Regarding the weapons and ammunition of the wasteland?

Discussion in 'General Fallout Discussion' started by EnclaveSigmaCA, Oct 7, 2012.

  1. WillisPDunlevey

    WillisPDunlevey Mildly Dipped

    Feb 2, 2010
    In the really real world, there are USA made .32 caliber Czech Skorpions and they are readily available (for $3-400)
    There are also tons of AK-47s, AKMs and AK-74s being made in the USA. Probably more will be made if there is another import ban.
  2. mvm900

    mvm900 First time out of the vault

    Feb 1, 2013
    China bases a lot of it's weapons from Russian designs(Obviously because of it's influence and closeness). America brings in a lot of foreign weapons They could have been smuggled in as well. I'm sorry I may not be the most accurate on this, because I've never gotten too far into Fallout 1.
  3. chitoryu12

    chitoryu12 First time out of the vault

    Nov 30, 2012
    Actually, any communist weapons should be appropriately rare in the Fallout world because of the simple history: the Red Scare never ended. Even as the Cold War started to wind down in the real world, anyone who wanted a Soviet weapon was out of luck unless they were very lucky. The producers of Red Dawn needed to use Egyptian AKs because they were the only guns (outside of American-made clones) that could be procured, while the RPKs came from Valmet in Finland and the heavy machine guns were dressed up American weapons. Then they just did plain wrong guns that looked vaguely like the real thing, like a Walther PP in place of a Makarov.

    It would be even worse in the Fallout universe, because now the war against communism has been going on for over a century by the time the bombs dropped. While the Cold War was mostly a worry for most Americans purely for the threat of nuclear war and there was a level of mutual respect (like Yuri Gagarin visiting London in 1961 to a highly positive reaction, rather than the Americans condemning the British and sarcastically calling them "comrade) and even collaborated many times over the decades, the Fallout universe is basically a constant level of McCarthyism. "Better dead than red" is a common mantra and you would probably be accused of treason for anything that would even LOOK like extolling the positive aspects of commies.

    What this means is that even the idea of an American company making a reproduction of a Soviet or Chinese weapon (other than a post-apocalyptic group like the Gun Runners liking the design and building it) would probably be shut down almost immediately by Fallout society. The only way you'd reliably get an AK or Makarov or whatever the Fallout equivalent is would be the weapons smuggled in to support the insurgency that never came. The folks in the Capitol Wasteland were lucky that the Chinese made their insurgency rifles in 5.56mm for ease of procuring ammunition.
  4. Wintermind

    Wintermind Vault Senior Citizen

    Jan 21, 2011
    There are a handful of reasons for it

    1) RUSSIAN communist gear. Russians were still communists, right?

    2) A counterattack by the Chinese/puppet states as an attempt to draw the pressure away from Mainland China left numerous Chinese weapons laying around

    3) Take-home souvenirs from Anchorage and the actual fighting in China

    4) Warstocks of various origins kept for use in espionage/black ops.
  5. bitwise

    bitwise First time out of the vault

    Apr 16, 2013
    I'm glad you guys are able to come up with some good discussion and reasoning to fill some of the holes the writers overlooked. Who knows; maybe these ideas will find their way to the next generation of Fallout writers and we'll have helped make more believable canon.

    I think one thing that goes unrecognized in the games is that there is a huge discrepancy between pre-war factory standards and post-apocalyptic availability of precision machines to produce weapons and munitions of the same quality.
    [spoiler:fd81058134]I'm no gunsmith or firearms expert; I've just done a lot of reading on hand-loading and machining, and this is the opinion that I've gathered.

    It is possible to find pre-war gun parts laying around separately in different storehouses, and with some understanding of firearms, be able to put together your own weapons in post-war conditions. Some components may even be able to be replicated through hand tools that may be available in post-apocalyptic conditions -- stocks, grips, and other non-precision parts.

    I think that the real problem comes with extremely small tolerances involved in the parts that absorb the most force from discharging a modern firearm, which are also likely to receive the most wear during regular firing.

    Modern barrels are typically rifled in order to provide a bullet with spin to add stability to its flight, and the inner diametres of the barrel has to be extremely close to the widest diametre of the bullet (we're talking precision in thousandths of inches or tenths of millimetres) or else it will provide a poor seal for the propellant gases. A bad seal will mean you'll lose a lot of energy behind your shot due to blowback, and have more unstable flight of your projectile. Even if you managed to get lucky enough to find an unused barrel made to pre-war specifications, and were able to clean and lubricate it properly and took good care of it, it would still degrade over time as you continued to fire it. Eventually you would start to lose potency from both the rifling and the seal, which would result in a drop in accuracy and damage, as well as increasing the potential for malfunctions. The machinery required to re-drill or re-rifle a barrel is quite substantial. If anyone's curious about just how much engineering and technology goes into it, this link should provide:

    Other fine parts in the gun, like any number of mechanical components in the many different designs of receivers, may wear out. Even if you had access to a properly-maintained machine shop with the power supply to run its machines, along with the knowledge and skill required to operate the machines properly for your tasks, you'd have to know the exact dimensions of the original parts in order to create working replacements. This would require finding the blueprints or reverse-engineering the design to try and replicate a working stand-in part. The amount of technical skill, time, and experimentation would probably be significant and the quality of the finished product would be dependent on the availability of the materials used to create it.

