The Rail Rifle is a weapon found on heavier starships. It is a large, slow and bulky weapon that is usually only dorsally or ventrally mounted due to its fixed rails, but one that is able to deliver a large mass at extreme distances with precision.
It is based on electromagnetic technology and shares many similarities to the hand-held version of the weapon. Typically it is two conducting rails that are charged thereby conducting the projectile down the rail. This propels a ‘sabot’ holding the projectile until it exits the rails at hyper velocity speeds, easily breaking the equivalent of 10,000 mph.
Despite this speed, space battles are often fought at large distances, and the weapon is only effective against large, slow moving ships or static structures. While the weapon has many limitations, the absolute devastation and piercing power of the weapon is a major reason it is still a mainstay in the Solarian military.
The best Rail Rifles are calibrated carefully enough that they do not need beyond the smallest conducting/stabilizing sabot. Cheaper versions use larger sabots but have the disadvantage of using more ammo or space depending if they are using a fabrication variation of the ammunition.
Unlike the personal variation, given its ship mount one unique advantage is the ability to change the width of the railings, allowing larger masses to be launched if the ammunition is being fabricated on site. This is for when targets are at extreme distances but can still be hit, such as a space base or a planet. The weapon can also be used as an orbital bombardment weapon using its kinetic energy alone with the size set to the maximum size.
The weapon does a substantial amount of wear to the rails and nanite repair is often an ongoing process during a fight. Despite some negatives compared to a coil/gauss weapon the absolute damage one can do it not matched. It is a type of ‘brute force’ weapon that is both more reliable but quicker to break during normal use. The power of other non-rail magnetic weapons is potent, but the pure power of launching sabots straight down the conducting rails is very hard to beat.
All of the elite Dragoon ships in the Solarian military are fitted with advanced rail rifles, their power can be heard rhythmically pounding throughout the ship while they are firing.