The Lasgun, also sometimes referred to as a Lasrifle, is a directed-energy antipersonnel weapon used by the military forces of the Imperium of Man, and it is the most common and widely used type of laser weapon in the galaxy. It is standard-issue for the Adeptus Mechanicus' cybernetic Skitarii infantry, all Imperial Guard infantry and most junior Imperial Guard officers. Lasguns are reliable, easy to maintain and to produce, and are readily available on most Imperial worlds. A Lasgun has a longer range than a Laspistol, but is nowhere near as powerful as a Lascannon nor does it possess the rapid-firing qualities of the Multi-laser or the Hellgun. Though not as powerful as kinetic projectile weapons such as the ubiquitous Bolter, the lower cost of production, the lack of a requirement for ammunition production and resupply make the Lasgun the best choice for the large forces of the Imperial Guard. The Lasgun uses a small portable capacitor power pack to produce a focused pinpoint laser beam which is strong enough to take an ordinary human arm off with one shot but is not as effective against the more durable alien bodies and stronger types of personal armour. A Lasgun's beam also cauterizes the wounds it inflicts due to the immense heat given off by the shot. The Lasgun is effective when used en masse, but considerably less effective when used alone.
The Lasgun uses the same basic technology and operates along the same lines as other laser weapons, emitting a beam of highly-energetic, focused, coherent photons. The high amount of energy carried by the photons of the beam causes the immediate surface area of a target to be vaporized in a small explosion. It is a relatively unimpressive weapon when compared to many of the other high-technology weapons available in the galaxy, but it is capable of cleanly severing limbs and potentially even piercing the Power Armour of a Space Marine (but usually only through a vulnerable spot in the armour). Most Lasgun designs have iron sights mounted along the top of the weapon. It is powered by a small rechargeable power pack located beneath the weapon and in front of the trigger guard which can be recharged in a number of ways, including by sunlight. These power packs can also be "overcharged", a trick used by Imperial Guard veterans, which causes the pack to explode, turning the weapon into a makeshift grenade. This tactic is only used in last-ditch situations as it results in destruction of the weapon. Lasguns have numerous power settings for adjusting the power of each shot and to conserve power (resulting in a weaker laser shot fired). The weapon can be overpowered with a "Hotshot" laser capacitor pack, providing more powerful but fewer shots. The Lasgun mounts a bayonet lug, allowing the weapon to be fitted with bayonets or combat knives. The sniper variant of the Lasgun, known as the Long-Las, is the preferred weapon of the Imperial Guard's sharpshooters. The barrel of the Long-Las is extended to bolster the weapon's accuracy. The barrel requires replacement after every 20-50 shots depending on the power setting and cooldown time. For this reason, the Long-Las is outfitted with a "slide-lock" barrel, which is easily locked and unlocked from the weapon's housing.
The standard Lasgun pattern used by the Imperial Guard is known as the M35 "M-Galaxy" Pattern, first put into use in 2546.789.M35, although thousands of variant models, marks and patterns exist. The Cadian Shock Troops, for example, commonly bear the M36 Kantrael Pattern Lasrifle, originally manufactured on Kantrael as the name suggests, which is a weapon known for its sheer robustness.The Catachan Jungle Fighters prefer the Mark 4 Lascarbine, which has less cowling than the M36 and is therefore lighter and easier to carry in the dense jungle environs preferred by the Catachan regiments. Other common marks include the easily manufactured Mars and Armageddon Pattern Lasguns, the much sought-after variable power setting Triplex Pattern and the short-barelled, folding-stock models used by Imperial Guard mechanised infantry, tank crews and troops assigned to starship or space station details. Even more exotic are the intricately crafted heirloom weapons used by the troops of regiments of the Vostroyan Firstborn and the Accatran Pattern Mark IV, which is much valued by Elysian Drop Troops and other drop troopers for its compact size and accuracy at short range. Despite these variations, the main mechanism of every Lasgun remains the same in almost all regiments. This makes the logistics of supplying multi-regiment armies a much simpler matter for the Departmento Munitorum. Other variants of this weapon include the more compact Laspistol, the anti-armour Lascannon and the more powerful and expensive Hellgun. The Imperial standard Lasgun, as used by most of the regiments of the Imperial Guard, has many attachments including (but not limited to) several types of scope, bayonet, laser sight and flashlight.
The Lasgun and Laspistol are possibly the weakest weapons in terms of pure killing power of all the weapons in common usage by the Imperial military forces, and are widely and scornfully known by Imperial Guardsmen as "flashlights." However the true power of Lasguns resides in their massed, concentrated use. It has also been demonstrated that even a Laspistol beam is fully capable of killing an unarmoured target, slicing limbs off and, if fired into a target's eye, searing the brain and causing immediate death.
