This article contains a large, but not exhaustive, list of the various types of weaponry used by the Imperium in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. The various weapons, grouped according to their category, are discussed in detail, including their standard specifications. With the evolution of the Warhammer 40,000 setting over several decades, many different kinds of weapons and equipment have been described and some of these are no longer in use by the armed forces of the Imperium. Whenever appropriate, the history of the weapon is described, including some of the more notable units or individuals that are known to use that weapon.
The Imperium of Man is a vast, galaxy-spanning interstellar human empire. There are many branches of the Imperium's armed forces and law enforcement agencies, and much of their equipment is common across multiple branches of the same service. The armed forces of the Imperium include, but are not limited to, the Space Marines, the Imperial Guard, the Adeptus Mechanicus, the three Ordos of the Inquisition, the Adeptus Arbites and the Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas.
- 1 Close-Combat Weapons
- 1.1 Two-Handed Weapons
- 1.2 C'tan Phase Sword
- 1.3 Frost Blade
- 1.4 Chain Weapons
- 1.5 Hunting Lance
- 1.6 Power Weapons
- 1.7 Dreadnought Melee Weapons
- 1.8 Force Weapons
- 1.9 Shock Weapons
- 2 Ranged Weapons
- 2.1 Flamers
- 2.2 Laser Weapons
- 2.3 Melta Weapons
- 2.4 Plasma Weapons
- 2.5 Graviton Weapons
- 2.6 Missile Launchers
- 2.7 Mortar
- 2.8 Ballistic Weapons
- 2.9 Sniper Weapons
- 2.10 Grenades
- 2.11 Exotic Ranged Weapons
- 2.12 Web Weapons
- 3 Grenades
- 3.1 Anti-Plant Grenade
- 3.2 Blind Grenade
- 3.3 Choke Grenade
- 3.4 Frag Grenade
- 3.5 Hallucinogen Grenade
- 3.6 Haywire Grenade
- 3.7 Holy Orb of Antioch
- 3.8 Sanctifier Grenade
- 3.9 Krak Grenade
- 3.10 Melta-Bomb
- 3.11 Photon Flash Flare
- 3.12 Plasma Grenade
- 3.13 Psyk-Out Grenade
- 3.14 Scare Grenade
- 3.15 Rad Grenade
- 3.16 Smoke Grenade
- 3.17 Stasis Grenade
- 3.18 Tanglefoot
- 3.19 Toxin Grenade
- 3.20 Virus Grenade
- 3.21 Vortex Grenade
- 4 Vehicle-Mounted Weapons
- 5 Fire Support Weapons
- 6 Note on Chaos Marines and the Traitor Imperial Guard
- 7 Sources
A close-combat weapon is any weapon that can be used to make a melee assault. This includes various common melee weapons such as swords, knives, bayonets, maces, axes, clubs and even pistols. It also includes some unorthodox natural weapons such as claws, tails, beaks and teeth. Specific intelligent races of the galaxy maintain certain preferences for different close-combat weapon types. The Space Marines make common use of Chainswords, and occasionally of Power Weapons. The Imperial Guard prefer Power Swords and possibly Chainswords for officers and non-commissioned officers and bayonets for non-commissioned officers and enlisted soldiers. Certain Imperial Guard regiments also make extensive use of their Combat Knives such as the Catachan Jungle Fighters.
Some Imperial troops have the option of wielding weapons that require two hands to use effectively, such as the Eviscerator. These weapons have the advantage of increasing the effective damage the wielder can bring to bear on a foe, but come with their own disadvantages, such as rapid overheating, and normally slowing the user in combat.
C'tan Phase Sword
Used exclusively by Imperial Callidus Assassins, the C'tan Phase Sword is an extremely potent short-range weapon. It is said to "phase" in and out of realspace and is capable of bypassing armour and force fields alike. The weapon itself has an inherent connection to the ancient Star Gods of the Necrons, the C'tan, since the technology for its creation was discovered within ancient Necron ruins deep beneath the surface of Mars by the Tech-priests of the Cult Mechanicus many centuries before the Mechanicus became a part of the Imperium of Man. A Callidus Assassin once stabbed one of the disguised C'tan Shards with her C'tan Phase Blade. Instead of being injured by the weapon, the C'tan simply reabsorbed it back into its own necrodermis body.
A Frost Blade or Frost Axe is a specialised melee weapon used by some characters in the Space Wolves Chapter of Space Marines. The weapon itself is similar in look to a standard sword or axe and can come in a Chainsword version, except that the blade includes teeth taken from a creature called a Kraken -- one of the monstrous aquatic species that inhabit the Space Wolves' frozen home world of Fenris, and contains a power field generator similar to that used by Power Weapons.
A Chain Weapon is a weapon that has motorised biting teeth that saw and slash through a prospective victim, in a similar fashion to a chainsaw. The teeth themselves are fashioned to be incredibly sharp, in some cases carrying a monomolecular edge. Some chain weapons are capable of slicing through bulkheads and thick armour. Many variations of the Chain Weapon are used all over the galaxy. Chain weapons require regular maintenance, and can become jammed if foreign matter is drawn into their complex working mechanisms. Weapons include a clutch that can reverse the weapons teeth rotation to expel such matter in such an instance.
Space Marine Terminators often replace their standard Powerfist with the Chainfist for use against enemy armoured vehicles and static defences. The Chainfist is a combination of a Powerfist and a Chainsword which usually protrudes from the back of the hand, just above the knuckles. This weapon is capable of cutting through even the toughest of armour plating, and provides additional armour penetration capability against vehicles and bunkers, though they have little utility against lightly-armoured and more mobile enemy infantry. Chainfists are so massive, encumbering and energy-inefficient that they are normally only ever seen on Space Marines equipped with Terminator Armour. However, there are smaller versions in existence that can be used by unaugmented humans.
The most common form of chain weapon is the Chainsword, frequently carried by assault troops and low-ranking officers of the Imperial Guard and Space Marines (including the Traitor Legions). Another common variant is the Chainaxe, which is usually carried by melee specialist Chaos Space Marines (normally of the World Eaters Traitor Legion) who are known as Khornate Berserkers. Orks employ various Chain Weapons as well, usually axes or wide-bladed swords.
The Eviscerator is a larger version of the Chainsword and is usually seen in the hands of religious fanatics such as penitent Sisters of Battle or the zealous and fiery Redemptionists of the Frateris Militia; it is also used by Ecclesiarchy priests who serve with the Imperial Guard. Eviscerators closely resemble conventional chainsaws, but being large two-handed weapons they are generally powerful enough to have similar effects to the Chainfists frequently seen carried by Astartes Terminators.
Other Chain Weapons
Chain Weapons are not just limited to sword and axe forms. Existing in the galaxy are such weapons as Chain Glaives and a multitude of other melee weapons that have had their original blades removed and replaced by a powered chain blade.
Used exclusively by the Rough Rider mounted cavalry units of the Imperial Guard, this weapon is constructed of a hollow, lightweight metal shaft tipped with a spear point, which is also connected to the impact fuse of the weapon's shaped charge. This small explosive charge is constructed to direct the blast and fragmentation effect towards the target and away from the user. Once detonated, the user is left with only the shaft, which is then discarded. In close quarters combat against densely packed enemy formations, or in close confines, the lance is very unwieldy and all Rough Riders carry at least one back-up weapon. It also ignores the protective effects of most forms of armour, in a similar fashion to Power Weapons.
Power Weapons, by comparison to normal weapons, utilise focused energy fields to increase the deadliness of the weapon. The weapon uses a generator, either in its hilt or an external backpack, to sheathe its striking surfaces in a disruptive energy field allowing it to cut through most known forms of matter. Such a weapon can carve through armor and stone with as much resistance as empty air; typically only other energy fields can safely counter the effects of a power weapon. Power weapon technology is limited and all examples are crafted individually by skilled artisans; commonly in the form of a sword, axe, or hammer, but sometimes in a more exotic form such as a whip. Even without the power field active the weapon will be of highest quality and potent in the hands of a skilled fighter. The rarest of Power Weapons consist only of the weapon hilt, and when activated an energy blade is projected, but it is unknown whether or not it can reflect energy weapons like lasers. An example of such a weapon was a sword wielded by Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn, this weapon was subsequently destroyed by the daemon Cherubael.
A Glaive Encarmine is a two-handed master-crafted Power Weapon used exclusively by the Sanguinary Guard units of the Blood Angels Space Marines and their Successor Chapters. These formidable weapons are used in conjunction with their wrist-mounted Angelus Bolters. A Glaive Encarmine crackles with energy, allowing its master to cleave his foes easily in twain with its terrifying power. These weapons have been traditionally wielded by the esteemed members of the Sanguinary Guard for the last ten standard millennia. The mysterious entity known as the Sanginor is also known to wield a Glaive Encarmine in battle.
A Lightning Claw is a specialised type of power weapon, based on the design of the Powerfist. A Lightning Claw consists of a powered gauntlet, fitted with three or four blades. A matter-disrupting energy field is projected around the blades, allowing them to cut through armour and flesh with minimal effort. Lightning Claws are almost invariably worn as a pair, and are mainly used by Assault Terminators or Space Marine Veterans.
