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To make a long story short, my world has a variety of individuals of varying talents, and along with that, malevolent monsters of the large and dangerous variety, who these people are often employed to defeat (Superheroes, to make a long story short).

One individual has been gifted with super strength. Instead of beating monsters to death with various melee weapons like many who share a similar power do, he has taken a far more unique, and less suicidal approach: Carrying the biggest gun possible to blow these monsters apart.

This man is roughly twenty-five times stronger than an adult male on average, capable of reaching up to fifty times in times of desperation. He is rather large, roughly 7ft and 190kg. He lacks any superpowered way to anchor himself to the ground (and would prefer to not carry some sort of pitons or stabilising equipment which could do so), and is only a small amount tougher than an average human(Hence his reluctance to face monsters head on), meaning any gun wherein firing can produce forces sufficient to physically damage a human body will do so, albeit to a slightly lesser extent than a non-super (For the sake of the question, we'll assume that his super strength means that he won't damage his muscles, bones or joints by carrying these heavy weapons).

He would also prefer a weapon which he can feasibly use, as while he may technically be capable of lifting a certain weapon, its sheer size makes it impractical to aim or move. He will largely be using it as a hip/shoulder fired weapon.

Taking into account features such as recoil, power-to-weight, reloading, and the sheer size of the weapon in comparison to the human body, what is the largest, most powerful weapon which he could practically carry around and use? The technological level is identical to that of real life; that is, if it exists in real life, its fair game. He is also a government entity, so no restrictions on what exactly he can use (For the sake of the question he has access to guns belonging to every country.)

Note: For the sake of the question, weapons defined as "Guns", that is, propellant-based weapons which fire a solid projectile directly at the target, (Anything from a .22 pistol to a tanks cannon) would be preferred over, say, mortars or missile systems.

Bonus round: What is the most practical gun for an individual with super strength to use?

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    $\begingroup$ Exactly how super-strong is this person? Is it more of a "can actually carry the gun from Predator and its battery" or "can lift the multi-ton body of a modern self-propelled artillery gun and run around beneath it like Fred Flintstone"? $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Commented Oct 21, 2022 at 8:40
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    $\begingroup$ What situations do you have in mind? Traditionally superheros encounter a lot of hostage situations or otherwise fight among civilians that must not be hurt, if that also applies to your world that would probably make any weapon that can't be aimed very well not practical. If the supers must instead slay millions of evil monsters in the evil-dimension "practical" has yet another meaning. $\endgroup$
    – user91641
    Commented Oct 21, 2022 at 8:45
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    $\begingroup$ @ooak I probably should have stated this in the question, but by monsters I mean rather large, monstrous beings that are hard to kill and quite dangerous. Hence, the largest package possible. $\endgroup$
    – ebinbenis
    Commented Oct 21, 2022 at 10:03
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    $\begingroup$ The "most practical" depends on enemies mostly. For example, a swarm of insects could as well require a flamethrower, there are one-man portable devices as well as mounted on a chassis, your superman ould as well use the latter. An agile predator could require a minigun, an armored hulk would ask for an AP cannon (BTW a wheel-mounted cannon could well be operated by your hero without carrying), anything swarm-like would probably require flak/thermobaric weapon to destroy, etc. $\endgroup$
    – Vesper
    Commented Oct 21, 2022 at 12:53
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    $\begingroup$ This man is roughly twenty-five times stronger than an adult male on average (..) he is rather large, roughly 7ft and 190kg in that case you could look it up and multiply the dimensions of the weapon you find by e.g. factor 2 and its weight by a factor 25 ? (I've no clue about guns, actually :d :d this is not an answer ) $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Commented Oct 21, 2022 at 15:00

11 Answers 11

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Anything that has less kick than friction between the superman's legs and ground

The primary problem with those guns, big or small, is the law of saving impulse. If something is thrown forwards, the rest of the system is thrown backwards, m1*v1 = m2*v2, or better with vectors, yet you got my point. If your superman can lift a Dora, let him use it, but if he can't stand still when that Dora fires, what good is there of him using that big cannon? Essentially you are limited to a minigun in the range of M61 or a Gatling (hello Fallout!), or a flak cannon 23 to 30 mm caliber used as single shot weapon instead of full auto. Anything bigger will topple the superman when firing.

