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Glabro
18-09-2009, 17:39
Does it not strike you as odd that bolters are supposed to be super-weapons, with each bolt individually crafted and costing quite a bit, and thus reserved only for the elite of the elite (Space Marine numbers being totally meaningless compared to the IG (including PDF under this term))....but still, the Heavy Bolter is supposed to be the most common "support weapon" in the IG arsenal, and eats ammunition like ice cream.

Yeah, I know that in fluff terms, Astartes pattern bolters are different, but still.

I've even seen some BL authors recognize this and use terms such as "heavy autogun" instead.

Argastes
18-09-2009, 17:44
...bolters are supposed to be super-weapons, with each bolt individually crafted and costing quite a bit, and thus reserved only for the elite of the elite...

As far as I'm aware, this has never been the case. Boltguns have always been rarer than lasguns (which doesn't make sense in it's own right, since they technology is much simpler...), but they have never been so rare that they are unavailable to anyone except Space Marines. They are also used by IG officers, SOBs, and so forth.

The solution to this alleged problem isn't to redefine heavy bolters as "heavy autoguns", but rather to recognize that bolt-weapon technology isn't that special. BTW, have you considered the possibility that those BL authors weren't referred to heavy bolters at all, but to heavy stubbers or to some other sort of machine gun which uses the same operating principles as an autogun (i.e. those of modern automatic firearms)?

grissom2006
18-09-2009, 17:45
Boltguns are indeed rare precious guns but they are not and never was the exclusive to Space Marines only. Heavy Bolters on the other hand are mass produced Guard used to weapons of a type close to them but like many weapons that we're in the game are now consigned to the bin and our memories.

Graf of Orlock
18-09-2009, 17:46
Bolts are readily avaliable in the Underhive, too.

Argastes
18-09-2009, 17:51
It's also possible that boltguns are rarer than heavy bolters because the bolt-shell technology is hard to scale down. Bolters are 19mm caliber, I believe heavy bolters are stated to be of 25mm caliber. Heavy bolter shells are substantially larger and therefore the cartridge components (fuse, rocket motor, etc.) don't have to be miniaturized as much. Maybe bolt-shell components of the size used in heavy bolter ammo are about as small as Imperial manufacturing technology can make them before they become impossible to easily mass-produce.

Firaxin
18-09-2009, 18:04
Bolters are 19mm caliber,
Source? I've only ever seen 20mm.


@ the OP: You have to grasp the scale of the Imperium to understand this. If only marines had access to bolters, then bolters wouldn't be rare. 1 million space marines is less than 0.000001% of the Imperium's numbers--if there were that many boltguns they'd be mythical, not rare. In an Empire of untold hundreds of trillions, "rare" numbers in at least the hundreds of billions.

Argastes
18-09-2009, 18:21
Source? I've only ever seen 20mm.

3rd Edition master rulebook, on the page about 41st millennium weapons, the boltgun diagram states "0.75 caliber". That's 19.05 millimeters exactly, although I think just saying "19mm" is easier; no-one is going to miss that extra twentieth of a millimeter (even in modern-day ammo nomenclature, calibers that are stated to the hundredth of a millimeter, like 7.62mm or whatever, are not actually exactly accurate in many cases). You could even get away with calling them 20mm (which is actually a bit shy of .80-caliber), it's still fairly close.

spetswalshe
18-09-2009, 18:23
Let us also bear in mind that while the "heavy autogun" (or heavy stubber as some like to call them) is no doubt common enough that BL authors might use them, they do a very different thing to a heavy bolter, which is probably more analogue to a modern-day automatic grenade launcher. A stubber is cheap, easily produced and user friendly - hence their use as pintle weapons on a lot of IG vehicles - whereas the heavy bolter is more suited to a hull-mounted gun, given it's recoil (let's not start that debate again btw, numerous sources mention bolter recoil so I've learned to just let the physics slide) and maintenence requirements. The ammunition is also likely to be an issue, both the size and the fact that it's pretty explosive.

