What will replace the modern firearm?


April 29, 2003, 11:09 PM
When i was a kid I was a little sci-fi dork, waiting for the days of blasters, phasers, lasers, and more. These days, after having taken quite a bit of chemistry and physics, I just don't see it. Barring a quantum leap (and I do mean quantum) in the energy density of present storage technology, anti-personnel energy weapons (designed to kill) are practically out of the question.
I mean who would shoot a phaser w/ a 20 pound rucksack filled with fuel cell batteries that gets 6 shots, when a 308 MBR will do the job, and be less affected by rain, mud, etc.
I think the foreseeable future lies in refinements of ballistic technology. The bleeding edge stuff right now, like caseless, electrothermal-chemical, and liquid propellant technologies, IMHO will probably be the route taken.


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April 29, 2003, 11:15 PM
The Romulan Disruptor Rifle is always a viable option!!:D

April 29, 2003, 11:21 PM
Caseless ammo is the future!

You know it's good stuff, because the VPC already thinks it's evil: http://www.vpc.org/press/9307case.htm

April 29, 2003, 11:25 PM
Probably a laser guided muscle disruptor gun. I read in one of the Pop mags (I forget whether mechanics or science) where they are working on a very simple little gun. It shoots out an otherwise harmless UV laser beam which ionizes the air long enough for a hi frequency AC current to pass. Very high voltage and low amperage knocks out the target's muscles just like a phaser set to "stun". the whle thing is the size of a briefcase and getting smaller with each rebuild.

April 30, 2003, 02:59 AM
What will replace the modern firearm?

Firearms are used for many different reasons. They are compact, effective, self contained and only dependent on ammunition which is very storable for long periods.

Firearms will probably always be used for target shooting - the same way that archery and fencing are still practiced today. It is harder to imagine a better hunting weapon - something more effive would seem less sporting.

Combat is probably the only area where firearms may be outmoded eventually.

When we come up with extremely effective body armor, it is cheap and ubiquitous - as in, your average work uniform is equivalent to a level II-III vest, then firearms may diminish somewhat. I think that if they are replaced, it will be by explosive weapons, or perhaps drugged hypodermic darts or some kind of sonic weapon or some laser that blinds you.

April 30, 2003, 03:17 AM
I like that setup the alien had in the movie Predator.

April 30, 2003, 03:42 AM
My personal belief is (especially with the mechanical limitations you listed) that the basis for the modern firearm, which has been around for a good number of centuries, won't go away soon.
My guess is, whatever will come next will be more applications. Even in the Alien quadrilogy, they were still using flame throwers, grenade launchers, etc. well into the future.

Could go for a Pulse Rifle myself, though...:D

April 30, 2003, 04:53 AM
If you do a search over on TFL, we hashed this out pretty well. I asked about all kinds of energy weapons and alternatives, including lasers, plasma weapons, particle beams, and gauss weapons. All have great limitations to the extent that, for the time being and the foreseeable future, it'd be hard to make them just as versatile as the modern firearm.

Still, we can always dream. :cool:

April 30, 2003, 05:00 AM
2X4's and harsh language.

April 30, 2003, 10:14 AM
Minature heat-seeking missles/projectiles fired from a gun!

April 30, 2003, 10:53 AM

How about the Plasma Ball Launcher? ?

April 30, 2003, 11:03 AM
Dictatorship and jail cells? Labor camps? Microchip implants?

Loyalty enforcement facilitators?

April 30, 2003, 11:06 AM
I'm with COHIBA.
boards with nails in them will be banned as assault boards, though.

4v50 Gary
April 30, 2003, 11:44 AM
Mandatory greater sensivity training administered worldwide will leave the human populace cringing whenever naughty words are made in their presence. Neeet! ;)

April 30, 2003, 12:43 PM

April 30, 2003, 12:48 PM
Can I get one in blue?

April 30, 2003, 01:25 PM
Well, high velocity flechet guns using magnetic accerlaeration are common in many sci-fi stories...

other than that, mag propelled bullets? Near future stuff I suppose.