    Black powder weapons such as smooth-bore rifles, muskets,

    Different problems, but still dependent on quality. The main components of your modern cartridge are the casing (usually brass), the chemical propellant that it contains, the bullet that goes in the end of it, and the firing cap. Brass casings can be re-usable. The firing cap and the propellant will be burned up on firing, and the bullet will be deformed. The casing will be easily retrievable and if you could find a hand-loader or make one of your own somehow, you could make more ammunition from your spent casings. Eventually they will start to degrade and deform, but they should be common enough not to be the limiting factor in making a round of ammo.

    Good bullets are actually very easy to make if you have a quality mould and bullet-sizer. You need some kind of material with a high density and low melting point, like lead. Lead can be found in lots and lots of different items, especially in the '50s before environmental regulations started to limit its use. Statues, models, pipe, weights, already-fired bullets that are too deformed to use on their own -- all of these things can be melted down in a simple pot over a heat source, the impurities skimmed off, and then poured into a bullet mould in order to cast your own bullets. The finished product will only be as good as the mould it's cast from, so you'll need a precision-made mould, or a really good bullet sizing tool to tune the dimensions a bit. If the bullet is too large by even a few of thousandths of an inch/hundredths of a millimetre, your bullet may get stuck in the barrel during firing -- if you fire the weapon again with a jammed barrel, you risk your gun blowing up in your face and possibly killing you. If your bullet is too small, you'll have a bad seal and get lots of gases escaping, giving you the same problem I explained earlier with barrel wear. Some effects on bullet dimensions and methods for sizing are discussed here:

    Propellants are chemically manufactured with their chemicals mixed in specific ratios in order to get just the right amount of 'boom'. You could probably find containers of pre-war gunpowder laying around after the war, but it would be a non-renewable and rapidly-diminishing commodity. The rarity and price would continue to rise to the point where it might only be something priceless that you'd see closely guarded by heavily-armed organizations. If you can't find it or trade for it, you'd have to make your own propellants. Black powder is simple enough to make yourself, but it's typically only good for muzzle-loading smooth-bore firearms which have terrible accuracy compared to modern firearms that use rifled barrels and smokeless powder as a propellant. Black powder also gives off a lot of smoke and lines the barrel with soot. If you were to fill a modern round of ammunition with black powder instead of smokeless powder and fire it, it would just cause the gun to explode. Smokeless powder is much more chemically complex to make and would require specific knowledge and equipment to refine. It would also need to be made to just the right specifications to not cause firing it in a gun to damage the gun over time or risk misfire.

    Firing caps have very similar problems, but they require their chemicals to be even more sensitive to detonation. You might be able to get away with simpler, easier-to-obtain chemicals, but they will still be the most dangerous part of the entire weapons/ammunition manufacturing process. Pre-war manufacturing works around this by having remotely-operable machines with heavy shielding between them and their machinists -- unless you could somehow come into possession of such a thing, you're going to have a very high chance of blowing off your fingers at the very least. You also need to worry about any corrosive chemicals eroding your barrel with every shot.

    Adding a very small amount of extra smokeless powder to your shot has a very fine line between making it more powerful and causing your gun to explode. Black powder weaponry can typically handle venting a bit more over-pressure if you accidentally use a bit more black powder than you should have (you still run the risk, but it's smaller compared to smokeless powder). It also uses lead balls which require much less precision in their casting and don't require the assembly of a full cartridge.[/spoiler:fd81058134]
    TL;DR: Guns and ammo will be less accurate, reliable, and damaging in the apocalypse until some sort of quality industrial conditions are restored. There would probably be a renaissance in black-powder weaponry and explosives, with more modern firearms gradually being limited over the centuries to groups that have the military force and/or scientific expertise to actually maintain them.
  6. chitoryu12

    chitoryu12 First time out of the vault

    Nov 30, 2012
    I AM a gun nut, so I can answer some of the misconceptions here.

    Not as hard as you think. A very simple open bolt submachine gun, like the Sten design, only has a few moving parts. Simple submachine guns and even semi-automatic pistols are regularly made by home gunsmiths in countries like Brazil and the Philippines, and the IRA often had garage workshops building submachine guns complete with integral silencers.