Although I did always find it odd that a Chimera would have to carry ammunition for it's heavy stubber, ammunition that doesn't appear to be shared by any other weapon in use. At least heavy bolters get airtime with heavy weapon squads. Plus the ammo probably makes a decent improvised satchel charge.

Argastes
18-09-2009, 18:31
...given it's recoil (let's not start that debate again btw, numerous sources mention bolter recoil so I've learned to just let the physics slide)

Why wouldn't it have recoil? It expels projectiles and propellant gases from it's barrel, therefore it has recoil. If it didn't, that would be a violation of the laws of physics. Admittedly those projectiles are moving fairly slowly when they leave the barrel, since they are only propelled by the small amount of powder in the cartridge case (the rocket motor kicks in after they clear the muzzle), but nevertheless it would have some recoil. Just much less recoil than it would have if the projectiles left the muzzle at the high velocity that their rocket motors will eventually accelerate them to.

As for Chimeras carrying heavy stubber ammo despite the fact that it's not used by any other weapon, that's not so unusual. The ammunition carried by Bradley IFVs for their main gun (25x137mm) is not used in any other US Army weapon system. So obviously real-life armed forces are not necessarily reluctant to equip a vehicle with a weapon whose ammunition isn't used by anything else. Plus I'm sure the Guard actually does use heavy stubbers as infantry weapons too, tripod-mounted as well as perhaps fitted with a bipod and carried like a GPMG. We just don't see it in the tabletop rules, and thus in the fiction of writers who look to the tabletop rules as a guideline for what to include in their stories.

Wolflord Havoc
18-09-2009, 18:36
Yes it would have made more sense for the IG to use as many energy based weapons as possble - perhaps even replacing heavy bolters in their entirety with Multilasers - but due to legacy reasons in the guard model range (vehicles and Existing heavy weapon range) this will never happen.

Also weighing in on the whole Bolter / lasgun issue.

Lasguns are according to the fluff very reliable, easy to make and resupply is a doddle so long as you have access to a generator of some description (or even sunlight!).

Boltguns require a lot of maintenance and would have a much greater resupply impact per weapon than that of a lasgun. Also they are big and heavy making it impractical for most (but not all) unaugmented humans to lug around.

Cheesolith
18-09-2009, 18:46
Gyrojets(which bolters are scaled up version of) have barely any recoil(noticeably less then a 12 gauge with birdshot in my experience). Therefor, it seems reasonable to assume that bolters have no recoil either or at least no recoil that requires a tank chassis to absorb.

Additionally, GW has no sense of scale, including things like Land Raiders with the density of a neutron star, spaceships lighter then aerogel, the average imperial planet being visited by a spaceship once every 20000 years on average, there being more Leman Russ tanks then the imperium has people and shoulder fired weapons that would dismember the firer if he was subject to the laws of physics.

Don't think about it too hard.

spetswalshe
18-09-2009, 18:51
Why wouldn't it have recoil? It expels projectiles and propellant gases from it's barrel, therefore it has recoil. If it didn't, that would be a violation of the laws of physics. Admittedly those projectiles are moving fairly slowly when they leave the barrel, since they are only propelled by the small amount of powder in the cartridge case (the rocket motor kicks in after they clear the muzzle), but nevertheless it would have some recoil. Just much less recoil than it would have if the projectiles left the muzzle at the high velocity that their rocket motors will eventually accelerate them to.

Should have added the qualifier 'massive, bone-shattering' to the word 'recoil'. Obviously there will be some recoil.


