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I am thinking about a game where people will shoot out in space, with different features. However, an integral part of the game is no spraying/spamming bullets. I don't want to have it in a fantasy world, and I would like to set it in near-future where space travel is cheap and comfortable. I imagine much better guns available. However, how would I provide a lore reason to why they are forced to use revolvers instead of hand-waving it or using the actual gameplay reason?

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding.SE he77789. Please check out our tour and help center. Thanks for joining us. $\endgroup$ – Cyn says make Monica whole Jul 13 at 17:40
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    $\begingroup$ Is it important that it be revolvers SPECIFICALLY, or are other low-ROF mechanisms like bolt-action and lever action and so forth also acceptable? $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Jul 13 at 18:16
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    $\begingroup$ When you say, "shoot out in space", do you mean out in the vacuum of space? Or do you mean shooting inside pressurized spacecraft or space stations? $\endgroup$ – marcelm Jul 13 at 22:31
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    $\begingroup$ Any low-RoF high-power guns would work, but it would be best if they are single handed. $\endgroup$ – he77789 Jul 14 at 1:44
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    $\begingroup$ So....revolvers only? That includes revolver cannons and minigun, right? Anyway, if your game is in space (in freefall or low/zero gravity), just give the players fully automatic guns. They will very soon find out that the recoil from these guns cannot be compensated for by their (intentionally designed weakly) attitude control systems of their suits. In other words, they will spray bullets everywhere und while flying uncontrollable into the opposite direction (as far as there is an "opposite direction" while tumbling like crazy) $\endgroup$ – Klaws Jul 15 at 12:41

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The answer is cold welding. Modern engineers struggle to prevent cold welding in space from destroying moving parts. Maybe your engineers have come up with a coating for the inside of the guns that prevents moving parts from sticking together, but the forces involved when a semiautomatic fires, ejects the empty shell, and chambers the next would strip that coating off. The pressures involved in these actions are ridiculously high, we're talking 10,000psi or more. So the fewer moving parts that need to be coated, and the less stress they're under, the better.

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    $\begingroup$ There are a lot of satellites in space. If we only lose them now and then, ISTM that we've solved the cold welding problem. (After all, we've solved the problem of getting repeating arms to work, but that doesn't mean that we don't have to maintain them. Likewise, pistols in space would have to be maintained.) $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Jul 14 at 3:54
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    $\begingroup$ And if they are really using them out in the vacuum, overheating would also be a problem for automatics. $\endgroup$ – vsz Jul 15 at 4:13
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    $\begingroup$ @Ryan_L : most of the heat comes from the combustion of gunpowder, not from the moving parts rubbing together. Revolvers have the advantage that each bullet has its own chamber. If you fire a semi-automatic six times, you will heat the same chamber again and again. There is a reason why very high fire rate guns have multiple revolving barrels. $\endgroup$ – vsz Jul 15 at 4:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Ryan_L : then all the better for revolvers as they can better handle the tolerance problems, and even the jams. If a revolver misfires, you just turn to the next cylinder. This is why it's still a beloved weapon for home defense, sitting in the cupboard and never used for years. If a revolver in poor maintenance fails to fire, just pull the trigger again. With a semi-auto, you might have more steps to do if it jams. $\endgroup$ – vsz Jul 15 at 15:26
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    $\begingroup$ BTW, for rounds and guns designed since WWII, 35,000 psi is more common for pistols than 10,000. Even .45 Colt, originated in 1873, runs 15,000 in original loadings, as do a number of other rounds that were black powder to start and have a significant number of existing guns from before 1900. $\endgroup$ – Zeiss Ikon Jul 15 at 15:59
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Perhaps the most convincing reason to prefer a revolver over a semi-auto in a microgravity environment is because, while both fire a heavy, high velocity (relative to human senses) projectile, the semi-auto also ejects a lighter, lower-velocity projectile.

In a gravity field, the empty case ejected from a semi-automatic pistol usually arcs up and over the shooter and lands behind (and to the right, with common designs, because of the locations of the extractor and ejector) -- though sometimes, even on Earth's surface, the empties go where they aren't wanted. I've heard female shooters complain, for instance, about getting a (hot from the powder combustion) case landing in their cleavage, where it often can't be extracted quickly enough to avoid a burn.