The Neuro Gauntlet is a type of Power Weapon used only by the Assassins of the Eversor Temple. It is a glove that consists of many needles encased in energy fields. Bypassing any armour, the gauntlet's energy fields directly affect the nervous system of the target, meaning the Assassin can wound any organic individual, regardless of their size and/or toughness. It also has a limited effect on vehicles. The Neuro Gauntlet has the same effect on a target as the Dark Eldar's Agoniser weapons, which, along with references to the development of the device from alien weaponry, suggests that the Imperial Neuro Gauntlet is the result of the reverse-engineering of captured xenos artefacts, or at the least was developed following the study of illegal xenos technology.
Essentially an oversized, armoured gauntlet, the Powerfist not only generates an energy field around it that disrupts any matter it touches, but also enhances the user's strength.The Powerfist provides it user with the capability to completely pulverise enemy infantry and even threaten enemy armoured vehicles and monstrously-sized creatures. It is thus a popular weapon choice within the Imperium when it is available. However, the weapon is cumbersome to use and slows the user down, so that the opponent will usually have the chance to strike out at the user before the Powerfist can land its first blow.
A Power Maul is a club surrounded in a gravitic energy field often used by ranking members of the Adeptus Arbites. They may include additional features such as power setting controls to vary the force of the impact. Unlike a Shock Maul, which only releases a charge on impact, a Power Maul has a constant energy field like any other Power Weapon.
Power Swords are the most ubiquitous form of Imperial Power Weapon and are in use by all of the armed forces of the Imperium. They are routinely wielded by ranking Space Marines, officers in the Imperial Guard, senior Sisters of the Adepta Sororitas, and members of the Inquisition. Some Imperial armouries hold ancient swords of such high quality they strike as potently as a Power Sword though they possess no energy field emitters. Another version of the Power Sword is a two-handed type called a "Relic Blade." It increases the damage wrought by its wielder, but no additional weapons can be used alongside it.
The Crozius Arcanum is a mace or staff that is used as both a melee weapon and the primary badge of office of Space Marine Chaplains. This duality of purpose presents no philosophical conundrum for the Chaplains, as for them battle itself represents the most valuable form of worship of the Emperor of Mankind. It is normally shaped in the form of either a staff or a mace topped by the double-headed Aquila of the Imperium or a winged skull that represents the Emperor's sacrifice.
A Thunder Hammer is a large warhammer that incorporates a power field generator, which instead of being active constantly (as is the case with other Power Weapons), builds up an immense charge which is then released in an instant upon impact with the target. The name comes from the thunderclap-like noise the weapon makes when striking. The force released is enough to knock over the wielder himself unless he is heavily armoured. It is commonly used by Assault Terminators in conjunction with a Storm Shield in the other hand. A Thunder Hammer is every bit as lethal as a Powerfist, but also has the ability to stun and disorient monstrous creatures and the crews of vehicles that are not destroyed outright. Originally Thunder Hammers were only able to be mounted onto Space Marine Terminator Armour. It is a testament to Imperial engineering that these weapons are now man-portable, and find much usage among Ordo Malleus Inquisitors, who also have an enhanced, specially consecrated version of it, called a Daemonhammer.
Dreadnought Melee Weapons
Some of the most powerful close combat weapons in the Imperium are the huge melee weapons used by the cybernetic Dreadnoughts of the Astartes. They are more effective than an equivalent infantry power fist since dreadnoughts are unencumbered by the close combat weapons' weight. They are thus able to strike quickly, represented in-game by dreadnoughts striking in their initiative order. Dreadnought close combat weapons are usually found on Space Marine Dreadnoughts. The Space Wolves Venerable Dreadnought Bjorn the Fell-Handed has a Lightning Claw as its Dreadnought melee weapon.
Force Weapons are close-combat weapons designed to channel the psychic energies of the wielder, thus energising the weapon and augmenting its potency above and beyond that of even power weapons. They are used primarily by Imperial psykers such as Space Marines Librarians, Grey Knights and Imperial Inquisitors but they can also be used by some of the more powerful Chaos Sorcerers. Force weapons vary in design, but usually take the form of a bladed weapon, most commonly a sword. Force Staves are also common amongst Psykers in the Imperial Guard and is also the weapon of choice of Tigurius, Chief Librarian of the Ultramarines. The Grey Knights, the elite daemon-hunting Space Marines of the Ordo Malleus, are powerful psykers in their own right, and use Force Weapons exclusively. The weapons of the Grey Knights are known as Nemesis Force Weapons. Force Weapons are each unique in their own right, as each is psychically attuned to its owner and thus cannot be effectively wielded by anyone with a different psychic signature, although there have been some exceptions to this. As a general rule, a Force Weapon will enhance the psychic power of the user to push the target into the Warp.
A Shock Gauntlet is a unique weapon that is designed to incapacitate Space Marines. When it comes in contact with an Astartes' Power Armour it creates a shockwave that causes the servos in the armour to malfunction, effectively paralyzing the victim. This is never used with both hands due to its non-lethality.
A Shock Maul is a type of truncheon or club used by riot teams in the Adeptus Arbites. Upon contact it activates an electrical charge to magnify the force of the blow. Many have power settings with low power being used as a non-lethal stunning weapon, while high settings are quite capable of blowing off limbs. Higher ranks within the Arbites may make use of a Power Weapon version known as a Power Maul.
Flamers are flamethrower-type weapons that project an ignited stream of promethium fuel over a wide area, igniting many enemies in a single gout of flame. In the various tabletop games, they are represented by using various teardrop-shaped templates that represent the extent of the weapon's effect on the battlefield, without needing a roll to hit targets completely engulfed by the template. Much like their real-life counterparts, they are usually shorter-ranged than most of the other weapons in the game.
Flamers are short-ranged special weapons carried by various soldiers, Imperial and otherwise, in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. To represent the ease of use of a flamethrower, the game mechanics of this weapon differ from that of other ranged weapons. Instead of rolling dice to hit a target, firing a flamer (and other similar weapons) simply involves placing a teardrop-shaped template over a target area. In-game, anything touched by the template is considered to be engulfed in flames and automatically hit, with no reliance on probability.
Many units, both Imperial and non-Imperium, are capable of carrying flamers. While Space Marines and Imperial Guardsmen can be armed with them. Unlike other weapons which have analogs in other armies, Flamers generally have no specialised versions in the non-Imperial armies that they are found in; they are simply referred to as Flamers. Both Eldar and the Tau have specific units that can be armed with Flamers. Their flamers are identical in game stats and name to the Imperial version, and differ only in appearance. Orks have a specific analog of the Flamer, the Burna.
Hand Flamers are smaller, one-handed versions of the normal Flamer. They are often used by assault troops, since the weapon's shorter range is less noticeable. In the first two editions of Warhammer 40,000, the Hand Flamer used a small teardrop-shaped template similar to that of the standard Flamer. Since the 3rd Edition of the game, Hand Flamers are now simply close-combat weapons. Since 5th Edition, they again use teardrop-shaped templates, but these have lower power, in addition to being close-combat weapons. Sisters of Battle Seraphim can be armed with twin Hand Flamers. Hand Flamers are still relatively common in the Underhives of hive cities within the Imperium, and in the Blood Angels and their Successor Chapters.
Heavy Flamers are larger, more powerful versions of the standard Flamer, projecting hotter and denser flames. As a result, Heavy Flamers are stronger and having better armour-piercing capabilities than standard Flamers. During the first and second editions of Warhammer 40,000, Heavy Flamers used a larger, longer-ranged template than flamers. With the release of the third edition, heavy flamers used the same template (and thus had the same range and area of effect) as the standard flamer, albeit with the aforementioned improved strength and ability to affect armored targets.
Heavy Flamers are often used by specialists in dense conditions, such as jungle warfare, urban warfare and close-quarter combat. As an infantry weapon, they are not as common as flamers and fewer units are capable of using them. One of the earliest units to have the weapons were Space Marine Terminators, who made use of them in cramped ship-boarding actions in the game Space Hulk. The Sisters of Battle of the Witch Hunters faction are one of the few infantry units allowed to carry Heavy Flamers. Some Imperial Guard armies are capable of fielding Heavy Flamers in squads of infantry, such as the Catachan Jungle Fighters. Heavy Flamers are also encountered on Imperial armoured vehicles, such as the Sentinels and Chimeras of the Imperial Guard. They are possible secondary weapons for some Space Marine vehicles as well, such as Dreadnoughts and Land Speeder Tornadoes. The Sisters of Battle Immolator tank is also armed with Heavy Flamers. Orks possess an analog to the Heavy Flamer, the Skorcha.
The Incinerator is a specialised Heavy Flamer variant seen primarily in use amongst the forces of the Inquisition. It is used mostly by the Grey Knights Chapter. Incinerators are different from Heavy Flamers in that their Promethium fuel is consecrated for use against daemons and other similar warp entities.