As for Chimeras carrying heavy stubber ammo despite the fact that it's not used by any other weapon, that's not so unusual. The ammunition carried by Bradley IFVs for their main gun (25x137mm) is not used in any other US Army weapon system. So obviously real-life armed forces are not necessarily reluctant to equip a vehicle with a weapon whose ammunition isn't used by anything else. Plus I'm sure the Guard actually does use heavy stubbers as infantry weapons too, tripod-mounted or whatever. We just don't see it in the tabletop rules, and thus in the fiction of writers who look to the tabletop rules as a guideline for what to include in their stories.

Bear in mind that the Departmento Munitorium will try and streamline everything to create the minimum of excess, given their remit is impossibly larger than that of the US army. Even were the heavy stubber a standardised calibre, it still seems vastly wasteful when you can hook a multilaser charge pack to the same generator that is charging the squad's lasgun packs.

DKoK actually has some really nice heavy stubber teams.

Argastes
18-09-2009, 19:03
Gyrojets(which bolters are scaled up version of) have barely any recoil(noticeably less then a 12 gauge with birdshot in my experience). Therefor, it seems reasonable to assume that bolters have no recoil either or at least no recoil that requires a tank chassis to absorb.

Boltguns are similar to gyrojet weapons (they were inspired by them when 40K was written dreamed up back in the 80s), but not identical. Unlike gyrojet projectiles, the ammo is not purely rocket-propelled, but also includes a small "kicker" charge of conventional propellant to launch it from the barrel with a bit of initial velocity. This is to prevent the problem that gyrojet weapons had, of the round having very little velocity at the muzzle and thus being nearly useless at very close range (it would hardly do for Space Marines to have a weapon that is useless at close range!). In outside-the-setting terms, I think this fluff was also added to explain why the art shows boltguns ejecting spent brass, when the ammo for a pure gyrojet-style rocket gun would not require cartridge casings. So boltguns will have non-negligible recoil. Their recoil is certainly be lighter than it would be if they were firing the same projectile at a muzzle velocity equal to it's burnout velocity (i.e. the velocity that the round reaches when it's rocket motor has burned completely), but not negligible.

BTW, 12-ga. birdshot rounds will generate just as much recoil force as, say, 12-ga. buckshot rounds or slug rounds of the same shot weight and muzzle velocity; they are still pushing the same mass of gas and projectile out of the barrel at the same velocity, the lead is just divided up into a larger number of smaller pieces. Doesn't affect recoil. If you have experienced lighter recoil while shooting 12-ga. birdshot, it's because the loads you were shooting had less muzzle velocity and/or less shot weight, not because they were birdshot.


Should have added the qualifier 'massive, bone-shattering' to the word 'recoil'. Obviously there will be some recoil.

Ah, okay. Yeah a heavy bolter's recoil would not be too excessive, given that it is firing 25mm (thus maybe ~150 gram?) shells at a quite low velocity. Obviously it's low enough that the weapon can be fired from an HMG-style tripod, since we see IG heavy weapon teams with that type of setup. Recoil force is thus probably not more than that of a modern HMG (i.e., severe compared to most small-arms, but not ridiculous... maybe in the region of 10 to 12 lbs-sec. impulse).

Cheesolith
18-09-2009, 20:20
Boltguns are similar to gyrojet weapons (they were inspired by them when 40K was written dreamed up back in the 80s), but not identical. Unlike gyrojet projectiles, the ammo is not purely rocket-propelled, but also includes a small "kicker" charge of conventional propellant to launch it from the barrel with a bit of initial velocity. This is to prevent the problem that gyrojet weapons had, of the round having very little velocity at the muzzle and thus being nearly useless at very close range (it would hardly do for Space Marines to have a weapon that is useless at close range!). In outside-the-setting terms, I think this fluff was also added to explain why the art shows boltguns ejecting spent brass, when the ammo for a pure gyrojet-style rocket gun would not require cartridge casings. So boltguns will have non-negligible recoil. Their recoil is certainly be lighter than it would be if they were firing the same projectile at a muzzle velocity equal to it's burnout velocity (i.e. the velocity that the round reaches when it's rocket motor has burned completely), but not negligible.

