An Imperial Autopistol

An Autopistol is a hand-held, fully automatic Auto Weapon that fires solid-slug ballistic rounds at the intended target in rapid succession. The origin of Autopistols lay in Mankind's past, in its precursors the ancient machine pistol and submachine gun, that date back to at least the late 2nd Millennium. Autopistols are still utilised in the modern 41st Millennium. Small enough to be held and controlled in a single hand, these weapons are the favored sidearm of many a warrior in the Imperium of Man, despite their lack of range and notoriously poor accuracy. Though poor at penetrating armour, its high rate of fire makes it useful against lightly armoured opponents. Like all pistol weapons, the Autopistol is more commonly employed by those who specialise in close combat, as it leaves their other hand free to wield a close combat weapon. Popular with Imperial servants and renegades alike, Autopistols are prized for their ease of manufacture and versatility, especially on low-tech worlds.


An Autopistol is a rapid-firing, fully automatic ballistic firearm that has a faster rate of fire than most other pistol-grade weapons. In essence, they are the pistol version of the Autogun, and resemble the compact submachine guns of ancient Terra. The weapon works by using a solid hammer to strike and ignite a chemically combustible propellant. The explosion of the propellant expels the solid projectile through the barrel, while the reactive force of the bullet's expulsion pushes the breech back. This mechanical action extracts another round from the magazine and loads it in the breech, re-cocks the mechanism and, providing the trigger is still depressed, fires the just-loaded round. This cycle keeps repeating until either the magazine is empty or the trigger is released.

Autopistols are lightweight and easily concealable weapons, but they suffer from a lack accuracy beyond close range due to the relatively low velocity of their projectiles and the shortness of their barrels. They have a high rate of fire, but only use small calibre, caseless rounds. The lightweight Autopistol slugs have very poor armour penetration characteristics, but their high rate of fire allows the user to literally spray a target with bullets, putting it down in a single burst at short range. The weapon is therefore favored as a sidearm, to be used at point-blank range against lightly armoured opponents.

There exist innumerable models and variants of the Autopistol, but most models fall within the following rough characteristics:

  • Length: 19-40 centimeteres
  • Barrel: 4-18 centimeteres
  • Weight: 0.5-0.8 kilograms (empty)
  • Feed: 5-30 rounds straight magazine
  • Type of fire: Semi-automatic or automatic
  • Sights: Fixed front and centre optic sight
  • Cyclic rate of fire: approx. 900 rounds per minute
  • Muzzle velocity: approx. 255 metres/second 


Autopistols are used widely throughout the Imperium and can be found even on low-technology Imperial worlds. Like the larger Autogun, the Autopistol is very easy to construct and readily available in large numbers. The Autopistol is a common weapon amongst Renegades, hive gang members, and lowly criminals, due to the aforementioned ease of construction, use and maintenance.  The Autopistol is not generally considered a military issue weapon, but is a favourite amongst many military veterans as a supplement for their standard Lasgun or as a backup weapon, especially for those using bulky heavy weapons and Flamers, or unreliable Melta and Plasma Weapons. The Autopistol is also sought after by vehicle crew members for self-defence, who often lack room inside their vehicle to carry larger weapons, and prefer it to the Laspistol due to the higher rate of fire.

Some Imperial Guard regiments, like the Cadian 8th Regiment, equip all their troops with Autopistols as sidearms as part of their standard equipment load-out, improving their combat firepower. Other Imperial commanders do not requisition sidearms for the rank-and-file Imperial Guardsmen, but allow their troops to acquire spoils from the battlefield for their own use, and Autopistols are popular choices for such battlefield trophies. In other quarters, it is felt that only officers should be equipped with pistol weaponry, so such equipment is reserved for soldiers of and above the rank of Lieutenant. Despite these sometimes contradictatory customs, the use of Autopistols has over time become so widespread in the Imperial Guard that the Departmento Munitorum included a paragraph about correct Autopistol handling and caring in The Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer, to ensure every Guardsman is able to correctly use and care for the weapon should he be issued with or acquire one.

