Electro-Magnetic Quadrail Musket

quadrail musket
Image from Steve Bowers

The Electro-Magnetic Musket is a rugged and flexible ballistic weapon. They can be made in either smooth bore or "caged" barrel varieties, with an electro magnetic "Quadrail Acceleration system" that center around 4 long rails of EM magnets that can spin a ball in two axis giving it increased range and accuracy compensating for all types of conditions. Caged versions are more wasteful energy-wise, but better controlling heat buildup and recoil. Solid barrel or smooth bore versions collect excess energy and heat for recycling back into the power supply when possible.

Coil and Gauss versions of the EM musket are available, are cheaper and don't require the same level of maintenance. They are less accurate, due to a lack of spin control afforded by the Quadrail system. This more than makes up for the lack, in ruggedness and cost, if these are concerns.

Using the Quadrail System uses X and Y axis control to allow "spinning" or "hooking" of the ball in pretty much any direction, even allowing the ball to go around corners. Curves of up to 75 degrees per 250 meters have been achieved, and rumors of custom rounds allowing even "hanging" shots or "sliding" rounds have been rumored at.

Musket balls, being a very adaptable shape, allow for a wide variety of specialty rounds to be created and used. Due to the incorporation of the Omni-Feed Loading System, multiple shape rounds can be loaded effortlessly allowing most muskets to double as shotguns as well, granting an even greater variety of ammunition through "buckshot", flechettes, Maxiballs, slugs and bullets.

Although Muskets are usually Electro-Magnetic, chemical Muskets still exist. These are most often rifles that we are more familiar with today. Often these are found on frontier low tech worlds and use a variety of chemical style propellants. There are some truly exotic weapons that utilize laser or particle beam driven projectiles, but these are unique and almost never mass produced and are a fraction of a percentage of the Musket market share. Even some very very rare EM and Chemical firing Muskets exist, but they are outstandingly impractical and wear down quite quickly.

An EM musket can carry more and heavier caliber ammo than many traditional chemical propellant rifles because of a similar caliber in the same space. This can be double or triple the amount. Muskets can be single shot, Semi-automatic, or fully automatic weapons. They usually have a max ROF of 600 shots a minute, for most fully automatic weapons are better served by other weapon systems. Some heavy ballistic weapons will use multi-barrel "Gatling" systems, but these are quite large caliber, often mounted on vehicles and considered "anti-armor" weaponry and over 20mm in caliber.

Other benefits available for EM muskets are:

  • "Bullpup" configuration. By putting the triggers and grips in front of the ammunition, power supply, firing and recoil assemblies this maximizes use of space and power.
  • Ejecting cartridges or brass is a thing of the past. There is no worry of hot brass or plastic casings being ejected or worry about potentially damaging jams.
  • Recoil is reduced relative to chemical propellant and some other projectile weapons. Cage/Latticework barrels can reduce this even further by their open design. Recoil is minimized even more because the ball in an EM system is a frictionless barrel and never touches the rails or coils. It follows the linear column of magnetic energy out, no friction in the barrel dramatically reduces heat as well. Only the magnets will warm up due to the energy charge used to fire the round.
  • The velocity of the Musket is also "tunable", allowing for high penetration hypersonic rounds or quieter sub-sonic rounds.
  • The EM firing chamber handles different size ammunition with ease. It holds sub-size rounds as securely as "full size" ones. The current popular calibres of Muskets include 5mm, 10mm, 15mm and 20mm since they can use ammunition smaller than their bore effectively there is not the same demand for different caliber barrels.

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Development Notes
Text by Michael Boncher
Initially published on 25 May 2004.