Why do energy weapons go bang?

When I started writing about Jane I realised that the characters would need some sort of hand weapons. Firearms still exist in my future history, but the Arcturian Space Fleet officers needed something more, so I invented the hand energy weapon.

It is a short-barrelled hand weapon which has only two controls, the trigger and the safety ring.

Take the weapon firmly in your right hand, left handed officers will need to reverse some of the following instructions.

Put your thumb on the safety ring and push forwards. Release. Look at the charge indicator. Green means that it is fully charged and you have about one hundred shots on setting two, or three on setting seven. Yellow means that the weapon is partly charged, the length of the bar indicates how much charge is left. Red means that you are down to your last ten shots. Good luck.

Now, carefully pointing the weapon down the range, push the ring forwards and down. It will move through two detents, and you will hear a loud double click as the emitter sets live. You are now on setting two.


Take your thumb off the safety ring and it will pop back towards you. YOUR WEAPON IS STILL LIVE. Pushing the ring down now will give you access to higher settings

Now bring the weapon up, align the sights with the target and gently squeeze the trigger.

When the firing contacts close you will hear a loud bang and see a bright green flash. Look for the hole in the target, but remember YOUR WEAPON IS STILL LIVE, KEEP IT POINTED AT THE TARGET.

Put your thumb on the ring and push upwards. The ring will click through two detents and lock. Your weapon is now set safe.

So what happened? When the emitter sets live it takes a small quantity of material from the H-cartridge in the grip and moves it to the chamber. As the trigger contacts close this is converted to energy and emitted as a narrow beam. It is this beam hitting the target and causing a very rapid temperature rise that does the damage.

The beam is so intense that the air between the weapon and the target is heated and ionised as well. This air expands rapidly to get out of the beam. That’s what causes the bang that you hear.

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