Now, imagine a hot, conductive metal cartridge case getting into controls or equipment. If the ships and habs were built the way aircraft are built, even today, there may be exposed connectors and contacts behind control panels. Spurious control inputs, blown breakers, potentially even fire could result. If you're outside the spacecraft, those cases become "space junk" that could later hole a craft or destroy critical external components (or a space suit face plate).

It's bad enough you have to fire bullets (and something your characters should have to think about, in terms of consequences) -- but ejecting an empty case is, at a minimum, equivalent to hazardous littering (say, throwing a burning cigarette butt out a car window next to a field of ripe grain or into a tinder-dry forest).

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    $\begingroup$ excellent ideas but if space travel were cheap and comfortable someone would be making automatics that catch the cases... $\endgroup$ – Swiss Frank Jul 13 at 21:51
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    $\begingroup$ @SwissFrank They already exist. Look up brass catchers. $\endgroup$ – Ryan_L Jul 13 at 22:22
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    $\begingroup$ Good thought, but, by the time space travel is common, I'd expect them to have also worked out the remaining issues with caseless ammunition. $\endgroup$ – Dave Sherohman Jul 14 at 9:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Ryan_L I have a brass catcher. Doesn't work at all well. One built into the pistol will add a bunch of bulk, and be prone to jamming up (it has to catch a case that's tumbling, or the pistol requires a major redesign to eject the brass in an orderly fashion). With the number of shooters who reload for semi-auto pistols, if brass catchers were practical, they'd be everywhere. $\endgroup$ – Zeiss Ikon Jul 14 at 13:56
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    $\begingroup$ Brass catchers look quite bulky. A semi-auto with a brass catcher is probably much bulkier than a standard revolver. $\endgroup$ – user3757614 Jul 14 at 19:34
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If you have to fire a gun inside a space station, the backstop is either a thin sheet of metal with vacuum on the other side, or a thin sheet of metal with devices that keep you alive on the other side, or orbit, where any bullet will probably just keep orbiting the planet until it hits something. Because of that, spray-n-pray is endangering your life and the lives of everyone you care about. Instead, combat doctrine is:

  • Single aimed shots only.
  • Do not take shots you're unsure about.
  • After the battle, count your bullets fired, and find all the impact sites. (And we mean all.)
  • Use emergency patches as needed, and alert maintenance immediately to any damage.

Revolvers are preferred in this environment because you can easily swing open the cylinder and count bullets fired. If your opponent (or buddy) gets killed, you need to check their gun as well, so you can't get away with just remembering how many shots you loaded. (Let's assume a semi-automatic with a 7-round magazine. That could mean 7 bullets, or maybe the gun tends to jam on a full magazine, so only 6 were loaded, or maybe it also had one in the chamber, so 8, or maybe there's one in the chamber afterwards that you forgot to count because you're flooded with adrenaline, so you wasted half an hour trying to track down the last bullet hole. Trying to count your shots in a gunfight is a terrible idea anyway.)

Reload time doesn't matter, because you shouldn't be taking wild shots, and if you're facing more than a few opponents, you're probably not going to survive long enough to run out of shots anyway.

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  • $\begingroup$ Sensible. You don’t really want a weapon where ‘spray and pray’ is even a viable option. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Jul 16 at 14:38
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Ammo.

Revolvers typically can have larger and wider rounds than most semi and automatic firearms. This, along with futuristic technology, allows bullets to have payloads, such as:

Explosive rounds, gas rounds, gyroget rounds, EMP rounds, shotgun rounds, tracking rounds, and if you want, rounds that allow you to send Nanobots safely over to someone else. Maybe you can make a medic's pistol with that.

Also, a revolver is compact and small, allowing quick movement in a space station's many tight turns and short corridors.

As for heavy weapons: in today's era we have a 40mm grenade-launcher revolver. You could make a more futuristic version for your game, with much of the same payloads as above, but maybe combinations of payloads instead of just one.

