weapons shoot bullets?

Post#8 » Oct 20 2017 12:24

Harkus959 wrote:Thanks for the extra info, always good to know.

I do find it strange how much overlap there is between supposedly "different" weapon types. Like, plasma, melta/fusion, and pulse, all operate by firing what is essentially superheated gas. Pulse weaponry is technically rail weaponry too, since it uses magnetic induction to propel those pulses, and requires solid slug ammunition. even though unlike other rail weaponry, it does not fire them as solid slugs.

Looking at it all, it's like they have three or four mechanics to work with, and they just attach different names to the same things for different factions.

I'm pretty sure you could classify all weapons in 40K as either solid slug (bolt weaponry, autoguns and stubbers, shurikens, missiles, rail weaponry, tyranid bio-weapons, okay maybe there's still variety within these classifications XP), superheated gas (plasma, melta, fusion), or pure energy (las and lance weaponry, ion weaponry, volkite weapons, sonic weapons).

Pulse weaponry and starcannons both seem to mix plasma-style projectiles, with magnetic induction railgun style propulsion methods.

Of course, this is a huge simplification, and there is definitely plenty of variety. I kind of changed my stance halfway through this post, so it probably sounds a little schizo.


An oversimplification indeed, as pulse weapons would be coilguns which, while a kind of magnetic accelerator, are considered a distinct technology from railguns due to having different barrel arechetecture and working on slightly different mechanics (a series of electromagnetic coils along the barrel that the projectile floats through vs. an even number of electromagnetic rails the projectile must touch to complete an electric circuit).

However, while there is indeed much overlap and examples of convergence in the weapons technology of the 41st millennium, I would argue that this is not really that unusual. After all, just look at the history of weapons technology on Earth. The 9M113 Konkurs, Euromissile MILAN and BGM-71 TOW for example all make use of more or less exactly the same technology (a reasonably powerful HEAT charge propelled by a rocket motor and steered to the target by a wire-controlled SACLOS guidance system. Incidentally, all three are also stored inside a protective tube before use) despite coming from three different world powers (well technically four since MILAN was a joint project between two major countries). Likewise, a katana, scimitar and arming sword are all examples of the same general concept and technology (give or take a unique twist) despite originating from three very different cultures.

The trick is to keep in mind that while the various species that inhabit the 41st millennium might have originated from different points, the universe they share still has a uniform set of physical laws (not always the same physical laws that govern the universe in real life, but a consistent set of physical laws nonetheless), and thus various phenomena will behave the same way on any species' homeworld. In other words, it doesn't matter whether your people come from Terra, T'au or some long-lost world ancient beyond recognition, fire is still going to burn things, sharp edges are still going to cut things and fast-moving objects are still going to impart kinetic energy. It therefore stands to reason that it doesn't take a human/Eldar/Tau/whatever to recognise that a bolt of superheated plasma, a rocket-propelled explosive payload or even a spray of burning incendiary jelly will make for a useful weapon.

Besides, just look at all the different kinds of power weapon used by different 40k powers, many of which don't even get a distinct name. :P
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SinisterSamurai
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Re: Do Pulse weapons shoot bullets?

Post#9 » Oct 20 2017 12:53

TauMan wrote: FYI one of the things they assert is that there is considerable recoil when firing the weapon. This is not correct as there is no chemical reaction in this process and therefore no recoil. That is no expansion of gasses propelling the round down the barrel.

There is no explosive force acting on the barrel, but whatever force being produced by the gun to propel the particle will equally push back against the weapon. Even magnetic railguns have recoil. Not even xenos can deny Newton without a proper sci-fi handwave.

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Panzer
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Re: Do Pulse weapons shoot bullets?

Post#10 » Oct 20 2017 01:04

Yeah the only weapons that have no recoil are laser and self-propelled missiles that basically push against the air behind you. ^^

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Arka0415
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Re: Do Pulse weapons shoot bullets?

Post#11 » Oct 20 2017 06:31

SinisterSamurai wrote:
TauMan wrote: FYI one of the things they assert is that there is considerable recoil when firing the weapon. This is not correct as there is no chemical reaction in this process and therefore no recoil. That is no expansion of gasses propelling the round down the barrel.

There is no explosive force acting on the barrel, but whatever force being produced by the gun to propel the particle will equally push back against the weapon. Even magnetic railguns have recoil. Not even xenos can deny Newton without a proper sci-fi handwave.

I love how the do-railguns-have-recoil question pops up all over the place. So I guess Pulse Rifles, too, would have recoil then?

(Off-topic question for the physicists and hunters out there, do crossbows have recoil?)

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Panzer
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Re: Do Pulse weapons shoot bullets?

Post#12 » Oct 20 2017 06:54

Arka0415 wrote:(Off-topic question for the physicists and hunters out there, do crossbows have recoil?)

They do. ;) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MM35GDq4CgA

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Kakapo42
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Re: Do Pulse weapons shoot bullets?

Post#13 » Oct 20 2017 07:33

Arka0415 wrote:I love how the do-railguns-have-recoil question pops up all over the place. So I guess Pulse Rifles, too, would have recoil then?


