Future Past, bullets don't go "bang", they go "phfffffft".
Submitted for your approval is the MBA Gyrojet; the
first real revolution in firearms since Roger Bacon said "I wonder
what happens if I light this." Where conventional firearms rely
on exploding gunpowder or cordite in a metal barrel to drive a bullet,
the Gyrojet used bullets that were not bullets. They were, in
fact, tiny rockets and the weapon is actually a miniature launcher.
Manufactured by MB Associates
of San Ramon, California between 1960 and 1969, the Gyrojet was
originally intended to replace a whole range of weapons from
pistol to carbine to rifle to light machinegun.
U. S. Army showed interest in the Gyrojet and two were even used
during the Vietnam war, though unofficially as personal weapons.
But, of course, the most famous deployment of the Gyrojet was by the
elite Ninja forces of the Japanese Secret Service while aiding James
Bond in storming Blofeld's volcano headquarters in You Only Live
Despite its spectacular nature, the Gyrojet never
entered into general service with any military and sold poorly in the
civilian market. For the military, the exotic ammunition raised
compatibility and logistical issues. The Gyrojet had a very
light, simple design and its rocket principle meant that it had no
recoil and produced an almost flat trajectory. However, the
weapon was slow to reload and unreliable, as the rocket shells had a
tendency to refuse to leave the barrel, where they would merely hiss
away ineffectually. Worse, the ammunition was very susceptible
to humidity and fouling.
But the greatest problem was that, being rockets,
the shells took time to accelerate to full speed. When a
conventional bullet leaves a conventional pistol it's already travelling at its maximum velocity. A Gyrojet bullet, on the
other hand, is still building speed, which not only causes accuracy
problems, but made the Gyrojet unique in that it was the only gun you
could protect yourself against by sticking your finger in the barrel-- which
made the Gyrojet wielder look like a proper fool.
In the end, the Gyrojet fizzled and faded into
history, which is a shame because though it scored five out of ten for
practicality, it scored ten out of ten for coolness.