Known Autopistol Patterns

  • Disposable Handgun - A Disposable Handgun is basically an Autopistol stripped down to its bare minimum with a small fixed (non-removable) magazine. Made by a wide variety of manufacturers, Disposable Handguns are one of the most easily obtainable and inexpensive firearms in the galaxy. Many shipboard survival kits contain one of these weapons. They have very shoddy craftsmanship and poor performance, and seasoned warriors joke that when the magazine runs out, the user is better off throwing the gun at an opponent than trying to reload it. However, many of the destitute cannot afford a better weapon and it remains a useful tool for self-protection.
  • Hax-Orthlack Puritan-14 Execution Pistol - The Puritan is a squat, dual-barrelled Autopistol with an integrated single shotgun cartridge chamber. An ugly weapon whose appearance signals its brutal purpose very well, the Puritan is designed for use by covert kill-squads and produced in small quantities both for the Adeptus Arbites and the elite Magistratum "Crimson Sashes" of Sibellus, (although a few copies have found their way into the black market as well). The Puritan may fire either as an Autopistol or as a Shotgun, but not both at once.
  • Hecuter 9/5 Heavy Combat Autopistol - Often regarded with some justification as a "prince among pistols", the Hecuter manufactured by the Orthlack of Gunmetal City on the capital world of Scintilla, located in the Calixis Sector is actually a copy of a famed out-sector design, whose pattern was awarded as part of some long-forgotten trade war. A firm favourite among Metallican gunslingers and Malfian bloodsworn, the weapon is tooled and balanced to exact tolerances, making it quite controllable despite its large calibre for an Autopistol. The Hecuter's magazine projects somewhat from the angled grip, giving the weapon a distinctive profile, while despite its size, its excellent design makes it an "easy carry" from shoulder rigs and quick-draw holsters.
  • Ius Automatic Pistol - Crafted by the gunsmiths of Gunmetal city on the world of Scintilla, located in the Calixis Sector, this particular model has been crafted to be as sturdy as possible. The Ius is a solid and unspectacular yet utterly reliable weapon. Normally used by the Calixian branch of the Adeptus Arbites as a backup firearm, it is ubiquitous amongst both Calixian Arbitrators and the planetary law enforcers of Scintilla. Typically issued to junior ranks within both organisations, the Ius is designed to be foolproof and to withstand punishment that would damage other firearms.
  • Lyndwyrm A-25A "Volcano" Autopistol - Lyndwyrm Armoury, one of the largest munitions suppliers in the Calixis Sector, produces one of the most coveted autopistols in the segmentum, the A-25A "Volcano." Manufactured to an exacting standard rivalling that of the Lathes, the Volcano is renowned for reliably firing every time, its mechanisms so precise and well-calibrated that it almost never jams or misfires. A fire selector allows the user to quickly switch between semi-automatic and full automatic fire. Such is the reputation of this weapon that soldiers, Arch-militants, and bounty hunters in the Expanse pay exorbitant sums to obtain a Volcano to keep at their side.
  • Naval Pistol - Many varieties of Naval Pistol are in existence, the most well-known of which are those named for the Segmentum Fortresses of the Segmentae Majoris, such as the famous Cypra Mundi "Irontalon" pistol. Naval Pistols are heavy, large-calibre Autopistols characterised by their robust construction, which allows them to deliver solid blows in melee combat, should it prove necessary. Naval Pistols use special fragmenting ammunition designed to inflict minimal damage to ship systems while having a devastating effect on unarmoured flesh. Naval Pistols are only issued to crewmen of the Imperial Navy, and are never issued to the troops of the Imperial Guard. Nevertheless, Guardsmen often take Naval Pistols as mementos of a particular journey -- when they can get away with it. Naval Pistols hailing from famous starships or fleet bases hold great value in trade, particularly for the officers of some regiments.
  • Orthlack Mark IV Thollos Autopistol - Produced by the Fane of Orthlack in Gunmetal City, the “Thollos” or “Tholl” has long been a popular backup weapon for line officers in Calixian Guard units, who favour its stopping power over most regulation sidearms. Indeed, so common has the practice of carrying one become that many old military families often present their sons and daughters with a commemoratively inscribed Thollos to mark their first commission.