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    $\begingroup$ Modern semiautomatic firearms are getting better at using unusual ammo. We're not there yet, but it's likely we would be by the time we're fighting in space. Further, revolvers are actually more bulky than semiautos. Semiauto handguns don't have a cylinder. The magazine goes in the grip. The most compact modern handguns are all semiautomatic. $\endgroup$ – Ryan_L Jul 13 at 22:19
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    $\begingroup$ Ever seen a semi-auto 12 Ga? Not very practical for in-grip magazines, but a pistol laid out like an 1896 Mauser (aka Broomhandle) can handle rounds of any size. And with a space suit glove, this might be the more practical layout anyway. $\endgroup$ – Zeiss Ikon Jul 15 at 10:59
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Three reasons: recoil, heat dissipation and cartridges

  • Automatic and semi-automatic weapons, with their recoil due to the high fire rate, provide an unwanted motion system in a micro-gravity environment. I.e. would make it more difficult to maintain cover during a fight.

    Revolvers, with their lower fire rate, allow a better control on this aspect.

  • Another important aspect in microgravity is the lack of buoyant forces, this makes hot air around your barrel stay there and not be lifted away by the temperature difference. If you don't want to make your gun unusable, you have to fire slow.
  • Last but not least, spent cartridges: in microgravity expelling them immediately after the shot has been exploded would result in having a piece of hot metal wandering around. That would pose a risk for the surrounding of the shooter and would also give away his position, in case he was hiding.
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    $\begingroup$ There's no reason you have to fire a semi-automatic fast. $\endgroup$ – Ryan_L Jul 13 at 22:22
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    $\begingroup$ There's also no reason you have to fire a revolver slow. youtube.com/watch?v=gcStqGyXzbY $\endgroup$ – Keith Morrison Jul 13 at 22:57
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TL: DR at the end.

You basically have to answer two questions to answer this one:

  • Why revolvers and not other weapons?

  • Why not automatic weapons?

So lets assume that body armor has started to improve faster than conventional weapons. This meant that bullets needed to be more expensive and harder to build. Imagine if your bullets are actually miniature multi-stage shells. Maybe first a small shaped charge needs to punch a hole into the armor through which the next stage of the shell launches a dangerous chemical or small explosive to harm the person behind the armor. So you need larger caliber shells like some revolvers.

The shells can be vulnerable. They can handle jostling and things but the constant pressure of a clip could reduce the quality of the shell, meaning the shell might not penetrate the armor for example. Not something you want when shells are so expensive and you are in a life-and-death situation. So you use a revolver. Its one of the most reliable weapons around and it isnt picky about the type of ammunition it takes so you can easily swap out for different ammo when necessary.

Then lastly, why not a revolver-operated weapon with a long barrel? Well you are fighting in space. Weight should be avoided in space as it takes a lot of fuel to get it around. Space ships are also full of tight corners, lots of different machinery and handholds a longer weapon could catch on and whenever gravity fails or shifts you might be needing one hand to hold yourself anchored while the other hand needs to wield a gun, so better make it an easy to wield one-handed weapon.

TL: DR: So all in all, the revolver is the gentlemanly weapon in space. Its reliable no matter what gravity does and can handle a large amount of ammo types safely while it remains easy to wield and easy to field.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sold on the "needing larger shells" argument because there are some pretty high caliber semiauto handguns out there. The Colt 1911 is .45 caliber, and the Desert Eagle is .50 caliber. But I really like the fragile shells argument, pretty clever. $\endgroup$ – Ryan_L Jul 14 at 3:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Ryan_L well, revolver grenade launchers exist. $\endgroup$ – he77789 Sep 25 at 12:06
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Literal cowboys in space eh?

Production of a semi/full-automatic weapon is a complex thing. It requires high levels of machining and many complex parts produced with a high accuracy. Revolvers are much simpler. There are three moving parts, and aside from the inherent dangers of doing so, a guy can probably build one in a moderately equipped workshop.

This is why revolvers existed before semi-auto and full-auto weapons. They're much much simpler to make. This presents some options:

  1. Production of all projectile weapons is illegal due to danger of damage to spacecraft, so no factory with sufficient machining ability to produce fully automatic weaponry can exist. A black market exists producing lower-tech weapons, such as revolvers.

