A Bolt Pistol is a smaller version of the Bolter in standard use by the Space Marines and other Imperial forces such as the Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas and certain members of the Astra Militarum and the Imperial Navy. Powerful and utilitarian side arms, Bolt Pistols have seen service within many of the Imperium's military forces since its inception in the 30th Millennium. The current standard pattern in use amongst the Space Marines is the Mark III. Bolt Pistols are also used by many other Imperial forces as well as the Chaos Space Marines. A Bolt Pistol is commonly used in conjunction with a close combat weapon by Space Marine officers, Veterans and Assault Squads to make them into melee combat specialists.
As a Bolt Weapon, the Bolt Pistol is favoured over the Laspistol due to its improved killing ability, although it is less reliable and generally holds fewer shots in its magazine than a Laspistol. A Bolt Pistol magazine carries only 6 to 10 rounds of standard Bolter Ammunition, each weighing about 0.08 kilograms and with a diameter of .75 calibre (19.05 millimetres). The pistol is able to fire either a single shot or a short, three-round burst with each pull of the trigger.
While standard Bolters are rarely used by the forces of the Imperial Guard, Bolt Pistols are quite popular amongst the Commissariat, and are also frequently used by junior Imperial Guard and Imperial Navy officers and non-commissioned officers in place of their regular-issue Laspistol sidearms; that is if they are lucky enough to be able to acquire a rare Bolt Pistol sized for normal human hands. It is likely that Bolt Pistols used by the Imperial Guard are smaller than the Astartes Mark III, based upon the observations of the Inquisitor Thaddeus.
Notable Bolt Pistol Patterns
- Concealed Bolter-Cane - While many Rogue Traders favour a brusque, overwhelming appearance, festooned with bandoliers of pistols and Power Weapons, some attempt a more subtle (but no less deadly) style, favouring concealed weapons. These are also useful when local customs dictate leaving one's weapons behind, or in dire emergencies where one last shot is needed. For such Explorers, these ostentatious canes (also fashioned as staffs and batons) come into play. Each can store one bolt in the upper end, specially modified with a penetrator tip to pierce the false bottom of the cane. While it can be reloaded, Bolter-Canes are primarily designed for one single shot, to be refitted and re-disguised after the battle is done and the Amasec can be poured. This weapon may be equipped with any form of Bolt Pistol ammunition.
- Godwyn-De'az Pattern - The Godwyn-De'az Pattern is the standard pattern of Bolt Pistol used by all of the Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas since their formation in the 36th Millennium. This pattern has been in use by the Sisters of Battle since that time because it remains more reliable and more potent than any other pattern of Bolt Pistol developed for use by the Sororitas. The Godwyn-De'az Pattern is designed to be used by a normal human and thus is much smaller than an Astartes Bolt Pistol. This pattern of Bolt Pistol is designed to make use of the Sarissa as an attachment. The Sarissa is a vicious, curved, bayonet-like blade that can transform the Godwyn-De'az Bolt Pistol into an effective close combat weapon even as it retains all of its ranged functionality.
- Godwyn-Ultima Pattern - The Minotaurs Astartes are known to have used Godwyn-Ultima Pattern Bolter weapons during the Badab War. It is unknown if they made use of Godwyn-Ultima Pattern Bolt Pistols as well.
- Hesh Pattern M38 Mark II - Rare outside the ranks of the Adeptus Mechanicus who hail from the shrouded Lathe Worlds of the Calixis Sector, the Hesh Pattern M38 Mark II was never widely adopted by the Departmento Munitorum due to its temperamental nature, as it is difficult to maintain even by the standards of Bolt weaponry. The M38 Mark II almost seems as if it was designed to be used by individuals more knowledgeable of firearms than even those august members of the Imperial Guard who wield such weapons. Nevertheless, the Tech-priests of the Lathes appreciate the weapon's effectiveness, and do not have the same trouble with its Machine Spirit as those less attuned to the mysteries of technology. The Mark II's distinctive drum magazine allows for a higher rate of fire than other Bolt Pistols, but is also prone to more frequent malfunction.
- Ikanos Pattern Bolt Pistol - The Ikanos Pattern Bolt Pistol is an archaic design deployed with the Space Marine Legions of the early Great Crusade era in the late 30th Millennium. It was a semi-automatic weapon that made use of non-standard .50 calibre bolts and a 12 round magazine.