The Inferno Cannon is a flame weapon used primarily by the Imperial Guard. It is the primary armament of the Hellhound flame tank. The Inferno Cannon shoots a long, arcing gout of flame at range that forms a deadly pool of liquid flame affecting the area that it impacts, rather than spewing fire directly at the targets from the cannon. This firing effect can be clearly seen when on the Inferno cannon-armed Hellhound vehicles in the game Dawn of War. The Space Marines also gained access to the Inferno Cannon, mounted on customized "Siege Dreadnoughts," which also featured a Dreadnought Close Combat Weapon similar to a Chainfist, with an inbuilt Heavy Flamer. This could be used most effectively against bunkers and transport vehicles, where a penetrating hit by the fist would expose all occupants of the target to a subsequent hit by the Heavy Flamer.
Laser weaponry or Las weapons are laser-based ranged weapons used by many military forces in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Descriptions and depictions of their effects vary, from firing a single coherent ray of light, as seen in the computer game Dawn of War, to capacitor-based laser blasters that possess recoil and fire individual bolts, to weapons that fire invisible beams of coherent electromagnetic energy without any apparent recoil or muzzle flash. These weapons are relatively easy to produce and maintain. They require no solid ammunition, have few moving parts, and use power cells which can be recharged or quickly swapped with another fully-charged power cell. This makes them ideal for distribution among large numbers of men, such as the Imperial Guard. While the accuracy of a laser weapon is generally depicted as not being distorted by high winds like projectile weapons, it can be diffused by heavy particles in the air such as smoke and thus a laser can dissipate over long distances. However, some authors, such as Dan Abnett, depict laser weapons as having muzzle flash, noticeable recoil, and an accuracy that is affected by gravity, as well as by wind and able to fire underwater, thus making laser weapons effectively the same as projectile weapons.
The Defence Laser is an immense laser weapon with incredible power and range, normally used only in fixed emplacements or on very large vehicles. The Imperator-class Emperor Titan mounts one on its upper carapace as an anti-aircraft cannon. The Defence Laser name was introduced in Rogue Trader but in the more recent editions of Warhammer 40,000 it seems to have been replaced by the more specific Volcano or Nova Cannons. Defence Lasers have also appeared as massive anti-ship emplacements, occupying an entire building of their own and capable of seriously threatening capital warships in space above a planet.
A Hellgun is an upgraded Lasgun which fires a substantially more focused beam, using a series of high quality focusing lenses and a completely revamped power feed to give it a far greater armour-penetration factor compared the typical Lasgun. However, the higher power consumption requires superior quality power cells or a backpack power supply to keep maintained, and the complex gun system requires more time and resources to manufacture and repair -- as well as more training to get the most out of. This makes it more costly to field, so it is not generally issued to the average Imperial Guardsman. However, Storm Troopers and Grenadiers are always equipped with a Hellgun as standard to take full advantage of their superior training and weapons expertise. Hellguns are often equipped with underslung grenade launchers. The Hellgun is slowly being replaced in the Imperial Guard by the more advanced Hotshot Lasgun whose beams are capable of piercing even Power Armour, which the Hellgun is not. The standard pattern of Hellgun currently used in the Imperial Guard is the Hellgun Mark II pattern, which is gyro-stabilised and requires the backpack-mounted power source to be effective.
The Hellpistol corresponds to the Laspistol in the same way the Hellgun corresponds to the Lasgun -- yet the Hellpistol is far deadlier while being only slightly heavier than the Laspistol. However, the Hellpistol is correspondingly more expensive in terms of materials and manpower to manufacture and is usually only used by Imperial Guard Grenadier or Storm Trooper Sergeants, although higher-ranking Imperial Guard officers also have access to this weapon by virtue of their higher grade. Some Inquisitors will also use this weapon as a matter of preference.
The Lascannon is one of the anti-tank weapons available to Imperial forces. Its high strength and armour-piercing ability make it a formidable weapon. Lascannons are basically a significantly scaled-up implementation of the "las" technology also used in Lasrifles. Space Marines make use of Lascannons as a shoulder-fired weapon, and are also fielded in Imperial Guard heavy weapon squads as a tripod-mounted crew-served weapon. Lascannons are also mounted on Land Raiders, Predators, Dreadnoughts, and many other Imperial vehicles.
The Lasgun is the standard-issue weapon for all Imperial Guardsmen. It fires a focused laser beam, powerful enough to remove an unarmoured human limb in a single blast, but not as effective against heavy armour or the durable hides of some monstrous aliens. People who play the table-top game refer to the lasgun as "flashlight" due its low strength and lack of armour penetration, especially when compared to the basic weapons of the other armies. However, Imperial Guardsmen, the primary users of the lasgun, are numerous, and can be fielded in very large numbers. Because of this relative lack of power, the lasgun is most effective when delivering massed, focused fire from multiple units, and less effective when used singly.
Lasguns are powered by small rechargeable power packs. Power output can be adjusted to extend the life of the charge. The power packs are extremely reliable and can be recharged by exposing them to direct sunlight or by heating them (putting them directly into flames works, but this reduces the lifetime of a power pack and increases the chance of misfires). The reliability and ease of resupply of the Lasgun make it an ideal weapon for the extended campaigns often undertaken by the endless armies of the Imperial Guard.
Certain types of Lasgun have specific uses, such as the "Long Las" which has a longer barrel and greatly improved power and range. These are generally used in a sniper role, and use overpowered liquid metal batteries known as "hotshots," which have only one power setting. The power and heat from the improved beam quickly wears out the barrels, which are replaceable and good for about twenty shots each. The Lascarbine is a carbine form of the lasgun, designed for special operations and units, usually employed by drop troopers or scout units of the Imperial Guard. It is light and compact, allowing it to be easily stowed so it does not interfere with the carrier's mobility. It was used by the Tanith First and Only, Elysian Drop Troops, Catachan Jungle Fighters and Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn. A rarely seen form of the Lasgun is the Assault Laser, wielded almost entirely by private concerns due to its high maintenance requirements -- the focusing rings must be replaced every thousand shots or so, and this delicate process can only be done by a trained Tech-priest. Assault Lasers are known for their immense rate of fire and higher armour-piercing ability compared to the standard Lasrifle.
The Laspistol is the pistol form of the Lasgun, and operates in a similar way. It is suitable for quick use, but lacks firepower or range and is often used in conjunction with a close combat weapon. Many Laspistols have power packs mounted in front of the pistol's grip rather than within the grip itself, so that heat from the power cell can be quickly dissipated and the power cell quickly changed when depleted. This also allows the Laspistol to use the same power pack as the lasgun, increasing the pistol's logistical flexibility. While it is more likely to be hit when exposed and cause a potentially debilitating explosion, the likeliness of this occurring is outweighed by the benefits.
Laspistols are carried primarily by Imperial Guard officers and advisers, including Commissars, Techpriest Engineers and Sanctioned Psykers. Some dedicated close combat units of the Imperial Guard, such as Rough Riders and special weapon squads can also be armed with Laspistols.
The Multilaser is a multiple-barreled laser weapon that fires a torrent of laser beams. It is described as a lower-powered, multiple-shot version of the vehicle-destroying Lascannon. Multilasers have always been used primarily by the armies of the Imperial Guard. They are often mounted on light vehicles that serve either as transports or scouts, for infantry work. Imperial Guard Chimeras and Sentinels are among the few vehicles that are known to mount Multilasers.
The Laser Destroyer is based on an ancient and therefore fragmentary Standard Template Construct (STC) record of an upgraded Lascannon, with greater range and a much broader beam able to affect multiple targets. The distinctive long barrel and peculiar focusing optics of the Laser Destroyer make it sensitive to motion and quite prone to misfires, though the extra damage potential is considered to offset these disadvantages.
The ancient Rapier Armoured Carrier is only one of the Imperium's many such technological relics; a bulky, armoured track unit which mounts a powerful Atomantic Reactor. It is armed with a potent quad Lascannon commonly known as the Laser Destroyer. This weapon has become synonymous with the Rapier Armoured Carrier itself. The Graia Pattern Rapier Laser Destroyer is perhaps the most common design of this potent anti-tank weapon.
The Leman Russ Battle Tank is another known mount for the increasingly difficult to produce Laser Destroyer. This rare variant of the Imperial Guard's primary battle tank, known as the Leman Russ Destroyer Tank Hunter, is used for long-range precision sniping against enemy armour. As these tanks are difficult to maintain and nearly impossible to construct with the present degraded state of technological knowledge within the Imperium, they are seldom deployed in formations larger than a single squadron, attached to a larger formation only to deal with truly threatening armoured opposition.
The Turbolaser Destructor is a large and potent Laser weapon, equivalent to a very large Lascannon. In a sense, the Turbolaser is to the Lascannon what the Battle Cannon is to the Autocannon -- a larger, more devastating weapon based on the same concept. The weapon is most commonly seen mounted in pairs on Titans -- Warhound-class Scout Titans often carry a pair as one of the arm mounts, while the larger Reaver-class Battle Titan sometimes mounts a pair of Turbolasers on each arm, and the Warlord-class Battle Titan generally has a pair in each shoulder mount. However, the weapon is also used elsewhere. Some variants of the Space Marines' Thunderhawk gunship carry the weapon, instead of a Battle Cannon, when engaged in ship-to-ship combat where a laser weapon is more useful than a Battle Cannon.
