Auto Weapons are ballistic ranged weapons which use solid-slug ammunition and thus are the equivalent of twenty-first century military-grade firearms. They are found in pistol, rifle or cannon form. Auto Weapons are still popular amongst soldiers of the Imperial Guard; and the Autogun was the standard-issue weapon for the troops of the Imperial Army and the Imperial Guard until the start of the 32nd Millennium. While Autopistols and Autoguns are similar to their laser-variants (the Laspistol and Lasgun), Autocannons are very unlike Lascannons. Autocannons are rapid-fire ballistic heavy weapons designed to eliminate heavily armoured infantry or light vehicles, and are often used by the Imperial Guard's heavy weapons teams in battle, due to their versatility and reliability. There are also sniper rifles which use solid slug ammunition -- although, like other Auto Weapons, they are restricted by their use of heavier ammunition. The advantage the Sniper Auto Weapon has over its photon-based counterpart is that fewer enemies will recognise the report of the rifle, as opposed to the Long-Las' distinctive ruby beam.
Auto Weapons are still used throughout the Imperium of Man and are similar in operation to twentieth and twenty-first century fully-automatic ballistic firearms. They use solid ammunition rather than the easily rechargeable power packs of the more common Imperial laser weapons, meaning Auto Weapons are more likely to run out of ammunition in a protracted battle. The strong point of Auto Weapons is that they use relatively basic technology, are inexpensive and are capable of being produced in large numbers even on low-technology worlds.
Types of Auto WeaponsEdit
The Autogun is an automatic ballistic firearm similar to a twentieth and twenty-first century automatic rifle in appearance and operation. Unlike the 2nd and 3rd Millennium versions, Imperial Autoguns use small calibre, high velocity caseless bullets which are made from metallic or synthetic materials encased in solidified propellant. An Autogun works by using a solid hammer and striker to ignite a sensitive chemical in the round, which in turn ignites the main charge and forces the solid projectile through the barrel. The reactive force of the bullet's expulsion, which may be assisted by gas redirected from the barrel, opens the breech and resets the hammer. The new round is then removed from the magazine and repositioned by the mechanism as it is pushed back into the battery by mechanical force. This cycle will repeat several times per second until the magazine is empty or the trigger is released, barring malfunction. Autoguns often find their way into the hands of all forms of planetary militia, some Planetary Defence Force regiments, and are the standard firearm used in less advanced human cultures across the galaxy.
The Autopistol is a rapid-firing automatic ballistic pistol which is intended to be fired in short bursts. As the name implies, an Autopistol is the pistol version of the Autogun. It is similar to twentieth and twenty-first century machine pistols and submachine guns, sacrificing controllability in sustained fire, accuracy of the weapon itself, and projectile speed and weight for the purpose of making the weapon compact and light. Autopistols are still in use throughout the Imperium due to the fact that they can be easily produced on low-technology worlds. Some Imperial Guard regiments, including the 8th Cadian Regiment, often equip their troops with Autopistols as sidearms, improving their combat firepower. In other quarters, it is felt that only the Imperial Guard's officers should be equipped with pistol weaponry, so such equipment is reserved for Guardsmen of and above the rank of Lieutenant.
Heavy StubberEditA Heavy Stubber is a fully automatic slug-firing ballistic weapon based upon an old artillery design, and is fairly common and reliable. Its high rate of fire makes up for its lack of strength and armour-piercing abilities. It is an ideal support weapon for low-technology worlds that cannot maintain laser weapons in working order due to technological or resource limitations. Heavy Stubbers are often pintle mounted and used as close defence weapons on Imperial vehicles, when the rarer Storm Bolters are not available. It is often seen as a pintle-mounted armament on many Imperial Guard vehicles and is used for anti-infantry and light anti-aircraft fire. Some Imperial Guard regiments use Heavy Stubbers as heavy weapons for their infantry squads.
An Autocannon is similar in concept to twentieth and twenty-first century 20 millimetre to 40 millimetre calibre high velocity automatic weapons. They are rapid-firing ballistic weapons and use mass-reactive explosive ammunition. Like its ancient counterparts, an Autocannon is usually mounted on a weapon carriage or a vehicle because of its high weight and recoil. Astartes, with their superhuman strength, have been known to use Autocannons as man-portable heavy weapons. Due to their high rate of fire and sufficient killing power, they are effective against heavy infantry and light vehicles. Autocannons are used by the Imperial Guard, Space Marines, the Witch Hunters of the Ordo Hereticus and the Chaos Space Marines.
The Battle Cannon is a larger and heavier version of an Autocannon. It fires a large, high-explosive shell, which causes far more damage and explodes over a wider area than that of the smaller Autocannon. Due to its massive size, it is only mounted on Imperial vehicles or special weapons carriages. It is the standard weapon of the Imperial Guard's Leman Russ main battle tank.
A Macrocannon is the largest form of Auto Weaponry, and is much heavier even than the Autocannon, essentially serving as a type of artillery piece. A Macrocannon can fire massive and explosive shells at a maximum range of around 40 kilometers when in atmosphere. Although it is possible to mount Macrocannons on heavy vehicles, they are more suited for use as emplacements and for static defence due to their considerable size, potency and ferocious recoil. Macrocannons are a Standard Template Construct (STC) technology, and often form the primary weapon of Imperial starships, where their effective range is far greater due to the lack of gravity and atmospheric drag.
- Codex: Imperial Guard (3rd Edition, 1st Codex)
- Warhammer 40,000: Wargear (2nd Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Wargear (4th Edition)
- Imperial Armour Volume Six - The Siege of Vraks - Part Two, pg. 149