I am a world-hopping warlock who regularly goes on adventures in various worlds with differing levels of technological knowledge. Being a crafty warlock, I have a number of tricks, weapons, and gadgets up my sleeves, and I'd like to add firearms to my repertoire.

I'm currently planning an extended campaign in Acardia, a continent with a technological and political structure comparable to what you folks refer to as early medieval Europe. My early scouting missions haven't discovered any gunpowder based weapons, although I can't confirm that no such thing exists there.

Once the campaign starts in earnest, It won't be feasible to return to a more advanced world for supplies. In addition, I'll be traveling a great deal, so I don't want to cart heavy machinery around with me. I'd like to utilize firearms as a form of self defense during this campaign.

Here's the thing, though- I don't want to be that idiot who thinks they can conquer an entire continent with a single machine gun. If I'm going to use firearms in this campaign, I need to take into account the manufacture of ammunition, repair of the weapons, etcetera.

So... what's the most advanced sort of gun I can take with me and be able to utilize for the entire campaign, which could last for years? It's acceptable if the guns themselves can't be manufactured using the tools available, so long as they can be maintained using Acardian tech. I will, however, need to manufacture ammunition. I would also prefer to be able to fire more than once before reloading, and use bullets that include powder inside of them rather than being loose metal balls (if possible). (If I'm correct, guns that use such bullets tend to be easier to clean.)

I'll be campaigning with a small team, no more than 20 to 30 people. I don't currently have a motor vehicle that would be practical to fuel and maintain during the campaign, so I'll probably be using horse-drawn wagons to carry anything I need to take with me.

If the tools required to make ammunition or a part can themselves be easily made with Acardian tech, that is also acceptable, but keep in mind I won't have the resources to start an industrial revolution. If the equipment in question is too heavy to cart around, and I can't make new ones when I enter a new city, that will put a damper on it, but it won't necessarily completely invalidate the technique in question.

I'd also like to note that, given the choice between power and accuracy, I'd probably go for accuracy, although it would certainly be nice if the gun had the power to punch through steel plate.

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    $\begingroup$ Self-defence against what - human bandits, lions, polar bears, elephants, royal families that do not wish to step down in your favour? How often are you expecting to need to "defend yourself" that it is not easier to just take a reliable modern firearm, some standard spare parts (eg firing pin) and a couple of hundred rounds each? Is it important to conceal your firearms from the local populace? $\endgroup$ – KerrAvon2055 Nov 12 at 8:55
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    $\begingroup$ You should take care. Acardia is regarded as a heartless civilization. $\endgroup$ – Mindwin Nov 12 at 12:25
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    $\begingroup$ What do you mean by punching through a steel plate? Most modern handheld firearms are not suited for that. $\endgroup$ – user3819867 Nov 12 at 13:53
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    $\begingroup$ How advanced is your technology? Is something like a 1000 GW laser ray hand-implanted device powered by a tiny fusion generator which also provides a 360° shielding available? $\endgroup$ – WoJ Nov 12 at 15:18
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    $\begingroup$ How many shots do you expect to fire? It's hard to imagine you firing more than a couple hundred rounds in "self defense". If you're attacked by 201 medieval highwaymen, chances are one of them's going to get you just by dumb luck. So it's probably simpler to just buy a case of a thousand rounds for whatever rifle, rather than try to manufacture new ammo on the scene. $\endgroup$ – workerjoe Nov 12 at 19:24

16 Answers 16


Solar Charging Electro-magnetic Flechette gun

How advanced is the most advanced world you've encountered?

A Coil-gun is perhaps the most reliable weapon imaginable.
It fires reliably underwater, in space, in mud..
The entire weapon can be sealed in plastic and it has virtually no moving parts whatsoever.
It cannot jam, it doesn't misfire and requires almost no cleaning or maintenance.

The ammunition ideally would be iron-cored tungsten needles, but in a pinch, an iron nail will do just fine.
The flechette gun will put an iron nail through a two inch thick wooden beam at 100 paces, so armour-piercing capability is not a problem.
Ammunition can be manufactured by any blacksmith able to Draw metal

The only technological hurdle is the power required to fire it.
Fortunately, the internal super-conducting capacitors have more than enough Oomph to get the job done.

