"Proteus: The Emperor protects..."
"Pythol: And having a loaded bolter never hurt, either."
The Bolter (alternatively called the "Boltgun"), along with the Flamer, Lasgun, and Chainsword, is one of the most iconic weapons in the Imperium. It is sometimes called the "Holy Bolter" because Space Marines have been warrior monks since forever – meaning after First Edition. Also, anything they shoot tends to die with large holes in them.
- 1 How It Works
- 2 Firepower
- 3 Recoil
- 4 Modifications
- 5 Imperial Variations
- 5.1 Bolter Cane
- 5.2 Bolt Pistol
- 5.3 Heavy Bolt Pistol
- 5.4 Absolvor Bolt Pistol
- 5.5 Assault Bolter
- 5.6 Bolt Launcher
- 5.7 Boltstorm Gauntlet
- 5.8 Bolt Carbine
- 5.9 Angelus Bolt Carbine
- 5.10 Imperial Boltgun
- 5.11 Solo Boltgun
- 5.12 Sororitas Boltgun
- 5.13 Astartes Boltgun
- 5.14 Special Issue Boltgun
- 5.15 Bolt Rifle
- 5.16 Guardian Bolter
- 5.17 Storm Bolter
- 5.18 Forge Bolter
- 5.19 Lastrum Storm Bolter
- 5.20 Mk.III Shrike Pattern Bolt Sniper Rifle
- 5.21 Maxim Bolter
- 5.22 Heavy Bolter
- 5.23 Psycannon
- 5.24 Tempest Bolter
- 5.25 Hurricane Bolter
- 5.26 Mauler Bolt Cannon
- 5.27 Heavy Psycannon
- 5.28 Lastrum Bolt Cannon
- 5.29 Avenger Bolt Cannon
- 5.30 Iliastus Accelerator Cannon
- 5.31 Castigator Bolt Cannon
- 5.32 Vulcan Mega Bolter
- 6 Chaos Variations
- 7 Speaking of On the Tabletop
- 8 In action
How It Works
In all seriousness, a Bolter is a powerful anti-personnel weapon that fires miniaturized armor-piercing rockets (called "bolts") that have a delayed impact fuse. The bolt undergoes multiple stages when firing; the first employs solid explosive propellant in order to project the round from the barrel of the weapon in a similar manner to a conventional gun, and then the rocket propellant kicks in, giving it an even greater range in the same fashion as modern rockets. The projectiles themselves are designed to punch through armor and then explode, causing considerable, if not immediately fatal damage to whatever the payload hits, since whatever is hit is usually blown the hell apart. More recent fluff has shown that a Space Marine can readily alter the fuse timing to account for different enemies. Bolts are quite large (.75 Caliber, or 19.05mm to use another metric, other bolters are .998 caliber so about 25.35mm), making the weapon that fires them quite effective against most forms of infantry, and being capable of causing damage to most light vehicles as well; an average Astartes firing at a vehicle from behind and disabling, or even outright destroying it with glancing hits is not unheard of. Bolters are capable of both semi-automatic and automatic fire, and most renditions may also fire in two or four round bursts. In short, the Bolter is a gunslinging juvenile's dream come true – a gun that shoots explosive rockets (not launches, shoots).
Humorously, the technology behind Bolters comes from guns that actually exist, though a failed design and one that never actually saw much use in spite of considerable potential; well, that and major design flaws making the gun's accuracy so bad that the bullet would actually at times fire out sideways Xcom style. Some fa/tg/uys have suggested that this is an analogy for the entire franchise. Gyrojet technology is fundamentally based on extending the range of the weapon in question, giving the intrinsic flaw of having inferior penetration up close in exchange for superior penetration from afar, as you could always improve short-range penetration by converting all available propellant to kinetic energy up front, rather than delaying the conversion until later, regardless of technological level. Aside from differences in the propellant, the basic design is identical to early armor-piercing shells used in World War II. The primary flaw with them was that the explosive behind the core was found to be of minimal benefit compared to just using more core, which also provided additional momentum due to the core being denser than the explosive, on top of additional problems with timing the fuse properly.
While the latter problem could be fixed with technology – in particular, bolts could be programmed to intelligently change their fuse delay based on their target, something possible at the Imperium of Man's technological level, but never described as being performed by Bolt Weapons – the former is only solvable when the explosives can be nearly as dense as the cores, something known to be false in bolts. Modern rounds designed to solve the same problem put the explosive in front of the core, rather than behind it, maximizing the benefit of a relatively low amount of explosive. Against armor, this uses the shaped charge to prepare a "channel" for the core to penetrate, while against more poorly armored targets, this helps to mitigate over-penetration by exaggerating the size of the wound, as in hollow-point ammunition. In the end, this makes them worse at the jobs they were designed to do compared to the dedicated anti-tank or anti-personnel rounds, but better than either when used for cross-purposes. Accuracy is also a major issue. One of the ports that was meant to spin-stabilize the rocket as it traveled was partly blocked due to a design flaw, causing the rockets to corkscrew wildly instead of traveling in a straight line. "Smart bullet" technology might be able to fix this, but it is still in its experimental stages as of now. It must be assumed that in Warhammer 40000, some other solution was found that we have not come up with yet. This may have been in the form of even more potent explosives than we have available, or perhaps there are methods to produce them more efficiently than what we can do with the tools and knowledge we have currently.
Of course, it is reasonable to assume that as the Bolter exists in a much more technologically advanced setting than which we live in, it would be much more powerful than a Gyrojet gun we could build at our age, even if they were of the exact same size and caliber. The propellant would probably be much more powerful, making it go a lot faster. The shell casing and tip are most likely made out of much sterner and rarer stuff than what we can make/find or would be impractical for us to make. And the warhead would probably be a lot more potent than a 0.75 caliber rocket we could make with today's technology. Note that depleted deuterium makes no sense as deuterium is just a non-radioactive isotope of hydrogen, and later fluff seems to have replaced it with depleted uranium in order to make more sense. On top of that, unlike the Gyrojet, people actually give a flying fuck about the Bolter. So it seems reasonable to assume that the problems with the Gyrojet design were smoothed out because they have more resources to do so than a tiny company that few weapons enthusiasts know of it consider to have been little more than a curiosity. For additional consideration, one of the Gyrojet's main problems was that it relied on rocket power alone, which meant that its initial velocity exiting the barrel was laughable. A bolt is propelled by an initial charge of something analogous to gunpowder, though superior, giving it a velocity like (or even better than) a modern bullet, and it is then further accelerated by a rocket fuel, with the additional benefit of the continuous burn giving the projectile a flatter trajectory out until the point where the fuel runs out (bolts self-detonate when the rocket burns out if it hasn't hit anything). Relying upon rocket power alone, they would have been nigh useless in close combat. The Bolter has the best of both worlds where the bolt serves as a bullet AND a rocket, with a side benefit of whatever fuel hasn't been expended also going off on impact.
Much like Lasguns and Autoguns, the exact power of a Bolter is subject to debate by lore enthusiasts and differing depictions by authors. The following assumes that Bolters are the superpowered death machines they are generally described as. An average Ork Boy has a very good chance of just walking off direct hits from aforementioned Lasguns and Autoguns, and he would probably (debatably) find the experience of being shot at by a modern day assault rifle to be about as threatening as venomless bee stings. An average Tyranid Gaunt is also very resilient, though a direct hit from a Lasgun or an Autogun does indeed have a significantly better chance of killing one than it does an Ork Boy. Let's also not forget that most of these enemies are very good at ignoring pain and are very, very difficult to frighten. And you don't actually have to worry about a single Ork or Tyranid, you have to worry about hundreds of them rushing at you so they could chop your head off/OM NOM NOM you. This is where the Bolter's extreme firepower comes in handy, as does its extreme way of dealing damage. If the Bolter were to just penetrate through, the target would just have a hole in it, though a rather big hole, a whole lot of things in this grimdark universe can fight with several organs missing. A good-sized hole is not going to stop these killing machines. If it just exploded in an airburst before hitting the target, it would spray debris (or shrapnel, if the particular bolt has them) and a good concussive field, but even an average Guardsman's Flak Armour can easily block out a thing like that (but most enemies' armor isn't nearly as good as flak armor).
Most importantly, modern explosive rounds don't use nearly the strongest explosives available. They go for "cheap" alternatives because either way the target dies or a building gets a new door. Also, explosives can be strong enough that there may be risk to friendly troops. The Imperium doesn't have this problem and goes overkill on everything. It's entirely possible that one shot from an Astartes' boltgun could blow up an entire squad of Guardsmen or cultists. This is without considering that the canonical sizes of bolt shells is stupidly tiny compared to the massive Space Marines and clearly made by someone who has never seen a .50 cal or .75 cal round.
1. Solid-fuel rocket propellant base.
2. Outer casing (likely plasteel) containing conventional charge.
3. Gyrostabiliser (again, likely plasteel).
4. Mass-reactive (gravitic sensor) fuse. Typically timed to delay detonation until shortly after impact.
5. Hardened diamantine penetrating tip. This allows for the bolt to penetrate most armor before detonation.
6. Main explosive charge.
7. Dense, metallic core; some sources claim to be depleted uranium which is used in modern APFSDS anti-tank rounds, although adamantium would make more sense for the Imperium.
With that being said, one of the specialist rounds is stated to be air-bursting fragmentation ammunition. Although since bolts fly so quickly Space Marines can’t usually dodge them, the sheer velocity of this shrapnel would still slaughter most enemies. If it exploded on impact it would do quite a lot of ripping and tearing, but you would still be wasting energy as the explosion goes in all directions outward from the intended target. Penetrating the target and then exploding ensures the destruction of whatever is in inside the target while ensuring maximum efficiency in dealing damage. Thus, rather than just putting a hole into an enemy who would scoff at a .50 cal machine gun (Heavy Stubber), it blows them to tiny bits from the inside. 40k being 40k, quite frequently a Bolter user will encounter an enemy who is very much capable of surviving an average bolt. Despite being designed to pierce armor, there are plenty of armor that are too strong for bolts to actually pierce, which helps quite a bit in the task of surviving a Bolter shot, as is simply having so much mass that the exploding bolts cannot completely blast it apart; having both (Carnifex and Plague Marines are good examples) helps quite a lot. Occasionally, when you are facing simply massive creatures, especially Nurglite Daemons, penetrating about an inch before exploding means penetrating only an inch into its skin before blasting that part off without getting into the body at all, really. This tells you just how stupidly powerful the fighters in this Warhammer are. Assumption of devastating killing power ends here.
The ammunition magazines used vary by a fair amount: the most commonly used is the curved "sickle" magazine – one on a normal Bolter, two on a Storm Bolter – which, judging by their relative size, would hold between 20 to 30 bolts each; occasionally used is the straight magazine, which only holds between 12 to 20 bolts, but are easier to reload than the standard sickle design. Employed by more elite forces who carry bigger stuff (Terminators, Sternguard, etc) is the box magazine, which holds between 40 to 60 bolts. Some Chaos Space Marines, thanks to a shortage of magazines due to them having less in the way of infrastructure to support them, use belt feeds. Obviously the capacity of these varies depending on the personal preferences of the Chaos Space Marine in question. They also tend to get stuck or blown away, but apparently they can be reloaded rapidly. Proper belt feeds can be found on heavier classes such as Heavy Bolters, where the belt itself is armored.
Bolters have a spotty history in video games as far as portrayal goes. Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior got it right with the weapons firing miniaturized rockets as they are supposed to. But Dawn of War depicted them as machine guns, while Dawn of War 2 tried to fix that for the most part, turning them into high-powered semi automatic guns. For all of Dawn of War 3's faults, they still did manage to get Bolters to feel right at least. Thankfully, the Space Marine game seems to have gotten it right as well, with some truly badass Bolter effects and impacts. Although the Bolter and Storm Bolter are a bit lacking in terms of damage capability, this is excusable, as A) it is needed to make the game moderately challenging, and B) you are fighting Orks, who are too simpleminded to die until reduced to mush and later Chaos Marines, who are in Power Armour (attendant Grots and Traitor Guard get blown apart too). All in all, it looks and feels epic, giving a good impression for what a cool weapon should be like.
Finally, despite being the signature weapon, regular Bolters are not exclusive to Space Marines. They are also used by other adepts of the Imperium. Notable examples being the Sisters of Battle and Adeptus Arbites. Both the Sororitas and Arbites, however, use smaller versions compared to the ones issued to Space Marines; this has no in-game effect on them, however. Speaking of the game, the stats for this thing on the tabletop are as follows, as stated by any of the countless free PDF system reference document sheets released by GW:
|8th||24"||Rapid Fire 1||4||0||1||-|
The power of a Boltgun has been exaggerated and hyped up for years, mostly under the Rule of Cool. This extends as well to the recoil. The fact that bolts are rockets and not traditional bullets sometimes gives rise to fan-arguments. Since one of the big advantages of Gyrojets is a lack of recoil, some fans believe that a Bolter shouldn't have any either. However, Gyrojets suffer from a very low muzzle velocity, as the rocket needs to get up to speed. As mentioned earlier, Bolters get around this problem with a more traditional initial propellant explosion, and that does cause the gun to kick like a normal firearm. The recoil is said in some sources to be enough to tear a normal human's arms off, or send them flipping tit over toe. However, there is evidence to suggest that this is either simply in-universe propaganda, or depreciated older edition "Marines are so super cool" fluff, such as the fact that unaugmented Imperial Guard officers are able to use bolters without the aid of Power Armour. Per the rules in the Fantasy Flight Games RPGs, unaugmented mortals can actually use Astartes-grade Boltguns, but count them as heavy weapons; Astartes Bolt Pistols count as rifles. Even then, only those with a relatively high Strength score can fire them without heavy penalties to their accuracy, and there will be some penalties as the weapon is just too big for regular human hands. Firing a Space Marine weapon will incur a penalty as well, since Astartes Boltguns tend to explode in the hands of anyone other than a Space Marine, allegedly due to gene-sensing booby traps. The machine spirits are very picky about their users.
The basic issue in question is whether the actual recoil can be judged since there is no solid information on the mass and velocity of the bolts, not to mention the mass of the bolter or any recoil-dampening systems it may have. That said, some basic assumptions can be made about the weapon. First is that Astartes Bolters fire .75 or 19mm-ish projectiles. This immediately puts the Bolter out of tangible comparison to almost any modern firearm with the notable exception of magnum 12 Gauge (.73 or 18mm-ish) slugs, or even the less common 10 Gauge (.76 or 19mm-ish) slugs. But while it is tempting to take a look at the AA-12 automatic shotgun's very low recoil and call it a day, these are shotgun cartridges, and are lower velocity compared to rifles. The only real comparison in terms of a "conventional" style rifle would be some high powered "Elephant guns," a class made for big game you need to put down with a single shot such as the .557 "Tyrannosaur" rounds, which is a massive 14.9mms. And yes, it seems to have been named by a five-year-old. This is what happens when you shoot one of those: note how 9 times out of 10 the gun jumps out of the shooter's hands. Considering that the standard propellant charge is sufficient for effective terminal performance at short range, so... a figure of at least 3,000 ft/lbs or a 438 grain projectile leaving the barrel at 1750 ft/s should be a solid minimum. This kind of performance produces recoil that is manageable but capable of knocking a shoulder out of its socket. Not that this performance is the minimum. There are also several available super-magnum pistol cartridges that perform comparably, which means an Astartes Bolt Pistol is entirely feasible in the real world. On the other hand, non-Astartes Bolters have been described by some sources as 12.7mm or .50 projectiles. The performance of full-sized non-Astartes Bolters can be judged at .50-70 performance, which will be about a 450 grain at 1250 fps (1500 ft/lbs) as a minimum. It will still be stiff but tolerable. By that logic, non-Astartes Bolt Pistols could theoretically be at around the .500 S&W Special (350 grain at 1,100 fps for 941 ft/lb), so, again, stiff but plausible.
However, remember that a Bolter's initial charge is not necessarily meant to propel the bolt to maximum speed on its own, nor is a bolt round ever said to travel as fast as a rifle round. So somewhere in the middle of the 10 gauge shotgun and the T-Rex gun is a pretty reasonable guess, but that's a wide gap. You can narrow it when you consider that the bolter is not a gun: it's more akin to an automatic rocket launcher/gun hybrid since the bolts are, well rockets. While we do have a working example of a rocket gun of this kind, the gyrojet, its highest caliber was .49, not close to the bolter's .75, so basing recoil off of that is impractical. Additionally, the gyrojet was designed with an open "chamber" and "barrel" (really, just an open frame to keep the projectile in place and pointing forward), so that none of the exhaust gasses from the rocket would impart force on the frame itself, whereas bolters appear to be fully contained and would theoretically built up gas pressure inside like a conventional gun. In any case, considering the rocket nature of the bolter it's probably closer to the 10 gauge than the T-rex gun.
