Fallout: Wasteland Tales
Magnum-Class Weapons and Ammunition
Magnum-class ammunition offers increased penetration and wounding potential compared to conventional handgun cartridges. Magnum-class handguns produce heavy recoil and most require higher than average strength to wield properly. The ability of magnum-class cartridges to propel high-velocity projectiles makes them suitable for “dual-use” in rifles. Rifles chambered for magnum cartridges have higher ammunition capacities, higher damage and penetration, and reduced recoil compared to handguns in the same caliber.
.357 Magnum: Designed from the start as a high-powered combat round, the .357 provides very good performance for gunfighters skilled enough to handle the stiff recoil. The .357 Magnum cartridge was particularly valued for its ability to penetrate car bodies and primitive body armor; it also has the advantage of being fairly controllable when fired one-handed by a person of average strength. Although arguably outclassed in many ways by the 10mm round , the .357 is favored by shooters who value the lower cost and increased reliability of the revolver. Available loadings include standard and hollowpoint rounds, along with a reduced-power loading that duplicates the .357 Magnum’s predecessor cartridge, the .38 Special; it cuts both recoil and damage by a third.
.44 Magnum: The .44 Magnum is the “bigger brother” of the .357 Magnum, and offers more of everything the .357 does: more raw damage, more penetration, more wounding capability, and more recoil. .44 Magnum handguns pay for their hand-cannon status with heavy recoil that makes accurate rapid fire almost impossible. In a rifle, however, the .44 Magnum produces less felt recoil thanks to the stock and extra weight, and is even more powerful thanks to the longer barrel. Like the .357 Magnum, It’s available in standard and hollowpoint varieties, along with a reduced-power loading that offers less recoil and less damage.
.45-70 Government: The .45-70 is one of the most powerful firearm cartridges available, and was originally designed for use in military rifles; in handguns and rifles it outperforms almost any other magnum-class cartridge. See .45 Caliber Weapons and Ammunition for details.
12.7mm: The continuing effort to create ever more powerful hand cannons led to the creation of the 12.7mm cartridge and 12.7mm Pistol by European arms manufacturer SIG-Sauer. Continuing development led to the design and manufacture of a novel SMG based around the cartridge, and small-scale efforts to adapt existing rifle designs to the cartridge have met with some success. Ammunition can be had in standard and hollowpoint varieties.
14mm: Designed in an effort to create the world’s most powerful combat handgun, the 14mm cartridge is undeniably the most powerful magnum-class cartridge available in the wasteland. It is also one of the rarest, due to the 14mm Pistol’s exclusive use of the cartridge, its high cost, and the vicious recoil the weapon produces. Ammunition, where available, can be had in standard and armor piercing (AP) varieties, the latter being favored by many users for its ability to penetrate all but the heaviest armor while retaining generous wounding capacity.
.357 (Cowboy) Revolver
Based on the iconic design of the Colt Single Action Army, a.k.a. “The Peacemaker”, this weapon’s simple construction makes it the least expensive multi-shot handgun available from the Gun Runners. Although affordable, the weapon’s design makes it slow to reload; it also requires specialized shooting techniques to fire more than once per second. However, the powerful round can stop an attacker in their tracks with any decently placed hit and shots to vital areas and/or the use of hollowpoint bullets make one-shot stops even more likely, so shooters that can consistently hit what they’re aiming at can get through many gunfights without worrying about reloading.
.357 Police Revolver
Law enforcement officers used a series of .357 Magnum revolvers for several decades during the 20th century, largely for their ability to penetrate early body armor and the thick sheet-metal of heavy car bodies. The .357 revolvers used by police usually had double-action triggers and swing out cylinders; these advancements sped up both shooting and reloading. A speed-loader enables a skilled shooter to reload their revolver almost as fast as a magazine-fed weapon.
.357 “Cowboy Repeater” Lever-Action Rifle
The design of the “Cowboy Repeater” produced by the Gun Runners is heavily based on a series of lever-action rifles produced by the Winchester Repeating Arms company during the late 1800s. The weapon’s longer barrel and stock make the weapon more accurate, and more damaging, and easier to shoot thanks to significantly reduced recoil. Cartridges are loaded individually into an underbarrel tube magazine via a loading gate near the trigger; this lets users quickly “top off” their magazines to replace fired rounds. Popular modifications include an extended tube magazine, as well as a sawed-off “Mare’s Leg” configuration that transforms it into a handy and affordable handgun-length weapon.
.44 Magnum Revolver
The iconic Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum revolver was “the most powerful handgun in the world” at the time of its introduction in 1955. Designed for use against dangerous game, the weapon’s bulky size and heavy recoil limit it’s practicality as a defensive handgun; experts and stronger than average shooters may find it’s raw power offsets those disadvantages, however. The .44’s bigger, heavier bullet results in a 75-80% increase in wounding vs the .357 when fired from standard-length handgun barrels. While it’s an exaggeration to claim the Model 29 “can blow your head clean off”, a headshot with the weapon produces enough cranial trauma on average to guarantee an instant kill.
.44 Magnum “Trail Carbine” Lever-Action Rifle
The “Trail Carbine” is similar in design to the “Cowboy Repeater”; it is a lever-action rifle that borrows many design elements from guns that were first produced during the cowboy era and remained in use for many decades by hunters. The power of the .44 Magnum fired from a rifle-length barrel is comparable to an assault rifle round: it inflicts 20% more wounding on average than a 5.56mm rifle round, but penetrates 10-20% less. It also has lower recoil, higher accuracy, and higher ammunition capacity than its handgun counterpart.
SIG-Sauer 12.7mm Pistol
The continuing effort to create ever more powerful hand cannons led to the creation of the 12.7mm Pistol and its accompanying 12.7mm cartridge by European arms manufacturer SIG-Sauer. The weapon improves on the damage and ammunition capacity of the .44 Magnum revolver and can optionally mount a suppressor, but is nearly twice as expensive than the .44 and requires an even stronger grip fire it properly.
Arguably an exercise in overkill, the 12.7mm SMG can outperform most assault rifles in terms of the sheer amount of bodily harm it can inflict on a target, while also being more compact and more effectively suppressed. Taming the brutal recoil of the 12.7mm cartridge enough to allow rapid fire with any sort of controllability required a unique recoil reduction system that redirects recoil forces downward to counteract muzzle climb during bursts or full-auto fire. The weapon also uses a unique magazine design that reduces overall weapon bulk by storing ammunition perpendicular to the barrel along the top of the weapon.
SIG-Sauer 14mm Pistol
Created as the final word in high-caliber hand-cannons, the SIG-Sauer 14 mm Pistol boasts a 25% increase in target penetration and wounding capability over its 12.7mm predecessor. It outperforms most rifles in terms of wounding capability and offers penetration equal to 12 gauge shotgun slugs and many assault rifles. This potent weapon pushed Pre-War handgun design to its limits: the 14mm cartridge was too large to fit within a conventional pistol grip magazine, as a result the weapon features a large box magazine inserted forward of the trigger, in the style of many SMGs and assault rifles.