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Gamers may get a charge out of the Gauss Rifle


September 4, 2012

The Gauss Rifle, a homebuilt four-stage coilgun

The Gauss Rifle, a homebuilt four-stage coilgun

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Well, Patrick Priebe might have outdone himself with this one. In the past, the German cyberpunk weapons-maker has brought us such creations as a wrist-mounted mini-crossbow, a laser-sighted rotary-saw-blade-shooting crossbow, and a flame-throwing glove. His latest nasty futuristic device? A video game-inspired electromagnetic weapon, called the Gauss Rifle.

Priebe told us that he took his inspiration from the K-Volt weapon, featured in the game Crysis 2. While he liked the look of the game’s version of the gun in first-person view, he wasn’t as keen on how it looked when placed on the ground ... so, he made his own version.

The 400-volt semi-automatic Gauss Rifle is what’s known as a multistage coilgun. It shoots 5.7-mm steel ammunition, from a built-in 8-slug clip. Priebe did his best to explain to us non-weapons-makers just how that ammo is fired.

“You charge a capacitor (high voltage preferred), and discharge it through a coil made of copper wire,” he said. “You will get a short electromagnetic pulse, which pulls the slugs through the coil. My rifle holds four banks of capacitors and four coils ... at the entrance of the last three coils are contacts made of spring-wire, reaching into the barrel. When the projectile touches, the pulse discharges and the coil accelerates the projectile, pulling it through to the next coil.”

This results in the slugs leaving the muzzle at a claimed velocity of approximately 100 meters (328 feet) per second.

The Gauss Rifle's 8-slug ammunition clip

Power is provided by four 3.7-volt lithium-ion cells, which allow for about 30 to 50 shots per charge. Despite its relatively lightweight frame, the gun still weighs in at a hefty 3.2 kilograms (seven lbs) – given that most of that weight is held out in front of the user’s extended arm, carrying it could get tiring before too long. Indeed, should the user’s arm start to shake, the rifle also features a 30-milliwatt green aiming laser.

According to Patrick, the Gauss Rifle “clearly shows weapons potential.” Fortunately, he has no plans on developing it commercially, or on telling other people how to make one of their own.

You can see it in use, in the video below. Evidently, you would not want to be a watermelon in its presence.

Source: Laser Gadgets (Patrick Priebe)

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

It looks neat, but performance is unimpressive.

328 FPS is only about a third of the muzzle velocity of 45 ACP pistol ammo. Rifle rounds can clock in at 10 times that.

Jon A.

For about $60 you can get a pellet pistol that shoots the same round @450fps.

I admit, it looks kinda cool, and I like to see kids doing this kinda stuff (as long as they don't hurt anything), but it's basically a reverse- engineered rail gun.

Still, kinda cool though.

Facebook User

I guess it can make a really nice nail gun.


@Jon A.

I'd like to see something that unlocked it's full potential in a prototype.

Jonathan Spear

Pretty awesome if you ask me. This guy has basically built a prototype, man portable, rail gun. Assuming that he funds himself and doesn't have a well funded R&D lab, this is even more amazing when put into the context of the millions (if not more) spent by the U.S. government on R&D for a military use rail gun, which has come to nothing.


Not bad for the first try of a hand held rail gun. Here's what the Navy worked on. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OqlTXwLG40

Larry Hoffman

what is the weight of the projectile it is slow, but if it is 3 X heavier than a 45 ACP than it would deliver the same power to the target


Always be impressed with the effort required to make something new work even modestly well.

It suffers from the simple fact that we cannot store much electrical energy in any battery or capacitor with anything like the energy density of chemical or even compressed gas technology.

New advanced technology air guns easily outperform firearms and any conceivable portable rail gun using todays lithium air or other battery technology. That is in a package defined as portable by weighing less then 2 kilos and delivering useful energy out to 2 km into 2 cm.


It is indeed an impressive feat, even if it's an implementation of known technology and provides little in the way of a viable war machine in its current state. I doubt the specific requirement of delivering "useful energy out to 2 km into 2 cm" as core to usefulness. For most warfighters, delivering useful energy out to 200 m into 20 cm would be plenty, particularly if it did it quickly and (relatively) silently. Did anyone notice the distinct lack of noise produced by this? Try that with a chemical accelerant..

J.D. Ray

Note to all other commenters:

"Gauss Rifles" and "Rail guns" are two entirely different things. A gauss rifle uses sequential magnetic accelerators. A coil gun uses two (or more) electrified rails and the Lorentz force to accelerate a projectile.

Jacob Henderson


An impressive prototype - and presumably the addition of a wrist-brace not only supports the weight, but would also make it legal to own under UK FAC Regulations for hand-held firearms...?

Nick Herbert

Jacob is spot on. Gauss rifles use magnetic force to propel a slug. Rail guns use electromotive force (remember the right hand rule from physics?)

Some food for thought: Keep in mind too that when a bullet is fired its energy (chemical) is basically all released at once. not very practical for launching a fragile object.. however using independently sized capacitor banks could allow you to gradually increase the speed.

could launch satellites, food aid..... maybe even people!!!

although high water content projectiles (like humans) would be effected by diamagnetism... not sure if it would be a pro or a con..)

Patrick Coffey

Ditto rt1583. Don't think that PP is saying that this is better than other guns or even a viable weapon at this time. Just saying "look what I can do" and "this is cool," which it is.


Authors, please!!! It's a MAGAZINE. It's not called a 'clip,' except in Hollywood. "Clips" are strip-like devices that hold rounds for loading into something else (like a magazine), they are NOT themselves the magazine (no matter how cool the term sounds).

Magazine, get it? Magazine. In this case, we would say: "8-round box magazine." Not 8 'shots', not a 'clip', a magazine.

Nathan Tramp

This is a coil gun, it uses sequenced electromagnets to propel a projectile. Also, the US military has used this technology to develop EM Mortars, using 46 stages to make a coil gun mortar. Showing 140% increase in muzzle velocity and a 120% increase in range

Scott Noack

can anyone see what capacitor he is using

Scott Noack
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