An educational read on topic: https://what-if.xkcd.com/21/

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  • $\begingroup$ So your superman should have supercleats, is what I'm getting from this. $\endgroup$
    – Hearth
    Commented Oct 21, 2022 at 19:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Hearth. Unfortunately, this is missing the rotational component, or torque, induced by the weapon about the cleats. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 21, 2022 at 21:04
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    $\begingroup$ @MadPhysicist For that, I suppose they'd need some kind of brace behind them; something attached to the weapon or their super-suit that folds out and provides a third point of contact. ...Or just have the superhero be a centaur, perhaps. $\endgroup$
    – Hearth
    Commented Oct 22, 2022 at 0:21
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    $\begingroup$ @MadPhysicist Torque component can be reduced by lowering the hold of a weapon, say if you use a hip mount instead of shoulder mount, or plain attack from prone position. Friction can be increased, but not to an extreme, thus it's a bigger problem. $\endgroup$
    – Vesper
    Commented Oct 22, 2022 at 4:49
  • $\begingroup$ If he can carry one gun, he can carry two and always fire two shots at a time in opposite directions to solve the recoil issue $\endgroup$
    – user35577
    Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 11:32
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TL/DR: Rather than one huge gun, your hero would opt for a practical kit that may be too heavy for a normal person, along with more ammo. He would use his super strength to make it work, or simply to move faster while carrying it.

This will depend a lot on the type of monsters he will fight, and where it would happen.

Unless he's invulnerable, the first thing would be suitable armor. This depends on what the monsters use to attack, if they use ranged weapons, etc. Armor weight is a big problem for soldiers, but not for this guy, so that's definitely a plus.

At close range, and if the monsters aren't too armored, he would probably opt for a full auto shotgun with drum magazine. This is suitably badass, and not too long, so it is not unwieldy inside the tight corridors of a dungeon. In addition, it offers a very flexible choice of ammo, buckshot, slugs, door breaching rounds, explosive rounds, etc. One 12-gauge slug cartridge weighs about 45 grams, so this guy can easily carry one thousand rounds in his backpack. That should be enough for some dungeon cleanup action.

Of course he would need a sidearm, and he's probably the only guy in town who can handle a Desert Eagle, so at last this gun can do something useful in a story, although the ammo capacity is really tiny.

Another potential sidearm could be a suitable bladed weapon, preferably longer than the monsters' reach. A polearm would not be practical, so perhaps a bastard sword. Adjust to taste depending on the monsters' carapace thickness: it could also be a hammer or a bec de corbin. With extra strength, bladed or blunt weapons would be really fast and deadly, as the kinetic energy is directly dependent on the user's strength. If no guns are available, I would also suggest a bow, since this guy wouldn't have problems with draw strength.

Unless they have magical armoured skin, it is unlikely the monsters would just shrug off 7.62mm. Such guns are small enough to be handled indoors, which also becomes a problem if the gun is too long. So at ranges where a shotgun is not adequate, he'd probably end up with a military assault rifle. The reason armies have switched to smaller calibers is ammo weight, and our guy has no such issue, plus there is a wide range of ammo available already.

At very long range, or for heavily armored monsters, of course a .50 cal would be ideal. However it is long and heavy, which means a high moment of inertia. Since our man has to rely on ground contact to turn around, if the gun is too heavy, he won't be able to turn around quickly: his feet would just slide on the ground. So even with super strength, the huge heavy .50 sniper rifle is still impractical in most circumstances.

In addition, because even heroes have to reload, he'll need teammates. He can carry their ammo, and carry them if they're wounded, though. In fact, the hero can carry the huge heavy .50 cal rifle and ammo for his sniper buddy so the team walks fast, then drop him on a ledge overlooking the action so his buddy can cover him.

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    $\begingroup$ To be fair, the question was the largest possible gun a superstrong man could carry. The bonus question was the most practical application of superstrength, however. $\endgroup$
    – ebinbenis
    Commented Oct 21, 2022 at 10:04
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TL:DR - A machine gun AND and anti-materiel rifle

Assuming that 'practical' includes things like 'I can buy the weapon, spare parts and ammunition off the shelf' then may I suggest the H&K MG3? Technically speaking this is a General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG). It's distinguishing feature is a very high rate of fire, up to 1300 rounds per minute. As poaching in Africa has sadly demonstrated, even elephants can be brought down with enough bullets. Normally a rate of fire this high can be an issue as 1000 rounds of 7.62x51 ammunition weighs over 2.5Kg (5.5lbs), in addition to the 12Kg (24lbs) of the gun itself. However, your super human can tote this around like a kids BB rifle.

