Some people are super serious about the whole steampunk thing, making their own elaborate costumes and props that rival anything your would see in a Hollywood production. But one guy built himself a functioning, real-deal, steampunk gatling gun a couple of years back, and the video can still put other fanatics to shame.
This improvised gatling gun is built around the guts of the tried and true Ruger 10-22, this thing whips out .22 Long Rifle rounds at the spin of a crank. Make no mistake—the .22LR cartridge may be small, but it can be very deadly (especially when a swarm of them pepper a target at once). All it takes is a hit in a highly critical area to bring down even medium-sized game or humans. It would be interesting to see this thing operate flat out with a drum magazine attached.
Alex elaborates further on his invention:
“Its basically just a big four foot long railgun. It just plugs into a 220v outlet and charges up a capacitor bank. I’m not sure if the neon gas is actually ionized into plasma or not since I can’t see it in flight. But ionizing gas into plasma isn’t too uncommon, just shooting it is (since plasma dissipates instantly unless contained within a vacuum or magnetic field). So I don’t know how exactly its penetrating the metal (plasma burning through it or the copper sleeve just blasting through it) but ya, I’m sure railguns will be more and more portable and powerful over time, it’s just hard to store enough energy to fire multiple shots or have it compact.”
If indeed everything is as it appears, this is pretty cool stuff that sure is on a whole other level than Alex’s previous invention. And, yes Alex is right, one day we will likely see mass-production portable railguns become a reality, especially for certain applications.
Such a system could potentially allow law enforcement and soldiers to dial down the lethality of the weapon, with low velocities used for less-than-lethal applications and high velocities used for lethal and armored piercing ones. Additionally, the ammunition selection could be much more varied and exotic than what is found with traditional firearms cartridges. They could also make guided rounds more affordable and reliable, as their sensitive electronics would not be battered by a single explosive charge upon firing.
We are still a ways off until any of this is realized though. In the meantime, we will just have to make due with the Navy’s big railgun that will be making its operational test debut next year.