Now, we get into the weight and materials of the guns themselves. Heavier guns absorb more recoil just from laws of inertia—which is something video games usually do backwards because it sucks when your starting pistol has high muzzle climb—and 40k has always been big on the boxy heavy guns, partly because of the limitations of 28mm scale, and partly because this is a universe with flaming chainsaw swords, you need big guns for big battles. Older fluff illustrations put an unloaded Validus-pattern Bolt Pistol at 1.75 kg... God-Emperor knows how much for loaded. The S&W Model 500 clocks in at 1.6 kg unloaded and 2.25 kg loaded, giving us a halfway decent benchmark on what to expect from recoil absorption. These are all educated guesses, but it is better than just blind arguing. With that being said, there is another, somewhat similar weapon in existence. The XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement (CDTE) System, while a grenade launcher, fires much, much, slower velocities than those theorized above. It shows that such a weapon is feasible, and in some sense, may actually be fire-able for a conventional human. Furthermore, considering the size and materials of a Boltgun, the recoil felt will be considerably less than an elephant gun in acceleration terms, and so while definitely impractical and uncomfortable, it is most definitely fire-able. Bearing in mind that part of the advantage for such a weapon is reduced recoil. Considering design and construction examples above, one can argue that a .50 version will have the same general recoil as .50 Beowulf or similar cartridges.
Alternatively, the weapon could function similarly to the Neopup/Inkunzi PAW-20, a 20 mm direct-fire grenade launcher. With a 20mm x 42mm, 330 gram projectile designed to travel at 310 m/s or 1000 ft/s, it's pretty close to what a bolter could be in a real world platform. The PAW-20 has a inertial recoil system, with a massive spring that basically compacts into the stock to absorb recoil. That said, a bolter with a heavy .75 caliber/19mm round and a relatively short barrel would probably produce surprisingly low recoil given the kicker charge and most of the projectile's force would be from that rocket motor. Incidentally, novelizations have described the report as a two-part boom, although given the kicker charge is supposed to ignite the rocket motor, there probably wouldn't be a discernable gap for unaugmented humans.
40k being 40k, and despite its cool fluff, regular Boltguns are kind of average weapons. Necron Gauss Flayers are superior all round compared to them in that they can rape vehicles. Tau Pulse Rifles and Carbines have better range as well as strength. Eldar Shuriken Catapults get their semi-Rending "Bladestorm" rule. Even Ork Shootas and Guard Lasguns have something to say, as the first lot has identical strength as of 8th and better auto range, and the second lot gains the benefit from Rank Fire, which is to say, being cheap enough that 50 guardsmen can all first rank fire, second rank fire against a ten man squad of marine. And yet, with enough money (a shitload of it, actually), and a few Mechanicum friends, Bolters can become the most versatile weapon of the 41st millennium. First off, there is a wide variety of ammo for you to actually load them with:
- Inferno Bolts – with promethium-filled warhead, these bolts turn the Bolter into a semi-flamethrower, as they set people, or the cover they're hiding behind on fire.
- Hellfire Rounds – filled with a poisonous mutagenic acid that can turn a mob of monstrous creatures into indistinguishable goo; it has thousands of needles that fire into the target's flesh on impact, pumping the acid into the target. Obviously made developed especially to combat Tyranids, which wonders how the Hive Mind has yet to adapt to this substance yet when they could tank Virus Bombings.
- Vengeance Rounds – can pierce through Power Armour with unstable melta warheads, but they tend to overheat the gun (how that works is anybody's guess). The Vengeance moniker comes from the fact that it was designed specifically to be fired on traitor Astartes, who wear Power Armour.
- Kraken Pattern Penetrator Rounds – adamantium in heart and tip along with heavier charges overall, this increases the effective range of a weapon as well as allowing it to pierce Carapace Armour, or just about anything, depending on your fluff source. The Kraken moniker likely stems from the larger detonation charge, making the final explosion more extreme, the shrapnel dispersing like a Kraken's tentacles.
- Metal Storm Frag Shells – replacing the mass reactive cap with a proximity detector, the bolt actually explodes into shrapnel a few meters before the target, essentially turning the Bolter into an air burst grenade launcher, something closer to our current technology.
- Stalker Silenced Shells – instead of standard charge, these bolts use gas cartridges for silent firing. There is also the solidified mercury slug instead of the usual detonation cap providing a slight increase in density for penetration as well as having a sub-sonic projectile speed; someone has watched The Day Of The Jackal a few too many times. Stalker shells are commonly used with Stalker Bolters, which are Bolters fitted with an M40 targeting system, a longer barrel and whatnot to make them viable at longer ranges.
- Gas-Powered Rounds - the more common and simpler variant of the Stalker Shells. These Bolter shells are propelled only by the gas expelled from the barrel. As they lack the secondary rocket ignition, they are substantially more quiet than standard bolt rounds at the cost of limiting its effective range. As a result, they are used for stealth operations.
- Korvidari Bolts - with that name, you know who it's used by. These are etched with raven-feather charms and sport an abnormally long range. The bolts are packed with extra propellant for superior range and accuracy. Each bolt also houses a minute, hyper-sensitive targeting and flight correction relay, allowing for a marksman's accuracy even against heavily obscured foes.
- Dragonfire Bolts – the payload of these bolts is superheated gas. The logic here is that cover means nothing when hot air burns your balls off; the gas discharge ensuring that struck targets receive full damage, even if partially protected.
- Tempest Bolts - bolts used specifically against machines like a mini Arc weapon. Incorporate tiny plasma shock generators that emit electromagnetic and thermal radiation when the shell detonates. Produced only on Mars.
- Seeker Bolts - the aimbot variant, like a mini fire-and-forget missile. Special rounds used by Chaplain Boreas of the Dark Angels. Each handcrafted round contains a miniature cogitator capable of steering the bolt towards the heat signature of a target.
- Thermic Penetrator Rounds - a problem with bolters is that their rounds are relatively low velocity in contrast to conventional firearms. The Deathwatch decided to get around this problem. These bolts are supplemented by thermic acceleration and released at hypervelocities, that result in near-instant hits.
- Inertial Fusion Bolts - a goddamned gravity round. Used by the Deathwatch, these bolts cause a series of micro vacuum wells to collapse on detonation. Like a crushing fist, they violently implode and cause horrendous, gaping craters in whatever the bolts penetrate.
- Gatebreaker Bolts - these bolts are hollow, with a reservoir of liquid theldrite inside. When the bolt hits its target, the theldrite slams forward and solidifies, adding the force of a Land Raider impact to the shot. Since they're designed to aid in siegebreaking, you can guess who uses them.
- Quake Bolts - these bolts, on impact, release a shockwave that tends to punt the target off his feet and onto the ground. Now defenseless, the noblest Chapter of the Imperium's assault troops can cut the felled foe down.
- Tranquilizer Rounds - a bizarre variant, this is a rare variety of boltgun ammunition filled with a powerful tranquillizing agent in lieu of explosives. Silent when fired from a Stalker Bolter, a single shot is capable of incapacitating a full-grown Ork. Issued one to a magazine, Tranquilizer Rounds saw service with Raven Guard forces seconded to the Deathwatch during the War of the Beast in mid-M32. We assume that the bolt has a giant ass needle to penetrate whatever thick hides it is putting down to sleep.
- Antiphasic Shells – these bolts are fitted with miniature dimensional stabilizers which prevent 5th-dimensional evasion. They are silver bullets tailormade for Space Zombie Terminator Egyptians.
- Derevenant Shells - sister counterpart of the Antiphasic Shells. Used by the Deathwatch, the Shells were developed by survivors from Fort Volossia. They contain a cyclic temporal core found to disrupt the Necron's reanimation long enough for their remains to vanish entirely.
- Psycannon Bolts - the 'infamous' anti-Chaos ass fucker supreme. Are used by the Inquisition, primarily the Ordo Malleus and Grey Knights, in Psycannons. They are etched with anti-daemonic runes with some rumors even going as far as stating that each Bolt carries a tiny fragment of the Emperor's golden toilet.
- Ensorcelled Rounds – these are etched with psychic-reactive runes that turn them into armor-piercing spells.
- Helspears - another variant of the Ensorcelled and Psybolts, this time meant for assfucking Daemons back to the Warp. Used by the Deathwatch, these bolts are sheathed in a proscribed material and can pierce the hellish defences of any entity hiding behind the Warp's corrupting power.
- Witchseeker Bolts - Used by the Black Templars. These consist of metal casings forged from the blades of fallen Battle-Brothers and blessed by Ecclesiarchy Priests. These bolts have an unnerving talent for finding their way into the heart of a Psyker.
- Vortex Bolts - another anti-psyker round. These immensely rare rounds are miniature Vortex Missiles which creates miniature vortexes within the target upon detonation. Such an event causes catastrophic damage to even the largest enemies and Psykers who miraculously survive are driven mad by the creatures of the Warp that pour from the tear in reality.
- Bloodshard Shells – used only by the Sanguinary Guard of the Blood Angels, they are filled with razor filaments to shred armour to pieces.
- Quake Bolts - for when you want to turn your Bolter into a miniature Demolisher Cannon. Crafted individually by a Magos, each bolt contains a warhead that emits a pulsed shock wave.
- Banestrike Rounds – developed before the Horus Heresy by the Alpha Legion, they can easily penetrate Astartes Power Armour, and they were used to devastating effect on the Loyalists at Isstvan V.
- Banebolts of Eryxia - the Mary Sue of bolt rounds. So named after its creator, Arch-Magister Eryxia, who spent her entire life in search of the perfect bolt shell. She spent decades working with the Deathwatch and some of Eryxia's finest creations are still extant, housed within ammunition clips chased in platinum. Often requires one shot to slay a target because it is that good.
There are even more exotic ammo types such as the psychic-guided Odysseus bolts, and even the ridiculously expensive Warp shells used by some of the most pimpin' Chaos Lords; these in particular fire essentially miniature vortex-grenades. Thank the God-Emperor that they rarely have more than one shell at a time. If you do get a few types of ammo, you may as well add a cheap and effective ammo selector to easily switch between them. You can also add a different barrel, like the aforementioned silenced Stalker pattern, and then add a scope and/or red-dot sight. Then you may mount something underneath or above your barrel. The cheapest and nonetheless effective variant is a bayonet, which may be a mono-filament blade preferable by the Bolter Bitches, or a chain bayonet, popular among Chaos dudes. But you want to get more Dakka, didn't you? So you may add a one-shot Melta, Plasma, Flamer, or Grav-gun to your Bolter, turning it into a Combi-weapon. Now your Bolter can deal with enemy armour, heavy infantry and hordes, but it is only one shot and need to be disassembled to be reloaded/recharged, which you do not have the time to do in the heat of the battle. If you want more reliability, you may consider an auxiliary grenade launcher, which can lob Krak or Frag shots in a full-auto mode. and while lacking the sheer power of Combi-attachments, it does not run out of ammo after the first shot as well as being able to perform multiple roles. After spending a fortune on ammo, upgrades, and bribing Mechanicum weaponsmiths, you may now enjoy the ultimate personal weapon of the 41st millennium.
Bolters come in a dazzling array of different designs, as the weapon has been redesigned repeatedly and re-used continually over the years, and is in use with no less than six (or a dizzying eight if you count unused last-gen armies like Kroot and Lost and the Damned) different factions in Warhammer 40k, marking it as the single most ubiquitous weapon in the entire goddamned galaxy of 40K. While most of us are familiar with the iconic Astartes bolter seen in the picture below, there are also countless variations beyond that gun.
The Bolter Cane is arguably one of the most dandy weapons to grace the grimdarkness of Warhammer 40000.
While many Rogue Traders favor a brusque, overwhelming appearance, festooned with bandoliers of pistols and Power weapons, some attempt a more subtle (but no less deadly) style, favoring concealed weapons, and installing a self-propelled rocket launcher in a fashionable walking cane is a way to do it. Few things are more fabulous than shooting a rocket out of your seemingly harmless stick, and few faces represent surprise better than the poor sod who didn't see that rocket coming. Bolter Canes are also useful when local customs dictate leaving the tools of the trade (weapons) behind, or in dire emergencies where one last explosive shot would be terribly convenient. For such Explorers, these ostentatious canes (which may also be fashioned as staffs and batons) come into play. Each can store one Bolter round in the upper end, specially modified with a penetrator tip to pierce the false bottom of the cane. While it can be reloaded, Bolter Canes are primarily designed for one single shot, to be refitted and re-disguised after the battle is done and the Amasec can be poured. Perhaps a break-action variant or something similar exists for simplicity in reloading to allow more than one shot in a moment's firefight, with additional Bolter rounds somehow being hidden as well.
Frankly, it is difficult to imagine Space Marines using these, apart from the Noise Marines since anything goes with that lot. On the bright side, they are standard issue weapons for Classy Marine officers.
A scaled-down Bolter that is designed to be used as a sidearm, firing the same high-caliber explosive shells as its bigger brothers. And an insult to proper firearms design since the 1980s.
Carried by all Space Marines, but primarily wielded by Assault Marines and Sergeants in conjunction with a Chainsword – both by Loyal Marines, Chaos Marines, and even the Imperial Guard, it also sees extensive use with higher-ranking units in just about every faction worth a damn in the Imperium of Man. It is worth of noting that Space Marines use notably larger pistols (some fluff states that Astartes Bolters are .75 caliber, while human equivalents are only .50 caliber) compared to the ones the Guard uses, probably because the Marines need larger firepower and that the typical Human is highly unlikely to be able to effectively fire an Astartes-sized Bolt Pistol one-handed – with both hands, maybe. Its only drawback is that it unsurprisingly has a shorter range than the larger Bolter. It is also quite possible that the Bolt Pistol does in fact use different ammunition than the Bolter, in order to achieve a higher muzzle velocity for close-range kills. This would probably manifest in a different propellant used for pistol-sized shells, something that has a faster and more explosive burn to it than that in the typical Bolt shell, leading to the shorter range while maintaining close-quarters deadliness.
The Bolt Pistol is, perhaps, most infamously used by Commissars, who tend to pull its trigger in the most direct manner possible:
Commissar: "...The Emperor teaches that only through his glory can we find victory on the battlefield."
Soldier: "Sir Commissar, what does the Emperor teach about the two-headed mutants that roam the frontline?"
Commissar: "Um... er..."
Soldier: "....Well, so much for the entertainment."
Commissar: " *BLAM* "
Volg "Spitfire" Bolt Pistol
Trust us, even if it doesn't look like one, it is a Bolter, somewhat.
Little more than a crudely modified Lucifer pattern launcher – which is a handgun-like device common on frontier worlds for firing signal flares, tow lines and the like – the Spitfire was an innovation that, according to popular myth, was devised by an outcast Magnavar tech-adept named Verey. The story has it that while this Tech-Priestess was exiled in Volg, she made the first Spitfires to help combat a swarming of giant Maw-flukes. The weapon hit a marketing jackpot by being both effective and popular, and the more talented of Volg’s arms dealers have been turning them out ever since. The Spitfire’s fame and construction has spread and some are even sold at inflated prices as real "Bolt Pistols" to those too provincial or naive to know better.
Now, how is this still technically and barely a Bolter? Well, Spitfires use modified rocket-propelled distress flares fitted with a crude impact detonators in a pale imitation of a bolt shell, but are nevertheless still quite deadly. So instead of a timed explosion to maximize internal damage as with regular bolts, the rockets the Spitfire use explode upon impact. Spitfire rounds will also ignite flammable materials (since they are flares) and has the potential to set things on fire in addition to any other effect. Now here's the downside: Spitfire shells are far from stable. How far from stable? If this thing jams, it explodes. Likewise if Spitfire ammunition is hit by an explosion or fire, it may detonate just as well.
Finally, unlike a usual flare gun, the Spitfire can hold more than one casing. Three to be exact.
Cinder Crag Forge "Mauler" Bolt Pistol
Proof that if you're a regular (but rich) human in this grimdark universe, you can order yourself a custom Bolt Pistol.
A singular weapon to say the least, the Mauler is a finely made bolt pistol designed for normal human hands (unlike the far larger, heavier caliber models intended for use by the legendary Space Marines). Extremely sophisticated in design and made by necessity from the finest alloys and components, each Mauler is handmade and forged by the servitor-savants of the Cinder Crag. Now, we can assume two things from that sentence there depending on which side of the dash is stressed. Either your Mauler is made by servitor specialists who make Bolt Pistols on the side, or the people who made your Mauler are servitors, advanced or otherwise. Here's the part that makes a Mauler different from your regular Bolt pistol. Each of these Maulers is uniquely tailored to the commissioner’s exact biometric data. The result is a weapon as implacably lethal as it is as perfect an artifact. So, while you will certainly find a Mauler Bolt Pistol for sale at some point in a black market, if you are allergic to secondhand weapons, then you better be ready to pay most likely twice the price tag you'd find looking around to commission the Cinder Crag Forge for one. You're paying more, but you get a Bolt Pistol made just for your hand unless somebody has your hand in one way or another.
Compared to a typical (human-sized) Bolt Pistol, the Mauler has a smaller magazine (and therefore, weight) in exchange for reliability.
Hesh-Pattern M38 MkII Bolt Pistol
The Hesh-pattern M38 MkII is a machine pistol variant of the Bolt Pistol. You know, a handgun-style machine gun?