  • Ripper Pistol - A Ripper Pistol is a heavily modified Autopistol which fires specially designed armour-piercing metal shards containing a vicious cocktail of venomous chemicals. The initial wounds caused by the shards allow the venom to enter the victim's bloodstream and cause death, and thus the weapon can bring down the largest opponents in a single shot. It is designed so that if the vicious impact of the bullet does not kill the target, the toxins flooding into its bloodstream will. Crafted to very high standards, Ripper Pistols are precise and reliable, and can be outfitted with a suppressor to operate almost soundlessly. The Ripper Pistol is a favoured weapon of well-connected Rogue Traders, Explorators of the Adeptus Mechanicus and Inquisitors who trust a discrete yet deadly sidearm. Living Catachan legend Sly Marbo is a renowed user of the Ripper Pistol.
  • Sulymann Encarmine Service Autopistol - A sophisticated Autopistol no larger than the average compact Stubber, the Encarmine sacrifices stopping power for a reduction in size and increase in magazine capacity. Widely carried for personal defence and as a sidearm by "second liners" (such as plainclothes enforcers, hauler rig crews and merchants factors), the Encarmine packs a lot of firepower into a relatively small frame. Unfortunately if faced with armoured opponents, the firer is likely to wish for something with a good deal more kick.
  • Talon Mark III Short Autopistol - Another common Imperial pattern, manufactured to a high standard by the Fane of Sulymann in Gunmetal (along with several other makers), the Talon is a medium calibre, fully automatic caseless cartridge pistol of a sturdy and practical design. Easily maintained, capable of laying down a hail of fire and handy enough to be easily used in confined spaces, autopistols such as the Talon are very popular for hive warfare and used extensively by enforcers and scum alike.
  • Tronsvasse Hi-Power Autopistol - The Tronsvasse Hi-Power Autopistol, or Tronsvass Parabellum, is another version of the ubiquitous Imperial Autopistol.
  • Volg “Ripper Clip” Autopistol - Known locally as the “zip gun” or “chopper”, this bulky autopistol is purposely designed to be a cheap as possible to manufacture and maintain. Rather than caseless ammo, the Ripper Clip uses basic stub rounds and the weapon itself is made from industrial spares and crude pressed metal parts. A further eccentricity of its design is its loading mechanism, a vertical strip of bullets wrenched through the autopistol as it fires (a feature copied from a common rivet gun).
  • Voss Pattern Mark 10 - The Voss Pattern Mark 10 originated on Voss Prime. These weapons are known for their adaptability and can be modified for a variety of purposes. During the Siege of Vraks, captured Voss Pattern Mark 10 Autopistols were often heavily modified for night- and tunnel-fighting. The stock flash suppressor was usually removed, and a modified home-made suppressor fitted in its place. It also had a wrist loop added so that the weapon could not be dropped accidentally and it was often blackened for camouflage during night time operations. All other changes, including its counter-weight, are due to it being the older Mark 10 version of the weapon.
  • Voss Pattern Mark 11 - The Voss Pattern Mark 11 originated on Voss Prime and features a folding skeletal stock, which is not often used as the increase in accuracy for aimed fire is not generally required and its only sight is a small iron one. This model has a flash suppressor and a moulded fore-grip.


  • Black Crusade: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 155
  • Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook (RPG) pg. 132
  • Dark Heresy: Book of Judgement (RPG), pg. 63
  • Dark Heresy: The Inquisitor's Handbook (RPG), pp. 115, 117-118, 120, 175
  • Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 149
  • Imperial Armour Volume Six - The Siege of Vraks, Part Two, pg. 148
  • Necromunda (RPG), pg. 44
  • Only War: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 177
  • Only War: Hammer of the Emperor (RPG), pg. 112
  • Rogue Trader: Core Rulebook (RPG) pg. 120
  • Rogue Trader: Faith and Coin (RPG), pp. 80-81
  • Rogue Trader: Into the Storm (RPG), pg. 112
  • Specialist Games Catalogue, pg. 14
  • The Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer (Sourcebook) by Matt Ralphs, pp. 21-22
  • Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1st Edition), pg. 75
  • Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition) pg. 57
  • Warhammer 40,000: Wargear (2nd Edition), pg. 14
  • Malleus (Novel) by Dan Abnett
  • Hereticus (Novel) by Dan Abnett
  • Xenos (Novel) by Dan Abnett


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