Questions about the plausibility of steampunk weapons

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Post Sun Nov 17, 2013 6:38 pm

Questions about the plausibility of steampunk weapons

So I'm currently writing a steampunkish space western about an assassin who works for a twisted futuristic version of the Roman Catholic Church, and I'm doing some weaponstorming.

My MC carries around a pair of Whisperers, long-barreled revolvers that are designed to fire silently. But instead of having to screw a silencer on, the silencing mechanism is built into the firearm itself.
My problem is that I have no idea how that would work. I'm not really a gadget guy, and not the best with moving parts. :roll: Does anybody out there have a notion of how I could do something like this?

The second thing is a grapple built into the character's mechanical arm. The grapple itself is shaped vaguely like a crucifix. It would be designed to fire from his wrist, lodge wherever he aimed it, and then let him reel himself up or rappel down. But again, I'm trying to figure out a feasible way to power and operate it.

Any thoughts?
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Post Sun Nov 17, 2013 7:22 pm

Re: Questions about the plausibility of steampunk weapons

Concerning the revolvers, it's generally very difficult to achieve an appreciable amount of suppression with revolvers. This is due to the fact that the construction of the cylinder usually allows gasses (and thus, noise) to escape unchecked. Perhaps you could have the revolver cylinders operate more like a clip in a modern handgun, where... let's see... you have a circular cowling which encompasses the cylinder, one side of which flips up to allow you to put the cylinder in. The cowling is designed to absorb recoil and noise from the firing system. I think it's borderline infeasible, but hey, this is steampunk! XD


Grapples like that are always problematic, because you have to have A) a very strong miniaturized power source (to reel, launching could be done by a simple spring), B) a very strong miniaturized motor, and C) a cable strong enough to support the weight of a full-grown human. If you can do that with steampunk tech, more power to you.
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Post Sun Nov 17, 2013 7:39 pm

Re: Questions about the plausibility of steampunk weapons

Jakorosin Darksbane wrote:Concerning the revolvers, it's generally very difficult to achieve an appreciable amount of suppression with revolvers. This is due to the fact that the construction of the cylinder usually allows gasses (and thus, noise) to escape unchecked. Perhaps you could have the revolver cylinders operate more like a clip in a modern handgun, where... let's see... you have a circular cowling which encompasses the cylinder, one side of which flips up to allow you to put the cylinder in. The cowling is designed to absorb recoil and noise from the firing system. I think it's borderline infeasible, but hey, this is steampunk! XD


Grapples like that are always problematic, because you have to have A) a very strong miniaturized power source (to reel, launching could be done by a simple spring), B) a very strong miniaturized motor, and C) a cable strong enough to support the weight of a full-grown human. If you can do that with steampunk tech, more power to you.


I've had a lot more experience with semi auto handguns then revolvers, but I kinda figured the revolver thing would be tricky. The cowling is a good idea, though... Definitely something to chew on.

Thanks for the thoughts! That helps.
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Post Sat Dec 14, 2013 6:43 pm

Re: Questions about the plausibility of steampunk weapons

No comment on the grapple but where the revolvers are concerned I think it's a really cool idea. The name is cool. Steampunk allows for a certain amount of fantastical feel to it, so while being realistic is always a good idea I would point out that most of your readers aren't going to wonder how they're silent, and the rest will probably assume it's a result of technology we don't posses yet. In other words, don't worry about the details too much, because it's your writing style that will carry it one way or another.
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Post Sun Dec 15, 2013 6:48 pm

Re: Questions about the plausibility of steampunk weapons

Even with modern silencers, they're not silent. They just sound differently. So giving some new steampunk tech could definitely do whatever you want them to do.
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Post Thu Mar 13, 2014 6:16 pm

Re: Questions about the plausibility of steampunk weapons

The problem with the cylinder design is that, in order for it to efficiently rotate, there must be a gap between the back of the barrel and the front of the cylinder. That issue can actually be worked around, if you look up the Nagant M1895, it actually had an additional mechanism that pushed the cylinder forward to generate a seal with the barrel before firing. The advantage that it enjoyed was increased muzzle velocity, as the gasses that had not escaped propelled the round faster. It also made the Nagant M1895 one of the few revolvers that could be suppressed effectively.

As far as an integrated suppressor, that's relatively easy to develop. Look up the MP5-SD, the Wellrod, or the PB Silent Pistol for more information regarding those. Essentially, part of the barrel is replaced with baffles. It reduces the muzzle velocity of the weapon, but that's actually desirable for a suppressed weapon (if the bullet moves below the sound barrier, you lose the sonic boom).

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