Rare outside the ranks of the Adeptus Mechanicus, specifically those hailing from the shrouded Lathe Worlds of the Calixis Sector, the Hesh-pattern M38 MkII was never widely adopted by the Departmento Munitorum due to the temperamental nature of its Machine Spirit and/or mechanism in general, various maintenance difficulties beyond what is expected to go wrong in Bolt weaponry. Being too unreliable and complex is a big turn-off, after all. The M38 MkII almost seems as if it was designed to be used by individuals more knowledgeable of firearms than even those august members of the Imperial Guard who actually get to use such weapons – Space Marines other than Techmarines, maybe. Nevertheless, at least the Tech-Priests of the Lathes appreciate the weapon’s effectiveness. They do not seem to have the same trouble with its Machine Spirit as those less attuned to the mysteries of technology. They are Tech-priests, so it'll be surprising if they don't know how to use it. The MkII’s distinctive drum magazine allows for a higher rate of fire than other Bolt Pistols, but is also prone to more frequent malfunction. Perhaps because it is supposed to fire in fully automatic mode by design, the gun goes fidgety when it is fired semiautomatic-ally, so it is recommended to not be stingy with the ammo when handling this weapon.
May or may not supposed to be/look-like a miniaturized Maxim Bolter.
Sacristan Bolt Pistol
Nobody said anything about Heavy Bolt Pistols being exclusive to Primaris Reivers; at least, the Calixis part of the Inquisition has a good supply and demand for them.
The Sacristan class of Bolt Pistol is produced under secret license for the Ordos Calixis by the Fane of Orthlack on Scintilla, and is based on the ancient and venerated Godwyn-De’az patterns used by Adepta Sororitas. For the reader who might not know what a Fane is in this context, a Fane is a cartel that supplies weapons in Gunmetal City. Gunmetal City is the biggest arms provider in the entire Calixis sector; it is also on Scintilla, the capital planet of that same sector. As for Orthlack, the arguably strongest Fane concerns itself with clients who are mostly Enforcers – the police – and among the things the Enforcers need are probably hand cannons that can knock an Ogryn criminal out right before exploding from the inside of his skull. Since the Sacristan used a license which is secret, it is likely that Orthlack directly supplies the Bolt Pistol, and that they're not picked from what the local Enforcers have in their closets. Although Bolt Pistols are both relatively rare and expensive to maintain, their great killing power is extremely valued, and the Sacristan, branded and sealed with the symbol of the Holy Ordos itself, is the chosen sidearm of many Inquisitors and senior Acolytes alike who see it as a mark of rank. We can be certain that the demand is pretty high over this market.
Of course, not everyone is fit to carry a hand cannon, and if you're not fit enough, you likely won't be able to shoot it very well due to its massive size and recoil.
Pietrov's Mk 45
No, Pietrov is not the name of a Forge World that produced this gun.
This is what happens when the Machine Spirit thought itself to be a Commissar. Commander Wladislaw Pietrov was well-known for the bulky Valhallan Mk 45 Bolt Pistol with which he dispensed rough justice – he who wields it is both inspiring and daunting to all Valhallans. "Commander" is a very broad term for an official rank, and unusual to call a Commissar with; so Pietrov likely wasn't the latter, but he was unfortunate enough to be the guy that had to regularly carry out the rough justice, which we all know what that stands for. Since Imperial technology is partially alive, the Machine Spirit within Pietrov's Mk 45 figuratively acquired the spirit of a Commissar over the years with Pietrov as well as possibly other owners who inherited the pistol for the same purposes after him. The other owners in question may not be Commissars themselves since the Bolt Pistol circulates only among the officers of the Valhallan regiments who are permitted to carry one in the first place. Although the gun is certainly part of the better breeds of Bolt Pistols, its certain and only ability sets it apart. The officer who carries it essentially becomes a Commissar himself because the ability was practically the same as the one you'd find on a Commissar. It's "was" because the errata changed the Summary Execution ability itself into something slightly different.
Concerning Pietrov's Mk 45, it would be rather unsurprising if it is occultly possessed by an actual dead Commissar.
Since Commissars have been *BLAM*-ing Guardsmen ever since the end of the Horus Heresy, of course they'd eventually make a Bolt Pistol out of the routine.
Wielded by a succession of brutal, uncompromising Commissars, this masterwork Bolt Pistol is feared by all. The elementary but bloodthirsty Machine Spirit of the Emperor's Benediction has been blamed for a series of unfortunate "accidents" on the field of battle. For something that belongs in the higher side of the quality spectrum, it is unlikely that the Bolt Pistol is unreliable where the firing mechanism is concerned. Without a doubt, popping countless Guardsmen on the head have taught the pistol a thing or two about putting self-propelled rockets into the craniums. In spite of this rather unfortunate development for the people bound to be by the end of its barrel, the Officio Prefectus unsurprisingly views the Emperor’s Benediction as an artifact of some distinction – some even say that it can taste cowardice even before the reprehensible act has been committed. What this most likely means is that the damn Bolt Pistol randomly fires on its own, exclusively when it is conveniently pointed at someone, and that someone usually turns out to be on the list of potential persons for the Commissar to shoot at when needed. In 8th Edition, its tendency to *BLAM* people is so strong that it overlaps to specific enemies as well, no matter the range unless something else happens to be too close to it.
So, there we have it – the Emperor's Benediction, a pistol that any Commissar can enjoy shooting with.
The Castigator is an ecclesiastical relic in the form of a Bolt Pistol. It was hand-crafted by one hundred and seventeen deaf-and-blind artificers within the shrine of the Nameless Saint. Yes, this one rocket launcher pistol was made by over a hundred people who could neither hear nor see – might be an issue of work environment. But since this is a Bolt Pistol good enough to be considered a relic, those guys at that possibly unremarkable shrine most likely knew what they were doing. The Castigator is renowned for its absolute lethality. No armor can protect against the vengeance it brings, no matter how thick or powerful. No force field can turn its shots aside, no warding magics or unnatural powers can stay its wrath. Those caught within Castigator’s crosshairs are doomed from the moment the trigger is pulled. With that being said, for how penetrative this Bolt Pistol evidently is, you probably don't need to load it with Kraken bolts given the choice. Since it's not the bolts that did the work like the Kraken, it is obviously the Bolt Pistol that is somehow special enough to fire out rockets that can penetrate through tank plates and magical shields. There is only one answer to why it is so powerful, and we all know it. We know it very well. Or the answer to how more than a hundred deaf and blind people built something with blatantly magical powers is the most common culprit.
Tabletop-wise, this Bolt Pistol is so powerful that not even invulnerable saves can save the sucker it is shooting at.
Wrath of the Emperor
The ornate Bolt Pistol known as the Wrath of the Emperor fires shells imbued with incendiary charges. Upon detonation, these immolate their unfortunate victims in a flash of holy flame. Apart from being a significantly better Bolt Pistol overall, even better than Cypher's for the matter, another noteworthy feature of this pistol is the inside of its magazines. First things first, "ornate" is clearly an understatement since this Wrath of the Emperor is even more powerful than the Absolvor Bolt Pistol, which itself is already the bigger version of the Heavy Bolt Pistol. In fact, its range is comparable to the Assault Bolter and the Auto Boltstorm Cannon, both of which are certainly not at the size to be considered as pistols. Even though they're certainly special, that jump in performance cannot be the work of the bolts alone. This Bolt Pistol is very well-made at the very least. Now, concerning the bolts with built-in incendiary charges themselves, doesn't that sound familiar? That's right. This Bolt Pistol essentially fires Inferno Bolts, heavily customized to represent the God-Emperor's divine wrath. This may suggest that the Sisters of Battle do have access to special-issue bolts, though these bolts might just be exclusive for a few things like the Wrath of the Emperor here.
Now that they imbued the essence of a Flamer into their Bolt Weapon, we just have to wait and see whether they'll make a Melta equivalent with modified Vengeance Rounds. Since Special Ammunition is now exclusively produced for the Deathwatch. The Sisters of Battle would be the last get their hands on it.
Or it’s space magic at work again and has this effect no matter what shells you load it with.
Guardian Bolt Pistol
Less of a variant and more of a Deathwatch tradition involving a really good Bolt Pistol.
Awarded to Deathwatch Space Marines of any rank for conspicuous gallantry, courage under fire, or actions above and beyond the call of duty, these finely made Bolt Pistols are as much a sign of status among Deathwatch Space Marines as they are a weapon. Any Space Marine wearing one of these Bolt Pistols on his person is immediately recognized as a veteran combatant who has gone through a whole lot of inconvenience to protect mankind from ravening xenos. When issued to a deserving Space Marine, his name and deeds are inscribed on the weapon by a Deathwatch Techmarine during the awarding ceremony. Each weapon is one of a kind, tailored specifically to the receiving Space Marine, and is his to keep when he returns to his home Chapter. So a Guardian Bolt Pistol is really just a master-crafted Bolt Pistol that doubles as a medal of honor in practical considerations. Many Guardian Bolt Pistols that have not gone to the grave with their owners have found their way back into the Deathwatch armories. These “foundling” weapons are never re-issued, instead they are enshrined in the Deathwatch data vaults along with the details of their owner’s glorious deeds. One particular Chapter is rumored to have never returned a single Guardian Bolt Pistol to the Deathwatch before.
No relation with the Guardian Bolter of the Golden Custodians whatsoever.
A Bolt Pistol with a fitting name considering the Chapter it belongs to.
This Bolt Pistol is a true work of the anonymous artificer’s art. Since its forging in the 35th Millennium which was quite a hectic thousand years for the Imperium featuring the Nova Terra Interregnum and the Cursed Founding, hundreds of presumably only Imperial Fists warriors have used the Spartean to slay traitors, tyrants and the other myriad enemies of Mankind; and Sergeant Tor Garadon is its most recent official owner. Of course, we are aware that this isn't something new in Warhammer 40000 where an average gun outlives people by at least several centuries. But here's the thing that makes this Bolt Pistol a special one, for every wielder has said the same of the weapon: if the marksman’s eye is true, then the Spartean’s shot will be too, whatever obstacles lie in the way. Now, in Sentinels of Terra, the Spartean is a posh Bolt Pistol that happens to ignore cover as well. Years later with 8th Edition, it is now a dedicated handgun for hitting/hunting Characters exclusively, so do not expect the bolt to travel any further than what an average Bolt Pistol can do if you happen to be aiming at no-names. How the Bolt Pistol got from ignoring cover to ignoring range entirely when firing at some specific things is a mystery, but that is also not something new in this universe now, is it? Perhaps now is the time to apologize to your toaster. Just in case.
Although the Spartean is Garadon's, he seems to have become charitable and wouldn't mind his Battle-Brothers who use a Bolt Pistol to take it instead over 8th Edition.
Heavy Bolt Pistol
The Heavy Bolt Pistol is the expectedly heavier variant of the standard Bolt Pistol that is not only larger, but also possesses a rather elongated barrel to emphasize its heaviness.
The Heavy Bolt Pistol is commonly employed by the Reiver Squads of the Primaris Space Marines. By class, it is practically the Hand Cannon of the Bolter family. The longer barrel as well as larger size means that a Heavy Bolt Pistol has enough punch to rival that of a conventional Bolter. The bolts it uses might even be the same in caliber. Whilst this may not seem as an impressive description, we must take note that the covert nature of a Reiver means that he must sacrifice armour and equipment – basically, anything that will weigh him down – in order improve speed and agility. Having a small, compact yet packs-quite-a-punch of a pistol is essential for covert operations when a larger gun would prove more of a detriment than useful. How most of the Reivers are equipped with Heavy Bolt Pistols further supports the emphasis for their battlefield mobility, even though they do have the Bolt Carbine as an alternative choice that likely has a better weight-firepower ratio compared to these pistols, at least when light infantry tactics such as theirs are concerned.
On a side note, every infantry-ish Primaris (i.e. not Reivers and Aggressors) visibly carries with himself a Bolt Pistol as a sort of sidearm, which looks very similar to the Heavy Bolt Pistol here. Of course, being "Heavy," the Heavy Bolt Pistol is comparatively bigger; but beyond that, the distinction becomes blurry. The "normal" Bolt Pistols of the normal Primaris Marines are a throwback to the earlier marks of the Great Crusade, which are long just enough to hold with the off-hand for better accuracy if the need arises. Later marks suggest a change of trend to removing that extra grip altogether in favor of size reduction. Since Guilliman (or Cawl) is up for the blast from the past, he/they brought it back and made it standard-issue, along with a variant that shaves away two thirds of that handguard and puts it on top of the barrel as a heat shield instead. The Heavy Bolt Pistol is noticeably different in that it features both forms of coverage, with a four-ridged handguard and a heat shield which is not a shaven handguard that covers just as much – a barrel shroud, so to speak. This degree of insulation may be because of how the bolts it fires are larger than the usual size people would expect to be shot from an average Bolt Pistol.
Despite this, unfortunately in terms of crunch, a Heavy Bolt Pistol is unexpectedly not that much different from the normal Bolt Pistol, possessing about the same punch as Cypher's, and only the punch since you'd need the Absolvor below to get a range comparable to his posh pistol. The only difference is in the aesthetics, as well as a small amount of armor penetration that is more than a standard Bolter, in fact.
Absolvor Bolt Pistol
"Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .75 Absolvor Bolt Pistol, the most powerful handgun in the Imperium, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya, heretic?"
- – Lord Inquisitor Sordida Harritus
There's the Bolt Pistol, and there's the Heavy Bolt Pistol, so it makes sense to have a Heavier Bolt Pistol. That hand cannon is the Absolvor.
The Absolvor Bolt Pistol is a variant pattern of the standard Bolt Pistol as well as a newer generation most famously used by Primaris Space Marine Chaplains and Apothecaries instead of the expected regular ones, possibly due to the fact that other vocations are better equipped at defending themselves compared to these two. Techmarines have their gadgets. Librarians have their psychic powers. Meanwhile, Chaplains and Apothecaries only have their melee weapons to count on if not for this even heavier Bolt Pistol. Essentially a significantly sawn-off Heavy Bolter, it is noted to look incredibly smexy as a weapon and suits quite well with the beefed up Chaplain as well as the Apothecary, the former sporting a winged skull, while the latter replaces the wing with a helix. You can tell that it is heavier than the Heavy Bolt Pistol the Reivers use by how it has four extra ridges by the top of the barrel. It is a bit larger. It has a bit of a longer barrel to enhance its range even further. It is capable of producing even more damage than its standard Bolt Pistol counterpart. And just like the Heavy Bolt Pistol, it has a bit of armour penetration to boot. On the other hand, all of those benefits make it somewhat less accurate as a result, which might be a better reason to why the Reivers do not use this better pistol rather than it being a cost and/or weight issue.
The size of this heavy handheld weapon should make it seems like a full-sized Bolter in non-augmented Human hands. In short, it is a much more powerful Bolt Pistol with more bling attached.
Yet another Boltgun variation for the Primaris-issue line, the design being either constructed by Arch-Magos Belisarius Cawl himself, or at least commissioned by him to some random Tech-priests.
Contradicting the size that is about the same as the Bolt Carbine, Assault Bolters are Heavy Bolters compacted with the idea of being able to effectively fire with just one hand by a Primaris Space Marine – whether a normal Astartes can fire it with one hand as well remains to be seen. Of course, since a Heavy Bolter has a higher rate of fire as well as higher caliber munitions, some additional modifications are necessary. Since there is not enough space to accommodate for ejecting a lot of spent casings at a time, the Assault Bolter features a high-speed autoloader which is that cylindrical thing you can see on its side. Speaking of a lot of shells, the Assault Bolter hauls a box magazine that is about the size you would see on regular Heavy Bolters that do use magazines instead of a huge rack over the back. Since a Heavy Bolter is often fired by a single person wearing Power Armour with both hands carrying it, reducing recoil for firing one-handed is paramount. The solution comes in the form of a mag-shield pulling against the kick of the recoil in addition to the Gravis Armour. And so, yes, that is not just a gun shield that certainly looks out of place on a one-handed weapon.
The Assault Bolters are normally issued to the Inceptor squads – Primaris that are basically Devastators with Jump Packs. While the only trait they did not inherit from the Heavy Bolters apart from their size is range, they have the same stopping power and are dual-wielded for an even greater volume of firepower. By the way, these Assault Bolters also seem to come in pairs, with the ejection ports of both conveniently facing away from the Primaris Inceptor who dual-wields them. Seriously, you would think that the Primaris are already killy enough than the good old regular Space Marine, but nooooo GeeDubs just have to give them SMGs that fire Heavy Bolter shells. On the plus side, they look dope as shit, so keep your eyes peeled on bitz sites to give your HQs and heavy weapons guys a relatively unique weapon.
Think of this as the dollar-store knockoff of the Boltstorm Gauntlet or the Boltstorm Gauntlet before it was actually a Boltstorm Gauntlet.
