ArcFlash Labs’ GR-1 Anvil Portable Gauss Rifle

The GR-1 “Anvil” is a portable, shoulder-fired gauss rifle made by Arcflash Labs. Yeah, it’s pretty awesome to be living in the future where we actually have real gauss rifles, isn’t it?

First, some terminology. This is accurately identified as a gauss rifle, coil gun, or linear accelerator (although gauss “rifle” is a bit misleading, as it is a smoothbore launcher). It functions by using a series of coils energized to produce electromagnetic fields and pull a ferrous projectile down a barrel. Each coil accelerates the projectile faster, controlled by a series of optical gates that shut off a coil as the projectile passes beyond it. The GR-1 uses 8 coils, which use between 4000 and 16000 amps of electricity from 8 high voltage capacitors. These coils are able to accelerate a 1/2″ in diameter steel dowel pin up to about 75 m/s (240 fps). The most novel technology in the GR-1 is the hardware which allows the standard lithium-ion battery (25V) to fully charge this bank of capacitors in approximately 3 seconds.

Fundamentally, the GR-1 is an alpha sort of prototype. It is the equivalent to the first Wright Flyer – a technology demonstrator and a way to gain experience and expertise in building coil guns. As capacitor technology continues to improve, we will see coil gun capability improve from the level of airguns to that of handguns and eventually true rifles and beyond. Arcflash is leading the way in this technology, and I am grateful that they were willing to loan me one of their first batch of production guns for this filming!

Legal details: The GR-1, and coil guns in general, are not federally regulated as firearms. Under the law, “firearms” are specifically defined as propelling a projectile by combustion, and coil guns do not do this. Arcflash treats their coil guns as airguns out of an abundance of legal caution, and as a result there are several places where the GR-1 is not shipped because of state or local regulation on muzzle energy of airguns.


  1. I need one of these. A lot. Because reasons.
    And if it doesn’t make an increasing-pitch “huummmmm” noise when you switch it on, I shall be sorely disappointed!

    • Ian asked this in the previous episode when he talked to the builder. And yes, the hum is there as the device builds up a charge.

    • they are not leading in this technology, I have much better than gr1, here are their parameters 75m / s Efficiency 2.8% WEIGHT 10KG, AND HERE is my data 130m/с 10% efficiency at 5.8kg

    • Diabolo bullets don’t work at those speeds.
      You will need something like a crossbow bolt.
      Or, you have to somehow twist the projectile.

    • “(…)A composite projectile made of plastic for fins etc, and steel to provide magnetic material?”
      I suppose it should be possible to make all-metal finned projectile akin to Lazy Dog Dart from Korean war-era

      “(…)if fins or similar would work to improve accuracy.(…)”
      With using electromagnetic rather than combustion base of projectile might be formed more freely. Thus I suppose Haacksche Ogive could be used
      but with catch that this is optimal shape for supersonic projectile, not subsonic. Above linked article states than it works best in Mach=1,5…3 range.
      For around-speed-of-sound flight it was detected that it is advantageous to have constant cross-section are, thus aeroplanes for such usage often carry carrotsüchemann_Carrot

  2. Would round ball ammo such as ball bearings work better than the cylinder ammo since there is no rifling to stabilize the cylinder ammo? What do you think?

    • Ball has poor aerodynamic characteristics (dowel too, but is at least well chamfered). Besides, to induce electro-motive force the elongated object is more suitable.

      I am not 100% sure with the latter (cylindrical shape) since I saw examples of BALLS being used in magnetic accelerators which performed wonderfully. However those were substantial stationary devices. Let’s see if someone knows more about it.

    • I do wonder that at this point, the magnetic fields generated are so low, that the device needs a certain mass of magnetic material to “grab onto” to move the projectile down the barrel. A ball would give less for the magnetic field to work with then a rod.

  3. The slo-mo showed lots of barrel wiggle. Yes I know the projectile is not supposed to scrape against the barrel. But the amount of wiggle was getting serious, relative to the diameter of the projectile. A stiffer barrel is needed to tune aiming.

  4. What do you think is making the clicking sound after each shot? Electrical, trigger reset or rounds moving up in magazine? No need for ear protection with this one.

  5. I assume it will be a looooong time before an Othais will be showing such telling a story of days loong ago. alpenflage in AZ…. not in the southern part… those parkas are great. got one, too.

  6. I wonder if, as the motive power improves, a different type of projectile could be used, rather than a solid rod of steel. How about having the back end of the projectile as a non-magnetic material to reduce the “suck back”. As the front part of the projectile moves from the region of influence of one magnetic field into the next region, the non-magnetic read end would block the influence of the magnetic field that is being exited.