    A rifled barrel is really only necessary if you want to hit anything smaller than a man's torso at 50 or 60 yards with a long-barreled gun. For anything shorter, you can just use a smooth tube. Even then, you don't need some kind of heavy machinery to rifle a bore. Rifled barrels date back almost as long as the history of firearms in Europe (so just after what we would call the medieval age), and were done all the way through colonial times with wooden hand tools. It takes a lot more time, but you can make it very precise.

    Absolutely not. Black powder is much "less powerful" than smokeless powder because of the reason the latter is smokeless: it's much more efficient than black powder. You get so much soot and smoke because not all of the material properly combusts into the high-pressure gas that launches the bullet. If given equal measures of black powder and smokeless powder, the smokeless powder will be MANY times more powerful.

    You can actually get an automatic firearm to take black powder rounds for some time, and early Gatling guns used black powder in what was essentially a cluster of primitive bolt-action rifles. You just need to be more vigorous in cleaning and you won't be able to get as many rounds through without a malfunction.

    Not as specific equipment as you think. You do need chemistry knowledge, but it's as simple as precisely following a recipe. As long as you've got access to nitric acid, cellulose, and ether, you can make some Poudre B.

    Only a problem if you're not cautious. In the post-war world, the production wouldn't be much more dangerous than the production of everything else. And you only need to worry about corrosive chemicals if you go for the easiest solution: fulminate of mercury (dissolve mercury in nitric acid, add ethanol). More complex compositions are possible that remove this issue.

    Well, you can still load cartridges with black powder. Percussion caps are literally manufactured by the thousand for reloaders and can be made new by any group with chemistry knowledge and some machine tools (check out the Filipino gunsmiths; they don't exactly have a copy of the Winchester factory), and you can often reuse casings (especially if you don't overload them). Even if you need to make new casings, you can follow the style of the British and make them from metal foil and just try to deal with the breakage problems later. If you want a good metal casing, it's still simple machine tools.

    Really, you can fit everything necessary to make a gun and a full metallic cartridge loaded with powder and a percussion cap in an average home garage. That's why stamping out firearm proliferation is all but impossible.
  7. WillisPDunlevey

    WillisPDunlevey Mildly Dipped

    Feb 2, 2010
    I try not to argue too much because people who dont own real firearms tend not to believe me about how simple it is to make working firearms.

    Here are three new stens (I have 4 already) of mine waiting to be built (they will be pistols so I can swap out to 16" barrels and shoulder stocks whenever I want... I will also have them in 3 calibers: 9mm, 7.62x25 and .22 TCM).

    The only reason I am not building them in my garage, is that I want to be able to sell them if I have to, so they are going to a licensed manufacturer to get completed, serial numbered and marked.

  8. bitwise

    bitwise First time out of the vault

    Apr 16, 2013
    I never said that it wasn't possible to create simpler firearms with improvised tooling, only that I believe accuracy would be an issue -- something the Sten isn't exactly renowned for. I still imagine having a modern military rifle would be a rather huge influencing factor in a firefight in the open wastes if you were up against someone with a home-made smooth-bore SMG or semi-auto pistol.

    I do concede that I was very incorrect about not being able to use black powder in cartridges. I was thinking about the dangers of using smokeless powder in firearms designed for black powder, and got it backwards in my mind for some reason.

    I feel that my point about scarcity of materials was overlooked. Assuming you had the know-how to create all of the tooling, and how to use them to create quality firearms and ammunition, you'd still need the materials to do so.
    I imagine that groups relying on their military strength are going to be sending people around the wastes to collect whatever containers of nitric acid and ether are easily scavengable. Then, you might say, it you just need to obtain the ingredients necessary to make nitric acid and ether, and follow the simple recipes to make those, as well.

    Knowledge and equipment are something you can recreate with enough time and material resources, but I think that we take them for granted in today's society as compared with what will be available to us in a post-apocalyptic setting, especially after centuries of scavengers have had a go at the more precious commodities.

    In my mind, industry in a Fallout setting will be something much more coveted than it is in today's day and age. If you start your own guncotton factory, I imagine you're going to be a huge target for raiders unless you have some sort of protection -- which brings me back to my point that well-armed groups will probably start monopolizing the things that make it simple to make your own firearms and ammunition. Unless you happen to be lucky enough to be a part of some sort of group of people that has enough of these assets, it will probably be progressively difficult to make your own guns and ammo that will be able to compete with the products of groups that do.

    I did make a point that you could re-use casings, and my argument for black powder weaponry was that it didn't /need/ cartridges, not that it couldn't use them. I believe that the materials for black powder would be much more readily available (saltpeter and charcoal).

    I must thank you for sharing the information on foil and paper cartridges; I had never realized they were used for so long, and it's motivated me to go do some reading to learn more about them.

