Let me start this whole thing off by admitting that, yes, there’s a lot of text here. So if you’re the type of person who likes to skip most of the text and jump directly to the conclusions, then all you have to do is look under the sections I’ve aptly titled ‘conclusions’.
There are four different ways we can go about trying to quantify the C-14 gauss rifle, and in this section I will be listing those different methodologies, as well as detailing the strong and weak points of those methodologies. During the quantification we will be using all four methods in succession to see what each and every one of them says independently, and after that we will be forming our final conclusion. All too often I see people cling to one example and then base all of their conclusions from that one single incident, forgetting the larger picture in the process. This is not how things should be done. We’re here to see how lore most consistently depicts the rifles, not base all our conclusions on one single incident and dismiss the rest.
What follows are the different methodologies we will be using:
- Judging performance by the technical stats provided on the rifle. This method would have us use the technical specifications we’ve seen on the C-14 gauss rifle and from that gauge the kinetic energy and momentum. Those two will in turn tell us how this rifle compares to modern weaponry. This is by far the best way to go about things, in my opinion, since the technical specs come directly from the creators of StarCraft and the specs have remained consistent throughout the years and the entirety of canon material.
- Judging the power of the rifle by the feats it has performed. This method would have us ignore the technical specs and instead focus solely on what we’ve seen the rifle do to form conclusions on how powerful it is. It will answer questions like: "What does it do to unarmored people?", "What does it do to metal surfaces?" and so on. This is not a particularly good way to go about things, because not only do different authors have different ideas on what the weapon is capable of, but it’s also very hard to judge the specifics. Different sorts of ammunition will have different effects on different targets, bullet behavior will affect the results greatly, etc. The good thing about this is that if someone wants to dismiss the gauss rifle as really being a gauss rifle and forgo the technical specs, then one could still use this method to gauge how powerful it is.
- Judging performance by looking at secondary attributes of the weapon. With secondary attributes I mean such things as recoil, momentum imparted to the target and effective range. These are things that don’t directly tell us the power of the rifle, but carry with them certain implications. Think of it like this: If you see someone being pushed and want to figure out how strong the push was, then the best thing would be to measure the push directly, but you could also get an idea on how strong it was by looking how far back the guy being pushed was pushed. In other words, you can get a rough feel for the weapon in this way. But as with the previous methodology, specifics vary from author to author and with these things being mere secondary attributes, they’re not as reliable as primary attributes.
- Judging performance by looking at the overall picture. Like I said earlier, there are lots and lots of weapons in StarCraft, and one way to quantify the C-14 would be to look at how powerful the less mentioned weapons are and then see where the C-14 would fit into the overall picture. A pistol should be weaker, for instance, as would rifles normally carried by unarmored humans.
There. Now that we’re done with the setup and introduction for this quantification project, let’s get to the actual quantification.
Judging Performance by the Technical Stats
The C-14 gauss rifle has always and exclusively been described as a gauss weapon that fires 8 mm hypersonic spikes, and this is enough for us to get a bead on the general ballpark we’re talking about when it comes to kinetic energy and momentum. The kinetic energy and momentum in turn tells us how it would compare with modern rifles. It's not an exact science, however.
Kinetic Energy and Momentum:
So what is kinetic energy and momentum, I hear you ask. Well, the kinetic energy is simply a measure on just how much energy the spike/bullet carries. The more energy, the more destructive it will be. Kinetic energy is how people today measure if weapon A is stronger then weapon B. Of course, like with all things it's not quite that simple because there are other variables involved as well, but as a rule of thumb you could use kinetic energy as a direct indication of the strength of a weapon. Momentum then? Well, it has more to do with the physical kick the weapon will have. How powerful will the recoil be, how hard will the guy being shot at be pushed when the spike hits, etc. It's also important when it comes to figuring out how good the weapon is at penetrating targets. In essence, these two things will tells us pretty much everything we want to know about the weapon, and they'll offer hard figures to compare with modern weapons.
How do we figure out the momentum and kinetic energy? Well, there are two very simple formulas to figure that out: the formula for kinetic energy is E = m * v^2 * 0.5, where E is energy, m is mass, and v is velocity. The formula for momentum is quite similar: p = m * v, with p being the momentum. So as you can see we need to establish both the velocity and the mass of the spikes being fired by the C-14 gauss rifle in order to get our numbers.
Figuring out the velocity is easy: The spikes are said to be fired at hypersonic speeds, and hypersonic is anything between mach 5 and 10, or anything between 1,700 m/s and 3,400 m/s. Thus, as a lower limit, the figure 1,700 m/s can be used. But the real velocity of the spikes can, and probably is, higher then so. This is rather impressive by modern standards, since normal assault rifle bullets aren't shot at such high velocities. For example, the M-16 has a muzzle velocity between 900 and 1,000 m/s, while the AK-47 have muzzle-velocities around 700 m/s.
The mass of the rounds is going to be harder to establish, since we need to know how the spike is shaped and how dense it is in order to get a total mass (density times volume gives us the mass). The technical specifications do give us something to work with however, namely the diameter of the spikes – which is 8 mm. We also know from various novels that both iron and steel are used as metals for the more common spikes, which tells us the density. So all we're missing is the volume. Since we know the diameter of the spike, all we need is length and shape. The most obvious way to go about establishing those variables would be to look at similar modern ammunition - kinetic penetrators. So what are kinetic penetrators? They're basically modern ammunition that's been designed to fly at very high velocities and pierce armor that way. They're pretty much exactly what the gauss rifle spikes are. With that in mind we find that modern kinetic penetrators are commonly very long compared to their width, this is because such a shape helps when it comes to penetration. By comparison, modern normal bullets are actually quite "chubby", if you could call it that. As examples of modern kinetic penetrators I’ll point to modern SLAP ammunition, modern flechette ammunition and even larger saboted ammunition. As you can see, all of those rounds are very long compared to their width, and this is what we'll use to figure out the volume of the gauss rifle spikes.
As a lower end we’ll be looking at the SLAP ammunition. I say lower end because it certainly doesn’t look like a ‘spike’ but still conforms to modern standards on how kinetic penetrators should be shaped. As a higher end we’ll be looking at the Steyr ACR flechette darts. As an aide, a long length is also implied in some of the novels, where marines can nail Zerg to the walls with the spikes. The only way that could happen is if the spike is long enough to penetrate the wall, stick to the wall, while also being long enough on the outside to actually hold the critter it just penetrated in the air. So, here's an image I made in paint, demonstrating the hypothetical shapes we're talking about, based on the SLAP and flechette rounds:
Listed in that image are also the various lengths (p stands for pixel and mm stands for millimeter, so mm/p basically means millimeters per pixel). What follows here are the volume and mass calculations based on the dimensions above (using iron density):
The shorter spike:
Vtot = Vcyl + Vcone
Vcyl = PI * r^2 * h
Vcyl = PI * 0.004^2 * 0.02256 = 0.000001134 m^3
Vcone = 0.333 * PI * r^2 * h
Vcone = 0.333 * PI * 0.004^2 * 0.01272 = 2.129e-7 m^3
Vtot = 0.000001134 m^3 + 3.129e-7 m^3 = 0.000001347 m^3
Mtot = 0.000001347 m^3 * 7874 kg/m^3 = 0.0106 kg = 10.6 g
The longer spike:
Vtot = Vcyl + Vcone
Vcyl = PI * r^2 * h
Vcyl = PI * 0.004^2 * 0.05144 = 0.000002586 m^3
Vcone = 0.333 * PI * r^2 * h
Vcone = 0.333 * PI * 0.004^2 * 0.02216 = 3.713e-7 m^3
Vtot = 0.000002586 m^3 + 3.713e-7 m^3 = 0.000002957 m^3
Mtot = 0.000002957 m^3 * 7874 kg/m^3 = 0.02329 kg = 23.3 g
Alright, now that we’ve established both the mass and velocity of the spikes, it’s time to get the interesting numbers – namely kinetic energy and momentum:
For the shorter spike:
KE = 0.5 * m * v^2
KE = 0.5 * 0.0106 * 1700^2 = 15.317 kJ
p = m * v
p = 0.0106 * 1700 = 18.02 kg*m/s
For the longer spike:
KE = 0.5 * m * v^2
KE = 0.5 * 0.02329 * 1700^2 = 33.654 kJ
p = m * v
p = 0.02329 * 1700 = 39.593 kg*m/s
What do all these numbers mean and what sorts of modern weaponry would they relate to? In short, the kinetic energy comes eerily close to modern .50 cal BMG ammunition, while the momentum is a bit less then so. For a more in-depth explanation, look under conclusions.