Bolt Launchers are a rack of small tubes firing miniature, rocket-propelled, explosive ammunition. They can be fired as single volleys or in devastating salvoes, depending on the sophistication of the fire control mechanism in use.
Orrus Spyrers on the Hive World of Necromunda equip Bolt Launchers on the back of their crushing power fists, allowing them to combine brutal close-combat strength with devastating long-range weaponry.
It has less ammunition than a Boltstorm Gauntlet due to its very inefficient ammo placement (Let's not even get into its ergonomic nightmare of reloading that many tubes) and it is less accurate due to the way the bolts are stored before firing. Seriously, it's like a handheld MLRS or a rack of fireworks, you ain't hitting shit from the broadside of a barn; only useful as a suppression weapon due to its erratic - lack thereof - aiming.
At some point, Cawl realized that so far, apart from the Grey Knights, only named characters had access to Power Fists fitted with Bolters. Since he was working on Guilliman's anyway, he might as well make a mass-production model. Of course, the Bolters fitted on these Power Fists are not the usual Storm Bolters.
The Boltstorm Gauntlet is a Bolt Weapon where the Boltstorm part is concerned. It is often wielded by Primaris Captains in Gravis Armour on one hand, while being the primary weapon of Primaris Aggressors on both hands provided that they are not swapped for the Flamestorm Gauntlets. It bears a strong resemblance and function to Roboute Guilliman's current famed weapon, the second-generation Hand of Dominion, though this one is positioned on the back of the hand, rather than the palm. As you can imagine, one of the many nicknames include the Boltfist or the HoD's little brothers. The usage of the Boltstorm Gauntlet is so that powerfist enthusiasts may have an easy way in offering some close quarters firepower in order to give the Power Fist some range to compensate. This makes the Boltstorm Gauntlet a trusted sidearm for Primaris Space Marines who happen to wear it due to this particular benefit. The Boltstorm Gauntlet consists of a Power Fist with probably a Bolt Rifle part built into it. Aggressor Squads use a heavier variant, the Auto Boltstorm Gauntlet, which as the name suggests are fully automatic with probably an Auto Bolt Rifle part; made more evident by the fact that – unlike the normal variant – it has cables attached to the power pack that are probably used to power the high-speed autoloader
It is unknown whether there is a Stalker variant out there to complete the trinity; if so, it will probably have a scope, but a laser sight might be a better option since aiming from the wrist is certainly awkward. It is also unknown whether Primaris Space Marines can use this without wearing Gravis Armour. They probably can since these Gauntlets are, in a way, Primaris Power Fists. Speaking of which, another unknown thing is whether there are Lightning Claw styles just like what Horus/Abaddon had/has. Finally, it gives a whole new meaning to the word, "fisting."
Whilst other patterns of Bolt Carbines are known to exist, the Primaris version is the only one with a model and by that merit, it is the most well-known. Typically, Bolt Carbines should be easier to wield than its full-sized bigger brother due to being obviously lighter, having simpler construction oriented towards reducing size for convenient carrying, and having a lower rate of fire as much as firepower in general as a trade-off. Without the multi-round burst ability common to many patterns of Bolter, a Bolt Carbine is incapable of the wholesale slaughter which characterizes the infamous volleys of Bolter fire. However, this simplistic design means that they misfire less frequently, and are also much easier to maintain. In the case of the Primaris Bolt Carbine, it features an extra vertical grip under the barrel for an even more accurate and stable handling. This model of Bolt Carbine is used by the aforementioned Primaris Reiver Squads, whose covert and guerilla nature means that they cannot afford hefting giant guns around without being seen in any swift manner. Thus, the compactness of the Bolt Carbine combined with its firepower is a necessity when things go south and/or get dirty. The Primaris Bolt Carbine also raises a question on whether, for its size, it counts as an Astartes Boltgun variant if wielded in the hands of a normal Space Marine; or whether the normal Astartes Boltguns count as Bolt Carbines for the Primaris lot, since they only differ from each other by type, which then may be attributed to the Reivers using different bolts.
Crunch wise, these things are basically Storm Bolters in both range and strength. However, being an Assault weapon, the Bolt Carbine has a noticeable lack of firepower in contrast to the Storm Bolter. This may be offset for being more accurate on average than the Storm Bolter, and being more effective in close quarters – where Reivers engage and are most effective at.
The Shadowspear boxed set introduce several variants of Bolt Cabine: marksman of Infiltrators, occulus for Vanguard Lieutenant and Tacticool Captain's instigator.
Angelus Bolt Carbine
Despite the name, this Bolt Carbine has nothing to do with the Blood Angels. This thing's from Dark Heresy, not Deathwatch.
No, this Bolt Carbine here is sized for regular humans. However, there is a dash of Space Marine to it. See, the fanes of Gunmetal, an industrial section over Scintilla, among their most important duties, they hold an oath-bond to manufacture the casing and primary propulsion charges for Astartes caliber bolt shells. Production of these Astartes bolts is obviously carefully controlled and monitored, and once made, each case is stamped with the aquila and its maker’s mark before being passed on to the Adepts of the Machine God. As for the propulsion charges, they probably stamp the container. Despite the security and precautions inherent in this sacred duty, it is said a few of these shells never see the aquila stamp. These so called "blind shells" are both utterly illegal and highly desirable, but on their own, blind shells are useless without a weapon to fire them. It's not like the people who drop these bolts also sell Bolters to complement them... Consequently, the Fane of Fykos makes in secret a weapon known as the "Angelus". Bluntly elegant in shape and crafted from the finest materials, the Angelus’s lacquered stock houses its magazine and unlocks to take three Astartes caliber bolt shells snugly nose to tail. Provided only to their richest and most trustworthy of clients, the exclusivity and terrible killing power of the Angelus is favored by the wealthiest of bounty hunters and the most accomplished of beast-slayers in the Calixis Sector. Carrying one of these powerful, but highly illegal weapons entails certain risks all of its own.
So what are you paying for here? A human-sized, bullpup Bolter that fires Space Marine-grade bolts. Unlike Azrael's Lion's Wrath, the Angelus Bolt Carbine is neither unique nor a combi-plasma, and it also certainly does not have a traditional magazine in the back. The stock is the magazine, albeit a horribly small one with a generous capacity of three. Not thirty. Three.
These are standard-sized Imperial Boltguns meant to be used by non-superhumans. They still work on the same principles, albeit on a smaller scale. Some fluff sources state that the bolts in particular are chambered as a smaller rendition of Astartes-grade bolts, in .50 caliber rather than the Space Marine's .75 to .998 caliber.
Contrary to the Sisters of Battle and Space Marines' usage, Imperial Boltguns are pretty rare. Outside of high-ranking, elite militants of the Imperium such as Inquisitors, Commissars, and veteran officers; boltguns are only issued as specialist weapons. While Heavy Bolters are pretty common in the Imperial Guard, either on their vehicles or with Heavy Weapons Teams, infantry-sized Bolters are rather hard to find among them. Only special forces units like Stormtroopers and Veteran Squads are likely the only ones able to requisition a Bolter for usage, although it should not completely impossible for a rank-and-file guardsman to be issued with one – just even more rare than finding one in this faction in the first place. While their overall designs are similar, there are many variants of regular-sized Boltguns throughout the Imperium, owing to the fact that the thousands of Forge Worlds, which supply the different Guardsmen regiments throughout the Imperium, typically put their own spins on the design; so the Cadians, Mordians, and Tallarans will have their own variants in store. Boltguns are also somewhat popular as civilian weapons in planets that have enough trade and/or manufacturing resources to merit possessing them in any significant number. As a righteous weapon, it also sees personal use among the religious nobility of various planets as well.
As a well-known weapon of death, the Bolter sees use in nearly every societal levels of the Imperium, from the highest Imperial functionaries to the lowest hive gangers, provided that they can afford one. One of the notable organizations that do employ these smaller Bolters in a large scale outside the military is the Adeptus Arbites, the Imperium's FBIs; yes, the Imperium's inter-planetary police force uses rapid-firing rocket launchers.
Usually with the Bolter, it is an automatic rocket launcher. With the Solo Boltgun, it is a semiautomatic rocket launcher.
Officially the Perinetus-pattern Mark II, the “Solo” is a Bolter variant looked down on as heretical by some elements of the Adeptus Mechanicus possibly due to having much less sophisticated workings, which is certainly a plus for most users, but perhaps that is a theologically unappealing quality to the Mechanicum. Perinetus is a Forge World, by the way, so those who don't like this weapon seems to be a minority for it to have a MkII; or they were reduced to a minority after the design was tinkered to satisfy those lot, making it MkII. Speaking of design, the Solo can only be fired in single-shot (semiautomatic) mode, trading automatic fire for a slightly longer range and a more reliable mechanism, making it popular for the imperial guard, PDF forces and insurrectionists alike possibly due to being cheap to produce and affordable by the people who have to pay for them. Distinctively features a longer barrel, the Solo's simple mechanism also has the added advantage of making it more accurate since that probably makes it easier to scrub and maintain – that is, less prayers and oils, which is probably a decent reason to why it is considered heretical by a few cogboys. As a faction with the most affinity to Bolters, the closest equivalent Space Marines have to the Solo Boltgun is most likely their Stalker Boltgun.
The Solo Boltgun might certainly be of a useful weapon to afford for your red-shirt soldiers when you want to save on Bolt rounds and having a real gun that can actually do some real damage against tougher customers like daemons, tyranids, orks and necrons. You can't really go trigger happy with semiautomatics.
Designed specifically for the Adepta Sororitas, and also blessed by the Canonesses of the Orders, these venerated weapons are presented to an Adepta Sororitas upon becoming a Battle Sister. The Godwyn-De'az Pattern Bolter is the standard-issue Boltgun of the Sisters of Battle, and it is pretty much the only one. The Sisterhood considers the venerated Godwyn-De'az bolt weapons heirlooms; each one carefully maintained by highly specialized servitors and trusted servants. It is the first and foremost of the Sororitas brand of holy trinity which consists of these Bolters, their Flamers, and their Meltas. This pattern of Bolter has great significance to the Adepta Sororitas, not only as a powerful weapon against the enemies of mankind, but also as a symbol of the Emperor’s judgement and of the sisters personal connection to her faith. These Bolters operate on the same principles as the Astartes Boltguns on a noticeably smaller scale in order to fit the non-superhuman physique of the Sisters, though it is still rather impossible to use in any effective manner without the increased strength given by their Power Armour.
A distinct feature of the Sororitas Bolter is the manner it mounts its scope which, unlike its Astartes counterpart, is a rather common sight possibly due to the fact that wearing helmets is not as common among the Sisters of Battle. While Space Marines attach their scopes directly above their Bolters like pretty much everybody else, the Sisters of Battle attach theirs diagonally. Other than style to differentiate from conventional Bolters, there really isn't any visible technical reason to mount it like that. Back at the real world, we have very specific reasons to why we mount scopes diagonally instead of the usual above on some guns. There are cases where the scope will get in the way of the firing mechanism. It can be blocking the ejection port, the loading port, or maybe even the bolt handle that turns pretty high. There are two solutions to mounting a scope on such a gun, usually a rifle in size. We can either mount the scope further along the barrel, or we can just adjust by installing the scope diagonally to the side instead. Either the case, the scope doesn't get in the way anymore, and the gun owner is happy. For the simple Bolter, however, there is no such thing happening around that upper area that the scope can be mounted on. This may suggest that the Godwyn-De'az might actually supposed to have something on top to warrant the scope being mounted on the side like that. Perhaps the Tech-priests were successful in removing that unnecessary part (for the Sisters) out, but the Machine Spirit got fidgety when they tried to move the scope up.
The Sororitas Boltguns have the same stat line because tabletop's crunch does not actually differentiate between human-grade and Astartes-grade Boltguns, though the Godwyn-De'az can probably be considered a really, really good pattern for a human-sized Bolter.
The Astartes MKVb Godwyn-Pattern Bolter is the standard-issue boltgun variant used by the Adeptus Astartes, although older Chapters tend to use either different, older, or custom variants of Boltguns.
This kind of Bolter is fitted with an array of devices meant to interface with the Space Marine's helmet, allowing him to use the Boltgun with unprecedented efficiency despite its unwieldy size. How a good number of officer-ranked Astartes are still able to utilize this feature despite their general disdain for helmets in the field is uncertain – perhaps the Machine Spirit respects courage over sensibility. The Traitor Legions appear to have stuck to their old Boltguns (judging from current GW art; they appear to resemble Phobos-pattern Bolters), but its not far-fetched for a Chaos Marine to have access to newer bits via salvaging and looting. As stated, the Boltguns used by Space Marines are made for Space Marines only. They are too heavy and too large to even be held upright by a non-Astartes. The FFG game rules stated in the Recoil section above do say that normal humans can try to wield them, but they are too bulky to be handled properly. If you somehow managed to fit it on a stand or something, it probably wouldn't hurt to fire it; that is, if the only thing it would do to you is not firing. The Machine Spirits in these Bolters seem to know whether or not they are being used by a Space Marine and will become rebellious in the hands of someone who is not a Space Marine. If you manage to get it to shoot and stick it on a bipod, it'd make a good SAW at least...
Additionally, the title of "Holy Bolter" isn't an exaggeration, the weapon is indeed considered a sacred piece of equipment by the Imperium, and only a Space Marine is allowed to own one. A non-sanctioned human in possession of any component of an Astartes bolter, from the magazine, bolt shell, to a complete specimen, can be grounds to be tried for heresy if caught. There's not much info on how Chaos Marines view the sanctity of the boltgun (atleast barring daemon weapons blessed by the gods themselves), but they would most probably take offense to a non-augmented human daring to use their symbol of office without proving themselves worthy to do so.
There are also two distinct modifications to these Bolters where range is concerned. The first of which is the Stalker Bolter, which is fitted with an elaborate targeting system along with silenced shells, for the occasion where the Space Marine wants to be silent and precise. The second modification is that of a proper high-precision rifle, because even though Space Marines have their own size for Sniper Rifles, they just want it on a Bolter. On their hierarchy of weapons, these modified Bolters might just be on the DMR spectrum; they are accurate alright, but still have a decent Dakka.
Alternate pattern Bolters
As mentioned above, the Godwyn-Pattern Bolter is the standard issue Bolter seen in Warhammer 40k. It is your standard iconic bolter, with the slightly curved magazine, the iron sights and textured grip at the end, and pieces jutting out slightly above and under the barrel. However, there are several other "generic" patterns that have been used across many Space Marine forces, especially with regards to Forge World and Horus Heresy era games; these are contrasting the one-offs such as the Hesh-pattern of the Deathwatch. Because of it's nature as the "default" Space Marine bolter, the Godwyn pattern has a plethora of sub-patterns and variations:
- Godwyn Mark Vb Pattern - The most widely-used pattern of Astartes Bolter in the Imperium.
- Godwyn Mark IIIa Pattern - An older pattern of Bolter still used by the Dark Angels Chapter, because of course they can't use the same thing as everyone else. What a bunch of vintage hipsters. The Mark III Pattern Bolter was also known to be produced by the manufactora of the Astral Claws in Badab Primaris.
- Godwyn Ultima Pattern - The Pattern is a variant weapon very similar to the bog-standart Godwyn Mark Vb Bolter, known to have been used by the Minotaurs and Exorcists Chapters during the Badab War.
- Nocturne Ultima Pattern - A sub-modification of the aforementionned Godwyn Ultima Pattern carried out solely by the Salamanders on their homeworld of Nocturne, hence the name of the pattern. One could say this is the sub-pattern of a sub-pattern.
- Mark IV Pattern - An earlier variant of the Godwyn V that made use of a 20 bolt magazine and possessed the capability for both single-shot and three-bolt burst fire. The Mark IV Bolter also had a biometric sensor in its handgrip to identify its wielder using his unique genetic imprint.
- Mark IV Ultra Pattern - A more advanced sub-pattern of the Mark IV used by the Red Scorpions Chapter. Retains the ever-important biometric handgrip, but uses 25-bolt sickle magazines. This pattern also possesses a built-in ammunition counter and an Auto-senses targeting uplink as standard features.
- Mark II Ultra Pattern - Another Red Scorpions 'Ultra' variant, but time it's a modified Godwyn Mark II. Used during the Imperial operation on the Tyranid-infested world of Beta Anphelion IV. It made use of a nightscope that greatly enhanced the weapon's accuracy during nighttime operations
The Phobos Pattern Bolter is the original bolter, having been used at the start of the Great Crusade all the way up to the Horus Heresy. This bolter retains the curved magazine but the bolts are visible within; it also retains the iron sights, but the grip is missing. The gun overall has less bulk to it, with the barrel being more visible and the rear of the gun being more exposed. One notable optional feature is a chainsword bayonet, a feature that is optional on the Phobos, Umbra, and Umbra-Ferrox lines.
The Umbra Pattern Bolter was created in the later years of the Great Crusade as technology was rediscovered. The umbra retains the slightly less bulky rear of the gun that the Phobos pattern had, while enclosing parts of the rifle barrel, which is relatively larger. Lacking a grip, the Umbra pattern has a distinctive groove all the way down the bolter aligning with the barrel. Notably, in M42 (7th edition and beyond) the Umbra pattern is used by the Sisters of Silence, possibly to contrast their guns from the Space Marines (but mostly because their sprue comes from the Burning of Prospero Horus Heresy box).
