Chinese PLA Shows Rifle-size Electromagnetic Railgun Weapon

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The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) revealed a miniaturized electromagnetic railgun based pistol- and- rifle-sized synchronous induction coilgun prototypes.

These weapons’ technical capabilities were recently revealed in a demonstration session. The weapons are in prototype stage, state media reported Sunday.

Developed by the PLA Army Logistics University, the weapons, named Small Synchronous Induction Coilguns, come with pistol-sized, rifle-sized and land robot-mounted variants, according to a report by Chinese military news website last week.

The coilguns use bullets stored in reloadable magazines just like a conventional gun, and they also handle like one. The coilguns can easily penetrate multiple wood plates and thin steel plates at a relatively close distance.

Unlike a conventional firearm that uses the ignition of gunpowder to push a bullet slug out of a gun barrel at high velocity, a coilgun or railgun uses electromagnetic force to accelerate a projectile as it travels along the gun barrel before leaving it at an even higher velocity, the report said.

In PLA demonstration, the coilguns have shown a high penetration capability and did not make much sound, making them good choices for special operations like behind-enemy-line infiltration missions.

A limiting factor in electromagnetic handguns is electrical power needed to propel the bullet. The Chinese electromagnetic handguns work on battery power and a capacitor discharge to store and release energy. But once this technical problem is solved, the coilguns could become much more powerful and could replace the firearms of today.

China is also developing full-sized electromagnetic railguns. Prototypes have been seen on tanks and warships.