Getting a bead on the penetrative capabilities of the spikes is going to be a little harder then simply calculating the kinetic energy and momentum. There are just so many variables that factor into it all. However, there are a few ways to approximate penetration capabilities. For impacts below the hypervelocity region this site would suggest that momentum divided by the diameter would be one crude way to compare the penetration capabilites of two rounds (from this you can also see the reason behind why modern kinetic penetrators are long and thin). But, there's also a lot of discussion on just what causes penetration. Kinetic energy factors into it, and one problems seems to be exactly how it factors in. Furthermore, things like the shape and composition of the projectile would also factor in, though those two are not quite as important.
Below are the momentum divided by diameter calculations for a rough grasp on how well these rounds should penetrate. I am also including a .50 cal BMG round, which will be used for comparison purposes later on.
For the short spike:
A = PI * r^2
A = PI * 0.004^2 = 0.00005027 m^2
p / A = 18.02 / 0.00005027 = 358,464 (kg*m/s)/m^2
For the longer spike:
A = PI * r^2
A = PI * 0.004^2 = 0.00005027 m^2
p / A = 39.593 / 0.00005027 = 787,607 (kg*m/s)/m^2
For the .50 BMG round (lower end):
A = PI * r^2
A = PI * 0.006^2 = 0.0004524 m^2
p / A = 39 / 0.0004524 = 86,207 (kg*m/s)/m^2
For the .50 BMG round (upper end):
A = PI * r^2
A = PI * 0.006^2 = 0.0004524 m^2
p / A = 46 / 0.0004524 = 101,680 (kg*m/s)/m^2
By looking at the technical specifications of the C-14 gauss rifle and its ammunition we thus find that it should have a kinetic energy between 15 and 34 kilojoules, assuming the absolute minimum muzzle velocity. Why is kinetic energy important? It's pretty much how we determine if one gun is more powerful then another in modern days. Of course in truth a comparison is far more complicated than so, but kinetic energy is a good rough indicator. So, for comparison, an M16 assault rifle bullet has a kinetic energy of about 1.7 kilojoules, and an AK-47 assault rifle has a kinetic energy of around 2 kilojoules. The figures for the C-14 are quite high when compared with modern assault rifles. So what sorts of modern weapons have similar kinetic energies? Well, a heavy machine gun firing .50 cal BMG rounds has a kinetic energy between 15 and 20 kilojoules, so that's roughly on par. What all this means is that we can assume at least rough parity between the two in terms of kinetic energy. But to point out - the .50 cal BMG (or 12.7 mm) machine gun is something you mount on modern vehicles, like Hummvees. There are also some anti-materiel rifles using the same round, most famously the M2 Barrett.
Up next is the momentum. Momentum is important because it tells us how much recoil a weapon will have. Many mistakenly think that kinetic energy is what's behind recoil, but that's not the case. According to the conservation laws, kinetic energy is not conserved, but momentum is. In other words, just because the C-14 has the same amount of kinetic energy as a .50 cal machine gun, doesn't mean it has the same recoil. As for specific figures, we find that the C-14 has a recoil between 18 and 40 kg*m/s. For comparison, a .50 cal machine gun has a recoil between 39 kg*m/s and 46 kg*m/s. That’s a pretty substantial difference, only the highest figure from the C-14 matches the lowest figures from the .50 cal machine gun. But, that's still a very significant recoil, far greater then what you'd get from a modern assault rifle.
The figures we found in regards to the penetration capabilities aren't 100% conclusive, because there are still some factors that affect penetration, such as how the bullet is shaped and how hard it is that weren't factored in. But those are generally considered less important then the momentum behind the spike, as well as the diameter. If the momentum per surface area figures are anything to go by, the C-14 gauss rifle will have better penetration then the .50 cal machine gun because of the smaller diameter of the spike, even though the overall momentum is lower for the spike.
Of course, like I pointed out earlier, there are two different variants for the C-14. So are they both equally strong? I'd say no. They're so radically different in looks and size that there should be some difference there. But since both are said to fire 8 mm spikes at hypersonic speeds we can assume this estimate applies to both. Quite likely the newer version has a slightly higher muzzle velocity.
Judging the Power of the Rifle by Feats Performed
This part of the essay will try to compare the power of the rifle with modern weapons based on the amount of damage it does to quantifiable targets. As a disclaimer though, this is going to be difficult given that different weapons will have different effects on targets, and sometimes weapons with more kinetic energy will do less damage then weapons with less kinetic energy. It's even to be expected that one specific rifle will have drastically different results between two consecutive shots, because the bullet will never behave the exact same way. Even the ammunition used plays a large role in determining the amount of visible damage that is to be expected. For example, armor-piercing bullets will behave differently then hollow-point ammunition. The former, if fired at an unarmored person will generally just punch a small hole in the person, basically just flying straight through. A hollow-point round will instead flatten on impact and cause much more damage to a target.
The first section will deal with gauss rifles versus either unarmored or lightly armored individuals.
The C-14 gauss rifle versus unarmored or lightly armored individuals:
Before we start I think it's only fair to warn people that this can be very disturbing. When we're talking about what sorts of effects bullets will have on people, things are obviously going to get a little graphic. It's not pretty, but when discussing the power of guns, it's unfortunately a necessary evil. So if this sounds like something you want to skip, do so, and continue reading where the next section starts.
Alright then, first off we need to know what we’re supposed to be looking for and what sorts of rounds would create what sorts of wounds. Otherwise we can't very well compare the effects of the C-14 with anything else. In the last section I compared the C-14 gauss rifle with a .50 cal machine gun, so let’s continue that trend and find out what sorts of wounds we could expect if that machine gun was used on people. From there we can deduce if the impaler is weaker or stronger. Here’s a link to a post where someone has gathered info on ballistic gel tests and the like in order to gauge what the .50 cal machine gun is capable of. Further, it gives a basic explanation of what sorts of effects would come into play in creating the wound size. It also has a number of people giving personal input on what the machine guns are capable of, but more importantly, it serves as an apt demonstration of why listening to people on the internet who don’t have figures backing them up could lead to tears. There are people in that discussion swearing that the .50 cal can do things that can be demonstrated as false just by looking at the conservation laws.
