posted on Mar, 19 2004 @ 06:15 PM
To bring the conversation a bit more serious and on-topic, let me be verbose about the "ideal weapon".
1.) Personal Offense/Defense: this has been written about many times in sci-fi and sci-fantasy. A.E. Van Vogt's "The Weapon Shops of Isher" is an
excellent example. Most people want a weapon that disables or kills other humans, and similarly-sized wildlife. In sci-fi this has been laser
pistols, blaster handguns, tasers, antimatter pellets, etc.
Real-life handguns have not significantly changed since their inception in the early 1700s. Projectile weapons. Slug throwers. Colt .45 ACP.
Beretta 9mm. That's about the exent of it.
The problem with going beyond projectile weapons is the amount of electrical energy needed for lasers and particle beams. Only quantum leaps in
superconductivity and perhaps zero point energy research could bridge this gap.
Tasers are in the news as a "stun only" weapon, but they fail to mention the dart and wires needed to deliver the electrical charge to the target.
Oh, and they are one-shot: if you miss, you can't reload in time to hit again.
2.) Small Assault Weapons: this is when you don't want to disable/kill just one target, but a lot at once. Think shotguns and sub-machineguns. Or
blow down a door in a frame, or take out the side of a house. What we have today are very large bullets that house additional explosive material
designed to detonate on impact. They're called grenades. Some are hand-thrown, but they can be designed to be shot out of a "gun", albeit one
that cannot take the same shell as the smaller shotgun or bullet. High-explosive rounds are the same bullet with a special explosive in them.
3. Hybrids between personal and small assault: the U.S. Army is developing one, the Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW). It combines the
"personal" 5.56mm with the "door-busting" 20mm timed grenade. Generally law enforcement types, socialists, and tyrants don't like the citizens
owning this type of weapon (or grenades) at all, since if you could hold off large amounts of soldiers, you could "forcibly protest" said soldiers
knocking on your door in the middle of the night.
Science fiction/fantasy loves trying to have people with this type weapon. See the "phasers" of Star Trek as an example. If a phaser could be
built today most legislative bodies would decree it an "assualt" weapon and try to ban it.
A Star Trek phaser comes close to the "ideal" weapon definition because it is an adjustable weapon. You start off with a Stun setting that
increases to Heat/Maim, and then Kill/Destroy levels that include Incinerate and Distintigrate. The energy requirements for such a silly-science
weapon are extreme.
4. Large anti-bunker and warfare weapons: these are the tanks and artillery of today. These are meant to destroy large amounts of people and/or
buildings together. Most tanks and self-mobilized artillery that include "crew-served weapons" require multiple people working in concert to
deliver large amounts of shelled explosive to a target. This leaves the discussion of "ideal" personal weapons.
Railgun rifles? Get real. The science behind railguns requires them to be crew-served weapons at the very least. "Doom" is a nice video game, but
not realistic for weapons.
An "ideal" personal weapon should allow the wielder to simply stun a human target, maim if necessary, and kill when desired. No single technology
today does that - marksmanship allows for projective weapons to come close, if the wielder is highly and exclusively trained in his or her weapon. An
"ideal" weapon should never run out of ammo, never jam, never need cleaning, be a perfect fit to the wielder, help the wielder aim, etc. That leaves
out most projectile weapons, and enters the realm of energy weapons.
An "ideal" projectile weapon should be able to take a wide range of ammo sizes, be easy to draw and easy to fire, have little or no recoil, go from
single-shot to full automatic when desired, and fire without jamming even when fully submerged or afterwards and full of muck. The "ideal" size is
handgun, not rifle: ask any soldier who's had to carry a rifle for a full day if they would like to switch to an officer's handgun instead.
For the possibilities of variable-bullet handguns, just watch the "Judge Dredd" movie.
We don't have an "ideal" weapon today (no discussions about land mines). Too many situations call for weapons other than the standard 9mm or .38
handgun. If I might venture into near-future science fiction, I might be able to make a handgun that combined a slug thrower with an adjustable Zero
Point Energy Matloff laser and an electrical arc caster. You could use the laser to point to a target, and the elctrical arc to stun them. At higher
settings, the laser blinds and then burns a target. But a wide range of slug ammo would be needed for any and all types of targets.