    Ultimately, I was hoping that my post might spark some interesting discussion around the realities of what it would be like to try and arm yourself with gunpowder weaponry, given the resources available in the Fallout world. I'm very glad that there are other fans out there who have knowledge of such things and are willing to share their opinions on the matter, and I think it's very cool that you make your own gun components.
  9. WillisPDunlevey

    WillisPDunlevey Mildly Dipped

    Feb 2, 2010
    In an informal test of accuracy, my semi auto sten pistol (firing from a closed bolt) outshot a springfield XD.

    This was done both by me and the XDs owner. He likes beer an aweful lot so i doubt he wanted to loose the bet and give me beer.

    If you have the time, look into what the CSA (southerners) did during the civil war when they could not buy or import enough chemicals to make their own powder. They started mining sulpher and collecting horse urine.

    (search for southern powder mills)

    Lots of trial and error would lead to groups making their own smokeless or black powder or other chemical composition explosives/fast burning powders.
  10. chitoryu12

    chitoryu12 First time out of the vault

    Nov 30, 2012
    The Sten was built at a time when every soldier was expected to use a weapon with marksman-level accuracy and power, designed for popping targets hundreds of yards away. The Sten is perfectly accurate for average combat conditions; it's not inaccurate just because you can't shoot someone 500 yards away with one shot. Even a Walther PPK, a tiny pocket pistol firing a cartridge many are disparaging of, has been demonstrated (check out hickok45 on Youtube) to be capable of hitting a gong at 100 yards.

    Sure, if the guy with the rifle was ambushing you from his weapon's designed range. But that's not necessarily going to happen.

    All fully possible. It takes multiple steps to build the chemicals needed for primers, but that's all you'd need to be concerned with and you can still make them from basic elements. Smokeless powder is even less complicated. For black powder you just need some wood to burn, a sulfur deposit (which is found naturally all over the place, and a little goes a long way), and a manure pile for forming saltpeter.

    Brass for casings is a simple alloy of copper and zinc, both of which are mined in large quantities. You can also make the casings out of simple copper if you need to, with the downside of copper being very fragile and at risk of locking up the gun if it expands and fragments poorly.

    Lead for bullets is found literally all over the place; car batteries and fishing lures are the most common locations in modern times, but a 1950s society like Fallout would have used it regularly in things like curtains, pipes, and dishware.

    And I should also point out that these materials have all been made for CENTURIES. Efficient production for steel came up in the 1600s. It's not like when the apocalypse occurs, materials simply go away and everyone pokes each other with sticks. It's established in canon that most of the nukes were low in explosive power and designed mostly to spread radiation, so you're not disintegrating entire mines. Machinery still exists, as well as plans for it. The Vaults provide treasure troves of operable high technology, and at least some of them used the GECK to form a society. Within 200 years, it would be unusual for production to NOT be occurring.

    As said above, it's not a matter of scavenging. You can MAKE nitric acid by reacting nitrogen dioxide with water. A simple chemistry set will let even a child mix everything properly if they've got some intelligence and can follow instructions.

    Again, this is on the assumption that the post-apocalyptic world is a lawless wasteland without society, where everyone just scavenges supplies from the ruins. The first game shows that in less than a century, multiple towns and villages have sprung up. Fallout society being heavily nuclear, long-lasting power supplies like fission batteries would be extremely useful and common. The GECKs provided to Vaults very clearly have enough resources to jump start a town, especially combined with the resources in the Vault itself.

    You're again making assumptions that don't mesh with canon. The Fallout apocalypse was undeniably an apocalypse, but it didn't blast the world to ruins. Enough areas remained intact enough that society of a sort could quickly be restarted within decades. Part of forming an economy is the different producers working together: one group has a chemistry lab, so you make a deal to provide them protection and food in return for making nitric acid and fulminate of mercury. You make propellant and strike a deal with people who work with metal to make casings, primers, and bullets. Then you all make a deal with a local machinist to make firearms.

    That's an oversimplification, but it shows exactly how society forms: people who want something band together to achieve it, combining their unique talents (or just providing labor) to allow for the industry to flourish. The universe doesn't just collapse 100% into anarchy and violence as soon as pre-war government disappears.

    Yes, but there's a lot of good reasons the world switched to metallic cartridges:

    * They contain all of the necessary chemicals needed for firing and the projectile into a single object, which makes it easier to keep a supply of ammo AND allows for the use of automatic weapons.

    * They're waterproof and can stand up to abuse, so you can use them in harsh conditions.

    * They conduct heat well, so you can afford to make fast firing weapons or simply shoot your gun a lot and have the cartridge insulate the propellant from the heat. They also carry heat out of the gun when they get ejected, improving cooling.

    Metallic cartridges are going to be the #1 priority for any firearms industry to start remaking as soon as they get a chance after the apocalypse because they allow for you to have more firepower than a single shot musket that takes 10 seconds or more to reload. It gives the society that industry works for a chance to better protect itself and/or have more power than everyone else. And then they can profit from their developments.