The term projectile weapons refers to any weapon which inflict damage on a target by means of launching a physical object towards it. Early projectile weapons generally damaged a target by having the projectile physically impact the target, transferring kinetic energy to it. More advanced weapons had more complex projectiles, often including explosives or other technology designed to increase the damage.
An improvised weapon created by Captain Kirk in 2267. Kirk had been pursuing a Gorn vessel which had attacked Cestus III; the pursuit had led both ships to trespass into Metrone space. The Metrones decided to resolve the issue by placing Kirk and the Gorn Captain on an M class planetoid to engage in personal combat. Although the Gorn was extremely slow moving compared to a Human, he was massively strong and virtually impossible to injure physically.1
The Metrones had promised that the planetoid would provide materials with which a weapon could be constructed. Kirk found large deposits of sulphur, potassium nitrate, charcoal and diamonds lying on the surface. He combined the first three to make a primitive explosive known as gunpowder, which he placed into a length of bamboo reinforced by wrapping vines around the outside. He then packed diamonds in front of the gunpowder. Using a metallic device the Metrones had given him to generate a spark, Kirk was able to explode the gunpowder and blast the diamonds out at considerable velocity.1
Although extremely primitive in construction and operation1, in principle the cannon is little different than any early projectile weapon such as the Flintlocks used by the villagers and Hill people on2 Neural3. The device was certainly effective; the Gorn was badly injured, leaving it helpless. Captain Kirk declined to kill his wounded opponent, having realised that the Federation had inadvertently trespassed into Gorn space with the Cestus III outpost and so provoked the attack. The Metrones were impressed with this display of compassion and allowed both Captains to continue on their way.1
One of the earliest forms of projectile weapon, the bow consists of an arc of wood or some other material with a cord attached to the ends. The bow acts as a spring which allows the user to store up a small amount of potential energy by pulling back on the string, stressing the material. A thin wooden shaft is then placed against the string. When the string is released the bow snaps back to its original shape, transferring the potential energy stored within it to kinetic energy in the arrow.4
Bows are poor weapons, not accurate over any significant range. However they are relatively simple to make from materials common to virtually all M class planets, and they require little training to use. In 2267 Captain Kirk and Commander Spock assembled some simple bow and arrow weapons for use against the Capellans who were pursuing them after they escaped from captivity along with Eleen.5 When the Kazon briefly captured Voyager in 2373 and stranded the crew on a primitive planet, Tuvok was also able to manufacture simple bows for defence.6 The settlers from the crash-landed SS Santa Maria used bows for hunting when they found that no advanced technology would work on their planet.7 The proto-Vulcan Mintakans also used Bows.8
This weapon was created by Colonel J.T. Thompson during the early years of the 20th century.4 The weapon became popular with criminal gangs of the time; the Chicago Mobs of the 1920s especially took to the weapon. When the USS Horizon visited Sigma Iotia III in 2167 a book about these gangs was accidentally left behind. The Iotians chose to re-model their entire society based on the pattern in the book, including recreation of the weaponry shown. The Thompson was massively common on Sigma Iotia III - a large fraction of the adult male population seemed to carry one openly whenever they were in public. When Captain Kirk and his officers visited the planet in 2268 they made some use of the weapons themselves, though they never actually fired them at anybody.9 In 2373 Captain Picard used a holodeck recreation of a Thompson sub-machine gun to kill two Borg drones with holographic bullets in "The Big Goodbye" program.10 On another occasion Slade Bender attempted to murder Picard with a Thompson as part of a Dixon Hill program.11 When Captain Archer and the NX-01 were sent to an alternate version of 1940s Earth in which the Germans were winning World War II with alien help, they encountered American resistance fighters who used the Thompson. These weapons were a wartime version of the weapon, slightly modified to make construction more rapid.12