April 30, 2003, 01:32 PM
Reason. In the future, enlightened individuals will talk out their differences without resorting to violence.

This is why governments employ rational persuasion rather than force to achieve their objectives.


April 30, 2003, 01:54 PM
I think that the future will be in ballistic technology, just used in different ways than are currently available. Perhaps more electronically-ignited ammunition will be used (perhaps using a piezo-electric spark generator), or more efficient propellants will make ammunition cases smaller, allowing for different designs in handguns especially. Caseless ammo is defintely a possibility.

I think that new technology, especially along the lines of firearms-type technology, will develop as it always has, there will be big energy or energy-actuated weapons (such as rail guns), and then things will slowly decrease size as technology allows.

April 30, 2003, 02:11 PM
I think you can draw a fairly well-defined parallel between the development of modern firearms and the development of the internal combustion engine. As Jim Scoutten's website says, 'It's all internal combustion.'

Sure, there have been developments in both guns and internal combustion engines that have made them lighter, better, more efficient, and more powerful, but most firearms still operate on principles that are really quite old. To develop a better gun, like some sort of energy based weapon would really require a huge quantum leap of development in several fields at the same time.

In the meantime, I'd say that the biggest developments will be better quality control, manufacturing standards, and better/faster production all around. Newer/better materials will make weapons lighter and stronger. Caseless ammo is one definate possibility, too.

One idea I saw on Discovery channel a loooooong time ago involved putting an electronics package along with a servo motor in the head of a .50 round in order to make it guideable while in flight. I'd be curious to see how it works with a bullet that's spinning through the air, though.

April 30, 2003, 04:34 PM
The Death Ray 3000 by Acme Gun Supply ... a favorite of Wiley Coyote. I understand he's nearly got the bugs out.


Dave R
April 30, 2003, 05:19 PM
Well, there seem to be a few here at TFL who think the technology peaked with the 1911 and the Garand, and has been downhill ever since.

Consider the comments on the OICW.

Which is not really all that big a step. The rifle part of the system is just a short-barreled .223. The laser-rangine airburst round is the big improvement, and that's laser and detonator technology.

I would love to see a breakthrough, but I don't see it happening.

Caseless ammo? Too many advantages to the case:

-Protects the prepellant from contamination
-Keeps a lot of the combustion by-products out of the action
-Removes a lot of waste heat from combustion as the brass is flung out. Keeps the action cooler.

The only advantage to caseless is a very small weight savings.

So that ain't it.

I think eventually we will get man-portable energy weapons. My understanding is battery technology quietly keeps getting 20% more density/efficient every year (which is good cuz those laptop processors need ever more power) so eventually the batteries will get light enough/powerful enough to create a useful portable laser or whatever. Still a ways out, but I think that's the next leap.

I'd hate to think that polymer handguns and synthetic stocks and "short fat magnums" is the best we can do.

April 30, 2003, 05:20 PM
Eloi need no firearms.

April 30, 2003, 05:48 PM
I am really pessimistic that energy weapons will be useful for personal defense in this century.

First, any kind of laser is going to be good only so far out (not that far). It is going to be greatly affected by cover and easily difused or reflected or absorbed.

Yes there are other kinds of energy beams but the amount of electronic energy you would need to incapacitate someone would be huge.

At least with a handgun, you can survive the wound - with a laster shot, I think it would be hard to find that place where its as dangerous as a handgun, but not completely and perfectly lethal.

Second - even if we do come up with the tech, the politicians are going to be BEGGING us all to stay with firearms. Firearms leave evidence behind because they are messy.

Imagine finding a body in an alley with a 3mm hole through its head and heart. And absolutely nothing else.

That said, any electronic weapon is going to be MUCH more prone to failure, interference, malfunction and intentional blocking.

You think anyone will be able to build one without all kinds of government mandated junk? Police will have beacons that disable any energy weapon when fired at them. Restaurants will have beacons that disable all weapons on the premises.