In the field, such a weapon mounts a small solar cell in the casing that trickle-feeds the capacitors. It's not the most efficient way to charge it, (preferably you'd plug it into a base-station for charging) but it's more than sufficient if you have time on your hands.

Good news for you is that travelling between towns by horse and cart will take days, so you have plenty of time to keep your weapon charged!

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    $\begingroup$ Delicate electronics being bashed about while traveling through rugged adventures for years, and you expect that it will never need any maintenance or repair? That alone is heroic levels of super-advanced technology beyond the ken of man. $\endgroup$ – pluckedkiwi Nov 12 at 14:47
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    $\begingroup$ So...you travel between towns for days, and then you get a single shot. Better not miss. $\endgroup$ – Skyler Nov 12 at 14:55
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    $\begingroup$ Keep the electronics solid-state, no sub-components, it's all manufactured as a single brick of doped silicon. That's about as robust as it gets when it comes to electronics. We can do it with modern technology, but economies of scale mean working with sub-components is usually more efficient. $\endgroup$ – Ruadhan Nov 12 at 15:22
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    $\begingroup$ I mean, if we're going for future-tech, why not go all-in and install a small nuclear battery? Sure, it might be slightly carcinogenic, but, if lightweight shielding materials haven't been invented, you're still a a warlock. Curing cancer shouldn't be too difficult. $\endgroup$ – Dragongeek Nov 12 at 18:58
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    $\begingroup$ @pluckedkiwi Designing electronics that work for years under tough conditions isn't anything new. For example, satellites launched 1970's which still work today despite extreme conditions (high g's, extreme temperatures/radiation). Electrical failures to to defective packaging are common (corrosives getting in), however, this is frequently solved by simply potting the whole assembly in something like polyurethane. Avoiding components that are failure prone (like electrolytic capacitors or mechanical relays) and following good engineering guidelines (like redundant systems) isn't impossible $\endgroup$ – Dragongeek Nov 12 at 19:29

Best solution is to skip the gunpowder - too difficult to manufacture while traveling or carry vast quantities, and a bit of a pain to deal with anyway. Of course if you are relying upon the giant cloud of smoke to obscure you and the target and loud bang to scare the primitives off, then go with black powder, but honestly I would rather shoot them than mostly hope they scare easily.

I suggest an air rifle. For reference, the Girandoni air rifle taken on expedition by Lewis and Clark certainly survived long arduous journeys through the wilderness. At one point the main spring broke and they modified a metal file to fit in its place. That kind basic design for field maintenance is vitally important when you don't have access to the same kind of workshops which produced it. A few modifications to the design (for example being able to braze a seam more effectively than they could at the time would make for a much more robust air canister than they had, and some rubber gaskets instead of leather though leather is very easy to acquire if replacement gaskets are needed) and this would be thoroughly reliable.

Of course there are any number of designs which could be used, but I like pointing out that repeating rifles capable of firing 20 shots in about a minute were fielded in 1780, and more specialized single-shot hunting weapons had been available for at least a century prior. Unfortunately they were a little delicate for poorly-trained masses of peasants to survive long use in the field (which was the style of warfare at the time) as well as mass-production manufacturing not quite being up to the level needed for sufficient reliability and interchangeable parts, but for small numbers (craft quality rather than mass-produced by poorly-skilled apprentices trying to churn them out by the hundreds) this would be the way to go.

A small metal shop (even some bronze working in antiquity would suffice) for major repairs, some leather for worn out gaskets, and some lead for ammunition (easily melted down and poured into molds at your everyday cooking fire while camping), and this would serve quite well. Downside is that the accompanying belt-pouch sized air pump took about 1500 strokes to recharge a 30 shot air canister - the wagon-mounted version was far better but not something an individual could walk around with.

If you were willing to go a little higher tech, you could make a more effective air rifle with better pumps for building pressure and a lighter more robust design, but the downside is relying upon modern alloys and delicate metalwork for replacement parts. Something which only needs knowledge to produce with low-tech manufacturing seems like a better path for reliability on campaign.

