Popular series of personal sidearms that can be loaded with multiple types of ammunition that a user can dial-up to face a variety of threats.
Originating on the world of Freerock, the Defender Multi-8 series is a popular "dumb" weapon for enthusiasts throughout the Terragen Sphere. Noted for a distinctly classic design DM8s, as they're commonly known, are rugged survivalist tools intended to defend against a wide range of dangerous animals. Lacking in all but the most rudimentary of intelligent systems a DM8 is a weapon very much intended to be mastered by those who disdain the more common (and more effective) automated defence systems.
Freerock was terraformed in 7719a.t. within the Orion Federation by colonists with strong historevival and ludd leanings. Simple living with anachrotech is an aspiration written into their founding charter, along with the bold claim that the struggle against nature is a fulfilling challenge no sentient being should shy away from. To that end the world's ecology, whilst based on a terrestrial template, was heavily engineered with the purpose of making all plant and animal life "bigger, tougher and meaner" (direct quote from one of the Founding Mothers).
With virtually no angelnet and strict laws against combat bots above a certain (low) sophistication the redevelopment of personal firearms became a major industry. The DM8 was released in 7911a.t. and became an instant hit. More than anything else the gun has become synonymous with Freerock culture; the image of a modosophont stripped back to basics against the perils of nature surviving on gun and guile.
The core design of a DM8 is that of a gauss revolver. The barrel is a series of superconducting electromagnets that are used to propel solid ammunition at high speeds. The rotating cylinder has eight 10mm chambers into which ammunition cartridges are placed. Cartridges for DM8 weapons are designed to hold multiple rounds of ammunition and are typically rotating cylinders themselves. Computronium grains in the cartridges liaise with the main processor in the gun handle to keep track of available ammunition number and type as well as adjust barrel energy levels appropriately. This allows for a user to change ammo quickly by voice command, or through quick-switches above the trigger guard.
There have been hundreds of different ammo cartridges designed over the centuries, however none are more popular than the millennial anniversary edition set. These eight cartridges offer maximum range of protection against the myriad of predators that roam the continents of Freerock;
Needles: 2x40mm kinetic rounds, 16 to a rotating cartridge. Composed of a foamed ferrous metal filled with lead massing 1.22 grams. Muzzle velocities vary depending on intended target but are typically between one and two kilometres per second. For extra versatility needles are built with forty support trusses along their length. Prior to firing a user can define the extent to which the loaded needle should penetrate on impact or fragment. As standard half of the truss are solid and half are incomplete. Solid state circuitry within the cartridge can flash weld incomplete trusses and laser cut fixed ones. The less trusses that are welded the easier a needle will fragment on impact, the greater the number number the easier it will penetrate. This customisation ensures maximum efficiency and gives the user a shot of taking down anything from fleshy razorwings to armour-dillos.
Shockdarts: Less-lethal rounds for capture rather than kill. 12 to a rotating cartridge the darts deploy barbs during flight to adequately affix to the target. A superconducting battery core provides the energy for a high-voltage continuous discharge. Smart protocols interfacing with body sensors allow the darts to tailor their voltage to keep the target incapacitated as long as possible. A common secondary usage is to program a shockdart for full-discharge and shoot it into water when hunting aquatic prey.
Sticknet: Four 10mm spherical shots stacked end-to-end in their cartridge. A sticknet round is spun up whilst exiting the muzzle enabling it to unfold from its condensed form to a web 50cm in diameter. The fine lines making up the web are woven nanotube composites that extrude geckotech fibres and inflate upon contact with air. Prey struck by a sticknet almost immediately become disabled by becoming attached to their surroundings and themselves.
IR-Laser: 10x35mm cartridge with solid-state laser array capable of outputting a 22.5kw beam through the gun barrel. With an 8mm appature and 4urad divergence the beam is effective within a kilometre, trailing to completely ineffective by 7km. The onboard power cell provides 3.2 seconds of energy at max setting and thermal absorption materials are sufficiently for a variety of single, pulsed and continuous modes.