  2. Personal fire-arms are outdated. All the weapons industries are producing high power beam weapons for space-fighter-craft, and mounted weaponry for mech-suits (the modern replacement for infantry). No unassisted humans can man-carry a Mk27 heavy beam rifle with it's portable fusion generator, and your characters don't have access to military-grade exosuits, and low-power lasers aren't effective enough to be produced. Fortunately there are still a few people who produce old fashioned weaponry in their workshops in much the same way that there are still people who hand-carve bows and hand-smith swords

Some other options (not all of these are real physical reasons, but said the right way they may sound plausible. If your players/audience aren't likely to be weapon-nerds, these will probably do):

  1. Auto/semi-auto weapons are fairly delicate due to the higher tolerances required. If you need to shoot the dreaded fire-beast of Twilop after being crashing your spaceship in a swamp, you want a revolver, not a semi-auto.

  2. Auto-semi/auto weapons have lower tolerance for differences in ammunition, because they depend on blow-back for chambering the next round. As such, the ammunition has to be made in a factory, and ammunition is only produced for normal breathable atmospheres. If you want to fire your gun while in a pure methane atmosphere, you're going to need special gunpowder. With a revolver, you can re-pack the rounds a lot easier, and the differences in burn-rate of a methane-oxidizing powder won't have so much impact on the operation of the gun.

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  • $\begingroup$ If revolvers were simple to make, they'd be cheaper than pistols, but they aren't cheaper. $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Jul 13 at 23:19
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    $\begingroup$ Modern manufacturing methods are surprising. It's cheaper to buy a smartphone using manufacturing technologies that work at the nanometer scale than it is to buy a hand-cart from the hardware store. Simplicity != cost. $\endgroup$ – sdfgeoff Jul 14 at 17:43
  • $\begingroup$ But I'm no firearms or machining expert, so, well, maybe a pistol is easier to make than a revolver. However if you turned me lose in a machine shop with instructions to produce a pistol, I know which one I'd try making first. $\endgroup$ – sdfgeoff Jul 14 at 17:47
  • $\begingroup$ "Revolvers should be cheaper than springs" is what I used to think, but revolvers have some pretty complicated milling and really tiny springs. maropost.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/account_206/30112/… $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Jul 14 at 20:39
  • $\begingroup$ "If you want to fire your gun while in a pure methane atmosphere, you're going to need special gunpowder.", why? Gunpowder does not need atmospheric oxygen, if that's what you're thinking... $\endgroup$ – hyde Jul 14 at 22:28
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Morality.
People are taught from childhood not to throw around heavy objects that might damage a space craft's hull, for rather obvious reasons

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  • $\begingroup$ This is what I was gonna go with. Revolvers fire smaller bullets, at lower speeds, less frequently than more modern guns. Much less chance of a stray bullet potentially causing a hull breach or other critical damage. $\endgroup$ – F1Krazy Jul 13 at 9:49
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    $\begingroup$ Not if they are using .38+p rounds, .357, 44 Magnum, .457 Webley...Revolvers can fire pretty powerful rounds, and for a period of time after semi automatic pistols were invented were capable of firing much more powerful rounds because the actions of semi auto pistols were incapable of dealing with the forces involved. $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Jul 13 at 13:22
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There is no real reason that people would prefer revolvers to semi automatic firearms, and if this is a military force, they would likely want a range of fully automatic weapons, explosive rounds etc.

The reasons for wanting to fire aimed shots are the same as soldiers today use: the ability to actually hit targets, control of ammunition expenditure and the use on manoeuvre on the battlefield (you don't shoot while moving). Wildly firing ("spray and pray") is the mark of untrained people, amateur militias and thugs. Unfortunately it is also ingrained in many people as the "way" people fight with firearms because of Hollywood movies and TV shows.

In a microgravity environment, using single aimed shots also limits the amount of recoil you have to deal with at any given time, so trained soldiers would find a place of cover and concealment, brace themselves against recoil forces, aim and fire their shot, then quickly displace to another fire position. The enemy who lets rip with a magazine on full auto will be spiraling across the space out of control, and likely not have hit anything.

However, if you really want a revolver which is a useful weapon for military and paramilitary personnel, I offer you this 20th century weapon which has the extra versatility of allowing the user to load a wide variety of ammunition for all kinds of different scenarios (including such specialty rounds as smoke, illumination, teargas and even rounds carrying small cameras and transmitters to send pictures back to the user)

enter image description here

Milcor MGL

So if they are going to use a revolver, this is the sort of revolver they would prefer.