The Umbra-Ferrox Pattern Bolter is the Bolter equivalent to the Mk5 Space Marine armor -- a desperate, lower technology stopgap solution created to deal with the Horus Heresy. The most notable aspects of the Umbra-Ferrox is the addition of an optical scope (fitting in with the fluff of the gun having targeting and optical equipment that connects to the Marine's power armor) as well as a distinctive lack of magazine -- instead, the Umbra-Ferrox pattern typically has a bulky ammo box.
The Tigrus Pattern Bolter is seemingly a Forge World invention, created so they could have a distinctive bolter pattern for their products. Slightly boxier than a Godwyn bolter, the magazine for a Tigrus bolter is rectangular, lacking the curve of other bolter magazines. The ejection chute for spent ammunition is also enclosed with a boxy shroud to encourage shells to go downwards, and while the bolter does have a grip, it is a solid piece of metal and not textured like the Godwyn pattern bolter's grip.
This pattern is a really good Bolter that comes in a size of a Bolt Carbine, apparently.
This Bolter exclusive to the Deathwatch is of Hesh-pattern. This design first appeared in their alien-blood-ridden armouries at around M36. It was initially designed by Magos Cymbry Jamis, an adherent of the Omnissiah, and gifted to the Deathwatch in appreciation for services rendered to the Mechanicus and Holy Mars. These Bolters are of exceptional craftsmanship, and more compact than typical weapons of their type. It would have been a Bolt Carbine for all purposes if not for the fact that even though it is smaller, the package it brings with is much better in quality, though it depends on the user to judge whether it's worth pretty much halving effective range and the size of each clip he is going to be firing with. Thanks to their relatively smaller size and ease of use, Hesh-pattern Bolters are well suited to close-quarters combat, such as in urban areas or aboard voidships, and are also favored by vehicle crews because despite the tendency of huge structures in the Imperium, vehicle environment in general is still pretty cramped. Tactical Marines specializing in close combat, and, to a lesser degree, Assault Marines also love this gun. Along with the aforementioned exceptional craftsmanship, these Bolters also feature an integral folding stock, motion predictor (yes, it predicts targets' movement), and preysense sight which is a fancy thermal sight.
For some reason, this pattern is mostly exclusive to the Ultramarines seconded to the Deathwatch.
A really old particular Bolter presumably specifically assembled to hunt particular heretics.
This ancient Boltgun was created by the master-artificers on the Rock, only a few centuries after the Horus Heresy, and although it bears no inscription, it was consecrated with terrible oaths of vengeance and retribution against traitors. Remember, the first digit of the millennium hadn't moved up yet, so they were still pretty pissed about the whole fiasco, and the other fiasco that followed a little while later. Over the millennia, the Furious Vengeance has cut down many hundreds of accursed Space Marines who betrayed their Emperor and their brothers, selling their souls to Chaos. Among its victims are a number of Fallen Dark Angels, although this fact is only known by the inner circle of the Chapter. Other people who witnessed the kill were probably told that those were Black Legion Chaos Space Marines, but among the well-informed lot should be able to notice the lack of yellow among those same lot. How good is this Bolter? Well, it has better penetration for a start, and that is critical when you really want to be sure that the bolt hits that Black Legion heretic. It seems the Dark Angels left the Furious Vengeance with the Deathwatch just in case one of them who was sent over there happens to find one of the people they've been looking for.
So if a Deathwatch Marine from the Dark Angels and the Inner Circle felt the next deployment's going to be special for the agenda, he's going to take this reliable Bolter here.
This Bolter is one of the hand-me-downs from the Primarch in question to his Ultramarines.
The ancient Boltgun known as the Primarch’s Wrath is believed to have come from the personal weapons collection of the Primarch, Roboute Guilliman, which if we consider the size difference between Primarchs and Space Marines, the Primarch’s Wrath might as well be a Bolt Pistol in Guilliman's hand. This Bolter has dispensed thunderous death to the foes of Mankind for millennia. Chased in Theldrite moonsilver – possibly the same material that is used to decorate the Misericordia carried by the Custodians – and inscribed in microscopic lettering with every treatise on tactics that Guilliman ever penned, this weapon’s quality is such that it allows its wielder to sweep away great swathes of the enemy with a storm of lethal fragmenting bolts. The quality and deadliness are likely part of Guilliman's design parameters for a weapon fitting for a Primarch, but having your novels etched all over the gun is just egotistic, especially since a Primarch probably wouldn't need to rely on notes in that manner, rendering this feature purely aesthetics. This might be a decorative addition by the artificers making the Primarch’s Wrath, or it might be a later addition by the later pre-Tyrannic Ultramarines who virtually worshiped the Codex Astartes like the bible.
Since it is his to begin with, Guilliman should might as well take the Bolter as a backup weapon until he finds out what happened to his trusty Combi-Bolter.
This is the story of Brother Octavio. Brother Octavio was deeply troubled by the Red Thirst that afflicts many Blood Angels, until one of the Chapter Chaplains inscribed the Canticle of Unceasing Service upon his Boltgun. Not to his surprise, Octavio was deployed immediately, and henceforth and probably to his surprise, as long as he used the weapon to smite down an enemy of the Emperor each day, his mind was clear and untroubled. It is recorded that from then on, he fought a battle every day of his life. Firing this Bolter helps to calm the thoughts of its Blood Angels bearer, focusing his rage into cold and deadly skill. Basically, this Bolter allows the Blood Angel in question to be at the condition that his ancestors were ten thousand years ago. If the weapon has contributed to the death of an enemy within the last 12 hours, the thirst miraculously becomes more manageable for the firer. In addition, should the bearer’s thirst demeanor be triggered, he will be able to focus shooting with better efficiency for the duration of his current encounter with said enemies of the Emperor. However, if the weapon has not killed anything in the previous 12 hours, the bearer's thirst becomes even more unbearable, more potent than usual if it's eventually triggered.
Either Brother Octavio is generous enough to lend this Bolter to the Deathwatch, or the Blood Angels allowed the Deathwatch to keep it to help other new Blood Angels out.
Special Issue Boltgun
This lot here are Boltguns which are exclusive to Sternguard Veterans, who are special enough for these special Bolters because they have been fighting for a heck of a long time to become veterans, unlike most Guardsmen who just have to survive their first few hours in battle – easier said than done, by the way.
Also known as the Sternguard Boltgun, it is basically a Bolter with better armour penetration complementing its longer range – a better Bolter overall. These things tear apart Terminators and just about anything weaker than a Super Heavy, both in the crunch and the fluff. Common attachments to showcase its special quality are scopes and box magazines; slings and purity seals are also popular, along with anything else that Techmarines and Artificers have on hand to pimp the Bolter out with. Back then, the Sternguard used to have access to Special Issue Ammunition, but then it was later decided that the Deathwatch should be the only guys who get to use that perk; and so the Sternguard Vets of the present now have a different Special Issue at their disposal. If the standard issue Boltgun is an equivalent of an assault rifle compared to our military, then the Special Issue Boltgun here is a light machine gun comparable to the Storm Bolter – though the Storm Bolter is probably more accurate for that description in terms of size and weight difference to the normal Bolter. A more specific comparison would be the Heckler & Koch G36 as the standard issue Bolter, and the Heckler & Koch MG36 as the Special Issue Boltgun. This would make the Storm Bolter equivalent to the MG4 or MG5.
In 8th edition, they now basically fire a version of Vengeance Rounds with longer range, if one were to compare the stats. It is a decent trade-off for the loss of Special Issue Ammunition – which is now exclusive to the Deathwatch – that might be due to the recent shortages and/or usual logistical problem. We should note, however, that Sternguard Veterans can also take up Storm Bolters as an alternative under the same cost as these Bolters here. The only difference is that the Sternguards will lose in Armour Penetration since Storm Bolters are not "Special Issue."
There is a new type of Space Marine, and with them comes a new type of Bolter which only they get to use too. The Mark II Cawl-pattern Bolt Rifle looks like an extended-out Bolter and operates somewhere in between a Bolter and Heavy Bolter in effectiveness, with the same fire rate and strength as a normal Bolter, but greater range and armor piercing capabilities.
Re-engineered, re-crafted, and perfected, the Bolt Rifles are proof that when the Mechanicus get off their asses and actually try to create something (or when you have an Archmagos with highly unorthodox ideas about innovation working directly for you to bypass such pesky matters), sometimes they can improve upon a classic. However, looking at the profile for the thing, a long in the tooth space marine player might think "Hang on, isn't that, like, Kraken rounds?" Well, yes; as you may recall from above, the Special Issue Ammunition for Sternguard Veterans has been replaced with Special Issue Bolters, which have a static AP-2 but lack the increased range. The Deathwatch still gets Special Issue Ammunition, though, for your information. And yes, Kraken Bolts work just like Bolt Rifles. Moving on; since the Astartes Bolter can be compared to our assault rifle, then the Bolt Rifle here should be comparable to our battle rifle which essentially fires bigger cartridges compared to its assault counterpart. Since the Astartes Bolter has around ten thousand years to prove that its sizes are perfect for Space Marines, the Bolt Rifle wouldn't be able to find its way to their armouries; you know, it should be able do more than that to be worth the increased size that is probably at about the same weight as a Storm Bolter.
Two variants of the Bolt Rifle design exist: the Auto Bolt Rifle, designed for a greater fire rate at the expense of range; the Stalker Bolt Rifle, which has a slower rate of fire, but possesses better range and armor piercing capabilities. The Stalker Bolt Rifle can be identified by its different scope model, as well as a straight magazine instead of sickle. The Auto Bolt Rifle is even easier to identify since what you will be looking for is a distinctive drum magazine. Another distinctiveness it has is a cylinder mounted on the place where a scope would be. It is interesting to note that this component in particular looks rather identical to the energy source used by the Plasma weaponry of the Primaris Space Marines. On the other hand, this cylindrical part can also be found on the Assault Bolter. With this, we can conclude that in exchange of having a scope, the Auto Bolt Rifle is equipped with a high-speed autoloader in order to sustain a higher rate of fire fitting the "Auto" designation.
Incidentally, calling this Bolter a "rifle" implies that all other (Astartes) Bolters are Carbines.
Three more variants were unveiled by Cawl and were placed in use with the Heavy Intercessors who use Gravis armor, all three corresponding to a heavy variant of the standard Bolt Rifle variants. The Heavy Bolt Rifle, which fires Heavy Bolter shells with lesser damage, the Hellstorm Bolt Rifle (corresponding to the Auto Bolt Rifle) which fires Heavy Bolter grade shells with less armor piercing and less damage at a high rate of fire and the Executor Bolt Rifle (corresponding to the Stalker Bolt Rifle) which fires Heavy Bolter grade shells with better armor piercing and higher damage but with a lower rate of fire. Heavy Intercessors can take corresponding Heavy variants of these weapons (a squad has one variant and one in five Astartes can get the big guns), but these will be discussed in the Heavy Bolter section below.
The signature pole of the Emperor's Golden Boys usually has a ranged weapon attached to its end along with the blade, usually a Bolter. And in this category, there are two kinds.
The first kind is the one attached to the aforementioned signature pole we know as the Guardian Spear as well as the Castellan Axe variant. And as you may have deduced from the title, it is called a Guardian Bolter. Unsurprisingly, it is a really good Bolter overall, and the Custodians decided that they want theirs mounted on a stick. The Castellan Axe variant usually has a bigger magazine, but that might just be a matter of preference. By the way, remember that Samurai Jack episode where he meets the Spartans? Remember how those spears have rockets on i? Imagine that, but in a fully automatic mode. There have been concerns to how the Custodians actually reload the Bolter when it is so awkwardly positioned. That duty falls to their Armoury Thralls who follow them to battle. These servants carry ammunition and armour sealant for the Custodians, and they are also capable warriors on their own. When he runs out of ammo, the Custodian simply tosses the Guardian Spear at the Thrall so that he may reload the Guardian Bolter for him in a few seconds before tossing it back to his master.
The second kind is called a Bolt Caster, distinct by the fact that it has two barrels, one on each side of the Sentinel Warblade, with the corresponding magazines looking-like/serving-as the cross guard. Whereas the Guardian Bolter is a precise weapon to engage over longer ranges, the Bolt Caster is an assault weapon more suitable for shorter ranges where it gets up close and personal in seconds. Although the calibers might be different, perhaps the reduced range might have something more to do with how "gun swords," though invariably cool, are rather impractical. Even though we can be assured that a Sentinel Warblade is constructed to be perfectly-balanced, and the Custodian wielding it is more than powerful enough to swing it like a cavalry saber, there is a good difference between aiming with a pole using two hands, and aiming with a rod using just one hand. It is unknown whether the Sentinel Warblade has alternative attachments such as a Flamer like the Galatus Warblade.
In 8th Edition, when shooting these weapons, they are both 24" S4 AP-1, with Rapid fire 1 and D2, that's 2 wounds per failed save. Yes, your basic gun has two wounds.
In recognition to this, many units make use of a double-barreled Bolter that can spray out considerably more bolts out to maximum range, effectively making for a more dangerous weapon capable of ladling out more explosive-filled armor-piercing goodness. This is most commonly seen used by high-ranking officers who can afford better than just Bolt Pistols and Space Marines in Terminator Armour. It has separate magazine wells, one for each of the barrels; usually these will hold either a Duplus X Magazine (which is 2 sickle/straight mags strapped together), or a single box magazine which connects to both wells at the same time. For arm-mounted Storm Bolters such as those typically possessed by named characters and everybody in the Grey Knights, the wells are on the side of the weapon. For conventional Storm Bolters, the wells are normally and boringly attached by the bottom.
Chaos Space Marines lack access to the Storm Bolters because they are one of the few rare things in the Imperium that are new over the past ten millennia; that is, the weapon was invented/rediscovered some time after they lost Horus and fled to the Warp. However, the role of Storm Bolters has already been filled by something they already have, something that was replaced by the Imperium with these Storm Bolters. This older weapon is called the Combi-Bolter, sometimes called a Tandem or Twin-Linked Bolter, which was used around the time of the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy. It is basically two normal Bolters hooked together and linked to the same trigger mechanism. On the tabletop this offered both an advantage and a drawback (while in the lore Storm Bolters are outright superior); at maximum range, Storm Bolters fire two shots, whereas the Combi-Bolter fires out one; but the Combi-Bolter is twin-linked and rapid fires, making it the better weapon at shorter range, but then they were given the same profile in 8th edition. Chaos Terminators can even assault after using Combi-Bolters due to being Relentless. Combi-Bolters are mostly used by Chaos Terminators and Commanders, the latter of which are known for raging hard at the fact that Chaos doesn't get better ranged weapon options for its commanders, unless you are a Tzeentchian Commander or a Sorcerer (or Emperor forbid, both). In which case, you shouldn't care either way. The Imperium still has and uses Combi-bolters, however they're reserved for the Cataphractii Terminators, not for any actual lore reason, because those guys were made for Horus Heresy and when they brought them into 40k GW was too lazy to give them Storm Bolters as an option. As of 8th, the stats for Combi-Bolters are now identical to that of Storm Bolters.
In Fantasy Flight Games' Warhammer 40k RPGs such as Deathwatch, the Storm Bolter has a similar rate of automatic fire to a Bolter, except that each shot is in fact the discharge of both barrels, and every hit counts as two hits from a tightly grouped pair of rounds, representing the synchronized firing mechanism involved in the two internally-intimate Boltguns. The Combi-Bolter, on the other hand, can gain a bonus to hit or score a single additional hit in a burst, representing the fact that the two component barrels are neither tightly-connected nor are they firing in timed synchronization, and so spraying the bolt rounds provides a greater chance to hit with at least some of the shots, but with less likelihood of hitting with all the shots.
Despite the edgy name, this weapon is not a Chaos-tainted Storm Bolter.
Urion was an honored member of the Ultramarines 1st Company, unfortunately at the jolly time around the invasion of Ultramar by Hive Fleet Behemoth. He was stationed at the Northern Polar Fortress during the defense of Macragge. Now, this is where the "Doom" part fits in already. Though there were survivors over the southern side, the assault on the Polar Fortress over Macragge's north pole was led by none other than the Swarmlord itself. Over there, Urion fought on the outer wall until it was overrun, his Storm Bolter reaping a heavy toll among the Tyranid horde. He defended the silo doors until they were breached, mowing down countless more bio-organisms. He battled in the catacombs as the surviving defenders fell back deeper and deeper. He fired burst after burst, each one finding its mark, until at last his ammunition was spent, and he charged into hand-to-hand combat and was finally overcome. Since the entire 1st Company of the time made their last stand in the lower Penitorium of the fortress, Urion probably either ran out of ammo at the last stand, or CQC-ed all the way to the last stand. Urion’s Storm Bolter was gifted to the Deathwatch, as a secret mark of respect and pledge of assistance. Somehow, people shoot better with it when the targets are Tyranids.
