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In the near-future story I'm developing, I've tried to incorporate all kind of somewhat-credible technology into weapons and gadgets.

I had the idea of what's basically two shotguns fused together, kind of like this:

The initial idea was it to be full-auto and that each side shot one 10ga. tungsten bird-shot at a time so it would double the rate of fire and cover a large area.

Then I thought, wouldn't it be cooler if each side shot a slug connected by a a monomolecular wire that stretches and cut the target in half? Hell yeah it would.

The composition of the wire is not important, I just want to find the best way that this could mechanically work.

The problem I'm facing is, the barrels need to be parallel so I thought about having slugs that are aerodinamically shaped to spread to the sides. The question is, which shape could this be? Not so much that it would extend the wire to the limit and spring back together.

Would it be more practical for each side to shoot the two connected slugs at a time? At second thought, I think it would.

What do you think?

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    $\begingroup$ It is certainly a fun idea, and hopefully someone can come up with something. It would perforce be very short range, and probably need to be in one barrel. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Jul 3 at 20:47
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    $\begingroup$ I'm trying to not VTC more of your Qs. From the help center we read, "To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where … your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers." Stack Exchange is not a discussion forum. Please read Advice concerning questions asking HOW to implement a technological procedure or device. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jul 4 at 6:53
  • $\begingroup$ IRL even a perfect graphyne flawless monomolecular wire is very weak. When wrapped around a pencil the wire is still almost straight at a nanoscopic scale; very little of the tension in the wire pushes into the pencil. $\endgroup$ Jul 4 at 7:49
  • $\begingroup$ @KevinKostlan IRL we still have exactly what OP wants as shotgun ammunition though... en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shotgun#Novelty_and_other $\endgroup$
    – Hobbamok
    Jul 4 at 8:26
  • $\begingroup$ Shadowrun had a monofilament net gun called a "Julienne" $\endgroup$
    – Thorne
    Jul 6 at 3:48

4 Answers 4

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Use one barrel

A problem with dual barrels, by the way, is that if one of the guns jams, then the cord whips around and kills the user.

I am reminded of the medieval chain shot projectile, which was two hollowed halves of a cannon ball with a chain inside. It was a very effective anti-ship weapon and had useful effective antipersonnel. This was fired by a single barrel cannon.

A modern round should also use a similar concept, even if the wire was only a molecule thick, although that thin is (pardon the pun) stretching it. True, it may not be as effective, though the ease of use and reliability would more than compensate.

And, actually, these rounds exist in reality! Kind of, anyway.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes, the Bolo rounds, that's why i used this name in the title, but the idea is for the cable to stretch wider than a person for brutal cheese-cutting halving. $\endgroup$ Jul 3 at 23:02
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    $\begingroup$ @PauloRaposo You can do that by adding a lot more wire. $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    Jul 4 at 2:30
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    $\begingroup$ From the linked Wiki article I got to this one: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shotgun#Novelty_and_other tl:dr: OP, your idea already exists IRL and is illegal in Illinois and Florida $\endgroup$
    – Hobbamok
    Jul 4 at 8:23
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    $\begingroup$ @PauloRaposo The thinner the wire, the more you can fit in. And if you design the two halves correctly, they will naturally tend to fly apart from each other due to aerodynamics. $\endgroup$ Jul 4 at 12:21
  • $\begingroup$ @AustinHemmelgarn, You've seen the spread of a shotgun, right? By the time aerodynamics pulls the bullets that far apart, the drag on the cable would be pulling them back together. No, we need a solid driver to push them apart, then a dampener to keep them at that distance for any significant depth of field. $\endgroup$ Jul 7 at 5:31
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The question becomes, are these bullets any more effective at killing people than regular bullets? Dead is dead. You could "invent" smart bullets which always hit their target. There are international laws which prohibit making weapons specifically to cause more pain. Is this supposed to cause terror or something? Modern bullets are fairly deadly already. Bullet design has not changed much over the past hundred years or so because they do their job perfectly well.

The issue with monomolecular wire is that it is only as strong as the molecular bonds holding the molecules together. Many of the "super materials" we are inventing have an "equivalent strength" ratio. Spider silk is five times stronger than steel, but we can easily break it due to how thin it is. Pretty much anything is weak when you make it thin enough. Such a shot would snap once any amount of force was placed upon it. The weights on each side would be more than enough to cause it to break.