  • $\begingroup$ out of curiosity how robust would the belt pouch air pump be? Could that be a critical fault if that failed? $\endgroup$ – BKlassen Nov 14 at 16:25
  • $\begingroup$ @BKlassen air pumps aren't that complex (though without good resources the repair might be clunky). The problems with pneumatic weapons were keeping the cost down for mass-production, which led to standard army issue being less than ideal quality, so I don't know that the Austrian army's experience really translates to a higher-quality version. I don't recall hearing of any of Lewis and Clark's issues with pumping the canisters (doesn't mean they didn't have any), but they spent over 2 years in the wilderness giving demonstrations to every tribe they met (gave potential attackers pause). $\endgroup$ – pluckedkiwi Nov 14 at 17:22
  • $\begingroup$ Some types of modern air rifles can shoot a pellet all the way through a 2x4. Technically, you don't even need an air compressor to recharge the tanks, a decent quality bike pump and a bit of patience would suffice. $\endgroup$ – Jonathan Nov 15 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Jonathan As is mentioned in the answer, the Girandoni air rifle had a hand pump small enough to fit in a belt pouch, which soldiers were expected to carry along with all the rest of their kit. It could shoot all 24 rounds in their magazine through solid 1 inch thick planks at distances of at least 125 yards (obviously losing strength with each shot, but the canisters were expected to maintain lethal effectiveness for 30+ shots at 100 yards). If only the Austrian army in 1780 could have taught soldiers not to treat the equipment like junk, maybe it would have changed the face of warfare. $\endgroup$ – pluckedkiwi Nov 15 at 21:44

I'd recommend the Colt Pocket Percussion Revolver, possibly supplemented with a good muzzleloader (they've got easy-to-maintain modern ones now) for ranged shots.

Sorry, I'm sticking you with ball and powder. Modern ammunition is pretty great, and not hard to make with modern techniques - but that's the thing. It's best with modern techniques to get the rifling and curvature right. I don't know what kind of tech level you'll be at, so I'm picking something which can be manufactured effectively at the lowest level.

Black powder isn't hard to make, all it takes is the correct natural resources. Look up a recipe online, I try to stay off as many government lists as I can. Ammunition is the real trick here - making a perfect sphere. And there's a very easy way to do that using gravity. Use a sixty foot tall building, strain lead through a copper mesh, and then drop 60ft into cold water. It's called a shot tower, and it produces very accurate lead balls for ammunition. Not as good as a modern round, but on the flip side, it won't have the defects something made with 10th century technology will have. Carry a few Colts for short range, a modern muzzleloader for long range, and take good care of them. Should work pretty well.

Edit: Percussion caps - these weren't made until the 1800s, but technically the chemistry is possible earlier. The hard part is the mercury fulminate, which can be made by combining mercury (pretty accessible), ethanol (widely accessible), and nitric acid (dangerous, but accessible even as early as the 900s) in a specific way. Nitric acid can be made from scratch, if you know what you're doing, but I'm definitely not including a recipe for that, as it's also a precursor to TNT.

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    $\begingroup$ You won't get put on a list for making black powder, the manufacture of ammunition is a widely accepted and cost-saving practice for gun lovers. $\endgroup$ – Display Name Nov 12 at 15:02
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    $\begingroup$ The problem with a revolver is the manufacture of the percussion caps. Even if you can manage to produce black powder with sufficient and reliable quality (not as easy as you may expect even if the theory is simple) for use in a pistol, you will rapidly run out of percussion caps which you cannot make without relatively advanced facilities (early 19th century). The shot tower is unnecessary - it makes mass-production easier, but for individual purposes a simple mold (tiny bit of cleanup to knock off the residual bits) is more practical on a personal scale (and completely portable). $\endgroup$ – pluckedkiwi Nov 12 at 16:55
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    $\begingroup$ @DisplayName Entirely depends on the country you are in. $\endgroup$ – Trotski94 Nov 13 at 14:04
  • $\begingroup$ It's worth mentioning that early firearms were used to fire wrought-iron flechettes sometimes, the musket-ball became popular because it was easy to manufacture in bulk, not because it was better. Flechettes were more accurate and better at piercing armour, but took more work and precision to make. They have the perk of working with any smoothbore muzzle-loaded weapon though. So vary your ammunition depending on your situation! $\endgroup$ – Ruadhan Nov 13 at 15:05

All you really need is heat and knowledge. Copper and tin were very common metals in the world you describe, so the brass to manufacture ammunition is no problem. Gunpowder existed - but only in China - so the early Europeans just hadn’t found it yet. It was there. He needs to be really good at making very precise recipes from natural ingredients. We are talking about a warlock, aren't we?