The Volcano Cannon is the most powerful ground vehicle-mounted laser weapon, and is used exclusively by Titans and the Shadowsword super-heavy tanks. Its massive gun is a Titan-killer, capable of severing a Titan's arm or leg. It is primarily meant to target huge objects and obliterate them with a single shot. Such targets usually include other Titan-sized opponents and minor hive cities. For this reason, Shadowswords are only made on Forge Worlds which raise Titan Legions. They are deployed to support Imperial Guard regiments which are likely to be faced with enemy Titans. The Volcano cannon's huge laser is powered by capacitors which draw power directly from the tank's engine. The generator and capacitors are constantly monitored by an engineer or a member of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Their job is to control the power flow from the engine through the generator as well as keeping the tank running.
The principle upon which Melta Weapons work varies in their depictions. Sometimes it is said to work by producing a small-scale fusion reaction using a pyrum petrol fuel mix. This is projected as a blast of incredible heat. In other cases, it is said to function in a similar way to a modern microwave oven. Melta weapons have a short range but are very powerful and are favoured for use against armoured targets; in the Imperial Guard they are typically fielded specifically for close range anti-tank combat, particularly in urban environments. They are also one of the three types of weapons favoured by Sisters of Battle, along with bolt weapons and flamer weapons. As their name suggests, Melta Weapons are capable of rapidly incinerating armour which would normally be immune to most squad-based weapons (obstacles, tank armour, powered armour, etc.). Melta Weapons are useful squad support weapons in situations where "excessive firepower" is an oxymoron.
The Meltagun is a commonly found special weapon in the forces of the Imperium. Common Imperial slang for meltaguns includes cookers or vape guns. Meltaguns are a common sight in Space Marine and Imperial Guard armies. Meltaguns are employed in a support role in Imperial Guardsmen squads. The weapon is, however, bulky and cumbersome over broken ground or swamp terrain. The extreme heat flare produced by the muzzle blast also limits the Meltagun's use indoors or in close quarters. While the technology may not be identical, analogues of this weapon in other factions include the Eldar Fusion Gun and the Tau Fusion Blaster.
The Multi-Melta (also known as a Thermal Cannon) is a larger, longer-ranged version of the Meltagun. Unlike their smaller cousins, Multi-Meltas are not commonly carried by infantry. The only foot infantry known to carry them include Sisters of Battle, Space Marine Devastators, Legionaries of the Damned and Servitors. It is more often found mounted on vehicles, such as Space Marine Land Speeders and Sisters of Battle Immolators.
The Inferno Pistol is a pistol version of a Melta Weapon but is very rare. They are only available to the Ordo Hereticus and the militant arm of the Ecclesiarchy, the Sisters of Battle. Lord Commander Dante, of the Blood Angels Space Marines, uses an ancient version of this weapon, called the Perdition Pistol, which fires with the same effect as a normal Meltagun, but can still be used in close combat. Mentioned in the Soul Drinkers novel, 'Hellforged', when an Archmagos gives one away. It is remarked that it is probably more valuable than any other weapon on the entire ship, including the ship's mounted weapons. In the PC game Dawn of War - Dark Crusade, Captain Davian Thule can be equipped with an Inferno Pistol, although it is referred to as a Melta Gun.
Other Melta Weapons
For the Melta-Bomb see Grenades section.
Plasma Weapons are a class of high-strength, armor piercing energy weapons in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. They employ a magnetic field to accelerate a stream or pulse of superheated ionised gas towards a target. In smaller weapons, this gas would be generated when substances from two canisters mix together. In-universe, plasma weapons are described as being temperamental and the technology to manufacture them become rather obscure for the Imperium in the middle of their history. In more recent times, these weapons are becoming better understood. Due to this, Plasma Weapons find regular use throughout the armies of the Imperium. Imperial Plasma Weapons are comparatively stronger than other races' analogues, but this advantage is offset by poor cooling and venting mechanisms: Plasma Weapons using Imperial technology can build up dangerous levels of heat, which must be vented out regularly, or the weapon can seriously wound or kill the operator upon firing. In the second edition, Imperial Plasma Weapons (known as Mark II Plasma Weapons) had added safety and cooling mechanisms and did not suffer from this drawback. Instead, the user had to wait for the weapon to recharge, cool down and stabilise between shots. Older Plasma Weapons (known as Mark I) still had the potential to overheat dangerously. The plasma is described as being a "miniature sun", but has appeared as blue, green or light purple in the case of Chaos plasma weaponry seen in the PC game Dawn of War.
The Plasma Annihilator is the largest plasma weapon that the Imperium fields on planetary surfaces, as it is essentially a dismounted Battleship weapon. It is mounted on the Imperator-class Emperor Titan and delivers sufficient firepower to destroy multiple enemy titans in a single shot. It can achieve this legendary destructive potential because it is fed directly from the massive Plasma Reactor that powers the entire Titan, enabling the Princeps to divert power from other systems (usually motive power) in order to "overcharge" the weapon, though this decreases the life cycle of the components involved considerably.
Plasma Destructor (Titan)
The Titan-sized Plasma Destructor is the second most powerful Plasma weapon available to the Titan Legions. It is only mountable on the Warlord Titan due to its size and massive power requirements. When this weapon is fired the titan is completely drained of all its energy, meaning that it cannot move or fire at all, and even when its generators are back on-line, the legs are still immoblised. This is usually only used when the fighting is fierce, or when the titan has a large backup of ground troops, armour, or other Titans to defend it during its down time.
Plasma Cannon (Titan)
The Titan Plasma Cannon is an upgraded version of the Plasma Blastgun, only mountable on the Warlord-class of Battle Titan as only its immense Plasma Reactors are large enough to power it. The power requirements for this weapon are such that the Titan cannot fire any other weapons, but its movement is not restricted, giving the Princeps a chance to fire then seek cover.
Among the largest versions of Plasma Cannons, Plasma Blastguns are the main weaponry of Stormblade super-heavy tanks. They are also commonly mounted on Scout Titans such as the Warhound-class, as one of the most powerful anti-tank weapons that those war engines can carry, while Imperial Battle Titans such as the Reaver and Warlord-classes may use them as well. These enormous double-barreled plasma weapons are capable of two firing modes: a "full" shot, which discharges both barrels at the same time, and a "rapid" shot, which discharges the barrels independently. A "full" shot is most effective against armoured targets, and the combined power of both plasma bolts is enough to tear apart any armour with ease. It also produces a large amount of splash damage, making it effective against infantry formations as well. The "rapid" fire mode allows for a larger volume of shots to be fired more quickly, but at a reduction in strength and area-of-effect. Rapid fire is more effective against fast-moving vehicles and large units of infantry, as the cool-down time is lessened considerably.
The Plasma Cannon is a heavy weapon that relies on plasma technology to deliver lethal energy blasts, but also has another setting to allow direct shots against tanks and other large targets. It is much longer-ranged than the plasma gun, and has a wider blast radius. This weapon employs a shell that energises into boiling plasma as it is fired. As with other plasma weapons, a massive energy drain is involved. Power reserves are enormous, but even so a plasma cannon cannot be fired in rapid succession.
The Plasma Destructor is a unique plasma weapon which is mounted in the Leman Russ Executioner main battle tank. It is the most powerful plasma weapon aside from the ones mounted on Imperial Titans, occupying a middle ground between the Plasma Cannon and the Plasma Blastgun. It is an extremely temperamental weapon that is often criticised by crew for being unable to operate in sustained engagements due to its massive power requirements. However, it is capable of penetrating most known armour and its extreme destructive potential is the reason that many Imperial Guard commanders try to include at least one Leman Russ Executioner in their armoured formations.
The Plasma Gun is a rifle-sized Plasma Weapon common to many of the armed forces of the Imperium. The Plasma Gun fire an energy shell of bright glowing plasma which releases tremendous heat and energy when it strikes its intended target, destroying it in an almighty explosion. This results in the dual effects of searing heat and explosive shock as its substance is instantly energised into boiling plasma. Though highly effective, the Plasma Gun loses effectiveness over long range, and requires a massive amount of energy to power it.
The Plasma Pistol is a shorter-ranged, single-handed pistol version of the Plasma Gun. This weapon makes use of a micro-fusion nuclear reaction to superheat a cartridge of gas into the state of matter known as plasma and then release it in a concentrated blast of weapons fire using an electromagnetic bubble. The Plasma Pistol is most commonly carried by the officers of both the Space Marines and the Imperial Guard. Aside from individual Imperial officers, some specialised assault troops such as Assault Marines are also sometimes armed with Plasma Pistols. The current standard pattern of Plasma Pistol in use by the armed forces of the Imperium of Man is the Mark III Sunfury.
The Grav-pistol is the hand-held pistol version of a Grav-weapon employed by the Adeptus Astartes. Its effect is not quite as powerful as that of its larger counterparts, but it can still do enormous damage to targets possessed of a large mass.
