Hand-held kinetic weapon which may be dumb or smart (rarely sentient), capable of firing one or a variety of projectiles; effective range generally in the vicinity of several hundred meters. The term 'rifle' refers to the helical lining of the barrel, which imparts a spin to projectiles leaving the weapon, and improves their accuracy.
Most have sights with optical magnification and light amplification, often sensitive to wavelengths outside the baseline human range of vision. Modern rifles are often linked via DNI to the user's optic system.
Automatic rifles with self-aiming software are common; these weapons are capable of adjusting their orientation minutely in order to attain their target, and generally will not fire unless a hit is very likely.
Rate of fire can usually be adjusted between single, short-burst (usually 3), and continuous. In an atmosphere, especially a murky atmosphere, usually more effective than a laser weapon.
Ammunition used in rifles includes armour-piercing shells, self-steering and partially self-propelled projectiles, and explosive shells.
Gauss Gun - Text by M. Alan Kazlev Generic term for kinetic weapon that uses a magnetic charge to accelerate a projectile. Hand-held models tend to use a simple small calibre (usually 2 to 4 mm) high density solid ferrous slug which is accelerated to hypersonic velocity. Some variants use a combination of explosive and magnetic accelerant. These weapons rely on a very high rate of fire to make them effective. Large vehicle or ship-mounted gauss guns with open barrels are called rail guns.