Getting gunpowder is easy:

  • Your warlock needs to have access to tobacco, sunflower, common borage, or celandine sap which contains the saltpeter. He can also find it in limestone caves.

  • He needs to get some charcoal. Just burn some wood.

  • He needs to locate a geothermal area - hot springs or a volcano and try to get some sulfur.

When he plays around with these three ingredients he will have gunpowder.

He needs to make cartridge shells, not the ball musket. The important advantage of the cartridge over ball shot is keeping powder dry. All your weapons can become useless quickly in a slight drizzle, and you’ll be reloading under an umbrella. But, making cartridges is time consuming so I hope some of his magic can do automatic work for him! If he has access to electricity (or magical power) he can bring a modern ammunition stamp press, which can be mostly aluminum. Otherwise, he can make one when he gets there. It looks like this: Ammunition Stamp

Many people make their own bullets today. Just be sure he can get the basic materials and he is good at making them pure. He can make bullets in any caliber. You don’t need special armor piercing bullets, the armor of that period will be worthless against him.

Pick any high powered rifle or guns you like for the trip, he can make ammunition, and he can maintain it with local mineral oils.

I want to add that you can improve your gunpowder with nitroglycerine, which can be made from the same ingredients. Take sulfuric acid and the salt Peter in a pan to make nitric acid. Use the nitric acid, sulfuric acid, and baking soda (mined from a mineral called trona, or made with CO2, ammonia, and table salt). This can give your ammo a little more range.

Your warlock needs to be really good at quality control or the bullets will be very unreliable. You don’t want duds! Make him a perfectionist!

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    $\begingroup$ Making cases, gunpowder, and bullets may be simple, but what about the fulminated mercury in the primer? I believe that's more challenging, both in getting the recipe right and in not blowing yourself up while you do it. $\endgroup$ – Ryan_L Nov 12 at 5:43
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    $\begingroup$ Making black powder is relatively easy, but is it any good for a cartridge? ISTR that smokeless powder predated cartridges, and that's a bit more involved to manufacture. $\endgroup$ – Peter Taylor Nov 12 at 11:20
  • $\begingroup$ Now would he really be a crafty warlock with a number of tricks, weapons, and gadgets up his sleeves if such a thing got in his way? In my mind, difficult and precise processes literally define sorcery. $\endgroup$ – Vogon Poet Nov 12 at 12:11
  • $\begingroup$ Cooking nitroglycerin sounds like self-endangerment, not preparation for self-defense. $\endgroup$ – user3819867 Nov 12 at 13:06
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    $\begingroup$ @PeterTaylor Black powder works fine in cartridges. It was used in the Martini-Henry rifle used by the British against the Zulu, for example. But you get much lower muzzle velocities, and much more fouling. Not something you want to use in a semi-auto or full-auto gun for very long. It will jam like crazy, both due to the fouling and the lower muzzle velocities. $\endgroup$ – Ryan_L Nov 13 at 0:35

Get medieval, get a crossbow!

A crossbow has simple enough construction and rugged enough parts that it should be able to handle a good deal of travel so that should fit your reliability criteria. The most vulnerable part would be the string but you could easily bring a few extras and as bows were developed by just about every human civilization at some time or another you should be able to trade for more strings as needed.

While high quality ammunition is of course preferable a crossbow has such simple firing that you could load it with even primitive projectiles and still have some level of effectiveness.

In terms of stopping power modern crossbows today are able to push 400 fps and higher and don't require the special loading mechanisms that their medieval counterparts required. This means you can fire a bolt fast enough to pierce armor and reload at a similar speed you might a single shot bolt action rifle.

