China pioneers portable electromagnetic gun, sets development trend for future weapons
Published: Apr 03, 2023 09:36 PM
A type of electromagnetic gun developed by China undergoes preparations at a shooting range for a firing test. Photo: Screenshot from CCTV

A type of electromagnetic gun developed by China undergoes preparations at a shooting range for a firing test. Photo: Screenshot from CCTV

A type of portable electromagnetic riot gun developed by China recently went through a firing test and displayed traits superior to traditional firearms, including low noise, little muzzle flash and low recoil, with experts saying on Monday that the technology marks a development trend for future weapons.

The gun uses nine coils to accelerate projectiles, which are stored in a magazine behind the coils, Lei Fengqiao, an employee at Chongqing Jianshe Industry (Group) Co Ltd under the state-owned China South Industries Group Co Ltd, said in a program on China Central Television (CCTV) on Sunday.

Unlike traditional firearms that fire round bullets, the electromagnetic gun fires projectiles shaped like a coin, as the gun is designed for riot control purposes rather than causing lethal damage, Lei said.

Coin-shaped projectiles will less likely cause penetration damage, have a larger spread, which makes the gun more suppressive, and are easy to manufacture at an inexpensive price, he said.

The munitions are also easy to carry and do not use gunpowder, which makes them easy to store and transport, CCTV said.

A built-in lithium battery provides power to the gun. A fully charged cell allows the gun to fire hundreds of rounds consecutively before a fast recharge, and temperature has little effect on it, CCTV reported.

The grip is set at the middle of the gun to balance the weight, while at the front of the gun are three buttons that can switch between different firing modes, change power output, and turn on and off, Lei said.

A small screen on the gun shows its status, including battery usage, munition usage, temperature and firing mode. It has an automatic mode, a semi-automatic mode and a shotgun mode, the CCTV report shows.

A rail on the top of the gun allows it to be equipped with scopes and calibration devices of the operator's choice to assist in aiming, Lei said.

Surpassing the rate of fire of traditional rifles, which is about 700 to 800 rounds per minute, the electromagnetic gun's top rate of fire can reach several thousand rounds per minute.

The weapon attracted public attention after it made its debut at the Airshow China 2022 in Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong Province. 

In a firing test, the electromagnetic gun easily destroyed wooden planks, beer bottles and car windows, had low noise and little muzzle flash, gave off no smoke or bullet shells, and had low recoil, CCTV reported.

Lei said that the electromagnetic launch technology is characterized by high stealth, which is the direction of development for future weapons.

In addition to riot guns, electromagnetic launch technology can also be applied to other weapons such as lethal guns, from handheld guns to large-caliber artillery, a Beijing-based military expert told the Global Times on Monday, requesting anonymity.

China has reportedly been testing a warship-mounted electromagnetic railgun. Another possible application is for air defense, due to its high rate of fire, the expert said.