A pistol design commonly used on Earth during the 20th century. The police special was a revolver - it contained six cartridges in a cylinder which revolved to bring each round in line with the barrel in turn. On firing a small amount of chemical explosive in the rear of the chamber was detonated. The expanding gases propelled a lead pellet at the front of the cartridge down the barrel and towards the target. When the crew of the USS Enterprise visited an alien pleasure planet in 2267 the advanced technology which was beneath the surface manufactured various items from the crew's imaginations, including a functional police special. Lieutenant Sulu, who discovered the weapon, noted that none had been made in 'a couple of centuries'.13
A popular sub machine gun used on Earth during the mid to late 20th century, the Madsen was built by the Danish company Dansk Industrie Syndicat. The weapon was built in several models, each named for the year they were first produced. The weapon stored 32 9 mm rounds in a box slung beneath the gun. These were fired at approximately 9 rounds per second. It was effective to ranges of 100 metres. The gun was 80 cm long with the stock extended and massed 3.17 kilos when empty.4
In the 2260s, the USS Enterprise discovered a planet which had very close similarities to Earth, a classic case of Hodgkin's law of parallel planetary development. On this world the Roman Empire had never fallen, and was at a state of technology comparable to mid 20th century Earth. The military forces of the planet were equipped with weapons visually identical to Madsen Model 1950 sub-machine guns.14
Produced by Earth's German nation during World War II, the MP40 was a modification of the earlier MP38 sub-machine gun designed by Follmer at the Erma company. The MP38 and 40 were highly successful, with some 1.2 million manufactured before the end of the war. They were considered reliable in service, though the lack of a forward hand guards often resulted in burned hands during sustained fire. The gun also lacked range compared to comparable Soviet weapons, being limited to some 100 metres. The MP40 fired 9 mm rounds from a 32 round box, massed 4.7 kilos when loaded, and had a rate of fire of 500 rounds per minute. It was 83.3 cm long with the stock extended.4 In the 2260s the Federation scientist John Gil deliberately interfered with the culture on the planet Ekos, installing himself as absolute ruler. He patterned the society after Earth's Nazi Germany, introducing not only a similar political system but many individual hardware designs also. One of the weapons Gil gave to the Ekosians was the MP40 sub-machine gun.15 When the NX-01 was sent to an alternate timeline version of 1940s Earth in which the Germans were winning World War II thanks to alien help, Captain Archer encountered German soldiers who used M40 sub-machine guns.12
Like many projectile weapons, the shotgun uses a chemical explosive to propel a projectile down a metal tube and towards the target. In this case however, the weapon fires not a single projectile but a cluster of many smaller ones. These spread apart as they travel towards the target, spreading the impact - and therefore the damage - over a greater area. Early shotguns were typically reloaded by manually inserting a round at the rear of the barrel - some weapons carried two barrels side by side to reduce the frequency of reloading. Later weapons carried a small number of rounds which could be reloaded by working a slide beneath the barrel in a pumping action, or which reloaded themselves in a 'semi-automatic' fashion. Whilst the effect of a shotgun blast can be great, there are drawbacks - the range is reduced compared to a single projectile, the accuracy is less, and the danger of collateral damage can be higher. It is also easier to defend against shotguns by use of armour.4
Shotguns were one of several Earth weapons which the Iotians produced under the influence of the book 'Chicago Mobs of the 1920s'.9 The Clayton gang also used shotguns in the Melkotian telepathic projection which Kirk and several of his officers underwent in 226816, and the weapons formed part of the "Old West" holoprogram which Alexander Rozhenko and Counsellor Troi enjoyed.17 In 2371 Commander Sisko and Dr. Bashir were thrown back in time to the 21st century where they took part in the Bell riots; police of this era used pump-action shotguns18, and many of the rioters carried weapons seized from the police.19 Shotguns were also used by members of the Americal "militia" movement of the late 1990s.20
Primitive even by the standards of projectile weapons, the flintlock is essentially just a metal tube closed at one end and with a wooden grip attached. A chemical explosive known as gunpowder is poured down the barrel and packed down with a long stick poked in after it, and a round metal pellet dropped in on top. More gunpowder is then placed on a small pan near the rear end of the barrel; a spring mechanism is then pulled back and locked in place. On firing this is released, causing a piece of flint to strike against a piece of metal and produce sparks which ignite the gunpowder in the pan. This explosion spreads through a small hole in the rear of the barrel, igniting the main charge and propelling the pellet down the barrel towards the target.