Like I said, that page already gives a good rundown on the basic terminology, but I can do a brief summary here as well if you don't want to read it: When the bullet strikes flesh it will cause an outwards expanding shockwave in the meat, the cavity formed by this initial shockwave is called a temporary cavity. The permanent cavity is what is left after the temporary cavity has collapsed back in on itself - the permanent cavity is basically the bullet hole you’d see in a person afterwards. The permanent cavity is much smaller than the temporary one, so it's important to note the difference between the two. Another thing that’s good to know is what bullet yaw is. It’s when a bullet starts to tumble or spin inside a medium (like say, a human); when it starts to roll around and no longer flies with the pointy end first. If a bullet starts to yaw inside a person then the physical damage caused will be greatly increased.
What’s said in that thread can be summarized by this picture, showing a man standing next to a block of ballistic gel that's recently been shot at by a .50 cal round. If he’d been shot by such a round at close range, then the bullet would "merely" have punched a hole in him, shooting straight through his body before any more dramatic damage could be done. However, if there had been a wall or something in front of him, or if he had been standing a long distance from the machine gun when it fired, then there would be a chance that the bullet would start to yaw inside his body, and this would lead to a smallish entry hole and a very large exit wound. The famous limb removal that the .50 cal has been stated to be capable of is surprisingly true enough. If the bullet hits the bone, in say one of the arms or below the knee, then the bone shattering, coupled with the large temporary cavity, would likely be enough strain to sever the appendage from the rest of the body. But given that bullet behavior is rather hard to predict, it’s somewhat impossible to gauge just how often this would happen.
What remains a mystery for me is the head. What happens if you’re shot in the head by such a round? There’s a lot of bone in the head, which should help with keeping the head intact, but a lot of bone would also mean greater damage because it will fragment and blow apart. So which effect would win out? Much would also depend on where in the head the bullet hits. I’ve seen pictures of people that have allegedly been shot in the head with a .50 cal, and usually it shows a head smashed apart like a pumpkin would crumble under a sledge-hammer strike. The bullets hadn't removed the head, but they make whatever is clinging to the torso look like hamburger. The problem with looking at images like that is of course that we don’t know whether they’re real or not. There’s for instance a video of hunters shooting varmint somewhere in the mountains, and that video is often said to be .50 cal snipers taking down enemies in Afghanistan. I can't tell you how many times I've run across that video already. Then there’s of course the question of whether these pics are what you could consider average damage, or some of the rarer and more damaging shots. Summa summarum, this is far from an exact science and you can’t look at a bullet hole from an unknown projectile and deduce exactly how powerful it was when it hit. However, rough outlines can be drawn. A .50 cal machine gun, if fired at an unarmored person, should have the following effects: if the bullet strikes the torso we would expect a hole, if the bullet starts to yaw inside the wound, we would expect to see a big exit wound and a small entry wound (which would be rare unless the person being hit is hiding behind cover or far away), if the bullet hits the arms or legs then it should tear chunks out of them, or if it strikes bone quite likely sever the entire appendage. The head, as I said, is something of a mystery.
So now that we know roughly what to expect from a .50 cal round we can move on to the C-14 gauss rifle spikes, and see what they are capable of. There aren’t a whole lot of sources that deal with C-14 gauss rifles being fired at people without armor, but I'll post what little there is. What makes the problem worse is that generally rifles are merely said to be gauss rifles and no specific model is given for them (this section will deal exclusively with weapons identified as C-14s). Also keep in mind that bullet diameter will impact the amount of damage done, so the C-14 spike, even if it’s on par with a .50 cal bullet in terms of kinetic energy, would do less damage to flesh because of the smaller size.
From what I've read in the novels, comics and mangas, the effects resulting from the C-14 being used on people can be divided into two categories, lower showings and higher showings - or the less impressive and the more impressive. So let’s start with the lower showings.
The lower showings usually consist of the gauss rifles creating holes, or tearing away large pieces of meat. We’ve seen this in the Frontline manga and in I, Mengsk. The Frontline manga shows holes in people between two and three fingers in width. The round that hits the guy in the head blew a slightly-larger-then-fist sized hole in the back of the skull. The rest of the head is relatively intact, though. The guy furthest on the right also seems to have a fairly large trail of exploding blood oh his arm, given that it covers the entire diameter of the arm, it’s possible it was severed, but that’d be unconfirmable. All of these shots were fired at extremely close ranges (no more then 20 meters at maximum). Generally I'd say that the headshot might be a little less impressive then what you'd expect from a .50 cal machine gun, though I can't be certain. The holes seem about on par though, given that this happens from close range. Similar incidents can be seen in I, Mengsk, with heads nearly removed from the torso by spikes.
There's also a rather curious showing in the preview for the new Ghost Academy manga, where a Ghost is fired on without any too drastic effects. What makes it curious is that the guy fired on is alive in StarCraft II, and another Ghost also dies that's supposedly one of the main characters in the manga. Something tells me the entire thing is a holographic simulation, or some other similar training exercise.
Let's move on to the higher showings, which describe exploding heads, limbs ripped from the torsos, and even people sawn in half. Liberty’s Crusade describes a spike impacting a lightly armored soldier in the head vaporizing said head in a red mist. I, Mengsk described soldiers being fired on from close range having limbs torn from their bodies, heads smashed open and finally one soldier being cut in two with a longer burst. At a previous point in the same novel it's said that one man looked like he'd been sawn in two, Implying that he was at least nearly so.
So judging by the effects the weapons have on people the conclusion would be that it's around the same range as the .50 cal machine gun. We have things like limb removal and people cut in two, which are both definitely traits you'd attribute to high caliber machine guns and even then quite unlikely. We also have lower showings that are still within the realm of heavy machine guns, but not exclusive to them. In the case of heads, some are said to be vaporized, implying the whole thing literally exploded, we have mentions of heads 'smashed open' and finally heads that have huge holes in them but not much more.
The C-14 gauss rifle versus metal surfaces:
So, are there any other quantifiable things out there that we can use as points of comparison? Measuring how well the rifle does against people is only one method, after all. Well, there are a few incidents where C-14s have been used on metal surfaces, which can be useful.
The first incident that comes to mind is in volume four of the Frontline series. A prisoner tries to escape his prison and uses a C-14 to blast a hole in a metal wall to get to the outside. The hole looks about two meters in diameter, perhaps a little less, and the guy can easily walk through it. There's nothing solid on the thickness though, the edges look too badly mangled to get any decent figures from. At a guess we'd still be talking about several centimeters. The hole was undoubtedly created by a burst of fire, and not a single spike, of course, but the size of the hole is something you’d be hard pressed to accomplish with anything smaller than autocannons. Unfortunately I can't post a scan of the source because none exist that I'm aware of, as is the case for most of the material in the Frontline series. In any case, this is clearly beyond what a .50 cal machine gun could do.
Liberty’s Crusade also mentions spikes embedding themselves in metal surfaces. We don’t know how deep the spike penetrates, of course, but we can establish that these spikes don’t ricochet off metal surfaces. Logically, in order for a spike to embed itself in metal like that, it’d have to penetrate pretty deep. However, to point out, there are some sources that describe spikes ricocheting off walls, but the rifles firing those weren’t specifically identified as C-14s, so it's possible those were from different weapons.
