GP-219 electromagnetic gauss pistol

Tech Level C in Traveller:

The GP-219 Gauss Pistol is a self-contained, two-stage coil gun:

  • Two coils are precisely pulsed in sequence (350 Amp peak) to fire a steel projectile
  • Two infrared sensors detect the projectile position within the firing tube
  • Controlled by a PIC microcontroller
  • Powered by 8 AA NiCd battery pack
  • Built-in battery charger
  • Bar display tracks capacitor bank charge progress
  • Battery and Fault LED indicators
  • Laser targeting sight
  • Makes no sound when fired

Much more info, many more pictures, and even movies at the developer’s site. He says he will be offering plans, parts, and kits by next April.

FWIW, I’m a believer in the future of this technology. And have been since I played Traveller as a kid. Very cool, though it will be a long, long time before something like this supplants gunpowder firearms.


  1. I glanced at the site when I saw the link on ACE, but didn’t see any indication of the gun’s power. What kind of muzzle velocity are we talking here? Gauss guns are cool, but I always wanted a .75 gyrojet like the Stainless Steel Rat used to have. Did Traveller use letters for tech levels? I don’t remember that. Didn’t it run from 0 to 16?

  2. Phleps: Yeah, the ‘silent’ bit wouldn’t apply, but still has a number of benefits over gunpowder propellant…if you could carry around enough electricity to fire enough rounds fast enough. BH: To be honest, I couldn’t remember if Traveller’s quasi-hexadecimal numbering system was used for tech levels or not. Normally, numbers above 9 used letter A-Z (skipping I and O), so a Strength of 12 was ‘C’. But, as I said, I’m not 100% certain that they used that convention for tech levels. I always loved the settings for Traveller and always hated many of the game mechanics. Much better than AD&D in so many ways. But we always played AD&D anyway because it was more ‘fun’.

  3. Traveller, as a game system, was pretty much the opposite of D&D. No advancement for characters, really – you had the skills you started with. Cumbersome fight system. Even for a rpg, which pretty much start at cumbersome and go up from there. But the universe was awesome, so much better than the one dimensional grab-bag of myth and goofiness that was D&D, and for that matter even the better thought out follow-up worlds. Sometimes I miss Traveller. I should dig out all my old traveller mini-books and read them. If I can find them, after moving. I remember hearing that they were republishing all the old traveller stuff, I wonder if that is true?

  4. If it has enough velocity to be effective, it won’t be silent. It will make whip-cracks from the sonic boom trailing the projectile. A round doesn’t have to exceed the speed of sound to be effective so .. no whip-crack from the projectile if it’s under 1116 fps.

  5. Lessee: a .45 automatic spits an 80-grain bullet at 800 ft/sec. (1/2)MV^^2 = .005 kg x (250 m/sec)^^2 == 156.25 Joule. Capacitor stores energy at (1/2)CV^^2. If you have a one-farad capacitor, you need SQRT(300) = about 15V to store the same energy. Seems too easy. Where did I dork the math? Regards, Ric

  6. Ric, I don’t know where you dorked the math, but if my 18V DeWalt Drill battery stores enough energy to equal the performance of my Kimber, someone would have made a Gauss gun for the military already. I looked deeper in the site, and found these bits in the FAQ: How is a Gauss Pistol better than a regular gunpowder type pistol? It isn’t. The Glock is in no danger of being supplanted by the Gauss Pistol anytime soon. Coil guns weigh more, cost more, are far more complex and far less reliable than ordinary firearms. The limitations of modern batteries are one major obstacle. But there are inherent limitations to muzzle velocities in an expanding gas powered gun (such as a firearm). This is due to the high temperatures and pressures created in the explosion which effectively places a speed limit of around 2km/s for this type of system. It is theoretically possible to achieve much higher velocities than that with a coil gun (maybe one day approaching a significant fraction of the speed of light!) since there is no explosion involved. Is your Gauss Pistol dangerous? Yes, in fact the GP-219 is potentially dangerous in a number of ways: * Fully charged, the capacitor terminals have 450V across them. If you poke your finger around in there you could really get a nasty shock. * The pistol weighs almost 3 1/2 lbs, so it would be dangerous if hurled it at someone. * The sight is a Class IIIA laser module, which causes retinal damage if stared into for an extended period of time. * When disassembled, many of the plastic parts could pose a choking hazard. * The kinetic energy of the projectile as it leaves the barrel is a bit more than a CO2 air pistol. Though the energy is similar, the Gauss Pistol projectile weighs around 12.5 times more than a lead pellet and travels about 30% as fast. It would not feel good to be hit at close range, especially in the eye. I DO NOT recommend or condone any of the above practices. Only you are responsible for your actions.

  7. Brass, you’re right. It’s been a while since I read those books. Two decades? Sheesh. I always pictured the Recoilless as kind of a gyrojet, though. ‘Cause venting gas at from the barrel of a handgun would sting a bit. At least I got the caliber right.