The flintlock is an extremely primitive weapon, much prone to failure - it could fail to fire if the gunpowder became even slightly damp, if the wrong amount was used, if the powder blew off the holding pan or simply fell off because the weapon was not carefully handled, or for any number of other reasons. Even if all went well the rifle was prone to misfiring, or on occasion exploding in the face of the person using it. Effective range was less than a hundred metres, and rate of fire typically no more than one or perhaps two rounds per minute.4
In 2267 Kirk encountered Tyree, a friend he had made in the past when surveying a primitive world. Tyree's planet had been peceful on that occasion, but on his return Kirk found that a war had begun bewteen those who lived in the hills and those who lived in the villages. The villagers were armed with flintlocks, something which was surprising considering their technology level. On investigation Kirk found that the villagers were being supplied with the weapons by Klingon agents; he resolved to arm the hill people with equal armaments.2
A projectile weapon produced on Earth and widely used during the 20th century, the Colt was one of the first 'semi-automatic' pistols. Many previous designs used a revolving cylinder to bring bullets into line with the barrel one after another for repeated firing, but this had several disadvantages. The size limitations on the weapons meant that few rounds could be carried - six was the usual limit. Most guns had to rely on manual input to rotate the cylinder and re-cock the firing mechanism, thus limiting rates of fire to no more than two or three rounds per second at most. Even at this modest rate of fire, the cylinder would be empty in a few seconds - and reloading these weapons was a lengthy and rather complicated oepration. Semi-automatic weapons used some of the force created by the explosive charge which propelled the round to re-cock the weapon and reload it from a magazine, a box which in the case of pistols was usually held within the handgrip. This allowed the weapon to be fired as rapidly as the trigger could be pulled. The Colt could carry seven rounds in the magazine, little improvement on previous weapons, but later models operating on similar principles could have fifteen rounds or more.4
In 2268 Captain Kirk travelled to Sigma Iotia II, a planet which had undergone significant cultural contamination as a result of a book left behind by a previous vessel. The natives had patterned their whole society on the book , which was a detailed description of Earth's Chicago city during the 1920s. The Colt was one of several Earth weapons which the Iotians produced.9 In the artificial environment created by an unknown alien species for Colonel Stephen Richey, the Mickey D character used an M1911 to murder one of the hotel employees.21 Many members of the Voyager crew also used holographic Colt M1911s when they were forced to participate in a simulation of Earth's World War II by Hirogen who had captured Voyager in 2374.22 When the NX-01 was sent to an alternate timeline version of 1940s Earth in which the Germans were winning World War II thanks to alien help, Captain Archer encountered American resistance fighters who used M1911 pistols.12
Crossbows are a development of the Bow and Arrow. They share the same basic pattern of an arched spring with a twine connecting the ends; this is pulled back as in a bow. Unlike a bow there is a stock connected to the spring; the twine is locked into place on this stock and the arrow placed on it. The crossbow can therefore be held in a ready-to-fire state without further exertion from the user.
In many respects the Crossbow was actually a step backwards - they have shorter range and less accuracy than a quality bow and are far more difficult to load, giving a much lower rate of fire. However, whilst training a person to use a bow competently could take years, a crossbow could be used competently after as little as one week of training. The crossbow therefore allowed a very large army to be fielded quickly when needed. The development of levers or winches to draw the bow allowed a person to draw a far greater weight than they would be capable of for a traditional bow, improving range but reducing firing rate still further.4
Crossbows naturally cannot compete with modern weaponry, and are rarely used even in ceremonial or traditional roles as many knives and swords are by some species. Nevertheless, there are still occasional examples to be found amongst collectors. Lieutenant Worf had a crossbow as part of his collection of ancient weaponry aboard the Enterprise-D. When the ship was infiltrated by Mercenaries intent of stealing Trilithium resin from the engines in 2369, Captain Picard was able to use a Crossbow to incapacitate one of them after energy weapons became useless due to the Baryon Sweep which the ship was undergoing at the time.23
A semi-automatic pistol used by the German army during the mid 20th century, the P38 was designed to replace the ageing Luger pistol. It was designed by the Carl Walther in the mid-1930s and adopted in 1938. Like most semi-automatic weapons the P38 used a fraction of the force generated by the explosive which propelled the round to reload and recock the weapon, allowing it to fire as rapidly as the trigger could be pulled. The P38 was considered to be an advanced, reliable and accurate weapon for the time.4