One of the most interesting things to consider is these spikes against combat suits, given that combat suits are protected by metal plate and the C-14s have been designed to penetrate them. The most revealing bit comes from Liberty's Crusade where Raynor says that the old style combat suit Liberty is wearing will stop most common slugthrower, though not a good needle-gun. The slugthrower is presumably a weapon based on chemical propellant (much like modern rifles), while the needle-guns are gauss weaponry. The direct implication then is that gauss weapons are better at penetrating metal then normal rifles, which is just about as logical as you can get. Further more, realize that the armor Liberty is wearing is older and much weaker then modern combat armor, with a spike penetrating clear through with a single shot to the chest. Yet it was at times said to be invulnerable to small-arms fire.
The effects the C-14 gauss rifle ranges from what you'd expect from .50 cal range heavy machine guns, to something even heavier. Chopping a torso in two is not a particularly easy thing to do under combat conditions. Some showings, like the headshots from the Frontline manga, might be lower then what's expected from a .50 cal machine gun, though. Given the evidence, it'd be more then fair that the gauss rifle is at least on par with a .50 machine gun, judging by what it does to people.
The effects it has on metal surfaces go way beyond what you’d expect from modern heavy machine guns, though. We're talking about things that could only be accomplished with autocannons. Blasting a solid hole in a metal wall that’s large enough for a man to step through is not an easy feat. The mere fact that these weapons are supposed to be good against combat armor, which is protected by metal plate, should be an obvious indication that these guns have good penetration.
Judging performance by looking at secondary attributes
In this section we will be looking at attributes that can be used to gauge effectiveness and strength of the weapon, yet aren’t directly related to what damage they do or the technical specs. Such attributes include recoil, the momentum the rifle imparts to the target, and the effective range. As an example of what I mean with secondary attributes; Imagine someone being pushed, and now you want to figure out how strong the push was. The best way to do this would be to measure the push directly with a proper tool. But the indirect way to do this would be to look at how far back the person who was pushed is pushed.
Let’s start by figuring out what sort of recoil the C-14 gauss rifles have, and then compare that to the recoil on modern rifles. Both Liberty's Crusade and I, Mengsk provide some indication to how hard the kick is. The novels state the recoil is hefty and that the weapon was designed to be used with combat suits, but also that firing such rifles is possible without a combat suit. Liberty's Crusade even mentions a separate grip for unarmored people who fire the weapon (but then, which rifle variant has that grip?).
Alright, now that we know what the novels say about recoil, let's compare it with modern weapons. Clearly we can already from the start deduce that the recoil is higher than on something like a modern assault rifle, seeing as how they aren't designed to be fired by people wearing combat suits. But on the other hand we also know the recoil isn't as high as from something like a .50 cal machine gun, which I've mentioned earlier. Firing a weapon with such ammunition from a standing position is problematic on single-shot, and near impossible on full-auto. It's not impossible though, as these two videos demonstrate (1, 2). But, as I also mentioned earlier the recoil on a gauss rifle and a modern machine gun shouldn't be the same, given how momentum and kinetic energy work. You can have two weapons that are equally energetic, but one could have less recoil if it fired a smaller bullet at faster speeds then the other rifle. I pointed out the same when I went over the technical specifications earlier on. The .50 cal machine gun would have a roughly similar kinetic energy, but much heftier recoil. It doesn't end there, however. As you probably recall, the 1,700 m/s muzzle velocity I used back then was a bare minimum. So what would happen if the C-14 actually fired a slug at 2,500 m/s? Let’s have a look:
KE = 0.5 * m * v^2
m = 15,000 / (0.5 * 2,500^2) = 0.0048
p = m * v
p = 0.0048 * 2,500 = 12 kg*m/s
The recoil would drop to 12 kg*m/s, even though the spike still has the same kinetic energy behind it as it previously did. What I'm trying to get across here is that the recoil on the weapon could vary quite a lot depending on the specifics. I've seen a lot of people assume that since a weapon is very powerful, it also has to have a lot of recoil. That's true to an extent, but when it comes to rifles that fire small bullets at high velocities, the recoil isn't comparable to modern weaponry anymore. Since a gauss rifle is basically a weapon that fires small bullets at high velocities...
Oh, and what also needs to be mentioned is the size and mass of these weapons. The heavier a gun is, the more recoil the shooter can handle, since that kick is first absorbed by the gun and then first transmitted to the guy holding it. I have no exact way of quantifying felt recoil as opposed to the momentum of the spike, but given the difference in size between a C-14 and a normal assault rifle (or even machine guns in case of the newer variant of the gauss rifle), we are going to be talking about a significant, and noticeable, difference.
So what have we learned? That even if the gauss rifle was a modern weapon, the recoil would suggest it's firing something akin to 7.62mm NATO rounds (i.e. stuff that's mostly used in sniper rifles and light machine guns). But since it's a gauss rifle firing small projectiles at high velocities, the recoil indicates something more powerful then that. Factor in the large size of the rifle and the weapon becomes still more powerful. Again, the weapon would fit nicely in the same range (in terms of kinetic energy) as the .50 cal machine gun, but not much higher than so.
Momentum Imparted to the Target:
This section will deal with momentum transfer to the target, or how big a kick the guy fired at feels when hit. Now many of you might already be clever enough to realize that the recoil and the momentum dealt to target should be the same. Every action has an opposite and equal action, after all. If the guy fired at goes flying away, then so should the guy firing the weapon (just as long as one of them isn't braced or something similar). But if there’s one thing Hollywood has taught us it’s that a gun can send people shot at flying even if the guy firing said weapon barely twitches. All kidding aside – this phenomenon has actually been encountered in the StarCraft novels quite regularly. The guy firing receives less of a kick then the guy fired at. Because this is science fiction we have the option of accepting the phenomenon as real and chalking it up to technology we can’t understand, much like we would with faster-than-light travel. It’s also not as crazy as it might sound at first, since inertial-dampening and anti-gravity technology logically could be used to soften the recoil on weapons, and both technologies are used and understood by the Terrans. In essence, if they have such technologies then they should logically implement them on rifles.
So why is this important and why do I keep rambling on about it? Well, if it turns out that the momentum imparted to the target is greater then the recoil, it also means these rifles have recoil dampening features. Recoil dampening features in turn means that we can only use recoil to establish minimums based on how big a kick the weapons have, but in reality the rounds would carry more momentum then the recoil suggests.
So is there any way to get specific numbers on how much momentum is imparted to the target? Well, there's a grand total of one instance that provides something that can be easily used for calculation purposes, and that's in Speed of Darkness, when Ardo Melnikov shoots a leaping Zerg mid-air, sending it back to where it jumped from and nailing it to the wall. There's even a specific mention that the force of the slugs arrests the momentum of the critter in mid-air. Why is this such a good indication? Because we know roughly how much a Zerg critter weighs (I'm assuming the passage talks about a Zergling, given the behavior is similar. Yes, the exact passage says lurker, but they shouldn't exist yet, so Zergling will serve as a good low estimate. We can also deduce the rough timeframes involved (it's not like the Zergling was hovering above ground). The critter wasn't touching the ground, if it had been doing so then it could have held its ground via raw strength.
Let's review the figures. A rifle burst is capable of stopping a leaping Zerg in mid-air, not only halting its forward momentum, but then also sending it right back to the wall and pinning it there. Even if this Zerg weighs a mere 60 kg, then it would require a 600 kg*m/s momentum change just to keep it from falling to the ground. That momentum would have to be imparted for every second the critter is airborne. Not only that, but in addition to keeping the Zerg airborne, the momentum would also have to have enough kick to halt the forward momentum, and then send it back to the wall. Since the rifle fires around 30 rounds per second, it would take 20 kg*m/s per spike (assuming they all hit and none overpenetrated) just to keep it from falling to the ground. Add to that the other two factors (stopping the Zerg and then throwing it back) and you’ll realize that we are talking about some serious momentum transfer to the critter. Of course it's possible that the critter wasn't sent back to the exact same spot as it jumped from, but any elevation difference would be compensated for by arresting forward momentum and sending it back to the wall.