    Also, I wonder if putting a super-magnet on the leading end of the projectile would help the attraction to the magnetic field that is trying to pull the projectile further down the barrel.

    • I would think so once the muzzle velocity is greatly increased. Now the thing is lucky to chuck anything down range.

  7. I wonder if they’d ever make it work with ball bearings? It’d be cool to see us go back to essentially steel musket balls.

  8. Projectile weight and velocity of GR-1 more comparable to a crossbow bolt or a sling bullet than a firearm projectile.

    As underwhelming as the GR-1 performance is, that might be more a function of the limitations of the coil-gun system of accelerating the projectile. The electric heart of the GR-1 is more intriguing and might be applicable to a different method of projectile acceleration.

    Instead of a coil-gun, what about electric heating of a propulsive gas? Or maybe even a hybrid-electric gun system? Perhaps a hybrid electric/compressed-air gun? Rapid and controlled electric heating of the compressed gas, while the gas drives a bullet down a barrel.

    • “Perhaps a hybrid electric/compressed-air gun?”

      You are talking about an upgrade to air rifle technology. Always thought this was under appreciated and deserved more attention. The compressed air could be non-explosive, which would be safer.

      But are you getting into the realm of plasma generation here? That stuff is dangerous and is the basis for rail guns. ArcFlash tried these and they just were too extreme for personal carry.

      • I wasn’t thinking of anything quite so high performance that plasma would be a factor.

        Rather than exceeding standard firearm performance, I was wondering if a hybrid-electric gun could boost air-gun performance to more equal that of a firearm.

        There might even be synergistic advantages to combining compressed air plus electric heating. An electric gun can overheat. A compressed gas gun can freeze. Right?

  9. I would not shoot at steel targets because you can get bounce back like BB guns. I noticed something hitting the dirt in front of Ian when he shot one time. Please follow up on this device as they continue to improve it.

  10. Speaking for the grammar police here, I have to say the term “fire” seems all wrong for a non-combustion weapon. “Shoot” should cover it. Every time I see some historical or fantasy entertainment featuring a squad of catapults or crossbowmen, whose commander yells “Fire!” rather than “Shoot!” or even “Let loose!” I don’t know whether to scream or laugh. In a sci-fi novel I read, the aliens’ superweapon control panel had a button labeled not “Fire” but “Do it.” (Was a particle-beam weapon of some sort I think.) We need the right words along with the right caliber here.

    • Extra note: When I was a child, back in the last century, I owned a toy gun that used a spring-loaded plunger to shoot hollow plastic “bullets” right from the top of the removable box magazine, just like this weapon. It was shaped sort of like a Mauser Schnellfeuer; hammerless and double-action only of course. I don’t remember a bit about range or accuracy. Pure kinetic energy. Might be a new avenue of research.

    • Going back to WW2, USN Submarine Service terminology for torpedo launch was “Fire One”, “Fire Two”, etc.

      The British Royal Navy terminology was and still is “Match Bearings and-Shoot”.

      The reason? The Royal Navy wanted the order to be unequivocal and incapable of being mistaken for any other command. The word “shoot” is standard for all weapon release commands, gun or torpedo, on any vessel in the Royal Navy.

      The only time you ever hear the word “Fire” on a Royal Navy vessel, even today, is if something is actually on fire that should not be.



      • Eon,
        Guess US sailors are smarter than British, although not necessarily so the Zoomies. On the F16 fighter, a light comes on lettered “SHOOT” and the same comes through the headphones when the fire control system has generated a solution. If a light says “FIRE” you eject

    • From my reading of a gloss on “Henry V” the command “LOOSE” was given along with a trumpet blast as the standard came down to point at the Froggies as the signal to open up.

      BTW, has anyone else noted that the Franco-Scottish Alliance is known as the “Auld Alliance” to this day in Scotland. Explains Ian’s fascination with weapons from “across the water”

  11. Watching Ian making some firearms history. Like he says, people will look back on this Great Great Grandaddy and smile.

  12. On the flashlight: With the wonders of LED lighting, I think we’ve reached a point where once you have electricity in something the switch to turn it on and off is going to add more cost and weight than the light itself. Same with any kind of computer+screen and a calculator capable of basic unit conversion.

  13. Get some steel-cased, steel-jacketed ammo and use the thing to shoot THE WHOLE BULLET.

    (for sanity’s sake deactivate the the ammo first, but still… the whole bullet).

  14. I wonder if they CHC machined the steel rod to the same shape as a shotgun rifled slug if it would fly straighter.. 
    I remember that soft iron is a better magnetic material than steel.. Soft iron saturates (magnetically) more easily than steel..
    So, a soft iron rifled (shotgun) slug might be worth a test.

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