- Mark II Angelus-Ves
- Mark III - The Mark III Pattern Bolt Pistol is the pattern of the weapon most commonly employed by the majority of Loyalist Space Marine Chapters in the Imperium.
- Mark VII Ultra Pattern
- Mark II Ultima Pattern
- Mark III Ultima Pattern
- Phobos Pattern Bolt Pistol - The Phobos Pattern Bolt Pistol is perhaps the most venerable design of the sacred weapon used by the Astartes. This weapon was hand-crafted by the Fabricators of Mars at the very birth of the Imperium, to ensure that every Marine had the finest wargear with which to reunite the scattered elements of Humanity. Though considered temperamental and maintenance intensive by some of the early Space Marine Legions, some preferred them for their greater accuracy and power when properly tended. These standard issue weapons were vital for close-in fighting against enemies who survived an initial assault. The carnage caused by the heavy .70 calibre shells of Phobos Pattern Bolt Pistols caused many units to retain these weapons even once more advanced patterns became available.
- Ryza-Ultima Pattern - This pattern of Bolt Pistol was known to have been used by the Star Phantoms Astartes during the Badab War.
- Spectris Pattern - This pattern of Botl Pistol is known to have been used by the Marines Errant during the Badab War.
- Tigrus Pattern - There are many types and patterns of the mighty and iconic Bolt Pistol used by the Adeptus Astartes, and the Tigrus Pattern is one such variant. First discovered in the depths of Forge World Tigrus, the STC data for this sleek weapon was quickly disseminated throughout the Imperium before the outbreak of the shadowed Horus Heresy. This noble bastion of Mars suffered irreparable damage at the hands of the Traitor Legions, yet the Bolters and Bolt Pistols that bear its name continue to see service in the 41st Millennium; revered and honoured as ancient relics of Mankind’s lost glory.
- Umbra Pattern - The Umbra Pattern is one of the earliest patterns of Astartes Bolt Pistol, and was produced in large quantities early in the Great Crusade for the Space Marine Legions. It is still manufactured in the forges of some present-day Space Marine Chapters, including those of the Mantis Warriors, Executioners and Carcharodons Chapters, who made use of them during the Badab War.
- Umbra-Magnus Pattern - This pattern of Bolt Pistol is known to have been used by the Mantis Warriors and Carcharodons Astartes during the Badab War.
- Ultima Pattern - This pattern of Bolt Pistol was used by the Mantis Warriors and the Fire Hawks Astartes during the Badab War. The Minotaurs also used Ultima Pattern Bolter weapons during that conflict, although whether they also made use of Ultima Pattern Bolt Pistols is unknown.
Less Common Bolt Pistol Patterns
- Angelus Bolt Carbine - The fanes of Gunmetal City on the world of Scintilla in the Calixis Sector, among their most important duties, hold an oath-bond to manufacture the casing and primary propulsion charges for Adeptus Astartes-calibre bolt shells. Production of the Astartes bolts is carefully controlled and monitored, and once made, each case is stamped with the Aquila and its maker's mark before being passed on to the Adepts of the Machine God. Despite the security and precautions inherent in this sacred duty, it is said a few of these shells never see the Aquila stamp. These so called "blind shells" are both utterly illegal and highly desirable, but on their own, blind shells are useless without a weapon to fire them. Consequently, the Fane of Fykos makes in secret a weapon known as the "Angelus". Bluntly elegant in shape and crafted from the finest materials, the Angelus' lacquered stock houses its magazine and unlocks to take three Astartes-calibre bolt shells snugly nose to tail. Provided only to their richest and most trustworthy of clients, the exclusivity and terrible killing power of the Angelus is favoured by the wealthiest of bounty hunters and the most accomplished of beast-slayers in the Calixis Sector. Carrying one of these powerful, but highly illegal, weapons entails certain risks all of its own.
- Bolt Carbine (Ceres Pattern) - Bolt Carbines are relatively uncommon weapons that were first introduced into Imperial service after the design was rescued from a Space Hulk and pressed into production specifically for the Angevin Crusade. A Bolt Carbine is typically easier to wield than a full-size Bolter, due to its lighter, simpler construction and lower rate of fire. Without the multi-round burst ability common to many patterns of Bolt Pistol, a Bolt Carbine is incapable of the wholesale slaughter that characterises volleys of Bolter fire. However, their simpler design means that they misfire less frequently and are much easier to maintain. Bolt Carbines may use any form of special Bolter ammunition.
