Propellant Reservoir Weapon
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…the instructor poked at his small grey puddle with the burning match. It smouldered fitfully and then put the match out.

"And that, gentlemen, is your propellant. Now if you'd care to put your ear-defenders on I'll show you how it's meant to be used. Corporal?" A dozen or so meters away the Conqueror heaved itself into life, its turret panning round slowly to face downrange. The instructor's voice re-appeared through the ear-defenders.

"If you look down range, you will notice two targets - an old French LeClerc hull and a clapped out DROPS truck. My gunner will engage them with long-rod 'fin and hef respectively. This is what it does it used properly…"

Basic Information

This is a firearm which fires its ammunition using propellant dispensed from a reservoir rather than loaded as part of a cartridge. In some ways this represents a return to the days of powder and shot, albiet with breech loading and a far more convenient way of handling the powder. The propellant should probably be expected to be a liquid - although a compressed gas might be suitable as well.

For the time being this is still a theoretical technology - there are experimental ordnance class weapons that have used it, but to date the mechanical complication of the action and the nature of the propellants have made them expensive, unreliable and unsafe.

If the process can be made to work, there are potential savings to be made in a variety of areas - notably a saving in the mass of the ammunition carried (at the cost of an increase in weapon mass) and the potential to make more efficient use of charge relative to the range of the shot1. The use of an electrothermal propellant might even reduce the hazard from propellant explosions.

Expect reservoir technology - if it develops at all - to appear first in ordnance (probably tank cannon) and evolve from there. In small arms this is likely to be a late-appearing competitor to caseless ammunition and in both catergories it is likely to find itself competing with railguns/coilguns.

For the pedantic, some varieties of airguns could also be considered reservoir weapons.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Useful twenty minutes into the future, mostly as flavour all though it will be interesting to see players reactions the first time their characters need to refill their weapons from a bottle.
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