While intended to be fired prone from its bipod, recoil is manageable from standing, and could be improved further if a gunsmith were to fit an effective muzzle brake (although hearing protection would be absolutely essential at that point, or your hero would be permanently deafened by a couple of minutes firing). Probably also worth pointing out that accuracy further than a few meters away is about zero with any battle rifle cartridge on full auto from standing, and being strong doesn't really make much difference. So prefer longer range engagements from the bipod. Super strength just makes carrying all this weight practical.

This covers engagements from 0 - 300m (330yds). Normal people only get to bring one gun to a gun fight. But not our guy! With 25 times the lifting capacity of a normal human he is currently less encumbered than we would be by a pocket pistol. So he can bring along a really big gun too. The choice is between any accurate, compact anti-materiel rifle (e.g. the M82A1 Barrett 50 - 12.9Kg (28.4lbs) for raw power, or a rifle chambered for something like the Cheyenne Tactical .408 or Barrett .416 for accuracy and supreme long range capability.

He still has enough carrying capacity left over to armour himself like a presidential limousine.

Finally remember that these weapon systems are very expensive, and being good with guns requires hundreds of hours of practice a year. Which is also very expensive!

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    $\begingroup$ Antimaterial = shooting antimatter. Antimateriel = designed to destroy hardware. $\endgroup$
    – void_ptr
    Commented Oct 21, 2022 at 21:54
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You have to consider two aspect of the recoil on the person firing a weapon: the risks of slipping and topping.

For slipping, the coefficient of kinetic friction of rubber on dry asphalt is 0.9.

Since your subject weights 1900 N, if we assume they are wearing rubber sole boots on asphalt their weight will be able to ensure resistance to a recoil force of $0.9 \cdot 1900 = 1710 N$. Anything greater than that and they would start slipping under the recoil. Of course it is likely that they will not always be in the ideal situation, so you will have to account for that.

For the topping, things become more difficult, because they will have to lean forward to avoid being flipped by the recoil. To simplify, let's assume that the weapon is held at $2h$ while the center of mass of the character is at $h$.

enter image description here

If they lean forward by an angle $\alpha$, the max recoil force they can withstand is given by $2\cdot h \cdot F \cdot cos(\alpha)=m\cdot g \cdot h \cdot sin(\alpha)$ which gives $F=1/2\cdot m\cdot g \cdot tan (\alpha) = 950 \cdot tan (\alpha)$.

As you can see from the above simplified model, for any leaning less than 45 degrees their weight will not be enough to avoid being tipped by a smaller recoil force.

Therefore, if you consider the limitations of being on a grippy enough ground and leaning forward while firing, I concur with Vesper's answer to not get too fancy with using overpowered weapons, since they would make firing them more and more cumbersome.

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Meet the RT-20

RT-20

It's a Croatian anti-materiel rifle designed to fire 20mm Hispano-Suiza rounds - the very same you find in the autocannons of the good ol' Spitfire.

Initially designed to disable and "blind" modern battle tanks, it shoots off things like armored optics impervious to regular machine gun fire.

At 20kg, it is a bit too heavy for a regular human to try to fire from the hip - but would make a perfect fit for your super. It is also recoilless like an RPG launcher, so super-traction is not required.

It also comes with several bonus points:

  • Rounds come in both armor-piercing and high-explosive variants
  • Cross-compatibility with Hispano Mk V means it can be easily modified into an autocannon (regular RT-20s are single-shot)
  • It looks badass with the recoil tube and muzzle brake.
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Wrong question - he'll use his strength for armour and ammo

Ammo

We already have guns designed for taking down large, aggressive, heavily-armoured monsters, and have had for 200 years. These only need a regular human to operate them. They were even scaled up to the point they could take out light-to-medium armoured vehicles, easily penetrating an inch of solid steel. I don't care what your monsters look like, an anti-tank rifle will make short work of them.

Because of recoil (and likely the practicality of dealing with the much larger cartridges), anti-tank rifles have tended to use smaller magazines. Your super can handle that no problems though, so they can presumably figure out some way to work with larger magazines or a belt/drum.

