Is the Halo 4 Railgun a feasible weapon?

XULUX11

Member
So I've been building my ARC 920 lately and since I have had a little experience with REAL railguns, ( I built a very small railgun with a friend a couple years back ) I wondered, "could you actually build and fire a handheld railgun?" So I did a little research and came up with this.
So the Railgun as most people know it is indeed an extremely powerful weapon. Most railguns can fire up to 7 times the speed of sound. This incredible speed generates massive force as far as the projectile goes, but as Newton's third law states,"any action has an equal and opposite reaction." That means whatever force comes out of the railgun, will have equal and incredible recoil. Even a Mosin Nagant rifle has significant recoil, but or course its not enough to injure you. I'm sure you know where I'm going with this now. It you had a railgun that was handheld like the ARC 920 in Halo 4, if it was firing even anywhere near 7 times the speed of sound, it would not only knock you flat on your back, it could break your shoulder. So just firing a railgun like that handheld (unless your a Spartan or course) isn't at all practical because it could injure you so badly. Now here is that part where I found maybe it could be possible, in the future with better technology. All railguns need a rather large source of power. The first stage is pneumatic that accelerates the projectile into the actual rails, and then electricity is put through the rails of course accelerating the projectile even faster. So you need both compressed gas, and lots of electricity as a "fuel" for the railgun. Compressed gas you could easily fit inside of an ARC 920 size handheld railgun ( something like paintball c02 container maybe ). But the capacitors for something like that, just wouldn't be able to be fit inside of that size railgun. At least not is this day and age. In the future, maybe technology will have evolved enough to allow that kind of power to be stored in that small of an area, but even then the railgun wouldn't have as high muzzle velocity ( maybe more like 3 to 4 times the speed of sound ). And that is why maybe you would be able to fire it then without hurting yourself. But even then there are rifles that could outperform even that kind of a railgun easily with more reliable ammo, smaller building costs, and better availability. So let me know what you guys think about this. And check out the ARC 920 I'm building here, http://www.405th.com/showthread.php/36961-ARC-902-Railgun-WIP?p=613053

-Jones
 

Kyre

Member
Well, the power problem is the main one I see, as recoil can be combated several ways. However, considering a Spartan wears a fusion power plant on his/her back, maybe that wont be such a problem in 2557-ish. Worst case, there is a power cable hooked to the fusion plant of the Spartan's armor.

As for Newton's Third Law, and thus the recoil, the projectile would only need to go 2-3 times the speed of sound, and a backwards-mobile launch system would combat the recoil, and possibly be used as the loading system as well. Unless I missed something, we haven't actually seen the ARC920 in action, so many systems could be in use to combat the recoil problem. Or maybe it is just a work of fiction after all...

Anyway, what I'm getting at, is if a multiple-coil Coilgun can be made handheld, why not what is basically an upscaled version? Sure the power usage might be ridiculous, as would the recoil, but hey- we're Spartans in the game. We have a nuclear device powering our armored suit and are at war with an alien race, what is wrong with a little ridiculousness?
 
You are not applying Newton's law correctly in the case of a rail gun. A rail gun accelerates the round up to speed with magnets, it is not a single force generated by an explosion like a bullet.
 

CoolC

Well-Known Member
If my memory serves me right, I believe US Navy is building a prototype railgun. However, it won't be deployed anytime soon. The problem as we know it is how to power it. A railgun uses tremendous amount of energy to be able to create enough kinetic energy to shoot a projectile. After each shot, the gun needs to be recharged. In a war, this is highly impractical.

All the lasers, railgun or armor have one common problem: they need exceedingly amount of energy to operate. As of today, not many cars can run on battery juice alone. Several cars can run on batteries but the range of the batteries are very limited. If the scientists and what not cannot solve this equation, we will never see lasers or modern weapons to be compact enough to be carried by any soldiers.
 

Tyvern

Well-Known Member
you have to take into consideration the warping of the rails by heat and magnetic force
 

XULUX11

Member
If my memory serves me right, I believe US Navy is building a prototype railgun. However, it won't be deployed anytime soon. The problem as we know it is how to power it. A railgun uses tremendous amount of energy to be able to create enough kinetic energy to shoot a projectile. After each shot, the gun needs to be recharged. In a war, this is highly impractical.

All the lasers, railgun or armor have one common problem: they need exceedingly amount of energy to operate. As of today, not many cars can run on battery juice alone. Several cars can run on batteries but the range of the batteries are very limited. If the scientists and what not cannot solve this equation, we will never see lasers or modern weapons to be compact enough to be carried by any soldiers.
Exactly. Probably all the recoil, and heat issues could be dealt with. But getting that kind of energy required that compact, is the real problem with these type of weapons.
 

rob234ski

New Member
Game Informer released their monthly magazine, and to my surprise, May’s issue had a beautiful image of none other than Master Chief. Within the magazine, we received an incredibly large amount of interesting Halo 4 details. I thought it would be best if I just rounded it all up for you in a bunch of [...]
 

TheRabbit

Jr Member
Just to put some actual engineering insight into this thread (as I've built an actual railgun that fires sabot rounds).

@Zat German: Newton's laws apply. It doesn't matter how something is accelerated, it's still being accelerated. On that note, you have to keep in mind force; F=m*a. It's the rate of acceleration that matters more than anything. If a 5 gram round reaches 7 times the speed of sound (2380 m/s) and it takes it half a second to accelerate up to that speed it will be applying 24 newtons of force on the person holding the gun (practically negligable). Half a second is an unlikely slow speed however, with a 2 foot long barrel something along the lines of 0.005 seconds is more practical, in which case the gun is now exerting a force of 2,380 newtons, which is more along the line of being tackled at full speed by a very heavy, very fast, defensive back in American Football. And all of that is being taken to your arms, unlike a tackle which is distributed through your entire torso.

@XULUX11: The energy to fire a single round is relatively simply. A single high density flywheel can easily store enough energy to fire a round at that speed. In the above example, if the round leaves our gun at 7x the speed of sound, it has a kinetic energy of 14,000 joules. For comparison, a 50cal sniper round has a kinetic energy of 15,000 joules. This is because the 50 cal round is heavier than a railgun round, and moving significantly (a lot!) slower.

Finally you have to consider that what you put in is what you get out. A round that leaves the gun with 14,000 joules of energy is going to hit a target with significantly less energy (friction, sound, and warping of the round remove a lot of energy from it prior to it hitting a target). The plus sides are that the round is moving fast enough that you don't need to lead a target, and the round is small enough that you can make precision hits with it.

On a side note, the navy weapon being developed is nothing like the above example, the round itself weighs several kilograms, and leaves the barrel of the gun with several million joules of kinetic energy. It is moving fast enough to enter into low earth orbit before it comes crashing back down to earth, and the kinetic energy dissipation of it hitting its target is equivalant to a full sized SUV crashing into a brickwall at 500 mph (800 km per hour).
 
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