In the 2260s the Federation scientist John Gil deliberately interfered with the culture on the planet Ekos, installing himself as absolute ruler. He patterned the society after Earth's Nazi Germany, introducing not only a similar political system but many individual hardware designs also. One of the weapons Gil gave to the Ekosians was the P38 pistol.15 P38 pistols were also used by the Germans who formed part of the holodeck program Voyager personnel engaged in when the Hirogen captured the ship in 2374.22
A sub-machine gun produced on Earth in the last years of the 20th century, the Calico had some interersting design features - most notably it used a large cylindrical magazine mounted at the rear of the weapon rather than the much more common box underneath. The magazine stored rounds in a spiral configuration, allowing up to 100 rounds to be held on a single weapon - a large capacity for the time. These weapons were not very popular when they were built, and did not see widespread service.4 Despite this, some examples of the type survived in use for for many decades - in 2063 Zefram Cochrane's assistant Lily used a Calico M960 carbine against Captain Picard and Lieutenant Commander Data whilst they surveyed the damage which the Borg had inflicted on the warp ship Phoenix. Fortunately the weapon was not powerful enough to do significant harm to Data.10
One of the major assault rifles used on Earth during the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the M-16 was the standard infantry weapon of the US military along with many other nations. It was a typical assault rifle of the time and was considered by most to be one of the best in service. The weapon was designed to use modern materials such as aluminium and plastic rather than the wood and steel of previous weapons, a choice intended to reduce the weight. The M-16 was highly flexible, and various additional systems such as long range sights and grenade launchers could be added. Several different versions were produced throughout the life of the M-16.4
In 2285 Admiral Kirk's captured Bird of Prey travelled back in time to 1986 to capture a pair of humpbacked whales; whilst there two of Kirk's officers were forced to infiltrate a United States Navy ship to collect high energy photons from the nuclear reactor. Due to a transporter failure one of the officers was captured by marines carrying the A1 version of the M-16 rifle, amongst other weapons.24 M-16s were also in civilian hands in the USA, and were popular weapons amongst some of the "militia" movements in that country.20
A weapon used on Earth during the early to mid 20th century, the 98k was midway between the simple flintlock style weapons which preceeded it and the semi-automatic and automatic weapons which followed. Like the later weapons it used cartridges which contained both the projectile and the explosive which propelled it, so there was no need for the time-consuming process of loading the propellant separately. However, rather than use the explosive force to reload and recock the rifle, the user would operate a small lever on the side of the weapon to accomplish this. Although this limited the rate of fire, a practiced used could still fire well over a hundred rounds per minute from these weapons.
The weapon fired a 7.92 mm calibre round; five rounds were located in a small magazine below the barrel. These could be reloaded by inserting a clip into the weapon and pushing all five rounds in very rapidly. The 98k was 110.1 cm long and massed 3.92 kilos.4
When the Hirogen captured Voyager in 2374 they forced the crew to participate in a holographic recreation of World War II; a wide variety of Earth weaponry was involved, including Mauser 98k rifles.22 When the NX-01 was sent to an alternate timeline version of 1940s Earth in which the Germans were winning World War II thanks to alien help, Captain Archer encountered American German soldiers who used 98k rifles.12
A sub-machine gun used on Earth during the late 20th and early 21st century, the MP-5k was designed to be a compact weapon which could be easily concealed under clothing and handled in confined or crowded spaces. The small size gave it a very limited degree of penetration penetration against body armour. The weapon massed 2 kilos empty, was 32.5 cm long with the stock folded, fired 15 rounds per second, and had an effective range of 25 metres.4
The MP-5k was in use with US law enforcement teams who responded to the Bell Riots of 2024. Fitted with a laser aiming unit, these weapons were highly effective in overcoming the rioters.19
The Peacemaker was widely used in North America during the late 19th century. It was a revolver-style weapon - so called because six rounds were carried in a cylinder which rotated to bring each round in line with the barrel. In the case of the Peacemaker it was common to load only five rounds as the weapon was prone to accidental firing if fully loaded. The weapon was 'single action' - that is, it had to be cocked manually and then the trigger pulled to fire it. This compared with 'double action' pistols in which pulling the trigger both cocked and fired the weapon.