  • $\begingroup$ Just repeating crossbow things. $\endgroup$ – Anoplexian - Reinstate Monica Nov 12 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ Build a gunpowder barrel onto the side of the crossbow? So you have that powerful shot when you need it...just in case. $\endgroup$ – DKNguyen Nov 12 at 21:05
  • $\begingroup$ I feel like a crossbow would lean more towards power than towards accuracy and range compared to most modern firearms. $\endgroup$ – Jonathan Nov 15 at 19:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Jonathan a modern crossbow can be as accurate as a scoped rifle at 80-90 yards, but yeah, due to the lower projectile speed it does have less range than a modern firearm $\endgroup$ – BKlassen Nov 15 at 19:40

KerrAvon2055 from the comments has the right idea. A SBR (Short-barreled rifle) AR-15 styled rifle, a parts kit or two, and a few ammo cans will probably last you two campaigns over unless you're using it to hammer nails or things go extremely poorly, at which point you probably have more pressing issues to worry about.

The standard AR-15 weighs in at around 6.5 lbs. The weapon platform is extremely modular so you can, and probably will want to, swap out some of the stock parts with meatier after-market ones, such as swapping out for a heavier barrel in 5.56x45mm. After all your tinkering, the rifle will still come in at under 8 pounds making it convenient to lug around. 5.56x45mm is also very light at ~12.5g a bullet. Adding in the magazine puts you in at about 500g per 30 round mag (1.1 lbs). 20 loaded mags will give you 600 rounds at 22 pounds, not a bad deal considering you can pack even more ammo tins on the cart.

You now have 30 rounds of semi-automatic fire that will defeat any man-worn armor you will encounter (I'm assuming you won't meet many men wearing 1/2in steel plate). This will go a long way if you don't plan on "conquering the continent with a machine gun." With proper cleaning and a dab of oil, the gun will run right as rain for a very long while. It's almost as if Eugene Stoner designed it for military use.

As DKNguyen has pointed out, circumstances might cause you to enter civilization for untold periods of times. Having a 2 foot long rifle strapped to your back or hanging from you at all times is not ideal for such occasions. If we're permitted a second armament, bring a carry pistol with another set of parts and accessories will be much more convenient. This weapon should ideally not be used much unless you live an exciting life so ammunition can be skimped on a fair amount. You will then need to decide if you want maximum concealment or a work-horse. The distinction boils down to a tiny pistol with usually a single-stack magazine (low capacity) and a meaty kick vs a larger pistol that is nicer to shoot with a double-stack magazine (more capacity). This is getting long so to wrap it up, you can never go wrong with a Glock.

One alternative answer to consider: You can simplify logistics by having your sidearm and primary use the same ammunition (e.g. both are chambered in 9mm). This can have the draw back of having either a beefy pistol or an anemic rifle but there are some pretty good carbine cartridges that play reasonably nice in both platforms.

  • $\begingroup$ Do you actually need something as big and heavy as a rifle when on one else has one? I mean, this is for self-defense against people without firearms isn't it? $\endgroup$ – DKNguyen Nov 12 at 21:19
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    $\begingroup$ @DKNguyen it may not be defense against just people. Could be larger animals as well. AR-15 isn't spectacular against large game, and certainly not dangerous game, but if being humane isn't a particular goal, it'll do the job, and better than a pistol. The single advantage of a pistol is handiness and concealment. If neither of these are factors, bring a rifle. $\endgroup$ – Will Hartung Nov 12 at 21:27
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    $\begingroup$ To follow up on this, as they used to say about the Winchester rifle "Load it on Sunday, and shoot all week long". If it's basically for self defense, just how much trouble is one planning on getting in to? 1000 rounds is 200 rounds a year for 5 years, 16 rounds a month. A subsistence hunter would have trouble going through all that. Beyond that, reloading supplies for 1000 rounds (bullets, powder, primers -- you already have the cases) is less than 15 lbs. A simple reloading kit, like a Lee Loader, is, what, 2lbs? No reason to forego modern tech for even an extended stay. $\endgroup$ – Will Hartung Nov 12 at 21:37
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    $\begingroup$ @Veskah Yeah, but StackExchange doesn't just let you bring things into chat of your own accord for some reason. I think the difference with that is they KNOW they're likely going into a combat scenario, rather than just going about their day. After all, police officers don't carry those large guns like that on them all the time. Are you expecting to spend most of your time fighting? Or most of your time living your life? Though hunting is a good point. It just sounds very similar to recommending someone take a spear (a real weapon for combat) for self-defense on your travels rather than sword. $\endgroup$ – DKNguyen Nov 12 at 22:17
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    $\begingroup$ Right idea but you probably want the AK-47 over the AR-15. You can drag it through mud and it,ll still shoot. $\endgroup$ – Harper - Reinstate Monica Nov 13 at 3:33

You want a sling of some kind.