Despite its lack of killing power, the Lasgun remained a favoured weapon of many an Imperial soldier, for it has many redeeming qualities. It is a solid and rugged weapon that remains reliable and precise in almost any environment, and requires very little maintenance: a quick cleanup while mumbling a prayer to the weapon's Machine Spirit after usage is all that is needed to keep it going for over 10,000 shots, after which the focusing crystals must be replaced, an action that requires the intervention of a knowledgeable Tech-priest. Unlike a Flamer or a Meltagun, the Lasgun can be outfitted with a bayonet or used as a club at close quarters without risk of damaging the weapon, and it will never overheat with potentially fatal results for its operator like a dreaded Plasma Gun. Another redeeming quality of the Lasgun is that its power pack can be recharged by exposure to sunlight or by being put into a camp fire for a few minutes, ensuring that the weapon almost never runs out of ammunition, even on prolonged operations, or in situations where resupply is unlikely.
Other Known Lasgun Patterns
- Accatran Pattern Mark IV Lasgun - Often employed by Elysian Drop Troop regiments, the Accatran Mark IV is a bullpup-style Lasgun with an integrated lamp pack. The lamp pack is powered by the same power cell that provides the Lasgun's ammunition, but the power draw is so small as to be negligible. The compact design of the weapon is due in part to the power cell's location in the stock. The smaller profile of the Accatran Mark IV is perfectly suited to the drop missions Elysian regiments often undertake, easily manoeuvred at short range or fired from the hip. Further, its lighter design allows wielders to carry other equipment in place of the extra bulk, which can be particularly vital for regiments that favour Grav-Chutes as a means of deployment.
- Bullpup Pattern - Imperial Guard units focused towards aerial or vehicular deployment often utilise Lasgun variants that are designed to increase portability and minimise size. While many employ Las Carbines, other such units are unwilling to sacrifice the standard Lasgun's effective range. The bullpup design counters this by extending the barrel into the weapon’s stock, as well as mounting the power pack within the base of the stock behind the grip. In this way, the Lasrifle achieves a balance between the compact design of a carbine while retaining most of the full capability of a standard Lasgun.
- Hot-Shot Lasgun (Lucius Pattern) - Sometimes known as Hellguns, "Hot-Shot" weapons are almost exclusively used by high-ranking Imperial officers and elite forces who favour the higher power provided by these weapons over standard-issue las weapons. While Hellguns are rarely seen outside of elite Storm Trooper units, Hellpistols can be seen among many in the Imperial Guard officer corps and among Inquisitorial agents where the extra hitting power they provide over a regular Laspistol often means the difference between their life and failure to the Emperor. Hot-Shot weapons use a 10 kilogram backpack power source rather than a standard plug-in charge pack, even for the smaller Hellpistol. Larger power packs mean greater power behind each shot but make reloading more impractical, which is a trade-off most are willing to make. Hellguns can also be linked to larger backpack power sources.
- Integrated Lathe-Lasrifle - Part weapon system and part bionic replacement, these integrated weapons give the Adeptus Mechanicus guardians of the Lathe Worlds in the Calixis Sector a clear advantage over most conventional forces. Each Integrated Lathe-Lasrifle is linked directly to a Potentia Coil, providing it with a near-endless amount of energy to draw from, and allowing these ancient weapons to deliver punishing volleys of fire without pause. Originally derived from an ancient archeotech design, the Integrated Lathe-Lasrifle packs a greater punch than a standard Lasgun. The standard weapon of the Calixian Mechanicus' feared Crimson Guard, Lathe-Lasrifles are fast becoming a more and more common sight throughout the Calixis Sector.
- Long-Las - Favoured by Imperial Guard Sharpshooters, the Long-Las is a specially modified version of the Lasgun constructed for added range and accuracy. As its name implies, a Long-Las also has a much longer barrel than a standard Lasgun, sometimes being up to twice the length, which makes it awkward in close quarters.
- Lucius Pattern No. 98 Lasgun - The signature weapon of the Death Korps of Krieg, the Lucius Pattern Lasgun operates in the 21 megathoule range, but is designed to draw from a standard Munitorum-issue power pack. Consequently, the Lucius Lasgun discharges a more powerful shot, but drains the power pack at a correspondingly increased rate. This also puts a great strain on the weapon, limiting the rate of fire and requiring such features as additional heat sink rings lining the exterior of the barrel. Even with such considerations, an over-taxed Lucius Lasgun can quickly overheat. The added danger of the weapon overheating does not perturb the famously stoic Krieg.
- M35 M-Galaxy - The M35 M-Galaxy is the most common Lasgun pattern in production for the Imperial Guard.
- M36 Kantrael Pattern Lasrifle - Standard Lasrifle used by the Imperial Guard's regiments of Cadian Shock Troops and the regiments raised from many other worlds that use Cadian wargear and martial traditions as a model for their own
- Mark 4 Catachan Lascarbine - Standard Lasgun used by the regiments of the Catachan Jungle Fighters and considered particularly useful in dense forested or wooded terrain like that found on many Jungle Worlds across the galaxy
- Mark III Lascarbine (with Nalwood stock) - This is the Lasgun pattern used by the Tanith-born members of the Tanith First and Only
- Mars Pattern Lasrifle - This is the Lasgun pattern used by the regiments of the Jouran Dragoons.