Duster: Eight 10x5mm disks stacked end-to-end in a cartridge carry doped aluminium microparticles. Upon firing a disk discharges its particles into the barrel where they are accelerated from the muzzle at high speeds. Particle spread is high with an effective range of 75m. The velocity and mass of a duster shot pack up to 5kj of energy making them extremely deadly at short range; a single duster blast is capable of taking the limbs off of a fully grown gorrilion.
Hunter-Stingers: 4x40mm mini-drone with explosive cap and gas propulsion system, four to a cartridge. Pre-loaded with a target image a hunter-stinger will seek and home in on its victim. Fired at relatively low speed its on board propulsion system allows a high degree of maneuverability for up to five seconds of flight time over a range of 800m. Due to condemnation by DM8 fans as not requiring any skill to use Hunter Stinger cartridges were modified shortly after their initial release. To load a target image a user must successfully aim the gun at a target to 'paint' it. The DM8 will keep track of the marked prey and can be quickly programmed through verbal commands to autonomously fire under certain situations (most commonly used as a dead-man trigger). Multiple targets can be painted at once for simultaneous take down.
Boomshot: 10x40mm mini-missile with nanogram antimatter-initiated microfission payload. A polymorphic ceramo-form cap and hypergolic propulsion system grant powerful penetration capability. A single DM8-ACER Boomshot packs enough punch to take down a charging sabre-tusked mammoth and with a 4km range and Mach 1.5 speed event distant threats can be eliminated.
Plasma Shockwave: ACER-variant cartridge containing two dense fusion fuel pellets, a reaction chamber and antiproton store. When fired a pellet is shot into the chamber and bombarded by antimatter beams to convert it into a super-hot plasma. Exiting via the barrel (prevented from touching the sides by a magnetic field) the resulting shockwave rapidly expands. Hundreds of thousands of joules in kinetic and thermal energy are delivered to anything within a 20m range. Recoil in this mode is significant and firing is not advised without exosuit support, or as a desperate last resort.
As with cartridges there have been hundreds of accessories released for DM8s over the years. However three in particular are so common that for two centuries prior to the Freerock Aldrin Day Revolution they were included with each sale of a DM8.
Partner Auto-Holster: Coming in a variety of designs (but almost always made of leather) a Partner is a continuous strip of clothing worn around the waist. Aside from having an attached holster to carry one's sidearm the outer surface of a Partner possesses eighty small pockets designed to fit DM8 cartridges. The fabric of the pockets is composed of smart fibers that not only prevent the cartridges from accidentally falling out but can pass their cartridge to adjacent pockets. This feature, combined with the rugged chamber loader arms of the holster, allows a DM8 to be quickly reloaded by simply holstering it. Likewise cartridge load out can be easily changed in a matter of seconds. Up to two extra Patners can be worn bandolier style to increase the carrying capacity of a user to 240 cartridges. Gyro-Wrangler: attached under the barrel a Wrangler can adjust the aim of a DM8 through internal gyroscopic action. As with the hunter stingers the Wrangler was not popular upon release, seeming too much like cheating through automation. Many still used them as the autocorrect was only within a few degrees (meaning that a torso shot would be nudged to a heart shot, ensuring a quick and ethical kill) however it wasn't until a DM8 hobbyist reprogrammed theirs for avoiding friendly fire that they saw widespread adoption. Now wranglers are common place for group hunters and survivalists, decreasing the risk of accidents by making it difficult for a DM8 to be aimed at a friendly.
Duster Power-Coat: The more powerful DM8 cartridges result in a dangerous level of recoil when fired. High-velocity duster rounds are enough to break a baseline human wrist and plasma shockwaves can propel a DM8 back into the user and send them flying. A Duster is a must have item for those intending to use (or fear they may require) high-recoil cartridges. Different styles exist but a typical duster is a long, heavy coat with retractable tassels from thigh to ankle. Liaising with the user's DM8 when a high-recoil cartridge is loaded the material around the gun arm and torso tightens and flows over the wrist. Upon firing the duster stiffens, absorbing the shock and distributing it safely over the body rather than having it focused on the wrist, arm and shoulder. For extremely high-recoil rounds the tassels are deployed as ground anchors and the entire jacket hardens, deploying its collar around the neck and head to prevent spinal damage. Commonly known as "tent fire" due to the humorous appearance of a user it's often a mark of a good story in a dangerous situation when one has to resort to it.