The problem: If somebody fires a (kinetic) gun on a spaceship, the bullet is likely to penetrate the hull and cause a host of problems.

I want to incorporate spaceships and fighting on them and in them, boarding action and all the other fun stuff in my current project. How could you solve this?

  • From my other questions and my extensive research I know that it is very probable that kinetic guns (chemical propellant and other) are likely to keep the #1 position in handheld firearms. For example, lasers can easily be nullified by reflective armor. Is that right? In this case, no energy weapons please.
  • The scenario is low-AI, too. So no thinking or 'intelligent' bullets.
  • I once found an idea about a material within the ship's hull which 'deactivates bullets'. But just build a body armor out of it, and you’re bulletproof.
  • Tasers and the like are OK for law enforcement etc. But I plan to incorporate vicious and deadly conflict within a spaceship.

So, is there any solution, or do I need to get rid of one or more of these requirements?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Oct 12 '16 at 21:22
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Just a quick point re your negation of bullet-proof material - just because the material is available for ship manufacturers to use to protect the hull doesn't mean it's practical, economical, or even generally available, for use in the manufacture of bullet-proof vests. Besides, we already have bullet-proof vests, but people don't always wear them. $\endgroup$ – megaflop Oct 13 '16 at 12:27
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Watch Firefly... $\endgroup$ – J... Oct 13 '16 at 16:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Carry needle guns that fire fletchettes? you might fit a thousand needles in the space of 10 bullets, giving a hundred 10-needle shots or ten 100 needle blasts. 10 or 100 needles moving fast will injure or kill a human, but won't have the same kinetic impact on solid walls. Vaguely like a shotgun, but could be electrically launched. $\endgroup$ – Criggie Dec 21 '16 at 3:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ See also Have spaceships been tested to withstand bullets? on Space Exploration. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Apr 21 '17 at 14:55

31 Answers 31


Just a couple more thoughts to add to the mix...

Presumably civilisation has the ability to control gravity if they can walk around on their spaceships, so maybe a weapon which fires a device that sticks to the target and creates a large gravitational pull that renders them immobile?? (I know this requires a huge stretch of the scientific imagination but may be quite fun to play with)

Or maybe some kind of weapon that only targets living flesh? Admittedly, I have no idea how this would work or penetrate armour so maybe not a great idea. Unless someone could come up with some pseudo-scientific explanation for a quantum rifle that fires straight through walls etc but somehow only damages living tissue???