Hey everyone. Hope you're doing alright.
So I've recently read through some Warhammer 40,000 related discussions on certain other forums and websites that left me quite disappointed, to say the least. They involved the typical pattern of debate which you see in most Warhammer discussions: Downplay through a mixture of incredulity and ignorance.
They involved Space Marines, whom I did a blog on. More specifically, they discussed the Space Marine Bolter, or Boltgun, their primary weapon. And despite the overabundance of clear, explicit feats that Boltguns possess in Warhammer Lore, they were still quickly dismissed as unimpressive and overrated in those discussions.
So I've decided to compile as many feats and statements for the Space Marine Bolter (And all its variants) that I can find, so that the weapon isn't underestimated here as well.
Statements & Feats
Basic description of the Boltgun:
- The boltgun, or bolter as it is also known, has been the standard armament of the Adeptus Astartes for as long as Space Marines have defended the Imperium. A brutally efficient weapon, the bolter fires mass-reactive bolts at its targets, each one a self-propelled missile which explodes on impact with devastating effectiveness. The fear and awe that bolter fire creates makes it a perfect weapon for shock troops, the hammering thunder of the guns mixing terrifyingly with the dull, wet explosions where targeted flesh is blown apart.
- - Munitorum
Further description of the Boltgun. They can blast chunks of Ceramite Armour, possesses an accurate range of several hundred meters:
- So violent is the impact of a bolt round that it can punch right through most infantry armour, burying itself in the meat of its victim before detonating with lethal effect. Even heavy materials can be shredded by sustained bolter fire, each round blasting chunks of ceramite out of power armour. Rather than exploding in the flesh of the target, the round will go off buried in their armour, meaning several direct hits in the same location are usually sufficient to tear a ragged hole.
- A boltgun can fire single accurate shots over ranges of several hundred metres and lay down a withering hail of fire.
- - Munitorum
Space Marine Boltguns are so heavy normal men can't lift them, and their recoil would kill them:
- So large is the Godwyn pattern that no normal man could heft one, let alone survive its unforgiving recoil. A blessed creation of the Adeptus Mechanicus, the Godwyn pattern has served the Space Marines for millennia, its design based upon ancient STC technology from long before the birth of the Imperium.
- - Munitorum
- Boltguns were the symbol of Imperial superiority and Terran unification, emphatically potent and reductively simple. They were Astartes weapons, not exclusively, but as a hallmark thing. Few men had the build to heft one. They were the crude, mechanical arms of a previous age, durable and reliable, with few sophisticated parts that could malfunction or jam. They were brute technology that, instead of being superseded and replaced by complex modern weapon systems, had simply been perfected and scaled up. An Astartes with a boltgun was a man with a carbine, nightmarishly exaggerated.
- - Prospero Burns
- The angel’s brethren emerged from the dark interior of their landing craft and descended to the plaza. All wore armour of the same blue. All of them carried great weapons too heavy for a mortal man to lift unaided
- - The First Heretic
Standard Space Marine Bolters fire .75 calibre explosive mass-reactive rounds. Bolters are less handguns and more miniature Rocket Launchers. Also descriptions on the various types of rounds Boltguns can fire:
- The most common bolter round is the .75 calibre explosive tipped mass-reactive bolt. However, Space Marines use a variety of other ammunition, each tailored for specific needs. Vengeance bolts are designed for use against heavy infantry and armoured targets. Each bolt has a volatile flux core that vaporises matter at the point of contact, punching clean through even the ceramite plates of power armour. Hellfire bolts were created as one of the Imperium’s desperate measures to stem the predations of Tyranid assaults within the galaxy. Each bolt is tipped with a vial of mutagenic acid capable of dissolving its way through citin and carapace with equal ease. Such is the success of the Hellfire bolt that it has found a use against a variety of foes, its acid just as effective at killing other foul xenos.
- - Munitorum
Bolter Rounds are hypersonic, both through statements:
- Praese-Sword Brother Gulvein ran into the dining chamber, his sword buzzing with leashed lightning and a battle hymn on his lips. Six of the Chapter's elite were behind him. To Jushol's psychic senses, their ornate armour seemed to blaze with light as they marched in step into the room, blasting orks off their feet with shots from their bolt pistols. Mass reactives thudded into ork flesh at hypersonic velocities, detonating deep inside to tear chunks from their bodies. Incredibly, the orks did not all fall. Their robust frames contained the explosions, and some fought on, sporting wounds from weapons that would have smeared a man across the walls.
- - The Eternal Crusader
And through feats (Here a Space Marine fires at a guy jumping off a truck, from a distance of 2.5 kilometers, and the bullet hits him before he lands on the ground):
- Only Mingzhou kept some measure of reason in her head. ‘He’s over twenty-five hundred metres away,’ she assured them. ‘Someone with the best lasrifle on Castellax couldn’t pick off a target from that range. We have to get out of here before he can close the distance.’
