Science fiction weapons and where to find them: after robots "with lethal force" proposed in San Francisco last week, an ambitious American startup opens pre-orders for what it calls “the world's first and only portable Gauss rifle.” For the modest sum of around 3300 euros, buyers will experience the thrill of shooting a large variety of metal bullets with a magnetic rifle.
Then we will talk later about how well this magnetic rifle works and how safe the system is, but in the meantime the founders (two aerospace engineers) let it be known that the army and law enforcement are already very interested in the weapon.
In what sense is the rifle “magnetic”?
The GR-1 Anvil Gauss rifle is manufactured by Arcflash Labs, LLC, whose co-founders, David Wirth and Jason Murray, are “aerospace engineers, former U.S. Air Force officers, and pulse power development experts with 20 years of experience", reads the official website.
The company claims that this weapon can “accelerate any ferromagnetic projectile to over 200 feet per second” (60 meters per second) and can produce up to 100 Joules of force – similar to that of some .22 caliber rifles. This makes it “the most powerful coil-over mag rifle ever built and sold to the public.”
Gauss rifles, or coil guns, use electrified coils to generate a magnetic field that accelerates ferromagnetic projectiles to high velocities. And this mag rifle would be the first to achieve performance that is useful in military or security environments.
How the magnetic rifle is made
Arcflash's rifle measures 38 inches long with a barrel length of 26 inches, weighs 20 pounds, and is powered by a 25,2-volt lithium-polymer (LiPoly) battery. The rifle stock is 3D printed with some sections of acrylic plastic bolted on.
Its advanced capacitor charging system allows the mag rifle to fire up to 20 rounds per minute at full power or up to 100 rounds per minute at half power.
Since the GR-1 accelerates projectiles using magnetic fields, any iron-rich metallic projectile with a diameter between 11 mm and 12,6 mm and a length between 30 and 52 mm can be fired from this portable weapon.
Why would soldiers and police be interested in this weapon?
Arcflash co-founder David Wirth says the majority of requests so far are for using their coil technology to fire non-lethal projectiles: although those projectiles would need to be modified to make them magnetic (so adding metal. Let's say ' less “non-lethal”).
“The reason they are interested in the mag rifle is because with this weapon you can instantly change the power, so (for example) you can reduce it if you are close to the target and not seriously injure a person.”
Goodbye gunpowder, in short. “It's a thousand-year-old technology,” Wirth says. “It works well, but we think we have something better. There is huge potential here, the technology is still in its infancy.”