The Gauss rifle is a coilgun, a type of projectile accelerator, which uses electromagnetic coils configured as a linear motor to accelerate ferromagnetic or conductive projectiles to extreme velocities. Though these weapons were historically suffering from a number of difficulties, focused on discharging the coils in sequence or providing enough power for the coils, these design issues were overcome by German scientists in the 21st century and entered limited service. This class of weapons is named in honor of the German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss, responsible for formulating the math underlying the magnetic acceleration principle of coilguns.
A supposed Chinese variation on the German design, the scoped Gauss rifle was originally deployed in the Sino-American War. Unlike the original weapon, it features eleven coilgun stages, resulting in a higher damage output. The weapon is larger and bulkier to accommodate the increased stress put on the weapon and uses a different feed system. While the standard 2mm EC magazines incorporate both slugs and ammunition, the Chinese Gauss rifle has to be loaded with ferromagnetic slugs separately, with microfusion cells loaded into the battery well in front of the trigger group. The cell is used to power the magnetic accelerator and fire the slug and has to be replaced after each shot.
The immense recoil generated by the weapon is mitigated somewhat by a long muzzle brake and a leather recoil pad. The bulk of the weapon also helps make it more manageable. However, the pay off is more than generous, as the sheer kinetic energy of the projectile creates a shockwave on impact, dealing additional damage to the target and potentially knocking them off balance. The sheer firepower of the weapon has resulted in the design being used by the American military against the Chinese, both in the form of captured units and a limited production run of reverse-engineered units.
The Gauss rifle is excellent in combat outside of V.A.T.S. (due to bugs), though as with all sniper rifles, it works best on long ranges. The low fire rate and relatively long reload times disqualify it from fighting at closer ranges.
↑Emil Pagliarulo: ""The gun energizes and magnetizes a standard projectile round; those are already pre-loaded into the weapon, and are in that giant clip attached to the side of the weapon. The player loads in the Micro Fusion Cells needed to energize/magnetize each round. We did it this way because we knew we wanted to have an Energy Weapon equivalent of the sniper rifle..." ()