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  • $\begingroup$ You could also have non lethal or non explosive rounds - like a analog to the "goober" round in the schlock mercenary universe. $\endgroup$ – Journeyman Geek Jul 14 at 9:16
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    $\begingroup$ "The enemy who lets rip with a magazine on full auto will be spiraling across the space out of control, and likely not have hit anything." On the contrary, as they spiral out of control, they're likely to hit a whole lot of things, just not the thing they were aiming at. $\endgroup$ – Dave Sherohman Jul 14 at 9:44
  • $\begingroup$ This kind of thing seems right at home in your fictional universe: funker530.com/attack-drone-40mm-grenade-launcher $\endgroup$ – Andrew Brēza Jul 15 at 12:56
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Cultural background

In the Hong Kong Blood Opera genre, firearms are usually limited to Pistols and SMGs. One reason seems to be that the heroes prefer agile, even acrobatic combat styles. You might want to depict a culture where anything (semi-)automatic is considered unheroic, unhonorable and possibly even unthinkable for a mercenary who work for a honorable employer.

Note: Cowboy Bebop was the series which kicked off the "cowboys in space" genre. If I remember correctly, revolvers were the weapons of choice; even the Cowboy Bebop (the spaceship) had a revolver-like main cannon.

Economical Background

Like in the Metro games series, ammunition could be extremely expensive. You want to operate an automatic gun? Good luck if all you can afford are six hand-crafted bullets which are of so low quality that only a revolver will shoot them reliably.

The Setting

You might provide a plausible setting for the game. Like, you are in an orbital revolver factory when the zombie apocalypse breaks out. Um, did I just say "plausible"? Well...

Forget about the zombies apocalypse, look at Science and Industry instead. Just in space. And without the rocket launcher pistols, tommy guns and such.

In any case, at the start of the game, players are equipped with their trusty Colt Defender and an attaché case (to whack an enemy or to "convince" a scientist who works for the competing company to switch to your company). Players can also vote on what the scientists (the ones working for the own company) will research next (like, better coffee, better defenses, stuff like laser trip mines, better guns, radios). In any case, the resources for development are tightly limited, and there is no reason why firearm development might be arbitrarily limited to revolvers.

Note that the scientists are actually quite peaceful. They sometimes even says stuff roughly like: "These guns...I presume these are used to hurt anybody, right?"

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If a core part of the game is that people are shooting out in space, then use that aspect of the world to limit the rate of fire by inventing a technology in the game to compensate for the recoil of a gunshot.

Shooting handgun rounds like we have today in space would move you backwards about 3 cm/S in Delta-V. Someone shooting a whole magazine through a rifle would be suddenly moving almost a meter per second in the opposite direction from their target. That could lead to deadly acceleration or shooting them off into the void of space.

So players need to compensate and they have to load their rifles with rounds and their spacewalk suits with anti-rounds, or gas charges, CO2 canister shots, or whatever you'd like to invent.

You could also add technology so that when they're planetside, perhaps people have an inertial detection field that can block regular rounds fire, but can't block stronger or more powerful rounds. Because of this tech, the older rounds are obsolete, much like only eccentrics use a blackpowder rifle today. The newer ones are so expensive or otherwise limited that people would only ever use a single rate of fire with them.

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History played out differently. Semiautomatics were never invented. We often think of inventions as linear, but they aren't.

This may seem strange, but history has several examples of this. Some examples:

For some inspiration you may want to read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Road_Not_Taken_(short_story)

It has aliens with interstellar travel and blackpowder guns.

Some ideas for a different history:

  • Good artillery and airplanes and rockets were invented far earlier. So soldiers were relegated to protecting artillery and bases, and didn't do much of the fighting. All of the resources were pooled on improving those, and nobody cared much about the rifles/pistols basic soldiers used anymore.

  • There was less war. Maybe because effective Weapons of MassDestruction were invented much earlier and thus a time of Peace (or Cold War) began, were the 2 remaining superpowers just invested in even more deadly WMDs.

  • Your people were peaceful for other reasons, and just recently war began.

