Say the word "railgun" around a PC gamer and they'll instantly start telling you stories about the Quake series, and how it's such an awesome weapon in a make-believe future universe.

They're right on the former, but on the latter, not so much, because railguns are real, and the US Navy has one. Here it is undergoing testing.

The project, which is being overseen by the Office of Naval Research, has been running for a few years now (indeed, experimental railguns have existed as crude prototypes for decades), but this is the first time it's been filmed looking like an actual gun.

Railguns don't work like normal firearms or cannons; they use rails and electricity to propel projectiles at speeds vastly greater than those possible with conventional explosive technology (modern weapons still use the centuries-old principle of an explosion to propel rounds).

Which is why the Naval Officer in the video loads not a shell but just a simple piece of metal into the weapon.


It's amazing footage. Next stop, handheld versions.