Electromagnetic weapons seem to have gained traction in Asia as two rivals, Japan and China, are reportedly working on railgun technology.
Last July, the Pentagon announced that it had put a halt to its railgun program in order to free up resources for hypersonic weapon research. Despite this, efforts to develop electromagnetic weapons by private firms seem to be on.
Last year, one company started taking pre-orders for what it calls “the world’s first and only handheld Gauss rifle” for $3,375 per piece. Harnessing powerful magnets, the GR-1 Anvil Gauss rifle is said to be capable of firing a wide range of metal projectiles.
While there were a few specific details available about the Gun’s capabilities as of last year; a new video providing a far more extensive review appeared online on February 11, covering its features and capabilities.
The video is available on YouTube and was filmed by small arms expert Ian McCollum, who works for Armament Research Services and runs the popular blog Forgotten Weapons. He examines the Gauss rifle’s features and capabilities before taking it to the range for target shooting.
McCollum says in a Forgotten Weapons blog post alongside the video review that the label “rifle” is technically a misnomer in this circumstance. Rifles are often identified by a spiraling (or helical) pattern of grooves etched into the inner wall of their barrels. Since the barrel of the GR-1 is smooth and lacks these grooves, it is technically a smoothbore.
The GR-1 Anvil Gauss rifle is manufactured by Arcflash Labs, the co-founders of which, according to their website, are “Aerospace Engineers, former US Air Force officers, and experts in pulsed power supply development with 20 years of combined experience”.
Gauss rifles, also known as coilguns, employ electrified coils to produce a magnetic field that propels ferromagnetic projectiles at high speeds. This is a similar but distinct approach from railguns, which, as the title indicates, propel their bullets by generating a field between current-conducting rails.
Arcflash’s rifle is 38 inches long with a 26-inch barrel, weighs 20 pounds, and is fueled by a 25.2-volt lithium-ion polymer battery (LiPoly). The rifle’s stock looks to be 3D printed, with some acrylic plastic components bolted on, based on photographs on the company’s website.
A small LCD panel displays the weapon’s battery charge, capacitor charge, coil temperature, and “post-shot diagnostics”.
According to ArcFlash, the GR-1 has an “advanced capacitor charging system” that enables its 25v lithium-ion battery to swiftly charge the coils, letting the rifle shoot at full charge every three seconds, and more quickly at weaker charge levels.
The review video provides viewers with information on the gun’s design, features, and how to use it. It shows how to load magazines, change and charge the GR-1’s batteries, and adjust the desired energy of the coils.
McCollum mentions the inclusion of a built-in flashlight, a green aiming laser, and a sliding rear stock that permits three different length magazines to be installed, each supporting different sizes of slugs.
The rear component of the rifle can be prolonged or shortened by drawing a lock ring on the top of the rifle.
One of the safety measures that need to be followed is that the rifle should not be used within 50 feet of anyone carrying a pacemaker or other sensitive medical device.
McCollum fires the GR-1 at a variety of energy levels while on the range. When firing, the Gauss weapon is relatively quiet, emitting only a mild whine during charging and a mechanical ‘click’ whenever a cartridge is discharged.
The GR-1 misfires a few times during the demonstration, causing McCollum to tip the rifle forward to let the unfired cartridge drop out from the barrel. This could happen due to mechanical difficulties that occur when the rifle’s magazine is nearly empty.
After a round shatters the dummy target, McCollum talks about how GR-1 is capable of doing actual harm.
“This is a serious weapon,” McCollum says. “Yes, in terms of energy numbers, the muzzle energy is wimpy compared to a firearm, but this is absolutely potentially lethal, so it does need to be treated with the respect that one accords a proper firearm,” he says.
While GR-1 failed to generate interest when it initially surfaced last year, Forgotten Weapons’ analysis demonstrates that the Gauss rifle could be a lethal weapon, albeit an unusual one.