The general consensus seems to be that they would in theory. However, when it comes to recoil the Tau have an ace up their sleeve in the form of those round gyros at the end of the barrel, which are generally believed to be some kind of anti-gravity based stabiliser/recoil compensator (inertial dampener is a commonly used term) that eliminates almost any recoil force the weapon generates, resulting in no noticeable effect to the firer. Combined with the advanced targeting systems found on the gun-sight and Firewarrior helmet, this makes Tau weapons extremely accurate.
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Arka0415
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Re: Do Pulse weapons shoot bullets?

Post#14 » Oct 20 2017 07:59

Kakapo42 wrote:
Arka0415 wrote:I love how the do-railguns-have-recoil question pops up all over the place. So I guess Pulse Rifles, too, would have recoil then?


The general consensus seems to be that they would in theory. However, when it comes to recoil the Tau have an ace up their sleeve in the form of those round gyros at the end of the barrel, which are generally believed to be some kind of anti-gravity based stabiliser/recoil compensator (inertial dampener is a commonly used term) that eliminates almost any recoil force the weapon generates, resulting in no noticeable effect to the firer. Combined with the advanced targeting systems found on the gun-sight and Firewarrior helmet, this makes Tau weapons extremely accurate.


So, there would be recoil, but it's dampened by the anti-grav gyro?

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Kael'yn
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Re: Do Pulse weapons shoot bullets?

Post#15 » Oct 20 2017 10:17

Arka0415 wrote:Off-topic question for the physicists and hunters out there, do crossbows have recoil?

Any launcher that throw mass at some speed have recoil. It's the momentum conservation principle:
If you launch in one direction a m1 mass to a v1 speed, the launcher of mass m2 will have a v2 speed on the other direction (recoil), with the equality m1 x v1 = m2 x v2.
So the tiniest mass you lauch/the heavier launcher you have, the smallest recoil you get.

To be more precise, shooting light also produce recoil because energy is tied to mass with E=mc², but because the mass equivalent of a high energy laser beam is very tiny, the recoil is very small (Crooke radiometer works under this principle).

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Panzer
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Re: Do Pulse weapons shoot bullets?

Post#16 » Oct 20 2017 10:28

Kael'yn wrote:
Arka0415 wrote:Off-topic question for the physicists and hunters out there, do crossbows have recoil?

Any launcher that throw mass at some speed have recoil. It's the momentum conservation principle:
If you launch in one direction a m1 mass to a v1 speed, the launcher of mass m2 will have a v2 speed on the other direction (recoil), with the equality m1 x v1 = m2 x v2.
So the tiniest mass you lauch/the heavier launcher you have, the smallest recoil you get.

To be more precise, shooting light also produce recoil because energy is tied to mass with E=mc², but because the mass equivalent of a high energy laser beam is very tiny, the recoil is very small (Crooke radiometer works under this principle).

Solar sails work under that principle as well. But yeah the recoil of laser weapons is to be ignored. :D

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Re: Do Pulse weapons shoot bullets?

Post#17 » Oct 20 2017 12:12

The pulse weapon does not necessarily have to convert the projectile into plasma state prior to leaving barrel. Any sufficiently fast projectile moving in atmosphere would generate heat from air friction, generating a field of plasma around the projectile as the projectile ablates (think space shuttle/capsule on re-entry). This would result in the target being struck by a semi-solid mass consisting of super-heated plasma that envelopes whatever is left of the projectile.

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Kael'yn
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Re: Do Pulse weapons shoot bullets?

Post#18 » Oct 20 2017 01:59

Beware to not confuse heat and temperature.
Plasma (and other burning gases or flames) have a high temperature but carry little heat: you can put your hand over a candle (~1700 Kelvin) flame for a fraction of second and only be a little warmed, but if you touch melting iron at the same temperature for a fraction of second you will get severly burned.

Plasma "aura" around a burning projectile will carry less energy than the projectile (conservation of energy: the initial kinetic energy out of the muzzle will be equal or greater than the remaining kinetic and thermic energy of the hitting bullet).
Plasma flame is also a energy loss as some heat is transferred around the projectile.
Think also that when the bullet struck, the heat must be transferred to the object. This will takes some time before the object melt, and in that small time the bullet has punched through or is now stuck into the object melting surface, letting the melting effect marginal.

Space Shuttle burning reentry is the manifestation of kinetic energy loss to allow the 28000 kph spaceship to slow down to 800 kph. So the higher the heat, the quicker the shuttle is slowed.


On topic:
"Plasma" is just an ubiquitous way in Sci-fi to say "Hey laser are not the only cool could-be weapon we can have"

Pulse weapons were before considered as "plasma" for Ulumatei Plasma Syphon wargear of Inquisitor.
So they need an muzzle exhaust to eject the projectile/plasma.

Melta/Fusion seems an oversized plasma torch (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plasma_torch)
Plasma gun may be a plasma torch which encapsulate the flame burst in a something (EM field maybe) that throw it toward the target.
So pulse weapon may be a kind of plasma gun where the flame burst is a projectile that turns itself into plasma after launch.
Volkite "pure thermal energy" blurb could be something EM like microwaves (maybe, seeing the effect on organic matter) or infrared. Unless 40K know another way than conduction/convection/emission way to transfer thermal energy.

Grav guns, lightning gun does not need exhaust muzzles too.

EDIT:
A WK articles about an old (still active ?) plasma weapon design:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MARAUDER powerful but with EMP burst on hit...

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