The Grav-gun is the two-handed rifle variant of the Grav-weapon employed by the Adeptus Astartes. The Grav-gun fires a stream of graviton particles which affects the local gravitational field of a target area, making the targeted object either far heavier or lighter depending on the weapon's setting. The Grav-gun also creates a bass rumble as the waves affect the local air pressure, causing the air to vibrate. The effect is generally non-lethal and can be used to incapacitate foes who need to be captured alive, but the power of the Grav-gun's highest settings is sufficient to rupture organs and crack bones even inside armour. Some living targets will be affected more variably; a very large creature may be killed under excessive weight, but most targets will either be slowed or completely immobilised. A Grav-gun is very useful when fighting in a voidship or a null-gravity environment, as well as during demolition and siege work. This is because it is particularly effective against massive objects such as bunkers or fortifications, where the building's great mass can be used against it, causing it to collapse.
The Grav-cannon is a large, vehicle-mounted type of Grav-weapon employed by the Adeptus Astartes. The power of the Graviton Cannon is sufficient to rupture organs and crack bones even inside armour, but its primary use is to counter enemy machinery without the risk of secondary explosions. Grav-cannons have been seen mounted on Rapiers and Centurion heavy infantry.
Deathwatch Graviton Cannon
The Deathwatch Graviton Cannon is a modification made by the Deathwatch Techmarines of Watch Fortress Erioch in the Jericho Reach of the more common Grav-gun. The Deathwatch Graviton Cannon possesses a higher graviton output and has proven decidedly more deadly when unleashed on the Deathwatch's foes. Where the common Graviton Gun has but one setting that affects the gravity in a sizeable area, the Deathwatch version can also focus its energies into a continuous tight beam of incredibly dense gravity waves.
The Combi-grav is a relatively rare Combi-weapon variant employed by the Adeptus Astartes that incorporates a single-shot Grav-gun, allowing the wielder a potent graviton attack when the fighting is fiercest without sacrificing the formidable wrath of the standard Bolter. The Combi-grav incorporates a standard Astartes pattern Bolter with a Grav-gun as the secondary weapon.
Cyclone Missile Launcher
The Cyclone Missile Launcher is a Missile Launcher fitted on the shoulders of select Space Marine Terminators. It is connected to targeting systems on the terminator's gauntlet allowing the missiles and the Terminator's other weapons to be fired simultaneously and with great accuracy, even on the move. In-game, the missiles themselves have the same rules as standard Imperium missiles, with either frag and krak warheads.
The Sisters of Battle have a specific Missile Launcher known as the Exorcist Launcher, which is mounted exclusively on the Exorcist tank. Unlike the similar Whirlwind Launcher, the Exorcist launcher fires many small missiles.
The Forces of Chaos also mount Missile Launchers, dubbed the Havoc Launcher, on the hulls of their vehicles. Unlike its imperial equivalent, the Hunter Killer Missile, the Havoc Launcher fires salvos of Frag missiles.
Most Imperial vehicles can also mount a Hunter Killer Missile. In essence this is a single missile mounted on an external launch rail for use against an enemy vehicle, with a significant fuel supply and an advanced enough seeker Machine Spirit that grant it enough range to essentially be considered unlimited range in the scale of the tabletop game. The missile invariably has an armour-piercing Krak warhead.
Missile Launchers are used by Imperial Guard heavy weapon teams as a crew-fired weapon, typically with one Guardsman carrying the launcher, while the other carries the tripod stand and additional missiles, and assists with loading from the rear of the launch tube. Space Marines, meanwhile, can fire similarly-sized launchers from the shoulder and carry their own supply of missiles on a backpack-mounted rack. These launchers fire missiles that commonly have either one of two types of warhead: Frag and Krak. Frag projectiles (short for fragmentation) typically have a smaller explosive payload, encased in a perforated metal casing; they are designed to spray an area with shrapnel upon detonation, making them useful against entire groups of lightly armoured infantry but with poor armor penetration against heavier targets. Krak projectiles are shaped charges, effectively lacking a blast radius, but they have high penetrating capabilities which make them useful for targeting either heavily armoured infantry or moderately armoured vehicles. Missile launchers can also fire less common missile versions of the various Imperial grenade types.
Typhoon Missile Launcher
The Typhoon Multiple Missile Launcher or Typhoon Missile Launcher is a weapon found on Space Marine Land Speeders. It fires a barrage of anti-personnel missiles appropriate for assaulting lightly-armoured infantry.
The Mortar has the ability to bombard enemy positions from behind cover thereby reducing the vulnerability of the Imperial Guardsmen operating it and increasing their survivability. Despite it's indirect fire abilities the mortar is not exceptionally strong against more heavily armored troops -- and certainly not against tanks. The rarer Griffon Siege Mortar has a much larger explosive force than its man-portable variants, and is an excellent bunker-buster when equipped with specialist siege shells. It is usually mounted on Chimera armoured personnel carrier hulls to provide mobile support.
The Assault Cannon is a six-barrelled, self-loading automatic ballistic weapon used by a few select vehicles and heavy infantry in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Effective against massed infantry and light vehicles, the weapon's large bulk more-or-less requires it to be mounted on stable platforms such as vehicles.
Compared to other Imperial heavy weapons, there are very few units that are capable of carrying assault cannons due to the structural requirements of their mass, bulk, ammunition consumption, and, more than a self-propelled bolt weapon, its heavy recoil relative to its power.
Two common Space Marine units that regularly carry Assault Cannons are Space Marine Dreadnoughts and Land Speeder Tornados. The Land Raider Crusader's main armaments include twin-linked Assault Cannons mounted on top of its hull. The Blood Angels' Baal Predator carries a twin-linked Assault Cannon in its turret. Certain Imperial Guard Sentinel variants were also armed with Assault Cannons. This was subsequently changed to reflect the reality that Assault Cannons are deployed almost exclusively by Space Marine forces.
Aside from vehicles, a few infantry types are capable of fielding Assault Cannons as well. A pattern of the Assault Cannon, longer and slimmer than its vehicle-mounted equivalents, is often fitted on one arm by Space Marine Terminators. The size and sheer strength of a Terminator-armoured Space Marine allows him to freely move and advance even while firing the Assault Cannon without pause.
Although the Assault Cannon lacks the range of other rapid-fire guns such as the Heavy Bolter and the Autocannon, its enormous rate of fire enables it to literally shred its way through most targets, punishing them with thousands of rounds per minute. Assault Cannons are extremely potent at medium to close range, against armoured infantry and moderately armoured vehicles, while Heavy Bolters are less effective against heavily armoured targets and Autocannons have a slower firing rate. The Assault Cannon epitomises the deadliness of elite Terminator Squads who teleport behind the enemy's front line and open up with fully-automatic fire, spreading carnage and terror. In earlier patterns of the Assault Cannon the weapon was notoriously fickle and prone to jamming, sometimes stopping with enough force to detonate the weapon and kill the user. Newer patterns of the weapon no longer suffer from this problem, which could be due to research by the Adeptus Mechanicus that produced refinements in the weapon's design, similar to the transition from the Combi-bolter to the Storm Bolter. Assault Cannons are mounted on the Destroyer variant of Imperial Marauder bomber aircraft.
While Autopistols and Autoguns are similar to their laser-based variants, Autocannons are unlike their Lascannon counterparts. Autocannons are rapid-fire heavy weapons designed to eliminate heavily armoured infantry or light vehicles, and are often used by Imperial Guard heavy weapons teams in battle, due to their versatility and reliability. Autocannons have better penetration than Heavy Bolters and greater range than Assault Cannons, but have a slower rate of fire. These weapons used to fire an explosive penetrating bolt, much like the Bolter, but as the Imperium progressed, this technology was added to the list of that which was lost. They now fire solid-slug rounds ranging from 20 millimetres and up.
Autoguns are automatic ballistic weapons which fire solid-slug ammunition propelled by one of various methods, including the combustion of propellant powder or the use of compressed gases. The ammunition used most commonly by these weapons are cased or caseless ammunition cartridges. An Autogun, refers to a wide range of Imperial weapons that project ballistic solid slug ammunition. A number of variants exist, encompassing mainly automatic rifles and assault weapons. Autoguns are still popular among certain regiments of the Imperial Guard for reasons such as, while having almost similar wounding capability, the bullets are capable of causing bleeding- useful against certain species of targets- whereas a lasgun beam tends to cauterise wounds. Also the psychological effect of the loud muzzle blast noise and visual effects are more useful against Orks. However it lacks the same degree of power, and introduces the logistical complications of requiring the manufacture and delivery of specific ammunition to the frontline, unlike the Lasgun. The Autogun was the standard-issue weapon for the Imperial Guard until the 32nd Millennium, when laser technology had progressed enough to be produced on a large scale.
An Autopistol is a pistol weapon that operates on the same principles as the autogun. It shoots the same caseless projectiles used by autoguns in shorter bursts. The Inquisitor Thaddeus uses a heavily modified model, which he uses in conjunction with two unusual ammunition types:
- Excecutioner Rounds, which are guided, rare and lethal, and are normally used in a Shotgun
- An unnamed round which is guided and repeatedly hits the target until it runs out of propellant, at which point it explodes inside the target. It is described as the the pinnacle of current Adeptus Mechanicus ballistic weapons technology.