- Ceres Pattern - Bolt Pistols are rarely found in use outside of elite Imperial forces like the Space Marines, and possessing one is a sign of status and power. They are sometimes passed down through the generations, becoming valuable heirlooms for noble Imperial families. Adorned with elaborate scrollwork and family crests, these devices are more relic than weapon in some dynasties. The Ceres Pattern of Bolt Pistol is one associated with the officers of the Imperial Navy and perhaps fittingly enough the one found most often in the arsenals of Rogue Traders. Ceres Pattern Bolt Pistols are specifically sized to fit the hand of a nomal-sized human.
- Cinder Crag Forge "Mauler" - A singular weapon to say the least, the Mauler is a finely made Bolt Pistol designed for normal human hands, unlike the far larger, heavier calibre models intended for use by the Adeptus Astartes. Extremely sophisticated in design and made by necessity from the finest alloys and components, each Mauler is handmade and forged by the Servitor-savants of the Cinder Crag. Each weapon is uniquely tailored to the commissioner’s exact biometric data. The result is a weapon as implacably lethal as it is revered as an Imperial artefact.
- Executor Pistol - The Executor Pistol, also known as the Executioner Pistol, is a special weapon only employed by the Eversor Assassins of the Officio Assassinorum. This Combi-pistol is rarely seen in Imperial space, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that it is used by some of the Imperium's most dangerous killers. The Eversor Assassins, the skull-faced murderers of the Officio Assasinorum, carry these weapons in addition to their lethal array of close-combat gear. The Executor is an unusual example of a Combi-weapon. Instead of being one weapon grafted crudely onto another, it is a seamless joining of two individual firearms. The Executor is a Bolt Pistol with an under-slung Needle Pistol beneath the barrel, allowing the wielder to choose between the destructive power of the Bolt weapon, or the quiet lethality of the needle weapon. As a result, the Assassin can fire both explosive Bolts or needles composed of a crystallised neurotoxin, sedative or interrogation narcotic into his victim, as the situation demands.
- Garm Pattern Service Bolt Pistol - Often brandished by Imperial Commissars, these large and intimidating weapons are designed to be carried unholstered and in easy sight of their charges. All Imperial Guardsmen, regardless of rank, know that their Commissar is watching their actions and is ready to grant summary execution to those found wanting in the Emperor’s eyes. A Commissar's Service Bolt Pistol is a constant reminder of what awaits those Guardsmen who fail in their duty.
- Guardian Bolt Pistol - Awarded to Deathwatch Space Marines of any rank for conspicuous gallantry, courage under fire, or actions above and beyond the call of duty, these finely made Bolt Pistols are as much a sign of status among Deathwatch Space Marines as they are a weapon. Any Space Marine wearing one of these Bolt Pistols on his person is immediately recognised as a veteran combatant who has gone above and beyond to protect Mankind from ravening xenos. When issued to a deserving Space Marine, his name and deeds are inscribed on the weapon by a Deathwatch Techmarine during the awarding ceremony. Each weapon is one of a kind, tailored specifically to the receiving Space Marine, and is his to keep when he returns to his home Chapter. Many Guardian Bolt Pistols that have not gone to the grave with their owners have found their way back into the Deathwatch armouries. These "foundling" weapons are never re-issued, but instead are enshrined in the Deathwatch data vaults along with the details of their owner’s glorious deeds.
- Mars Pattern Mark II Scourge - Favoured by the Battle-Sisters of the Order of the Ebon Chalice at the Abbey of Dawn on Iocanthos, the Scourge Bolt Pistol comes equipped with a Sarissa as a bayonet fixture. The Sarissa's blade can easily rip open any Heretic in the hands of a power-armoured Adepta Sororitas warrior.
- Sacristan Bolt Pistol - This class of Bolt Pistol is produced under secret license for the agents of the Inquisition's Ordos in the Calixis Sector by the Fane of Orthlack on Scintilla, and is based on the ancient and venerated Godwyn-De'az Pattern of Bolter weapons used by the Adepta Sororitas. Although Bolt Pistols are both relatively rare and expensive to maintain, their great killing power is extremely valued, and the Sacristan, branded and sealed with the symbol of the Inquisition itself, is the chosen sidearm of many Inquisitors and senior Acolytes alike who see it as a mark of rank. Like Godwyn-De'az Pattern Bolt Pistols, Sacristan Pattern Bolt Pistols are sized to fit a nomal human hand.