You could potentially utilize carbon nanotubes, which are much larger than a monomolecular wire but still rather thin. A multiwalled carbon nanotube was tested to have the tensile strength of 9,100,000 psi. If you also utilized the smart bullets, they could auto target the victim's body and separate into two halves with a length of carbon nanotube between them. You would not need to invent a new double-barreled gun, just have the special bullet. It would likely need to be a gun capable of selecting a target prior to firing so the bullet would know how long to wait before deploying the wire. There would also need to be a certain distance between the gun and the target to allow the bullet to deploy properly. The gun would also not be rifled as spinning the bullet would mess with the targeting of the wire. This would limit its effective range making it a short to medium range weapon. The auto targeting aspect of the bullet would reduce the inaccuracy caused by the lack of rifling. There would also likely be a chance of bullet failure as sudden acceleration might damage the internal electronics. The margin of error can be whatever you deem for plot convenience. If these are fired by the enemy, the rate of failure would likely be higher. If they are fired by the main character, the rate of failure would be whenever drama is needed. Being able to fire this full auto seems a bit much, as each one would potentially kill its target unless plot armor gets in the way. Although… if carbon nanotubes are common, they would likely use it for armor as well. A strong flexible very thin armor could potentially prevent these bullets from working at all. You could always make these bullets a new development and state that armor technology has not caught up yet. Each time a new weapon is developed, people try to figure out a defense against it.

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    $\begingroup$ The idea is for the wire to extend broadly and swath many enemies at once, as long as they are in the same plane and at close range, it's a very niche weapon/ammunition with very specific uses, like stopping a charge of multiple attackers for example. $\endgroup$ Jul 4 at 2:26
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    $\begingroup$ It could be a disk launcher which extends the carbon nanotubes outward from the disk body. As carbon nanotubes are very small, the size of the disk does not need to be large. It could easily be something the size of a half dollar. Once an internal release was triggered, the spinning would send the wires extending outward until they reaches maximum length. A buzzing spinning disk of death. $\endgroup$ Jul 4 at 2:55
  • $\begingroup$ "Modern bullets are fairly deadly already." yeah, uhm, absolutely not. Modern HUNTING ammo is. The military/police bullets absolutely are not for exactly that reason of "causing more pain" $\endgroup$
    – Hobbamok
    Jul 4 at 8:20
  • $\begingroup$ As someone who has served in the military for two decades, I can tell you that the ammo generally carried by soldiers (5.56 NATO) are designed to kill people and not cause unneeded pain. There are laws against it. They balance killing power with weight and size. Bigger rounds might be deadlier, but a soldier can carry fewer of them and the recoil is worse. I agree, it is not a perfect bullet, but it has done the job since 1980. Point being, the 5.56 bullet has not changed much over the past 40 years and is unlikely to change much in the near future. $\endgroup$ Jul 4 at 18:05
  • $\begingroup$ +1 for pointing out that a very thin wire, even made of a strong material, can still snap! Although this is a bit of a wall of text: maybe using the "# Heading" could help break it up? $\endgroup$
    – PipperChip
    Jul 5 at 16:26
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The first issue you'll face is the probability that the explosive charges won't be aligned. One goes off a millisecond before the other, and it'll go flying off to one side due to one side pulling on the other. For a bullet moving the speed of sound, it'll move 13 inches every millisecond.

You could time the charges better by connecting them with with a shared high-explosive fuse, but then you'd have to connect the insides of the barrels. You'd probably want to for the cord in any case. Otherwise, you'd have the cord running through the barrels, and that would be bad.

For separation, here's a fun sci-fi-ish possibility: Make the cord out of memory-wire that reverts to its original shape when heated. It wouldn't need to snap into a solid bar, it would just have to act like a spring.

Alternate possibility: secondary charge. The wire is coiled up between the two bullets. Have the shared fuse also light a slower fuse that blows a tiny secondary charge, wrapped in those coils. Not enough to damage the wire, but enough to push the bullets apart. You'd need to optimize it for a specific range because the bullets would have a tendency rebound back into each other.

Yea, monomolecular wire isn't a real thing right now, but science is funny. They keep finding things that change the paradigm, like lithium-sulfur batteries or new phases of matter. Admittedly, this would be on scale with something that you could build a space elevator out of, but it downgrades the idea from "impossible" to "implausable," and that's enough if you wrap a good story around it.

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    $\begingroup$ Those are useful ideas, thank you. $\endgroup$ Jul 6 at 1:12
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This is pretty much exactly what a Taser does. It fires two prongs into the victim and runs a current between them. It does this by having multiple barrels.

Taser barrel configuration.

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  • $\begingroup$ Except the wire doesn't connect the two prongs, otherwise it would be impossible to shoot each from a barrel, that's why i'm going with just one barrel, but thanks anyway. $\endgroup$ Jul 6 at 1:10
  • $\begingroup$ Also, you're talking about severely sub-sonic rounds. No penetration power for the bullets, much less the wire between them. $\endgroup$ Jul 7 at 5:02

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