The Bolter, also called a Boltgun, and its variants are some of the most powerful hand-held weaponry in use by the military forces of the Imperium of Man. It is a powerful assault rifle that fires explosive .75 calibre kinetic rounds colloquially referred to as bolts. The Bolter is a weapon synonymous with the Adeptus Astartes, and rightly so. However, although the Space Marines are its primary user, the Bolter finds itself in use in military organisations throughout the Imperium. The weapon is fearsome, with explosive rounds capable of ripping through or blowing apart a foe. The Chaos Space Marines of the Traitor Legions were issued their Legions' Bolters before the Horus Heresy, and therefore, use generally older variants than the patterns available to present-day Loyalist Space Marines.
The Bolter is a mid-range anti-personnel weapon that lies between the lighter Bolt Pistol and the more effective Heavy Bolter, which fires .998 calibre bolt rounds. The standard pattern Bolter can easily be wielded by a Space Marine, but smaller pattern Bolters must be used by the Battle-Sisters of the Adepta Sororitas and other mortals.
For both the Space Marines and the Sisters of Battle of the Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas, the Bolter is viewed as a weapon intended by the Emperor of Mankind to bring his wrath to the enemies of Mankind. Every Astartes carries a Bolter lovingly handcrafted by the Artificers of his Chapter's Armoury or of one of the Adeptus Mechanicus Forge Worlds. At each point in its construction special rituals are observed by the Artificers or Tech-priests, and even an Astartes' daily maintenance of his weapon carries an air of religious devotion. The Bolters used by the Space Marines are known to be coded to Astartes genetic signatures so that they are only functional for members of the Adeptus Astartes.
A Bolt Pistol is a smaller version of the Bolter in standard use by the Space Marines. The current pattern in use is the Astartes Mark III. The weapons are also used by many other Imperial forces as well as the Chaos Space Marines. It 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 bolt rounds, each weighing about 0.08kg and with a diameter of .75 calibre (19.05mm). The pistol is able to fire either a single shot or a short three-round burst.
While standard Boltguns are rarely used by the Imperial Guard, Bolt Pistols are quite popular amongst the Commissariat, and are frequently used by junior officers and non-commissioned officers in place of their regular-issue Laspistol sidearms. 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.
Used only by the Vindicare Assassins, the Exitus Pistol is the Assassin's back-up weapon when retreating after assassinating their target with their Exitus Rifle. It is a high strength, solid slug weapon.
A Heavy Stubber is a primitive weapon, similar in design and appearance to 20th century heavy machine guns, and is fairly common and reliable. Its high rate of fire makes up for its lack of strength and armour-piercing abilities. It is an ideal support weapon for low-tech worlds that cannot produce more technologically advanced weapons.
Heavy Stubbers are often pintle mounted and used as close defence weapons on Imperial vehicles, when the rarer storm bolters are not available. The Heavy Stubber has relatively poor armor-penetration factor, as it simply fires solid slugs without a penetrating charge, but it has significantly better range than the Storm Bolter (which is originally designed as an assault armament), so it does continue to see some use even in well-equipped armies.
Chaos Cults often do not have great resources, and as such use easily manufactured and maintained weapons like Heavy Stubbers.
The Reaper Autocannon is an archaic double-barrelled Autocannon with a shorter range. Reaper Autocannons were commonly used by Space Marine Terminators prior to the Horus Heresy. They were eventually replaced by the Assault Cannon in loyalist Astartes Chapters, and are now only exclusively used by Chaos Terminators, or mounted on Chaos Defilers. The heavy volume of fire this brutal weapon is able to lay down to great effect enables warbands to have the ability to take out heavy troops and light armour at range.
Ogryns serving with the Imperial Guard are equipped with the Ripper Gun, a drum-fed, automatic combat shotgun built to their immense scale. It is a short range weapon firing several shells at once which helps combat the poor aim of the average Ogryn. They are fired to soften up the enemy before the Ogryns charge into close combat. Ripper guns are particularly robustly built so that they can be used as clubs. These guns can also have "Ripper Saws." These are one of the only weapons an Ogryn can use, as the Ogryns' immense size and stupidity usually results in most other weapons being broken over the heads of the enemy when the Ogryns get close. In addition, the trigger mechanisms are typically fitted with a burst-fire limiter to prevent the Ogryn from discharging his entire drum magazine in one continous stream of fire- a prospect Ogryns find very amusing, but would leave them without ammunition.
Combat Shotguns are basic ballistic weapons that have been in widespread use for millennia compared to the higher technology laser weapons. Their standard ammunition is scatter shot, which disperses during flight into a hail of fragments. The shotgun is a durable, simple and reliable weapon, which has made it the mainstay of the Elysian Drop Troops, who prefer it over the Lasgun when entering hostile drop zones. The Arbitrators of the Adeptus Arbites also use the shotgun for crowd control in congested urban conditions and have developed special "Executioner" shells for them.
Shotguns are used throughout the Imperium and are popular with hive-world scum and local police. Among these groups a large variety of specialist ammunition is used, including manstopper slugs, modified bolt rounds and incendiary shells.
Imperial Navy starships carry shotguns for the crew to use during boarding actions or against uprisings by crewmen aboard the ship. The reduced penetration of spread shot reduces the probability of damaging critical equipment aboard a ship or even puncturing the vessel's hull.
Space Marine Scout Squads are also known to use shotguns during their missions. The Dark Angels and Blood Angels Space Marine Chapters equip their Scout Marines with special "Manstopper" rounds which have an extra propellant charge.
Stub Pistols (also Stub Guns or Slug Guns) are primitive kinetic weapons, resembling 20th Century revolvers or automatic pistols. They are common on industrial worlds but rarely used by Imperial military forces. In the Calixis Sector, the Stub Revolver, Hand Cannon and the Stub Automatic are the Stub Pistol-type weapons most commonly on offer.
Usually a specially constructed or modified ballistic or laser weapon for use by sniper units, the term "Sniper Rifle" is used as a generic term that covers many variations on the theme of long-ranged precision infantry weapon, including various laser and other energy-based weapons. There are sniper rifles which use solid ballistic ammunition -- although, like other projectile-based weapons, they are restricted by the need to carry heavier ammunition. The advantage the slug-thrower has over its energy-based opponent is that fewer enemies will recognise the report of the rifle, as opposed to a Long-Las' ruby beam.
Used only by the extremely skilled Assassins from the secretive Vindicare Temple of the Officio Assassinorum, the Exitus Rifle is an incredibly powerful sniper rifle, modified to fire special rounds designed specifically for the art of assassination from a distance. Among the different types of specialist rounds that can be fired from an Exitus Rifle are the following
- Shield-Breaker - The precise construction of this ammunition type is unknown, but has the ability to circumvent force fields.
- Turbo-Penetrator - A much heavier propellant charge combined with a difficult to construct shaped charge on the tip of the shell, the Turbo Penetrator round is much more effective against large and armoured targets, including armoured vehicles.
- Hellfire - Uses the highly toxic Hellfire compound found in other Imperial weapons to inflict horrific injuries on the target.
The Needlegun and Needle Pistol (or Needler as this class of weapons is known in general) are silent and deadly weapons that uses both laser power and poisoned needles. The weapon fires a laser bolt like the Lasgun, which, a millisecond later, is followed by a needle. The bolt melts and cuts through armour, leaving the flesh (or other vulnerable parts) vulnerable to the needle, which knocks out or kills the target. It is a valuable weapon which needs specialised ammunition and care -- even more so than the sniper Lasgun -- and is therefore usually reserved for more elite troops or Imperial Assassins. The Needle Pistol is a small elegant version of the basic Needler weapon. It is ideal for secretive work such as assassination, "doping" and kidnapping missions due to its being silent and flashless.
The Grenade Launcher is a light, tubular launcher that is capable of firing any type of grenade. Generally, the most common types of grenade fired from these weapons areFrag and Krak Grenades. Grenades, naturally, are less powerful than missiles, but are easier to fire on the move. Grenade Launchers can also fire more exotic types of grenades, as listed below, though these are not standard issue, and need to be loaded for firing individually. Though there are numerous patterns, the principal shape of an Imperial Grenade Launcher is universal. Many of these launchers are designed to fire from a modified automatically-fed backpack. Grenade Launchers perform a similar role to mortars in Terra's twentieth century warfare in that they can fire indirectly ('fire-and-forget'), and do not need a visible target to fire at.
See the Grenade section.
Exotic Ranged Weapons
Used exclusively by the Assassins of the Culexus Temple, this stylized skull-like helm known as the Animus Speculum helps conceal much of a Culexus Assassin's soulless nature from onlookers and particularly from psykers. The helm is only partially effective even while active, as most people can barely stand to be in the same room with a Pariah. During battle, however, the arcane "eye" of the helm opens, allowing the Assassin's full anti-psyker abilities to be unleashed. This weapon fires blasts of anti-psychic power from the eye on the Assassins' Etherium Mask, draining nearby psykers of their connection to Warp energy to increase its own power. This weapon has a higher rate of fire if there are beings with psychic powers near the Assassin.