Now think back to the point in this essay where I tried to figure out the momentum from the spikes, judging only by the technical specifications. I came up with the minimum figure of 18 kg*m/s. Truthfully the figure from the above incident would probably be a lot higher then the 20 kg*m/s figure I estimated, so it's not a perfect fit, but it's still quite close. Suffice to say that you can’t stop a leaping 60 kg dog in mid-air and pin it to a wall with a modern rifle.
Effective range is sometimes also an indicator of how powerful a weapon is, and effective range is basically the range at where you can assume the weapon you're using will hit the target most of the time. The two classical assault rifles have effective ranges between 300 m (AK-47s) and 550 m (M-16). Granted, a lot of what determines the effective range is due to targeting systems rather than exclusively a stabile flightpath of the round, so this doesn’t tell us a whole lot in the end. But let’s have a look at it in any case. What’s the effective range of the C-14 gauss rifle?
Let’s start with Speed of Darkness which describes how Ardo Melnikov is able to target and hit skittering Zerglings a thousand meters out without much trouble. This is a lower limit when it comes to effective range, of course, since earlier they'd been told to hold fire until the Zerg reach that point. This is pretty much the only statement I’ve seen in regards to actual distances the rifles can target stuff at…
…Well, this is the only slightly sane description I’ve seen. There is another, which I don’t put much stock in and think is more of an error on part of the author then anything else, but let’s take a look at that too. It's from Uprising, where marines are said to fire straight up at a fighter-sized target and hit it when it's still 55 kilometers away. Like I said, it doesn’t make much sense. But I thought it worth posting, if for nothing else then for the amusement factor.
Well, there are no specifics established in these three sections, but a few things have been proven. The recoil is hefty enough to be problematic if you don’t wear a combat suit, which is quite telling given the size and mass of the weapon itself. I also demonstrated that the recoil of the weapon means very little given it fires a smaller round at higher velocities compared to modern weapons. The momentum imparted to the target is strangely enough even higher, proving that we can assume there is inertial-dampening systems to help with the recoil. Finally, the effective range is also quite high, at least above one kilometer. All of these things point to a weapon that's far in excess of what modern assault rifles are. I hate to sound repetitive, but we're again confronted with a weapon that would firmly sit in the same range as the .50 cal machine gun.
Judging performance by looking at the overall picture
There are lots and lots of different guns in StarCraft, and with each new comic issue or manga released, there are even more models added to the whole. Some novels, like Ghost: Nova, literally establish the models of half-a-dozen new types of handguns. This also gives us a chance to quantify the C-14 gauss rifle indirectly – by looking at where and how it would fit into the overall picture.
There have been too many different pistol models to go through them all here. Their power varies something fierce from model to model. Some pistols are much like modern ones and when they’re used on people they create small holes and so forth. Other pistols when used on people literally tear heads off. Duke’s pistol is probably one of the strongest pistols seen so far, stronger than even the C-14 gauss rifles, given that it was capable of blowing apart the armored pauldron of a combat suit with just one shot and even said to be strong enough to punch through bulkheads. Though that pistol was also implied to be quite unique. The mangas and comics also show a number of pistols that are powerful enough to shoot holes into steel walls (one even blasting a torso sized hole with repeated shots).
So it would follow that the massive C-14 gauss rifle would be stronger then these pistols. Or at least the ones that are somewhat regularly used (that disqualifies Duke’s pistol).
The most commonly seen pistol in StarCraft has to be the P-45 gauss pistols used by the Reapers. These are new in the sense that they were first introduced with StarCraft II, but they’ve been seen in three different mangas by now. They are also standard issue weapons, so they're not something overly expensive or rare. It would follow that these are less powerful than the C-14 gauss rifles. So how powerful are they? Well, the only thing directly quantifiable was seen in the short story “War-torn” in the third volume of the Frontline series. A duo of Reapers has been ordered to secure a telepathic kid before a group of Zerglings catch him. The kid is cornered at a dead-end with the Zerglings approaching. The Reapers are on the other side of the wall separating them and then shoot through the wall, blowing a head sized hole in it and killing the Zergling on the other side. Judging by the fragmenting of the wall, it had to be made by concrete, brick, rock or something like that. It didn’t splinter like wood and didn’t bend like steel. Penetrating concrete/rock/brick with weapons isn’t hard. But tearing head sized holes in it with what amounts to pistols is slightly more impressive.
To repeat once again though, the C-14’s should be more powerful then that.
Like with pistols, there have been a number of different assault rifles in the same size-class as modern assault rifles are. Out of all of them, only one has been frequently reoccurring and actually has some quantifiable stuff on it. That’s the AGR-14. From its uses it seems popular with unarmored individuals such as mercenaries, pirates and the like. It’s also been indicated to be a training weapon for Marines before they’re issued their combat suits. The weapon is said to fire 8 mm spikes, much like the C-14, but the velocities are merely supersonic (which is anything between 340 m/s and 1,700 m/s).
The effects it has on people (from I, Mengsk) range between 'tearing through a human body leaving nothing behind but shredded meat and bone', punching people off their feet and people torn almost in half by the spikes. For what is essentially a down-scaled version of the C-14 gauss rifle it is rather powerful. This rifle already goes into the territory on what we’d expect from a .50 cal machine guns.
Not all rifles are assault rifles. We’ve seen a number of sniper rifles and single-shot weapons in StarCraft. But the only one that’s quantifiable is a civilian hunting rifle mentioned in the map compendium on blizzard.com, which is said to be able to penetrate two inches (50 mm) of steel. Penetrating that much steel plating is by no means an easy feat. I don’t know what exactly the difference in penetration there is between steel plating and RHA, but the 7.62 mm NATO with AP ammo has penetration less then 20 mm RHA at 100 m. Similarly a .50 cal machine gun would penetrate about 20-40 mm RHA.
Logically speaking this rifle should be less powerful then the C-14, given that it’s supposed to be used by normal civilians and not marines assisted by powered combat armor. But, in modern days a lot of hunting rifles are also more powerful then assault rifles, so nothing is certain. It's worth pointing out though.
There are also a number of rifles that are never identified, save to say that they’re gauss rifles. I’ve frequently seen such rifles assumed to be the C-14 gauss rifle. It’s quite possible they are, but it’s also quite possible that they aren’t. A weapon from Uprising is seen quite often in this manner. If it is a C-14 gauss rifle, then it would fit into the lower showings of what that rifle has done. If it’s not, then who knows?
Pistols range from modern-day equivalents to weapons that can shear off heads and blow large (torso and head-sized) holes in metal and concrete walls. The only quantifiable thing we have on the AGR-14 assault rifles suggest they’re in the same ballpark as heavy machine guns. Hunting rifles have penetration capabilities roughly on par or better then modern .50 cal anti-materiel rifles. It also logically follows that the C-14 gauss rifles are more powerful than all of those, which place them above what modern heavy machine guns would be capable of.
This concludes the quantifications process for the C-14. All the methods have been gone through and all the data points have been examined. The conclusions can be found under the sections aptly labeled conclusions. Of course, there are a few more things that needs to be considered and gone over, so let's do so now.