- Mark IV Accatran Pattern - This weapon is used mainly by the regiments of the Elysian Drop Troops and has also found favour with Drop Troops regiments drawn from other worlds.
- Merovech Pattern Assault Lasgun - Designed purely for close range assaults, the Merovech Pattern Lasgun is heavily reinforced and has a bayonet built into its short and heavy frame. Slots for two power packs are included so the gun can switch to a fresh pack with no reloading. Since the firefights it is designed for are typically over long before two packs are exhausted, it serves its intended function perfectly.
- Necromunda Pattern Lasgun - These Lasguns are manufactured on the Hive World of Necromunda
- Number 98 Lucius Pattern Lasrifle
- Retribution Pattern Long-Las - The first Retribution Pattern Long-Las was reportedly a modified Imperial Guard issue Long-Las, constructed by a sniper belonging to a regiment of the Brontian Longknifes. Angry over the destruction of his regiment in bloody frontal assaults during the Fifth Battle of Koldon Gap, he deserted and proceeded to kill four of his former senior officers and five Commissars before his position was annihilated by a retaliatory mortar strike. In the subsequent centuries, similar weapons have been constructed by various artisans in the Calixis Sector and the Koronus Expanse. The Retribution is a stripped down Long-Las, sacrificing some of the weapon’s reliability and clip size. In exchange, the Retribution has a much shorter barrel (for easy concealment) and can be broken into half a dozen pieces that can easily be hidden within a specially designed pack. In addition, the weapon is rigged to fire in a non-visible light spectrum, decreasing penetration slightly but ensuring the Retribution’s discharge is unnoticeable. Breaking down or assembling the weapon takes roughly 30 seconds for a practised individual. In addition, there is almost no flash or sound from the las-burst, making it extremely difficult to detect when the Retribution is firing via sight or sound.
- Shotlas - An illegal modification of a standard Lasgun popular amongst the techwrights and armour-mongers of the world of Footfall, the "Shotlas" is rigged to discharge more energy per shot, at the cost of beam coherence, with the weapon's shots swiftly losing power and becoming ineffective at longer ranges.
- Stutter-Las - Another common illegal modification, Stutter-Las Pistols trade accuracy and reliability for rate of fire, charging quickly to unleash a hail of lasblasts. Though seldom as potent as the discharges of most las-weapons, the spray of light and heat is effective at close quarters.
- Triplex Pattern Lasgun - A highly refined variant of the standard Lasgun, the Triplex Pattern offers alternative firing modes that make the weapon more versatile on the battlefield.
Specifications of the M36 Kantrael Pattern Lasgun
The following represent the standard specifications of an M36 Kantrael Pattern Lasgun as recorded in The Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer, Damocles Gulf Edition:
- Service Designation: Standard M-G short pattern Lasgun/Lasrifle
- Weight: 2.3kg
- Length: 900 millimetres
- Magazine Type: 19 megathule range (rechargable)
- Type of Fire: Single shot or fully automatic
- Rate of Fire (cyclic): 220 shots per minute
- Shot Intensity: low to high
- Sights: adjustable, back and front sights with optional laser sight/integral optics
A Las-Lock is an energy weapon that uses much of the same technology as a standard Lasgun or Laspistol, but more closely resembles a flintlock rifle. Las-Locks are, presumably, adaptations of present-day laser weapons technology that are used by less technologically advanced societies who have regressed from the modern day Imperial standard. Las-Locks are single-shot, with primitive capacitors that require the need to reload after every shot. While this presents many problems with the rate of fire, the single laser bolt that Las-Locks fire is considerably more powerful than those fired by standard Imperial laser weapons. Las-Locks are often seen in use by the occupational troops deployed by the Forces of Chaos when they seize an Imperial planet, particularly the law enforcement forces known as the "Excubitors". However, many Imperial Guard soldiers, especially those with an interest in archaic weapons, will carry Las-Lock rifles or pistols as back-up weapons.
- Codex: Imperial Guard (5th Edition), p. 38
- Codex: Imperial Guard (2nd Edition)
- Dark Heresy: The Lathe World (RPG), pg. 59
- Inquisitor Rulebook (Specialist game) pg. 66, 110-111
- Imperial Armour Volume Five - Siege of Vraks, p. 16
- Imperial Armour Volume Six - The Siege of Vraks - Part Two, p. 109
- Imperial Armour Volume Eleven - The Doom of Mymeara p. 101
- Imperial Munitorum Manual (Background Book) by Graham McNeill, p. 62
- Only War: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 176
- Only War: Hammer of the Emperor (RPG), pg. 111
- Rogue Trader: Hostile Acquisitions (RPG), p. 48
- Rogue Trader: Into the Storm (RPG), pp. 110-111
- The Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer (Background Book) by Mat Ralphs, p. 19
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition) p. 55
- Cain's Last Stand (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
- Ghostmaker (Novel) by Dan Abnett, p. 295
- First and Only (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Guns of Tanith (Novel) by Dan Abnett