The Conversion Beamer is a heavy weapon that fires a burst of energy that turns the material of the target into more energy. As such it is equally effective against large targets as small ones. On the other hand the beam has to be held very steady to achieve the effect so the weapon cannot be used on the move. This weapon is available exclusively to the Master of the Forge, the chief Techmarine of most Space Marine Chapters.
The Neural Shredder is an alien device used mainly by the Callidus Assassin Temple. This exotic short-ranged weapon ravages the nervous system of its targets. This strange weapon's origin is unknown, although some speculate that it is but one of a range of psychic weapons developed by the Adeptus Astra Telepathica.
Web Weapons, also called "Web Guns", "Webbers" or "Glue Guns," fire a net of sticky synthetic material intended to immobilise rather than kill targets, though if the target continually struggled, the web would tighten to the point of killing the target. Some Web Weapons fire an anesthetic-laden web, rendering the target unconscious. A Glue Gun's main use is in crowd control and mob suppression, and is rarely seen on the battlefield, though it is sometimes present in the armouries of the Adeptus Arbites.
The largest version of the Web Gun, the Heavy Webber fires a considerable quantity of web material, covering a larger effect radius of several metres in diameter. Once hit, a target cannot get free except by use of the special web solvent generally carried by all webber crews. This weapon also has the added ability of being able to jam the wheels/tracks and doors of vehicles, rendering them temporarily immobile.
The smallest size Webber, the Web Pistol can be used one-handed, and as such, can be used to immobilise an opponent in close combat. The Web Pistol is sometimes used on the Hive World of Necromunda, but is generally unpopular across the Imperium due to the lack of exotic chemicals and spare parts to keep the weapon functioning.
The Webber is the standard "rifle" form of the Web Gun, with a longer range than the pistol, and a greater area of effect.
An Anti-Plant Grenade is a small hand-held explosive containing a potent herbicide which kills all plant life within its blast radius, thereby removing the enemy's cover. In the game Warhammer 40,000 - Chaos Gate, Anti-Plant Grenades can be used by the player to defoliate forested areas in the game.
A more sophisticated type of smoke grenade, the Blind Grenade emits infra-red bafflers and broad-band spectrum electro-magnetic radiation in addition to smoke, to blind not only normal eyesight but also artificial sight aids. In-game, blind grenades were not initially present in the third edition of Warhammer 40,000.
The Choke Grenade explodes to fill its blast radius with a non-lethal gas which prevents anyone in the from breathing properly, temporarily incapacitating them.
A Frag Grenade is a small hand-held explosive device meant to hurl shrapnel in all directions. The Space Marines make use of two types of Frag Grenades, either disc shaped with a button in the center that can be pressed repeatedly in order to determine how long until it explodes, or a small egg shape. Both kinds of space marine grenade designs are described as "micro-grenades" and are apparently smaller.
A Hallucinogen Grenade fills its area of effect with an invisible hallucinogenic gas, causing anyone breathing it in to experience visions which may have various effects on them, from nothing to running from the field screaming to believing an alien worm is crawling up their leg.
Haywire Grenades (or Scramblers) are grenades that explode with a powerful electromagnetic pulse, destroying electronic systems and incapacitating vehicles. They are most commonly employed amongst the Eldar and their Dark Eldar counterparts. They are described as having crystal batteries.
Holy Orb of Antioch
First created by the Space Marine Artificer Antioch, a Holy Orb of Antioch is an individually-crafted, custom grenade empowered with the holy wrath of the Emperor and filled in equal measure with high explosives and sacred unguents that burn the faithless with their purity. Holy Orbs of Antioch are lethal weapons against the impure and wicked servants of the Ruinous Powers of Chaos and the daemons of the Warp. These grenades are most commonly used by the Space Marines of the Black Templars Chapter.
Sanctifier Grenades are used by Inquisitors of the Ordo Malleus to destroy daemons. These grenades have gothic runes of psychic potence inscribed on them. This grenade is essentially a powerful psychic explosive within a realspace container. When in proximity to a daemon or upon impact, it releases a conflagaration of psychic force, usually leaving nothing behind.
Krak Grenades are meant to be used against hardened targets such as armoured vehicles or buildings, etc. They are designed to implode and produce a powerful pressure wave that can damage armoured or hardened targets, rather than explode, as is usually the case with grenades.
The Melta-Bomb is a grenade incorporating Melta technology, analogous in power and effect to a shaped anti-tank satchel charge.
Photon Flash Flare
The Photon Flash Flare explodes with a tremendously powerful flash of light, which will temporarily blind anyone without protection in its area, and may even affect those with protection, such as power-armoured Space Marines.
Rare in the Imperium, the Plasma Grenade explodes to produce a ball of plasma that covers an area. This area of effect will shrink as it uses the available energy in the surrounding area. The Eldar use a different kind of Plasma Grenade, and the Dark Eldar also have a version of the Plasma Grenade.
The rarest grenade in the Imperium, the Psyk-Out Grenade is rumoured to be produced from a psychic by-product collected from the Emperor's Golden Throne. Used mostly by the Culexus Assassin temple, it is only useful against beings with psychic powers, but can kill such a being instantly.
TheScare Grenade produces a non-persistent gas, absorbed through the skin, with affects the nervous system of those affected, producing feelings of apprehension and deep anxiety.
The Rad Grenade is a small hand-held explosive device which irradiates the area encompassed in the blast area. The radiation level dissipates over time.
The Smoke Grenade is a simple grenade that fills the area with thick smoke. Effective against normal eyesight, Smoke is useless against more sophisticated visual devices. The release of Warhammer 40,000 3rd edition removed the rules for most grenades in-game. They are also used in Missile and Grenade Launchers equipped on many Imperial vehicles.
The Stasis Grenade is a very rare type of grenade used only by the forces of the Adeptus Mechanicus and a few other select Imperial special forces. The stasis grenade "traps" any units in its area of effect, rendering them incapable of doing anything. This is because the grenade possesses a Stasis Field generator that essentially generates a time-loop, causing time to repeat itself within the grenade's area of effect.
Another rare grenade device, the Tanglefoot is produced in small numbers by the Adeptus Mechanicus, and issued to elite Imperial forces. It contains a small but powerful magno-gravitic generator, which produces a field at, and just above, ground level, making it difficult to move through. It is said to be like "walking over a mass of tripwires", hence its name.
The Toxin Grenade spews an amount of toxic chemicals and biological extracts over an area.
A Virus Grenade is a grenade designed for biological warfare. Though relatively safe, there is an inherent risk of mutation within the toxins, meaning it is rarely used except in cases of strategic destruction. Because of its random nature, this device can be as dangerous to its user as their opponent.
The Vortex Grenade is an extremely advanced type of specialised grenade used by a few, select individuals in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. The grenade opens a "hole" to the Warp in realspace, destroying any troops in its area of effect. The Vortex Grenade is an unpredictable weapon that destroys anything that it comes into contact with, and the Warp vortex it creates drifts randomly after activation slaying friend and foe alike. This grenade, as it might be imagined, is available only to the most high-ranking of Imperial servants, such as the senior officers of Space Marine Chapters and Inquisitors.
A Battle Cannon is the main weapon for the Leman Russ Battle Tank. It is a formidable weapon and can deal significant damage from a long distance. The cannon devastates an area and may be used for indirect fire from behind cover. The sheer power of this weapon makes it a good choice for most armies. Limited numbers of armor-piercing shells may be optionally carried, which have even greater damage and penetrative power, but at the cost of the explosive area effect.
The Baneblade Cannon is a larger version of the Battle Cannon and fires rocket propelled ammunition. It is the main armament of the Baneblade super-heavy tank and is very devastating to infantry due to its high blast radius.
A more complex variant of the Battle Cannon, the technology to create the Vanquisher Cannon is held by only a few Imperial Forge Worlds, although new patterns are slowly being designed. Its most obvious feature is that it is almost twice as long as the standard Battlecannon. It uses specialised armour piercing shells to take down enemy tanks from afar. Vanquisher Cannon-armed Leman Russes are often used as command tanks, where the veteran crew's experience can make the best use of the weapon.
The Conqueror Cannon is a lightweight alternative to the Battle Cannon used on Leman Russ tanks. Although the Conqueror Cannon has a shorter range and fires smaller shells than the Battle Cannon, the drastic reduction in recoil allows the vehicle to fire with more accuracy on the move. The only Forge World producing Conqueror Cannons in large numbers for the Imperium was Gryphonne IV.
A short-ranged, smoothbore cannon with a massive caliber shell that is mounted on the Imperial Guard Leman Russ Demolisher and Space Marine Vindicator, the Demolisher Cannon is among the shortest ranged vehicle ordnance weapons in the Imperial arsenal. Its use necessitates getting up close and personal before it is fired. It is among the strongest weapons fielded by the Imperial Guard at regiment level, the sheer damage it is capable of doing is enough reason to risk getting so close; most vehicles that mount it also have improved front armour to increase survivability on approach. It is most often used in a bunker-buster role by driving up close to enemy fortifications and firing into them at very short range, thus allowing allied infantry to assault through the breach. They are also used in urban areas where rather than engaging in dangerous room-clearing close combat operations a Demolisher is simply fired at the base of an enemy held building, often causing the entire building to come crashing down.