- As she spoke, Algol raised his arm, the graceless bulk of a bolter clenched in his fist. Without pause or hesitation, the Space Marine fired. From the other side of the tractor, Deacon screamed and fell, his chest ripped to splinters by the bolter’s explosive shell.
- ‘Get on and keep down!’ Yuxiang shouted to Taofang and Mingzhou, throwing the tractor into reverse. It had barely started to move before Algol fired again, the legionary’s shots smashing into the engine block. Smoke and steam erupted from the shattered engine.
- The slaves hiding in the cargo bed rose and tried to run. As each tried to leap clear, he was picked off in mid-air by a shot from Algol’s bolter, their mangled bodies flying across the tunnel.
- -Siege of Castellax
Bolt Pistols (The weakest and smallest variant of Bolter) can vaporize a person's head off:
- Ogvai drew his bolt pistol, pressed the muzzle up under Eada’s chin, and vaporised his head with a single mass-reactive round.
- - Prospero Burns
Bolter rounds reducing targets to bloody mist (Indicating vaporization):
- The bolt pistols thundered again. Each round found its mark, and fifty more bodies were reduced to bloody fragments. The rest of the mob staggered on, their outstretched hands little more than a metre away.
- At Zahariel’s command, the squad took one last step back and fired five more rounds into the press. Firing bolts locked back on empty magazines as fifty more bodies erupted into gory mist. The mob had been cut in half in the span of twenty seconds, but the remainder pressed their advance.
- - Fallen Angels
More examples of Bolter rounds blowing their targets completely:
- With a small movement, the warrior raised the barrel of his bolter and shot the Governor at point-blank range, blasting his body apart.
- - Nemesis
- The Astartes walked, slow and steady, across the plaza with their bolters at their hips, firing single shot after single shot into the people. The missile-like bolt shells could not fail to find targets, and for each person they hit and instantly killed, others fell dead or near to it from the shared force of impact. The blasts rippled out through flesh and bone, the crowds were so closely packed together.
- - Nemesis
- ‘Stupid,’ said Ghota, drawing his heavy pistol with such swiftness that Palladis wasn’t sure what he’d seen until the deafening bang filled the chamber with noise. Everyone screamed, and went on screaming as they saw what the gunshot had done to Estaben.
- It had destroyed him. Literally destroyed him.
- The impact pulped his upper body, hurling it across the chamber and breaking it apart over the chest of the Vacant Angel. Ribbons of shredded meat drooled from the statue’s praying hands and sticky brain matter and fragments of skull decorated its featureless face.
- - The Outcast Dead
- Natraj was dead before Tirtha hit the ground. Uttam’s guardian spear spat a bolt from the weapon beneath the blade and the man’s body blew apart into vaporised blood and bone shrapnel. Two of the nearest soldiers went down with the force of the explosion, but Uttam was already moving as alarm klaxons and warning bells filled the cavern with noise.
- - The Outcast Dead
- He swung his bolter up. His weapon had a gash in the metal of the foregrip, the legacy of a greenskin’s axe during Ullanor, a cosmetic mark Loken had told the armourers not to finish out. He began to fire, not on burst, but on single shot, feeling the weapon buck and kick against his palms. Bolter rounds were explosive penetrators. The men he hit popped like blisters, or shredded like bursting fruit. Pink mist fumed off every ruptured figure as it fell.
- - Horus Rising
- Lysander did not answer. The report of the storm bolter shot echoed around the belfry, ringing off the bells overhead. Vaynce’s headless body slumped onto its front, the astropath’s skull vaporised by the bolter shell’s detonation.
- - Endeavour of Will
- 'I'll never forget the noise,' he said. 'It was like a thunderstorm had suddenly sprung into existence, and our first five ranks were completely cut down, dead to a man without even the time to scream. The enemy's bolts tore limbs from bodies or simply burst men apart like wet sacks. I turned to shout something, I forget what exactly, when I felt a searing pain in the back of my head and I fell over the remains of a man who'd had his entire left side blown off. It looked like he'd exploded from the inside out.'
- - The Last Church
The mere shockwave of a passing Bolter round causes internal bleeding in the brain and organs of those on a 1 meter radius near it:
- Barsabbas reacted as he was drilled, pressuring them witha wide spread of automatic fire. The sudden volley of crackling bolt shells cut out in a semicircle. Rounds so heavy that even their passing shockwave haemorrhaged the brains and organs of any target in a one-metre radius.
