July 11, 2018
By Jim Grant
ArcFlash Labs, a small startup company founded by David Wirth and Jason Murray, announced last Sunday night that their 3D-printed coil gun was available for purchase. Dubbed, the EMG-01A, the polymer-framed weapon uses a series of electromagnetic coils to magnetically accelerate, and propel a projectile.
In a video released two days ago, Mr. Wirth explains that the EMG is, "an eight-stage, linear accelerator powered by a 6S LiPo battery, and features nearly a half farad of capacitance." For most firearms enthusiasts, these terms are meaningless.
In a nutshell, the EMG uses a semi-common, high-powered battery to power eight electromagnetic coils that kick on as the magnetic projectile passes by. The concept is similar to that of a rail gun like the massive test gun in Virginia, capable of launching multiple salvos at six times the speed of sound, out to 100 nautical miles.
Unlike the enormous rail gun, the EGM-01A isn't the size of an office building, and has only a fraction of a fraction of its kinetic power. But the EGM-01A seems more like a functional proof of concept, than a combat-ready weapon.
Also, since the EGM is a coil gun and not a rail gun, it doesn't use a pair of linear magnetic rails, but sequential coils to launch projectiles. The different is more academic than practical, but is noteworthy nonetheless.
Despite using cutting edge tech, some components of the design should be very familiar to shooters. For example, the detachable nine-round magazine appears to be based on a hybrid of a Glock magazine, and a power drill battery pack.
But what about performance? Is the EGM-01 the beginning of the end for gunpowder, lead and steel?
Not likely - At least not yet.
While the concept is brilliant and clearly holds merit, it needs to be substantially miniaturized and made more powerful to be a viable alternative to gunpowder. In the demonstration video, the creators fire the EGM-01 at a number of different targets including soda cans, 20 gauge steel and some glass bottles.
While the gun appears to easily destroy the cans and bottles, it occasionally struggles to pierce the non-hardened, 0.0375 inch-thick steel.
This is because despite firing a decently hefty 71gr steel dowel, the EGM only propels it to 147 feet per second. Compare that to a Ruger MKIV firing a 40gr lead .22lr at 1,050 FPS and you begin to understand the power gap.
Still, if the creators find a way to bump the muzzle velocity up 200% they'll quickly be approaching airgun values. Which means the next iteration of the EGM could be an effective small game hunting tool with the proper ammunition.
Personally, I would like to have seen how much velocity ArcFlash could produce from a much smaller, lighter projectile with the same amperage and power. Because if varmint calibers have taught us anything, small, light and blistering speed are a deadly combination. As for plasma rifles and laser blasters, we'll have to wait a few more decades for those.