As you can see already, the Tyranids didn't pick the Storm Bolter and shoot Orion with it. It's another way around, definitely the other way around.
Vengeance of Ultramar
By the time of the Terran Crusade, since ole' Roboute finally got up and all, his boys thought it a perfect occasion to whip out some of the finest wargear seen in ten thousand years from the vaults of Ultramar.
For the case of this particular Storm Bolter, it might not even be that old. Last used during the Tyrannic wars, probably the first two since the third one is still ongoing, this ancient Storm Bolter here houses a Machine Spirit that allows for a dramatically increased rate of fire. Yes, this Storm Bolter likes the Dakka. Furthermore, though the Vengeance of Ultramar loads and fires standard-issue bolts, the matter-reactive substance of each round is altered within the hallowed firing chamber to become bio-reactive, causing living material to explode into vaporous clouds upon contact. This is a unique instance for the Bolter. Normally, when you want your bolts to do something other than exploding, you use special issue bolts which are exclusive to the Deathwatch as of the current edition. The Vengeance of Ultramar by itself, however, alters the normal bolts so that they do something else. This capability opens up the possibility for Bolters to provide special effects by themselves. For example, an "Inferno Bolter" (not the ones used by Rubricae, mind you) would turn bolts into literal fireballs (which is probably what the Tzeentchian Inferno Bolter does but through Warp nonsense rather than specially built firing chambers). A "Kraken Bolter" would make the bolt much more penetrative somehow with Science. And, in a way, this Vengeance of Ultramar is a souped-up "Hellfire Storm Bolter."
So, the Vengeance of Ultramar is likely a one-of-a-kind modification tailor-made to fight Tyranids, but will work wonders on other fleshy enemies as well.
Over the millennia of campaigning and fighting for the Imperium of Man, the vaults of the Fang have become filled with rare and potent weapons. The Storm Bolter known as Frostmodr in Fenrisian, or Frostfury in Low Gothic, is just such an example – an elaborately decorated weapon crafted long ago by the skilled hands of an unremembered Tech-Adept. Re-chambered to fire bolt rounds tipped with Helfrost warheads, it is the only known example of such a weapon, the secrets of its creation unsurprisingly lost. In battle, the glittering rounds impart their freezing payload as they explode deep in the flesh of their victims. Few enemies can survive both the destructive force of a detonating bolt shell and the frigid blast of the shattering glimmerfrost crystal, not to mention that the bolts come in pair at a time because this is a Storm Bolter. Do note that unlike the previous Storm Bolter, the Frostfury does not "make" regular bolts into Helfrost bolts. You've got to ask the Space Wolves for the required ammunition since the crystals what make Helfrost work in the first place is local to only the planet of Fenris. And unless you have this Storm Bolter with you, your regular, uninsulated Storm Bolter will probably freeze itself along with you as well from firing a couple of Helfrost-tipped bolts.
Bolters can fire rockets that turn people (or what's left of them) into ice, and the Space Wolves have the only one that can do it.
The Foe-smiter is incredibly decent for a ten thousand years old Storm Bolter, which is certainly odd since there shouldn't be any Storm Bolter in the first place.
This ornate Storm Bolter was wrought by Fedorovich the Great, one of the greatest Martian weaponsmiths of the era of the Great Crusade. Fedorovich forged many of the master-crafted weapons still prized by the Imperium today. The existence of this Tech-priest raises a question to whether he is in fact the inventor of the Storm Bolter, or perhaps a major contributor to its design, which would make this Foe-smiter here a Storm Bolter "prototype." Of course, Fedorovich might be eccentric for a weaponsmiths like Alaric the Mad in Warhammer Fantasy, and he moved on to something like Runefangs or the Nemesis Crown; you know, the Great Crusade made demand for weapons pretty high, and good ole' Fedorovich had to keep up with that. Even by comparison to those other weapons, however, Foe-smiter has always been considered special, probably because the thing was a Storm Bolter in an age where Space Marines soldered two Bolters together in order to make a double rocket launcher. Perhaps any Combi-Bolter that had been streamlined to handle firing out two bolts at a time in an improved manner were effectively Storm Bolters, but since back then they didn't figure out how to make it for cheap, the design remained as unstandardized, special Combi-Bolters until the end of the Horus Heresy and when the Storm Bolter manufacturing data got sent out, Foe-smiter got recognized as the prototype and formally changed designation from Artificer Combi-Bolter to Storm Bolter.
Foe-smiter was fittingly presented with honor to the first Grand Master of the Deathwing – the Terminator branch of the Dark Angels – and continues to lay low the enemies of the Chapter to this day.
Fury of Deimos
Because virtually every Grey Knight out there has a Storm Bolter, it wouldn't be too suprising to find slightly better ones on some of their wrists.
And by better, we don't mean anything special. The Fury of Deimos is simply a really good Storm Bolter without any gimmick to stand apart from the other good quality stuff. Now, this Deimos isn't somebody like Kratos's younger brother. See, when the Grey Knights were forming up, they figured that a personal Forge World right next to Mars would do the trick of keeping supplies in check. When the moon of Deimos was gifted to Titan by the Adeptus Mechanicus, it carried with it a ship loaded with some of the finest weapons the Imperium has ever created. Among them was the Storm Bolter Fury of Deimos, a weapon crafted by the first Fabricator General. Now, this is a very big thing. Storm Bolters are known to have been created after the Horus Heresy, which explains why Chaos Space Marines are mostly stuck with Combi-Bolters. A "first" Fabricator General would be a very, very old Tech-priest leading the Mechanicum around the time of the Unification Wars – you know, since the Martians were also engaged in its own World Domination campaign at the time. The Fury of Deimos might be a "prototype" made by that Fabricator General, but he/she didn't bother to start a mass production model, leaving the Fury of Deimos as a one-of-a-kind, Storm Bolter-ish Bolt Weapon.
Superior in range, accuracy, rate of fire and reliability to a normal Storm Bolter, the Fury of Deimos is a relic whose secrets have long been forgotten just like many other things of the Imperium of Man.
The Forge Bolter is the kid cousin of the larger Maxim Bolter. It is a type of large Bolt Weapon usually mounted onto the Power Armour of Techmarines, specifically the Primaris variant of the Techmarine. These are often shoulder-mounted bolters that gives the Techmarine a free hand in multi-tasking shit whilst still having the firepower to fend off particularly annoying pests.
In terms of size, it is somewhere between a normal bolter and a heavy bolter. Its box-fed magazine gives it more ammunition than standard, around the same as that of a storm bolter, whilst maintaining a relatively compact form for ease of carrying. However, due to the way it is situated, reloading is a pain in the ass, even with the advent of a servo-arm. So in a nutshell, imagine a storm heavy bolter if you will.
In 9th Edition, the forge bolter sorta lets you copy Iron Father Feirros by slapping on what is essentially a heavy bolter to a servo-arm so it becomes Assault 3 and gains two bonus mechadendrite attacks (Don't expect too much, they're S+1 AP- D1).
Lastrum Storm Bolter
Used by the Aquilon Terminators of the Adeptus Custodes, this pattern of double-barreled Boltguns is named after the weaponsmiths of the Lastrum Core Clan of the Appolyne workshops of Holy Terra – "Lastrum" interestingly being Danish for a cargo hold, and "Appolyn" being an inflection of "Apollo," a Greek/Roman Sun God. Other than being unsurprisingly god-tier where craftsmanship is concerned, these Storm Bolters would have been rather unremarkable if not for the unique and powerful ammunition it fires. Rather than the usual "Kraken" type bolts loaded into most Bolters in the hands of the Custodians, the artisans of the Lastrum – possibly a Tech-priest sect – subscribe to the archaic way of thinking that anything "handmade" is undeniably better. And since this is 40k, archaic is actually good. The bolts these Lastrums make and customize are "mass-reactive heliothermic warheads." Since we see the keyword "Mass Reactive" on pretty much everything Bolter-related anyway, we are going to ignore it along with "Warhead" because we all know what that is as well. Let us explore the "Heliothermic" part – "-thermic" means anything about heat (thermal, duh), and "Helio-" comes from Helios which is Greek for the Sun (Sounds familiar?). Connect both words together, and we will have an image of a bolt that is as hot as the goddamn Sun.
Unlike regular bolts, when these little hot shits burrow themselves inside whatever it is supposed to explode in, they do not just explode; they explode with the aforementioned heat of the goddamn Sun which in 40k, translates to Plasma-level of heat. Yes, it is exactly what you think it is. On the technical note, these bolts are very dense, more so than regular bolts, and thus it requires an even stronger charge to launch itself out of the barrel, which may also include replacement to the regular rocket fuel that is supposed to propel it further. The Storm Bolter itself is actually designed to work around that stronger kick, which may be the reason why there are no regular Lastrum Bolters since a bigger body is a stronger frame to work with. In case you have forgotten that this is a Storm Bolter, we would like to remind the reader that Storm Bolters are essentially MG equivalents compared to our guns; which means these bolts do not come out in bursts of a few shots at a time. They come out in a hail.
If you have read our crash course on regular Storm Bolters, you will remember that they didn't exist ten thousand years ago among the Legiones Astartes. This means that the design was already discovered/invented way back then, but was made available to rest of the Imperium's military forces later on. Since the Lastrums have to deliberately design this Storm Bolter to handle the bolts in the first place, it would not be too far-fetched for them to actually be the people who – by modifying Combi-Bolters to handle the big bolts – laid down the foundations for the standard Storm Bolters. So instead of being a variant, Storm Bolters are instead a downsized version of the Lastrum. Without the special ammunition. This would also explain why Chaos Marines don't have means to build Storm Bolters like the loyalists do. It didn't exist when they fled into the Eye of Terror.
And have we mentioned costs? Because these Storm Bolters (though the bulk of it might be just the bolts) are really, really expensive to make in the first place, both in worth of materials and in the time it takes to craft them by hand and not with an automated assembly line. Like everything else with the Emperor's Golden Bodyguards, it is simply too much to equip a lot of soldiers with these shiny Storm Bolters. Even the Lastrums themselves are barely keeping up with just the demands of the Custodes, though they might just be a coven of ancient Tech-priests who have gotten pretty obsessive in maintaining quality instead of making more in quantity. It's not like the Custodes would harbor non-Mechanicus engineers now... would they? Anywho, assuming that the clan is still around, the Lastrums have had about ten thousand years to make these; so the Custodians might actually have a lot of them in store right now, assuming that their Aquilon Terminators haven't seen deployment that much since the Horus Heresy in order to save up that precious ammunition, and assuming that the Lastrums haven't had their funding cut at some point because the Imperium of Man is not really in a state we would call prospering these days.
On the tabletop, these guns here, along with all Lastrum weapons, have Heliothermic Detonation, so anybody that takes one or more unsaved wounds and is not slain has to make a Toughness roll or get Instant Death (or +1 to penetration damage table if a vehicle). For the Storm Bolter itself, it is a 24" S5 AP4 weapon. A special note on these guns, the Heliothermic Detonation is mostly relevant against models with a lot of Wounds. Because all models in a unit that are firing the same weapon shoot at the same time, it does not matter if said unit is firing one or a thousand Lastrum shells: the rule will only be triggered once against the last wounded model, after all the others have been killed normally. This greatly mitigates the efficiency of Lastrum weaponry against squads of multi-wounded models, but killing an extra bastard is always a good thing, nevertheless.
Mk.III Shrike Pattern Bolt Sniper Rifle
The unnecessarily long Mk.III Shrike Pattern Bolt Sniper Rifle or simply shortened as the Shrike Sniper Rifle is, as its name implies, a Sniper Bolter. The Mk.III Shrike Sniper Rifles are Bolt Weapons utilized by Vanguard Eliminators. It looks like a G36, automatically increasing its awesome factor.
The optical sights of this weapon can be tailored for any situation, from thermoscopic vision to precision auspex scans that can penetrate several feet of solid matter. Once locked on to, there is nowhere for an Eliminator's prey to hide. Each member of the squad carries spare magazines filled with special ammunition, tailored for every situation eventually. Hyperfrag rounds detonate in a shower of shrapnel, Executioner rounds are sophisticated self-guided missiles slaved to a miniaturized cogitator that can seek their target from behind cover, while Mortis rounds spew self-replicating mutagenic toxins into the flesh of a target.
On tabletop, these bolt sniper rifles can target Characters at will. Their standard ammunition is a scout sniper rifle shot with AP-2 and D3 damage, instead of AP0 and 1 damage. On average rolls, Eliminators will have 2 damage per shot and a much-needed AP value for sniping. Their most unusual round is the Mortis round, capable of targeting foes entirely outside of line of sight at AP-1 and 1 damage. Mortis rounds also add an incredible +2 to hit to their attacks, meaning your snipers hit on 2's and ignore a single -1 to Hit penalty entirely. Their last round is a Heavy D3 36" boltgun for token horde clearing, but your points really are wasted every time you don't fire at a character with these weapons. The Hyperfrag's gained a bit of Overwatch utility in 9e as they got the Blast rule.
As they didn't want to be left behind, the Mechanicum decides to join the Bolter hype train with its very own version. In order to keep up with the steampunk aesthetics, nothing screams that out better than the Maxim gun.
The Maxim Bolter is a Boltgun with a very satisfactory firepower that leaves a lot to be desired in the areas of weight and recoil, as well as a pitiful range comparable to the Bolt Pistol. Assuming that the reader knows what a Maxim gun is, then as the name implies, it is the machine gun version of the average Bolter deployed by Myrmidon Secutors by the time of the Horus Heresy. By merit of similar stat lines, one may consider the Maxim Bolter as a precursor to the Storm Bolter of the present. Do note, however, that the Maxim Bolter is really big. Myrmidon Tech-priests stand taller than an Astartes in Terminator Armour, and they mount these two bad boys on their shoulders, leaving their hands free for their main weaponry. Them cogboys don't mess around. If the Mechanicus were nice enough to share (Fat chance), Space Marine Terminators would have little need for Storm Bolters with these on their shoulderplates. They would have their hands free – Terminators with Thunder Hammer × Storm Shield or Lightening Claw combos would not have to give up their ranged capabilities.
For those of you who have already noticed the physical similarities, that is exactly what happened as Games Workshop in their usually laziness, decided to make a thinly veiled allusion to the Maxim gun. Heck, it even looks like one. Talk about a lack of subtlety.
The heavy machine gun variation of the Bolter ejects even bigger casings containing bolts with heavier, armor-piercing tips, and nearly double the range of the standard breed. Naturally, this kind of advantage usually translates to how the weapon can cut through infantry with horrifying ease, and it remains a "must have" weapon when facing mass-based armies such as Orks or Tyranids, or the Imperial Guard if you or your opponent are not playing home team on the God-Emperor's side. Sadly, the Heavy Bolter is so big that it takes two people to transport and operate; one if the person wears a Power Armour. In normal circumstances, it cannot be fired on the move – unless you are the Imperial Guard Gunnery Sergeant Harker, in which case you can because you are concentrated manliness of such a degree that you make your whole squad fearless in the process.
Heavy Bolters are usually seen on vehicles if not carried around by heavy weapons teams that do deploy them. The Imperial Guard requires two people to use one of them as mentioned. Space Marines carry them around with ease, usually by Devastator Squads, and Sternguard Veterans if they fancy it. By merit of wearing Power Armour, a Sister of Battle is also capable of carrying one by herself, specifically Retributors. The forces of the Adeptus Mechanicus are known for modding a few of their Servitors for the sole purpose of carrying and firing a Heavy Bolter, presumably so the Tech-Priest can get some fucking work done while a bunch of Orks are screaming and brandishing pointed sticks in their general direction. Special recognition goes to the Leman Russ Battle Tank for mounting three of these fucking things in most configurations. If you want to rape an entire squad of infantry, accept no substitutes save perhaps a Baneblade – or a Leman Russ Punisher.
In fluff terms, the Heavy Bolter uses a 1.00 (25.4mm wide) caliber round as opposed to the regular Bolter's 0.75 caliber, allowing it to tear through all but the most heavily-armored of targets. It also attains a higher rate of fire than standard-sized Boltguns, and so it commonly comes with a large ammunition feed such as large box and drum magazines, or the large backpack-mounted feed belts used by Space Marines. This allows for sustained fire, although it can still feed from free-hanging ammo belts, as commonly utilized by Chaos Space Marines. As stated above, the weapon is massive, requiring either a vehicle, two human operators, or a super soldier to carry. Thus, the operator(s) commonly have to entrench themselves before firing the weapon in order to control and accurately fire the weapon. To give you an understanding of just how deadly a Heavy Bolter can be, consider that a .25 inch difference in terms of caliber is pretty enormous. The relationship between the radius and volume of a cylinder is proportional to the
cube square (x²) of the radius rather than linear. A 1.00 caliber round would have almost twice the volume (and mass) of a 0.75 caliber round if it was the same length; on top of that, Heavy Bolter shells are also proportionally longer, judging by the size of the ammunition feed chute. And of course, volume is extremely important when it comes to determining the power of an explosive.