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  • $\begingroup$ This may work in the past when (due to the need for manual labor and small population size) there was a limited number of people working as engineers, but I doubt any modern civilization would manage to get into space, and not have someone working on developing better weaponry. Just look at the number of patents granted in the 21st century vs the previous centuries. $\endgroup$ – Surprised Dog Jul 16 at 21:38
  • $\begingroup$ One of the options boils down to: Invent a lore reason why the engineers work only on big weapons instead of small weapons. So yeah, I think it's possible. $\endgroup$ – Benjamin Jul 17 at 6:49
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Without reading the other answers (my apologies if I duplicate anything. Let me know and I'll remove the duplicate)...

  1. Recoil Stinks! It would be hard enough to re-orient yourself in space after firing one bullet (equal and opposite reaction...). You'd be absolutely out of control while and after firing on automatic or even semi-automatic. Yes, you could have reaction thrusters compensating... but that means fuel and that means limitations to how long you can fight. Single-shot means you can minimize (or eliminate, if you're agile enough) fuel requirements to compensate for recoil.

  2. The field of battle is dangerous enough! What would happen if not one bullet was zipping off into space, but dozens, hundreds, or thousands? And remember #1... you're slowly losing control of where all those bullets are going. It's seriously bad juju to miss your enemy and perforate your comrade. Or your ship. Or the D.I.D.1

  3. Mass really matters in space! My High School electronics teacher served in the U.S. military in Vietnam. I remember him telling us stories of hauling around 10,000 rounds of ammunition. When you have friction to work with, mass isn't that big of a deal... but in space.... The distribution of that mass on your body would matter, as would the redistribution as it was consumed. Any unanticipated variation would mean thruster fuel (see #1!) and disorientation. If everybody is stuck with one-shot-at-a-time pistols then there's nowhere near as much reason to haul all that ammo around — everybody has the same limitations (and the consequences of trying to have a few more shots than your enemy are non-trivial).

  4. And extra ammo has a really bad consequence. Let's say you could haul all that ammo around! I don't believe you can use standard powder. Yes, it has its own oxidant ... but it's not being used in an oxygenless environment. In space, it would be. That means 100% of the oxidant must be carried along with the powder. This would make the cartridge a bit bigger (probably not much) but carries with it one magnificent negative — when an incoming bullet, which can't easily shed its heat because it's in the vacuum of space plows through it, it ignites! Now let's carry 10,000 rounds for your spaced-up version of the AK-47! Yup, you become this big, honking huge Ka-Boom! waiting to happen. Said in a less verbose way, it's much safer to carry the rounds needed for a revolver than for something that throws more lead in less time.2

  5. Let's talk about axes of rotation. If you think about it, no one in space and in their right mind would hold a gun like they do on good old Earth and fire it. You'd spin. Round and round! A better tactic would be to hold your arm across your chest and shoot past your other arm, or to hold your arm out to your side. This also has spin consequences, by my point is you have a reasonable shot3 at finding a position for firing a pistol that basically keeps you where you intend to be, but a rifle is much too big. You're spinning even after a single shot no matter where you point it our how you carry it.4

  6. Finally, don't give your enemy anything more than possible! Battlefield stories are filled with looting, especially weapons and ammunition. What kinder gift could a dead soldier give than his/her weapon and ammunition to the enemy, who fired his/her last shot to kill said soldier? When you lose a pistol, you lose a couple of rounds with it. Lose a Vulcan Canon, and you loose the honking battle.


1DID = Damsel in Distress. Yes, guys are in distress all the time, too... but they're not as interesting.

2Alexei Leonov's space walk would have been much more exciting had he been wrapped up in appropriately oxygenated firecrackers and someone lit the fuse, don't you think?

3Every possible pun intended!

4You should take this particular point very seriously. A complete science could be invented working out how to best fire a pistol in space. Pre-spin, taking advantage of existing momentum, minimizing recoil effects.... I can imagine a good position being to bring your feet up and shoot between them so that the recoil simply pushes you straight away from the target. It's too bad you're making a game rather than a story. This kind of detail would be fun in a story, but is almost meaningless in a game, where you'd simply have the good old Traveller skills "pistol" and "space combat."

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If you're talking about inside a spaceship or space station, you have to hit your target or you'll make a hole in the wall and lose your own air supply. You'd only want to fire a kinetic weapon if you're absolutely sure of hitting your target. That's not an argument against semi-autos, but it does mean autos are out of the question.