Roman era slings were as deadly as a 44 Magnum. In this specific case, the ammunition seems to have been manufactured to whistle as it flew, probably for the psychological factor.

Ammunition can be as simple as a pebble picked up off the side of the road, or a steel ball bearing, or even special purpose items made of ceramic with various chemicals inside to be released when they hit the target and break open. You could put nearly anything in there from flammable oil to noxious substances such as skunk spray. (Though I'll leave collecting that to you.)

All of the components can be manufactured from locally available materials in any era that humans have technology as advanced as leather. All of the components can be carried in adequate amounts to go through several combats without having to stop and manufacture new components or ammo. A sling can be nearly silent. It has a substantial range, though accuracy suffers over longer distances.

With some practice, you can fire two or even three stones at once. Or you can fire a larger stone, possibly as large as a half kilogram. You could bring down larger targets such as a buffalo. In extreme situations, and with some practice and a lot of luck, you could bring down a tiger. Though attacking a bear with a sling is likely to just make it angry.

A sling will attract little attention. In contrast, any anachronistic weapon will attract a lot of attention. If you walk around with a rifle you will have everybody in the neighborhood trying to take it off you. Some because they want it for themselves. Others simply so you won't use it on them.

You want a sling.

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    $\begingroup$ Aren't they rather hard to learn to use? $\endgroup$ – Ponder Stibbons Nov 13 at 9:30
  • $\begingroup$ Picturing this ... hmm. stone his buff in head. henh, Buff is charging, wow they are about as fast as a bear! grabs another stone.. whoops, dropped it, seems a bit agitated ... huh rock that cracks mans skull irritates buff, I guess they run into each other like for mating, maybe. oh-oh .. he's tiring... wait, he tripped on that bush, thought he'd be more nimble, random thought, if slings are so good why is everybody carrying sticks in cave art? oh stumble, cut left dude! left! LEFT! OH NO HIS LEGS NOT HIS LEGS ALL CROGGLED UP OH SHIT THE TIGER'S OUT.... MAULIN HIM. $\endgroup$ – chiggsy Nov 13 at 22:46
  • $\begingroup$ Seriously though, sling is great if you plan on trolling some early hominids, not a great look really. A guy with a boot knife and a chair can advance on you with no fear, no training available to you today will give you the advantage in melee with the fighting class of medieveal society, $\endgroup$ – chiggsy Nov 14 at 1:56
  • $\begingroup$ Slings are difficult to master, but if you take the time, it is an amazingly effective weapon. Even in late antiquity, the "Ten Thousand" recruited a unit of slingers to provide ranged protection against Persian cavalry. $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Nov 14 at 2:22

I'm going to reiterate the cap and ball recommendation, with a couple minor changes.

First, you'll want a few basic tools -- as noted, you'll want to know how to make black powder, and you'll want to practice making and using it, as well as extracting the saltpeter, before you cross over for the longer term. You'll also want a bullet mold and lead ladle -- that will allow casting a few bullets at a time over an ordinary kitchen or camp fire. Lead isn't hard to come by (or wasn't in our own 14th century) -- it was used for roofing and early plumbing (which gets its name from plumbum, the Latin word for lead). You'll want to use pure lead; cap and ball doesn't want or need hardened lead such as you'd use if casting bullets for a modern handgun.

You'll also want a tool (which you can 3-D print from downloadable files) for making up paper cartridges -- again, you'll want to practice this before going. Paper cartridges cut reloading time to make it comparable to that of a single action cartridge revolver, and thin enough paper was available (though relatively hard to find) in the 14th century, at least in our timeline. You can make or buy boxes that will carry five or six paper cartridges and caps (the caps glued to a paper strip for handling) and protect the cartridges from damage.