The biggest problem with fighting this way is what happens when you run out of ammo, of course, and your super has no doubt seen further than you on this. What makes you militarily effective is how long you can keep putting lead on your target(s). So your super will have a couple of hundred kilos of ammo stashed (somehow) around himself. Even a seriously large bullet won't be more than 100g per cartridge, so that gives him maybe 2000 rounds to play with. That's enough to fire off 1 round per second for half an hour solid, which is going to put a serious crimp in the day of most malevolent monsters.

Armour

Then the other side of the equation. If one of these malevolent monsters does manage to get up to him, he's no more resilient than your average human. Strong does not equal bite-proof, and you only need to screw up once to become a chew toy. So a sensible super will cover their bets by getting armoured up.

Your average fit human being can easily manage a 20kg load, so your super can manage 500kg. With 200kg of ammo, that leaves 300kg payload free.

An entire suit of plate armour weighed around 25kg and was typically around 1mm thick. Your super can therefore comfortably outfit himself with 1cm thick steel all round. This won't stop something truly determined from doing some damage, but it'll radically improve his chances.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thats correct, but while the bonus question is for the most efficient application of super strength to firearms, the base question is the biggest he can possibly use. While super-strength is something the hero has, super intelligence is not, and the ape part of his brain is determined to find the biggest gun he can shoot before the recoil physically knocks him off his feet or breaks his spine.. I've seen a video of a 6 1/2 foot man who is far smaller than I shooting a PTRS AT rifle, so its not the upper limit of weapons. $\endgroup$
    – ebinbenis
    Commented Oct 21, 2022 at 21:55
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Bazookas

According to this guy, rocket launchers feature an open back to spread a majority of the recoil force into the air behind the user. Watching a live fire test certainly seems to back up that statement. Notice that the user is standing, not kneeling, the entire time and seems to barely move during or after firing.

Due to his military connections, your super strength man could plausibly request a modified version of this AT4; one with a "clip" of missile heads that automatically load into the tube and perhaps a single-handed trigger allowing him to fire with one hand, or even use two akimbo.

Given the restrictions you described, this would probably be the most useful for him, considering that the largest inhibitor for RPG launchers is the weight of ammunition and the weapon itself rather than the actual usage of it.

As far as most practical, I would reiterate that it depends entirely on the situation and the types of enemies faced. If it's one big guy with one small weak spot and a bunch of armor on it, I'd suggest a very large, heavy sniper rifle. If your strongman is facing a large group of enemies, a better weapon would be an automatic shotgun or a grenade launcher, depending on the distance and how willing he is to wrestle with recoil. Longer range large enemies (or flying enemies) would be most suitable for the akimbo bazookas I suggested, especially since you can equip him with heat-seeking warheads.

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A light howitzer like the M101

Towed artillery has wheels, which means he can drag it along with no need for external stabilizers. He can stand to the side when it fires, removing any need for damaging himself.

The gun has quite a punch, so he can hip fire the gun.

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The Mountain Katyusha

(Anything from a .22 pistol to a tanks cannon) would be preferred over, say, mortars or missile systems.

On one hand, I hear ya. On the other hand...

Carrying the biggest gun possible to blow these monsters apart.

If there's one thing I know about monsters, it's that they don't give a crap about bullets. Notoriously bulletproof, monsters are. Another thing I know is that rockets are technically neither mortars, nor missiles. So borrow a book out of the Soviet library and hand your man a Mountain Katyusha.

enter image description here

Carrying a total of eight RS-82-derived Soviet rockets, this rail-aimed weapon system was made to be disassembled and carried by half a dozen men in backpacks, this somewhat adhoc weapon system and its handy tripod are perfect for giving the monster of the week the surprise of his life in the form of 12lbs of explosives carried on 150lbs of rocket motors.

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My super has this weapon, a M230 thirty mm chain gun (he's much more powerful than yours, 'tho, and has flight powers to anchor himself)-- enter image description here

Instead, he could use a M134 7.62mm mini-gun in a similar arrangement, bicep mounted, with the backpack of ammo, motor, and batteries. Although I can't find the recoil of the weapon. M134

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Look to modern day rifles. Big rifles are recoil-limited to what the human body can take and you say he's little better than a normal human in this regard.

Thus the biggest rifle he can handle is a .50cal. (There is a bigger rifle in existence, I believe it's Russian, and it risks breaking the shooter's shoulder if they're not very careful. You normally don't see them in the US because being over .50cal makes it an NFA item, tons of paperwork.)

Use the extra strength for things like armor.

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