Not to mention the personalization features - in addition to finger print or DNA readers, the gun will have a small GPS and CCD camera and will also include "event logging" meaning it will record audio and maybe video all the time - when you draw or fire the weapon, the last 5 minutes and forward of audio and video will be captured and wirelessly transmitted to police who will give you instructions on what to do. Your gun will take a picture of the shooter and the shootee and presere them as evidence.

Every single microsecond of the event will be preserved in minute detail to be reviewed in court. Your hear rate (you say you were afraid, but your heart rate barely inceased) your speech, what the other person said, etc.

Actual firearms will be extremely valuable and there will likely be strict penalties for using a weapon that is not on the Federal Weapon Tracking System.

Of course, the bad guys will never be able to defeat these features....:rolleyes:

Dave R
April 30, 2003, 06:03 PM
Pendragon makes some good points.

I disagree on a couple of 'em, though.

Range of a laser which is powerful enough to be lethal is very long. Most anything that would diffuse it--it would burn right through. Reflection is an issue, but the mirror has to be high-quality. Otherwise it will absorb enough energy to be damaged.

One BIG advantage of a laser on those long-range rifle shots--no windage and no trajectory. :cool:

Lasers prone to failure? Not in CD players, DVD players, Laser Printers, bar code scanners, laser rangefinders, and military target designators.

April 30, 2003, 06:13 PM
What will replace the modern firearm?

Ummmmmm. . . . .

Postmodern firearms?

[Sorry for the bad academic joke, but it was a long day in my particular tunnel of the salt mine!]

May 1, 2003, 01:38 PM
Modern firearms are a very mature technology, and it's hard to imagine big improvements using current technology.

I think energy weapons are a real possibility, just not quite the type that have been proposed so far. I think what we will see is a weapon *system*: a powerful central power amplifier/ wave generator and a small handheld remote unit that acts as the target designator. The critical technology would be an amplifying phase conjugate mirror that operates in the frequency range that's effective against the particular target, microwaves for example. The cool thing about phase conjugated waves is that they converge on the target, making high energy density on target and long ranges possible without the usual divergence losses due to distance ,etc.
The way it would work is the remote and the amplifier would each have a phase conjugate mirror. The remote unit would not have a power source but would draw it's operating power from the power reflected back from the amplifier. The two units would have a low energy link at all times. This would be accomplished by reflecting phase conjugated waves back and forth between them with any losses made up by the amplifier. To fire the weapon, the remote unit have a rangefinder to determine range to target. This info would be used by a microprocessor in the remote unit to distort the wave reflected back to the amplifier in such a way that the highly amplified return wave would converge on the target. poof! target eliminated.
I have no idea how small the remote could be made, but since the high power pulse doesn't actually pass through it, it could be made very small and light.

May 1, 2003, 04:08 PM
Hmm, non-kinetic energy weapons don't have the same appeal as our slug throwers. One reason is the ease with which a beam of energy is defended against, in terms of reflective body armor.

Perhaps we will have non-toxic gunpowder. We already have non-lead bullets.

Electromagnetic "rail guns" are appealing but it has traditionally been hard to equal the energy density of chemical combustion (gunpowder or fuel). Perhaps a fuel cell could power the rail gun.

In terms of target plinking and 10 meter-type shooting I doubt anything will displace "guns."

In terms of stopping an attacker, strictly for self-defense, I could easily see a more effective version of a taser or pepper spray. There must be more efficient (less messy?) ways to incapacitate attackers at close range. For home defense your "smart" home could identify all legal occupants and shock the heck out intruders, or maybe just fold the walls to capture them.

If you fear Big Brother, as many of us do, then the future may all be "video taped" in the sense that if you can't get away with a violent crime because of 100% of criminals are remotely tracked and caught (and maybe executed more efficiently), then self-defense weapons become less necessary. Yes, we can all imagine the terror of someone who could "jack" the system and not get caught (since we'll have lost the right to bear arms). Guess I'll be keeping my guns too...

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