The critical item, however, is a means of making the percussion caps. This requires a special tool to punch the cap shell out of thin metal sheet (this is fairly easy to make in a small machine shop, or you may be able to buy one with a little Googling), and a supply of paper caps (for cap guns) to use as the filler for the percussion caps. Don't forget to take a roll of shim stock (available at genuine hardware stores, small engine repair shops, and machine shop supply vendors) to make your caps from.

I'd also recommend a larger gun -- a modern reproduction of a Remington New Army (aka 1858) has the power of a .357 Magnum and is durable enough to count on for many years (as long as you clean it after every use and keep it oiled). If your mold makes conical bullets (which hit harder, are at least as accurate, and have better range) some modern repro revolvers require a minor modification to the frame and rammer -- check this before you go, obviously.

Even with the upgrade to a .44, because you don't need to carry a large quantity of powder or lead (a couple pounds of each is a good start), the entire kit will only weigh 15 or so pounds and fit in a bag or roll around 8 inches in diameter and a little over a foot long.



Stamped parts designed to be locally sourced and easily replaced.

The entire design relies on loose-fitting parts that won't jam.

Create your black powder, your brass, and a mold for the bullet.

Then use a brass catcher to collect the spent brass for reload/reuse.

Semi-automatic fire should be fine, no need for 3 round burst or full auto.

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    $\begingroup$ Locally sourced? What if this is an era that has not yet started making steel? $\endgroup$ – puppetsock Nov 12 at 21:36
  • $\begingroup$ You would need smokeless powder, but yeah, AK47 has the reputation of extremely reliable gun. $\endgroup$ – ventsyv Nov 13 at 23:52

A sling? Those are as deadly as a .45 ACP. If you can hit your target, that is.

Otherwise, I would suggest a hand-recharged air rifle, like the kind you can get at stores nowadays. I would suggest a simpler design, like maybe the Girandoni Air Rifles that Lewis & Clark brought on their expeditions.

However, if you are willing to go out on a limb, I would have your guy use spring-powered centripetal rifle. This is because you could (a) conceivably use low-quality ammo, (b) the parts would last longer, (c) the failure modes would be nowhere near as catastrophic as on an air rifle, and (d) if something does fail, there is a small chance that you could get replacement parts; they just would not be as good of quality




Electric airsoft

You want to shoot pebbles that can do damage. It probably won't kill opponents but discourage them even with the light bullets. You can get 6mm metal spheres from jewelers, which are way heavier than your .15g plastic bullets (from gold they are ~2.18g heavy). You will probably have to bring two custom designs that have stronger and more robust mechanisms than commercially available, one acting as backup. You need to bring solar charger panes with you, which you can use to recharge (for your other magicks you will probably need them anyway).
The 2.18g pellets at 100m/s deliver around 11 J impact, which is a 30th of a 9mm handgun but already potent.

  • $\begingroup$ The heaviest I found were .46g BBs for snipers commercially available. $\endgroup$ – user3819867 Nov 12 at 13:11

So hopefully this will not get me put on any no-fly lists. But basically a potato gun. you could make one out of whatever you needed even wood, though metal would be ideal or some future material, any way you basically make a potato gun you can load whatever you need into it be in grenades, plasma grenades or just rocks added bonus, you can set them on fire with gasoline or tar which can be found it medieval time, added added bonus if you want more power set up a modified diesel engine for higher pressure and power I worked for a guy who had a motorcycle like that, it could run off of bacon grease which can be found in medieval times also other stuff oils and the like. If you want more of a machine gun you can have a revolver of sorts. Set it up with pressurized chambers that you pump up before the fight. you fire, then the next camber comes up the fire again. with a spring this can be as fast for slow as you want. also if you have a adjustable barrel sized you can be fairly accurate as well essentianlly this can be as simple or complex as you want the more complex the hardder and thereofre an hgher level of tec you need to fix it also you make one of thease that is just a flame thrower. One last thing you can ajust this gun like crazy want a shot gun put lots of small pelletes intot he chamber want a sniper get a long barrlet and a scope. the one downside is that you need to pump it up but with the deaise engin this will not take long. And all guns need realoding plus if you have the revolver set up when you run out but rocks lets say in you chambers close all of them put a oil in the engine and wait five seconds and your back in the fight. Hope this helps and safe travels.

any questions fire away!!