The Earthshaker Cannon is a 132 millimetre breech-loading cannon used by the Imperial Guard. It has one of the longest ranges of any weapon in the Imperium, as its stated range when firing in a direct fire position is 15 kilometres. In various cases, the cannon can be upgraded with more advanced targeting sensors so that it is able to fire indirectly in the same way as traditional artillery pieces like howitzers. If the Earthshaker were fired indirectly, it would have a reach of about 60 to 70 kilometres under standard atmospheric and gravitic conditions.
The Earthshaker is described as a very long ranged weapon, capable of bombarding the rear area of an enemy force without having to be anywhere near it. Its shells are packed with powerful explosives that will destroy nearly anything within a sizable radius. While it is not as strong as the Demolisher Cannon in terms of brute explosive force, it remains an invaluable weapon thanks to its range, and the ability to use indirect fire. Characteristic to the cannon are the powerful earthquake and horrendously loud sounds it makes on impact, hence the name. It uses shells called Hell Breakers which are more powerful then the standard Imperial artillery shell.
The weapon itself can be found mounted on the Imperial Guard's standard artillery piece, the Basilisk. The Earthshaker can also be fielded as a static emplacement or a towed artillery piece. The Imperial Guard is well-known for conducting sustained artillery bombardment from massed companies of Basilisks preceding a major assault, lasting hours -- or even days -- consuming tremendous amounts of ordnance. The battlefield is churned into a cratered waste and the enemy force is left in smoking ruin, preceding a combined arms advance of armor and mechanised Imperial Guard infantry.
Before being named the Earthshaker Cannon, the gun on the Basilisk self-propelled gun was referred to as the "Macro-Cannon".
The Hellhammer Cannon is the main turret weapon of the Imperial Hellhammer super-heavy tank, this short barreled, wide-bore weapon fires a large, powerful shell armed with an unstable sub-molecular charge, which is capable of blasting through any form of armour or cover. The large recoil of this weapon is reduced to manageable levels by a complex muzzle brake.
The Deathstrike Cannon is a very large, long-ranged ballistic weapon that was available on early-pattern Warlord-class Titans. It replaced the head, but forced a carapace mount position to be given over for a fire control tower.
The Whirlwind Multiple Missile Launcher is a turret-mounted missile launchers used by the Space Marine Whirlwind. The launcher is capable of firing missiles that, in-game are effective against both infantry and light vehicles. A new function of the weapon introduced with the fourth edition of the Codex: Space Marines allows it to fire Castellan Missiles, which are modified to deploy minefields on the battlefield. The original missiles that the Whirlwind used to fire are still available and have been dubbed Vengeance Missiles. Standard Castellan missiles can also be replaced with Incendiary Castellan Missiles. These differ from the former by losing the minefield aspect of the weapon. Instead, the incendiary version has lowered strength and armour-piercing capability but can create an incendiary firestorm engulfing an entire area in flames. The Whirlwind Launcher is also carried by the Land Raider Helios.
The Hellstorm Cannon is a huge, five-barrelled, directed-energy weapon typically mounted on a Warlord-class Titan that can completely decimate an entire city in just one cataclysmic salvo. In addition, the central structural hub around which the weapon barrels are mounted can itself be converted to mount a Gatling Blaster. A detached Hellstorm Cannon from a long-destroyed Emperor Titan can be seen lying on its side near the city of Ironworks Bay on the planet Kronus, a monument to a Titan that fell during the Horus Heresy the possession of which later became a strategic objective for all of the factions involved in the Dark Crusade. A trench large enough to move an armoured company through had been carved out of the earth in front of the cannon from its final firing during the Heresy.
Fire Support Weapons
The Mole Mortar is not actually a mortar; it releases an explosive shell that tunnels underground to its target rather than flying through the air. It is useful for attacking burrowing vehicles and the foundations of buildings.
The Thudd Gun, or Quad Launcher, is a four-barreled short range artillery weapon on a mobile mounting.
The Thunderfire Cannon is a powerful direct-firing artillery piece made available to Space Marines in their fifth edition codex. The cannon is sited on its own mount and may move under its own power, enabling it to provide cover where a Whirlwind is unfeasable, however it is usually deployed by Drop Pod or Thunderhawk gunship. The thunderfire cannon is able to fire 3 types of shells: the first is a powerful standard explosive shell; the second is a lesser powered shell, but has the ability to ignore cover; the third is less powerful still, but causes a subterranean blast which hinders the movment of enemy forces the next turn.
The Tarantula is an automatic Sentry Gun system used to defend strategic locations and bases. Usually armed with either twin-linked Heavy Bolter for anti-infantry defence, or twin-linked Lascannons for anti-vehicle defence. Space marines also make use of a variant armed with a single Multi-melta, which is an even more potent anti-vehicle defence
The Rapier is a self-propelled infantry support weapon that originated from the same design philosophy as the Thudd gun, i.e. "more is better". Mounting four individual Lascannons (each more than capable of destroying a tank on its own) focused to fire on a single point, the Rapier was designed for bunker-busting. Unfortunately it never truly delivered on its promise as the focusing arrangement required the weapon to be completely static to be effective whilst the weight of the system necessitated a cumbersome carriage which could not be transported as easily as the other infantry support weapons used by the Imperial Guard. The Rapier which is sometimes known as the Rapier "Laser Destroyer" should not be confused with the tank-mounted Laser Destroyer weapon, though the similarity between the names could indicate that one was a development of the other, although it could just as easily be a coincidence.
Ship-Based Missile Systems
Massive starship-based versions of the standard Frag and Krak Missiles, these can be launched from a vessel in orbit, either to provide fire support for troops on the ground, or to destroy an enemy from space.
Note on Chaos Marines and the Traitor Imperial Guard
It should also be noted that much of the weapons and equipment used by the Chaos Space Marine Traitor Legions and Traitor Imperial Guard regiments is identical to Imperial wargear listed here, especially the equipment wielded by the Chaos Space Marines. Since the Horus Heresy, the Imperium has made some advances in technology; thus much of the Chaos Space Marines' and Traitor Guards' equipment is of older design, or the Chaos Space Marines have restricted or no access to some of the items listed above. However, this does not apply to Renegade Space Marines who have turned to Chaos after the development and distribution of the more advanced weapons.
For example, the Chaos Space Marines possess Plasma Weapons -- however, their Plasma Cannons, being much older, are simply too large to be carried by a single man, even an Astartes; thus they are always vehicle-mounted, the only exception being the new Chaos Obliterator units, which are mutated Astartes heavy infantry that can extrude arm-mounted Plasma Cannons from their daemonically-altered bodies. Another example is that due to Storm Bolters not being produced on a mass scale until the Horus Heresy broke out, the Chaos Space Marines possess older Combi-Bolters—which are essentially two Bolters combined into a single weapon, but lacking a complex syncrhonised alignment and firing mechanism, and so the effect is not quite as potent as the fire of a true Storm Bolter. This has, however, given Chaos Space Marines the opportunity to exchange one of the two Bolters that are pintle mounted on a vehicle for a single-shot Flamer, Plasma Gun or Melta Gun. This speciality is unused on Imperial vehicles.
Further still, the Chaos Space Marines have extremely limited access to modern-pattern Jump Packs (which were designed shortly prior to the outbreak of the Heresy), and no access to Assault Cannons, Psycannons or the special ammunition types for Bolters (except Inferno Bolts), as all of these were invented after the Heresy.
However, some standard Imperial wargear is replaced by similar daemonic gear. For example, Chaos Space Marine Raptors make use of a more archaic and less efficient pattern of Jump Pack that was in use during the Great Crusade. While Chaos Space Marines do not have Artificer Armour (a type of Power Armour which is well-crafted so that it affords better protection), the Traitor Legions have access to Daemon Armour mutated by the powers of Chaos that is similar in protection to the Artificer Armour available to Loyalist Space Marines.
Many Traitor Guardsmen or Heretics do not always have immediate access to Lasguns, due to a lack of contact with a Forge World. As a result, many Renegades use Autoguns, which, as previously specified, have as much theoretical power as a standard issue Imperial Guard Lasgun.
- Codex: Black Templars (4th Edition)
- Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition)
- Codex: Eldar (4th Edition)
- Codex: Grey Knights (5th Edition)
- Codex: Imperial Guard (5th Edition)
- Codex: Imperial Guard (4th Edition)
- Codex: Imperial Guard (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Orks (4th Edition)
- Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition)
- Codex: Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 121, 123
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition)
- Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook (RPG)
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG)
- Imperial Armour Volume 1 - Imperial Guard and Imperial Navy
- Imperial Armour - Horus Heresy - Volume Two: Massacre, pg. 17
- Necromunda (Specialty Game)
- Warhammer 40,000: Apocalypse (4th Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Epic
- Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1st Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition), pp. 54-55, 58
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (5th Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (4th Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (3rd Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Wargear (4th Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Wargear (2nd Edition)
- Dawn of War Series (PC Games)