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alt. 1 An electromagnetic gun that uses a large electrical current for propelling a projectile down a track of two conductive rails. 2 A railway gun. n. 1 An electromagnetic gun that uses a large electrical current for propelling a projectile down a track of two conductive rails. 2 A railway gun.


A railgun is an electromagnetic projectile launcher based on similar principles to the homopolar motor. A railgun uses a pair of parallel conductors, or rails, along which a sliding armature is accelerated by the electromagnetic effects of a current that flows down one rail, into the armature and then back along the other rail.

Railguns are being researched as a weapon that would use neither explosives nor propellant, but rather rely on electromagnetic forces to achieve a very high kinetic energy of a projectile. While explosive-powered military guns cannot readily achieve a muzzle velocity of more than about 2 km/s, railguns can readily exceed 3 km/s, and thus far exceed conventionally delivered munitions in range and destructive force. The absence of explosive propellants or warheads to store and handle, as well as the low cost of projectiles compared to conventional weaponry come as additional advantages.

In addition to military applications, NASA has proposed to use a railgun from a high-altitude aircraft to fire a small payload into orbit; however, the extreme g-forces involved would necessarily restrict the usage to only the sturdiest of payloads.

Usage examples of "railgun".

To either side of the railgun, the surface was scarred by the tracks of vehicles and workers and by the trenches from which the shattered regolith, lunar soil plowed by eons of meteoritic impacts, large and small, had been scooped.

To a limited extent, supplementing conventional firearms with flechette weapons and electric railguns.

They had taken the shotguns and light railguns from Alentracla and his fellows and traded them for hypervelocity missile launchers, plasma cannons and three-millimeter railguns.

Most Posleen units had a mixture of railguns, plasma cannons and HVMs, with the weight thrown, generally, in the direction of the railguns.

Most of them had dispensed with shotguns and railguns and missile launchers and were dragging out their boma blades even as the fire of the remaining suits piled up windrows of bodies.

It probably belongs to the Rix commandos, who had been railgunned from orbit with structure-penetrating exsanguination slugs.

The Bolo Hecate's primary AP weapons were lateral banks of mag-driven railguns, each firing a cluster of needle-slender, steel-jacketed slivers of depleted uranium with a muzzle velocity in excess of three kilometers per second.

Main armament remained a railgun, though muzzle velocity increased still further and projectile size fell slightly (to 170mm), but this Bolo marked the first appearance of energy-weapon (laser) infinite repeaters.

The B model Tiger was a leap ahead of the original, mounting not just a railgun capable of striking the enemy even in space, but also nuclear propulsion, much thickened and enhanced armor, a new AI suite.

Two of them argued about whether or not the greater hardness of tungsten penetrators was a good trade-off for the higher sectional density of depleted-uranium railgun ammo.

Most of the unbonded that were carrying heavy weapons had dropped them and most of the fire was from 1mm railguns and shotguns, neither of which was even noticeable by the suits.