Common Arguments Presented Against the C-14 being a gauss rifle
There have been countless arguments that would suggest that the C-14 gauss rifle both isn’t a coilgun, and that it’s weak. I use the vague term weak because the power people suggest it has usually changes from person to person. Some think it’s nothing more then a normal assault rifle, others suggest that it’s about on par with a modern machine gun that would fire something akin to 7.62mm NATO rounds, etc. The overwhelming majority of these claims were debunked years ago, but they’re brought back up almost every single thread, even though the person who presents them is well aware that he doesn’t have a case. So here's a collection of the most common arguments people use when saying the C-14 is not a gauss rifle.
A hypersonic gauss gun should leave trails of ionized air behind it:
A pretty self-explanatory argument. A rifle that fires spikes at 1,700 m/s or more should leave blue trails of ionized air behind them. I’ll note however that there’s never been any justification for this claim. Whenever someone is presenting this argument they usually just claim that this is so without evidence. There is some underlying logic, of course, since high-velocity projectiles do leave trails (well, not trails exactly, they'd look more like bolts of lightning). But the problem has always been the same: At what point does this happen? How fast does a projectile need to be in order to display effects like this? But no attempt at answering that ever occured.
So ultimately the argument was found flawed. People who present it would do well to take a look at modern weapons to check. Modern tank ammunition have muzzle velocities between 1,500 and 1,700 m/s for instance (the M829A1 being 1,500 m/s and the newer M829A2 being 1,700 m/s, though the figures vary from source to source, 1, 2). Not only that, but they’re roughly a hundred times more energetic, which means that they’d leave a far more visible trail, given their more substantial energy-bleed into the surrounding air as the slug is fired. But do these tank shells show visible blue lines behind them, as if they were some powerful lightning-gun from science fiction? No.
This should already pretty effectively prove that the argument is bunk. But to hammer the point home, let’s take a look at How to Make War by James F. Dunnigan. He says that the trails would only start showing up at velocities around 3500 meters per second. So it seems that for something as large as a modern MBT shell, the visible trail will become apparent at much higher velocities then the 1,700 meters per second the C-14s fire at. Kudos to Apocal for mentioning and quoting the above source.
A hypersonic gauss gun should make an extremely large bang:
This is another argument that has been used quite often, but back-up has been sorely lacking. However, simply pointing out that the other guy has no proof for his claim is rarely sufficient, so let’s take this a step further and prove the opposite. From this site, we learn that shockwave strength (which is what causes the sonic boom) doesn't increase all that much after you go supersonic. It seems that the size of the thing fired is going to affect the sonic boom more then the actual velocity. Here’s a graph showing the decibel increase as the bullet velocity increases, the line virtually flatlines after 500 m/s. That means that this gun should have about as loud a sonic boom as a normal rifle would.
A hypersonic gauss gun should make no bang at all:
This argument was particularly funny back when I first saw it, mainly because it’s the exact opposite of the former argument. It didn't have anything solid backing it, but it did however have some underlying logic behind it, so it was a bit better then the previous argument. The logic was that since there’s no ignited propellant and no explosion inside the weapon, there should also be no audible bang. Well, true enough that the propellant shouldn’t make a bang, but the sonic boom should make a bang. The graph above would tell us how big a bang.
There should be no muzzle-flash:
Out of all the arguments this is the one that has the most merit, and it really is something of a problem at first glance. The muzzle-flash from a modern rifle is really nothing more than the ignited and ejected propellant, and since a gauss rifle would have no chemical propellant it should have nothing to eject. There should be no muzzle-flash. This is however not a contradiction, as is usually said. It's more along the lines of an oddity. Just because there’s a muzzle flash doesn’t mean that it has to come from ignited and ejected propellant. It could be something else entirely. So what happens if something is described as a gauss gun but has a muzzle flash? Then it’s obviously a gauss gun with a muzzle flash. It’s really no more difficult then so.
But where does the flash come from? My own personal pet theory on this is something that ties together pretty much all the oddities and explains them in one go: It’s all part of an active cooling system. A gun like the C-14 gauss rifle would heat up very quickly given the energies it handles. This is especially true in places like space where it can’t even conduct the excess heat away through air. So how would it deal with built-up heat? Insert a cooling system into the gauss rifle that absorbs the heat into a compound or liquid and then ejects that material before the heat spreads to the rest of the rifle. The result would look like a cloud of ejected vapor from the barrel, much like a muzzle flash, each time the gun is fired. There, the problem is fixed. It is a fan theory, of course, but one that is quite elegant (if I do say so myself) and makes everything fit.
Now I stress the point once more that though the coolant theory is a fan theory, it is one that is not needed. The bottom line is: Muzzle-flash does not contradict the gauss rifle bit, it merely tells us that there's something we don't know in how the weapon functions as a whole. I'm pointing this out here again because I'm pretty sure someone might attack the fan theory instead of acknowledging that there's really not even a need for such a theory.
There should be no ejected casings:
Like above, this is quite true. A gauss gun would have no need for ejecting casings since it fires caseless ammunition. But like above, this is not so much a contradiction as a curiosity. Normally when we see a rifle ejecting casings we’d think it’s a normal rifle, but since this is said to be a gauss rifle the casings ejected obviously have to be something else.
This is again something easily explained by my theory above. This compound that absorbs the heat would naturally have to be re-applied after each consecutive shot, so where does it come from? The answer: Tiny containers resembling bullet casings from modern guns. Each time you replace a magazine, you also get a new load of cooling capsules.
But once again, an explanation is not needed, since this isn't a direct contradiction, merely an oddity. If it sounds as if I'm repeating myself here, then it's because I have this sneaking suspicion that some will try to nitpick the coolant theory, without realizing that it's a theory that isn't needed in the first place.
There are probably a billion more arguments, but these are the ones repeated most often, and thus they merit a place here.
How do we rationalize the discrepancies?
In terms of consistency StarCraft is generally pretty good. Especially now that there have been steps taken to keep track of continuity and retroactively make stuff fit (like shielded battlecruiser and the like). The end result is something far more concise then the Expanded Universes of most other visual sci-fi franchises, like Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate, etc. Having said that, there are naturally going to be problems. This is pretty much unavoidable in any franchise that has multiple writers adding to the content.
The two main problems in this case would be rationalizing why the C-14 gauss rifle looks and feels the way it does, and also the varying amounts of damage it does when impacting targets. The former of those problems I already commented on in the last section, it's really more of an oddity than a contradiction, and I also offered a cooling theory to explain it. This neatly explains all the oddities involved in the rifle. The muzzle-flash is ejected coolant, and the casing is the capsule for the coolant. I point out though that the above is a fan-theory, and in the end we don’t need to resort to such theories if we don’t want to (personally I like to speculate on such issues though) since muzzle-flash and ejecting casings, while undoubtedly extremely odd in relation to gauss rifles, are not direct contradictions. There are also other theories, like the gauss rifles actually being hybrid weapons – i.e. the bullet is normal, but the barrel is lined with coils to increase velocity further from after the propellant has done its work.
But again, such explanations are not really required. What's required is merely for us to realize that muzzle-flash and ejected casing don't contradict the fact that the weapon is a gauss rifle. The theories above are merely there to emphasize that it is.