Worthy of special note are the Hellfire Rounds which may be fired from this weapon by Space Marine Scouts. It is a poisoned (2+), blast shell – particularly useful against Tyranid Biomorphs or simply blob armies in general.
There is also a supposedly better Heavy Bolter Pattern existing only within the Cult Mechanicus. The Knight Pattern Heavy Bolter is only mounted on Knight Titan chassis, and it is somehow designed to more effectively combat vehicles, monstrous creatures, and heavy walkers. How this is accomplished is uncertain, but it was apparently more suited to the task than the Imperial Autocannon. Supposedly two of these weapons can equal the power of a Vulcan Mega Bolter, which probably puts these Bolters soundly at a Vulkan stat-line, though only Heavy 6. Too bad we will never know, because Games Workshop hates Knights – but not anymore due to the new knights being released in plastic ERMAHGERD.
We can, however, infer that it is not the weapon itself but the ammunition used that makes it so devastating. That is how bolters work, after all. It most likely uses flux-core heavy bolt shells with a vastly superior explosive (and maybe better propellant or even an actual jet engine). There is a special ammunition type for bolters that is flux-cored. Basically it acts like Necron Gauss weapons except the power field surrounds the shell. It laughs at terminator armor (in fluff, anyway). This might also explain why it is only on Knights. That ammo is freakishly expensive (obviously) and the Mechanicus would sure as hell not want it to be wasted. That, and they probably can't mass produce it very well.
Two more variants were unveiled by Cawl to be used in Heavy Intercessor squads. As discussed previously in the Bolt Rifle section, one in every five Heavy Intercessors can get a corresponding Heavy Bolter variant. Standard Heavy Bolt Rifle squads can get normal Heavy Bolters, Hellstorm Bolt Rifle squads can get Hellstorm Heavy Bolters (which fire faster with lesser armor piercing) and Executor Bolt Rifle squads get Executor Heavy Bolters (which fires slower but has better armor piercing and damage characteristics).
Redemption of St. Sulech
No, a Space Marine wasn't made into a saint during the making of this Heavy Bolter.
The story goes like this. There was this isolated colony called St. Sulech, and a Deathwatch Kill-team was sent on an errand to probably do some xeno-bloody business on that planet. As they were about to extract and complete their mission, St. Sulech was attacked by an Ork raiding force. Of course, that Kill-team could have carried on with their usual business and gone home, but that wouldn't be heroic and interesting now, would it? For the Kill-team's part, they chose to defend from an Imperial shrine. Brother Frosius, a Devastator Marine from the Imperial Fists Chapter and presumably the squad leader, deployed in the highest tower with his favored Heavy Bolter, while the others of his team remained below, bearing the blunt of the green onslaught when they finally got to CQC range. Thanks to the devastating bursts of accurate fire from the tower, the Orks were defeated, but not without the loss of the rest of the Kill-team. Upon his return to Erioch, Frosius was severely censured for the decision to stay and fight. Four out of five Space Marines died defending a remote, unremarkable colony. On the other hand, like a true son of Dorn, Frosius chose to stand against the enemies of Mankind. To this day, his Heavy Bolter remains a symbol of honor, but also a disregard for orders.
Because of this, the Space Marine who gets to carry Redemption of St. Sulech shouldn't be the squad leader, unless he wants to put the team's cohesion to the test.
Already filled to the brim with wrist-mounted Storm Bolters, the Grey Knights found themselves rather lacking in psychic punch and decided to branch out to the Heavy Bolter area.
It is essentially their equivalent of the Heavy Bolter that fires heavier Psybolts, Bolt shells that radiate with negative psychic energy on top of having silver on their tips and Daemon-away inscriptions around them. Psycannons are all equipped with an anti-gravitic suspensor which allows it to be fired on the go. While this makes it shorter in range than the Heavy Bolter, its mobility, rate of fire, and wounding capability is strictly better than the Heavy Bolter. It also does more damage, on average, to any possible target than an Autocannon, despite having the same strength and AP. Depending on which variant you use (see below), it can also be strictly better than a Storm Bolter as well. The Grey Knights equip their Purgation Squads with Psycannons like they are Heavy Bolters, while their Terminators carry them one-handed as normal Terminators would do with an Assault Cannon. A Doomglaive Dreadnought is also equipped with a Heavy Psycannon, the same variant that can be found on the Nemesis Dreadknight. The Grey Knights' version of the Land Raider Redeemer ripped off the Twin Assault Cannons in favor of the Twin Psycannons! Even frontal tank armour can simply melt away under the onslaught of 8 S7 AP-1 rounds. Psycannon mounts on other Grey Knights vehicles such as on a Thunderhawk use the same turret model.
Because GW are total idiots, Psycannons have different profiles depending on which Codex yours happens to come from. Inquisitorial Psycannons are drastically better when fired by non-Relentless models, even though the Grey Knights are the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Malleus, and you'd expect them to have better gear overall. Unfortunately for the Inquisition, only Terminator Inquisitors, an Ordo Malleus upgrade, can take Psycannons; meaning that there is no difference between them, given that Heavy of the Inquisitorial Terminators and Salvo of the Grey Knights are functionally the same on Relentless models. As of 8th Edition, both types now use the same profile, yet Inquisition pay more than double the points that Grey Knights do! C'mon GW - get it together!
The Tempest Bolter is the middle child between the storm bolter and hurricane bolter.
Whereas the Hurricane Bolter is a set of six twin-linked Bolters, the Tempest Bolter seem to be a set of four Bolters (Or Bolt Rifles) linked together in a similar configuration, albeit far more compact and modulated. Although this means that the Tempest Bolter has a lower rate of fire, could carry less ammunition and has a lesser range, it also means that it is much easier to maintain, less bulky and provides more accurate fire.
The Tempest Bolter is the main secondary armament of the Gladiator Tank, specifically, the Gladiator Reaper. Although all variants of the Gladiator Tank could swap out one of its secondary weapons with the Tempest Bolter, the Reaper seems to complement this weapon the most due to its layout. On a more interesting note, due to how compact the weapon system is, it is unknown how it dispenses the build-up of heat, because other than the barrel, there seems to be no other way for the weapon to vent out excess heat.
Crunchwise, the Tempest Bolter complements very well with the Twin Heavy Onslaught Gatling Cannons. While the primary Twin Heavy Onslaught Gatling Cannons deal with hordes at range, the Tempest Bolter cleans up the stragglers at close range. All in all, the Gladiator Reaper is a literal mobile wall of guns. More details on its statlines could be seen in its profile down below.
Often times, one Bolter is just not enough. There are so many enemies of Mankind out there and only so few automatic rocket launchers. What if a Space Marine is confronted by a few hundred Orks with but a one Bolter? Sure, he might be able to kill them if he is badass enough, but not as quickly and efficient as the Imperium wants the process to be. Slacking with killing the enemies of Mankind is heresy, so what do you do when one Bolter proves to be lacking? Well, adding another five Bolters and having them all fire at once should do the trick.
Yes, you read that right. Not so much of a separate kind and more of a six-linked Bolter, but loyal to the name, this weapon fires out a hurricane of self-propelled rockets from an array of six barrels. The Hurricane Bolter is essentially six Bolters, nothing complex at all. It has to be six though. Since carrying six Bolters at once is asking too much even for a Space Marine, Hurricane Bolters are exclusively vehicle mounts. Usually, the array of Bolters is arranged a columns of two and rows of three. Of course, exceptions range from separating them entirely into two groups of three, to outright spreading them out into a single row entirely. The usual composition can be seen mounted on Ironclad Dreadnoughts, Crusader Pattern Land Raiders, and Stormraven Gunships. The variant mounted on Centurion warsuits and the similarly arranged one on the Dawneagle Jetbike retain the original dimensions, while the Corvus Blackstar and the Dark Talon ignores the 2×3 pattern entirely for aerodynamics sake. Since it is just six Bolters in one package anyway, imagine a Hurricane Bolter dismounting its Bolters to six unarmed Astartes in the heat of battle. The notion is rather unlikely, however, since Hurricane Bolters mounted on some other vehicles are more integrated than what you would find by a sponson, suggesting that the Bolters really are hardwired.
Naturally, the Orks love this. (Oy, look 'ere, boyz! Da humies is gettin' da idea!)
Mauler Bolt Cannon
Observe the size and remember, students, for this is where Heavy Bolter ends and Bolt Cannon starts.
The Mauler Pattern in particular is a field support weapon found within the Skitarii (Tech-Guard) formations and mounted on certain Battle-Automata. For now, only two classes of Battle-Automata we know of has this cannon installed, the Castellax and the Thanatar (The latter of which Twin-links as a wrist-mount weapon just to show off). The Mauler Bolt Cannon uses even larger caliber shells, evident by how the belt is considerably thicker than what you would find on Devastator Marines. These shells are substantially large as well as denser, which means the kick is phenomenal. This requires the cannon itself to possess an even larger and stronger frame to handle the firing stresses. This increase in mass is too much to be practical even for the augmented muscles of the Astartes to carry, let alone whether the Power Armour would survive after taking a recoil probably equivalent to us being hit by a car. A distinct feature of the Mauler is how it ejects its spent shell casings upward like it is supposed to be a pistol or something, but that might be due to the manner it is mounted on the Battle-Automata. Like everything else that is good, the secrets of this weapon are jealously guarded by the Mechanicum, though that does not stop the Thousand Sons from equipping their Castellax variant with one that has the Imperial Aquila decorated on its frame too. Other than robots, it is also mounted on the Triaros Armoured Conveyer as a pintle weapon, and twin-linked to boot.
Although it is obviously too large for Astartes in Power Armour to carry, Astartes clad in Terminator Armour might be able to carry it with both hands. Another Astartes non-vehicle candidate that may actually carry this Bolt Cannon with one hand is the Centurion Devastator. The suit is about the same size as the Battle-Automata, if not even bulkier. Dreadnoughts should be able to carry a couple on one side as well.
Unlike its little brother whose size is at about a Heavy Bolter, the Heavy Psycannon is at the proper scale to the name.
As stated, the Heavy Psycannon is a much more powerful version of the Psycannon by being much, much bigger. Just like the Heavy Incinerator and Gatling Psilencer, this Grey Knights weapon can only be carried by the infamous Nemesis Dreadknight. Why their Dreadnoughts are stuck with a normal Psycannon is a matter of discussion that may involve mangled Grey Knights being psychically less powerful due to the combination of the Dreadnought's confining environment along with the Grey Knight in question being damaged enough to be put into a Dreadnought in the first place. Looking at how huge the bore size of the Heavy Psycannon is, you can bet that it is going to fire out some ECKSBAWKSHUEG bolt rounds coated with an array of Warp pesticides. Do feel sorry for any Greater Daemon that is about to face a fistful of these oversized holy rockets. The Heavy Psycannon comes with two perfectly centered box magazines. The ammunition belt can be glued on either side of the weapon, or both if you want to since like the Mauler Bolt Cannon, its ejection port is on top. But since most of the time there is only one belt connected to a magazine, we can probably assume that the pilot uses telekinesis to manually swap the magazine should the first well runs out.
On the tabletop (7th ed), it is basically the heavy version for the Dreadknight, Same as the standard psycannon (S7 AP4 Rending) but with 2 firing modes: Heavy 1 Large Blast, or Salvo 3/6 (which, because it can only be taken by an MC, really just means 6 shots). Over at 8th ed, it is a S7 AP-1, D2 weapon that can do 2 damage per wound. Mix it up with its high rate of fire and you are turning horde armies into mince meat. It is also better then the Heavy Incinerator, though it is more useful for stopping charges with Overwatch.
Lastrum Bolt Cannon
The Lastrum Bolt Cannon is a bigger brother of the Lastrum family, and probably a significant factor to why the Lastrums are having a hard time meeting production demands – they do not make only Storm Bolters.
Also different from the Mauler Pattern is the caliber. The Lastrum Bolt Cannon is certainly smaller, its size a standard Bolter at least, and a Heavy Bolter at most. The factor that makes it a Bolt Cannon is likely the Lastrum bolts themselves. They are already heavy in their Storm Bolter incarnation, so even an insignificant increase in size will surely have a significant impact on the recoil. But since a bigger frame is always more space to work with implementing something to handle the kick, we get to see a single-barreled version on the Gyrfalcon Pattern Jetbike. Other heavier vehicles including the Caladius Grav-Tank, the Coronus Grav-Carrier, and the Orion Assault Dropship; all utilize a twin-linked variant similar to the smaller Storm Bolter. As you can see, in contrast with the Mauler where we only see the cannon installed on Battle-Automata, the Lastrum Bolt Cannon is so far seen mounted on several Custodes vehicles. Coming back to the size, it is unknown whether, with all their gene-forged strength and master-crafted Power Armour – will probably be Terminator if it actually comes down to it – the Custodians can carry the Lastrum Bolt Cannon as a Space Marine would with a Heavy Bolter. And, of course, their bigger and better Dreadnoughts should also be more than capable of using one or two.
On the tabletop, as a Lastrum Bolter, it has Heliothermic Detonation, so anybody that takes one or more unsaved wounds and is not slain has to make a Toughness roll or get Instant Death (or +1 to penetration damage table if a vehicle). For the Cannon itself, it is a 36" S6 AP3 Heavy 3 weapon. As a reminder for this subtype, the Heliothermic Detonation is mostly relevant against models with a lot of Wounds. Because all models in a unit that are firing the same weapon shoot at the same time, it does not matter if said unit is firing one or a thousand Lastrum shells: the rule will only be triggered once against the last wounded model, after all the others have been killed normally. This greatly mitigates the efficiency of Lastrum weaponry against squads of multi-wounded models, but killing an extra bastard is always a good thing, nevertheless.
Avenger Bolt Cannon
Earlier we have seen a transition from Heavy Bolter to Bolt Cannon. For this stage here, this is where the Bolt Cannon starts to awake its inner Dakka.
The Avenger Bolt Cannon is one of the relatively recent additions to the Bolter family, sharing its name with some similar weapons. With five barrels churning out rocket-propelled explosive bullets Gatling style, it cannot get any better than this. Wait a minute, why don't we make them even bigger? And before you read any further; no, the Avenger Gatling Cannon is not a Bolter. The weapon was introduced with the eponymous Avenger Strike Fighter, obviously alluding the real life GAU-8 Avenger. The difference here is that the GAU-8 is not a Bolter, and that our "Avenger" plane does not carry it. The aircraft that does carry it, however, is the A-10 Thunderbolt II. Back to 40k, another aircraft that carries the Bolt Cannon is the Fire Raptor, and twin-linked to boot. The Avenger Bolt Cannon is seemingly intended to chair the position as "Most Powerful Bolt Weapon in Non-Apocalypse Games" – at Strength 6, AP3, Heavy 7, it certainly is. Lacking the 2 Damage of its bigger cousins, the Castigator and Vulcan, with which it would have otherwise shared the same a Damage profile, the Avenger is less of an anti-vehicle weapon than a superior Assault Cannon. It should be better suited to targeting single-wound armoured infantry than light vehicles, unless the vehicle in question is a relatively dangerous example or the present infantry lacks real punch.
Concerning its name, there is another weapon that is designated as "Avenger" – A. Mega-Bolter. The Avenger Mega Bolter is little different than the Bolt Cannon counterpart. Installed as the primary weapon of the Nephilim Jetfighter, it is essentially a smaller rendition of the Vulcan Mega Bolter – being only a glorified Heavy Bolter at AP4 Heavy 5, instead of the terrifying seven shots at AP3. It is unlikely for this Mega-Bolter to be a better kind reserved for Space Marines since the Fire Raptor does not use it; and so, it is probable that the Mega-Bolter variant is simply a modification/design exclusive to only the Dark Angels. Good luck trying to bribe that lot to share the design with you.
Iliastus Accelerator Cannon
This is what happens when you want your Lastrum Bolt Cannon to be bigger than a Heavy Bolter and pass for a tank's main gun, particularly the Caladius's.
Sharing its name with an Assault Cannon pattern, the Iliastus Accelerator Cannon can be found installed on the aforementioned Caladius Grav Tank in a pair. Telemon Heavy Dreadnoughts have access to a variant called Iliastus Accelerator Culverin which has less range compared to the high-powered turret. Since Lastrum bolts are so heavy, they seem to have landed on the conclusion that conventional propellant is not going to cut it, and instead utilize the "Accelerator" system instead. Yes, the same Accelerators found on Fellblade and Sicaran tanks. It is unlikely that the Lastrums actually invented the "Accelerator" since only the Sicaran is mentioned to have derived its systems from this Iliastus. To provide a brief description of the Accelerator system, it presumably suspends the ammunition in vacuum before propelling it out with possibly just pressurized air, making it travel at the same speed you'd get from firing a conventional cannon with relatively tiny recoil. The canisters at the back of the weapon might be the vacuum-ingredient in question. Unlike the two smaller cousins, the Iliastus Accelerator does not have an ejection port on top, or at all for the matter. It probably does not need the initial propellant to fire out the bolts, and so there are no spent shells to eject.
