Pretty straight forward What kind of conventional firearms would be best for fighting armored and unarmored robots. Is any particular round effective at destroying electrical components or motors? Would a weapon favor accuracy or rate of fire? Is there anything feasible that is man portable?


closed as too broad by Shadowzee, Cyn, dot_Sp0T, Mołot, Rekesoft Mar 5 at 8:46

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    $\begingroup$ There is no one weapon that will end up more effective than another, especially without information about the robots armor, shape, numbers and the environment you are fighting in. For example, in enclosed spaces, you will probably want a shorter gun. Its length won't impede you around tight corners or corridors while a longer gun might require some awkward positioning. or Against 100 robots, you will favor an automatic over a single shot of the same caliber. $\endgroup$ – Shadowzee Mar 5 at 4:14
  • $\begingroup$ Also please note that the hard-science tag requires answers to be backed up by equations, evidence or scientific papers. Currently, I doubt any of the answers are up to scratch and I would recommend removing the tag unless you provide more specific details. There is no, best, jack of all trades weapon. $\endgroup$ – Shadowzee Mar 5 at 4:16

Paintball gun

If you can take out their visual sensors, they would be much easier to destroy. Robots don't have eyelids or tear ducts so clearing paint from the cameras would be difficult.

To take out armoured robots needs something armour piercing or can get around it.

Spraying acetone could also help as it will dissolve any plastic parts such as seals and insulation causing the bot to short out

A high powered laser can burn out the optical sensors blinding the robot permanently.

Do-it-yourself napalm would also work overheating the robot and melting internal components.

Most of these I've focused on easy to get methods as armour piercing rounds and military weapons are hard to get.

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    $\begingroup$ Paintball gun is a great idea; I would just note that the physical sensors could be very tiny (pin-pricks), and advanced robots might have dozens of them. Would be hard to hit. But hey, better than nothing when facing Armageddon... $\endgroup$ – cegfault Mar 5 at 0:43
  • $\begingroup$ Soak them with napalm filled paintballs then light them up! $\endgroup$ – Michael Kutz Mar 5 at 0:59
  • $\begingroup$ Very creative. Would be interested to hear from anyone who has done combat training about how effective a tactic "shoot the eyes" would be. I'm imagining humanoid (terminator style) robots here, so maybe my objection is borne from my lack of imagination. $\endgroup$ – ben Mar 5 at 2:16
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    $\begingroup$ "Robots don't have eyelids or tear ducts so clearing paint from the cameras would be difficult." Well - they wouldn't in the first version, possibly. But once they realize they're being shot at with paintball guns, they'd probably upgrade with something like windshield wipers for their "eyes". This would be a general problem with "clever" solutions when fighting robots - they are upgradable, so any glitch you exploit would probably be fixed pretty soon. $\endgroup$ – gustafc Mar 5 at 7:51

For me, the best weapon to fight against an army of fighting robots would be a classic EMP, but if you want to avoid friendly fire, I think it depends on what kind of robots they are. Are these Terminator-like robots, mecha robots, human-sized, building-sized?

  • $\begingroup$ I was going for something effective on say a terminator, but also capable against a more mobile quadcopter. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Mar 5 at 1:12

Mechanised and AI combat would mean unmanned vehicles and equipment, which would actually remove the ethical constraints around an existing ammunition type; Depleted Uranium Rounds.

These are your typical tank buster, armour piercing rounds of ammunition that the US has used in previous combat theatres to take tanks out of the equation very quickly. The problem with them is that they pretty much bust tanks by generating massive amounts of heat and pressure within the tank, causing it to explode. There's no way a human inside the tank can survive that, so it goes against some of the modern doctrines of military combat. I won't discuss that here because of the complexity of the ethical questions and the fact that it's out of scope for this answer; suffice it to say that if people aren't in the mechanised units, DURs are now back on the table.

These are single round 'buster' style ammunition, so rate of fire is less of an issue over accuracy. These are primarily used as tank ammunition, but if we're dealing with a fleet of drones and other mechanised weapons, I'd imagine that with sufficient motivation the military engineers would find a way to miniaturise the technology, something no-one has done to date because of the ethics of radioactive anti-personnel rounds, but to take out AI drones would be far more feasable and appropriate an option for the military to adopt.


Obviously an EMP would be the go-to for destroying anything electrical.

There's also disrupting the ability for machines to communicate (viz. radio jammers).

Thirdly, water. Water is everywhere, and electronics and water don't mix. I'd expect an armored robot to be built water-sealed, but hey, if it's taking rounds of normal ammo, that would be a lot of little holes that water can leak into.

For destroying the physical components directly, I'd go for anything that causes wide damage (shotguns, basic explosives / home-made bombs, and corrosive chemicals). Electronics often have catastrophic failures if one piece goes wrong, so a wide-blast like a shotgun would increase the chance of hitting a sensitive component. Explosives are good in most situations, and can be made with basic components (same process for creating fertilizer, as fertilizer is an explosive!)

Corrosive acids and liquids inside simple plastic balloons, or as part of a basic explosive, could be helpful as (a) liquids get everywhere, (b) machines aren't exactly going to drown themselves in water to wash off the corrosive acids, and (c) they're (relatively) easy to create and manage.

  • $\begingroup$ IIRC - Not only is TFA corrosive, the fumes are conductive. $\endgroup$ – Michael Kutz Mar 5 at 2:14

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