BTW, 12-ga. birdshot rounds will generate just as much recoil force as, say, 12-ga. buckshot rounds or slug rounds of the same shot weight and muzzle velocity; they are still pushing the same mass of gas and projectile out of the barrel at the same velocity, the lead is just divided up into a larger number of smaller pieces. Doesn't affect recoil. If you have experienced lighter recoil while shooting 12-ga. birdshot, it's because the loads you were shooting had less muzzle velocity and/or less shot weight, not because they were birdshot.



Ah, okay. Yeah a heavy bolter's recoil would not be too excessive, given that it is firing 25mm (thus maybe ~150 gram?) shells at a quite low velocity. Obviously it's low enough that the weapon can be fired from an HMG-style tripod, since we see IG heavy weapon teams with that type of setup. Recoil force is thus probably not more than that of a modern HMG (i.e., severe compared to most small-arms, but not ridiculous... maybe in the region of 10 to 12 lbs-sec. impulse).

More gas escapes between the pellets then with buckshot or slugs, reducing recoil and muzzle velocity.

HB's are shown to have electrical power feeds and aren't recoil operated so they don't require more propellant then is needed to shove the rocket out of the barrel, which can be accomplished with a firecracker or two. Hand held bolters do operate on some form of recoil.

Argastes
18-09-2009, 20:45
More gas escapes between the pellets then with buckshot or slugs, reducing recoil and muzzle velocity.

Uhh, if this is happening with the shells you use, you need to switch to a brand that has better wad/shotcup design... the wad/shotcup is the plastic cup that holds the shot and forms a gas seal between it and the powder gases (as well as preventing the pellets from becoming physically deformed by contact with the bore). It's physically impossible for powder gas to pass between the pellets, unless this part of the cartridge is defective.


HB's are shown to have electrical power feeds and aren't recoil operated so they don't require more propellant then is needed to shove the rocket out of the barrel, which can be accomplished with a firecracker or two. Hand held bolters do operate on some form of recoil.

Right, heavy bolters COULD get away with this if they were externally driven, but they would presumably still want to have enough muzzle velocity that the rounds aren't ineffective at very close range. If you read what I posted, you'll see that I said bolt shells have a case with conventional propellant not to provide impulse for cycling the action, but to prevent the problem of the rounds having minimal velocity at the muzzle (which was one of the problems with real-life gyrojet weapons, close-range performance was poor due to this). If bolters really are gas- or recoil-operated, then that's another reason for it, but not the only reason.

Besides, not all heavy bolters are shown to have cables connecting them to an external power supply. The ones used by the IG heavy weapon teams, for instance, do not. There are probably different types of heavy bolters: Some externally-driven like modern chain guns for mounting in vehicles, aircraft, etc., and some internally driven (gas- or recoil-operated) for use as infantry weapons. But at any rate, even for the externally-driven ones, you would probably still want the rounds to have enough propellant in their "ejector" charge that they still pack some punch at the muzzle. Thus recoil would be non-negligible.

spetswalshe
18-09-2009, 22:00
See, it's literally impossible to avoid the realistic-boltgun argument. In order to avoid this going further off topic and the thread getting locked, I'd suggest starting another, seperate thread. The general consensus from the artwork and literature is that bolters have a large amount of recoil, and eject spent shells. It doesn't make sense, but neither does Orks growing in cocoons under the ground.

Also I think the point Cheese was making might have been that birdshot typically has lighter shot than buck, and the typical birdshot load (pigeon or dove or something) has less recoil that buck, or a heavier duck load.

Argastes
18-09-2009, 22:11
See, it's literally impossible to avoid the realistic-boltgun argument. In order to avoid this going further off topic and the thread getting locked, I'd suggest starting another, seperate thread. The general consensus from the artwork and literature is that bolters have a large amount of recoil, and eject spent shells. It doesn't make sense, but neither does Orks growing in cocoons under the ground.

