On cycling, well its a rail gun so it doesn't have a bolt, bolt carrier, or chamber in the traditional sense. The magazine operates pretty much like a modern magazine does. The magazine pushes the bullet (there is no casing, propellant, or primer, into a cylinder that rotates along the barrel axis. This cylinder has two notches that the bullets will fit into in the 12 o clock and 6 o clock positions. When a round is fired the cylinder will rotate the round in the 6 o clock notch to the 12 o clock position where it can be engaged by the rails. The 12 o clock notch will end up at the 6 o clock position where it can pick up another bullet from the magazine. This rotating cylinder design helps create a better seal when the bullet is fired and keep the rails from inadvertently affecting bullets still situated inside the magazine. The first round is chambered electronically (the red button on the hand grip is used to electronically cycle rounds without firing them.)
yeah, that was something I dabbled with in the design phase. In the end I figured a sniper wouldn't want to leave sabot halves on the ground and let the enemy know where he was shooting at them from (the same way an actual sniper police calls his brass when he extracts, except I figure it be hard to find sabot remnants as they're launched out the front of the weapon) I currently have an anti-material rifle on the drawing board that uses sabot encased ammunition.
Well, unlike the sabots for a tank shell which have to stretch between about 30 to 120mm to make up the gun barrel, this is only a 19mm weapon which will fire a saboted projectile of maybe 5-13mm diameter. The 20mm Mk149 APFSDS fires a 12.75mm penetrator. As such, the sabots will be very small, and very hard to find.
If you aren't averse to the toxic battlefield, you could make the sabots out of depleted uranium and try and cause them to ignite on impact
However, DU is obviously ludicrously heavy and trying to fire a DU projectile /and/ sabot would probably detract from performance. Plastic is nicely liked for its light weight, and it only has to survive travelling down the barrel. You should look at polythiophene [link] Sabots would be difficult to self-police, but a railgun will probably send them (scattering) a few hundred metres downrange, and be small enough to be easily lost.
So,in 1,206 years, we're still using physical ammunition to fight our wars? I'd figure that optics and high-energy plasma technology would render this sort of weapon obsolete at least a millennia sooner.
Current energy weapons are inefficient, but they still promise amazing range and destructive power reminiscent of naval cannons. However, the same continued refinement that you speculate for physical-ammunition weaponry would also prove great strides in energy weapons. And, within 1200 years ever-higher energy densities would be achieved in portable power sources so as to make energy efficiency a less important thing.
Projectile weapons are still more powerful, more effective and more consistent than energy weapons. It's a fact. Lasers have their place in countermeasures and guidance and always will do. They just won't make as effective weapons as projectiles. The amount of increased tolerances, vulnerable systems and easily-damaged components are significantly greater than a projectile weapon.
What does a gun system need? A projectile, a propellant, a containment mechanism (shell case) and a barrel. Also an ignition system, which can be as simple as we've used for a couple hundred years, a percussion-activated primer, or an electronic ignition primer. If we get ETI/ETC to work on tank guns and let them scale down, we'll be able to generate plasma to efficiently burn propellants.
A laser or plasma weapon system requires capacitor banks, power system, electrical connections, focusing systems, wavelength-size materials and insane purity standards for maximum effect. Lots of glass, silicon and rare metal components, all of which are easily broken or knocked out of tolerance, and difficult and costly to replace and repair. Lasers and plasma /are/ limited by atmospheric conditions.
What are you going to tell me next, mechs are the future of modern warfare?
You're right about all of those things required for optical weapons(except for atmospheric conditions, that's just silly). However, I think I can count more than 4 components in your rifle up there.
I'm not saying that physical weapons will be completely outmoded by energy weapons, but everything improves with time. Right now, a regular person can build a handheld laser weapon that can actually burn whatever it is pointed at. 50 years ago, that level of power was impossible outside of a laboratory. In another 50 years, we'll most likely see practical handheld optical weapons with lethal power levels. And who wouldn't want lethal weapons that don't require ammunition, don't need to factor in things like atmospheric temperature and crosswinds, and doesn't risk getting jammed or failing due to poorly manufactured projectiles?
Of course atmospherics will affect them. Water vapour, fog, smoke on a battlefield and microscopic debris such as uranium aerosol and nuclear fallout will all provide interference to a laser or plasma weapon. Just like how temperature and wind currents can affect a projectile weapon.
Feed systems on a weapon, as proved by the PTRD and a whole host of others aren't entirely necessary, so that dispenses with autoloading and a magazine. To /fire/, only the small number of components I listed are necessary.
There are still key problems with your argument. The first and most prevalent is the diehard assumption that because TEH FUTUR, there will be guaranteed and massive improvement in technology that suddenly makes laser and plasma (and other DEW) weapons practical, suitable and effective for use in all roles. The second is the major impact of industry. Polygonal rifling, telescoped cased ammunition and caseless ammunition (as well as things like electronic primers and ETI/ETC tank guns) aren't in major use yet, because it would require all major ammunition developers to change their machinery and manufacturing techniques - militaries would have to adopt new weapons - armies would have to be retrained and reiussed, something done with their old weapons and stockpiles, same with ammunition and stockpiles - and because there are a few problems in their use that make the status quo more desirable. Cost, ability, ease. Radical change to the status qup fits none of these. Conventionally cased projectile weapons kill people just fine and always will do. This will never change.
I take it it's supposed to be used in one position for a long time, seeing that it's around the same weight as a Browning M1917 with a tripod. Would it disassemble slightly to be carried by a crew if it needs to be moved quickly?
I designed it for use by soldiers in powered-armor suits, so the weight would have less of an impact than it would on standard infantry. To a soldier in the related armor suit, this weapon would feel like a M110 SASS or similar weapon system.
its hard to say. I did it in several 35-40 minute chucks. It was problem around 12-13 hours done over the course of two weeks. A lot or that time was experimentation while I learns the best technique to use for certain parts of the weapon.