The second problem might not be a problem at all. The damage the rounds in the C-14 gauss rifle do is fairly consistent throughout canon. It usually creates gaping holes in people, and sometimes tears limbs and heads off, with the more extreme cases involving people sawn in two. Whatever little variation there is in all this could be chalked up to how the spike behaves inside the person, or then even different sorts of ammunition being used. An even more extreme solution would be to assume variable yields, which would actually be fairly easy to implement on a gauss rifle (just choose how many coils are doing the work). But personally I think there's no need for the latter.
Well, as you can see pretty much everything points to the same thing: The C-14 gauss rifle being at least on par with a .50 cal machine gun. Sure, there are some bits that seem kind of out of place. Some instances suggest a more powerful rifle, others seem to suggest a less powerful rifle, but the average always seems to come back to something roughly equal to a heavy machine gun. In the end I’d like to simply point out that the conclusions all make a great deal of sense and are quite logical. It’s 500 years in the future and we’re 60,000 lightyears from Earth. Warfare in StarCraft has evolved to the point where even the most basic conscript can utilize powered armor, and this has a number of logical consequences, such as the marines carrying heavier weaponry and being better armored against such weaponry. That means that they could carry weapons you usually mount on light-vehicles (i.e. .50 cal machine guns), and have enough plated armor to deflect such spikes.
The opposite is quite illogical. Why would someone go through the trouble of making gauss rifles larger then big machine guns and then only have them fire bullets that normal assault rifles would? You wouldn’t.
That's all for me, if you have any questions or suggestions, you can always contact me at l33telboi[at]gmail.com, or PM me on the forum.
 Queen of Blades: "“You’ll never make it out of here alive, bitch!” one of the troopers shouted, firing his gauss rifle on full auto into the approaching brood. Several zerg were hit and two fell with steel spikes through their throat and eyes."
Queen of Blades: "One of the troopers aimed at her and fired, a cluster of iron spikes racing towards her. She raised one hand and the spikes simply stopped midair, slamming to a quivering halt as if they’d run into a wall. A second gesture and the spikes spun about and leaped toward the trooper, pierced not only the man but the wall behind him, and his body was left hanging there as the rifle slipped from his hands."
Shadow Hunters: "His queen was not pleased. Her anger seared Ethan as, through the eyes of her consort, she watched her quarry escape. Neither he nor she cared about the dozens of zerg who were reduced to stains on the Aiur landscape, blown to bits, impaled by steel spikes, or burnt to crisp, smoking corpses. Her supply of zerg was infinite."
Speed of Darkness: "Several Zerg were clawing their way with incredible speed along the wall of a modular building. They seemed to defy gravity through raw strength. The moment Ardo recognized them, the first of them leaped from the wall, directly toward the Marine.
Ardo had no time to think. He squeezed the trigger of the gauss assault rifle. The hail of slugs smashed into the monster midair. The raw strength of the creature might have impelled it forward, but the accelerated projectiles arrested the Zerg’s momentum and pinned it against the wall."
 I, Mengsk: "No sooner had he given this last instruction than Jaq Delor was struck by a burst of Impaler fire.
It was as if a giant fist had hammered into his side and hurled him against the wall. Blood spattered Arcturus, and he watched in horror as Delor's head lolled down over his chest, almost severed by the impact of the Impaler spikes.”"
 Liberty's Crusade: "Despite himself, Mike smiled. Then the chest of the soldier he had fired above blossomed in a fountain of blood. His companion brought his own weapon around, but too slowly. His head vaporized in a red mist as visor and helmet shattered.
Mike looked up to see Raynor standing above him, leaning out of the doorway. He had taken the two enemy troopers out with single shots.”
 I, Mengsk: ""Fire!" shouted Arcturus.
Withering sprays of Impaler spikes ripped through the mercenaries, their lighter body armor no match for close-range gauss fire. Arcturus worked his rifle over the men below him, bloody eruptions fountaining where his spikes blew open skulls or tore limbs from bodies.
Caught in the crossfire, the mercenaries had no chance.
They danced in the vicious bursts of gunfire, trapped in the open and unable to fight back. The echoes of rifles were deafening as they filled the narrow defile in the canyon with screaming hot spikes. A few of the mercenaries managed to bring their weapons to bear, but it was too little too late and they were cut down without mercy.
Realizing that to fight on was hopeless, one man threw down his rifle and held up his hands in surrender. Arcturus cut him in two with a sustained burst of fire."
 I, Mengsk: “Blood squirted onto the floor from the ragged crater in the man's throat and Arcturus gagged at the horrid, burned-metallic smell of the man's death. Another man's body lay farther along the corridor, this one with his chest torn apart by Impaler spikes. It looked like he'd been sawn in two."
 Liberty's Crusade: "Mike dove forward, underneath the leap, and raised his gauss rifle. He caught the creature in the belly, spearing it and catching the beast’s own momentum. Beast and barrel rose in a slow arc above him.
At the top of the arc Mike pulled the trigger, and a volley of spikes splattered the zergling. Those that passed through its body embedded in the metal ceiling of the hallway."
 Liberty's Crusade: "Raynor was in his own suit, looking equally battered and worn. The lawman nodded behind his open visor and said, “The armor will stop most common slugthrowers, though a good needle-gun can still punch through. That’s why most front-line troops carry C-14 Impalers, gauss rifles that fire eight-millimeter spikes.""
 Liberty’s Crusade: "The suit itself was similar to the powered combat suits used by the Norad II crew. It was invulnerable to small-arms fire, had limited life-support (as opposed to the full space-traveling suits of the marines), and packed basic nuclear/biological/chemical shielding. Still, it was an earlier model than standard marine issue, practically an antique. Apparently the local law got hand-me-downs from the Confederate government.
 Liberty's Crusade: "Raynor went over to the colonial militia and came back with the gauss rifle. He handed it to Mike, and his armored hand closed over the larger of two grips. The smaller grip, used by nonarmored shooters, required the firer to use both hands to steady its long barrel. In the armor, Raynor could heft it easily.
“Take a shot at that boulder,” he said, trying valiantly to keep a smile from his face.
At first Mike thought the marshal was only amused by his performance, but as he leveled the gun, he thought about what he was doing. The armored turtle on stilts was about to fire a gun.
“Hang on,” he said. “How does this thing handle recoil?”
Raynor turned to the other militiamen. “See? I told you he was smarter than he looked!” Some of the colonial soldiers reached for their wallets. To Mike he said, “You brace, go into a broad-legged stance. The suit knows the maneuver. It compensates along the gun arm.”"
I, Mengsk: "The lessons with the gauss rifle and slugthrower had been a disaster, the savage recoil of the rifle knocking Valerian onto his back and the bucking pistol spraining his wrist. The guns were loud and even when he managed to hold them straight, he couldn't hit any of the targets his dad set up at the edge of the river."
"Valerian pulled the trigger, working his fire over the second marine. The recoil of the gauss rifle was fearsome, designed to be absorbed by a powered combat suit, which Valerian conspicuously wasn't wearing. The roar of the weapon was deafening, but Valerian kept the rifle on target, knowing that his target's armor would defeat all but the most concentrated clusters of impacts."
 I, Mengsk: "He pushed himself to his knees, and felt a series of ringing hammer blows on his side. He fell back, seeing a pair of green-armored soldiers advancing toward him. They were good, disciplined soldiers and walked their spikes into him, keeping him pinned with the weight of fire. More red icons flashed up on his visor, warning of imminent armor penetration."
"Another pistol shot boomed, and Arcturus knew that Juliana's other guard was returning fire. The man's bullet missed, and Snake Tattoo's companion swung his rifle to bear, a look of hatred in his eyes.