Bullets that make holes in the target with kinetic force will of course make holes in the background if you miss. So maybe bullets kill in other ways, such as munching their target or injecting poison or electric shock or something? And if this is the case the bullets would be large diameter--too large perhaps to fit inside the vertical grip as an automatic pistol stores them. That would therefore require some other storage and perhaps a revolver would just become the standard?

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  • $\begingroup$ Frangible rounds do exist. $\endgroup$ – Draco18s Jul 14 at 15:42
  • $\begingroup$ @ Draco18s In microgravity, it mean you will have to breath metal fragments. And only an indirect hit would really become harmless. A weapon designed to puncture a human body will also poncture a thin wall not designed to withstand it $\endgroup$ – Madlozoz Jul 15 at 9:47
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To avoid interstellar stray bullet

I don't know why it would be specifically a revolver.

But there is a rational reason to shoot low Velocity kinetic projectile.

In modern warfare, you typically have a ratio of 100k bullet per killed ennemy.

So, you can imagine the problem if there is a shootout in microgravity.

One easy solution is to make ice bullet mandatory. Below a given size, a block of ice tend to sublimate in the vacum of space.

Problem is that ice is pretty britle (the mythbusters tested it) so it has to be low Velocity

Anyway, in microgravity, you Always shoot straight. An heavy slow bullet is just as good as a small supersonic(whetever that means in space) in most situation.

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    $\begingroup$ Well, the heavy slow bullet packs way less energy per momentum. Momentum grows linearly with speed, energy with the square of speed. Thus, the smaller the bullet, the less recoil you get for the same amount of damage done. So, I would expect space fighting to be done preferably with very small very high velocity bullets that immediately disintegrate in a metal-plasma explosion whenever they hit something. $\endgroup$ – cmaster Jul 15 at 22:04
  • $\begingroup$ @cmaster True. Yet, if you imagine a bunch of guy floating in the void and shooting at each others,, anything giving you an eratic trajectory is good. $\endgroup$ – Madlozoz Jul 16 at 8:25
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What if it is a "revolver-like thing"? They've invented personal force fields (something like what is available in Dune) so that kinetic firearms are basically all useless in a military situation. The available alternative is some kind of phaser/blaster/whatever that has all the necessary attributes (6 shots per battery pack, one-handed, single fire only with brief recharge between, etc.)

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a simple question of law could do the trick. worldwide treaty could have been made to ban any quick firing weapon.

because of device such a bump stock and the use of thing such as military prosthetic arm, you could easily replicate the fire rate of an automatic weapon with a simple semi auto, making a ban on automatic weapon innefective

revolver would be tightly restricted in there manufacturing, severly limiting ammo capacity and imposing physical restriction on how fast you can shoot.

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Anti-Matter Projectiles

Combat space suits are heavily armored so that regular bullets can't penetrate them. So instead people use huge bullets that contain a few anti-matter particles that float in the vacuum inside the bullet held in place by magnets. When they hit their target the force of the collision throws the bullet out of the magnetic field so that it collides with the front of the bullet which cause the particles to annihilate and release incredible amounts of energy.

These bullets can be used both against armored combat space suits and against space ships.

The reason why they are used in revolvers or other low-cadence guns is because they are pretty big (limiting how many of them can be carried in a gun) and expensive. So instead of spraying tons of them you really want each shot to count.

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  • $\begingroup$ Railguns would be way better for this specific use. Why causes only the collision and not the shooting itself the reaction? $\endgroup$ – miep Jul 16 at 9:18
  • $\begingroup$ You are right. Acceleration should be done using electromagnetism instead of explosives. But that could be reasonably fit into a handheld revolverlike weapon. $\endgroup$ – Dakkaron Jul 17 at 9:33
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Technology aside, If future humans have superior physical abilities, then a revolver would be more preferable. The simple reason being it's completely manual. Even in present day, people can shoot at insane speeds by manually cocking the gun rapidly.

A second reason would be the lack of complex parts, makes for easy maintenance & repair, cross-compatibility between parts of different models, reduced failure rate bcoz the there aren't that many small delicate parts. So if the player is going around all sorts of places, where a repair shop might not be available, a revolver is your best bet.

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