- - Blood Gorgons
Storm Bolter rounds can penetrate through 8 inches of plasteel as if it were tissue paper:
- The storm bolter, the Space Marine’s standard firearm, fires small, high velocity bolts with explosive tips, capable of blasting through eight inches of plasteel as though it were tissue paper.
- - Space Hulk
Storm Bolter rounds can also penetrate through tanks:
- Alvez, dressed for battle in a massive suit of Tactical Dreadnought Armour – better known among the Astartes as Terminator armour – fingered the trigger of his twin-barrelled storm-bolter. The weapon was large, much larger than a standard bolter, and fitted with a heavy box magazine. They made a nasty mess of organic targets and its oversized bolts could rip through the side of a tank if they had to.
- - Rynn's World
Bolters Vs. 4,5 meter tall alien monstrosities:
- In their natural, fully fleshed state, a jorgalli adult was perhaps four and a half metres tall, moving on three legs with three joints that radiated from their lower torsos like the spokes on a wheel. Apart from the extensile neck, the upper body of the aliens resembled the lower, but here the three limbs ended in hands with six digits.
- The egg-shaped head had deep-set, rheumy eyes and fleshy notches for a nose and mouth. They had skin like Terran lizards, all scales and tiny horns of bone. However, there seemed to be no such thing as a ‘natural’ jorgall. Every single example of the xenos species yet encountered and terminated by servants of the Imperium, from immature cubs to infirm elders, was modified with implanted devices or cybernetic proxy mechanisms. The slate showed oddities such as spring piston legs, feet replaced with wheels and rollers, knife claws, sheets of subdermal armour plating, telecameras inside optic cavities and even ballistic needler weapons nestled within the hollows of bones.
- A white flash fell from nowhere into the heart of the jorgall rippers and the captain heard Ignatius Grulgor bellow with wild laughter. Grulgor came to his feet surrounded by the xenos and threw back his head.
- The commander of the Second had gone barefaced; the foul air of the bottle-world did not concern him. In either hand he carried a regulation Mars-pattern bolter, and with delight, Grulgor unloaded them at point-blank range into the enemy.
- The sheer velocity of the shots chopped the jorgall into reeking gobbets of flesh, giving the dreadnought valuable seconds in which to extract itself. In moments, Grulgor stood at the centre of a circle of alien carcasses, vapor coiling from the barrels of his guns.
- - The Flight of the Eisenstein
Bolter Magazine Clips carry 30 rounds inside them, and a Marine can empty two magazines in 10 seconds (6 rounds per second rate):
- By the time the Septic returned feeble, hesitant counter-fire, Barsabbas had put down the rest with precise, clean shots to the chest. The entire engagement took less than a minute and Barsabbas did not even change his thirty-round magazine.
- - Blood Gorgons
- Barsabbas crossed the room, emptying two bolt clips within the span of ten seconds.
- - Blood Gorgons
Heavy Bolter rounds can penetrate through and destroy armoured vehicles:
- The heavy bolter is a common weapon amongst the armed forces of the Imperium, and over the last ten millennia has become a common weapon in the hands of the Imperium’s enemies as well. The fully automatic, tripod or bipod-mounted weapon spews out a torrent of massreactive bolts with a much higher calibre than regular boltgun ammo. The armour-penetrating explosive rounds can destroy vehicles and make mincemeat out of even heavy infantry.
- - Black Crusade: Core Rulebook
- Heavy bolters are a common heavy weapon in the armed forces of the Imperium. Used for anti-infantry and support rolls, they can lay down impressive swathes of fire, able to slaughter enemy troopers and destroy light vehicles with their explosive armourpiercing rounds
- - Rogue Trader: Core Rulebook
- Heavy bolter variants have been widely adopted for Imperial forces beyond the Space Marines, although none can compare to the punishment doled out by the original design. These weapons are potent in a wide variety of roles, capable of turning entire infantry platoons into a carpet of gore as well as assailing vehicles in a hail of large, armour-penetrating explosions.
- - Deathwatch: Core Rulebook
Heavy Bolter rounds blasting craters on the hull of an ACP Tank, confirming the previous statements:
- Brother Vardus opened fire a second later, raking the rear Testudo with an extended burst of heavy bolter fire. The mass-reactive rounds exploded against the APC’s armoured hide and gouged craters in its solid tyres. Here and there the rounds found a seam in the armour plates and penetrated into the APC, wreaking bloody havoc on the men crammed within. The Testudo lurched to a stop, smoke pouring from the holes punched in its side.
- - Fallen Angels
Heavy Bolters when set to full-automatic have a rate of fire of 850 rounds per minute (14.16 per second):
- At eight hundred and fifty rounds a minute, the heavy bolter emptied the canoe of all enemy life in seconds.
- - Flesh and Iron
... Okay, I could go on and on and on with these feats, but I think you all get the memo by now, no?