If you want to bring along a firearm, a shotgun is your best bet. Reloading shells is simple and (in my experience, your mileage may very) you can reload a single plastic hull about 10 times before the crimping starts to break apart. To reload a shell, all you need is a primer, some powder, a wad to create a seal between the primer and powder, and something to project. A simple press can be made to punch the old primer out, press a new primer in, slide a wad in, and crimp the top. You can also do all this by hand, but at a slower rate. Projectiles can range from rock salt to large metal slugs and anything else you can fit into the shell.

The shotgun itself can be reduced to almost no moving parts, depending on your choice. If you want something simple and reliable, I would suggest a side-by-side or over-under shotgun. The trigger mechanism will be your only moving parts (the shell ejectors and the breech hinge are technically moving, but it's trivial to keep them greased up) and the barrels will be very easy to clean. Since there is no rifling, a rag and a stick are all you really need. To keep the barrel in pristine shape, a plastic solvent can be used, but you can still get years of use out of the gun without ever cleaning it, at least with smokeless powder.

  • $\begingroup$ Yep. If I was optimizing for number of shots fired over time I'd pick a mechanically simple shotgun, some ammo, a carton of powder and a bunch of primers. If I then got to the point where I had to make my own ammunition from scratch (ie make my own shotgun shell hulls, powder and primer etc), I can't imagine any weapon that would be more tolerant to that sloppy homemade ammo than a shotgun. I'd also look into brass hulls in order to put off having to make my own, but I'm not sure about them. That's assuming a shotgun is capable of doing whatever this guy wants to do of course. $\endgroup$ – Nathan Cooper Nov 14 at 13:35

The answers here are all pretty great but the first thing I would look at is the fact that you would be going into an uncertain technological time period.
We have specialist weapons and ammunition for different scenarios for a reason.

The thing I would suggest is that whatever you have must be fully reusable and maintainable by very simple methods, finding the components for gunpowder in a jungle whilst being hunted by a wild animals would be difficult and getting the time and relative calm to press bullets into shell casings might be difficult too. Anything electrical is susceptible to component damage and solar power will not help you very much unless your story takes place somewhere near the equator away from jungles and forests.

Depending on your starting technology I would suggest some kind of pneumatic system powered by some spell or ability your warlock has (not necessarily electrical).
If you were able to create some kind of spear that could launch a detachable head with enough force to produce the results you are looking for I would suggest that would be your best option. While this may not be as accurate as you might like, accuracy in firearms is actually pretty difficult to achieve unless you rely on modern technology which I would try to avoid in the circumstances you describe.

In the worst circumstances you could attach something to the spear head to allow you to pull it back easily, in better ones you could have several spearheads that you could retrieve later.

Depending on what you want to do in your world you could also pass it off as a regular spear with some odd bits added on to it, that way you would only get some odd looks when you rock up with a weird spear rather than outright fear.

This has the advantage of the fact that all the maintenance you would need to do would be whatever you would do to a spear anyway. Of course this all assumes that the launcher is created in a robust way. Additionally it does not have to be a spear head, you could have a trident or net head if you wanted to use it for fishing, a heavy, round head if you wanted to smash through a wall or something and no head if you just wanted a short blast of compressed air.

If all this fails then my only other advice would be knowledge, having a repository of fairly advanced things you can make from much older technology would put you head and shoulders ahead of anyone else of the time. If you know how to make gunpowder easily then you would be better off than those who do not, if you know about rifling then you would be able to make more accurate guns, if you know about the glass required in scopes then you can shoot distant targets more accurately.
These examples are just what I can think of off the top of my head, there are bound to be many others.


A mass driver made entirely from chunky components and powered by a capacitor that is charged from a hand crank electric motor. I say this without having an example. But, it feels like something that would be relatively hard to damage if built the right way.


Use fear, religion and money. The strongest defense in a medieval circumstance is to use the levers that the feudal lordship and/or religious order use to assert power over the masses. Declare yourself through your travels as you see fit, but the majority of people are still living arduous lives, ruled by tyranny. Money, wit and doctrine of title will protect you more than any weapon and will open many more doors.

That and using your numbers as a pack defense should be sufficient. Everything else is basically overkill.

You might as well bring a tech enhanced Steam Powered Land Ram. LINK


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