Player: 8-track

A RolePlaying and General Firearms Primer

Or answers to questions that you were afraid to ask

I am an Engineer, Firearms enthusiasts and Gamer. I understand guns, but I realize that many others do not share my understanding or enthusiasm. Nevertheless, firearms play a large role in many gaming systems set in modern times. I want this page to be an on-line resource for the new gamer who has never held a gun in real life all the way to the seasoned gun "nut".

Let's start with the Basics.

Firearms basics


Main Features
(14th Century)
  • Used lighted wick to fire priming powder
  • Muzzle-loaded
  • Wick easily extinguished by rain
  • Wick burns out
  • Dangerous around gunpowder
  • Clumsy
  • Slow reload
(17th Century)
  • Spring driven wheel rubbed against a flint/iron pyrites to produce sparks
  • Muzzle-loaded
  • Musket and pistol type
  • Spring required hand winding
  • Flint/iron pyrites wear out
  • Mechanism breaks
  • Heavy, slow reload
(17th Century)
  • Flint snapped against a surface to produce spark
  • Muzzle-loaded
  • Rifling introduced
  • Paper cartridge introduced
  • Flints wear out or break
  • Springs can fail
  • Slow reload
  • Number of shots limited by number of barrels
(19th Century)
  • Small explosive metal cap replaced flint
  • More cerain of firing
  • Revolving action repeater introduced
  • Slow reload
  • Cap separate from powder and bullet
(19th Century)
  • Primer, powder and bullet all in one safe container
  • Simple, reliable, safe
  • Breech loading became easy
  • Smokeless powder introduced
  • Requires special equipment to reload cartridge
  • Source of litter
  • Easy for unqualified persons to load into a firearm
(19th Century)
manual repeating and
  • Holds and can fire multiple shots after one loading
  • Semi-automatics and full automatics introduced
  • More complex mechanisms
  • More danger of an unused round remaining in firearm


Physics and General Information

Stopping Power

In order to do the most damage to a target, the gun needs to impart as much energy into the target by the way of the bullet. This is true regardless of bullet size. So, on average, the highest energy rounds will do the most damage and have the most stopping power. When the bullet hits a target, the target material around the bullet can't move out of the way fast enough, so instead of a small, clean hole, you get a shockwave that does much more damage. Think of it like a boat through water. The waves the boat causes are the shockwave. The size of the shockwave is related to the energy of the bullet and causes damage in a much wider area that than the bullets diameter. Many people believe this happens in living things because of the high liquid content, but it actually happens in all materials. It is much easier in liquids, but still happens in solids. Remember though, To stop a living creature, the shockwave needs to damage a vital organ, so shot location still is the most important factor. Also, muzzle energy is not neccesarily the energy imparted to the target. If a bullet stops in a target, all of it's kinetic energy has been transfered. If it still has some energy left, the bullet will pop out the back of the target. This is known as over penetration. This is bad in two ways. First the energy not transfered to the target is wasted energy. Secondly, the over penetrated shot has a potential of continuing on and hitting non-intended things. One way of limiting overpenetration is the use of hollow point bullets. Hollow point bullets expand when they hit the target to transfer more energy in a shorter time. "Glaser Safety Slugs" are a continuation on the hollowpoint theme. Instead of solid lead bullets, they are thin copper jackets filled with small lead pellets. The Glaser Safety Slug dumps kinetic energy extremely quickly, even in comparison to hollow points. Remember, according to the Geneva convention, military designed rounds must be full metal Jacket (non-hollow point) rounds. Also, most states don't allow copper jackets on hunting rounds.


As a bullet leaves the barrel, the gun experiences recoil following the 2nd law of physics. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. As the bullet goes one way, the gun is forced to go in the opposite direction. The equations are large, but a rule of thumb is that the gun will see the the same recoile energy as the muzzle energy. The effect on the shooter is then devided by the gun's mass. The higher powered the load, the more the recoil. Also, the faster shots are taken, the harder it is to fight the recoil and stay on target. So, in general, a lighter gun and higher muzzle energy produces more recoil.

What does this mean in terms of real life, or the Role playing version of real life? Well, from experience/logic any average person should be able to fire a Medium heavy (1000 Energy) pistol or rifle of 3500 Muzzle Energy or lower (single shots) with accuracy with a little training and mainly overcomming the fear of the gun/recoil. With more intense training, a fairly fit/strong person should be able to use any pistol or rifle accurately (single shot, well braced with some of the near-cannon Anti-material guns). I have seen fairly petite women fire .44 mags, 454 Casuls and .375 H&H Mags which proves that training is much more important than brute strength. Rifles and sub-machine gus on full auto can quickly overwhelm even a trained user with their recoil. There is no way any automatic fire can be as accurate as a single shot. With training, it is possible to keep a full auto burst within a target. Usually, a machine gun must be set on a bipod. Lugging M60s and miniguns and firing from the hip only works in movies.

Ways to limit recoil include stocks, bipods(and tripods), weights, spring dampeners and recoil compensators. How to hold a gun limits felt recoil and a full stock resting against the shooter's shoulder reduces felt recoil by distributing it to more of the body (instead of just the hand). A fore grip does similar by allowing both hands to soak recoil. A Bipod places some of the recoil into the ground. Weights can be added to the front of some weapons to limit muzzle rise and add more mass to the gun. Dampeners on the recoil spring can elongate the time that recoil is felt and blunt its peak force, but this slows down the action (lowers Rate of Fire). Finaly, the recoil compensator fits to the barrel of the gun and directs some of the exhaust gasses backwards (or upwards) to negate some of the recoil (or muzzle rise).

Net Book of Modern Firearms (revised)

This is the Netbook of Modern Firearms originally Made by Kitsune and Mischa. The original website is Used with permission.

Ballistics Information for Ammunition

Everything about different calibers.

Firearms Roleplaying Rules

For Palladium Game Systems

For New White Wolf Game Systems For Old White Wolf Game Systems



Any questions and comments can be sent to: webmaster2@sub-standard{dot}com