There is perfectly sensible reason that boltguns have hefty recoil and eject spent brass.... that reason has already been explained, by me, in this thread. Yes, it's true that boltguns having hefty recoil and ejecting spent brass would make no sense IF boltguns used the exact same operating principle as real-life gyrojet weapons... but they don't. They use a similar, but not identical, operating principle. Their cartridges include a charge of conventional propellant, which is located in a conventional cartridge case into which the rocket-propelled projectile is seated. When they fire, this charge of propellant expels the round from the barrel at a low but not-insignificant velocity (hence the recoil), and the empty cartridge case is ejected from the weapon. It's really not hard to grasp. I really don't understand why so many people think that boltguns "should realistically" be recoilless and eject no brass. A boltgun is NOT identical in function to a 1960s-era gyrojet carbine.

That said, I am open to a that's specifically thread about boltguns. I may open one later tonight.

Glabro
19-09-2009, 08:22
Source? I've only ever seen 20mm.


@ the OP: You have to grasp the scale of the Imperium to understand this. If only marines had access to bolters, then bolters wouldn't be rare. 1 million space marines is less than 0.000001% of the Imperium's numbers--if there were that many boltguns they'd be mythical, not rare. In an Empire of untold hundreds of trillions, "rare" numbers in at least the hundreds of billions.

I know, believe me, I've spent some time doing the numbers on past threads. Yes, it was a poor choice of words, I should have said "mostly" space marines, granted that IG officers with boltguns still outnumber them. Sisters are a small enough faction as well.

Regardless of that, the logistics are on a different order of magnitude when considering heavy bolter ammunition usage vs. boltgun ammunition usage in the Imperium.

I suppose it's the newer fluff which pushes for rare & expensive bolters. And yeah, I mean rare, not mythical, as in Dark Heresy having bolters be relatively expensive - but ammo costs being horrendous, 16 creds per shell, was it? As a comparison, 20 rounds of 7.62 or the like costs 1 cred.

Vaktathi
19-09-2009, 08:24
Does it not strike you as odd that bolters are supposed to be super-weapons, with each bolt individually crafted and costing quite a bit, and thus reserved only for the elite of the elite (Space Marine numbers being totally meaningless compared to the IG (including PDF under this term))....but still, the Heavy Bolter is supposed to be the most common "support weapon" in the IG arsenal, and eats ammunition like ice cream.

Yeah, I know that in fluff terms, Astartes pattern bolters are different, but still.

I've even seen some BL authors recognize this and use terms such as "heavy autogun" instead.

Handheld boltguns are rare and difficult to make ammo for. Much larger versions don't require the same exacting techniques and are much easier to make and distribute and supply. At least that's the way I see it.

Solar_Eclipse
19-09-2009, 11:46
Check out the price of Bolts in Dark Heresy.

a Bolt Pistol costs 250 Thrones (Compared to a Laspistols 50)

a laspistol charge pack is 15 Thrones per clip.

While a bolt shell is 16 thrones PER BOLT

I believe that the Imperial Guard should use the following Heavy weapons:

- Heavy Stubber/Twin Heavy Stubber
- Multilaser
- Autocannon
- Missile Launcher
- Thudd Gun
- Heavy Mortar
- Rapier gun

And marines should use these heavy weapons:
- Multi Melta
- Plasma Cannon
- Heavy Bolter
- Lascannon

It suits their mythos better.

Really, though. I think all of 40k could use a complete bottom up rewrite, rules and fluff. Simply write everything again to make it make abit more sense and declare everything prior to that non canon.

canucklhead
19-09-2009, 15:17
The bolter was even in the fan made 40k RPG for a while. I liked the portrayal of it as basically poo at point blank range. It suffered a 90% drop in AP at ranges below 5m, since it took some range to get any velocity.

I was also a handy explanation of why Marines would make a huge point of carrying a hefty cc weapons as well.