Arcturus fired first, but his shot went wide. A bar light that had miraculously survived the initial hall of bullets blew out in a rain of glass. Supersonic slugs ripped toward Juliana's protector and he was punched off his feet in a thudding series of bloody eruptions."
"No sooner had he given this last instruction than Jaq Delor was struck by a burst of Impaler fire.
It was as if a giant fist had hammered into his side and hurled him against the wall. Blood spattered Arcturus, and he watched in horror as Delor's head lolled down over his chest, almost severed by the impact of the Impaler spikes."
 Speed of Darkness: "Several Zerg were clawing their way with incredible speed along the wall of a modular building. They seemed to defy gravity through raw strength. The moment Ardo recognized them, the first of them leaped from the wall, directly toward the Marine.
Ardo had no time to think. He squeezed the trigger of the gauss assault rifle. The hail of slugs smashed into the monster midair. The raw strength of the creature might have impelled it forward, but the accelerated projectiles arrested the Zerg’s momentum and pinned it against the wall."
 Speed of Darkness: "Steel-tipped infantry slugs tore from the muzzle of the gauss automatic rifle at thirty rounds per second."
 Speed of Darkness: "Even with his unaided eyes, Ardo could see the changes in the Zergs a thousand meters out. The larval Zerglings were the smallest creatures known among the Zerg, the closest thing the monsters had to children. Ardo thought bleakly that it was another clear difference between their races, but then wondered if it was such a difference after all. Humans seemed equally willing to throw their own youth away on war, and Ardo knew that he was ample evidence of that.
“Here they come!” Bernelli announced, his voice rising. “Make ’em count!”
The multilegged Zerglings began skittering across the blackened and pocked ground of the outer perimeter. Ardo snapped shut his combat helmet, saw the targeting display come up at once, and began aiming his gauss rifle at the nearest of the creatures.
The targeting was eerily effective. The laser designator pinpointed the location of Ardo’s shots. The gun jerked repeatedly with each shot as he shifted targets quickly from one Zergling to the next. The new ammunition was doing its job well. The explosive-tipped bullets smashed open the carapace of each approaching Zergling, blowing open the exit wound in a horrific, deadly display."
 Uprising: "“It is known as the Fujita Pinnacle—a complex mass of conflicting pressure systems and staggering updrafts that have created what is, in simple terms, a stationary, volatile vortex of immense size and unlimited life. It is four leagues wide and over twenty high.
Somo peered up and watched the craft descend. Once they reached the funnel’s halfway point, the turret came to life. The Wraith positioned itself to take the entirety of the barrage of automatic missile fire. Bright coronas erupted around the fighter as several missiles struck the outer shields. There were smaller impacts as well, and Somo realized that the marines must have begun firing at the fighter . . . but at least that meant the marines were distracted."
 Ghost: Nova: "Four people in a small receiving area of some kind jumped up. Two were armed. The others were counting money. Esmerelda put a bullet in each of their heads. Actually, the power of the P500 was such that the shots destroyed their entire heads north of the jawline, with the exception of the third person she shot. He moved a bit, so the round took only about half his head off. One dead eye looked up at her as brains oozed out of the halved skull."
Firstborn: "He stared at Leeza. She stared back. Rosemary glanced from one to the other. Jake shook his head “no.” As Leeza moved her hand toward the holster of her handgun, R. M. whipped her own out and shot her former colleague right in the face.
Leeza’s bold features were blown away in a spray of blood and bone and brain."
 Liberty's Crusade: "Now free of his opponent’s neosteel embrace, Duke went for his side arm, a nasty needle-gun that could penetrate bulkheads. Raynor recovered as the general brought the weapon up and grabbed the older man by the wrist. Then, the servos in both sets of armor squealing, Raynor slammed Duke’s arm against the bulkhead.
There was a high-pitched whine, and Duke’s left shoulder exploded in a shower of molten metal. Duke’s marines all jumped and brought their weapons around, but did not fire. They had been ordered to wait for the command.
The general slowly dropped to his knees, his own weapon clattering to the ground. His armor hissed as locking rings isolated the wounded shoulder and medpacks pumped narcotics into the general’s blood-stream."
 I, Mengsk: Arcturus instinctively reached for his slugthrower, but his hand grasped empty air, the pistol resting in its locked, foam-lined case in his hotel room safe. Snake Tattoo raised a long-barreled weapon, and old model AGR-14 assault rifle, and Arcturus’s heart hammered against his ribs as he saw it. He had gone through boot camp with such a rifle, a no-nonsense gun capable of firing supersonic jacketless slugs that could tear through a human body and leaving nothing behind but shredded meat and bone.
Marines danced in the gunfire, blood sprayed, and the sound of bullets striking flesh was like a hammer repeatedly smacking raw steak. Arcturus saw Private Shaw hurled backwards by the terrible impacts, his chest blown out by a sawing blast of rounds. Other men were hit as well, and Arcturus saw a soldier torn almost in two by a torrent of fire.
Before he could shoot again, a burst of rifle fire took him in the chest and he lurched backward, a bloody line of bullet holes tearing him up as though a grenade had gone off inside his rib cage.
Arcturus fired first, but his shot went wide. A bar light that had miraculously survived the initial hail of bullets blew out in a rain of glass. Supersonic slugs ripped toward Juliana’s protector and he was punched off his feet in a thudding series of bloody eruptions.
 Map Compendium: "There's been a lot of talk lately about the banning of wildlive preserves built for the sportsman in mind. Well, I've had enough of that talk. There's nothing more perfect in this world than looking down the barrel of a high powered gauss rifle built to penetrate 2 inches of steel plating and seeing a defenseless animal square in the laser targeted, wind corrected, electronically enhanced scope with integrated night vision. NOTHING. Do these zealots understand the consequences of their actions? If we can't shoot a small animal, who knows what we might shoot next?"
 Uprising: "Doctor Flanx now swung his weapon toward Somo. There was a piercing, high-pitched noise, accompanied by a monumental jarring that knocked Hung onto his back. The doctor fell against the marines in the hall, who somehow managed to remain standing, and with eyes completely devoid of the last vestiges of sanity, now pointed the barrel of his confiscated rifle back down at Somo. Somo let loose with a short burst of fire, aiming at the doctor’s chest. The weapon ran away from him slightly, and when Somo looked at Flanx, he saw a trail of gaping holes starting from the man’s sternum and ending in his forehead. Somo watched the doctor’s wide, lifeless eyes as the man fell back against the huddled marines and then slumped to the floor like a discarded puppet."
 How to Make War: "Current high speed shells move at about 1500 meters a second. The future-technology shells are expected to achieve 3000-5000-meter-a-second speeds. At over 3500 meters a second, the shells will leave a glowing trail behind them and show where they came from."
About the Author
Education: Ask again in two years. :P
Non-StarCraft related Hobbies: Drinking, working out, gaming, etc
Currently reading: A not too good Star Wars novel
Currently playing: All kinds of stuff
Playing StarCraft since: Got it when it was released back in the day. Haven't played in a while though
In the community since: 2009, I believe
Favorite game (FPS): Of all time? That's a tough one. Deus Ex? Only it's perhaps not really an FPS
Favorite game (RTS): A toss-up between Myth 2 and StarCraft
Favorite StarCraft Race: Terrans
Favorite StarCraft Unit: The Marine
Favorite StarCraft Character: Arcturus Mengsk
Favorite Comfort Food: Chocolate?
Favorite Meal: Varies