As a Lastrum in all but name, this Accelerator Cannon has Heliothermic Detonation, so anybody that takes one or more unsaved wounds and is not slain has to make a Toughness roll or get Instant Death (or +1 to penetration damage table if a vehicle). For the Cannon itself, it is a 60" S7 AP2 Heavy 3, Rending, Rapid Tracking (ignores Jink saves) weapon. As a reminder for this subtype, the Heliothermic Detonation is mostly relevant against models with a lot of Wounds. Because all models in a unit that are firing the same weapon shoot at the same time, it does not matter if said unit is firing one or a thousand Lastrum shells: the rule will only be triggered once against the last wounded model, after all the others have been killed normally. This greatly mitigates the efficiency of Lastrum weaponry against squads of multi-wounded models, but killing an extra bastard is always a good thing, nevertheless.
Castigator Bolt Cannon
The Castigator Bolt Cannon is the Storm Bolter/Combi-Bolter to the Avenger Bolt Cannon as the normal Bolter.
By appearance, its configuration looks quite similar to the Vulcan Mega Bolter. This Bolt Cannon is used by the eponymous Knight Castigator variant of the Cerastus chassis. Unsurprisingly, the Castigator's Bolt Cannon can easily wipe whatever is in the firing line at the moment clean off the board. The ejection ports for the Castigator face towards the Knight. Although an impractical design from a normal shooter's perspective, this is an armored walker; spent bolt casings are probably not a problem. Though its potential over range is certainly destructive, the Cerastus's emphasis over agility means it carries rather limited ammunition – a Dakka-happy pilot may empty the well in probably a few seconds after deployment. This is why Castigator Knights are reserved to the more reliable, headstrong scions who know when to pull the trigger. Besides, the Bolt Cannon itself should even be considered a secondary weapon of the Knight. The theme Castigators are running is a knight wielding the good ol' fashioned sword and shield. Of course, the shield in question has ten barrels on it that shoot out giant rockets. Overall, these guys are what happens if you want to get as close to the firepower of the Vulcan without going full on Titan Legion or Baneblade armada.
In the 8th Edition Imperial Knights Codex, the Castigator Bolt Cannon puts out an impressive 14 str6 AP-2 D2 shots at a decent BS which is complemented with the Warblade that strikes at str+6 AP-3 D5, making the Castigator a much more versatile option than it's previous incarnation.
Vulcan Mega Bolter
The closest thing you will ever see to enuff dakka in a single weapon that does not require a starship, an Imperator class titan, or a platform the size of Seattle rooted firmly into the ground, et cetera... in order to fire; even the Punisher Cannon stands in awe. Think of a Gatling gun, but instead of using wussy little Stubbers for its collection of barrels, it uses extra large Heavy Bolters. It comes in pairs as far as we know, so imagine two groups of five very rapidly rotating Heavy Bolters, all shitting out 10.00 caliber rocket propelled explosive rounds at God-Emperor knows how fast. To see why Bolters are so powerful, see the main section on Bolters. To see why Heavy Bolters are even more powerful, head over to its section. To see the Bolter in action, see below at the rock bottom of the page.
Only seen on Titans – typically the smaller ones like Warhounds and Reavers since they don't quite make a big enough boom to be worth placing on Warlords, Imperators or Warmongers (though TWINNED variants can be put on Carapace Mounts) – a variant of the BEEEEIIINBLLEEEEEEEEEHHHHHHDDD called the Stormlord, and one class of the Macharius Heavy Tank. Infantry and light vehicles suffer critical existential crisis the instant one of these pops up as they are pulped out of said existence by several hundreds of rockets per second. Now, while Gyrojets technically can only really fire six rounds per second (360 rounds per minute) at maximum per barrel due to the sheer amount of back-blasted gas that rocket fuel creates, Bolters cheat around this limit by using a conventional propellant charge to launch the bolt out of the gun first, and then firing up the rocket part once the bolt has exited the barrel.
It shits out so many bolts that it can be surprisingly effective against things like Predators and Leman Russes if you are smiled upon by Lady Luck and Admiral Awesome, provided that they are presenting their side armor; but do not expect it to do much against something like Land Raiders or Monoliths, though theoretically if you give it anti-armor rounds, it will make tank commanders shit bricks. The Imperium is considering loaning one of these to the Grey Knights and replace the regular barrels with Psycannon barrels for an amount of rape that would make Slaanesh weep tears of joy. To counter this, the forces of Chaos are pondering a version with two groups of six Reaper Autocannons arranged in a rotary cannon – twenty four short barreled Autocannons in all – for massive levels of automatic tank cannon induced rape. Another proposal was to replace the barrels themselves with Assault Cannons in order to achieve a Gatling-Gatling gun apotheosis and bring a new meaning to the term "bullet hell."
Yo dawg I heard you like assault cannons, so we put assault cannons in an assault cannon so you can rape things while you rape things.
Possibly the single most awesome thing about this weapon is that when mounted on a Stormlord – a Shadowsword chassis with this Mega Bolter as its primary weapon – the tank can choose to fire twice at different targets if it didn't move, and that is forty AP3 shots that only need a 3+ to wound T4 models. Sooooooo... basically it can cause two entire Space Marine Tactical Squads to suffer critical existence failure in a single turn. The weapon's only weakness is its operators, guardsmen with BS3, which seems like a waste, doesn't it? Still, if you are a master converter, add some Space Marine crew for a small points increase, and watch as you opponent cries tears of horrified rage as 30 S6, AP3 shots tear into his precious, precious Battlesuits or whatever he has; and that is before adding the shots from the twin linked Heavy Bolters, Lascannons, and the shots fired by anyone riding in it. For maximum lulz, stuff as many Heavy Bolter carrying infantry as you can inside and take the two extra sponson mounts for a grand total of 13 more Heavy Bolter barrels raining death upon your foes. Also, with 8th Ed, now you can actually kill tanks by sheer number of wounds. Most armor has around 56 wounds, so in a few turns, those AP 3 shots will knock out Russes.
The Imperium of Man maintains a good monopoly on Bolters, and Chaos Space Marines are its major foreign customers through pillaging and manufacturing by the Dark Mechanicum branch, but mostly pillaging. Ten thousand years since the Horus Heresy is plenty of time for those boys to actually develop their own distinctive flavors of Boltguns beyond putting symbols and hanging nasty stuff on in order to make them look the part.
Inferno Bolt Pistol
The baby of the specialized Inferno weapons, Inferno Bolt Pistols are badass little Bolt Pistols utilized exclusively by the Thousand Sons and their magical cults. Ahriman's personal Bolt Pistol as shown on the right, is the original Inferno Bolt Pistol before GW decided that every Thousand Sons should have one. It looks and functions similarly to the more common variant, although it has a shorter magazine and thus, holds less ensorcelled magical bolt rounds, not as if Ahriman cares as he is a walking psychic bullet storm incarnate.
This dashingly evil little weapon is an Inferno weapon that is not to be confused with the Inferno round, which is a specialized ammunition for the normal Bolter, and the Inferno Pistol which is a Melta weapon. It is basically the catch-all term used to describe a weapon that has been imbued with magical energies, specially by Thousand Sons Sorcerers, with additional power that can melt flesh and ceramite alike like butter. In a sense, it is the usual (un)holy fusion between science and sorcery that has been perfected for over ten millennia which the Thousand Sons still pat their backs for the accomplishment. Strangely, despite most of the Inferno weapons being a sub-category of Boltguns, the largest variant, the Soulreaper Cannon, is a heavily-modified Rotor Cannon belonging heavily to the Autogun category. However, they are all projectile weapons that the moniker of Inferno weapons can be used to designate – a weapon that the Thousand Sons have dabbled with their flavor of sorcery. Although the manner Exalted Sorcerers hold them may make it seem like the pistol's bolts are magical by origin, the fact that Aspiring Sorcerers use it with magazines suggests that "ammunition based on your magic reservoir" is more of an advanced technique rather than the pistol's intended function. So, Aspiring Sorcerers are stuck with physically magical bolts which last until they empty their last magazine, while Exalted Sorcerers get to use magically magical bolts which last until they call it a day.
On tabletop, it is a free AP-2 Bolt Pistol for Non-Terminator Sorcerers. It is a pretty nifty weapon to blast enemies if they get too close to the most stereotypically squishy wizard.
For your information, "Coruscate" is fancy for flash or sparkle in terms of light.
Of all the Warp-forged weapons made in-house and carried to battle by the Thousand Sons, Coruscator is the most revered despite being just a significantly better Inferno Bolt Pistol. You'd think it'd be some cool sword or magical staff that gets that honor, but no; it's just this one humble pistol that any Thousand Son can get to use as long as they carry an Inferno Bolt Pistol to replace theirs with. Since the time of the Horus Heresy where Magnus did nothing wrong and Russ came to thank him for it, Coruscator has taken the lives of countless loyalist Space Marines over the thousands of years, and its daemonic spirit within will take any chance to stoke the fires of hatred that eat away at the Imperium from within. When the trigger is pulled, Coruscator fires not bolts which are self-propelled rockets, but bolts which are blinding helices of magical energy that punch a smoking hole through a target’s torso – or pretty much any location on the body for the matter – the edges of that grievous wound will glitter and burn, essentially coruscating until there is nothing left to consume. It is unknown whether or not these magical bolts come in magazines. Since this is the Warp we're talking about, there's more than a decent chance for the ammunition of the Coruscator to be entirely magical in nature.
Over 8th Edition, the Coruscator is simply a better Inferno Bolt Pistol with no gimmicks attached unlike its past incarnation.
The middle child of the Inferno family, Inferno Bolters provide a much better range, penetration as well as coverage of fire at the expense of being unable to be wielded effectively with one hand like the Inferno Bolt Pistol.
These Bolters are now the standard issue weapon of the Thousand Sons, so expect to see a lot of them when fighting these nerds. Like their smaller brethren discussed earlier, Inferno Bolters are Inferno weapons, which is basically the catch all term used to describe a weapon that has been imbued with magical energies with additional power that can melt flesh and ceramite. A throwback to the Bolters which were once common ten thousand years ago, it is the pinnacle of Tzeentchian science and Tzeentchian sorcery infusion with a twist of Tzeentchian alchemy involved – that is to say, complex rocket science stuff. And just like the Inferno Bolt Pistol, the Inferno Bolter stays consistent as being a sub-variant of the Boltgun unlike the Soulreaper Cannon. Similar to the case of Heavy Warpflamers, the Inferno Bolters retain similarities to those same Bolters used during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy, noticeable by the long sickle magazines. There are also the Inferno Combi-Bolters which, assuming you have done your crash course on what Combi-weapons are, are the usual Combi-Bolters used by the Scarab Occult. The only difference here is that they also get the Inferno treatment to better represent the Sortiarius home team. The presence of these Combi-Bolters raises a question to whether other Combi-weapons of the Thousand Sons are still functional and inferno-ified. A "Combi-Warpflamer" is certainly a plausible weapon. On the other hand, "Combi-Warpmelta" and "Combi-Warpplasma" are rather unlikely.
On tabletop, the Inferno Bolter is the Rubrics' standard guns, an AP-2 Bolter. Costs 2 points and is exclusive to them. And about the Inferno Combi-Bolter, it is basically just a normal Combi-Bolter and behaves just like one – a little disappointing, but it gives twice the shots, so we shouldn't be complaining about the lack of Thousand Sons buffs. If these Bolters aren't doing enough for you, just get one of your Rubrics to carry around a Soulreaper Cannon. Yes, the Thousand Sons' basic troops can lug around Assault Cannon equivalents, cause these Soulreapers just happens to be rotor cannons in all but name.
Chaos' closest equivalent to the Psycannon, the Kai Gun was a Daemon Weapon in the Third Edition ruleset of Codex: Chaos Space Marines.
The Kai Gun was at one time produced by the machine smiths of an unfortunate eponymous planet, Kai. Once upon a time around M34-ish, a warp storm named Gae-sann sucked the Kai system into the Eye of Terror, out of all places out there. The smiths in question realized that they could make weapons that flashed the finger to the laws of physics. Since the smiths are good at churning out these Kai Guns, though whether they produce anything else as well is unmentioned, they bartered their services as a measure of protection from the Daemons of the Warp. Eventually like all things, this deal came to an end when Daemons finally descended on Kai and butchered the bulk of the population. Several Chaos Lords, being more cynically enterprising, swooped in to secure some (very grateful) potential candidates and weapon-techs during the massacre. Ultimately, when the dust settled only the massive, arcane, Bolter-like weapons that were the Kai system's legacy remained. Mostly because GW won't tell us what else Kai made during its stint in the Warp. As for that legacy, the Kai Gun is massive for a Bolter. Only Terminator-clad Chaos Lords and Daemon Princes are large and important enough to carry one. Unlike the Psycannon that uses custom-made psychic Bolts, the Kai Gun fires out "hate and malice" of the user into energy bolts.
The name of this weapon is also a notable point. Although "Kai" is certainly not unheard for a name, when coupled with "Gun," there are several definitions we can derive from the combination. In Japanese, kaigun (海軍) means "Navy" – and it gets way more interesting over the Chinese side. If you read it in reverse as gǔnkāi (滚开), among its definitions ranging from "Boiling" to "Go away" is fuck off. No, really. Anyway, as interesting a weapon as it is, you cannot get one since later codices don't have them anymore. If you were to bring one out to your tabletop now, however, it would count as a Deathscreamer – a Tzeentchian Daemon Weapon. Its current-edition stats makes it one of those weapons that can be either amazingly good or amazingly bad depending on how the dice wants your day to be. And do note that in reality, there is no official model for the Kai Gun, but general consensus accepts the unidentified gun of a metal Terminator Chaos Lord model as one.
There is also a less well known variant called the Kai Hellspear, which are chaos-corrupted lasguns that can emit a searing beam of Warp energy (which probably takes the form of a spear, hence the name) which can not only cut through armor, but also rend a target's soul. Pretty similar to a a kai gun, but in the form of a lasgun instead of a bolter.
Speaking of On the Tabletop
Despite the really cool fluff, the Bolter is, in fact, a middle-of-the-road weapon on the table; the average by which all default infantry weapons of every race must be judged. While not as potent and long ranged as the Tau Pulse rifle or annoying and devastating as the Necron Gauss Flayer, it's considerably better in terms of punch than most other infantry weapons in the 41st Millennium; Eldar Shuriken weapons have shorter ranges (but Bladestorm to make up for it), Lasguns have the same long range, but minimal armor-penetration (read: none) and less punch - the list goes on, but Bolters, while middling at best, are far from the worst gun on the battlefield. And that's honestly how they are good. It's a Jack of All Trades weapon. Besides being one of the cool parts of the Commissariat, since they are the primary weapon used for summary executions. Now, if only this stopped them from being doucheba*BLAM* Pretty much they're like Mario is in most of the games he shows up in where he isn't the only playable character. While the others are a lot better than he is in certain areas, no one else is as good overall (well...except for the Gauss Flayer and Pulse rifle... though both are on units that can't melee for shit, and one is on a unit that can't even shoot straight but costs more than two guardsmen, so it all kinda evens out.) Still, given the cost to make bolters, if their fluff performance was as average as their tabletop performance it could lead one to wonder why Astartes wouldn't just carry sawn-off heavy stubbers, for increased rate of fire which would help make up for Space Marines' relative lack of numbers.
Certain Commissars prefer Laspistols or Hell pistols (if they're lucky/wealthy enough to get one) to Bolt Pistols however, but Laspistols are much worse at blamming because it's one of the very few weapons that Flak armor can resist. Bolt Pistols however, have recoil and have considerably less ammo (a typical mag only has 10 rounds (even though that's enough rounds to execute an entire squad of troopers, including the sergeant) than Laspistols. Before you laugh at flak armor only working properly against lasers and shrapnel, keep in mind that fluff says it's kept stiff by therma-plas strips (besides, flak armor is only designed to withstand shrapnel anyway, and in RL shrapnel kills more soldiers than bullets). It stands to reason that the Imperium would use plastic to keep the flak armor stiff, it just so happens that the only plastic they have decent access to happens to be on steroids, and remember that Kevlar is made of plastic so it's not out of the question. Of course, it is still plastic so it isn't that great against large-caliber bullets and clouds of mono-molecular shuriken. Also, Flak is sufficient to provide protection against autoguns (S3 AP-), which are semi-equivalent to modern assault rifles.
- You can see this gun turning Tau into hamburger here.
- You can also see an in-depth explanation of how bolts work here.
- The MK19, while not having the punch capabilities of the bolter it gives you an idea of how one may look and feel IRL.video of MK19 going full cyclic rate of fire
- The XM-25 (a descendant of the grenade launcher portion of the OICW) functions much like you'd expect a bolter to, right down to the advanced variety ammunition. Although they are not rocket propelled.
- The Origin 12, though a shotgun, somewhat resembles a Bolter. Fostech Origin 12 SBV Non-NFA "Firearm",Now silenced. In theory, if one was up for designing a gyrojet shell that was fired out of a shotgun, you could make it a gyrojet weapon.