- Stalker Pattern Silenced Bolt Pistol - The Bolt Pistols used by the Space Wolves Chapter's Wolf Scouts are a modified version of the common Godwyn Pattern in use by Astartes across the Imperium. Fitted with a suppressor unit to dampen its sound and muzzle flash, and an optical sight to augment the user’s aim, the Stalker Pattern Bolt Pistol is intended for the sort of covert operations performed by Space Wolves Scouts.
- Volg "Spitfire" - Little more than a crudely modified Lucifer Pattern Launcher, a handgun-like device common on frontier worlds for firing signal flares, tow lines and the like, the Spitfire was an innovation that, according to popular myth, was devised by an outcast Magnavar Tech-adept named Verey. The story has it that while she was exiled on Volg, she made the first Spitfires to help combat a swarming of giant Maw-flukes. The weapon proved both effective and popular, and the more talented of Volg’s arms dealers have been turning them out ever since. The Spitfire’s fame and construction has spread and some are even sold at inflated prices as real "Bolt Pistols" to those too provincial or naive to know better! Spitfires use modified rocket-propelled distress flares fitted with crude impact detonators in a pale imitation of a true Bolt shell, but are nevertheless still quite deadly. Spitfire rounds will ignite flammable materials and can set a victim on fire in addition to the normal explosive damage it dishes out.
Heavy Bolt Pistol
The Heavy Bolt Pistol is a variant of the standard Bolt Pistol that is larger and possesses a more elongated barrel to enhance its range. It is commonly employed by the Reiver Squads of the Primaris Space Marines.
Absolvor Bolt Pistol
The Absolvor Bolt Pistol is a variant pattern of the standard Bolt Pistol used by Primaris Space Marine Chaplains and Apothecaries. It is larger, has a longer barrel to enhance its range and is capable of producing more damage than its standard counterpart, but is somewhat less accurate as a result.
- Black Crusade: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 157
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Space Marines (8th Edition), pp. 65, 145, 155, 156
- Codex: Assassins (2nd Edition), pg. 19
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pg. 83
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 2nd Codex)
- Codex: Daemonhunters (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Imperial Guard (5th Edition), pg. 68
- Codex: Imperial Guard (3rd Edition, 2nd Codex)
- Codex: Imperial Guard (3rd Edition, 1st Codex)
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pg. 97
- Codex: Space Marines (4th Edition)
- Codex: Witch Hunters (3rd Edition)
- Dark Heresy: Ascension (RPG), pg. 138
- Dark Heresy: Blood of Martyrs (RPG), pg. 114
- Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 133
- Dark Heresy: The Inquisitor's Handbook (RPG), pp. 109, 171, 187
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 146
- Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pg. 134
- Imperial Armour Volume Four - The Anphelion Project, pg. 126
- Imperial Armour Volume Five - The Siege of Vraks - Part One, pg. 154
- Imperial Armour Volume Six - The Siege of Vraks - Part Two, pg. 124
- Imperial Armour Volume Seven - The Siege of Vraks - Part Three, pp. 70-71, 92, 138
- Imperial Armour Volume Eight - Raid on Kastorel Novem, pg. 108
- Imperial Armour Volume Nine - The Badab War - Part One, pp. 60, 70, 78, 102, 112, 125,
- Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War - Part Two, pp. 70, 90, 108, 120, 133, 138
- Imperial Armour Volume Eleven - The Doom of Mymeara, pp. 114, 116
- Imperial Armour Volume Twelve - The Fall of Orpheus, pg. 33
- Imperial Munitorum Manual, pg. 65
- Only War: Hammer of the Emperor (RPG), pg. 112
- Rogue Trader Rulebook (RPG) pg. 122
- Rogue Trader: Faith & Coin (RPG), pg. 82
- Rogue Trader: Hostile Acquisitions (RPG), pg. 50
- Rogue Trader: The Explorer's Handbook (RPG), pg. 112
- The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pg. 19
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 76, 103, 107, 126-127, 145, 147
- The Horus Heresy - Book Three: Extermination (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 44, 66, 68-69, 71, 92, 94-96, 120-123, 140-143
- The Horus Heresy - Book Four: Conquest (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pg. 159
- Warhammer 40,000: Wargear (4th Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Wargear (2nd Edition), pg. 14
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (6th Edition), pp. 54, 56
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (3rd Edition), pg. 60
- The Bleeding Chalice (Novel) by Ben Counter