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In my game, spaceships need to have weapons with more than one purpose, due to the cost of hauling extra weight across interplanetary/interstellar space. My railgun needs to be able to fire plasma ampoules (for point defense), long rods of metal (for precision sniping), junk ampoules (for clogging up an enemy's orbit) and anti-armor bombs (self explanatory). How would a gun like this work?

Edit: I meant how can a railgun adapt to fire drastically different types of ammunition, for all of the ammunition are different sizes for maximum effect and need different "barrel" sizes for all of them. As far as I know, railguns have an enclosed barrel just like any regular cannon or gun, so is it possible to expand the barrel (with moving parts) without hurting speed or performance? If it isn't, I'll try to write in some fancy new technology that can multiply plasma or something.

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  • $\begingroup$ FYI, it's good norm waiting at least 24 hours before accepting any answer. In this way your question attracts more attention from all the users around the world and it increases the chances you get a good answer. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Mar 10, 2023 at 5:42
  • $\begingroup$ Strictly speaking, a railgun doesn't need to be enclosed, though there are advantages to that approach. You could have an open-frame railgun with the projectiles extending past the rails, which might be a neat visual. $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Mar 10, 2023 at 20:04

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Sabot

In modern weapons, when you want to fire something that doesn’t perfectly match your barrel size, you can use a sabot. enter image description here

It is a supportive device that lets you fire differently shaped items down the same barrel. There’s no reason it wouldn’t work for your railgun. You’d have magnetic “carriage” sabots, that would propel along whatever payload you need.

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  • $\begingroup$ could also be used for moving cargo, package some high value metals spud gun it back home and have the money deposited into your account. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Mar 13, 2023 at 0:35
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You just need to encase the desired type of projectile into a sabot that fits the railgun "tube", so that the railgun can propel the sabot with its content.

Once it is flying outside of it, the sabot can be discarded or left to crush upon impact.

At the end, it's not much different than having a gun or a rifle shooting blanks, full metal jacket hammo or rubber bullet.

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A railgun doesn't needs a barrel like the gas driven guns.

You can attach a rail just outside the spaceship. As projectiles you can just put containers any size onto this rail. You just have to compensate the momentum of the recoil, if you attach the rail not pointing to the center of mass of your spaceship.

By rails, i mean something like the Transrapid (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transrapid) or the linear accelerators used in launched roller coasters (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Launched_roller_coaster).

Maybe you can look at some "home made" railguns, like https://www.instructables.com/How-to-Make-a-Railgun/

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