Item Salient Points
The Magnetic Gun is a weapon system that uses either a magnetic coil (coil gun) or a magnetic rail (rail gun) to fire a ferrous projectile. In the Cosmic Era, most rail guns are used on mecha, armored vehicles, and warships while coil guns are used for power armor and infantry use. Functionally, there is little difference between magnetic guns and conventional firearms. They look superficially the same and have the same usage (safeties, sights, magazines, etc) and while rail guns discharge (contrast 'firing' a conventional gun) at extreme velocity (mach 5+) most coil guns are closer to the muzzle velocity of said conventional firearms.
Differences are minor, but important. Coil guns require both a battery pack and an ammunition pack to function. Most combine both components in the magazine (reloading a coil gun magazine also likely requires recharging it). Alternate versions include actually battery cells in the weapon (especially for larger weapons) or actual hardpoints for mounting a power umbilical.
A conventional bullet for a gun is composed of the actual projectile, the bullet, as well as the casing, the powder, the primer, the firing cap, and so on. A large percentage of a shell/bullet is expended in firing rather than inflicting damage. A mag round is entirely projectile, and can be both smaller in terms of fitting in the magazine and paradoxically larger when hitting a target.
Magnetic Weaponry is similar to conventional weaponry in that the guns have muzzle flash. Rather than escaping flaming gases, the flash is the dissipating electric charge from the magnets and is technically cherenkov radiation. Also, being a solid shot weapon, there are no shells or casings discarded from a gun while it is firing.
Magnetic Weaponry was pioneered by the United States leading into the Resource Wars. The technology was energy intensive and failed to enter widespread use beyond naval guns. After the Second Dark Age, the Pacific Rim Coalition revived the magnetic weapons technology founded by America and improved it with arcano and hypertech. The problem of providing power was solved with arcanotech dimensional batteries and the rest was just polishing existing technology. The resulting magnetic weapons were comparable in size and weight to conventional firearms but had greater stopping power and more suited to piercing armor and reinforced materials.
Magnetic weaponry tech spread fairly quickly as the pro-military Atlantic Federation reverse engineered the systems and then started mass producing them and selling them across the world. Most people incorrectly assume that the Federation created the 'MagRifle' but they just packaged and sold it better.
British Leyland, Union Aerospace, and Yoyodyne are the leading producers of man portable magnetic weaponry.
The Magnetic Gun was seemingly a stillborn child of science fiction. The weapon systems were developed, but there was little reason for people to upgrade their tried and true chemical propellant guns for electric/electronic/magnetic guns. The mag guns were very similar in performance profiles, muzzle velocity, accuracy at range and so forth. The Magnetic gun was saved by two things, androids and power armor. Taking out these often hard targets when they went rogue was ammo intensive and had a nasty habit of causing collateral damage. Large bore rounds, explosive rounds, or simply stunning numbers of rounds were required. Even basic power armor suits with ferroceramic armor were able to shrug off rifle rounds while androids that went nuts were quite effective in their Terminator roles, their human shells ripped away to reveal their hard shiny metal bits.
The Mag Gun left a small residual charge on the round, as well as having an adjustable power output. Both factors, along with the potential for firing the long rod penetrator type armor piecing ammunition made the magnetic gun excellent for taking out machines. The world militaries started buying and equipping their forces with mag guns, and using even bigger power armor scaled mag weapons.
This set the stage for the banning of civilian ownership of any and all magnetic weapon systems. Only military, para-military (SWAT) and registered security forces (mercenaries) are legally allowed to possess magnetic weaponry. In the Federation, private unlicensed possession of a magnetic weapon is considered a entry level felony. The weapons can be bought and sold on the black market, where they command a very high price.
Sidenote: energy weapons, including but not limited to lasers and plasma based weapons are similarly illegal to own. Lasers remain very rare outside the military due to their high maintenance requirements and ease of damaging them. Most lasers pistols and rifles are no more durable than high end cameras. Lasers also prove to be of limited use in firefights as they lack knock down or stopping power and can be disastrously thwarted by suitably tough reflective surfaces. Plasma weapons are deep in the domain of arcanotech and are rare inside the military and almost non-existant outside of it. It is more a matter of so few people knowing how to operate and maintain such a weapon than it is access or fear of it's misuse. News feeds that touch on black market plasma weapons usually involve catastrophic explosions or user killing power surges.
Magnetic Pistols: MagPistols are relatively uncommon in military use, and are much more common among illegal onwership. Pistols use an integrated magazine (ammo and battery combined) and are computer and electronics friendly. On the streets, there is an expression that a good magpistol is the best cure for brass balls and tin men. Magnetic Machine Pistols: usually using small bore ammunition (2-3mm) MMPs have both a high rate of fire and an enhanced ammo capacity.
Magnetic Rifles: coil guns are smoothbore weapons and are not rifles in the true sense. The term Mag Rifle is used out of traditional vernacular and differentiates magnetic long guns from magnetic pistols. They have a longer barrel and are accurate to a similar range to conventional guns. Enhanced Mag Rifles are available for snipers, as for a variety of other roles and uses.
The conventional rifle is far less accurate than it could be. Few infantry firefights take place at distances over 300 meters, so having rifles accurate out to 700 meters is wasting 400 meters of range. The gun can be made accurate to that desired range (300m) and be lighter. (For further reading on this concept, see the M-14 army rifle wiki page). The same applies to magnetic weaponry. A Mag rifle can easily be accurate out to extreme range for infantry. Aside from snipers, few infantry fight at these ranges, so the majority of magnetic rifles and SMGs are configured to shoot at the given range of combat for Cosmic Era infantry. This has led to two different design schools, the Ultralight and the Velocity theories. The Ultralight design has a minimal design, creating a light efficient gun that matches the performance of a conventional gun at roughly 2/3rds to 1/2 the weight. The Velocity design keeps the same size and weight as conventional guns but uses large ammunition (calibre is the same, but full body round versus discarded casing and fired bullet of a shell). Ultralight or Superleggera mag guns are used in the same roles as conventional rifles and pistols. The Velocity or Supervelocce has greatly enhanced stopping power and armor penetration, making it ideal for anti-power armor, android, and battle suit work.