The weaponry commonly used in BattleMechs come in three categories; Ballistic, Energy, Missile. Ballistic Weapons
fire high-speed, unguided projectiles designed to inflict kinetic and/or explosive damage. When compared to Energy Weapons, ballistic weapons produce far less heat, but are generally bulkier and dependent upon limited ammunition. Energy Weapons
deal damage by directing a concentrated beam of particles or radiation against a target. Unlike Ballistic Weapons, energy weapons are extremely light and compact and when linked a fusion reactor are ammunition free, but produce very large amounts of waste heat. Missile Weapons
are Rockets and Missiles that are fired from tubes and include an engine in the projectile. Some of these weapons travel a flat trajectory, others have an arcing trajectory that allows them to clear terrain features.
Personal arms like pistols, machineguns and assault rifles are all ballistic weapons, as well as the Autocannons
that the 'Mechs and other vehicles are armed with. They are often classified as AC/x where x=damage in the tabletop wargame. While it doesn't make much sense in the setting, they are still classified as such. The most common types are the AC/2
. Three more exotic variants in the Inner Sphere are the Ultra AC/5
), which has a higher rate of fire but more prone to jamming than the regular AC/5, the LB 10-X AC
), which is basically a large caliber shotgun which delivers devastating damage at close range but it deteriorates the farther away the target is, and the Gauss Rifle
, which shoots a small projectile through magnetic coils, projecting it at supersonic speeds to cause devastating damage. The actual calibers of the different autocannons vary depending on manufacturer but generally range from 30mm (AC/2) up to 203mm (AC/20).
Energy weapons generally come in three variants. Lasers, flamers and Particle Projection Cannons (PPC). Lasers
come in three sizes as well, small, medium and large. As a point of comparison with ballistic weapons, Small Lasers
do 3 points of damage in tabletop, Medium Lasers
5 and Large Lasers
8. The larger the laser the more heat it produces and the longer recharge rate it has. Lasers also come in Pulse format in the same sizes. Pulse Lasers
differ from traditional laser weaponry, in that instead of firing one powerful beam, they maintain several laser beams fired off in quick succession. While offering an overall increased rate of fire, the heat output also increases accordingly. Pulse lasers increase damage because they allow vaporized armor to dissipate from the location of damage. This allows subsequent pulses to reach the target area without being diffused by the vapor. Point of reference: Small Pulse Lasers
4, Medium Pulse Lasers
6, Large Pulse Lasers
are simply flamethrowers, but instead of being fueled by gases or volatile fluids it is powered by the fusion engine. Flamers are mainly used as anti-infantry weapons and won't do much damage to 'Mechs.
The Particle Projector Cannon
is a unique energy weapon. PPCs fire a concentrated stream of protons or ions at a target, causing damage through both thermal and kinetic energy. As such, despite being an energy weapon, it produces recoil and very high heat levels. The lethality of the weapon rivals that of a higher-caliber autocannon; just three shots from a PPC will vaporize two tons of standard military-grade armor. Targets hit by multiple, simultaneous PPCs can also suffer electrical side-effects, such as overloaded computer systems or targeting sensors. The ion beam also extends to much farther ranges than autocannon fire, though PPCs generate large amounts of waste heat. PPCs are equipped with a Field Inhibitor
to prevent feedback which could damage the firing unit's electronic systems. This inhibitor degrades the performance of the weapon at close ranges of less than 90 meters. Point of reference: 10 points of damage.Missile Weapons
generally come in three variants. Long Range Missiles (LRM), Short Range Missiles (SRM) and Streak Missile Launchers (Streak SRM or just Streaks). Missile weapons, like ballistics, are denoted with a number, but denotes number of missiles fired in a volley rather than damage. LRMs come in groups of 5 (LRM 5, 10, 15 and 20) while SRMs come in groups of 2 (SRM 2, 4 and 6). Streaks come only in 2. All these launcher types has an automatic reload system which means the Mech can fire several volleys before running out of ammunition.Long Range Missiles
are designed to engage the enemy at great distances at the expense of damage dealt, these missiles are capable of indirect fire and disperse over a smaller area than Short Range Missiles. LRM launchers achieve this range by firing at a ballistic launch angle, making them less accurate at close range.Short Range Missiles
are direct-fire missiles that sacrifice range for hitting power, these missiles are less sophisticated than Long Range Missiles and particularly effective against infantry and combat vehicles. The unguided nature of the missile means it comes in a natural spread like a shotgun effect, which often means several missiles in the volley may miss. SRMs also come as an Infantry support weapons, technically a shoulder mounted SRM 1 without autoloader.The Streak SRM Launcher
is relatively similar to the standard SRM launcher but linked to a unique fire control system. This system is designed to guarantee a hit against any target onto which the pilot can get a lock, a special feature of this system preventing the weapon from firing at a target when there is no lock-on, saving ammunition by preventing shots that would miss.
A fourth type is the Rocket Launcher, which is a single fire weapon that has become obsolete in the Inner Sphere but are still popular in the Periphery where times are not as dandy.