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Most feasible homemade firearms for my setting

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  • Most feasible homemade firearms for my setting

    For a big group of competent people in a tropical or semitropical setting, what would be the most feasible type of firearms they could produce on their own with quite basic tools and equipment, provided that they already have the ingredients to make gunpowder and have the skills and know-how to make firearms?

    My thoughts went to flintlock firearms since they seem relatively simple and feasible to make, but a player in my group wondered why they could not just make percussion firearms instead. I had a look at those and while they do seem superior in every way (not least being reliable in wet weather) they also seem a degree more complex to produce. Perhaps too much.

    Either way it's important for me to know what firearms the players could have access to in this game.

    Any historical gun expert want to chime in?

  • #2
    I am NOT a gun expert, but here's my two cents:

    That depends on what tools and material they have available, but without access to high quality alloys and metallurgy tools I would say the best they can do is a matchlock (not flintlock) that can be fired once before needing repair.
    This means they can use use it as a shock volly before charging to melee, have more than one on them, use it for traps or be creative in other ways

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    • #3
      Considerations.

      Tropical/semitropical don't really describe what the info we need. Are these castaways looking to hunt/fight/etc? Are they simply living in an area in the equatorial band? What tech level and manufacturing capabilities are we talking about?

      Do they have the ability to turn metal barrels? And if not steel barrels, the weight is going to go up.

      Percussion caps do not use gunpowder. Do they have the means to make mercury fulminate? And not blow themselves up? And do they have the means to make much higher tolerance parts of a caplock system?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by OK5 View Post
        I am NOT a gun expert, but here's my two cents:

        That depends on what tools and material they have available, but without access to high quality alloys and metallurgy tools I would say the best they can do is a matchlock (not flintlock) that can be fired once before needing repair.
        This means they can use use it as a shock volly before charging to melee, have more than one on them, use it for traps or be creative in other ways
        You are absolutely right, they do not have metallurgy tools nor high quality alloys at hand. So I'll need to look up matchlocks then and how to make them!

        Comment


        • paladin2019
          paladin2019 commented
          Editing a comment
          They can still do flintlocks if they can make a steel plate, get a wedge of flint, and have a means of striking the two together (spring loaded arm or another character standing on the side, etc.).

      • #5
        Originally posted by paladin2019 View Post
        Considerations.

        Tropical/semitropical don't really describe what the info we need. Are these castaways looking to hunt/fight/etc? Are they simply living in an area in the equatorial band? What tech level and manufacturing capabilities are we talking about?
        The story is set in the modern day but they still have quite basic tools, the vast majority of them homemade.

        Originally posted by paladin2019 View Post
        Do they have the ability to turn metal barrels? And if not steel barrels, the weight is going to go up.
        So basically take the pre-modern firearms and add some 50% to the weight?

        Originally posted by paladin2019 View Post
        Percussion caps do not use gunpowder. Do they have the means to make mercury fulminate? And not blow themselves up? And do they have the means to make much higher tolerance parts of a caplock system?
        Ok, so I need to find out how to make mercury fulminate then. Based on your question I guess it is not an easy or risk free prospect.

        Comment


        • #6
          Originally posted by Aristarkos View Post
          The story is set in the modern day but they still have quite basic tools, the vast majority of them homemade.
          So, castaways with very little in the wat of advanced raw materials?

          Originally posted by Aristarkos View Post
          So basically take the pre-modern firearms and add some 50% to the weight?
          It depends on if the want it reusable. If they can't turn a quality steel barrel, it's either going to be significantly heavier or disposable. +50% is usable if they can only turn cast iron barrels, but a Critical Failure would be bad. Even 3/4 of the weight might be effective for a good bamboo barrel, but it's a one use affair. If they don't have access to good metal they may be better off making something like medieval Chinese rockets.

          Originally posted by Aristarkos View Post
          Ok, so I need to find out how to make mercury fulminate then. Based on your question I guess it is not an easy or risk free prospect.
          Cooking an explosive highly sensitive to friction, heat, and shock? What could possibly go wrong?

          Comment


          • #7
            Not really a gun expert (unless you count managing a tight cluster ), but I'll chime in.

            First, it seems we need a bit more info on this setting. Is there a reason the characters couldn't import weapons from a more industrialized part of the world? If the people of this tropical land can manufact guns, then they certainly can build boats... and if they can build boats, then there almost certainly would be trade... even if only on the black market. Are these people one step above primatives with spears, or are they simply economically depressed? Is this a new technology they are creating, or do guns already exist elsewhere and they are simply replicating the process? These things are important for a setting to explore so whatever you include in it becomes believable.

            Keep in mind, the evolution of the firearm (like any technology) was a process. 10th century Chinese knew about encapsulating gun powder ever since the first firework was made, but percussion caps for guns didn't come out until the 19th century. It took nearly 900 years of trial, error, and innovation to get to the modern bullet cartridge.

            So, these characters know about black powder and have reasoned that it could be used to launch a projectile. Okay, how? Did they start with their own version of the fire-lance and work from there? If not, why would they epiphanize an idea that took humans neary a millenium to achieve (largely because it required the industrial base to manufacture the parts, and for other discoveries to emerge that can be applied to weapons development). The answers to all these questions will help myself and others provide the best response.

            Comment


            • Deskepticon
              Deskepticon commented
              Editing a comment
              Dang! I try to compose a response and cook breakfast at the same time, and a whole conversation happened by the time I hit "post."

          • #8
            I don't know everything about your setting, but at that point, unless they are dealing with heavily armored enemies, they would be better with spears, makeshift bows and arrows and, if they know their stuff, an atlatl. They can produce more, repair them more easily and require simpler materials.

            Comment


            • #9
              See the McGyver Edge for the best improvised firearms a character can make.
              a one shot projectile weapon like a “zip gun” (Range 5/10/20, Damage 2d6),
              and on a Raise
              a better ranged weapon (five shots, 2d8 damage, Range 10/20/40)
              Now, McGyver allows you to make those weapons with basically no proper resources at all.
              If you have access to appropriate resources then you should be able to make something similar fairly reliably.

              "Lock" style weapons are right out, unless they have a reliable supply of spring steel.
              Percussion caps generally use a high unstable chemical mixture (one that explodes when struck with a few pounds of force), making them incredibly dangerous to make by hand.
              A lack of rifling facilities (machines that can carve precise grooves inside the barrel) mean that long range and precision shooting are both beyond the group's abilities.

              So, the group is looking at smooth-bore weapons, primitive ignition (akin to touch holes), and a dirt simple trigger mechanism.
              Probably a hand cannon, fired by shoving an ember at the touch hole.
              They might focus on close combat, and use a fire lance (a primitive bang stick for use on land).
              If they're really ambitious then they might develop a matchlock, letting them have an functional arquebus. Still about two development generations away from an flintlock, but not requiring a supply of quality steel.
              I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

              Comment


              • #10
                I assume someone in this party has a really good Science skill? Even the relatively simple weapons described here are going to need a pretty good grasp of engineering principles to build regardless of what kind of tools you have. Ideally you'd want a historical reenactor from the appropriate period with decent blacksmithing skills, among other things. Weaponsmithing from scratch is a fairly specialized skill set. At least if you don't want it to blow up in your face when you try to fire it anyway.

                As someone mentioned bow and arrows, spears, etc. seem more appropriate. Now if you just want to make something go boom it's a whole lot easier to make homemade explosives with some high school level chemistry and the right materials.

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