The Peacemaker's cylinder was reloaded by means of a small access port on the right hand side of the gun. This meant that each spent round had to be ejected and a new round loaded individually, a process which took considerable time and so gave a low average rate of fire even when compared to other revolvers.4
The Peacemaker was widely used in the Americal west, and was a feature of the holoprogram based in this period which Alexander Rozhenko created. In 2369 a malfunction in the holodeck of the Enterprise-D led to Worf having to use a Peacemaker in a real life or death situation.17 When the Melkotians projected a telepathic illusion of the Old West into the minds of Kirk and several of his officers, they expected them to take part in the gunfight at the OK Corral using Peacemaker pistols.16 Picard and several of his officers were once threatened with a Peacemaker by Sam Clemens, aka Mark Twain, whilst visiting 18th century Earth.25
The Humans abducted from Earth by the Skagarans used the Peacemaker right up until the NX-01 discovered their planet in 2153.26
A rifle used on Earth during the latter half of the 19th century, the Winchester was well regarded for its tough construction. The rifle was available in many variants of different calibres; it was designed to use the same ammunition as pistols, allowing a user to carry one supply for both pistol and rifle. Like bolt action rifles, the Winchester was something of an intermediate step between the difficult to load flintlcok-type rifles which preceeded it and the semi-automatic and automatic weapons which followed. It carried a number of rounds in a tube beneath the barrel; after firing, the user manually cranked a large lever to reload and recock the weapon. This allowed a rate of fire of approximately one round per second and led to the Winchester being dubbed a "repeating" rifle. Other rifles had employed repeating mechanisms before the Winchester, but few enjoyed the same level of practicality.4
The Winchester was widely used in the American west, and indeed is sometimes referred to as "the gun that won the west" because of this popularity. It was one of several weapons which formed part of the holoprogram set in this period which Alexander Rozhenko used. Counsellor Troi also enjoyed this period of history, and employed a Winchester rifle in the program. A holodeck malfunction in 2369 led to her having to use the rifle in a real life and death situation.17
Winchester rifles were also in use with the Humans on the Skagaran planet in the Delphic Expanse which the NX-01 visited in 2153.26
The first semi-automatic rifle to be widely used on Earth, the M1 was invented by the Canadian John C. Garand in the 1930s. Early models were prone to jamming, prompting a redesign in 1939. The onset of World War II brought mass production of the weapon at the Springfield armory and at the Winchester factory. Between them the companies built some 4 million of these rifles, making it the most widely used semi-automatic rifle of the day. Although production was stopped after the war it was resumed in 1952 for the Korean war, and remained in production until 1956. It continued in service as a combat weapon until the mid 1960s with the United States and as a ceremonial weapon until beyond the end of the century.
The M1 was 110.3 cm long and massed 4.32 kilos. It had an 8 round magazine which was ejected automatically when empty; the weapon was reloaded by the insertion of a clip from above the barrel. This process was not easy to do during combat, and was regarded as one of the few weaknesses of the design. The rifle could accept a bayonet at the front.4
When the Voyager crew were forced to re-enact portions of World War II on the holodeck after the Hirogen captured the ship, those playing American soldiers carried M1 Garands.22
Produced by Germany during World War II, The Pak 44 armed the Jagdtiger tank destroyer. It was the most powerful anti-tank weapon built during the war - the theoretical maximum range was over 22 km, and the weapon was effective at much longer range than any allied vehicle. The 128 mm armour piercing round could penetrate the 100mm frontal armor of a Pershing battle tank at over two kilometres. At one kilometre the round could penetrate 167 mm of armour.4
When the NX-01 was thrown into an alternate timeline version of World War II in which the Germans were winning the war thanks in part to alien assistance, the Germans had captured Washington DC and much of the American East coast. They kept at least two Jagdtiger tank destroyers on the lawn of the White House.27
The TR-116 was developed by Starfleet for use in areas where normal phasers would be useless - within dampening fields or radiogenic environments, for example. The weapon was designed to be as simple and foolproof as possible - it used a chemical explosive to fire a Tritanium bullet and had no electrical or optical systems at all. The performance was poor by the standard of phaser weapons - range was limited to around one kilometre at most, and the largest feasible magazine was only capable of carrying thirty or forty rounds. However, in the kinds of environments the rifle was designed to operate in most opponents would be completely unarmed, while species like the Klingons would be reliant on swords and knives. Against that kind of opposition the TR-116 was more than adequate.28
The development of regenerative phasers which can also operate within energy-hostile environments made the TR-116 obsolete, and Starfleet dropped the program as soon as they were confident of its replacement. For some years the design remained merely a forgotten replicator pattern, but in 2375 a modified TR-116 was used to commit three murders on board Deep Space Nine.28
The altered weapon included two major changes. First, it was fitted with a microtransporter; when the bullet was fired the transporter beamed it to within less than 10 centimetres of the target. By using an exographic targeting sensor the killer was able to scan through many layers of bulkheads, allowing the TR-116 to be fired through walls or flooring. Chief O'Brien reproduced these alterations on another TR-116, which Lieutenant Dax subsequently used to find and capture the murderer. Operating the weapon is simplicity itself; the targeting scanner is located on the rifle, transmitting its viewpoint to a headset worn by the user. A simple thumb control moves the viewpoint forwards and backwards, allowing it to pass through walls as needed. The targeting graphic cues the user to fire whenever a target is in the line of fire.28
Some thought has been given to producing the modified TR-116 as a field weapon, but while the displaced targeting system is ingenious the basic limitations of a projectile weapon remain. Since phaser beams can be transported on the way to the target much as bullets can, displaced firing is likely to become a feature of phaser weapons in the future.28