Is there anything that explains what exactly is fired from the Lightning rifles?

According to Wikia, the Lightning rifle is:

  • A Lightning Rifle is an directed-energy weapon used by the human resistance.

  • ... the weapon emits an intense burst of lightning able to destroy a Sentinel with one or two well-placed shots.

And the description of the damage says:

Despite designed for use against machines, the weapon is also easily able to kill a human target, demonstrated by Cypher when he kills Dozer and injures Tank in the original Matrix film. A shot with the weapon was the equivalent to being struck by lightning or coming in contact with a live wire, though more indirect shots would only burn and injure organic targets. Direct hits cauterized or incinerated organic targets though, if a target were indirectly hit, they would not be fatally burned by the electricity. Tank subsequently uses the rifle to kill Cypher, having been left on the floor beside his presumed-dead body.

So it is presumably basically a lightning bolt, according to Wikia.

However, in the scene where Neo and Bane (Smith) are fighting, Bane(Smith) fires the weapon and Neo grabs it, they are then locked in a battle for the weapon, when they do a half circle while the weapon is being discharged (Youtube 2:51). After that there is all sorts of hoses and wires that fall down after what looks like they have been severed.

If the pulse of energy was electricity, there is no way it was cutting through wires like it shows.

We know it cuts through live wires and just not plastic hoses (cutting through plastic would be plausible) due to the fact that Bane (Smith) uses one of the severed wires to blind Neo.

So is there anything other than Wikia that states what exactly is being fired from the Lightning rifles?

  • Lightning is quite hot. I am pretty sure it can sever stuff when applied focused enough.
    – Helmar
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 8:11
  • @Helmar, I know it is hot. Hotter than the sun apparently. But when you have a good conductor like metal, that heat is quickly dissipated, which is why I asked the question, the gun cuts through metal wires.
    – KyloRen
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 8:23
  • There's not enough metal to dissipate that kind of heat. I'm not a physicist, but I guess a household cable will simply melt even in a fraction of a second when exposed to that kind of heat. As will the insulation and the non-metal stuff around.
    – Helmar
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 8:25
  • @Helmar, that cable was hugely thick and hardly a household cable. Obviously was used to conduct electricity in a ship that uses quite a lot of electricity. I am not saying that cable was used to conduct all the ships electricity, but it looks at least 3" thick.
    – KyloRen
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 8:28
  • Wait, it's not seriously called a "Lightning Rifle" by the Wachowski Sisters, is it? For goodness sake. Anyway, the reason lightning is toted as "Hotter than the sun" is because that's its temperature through air, where there is a lot of resistance. When flowing through a human or piece of metal, resistance is much lower, so the overall temperature is much lower. Personally, I think it's quite likely that it's a form of electrically charged plasma. That would explain the damage it causes as well as the slow(ish) recharge time. Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 9:11

1 Answer 1


The 1996 draft script for 'The Matrix' describes what came to be known as the "Lightning Rifle" as a "Plasma Rifle" (which obviously fires plasma).

Tank spins as red hot wads of PLASMA EXPLODE through his chair and into his back. Diving, a second BURST tears up his side --

As Dozer shoots a look at the monitor where Tank was working. He stabs the enter command activating the exit sequence and ducks under a BARRAGE of PLASMA FIRE-

By the time the 1997 draft (and final shooting script), the Wachowskis clearly had a better handle on what they wanted the visual effect to look like and the rifle had gone from being a Plasma rifle to merely being a "high-tech rifle".

Suddenly, a white BOLT of LIGHTNING EXPLODES against Tank's chair, blasting him into the air.


TANK: Believe it or not, you piece of shit, you're still going to burn.

He FIRES a CRACKLING BOLT of LIGHTNING that knocks Cypher flying backwards.

In the 'Revolutions' script, it's now referred to as a "lightning gun" and the writers have become decidedly poetic about it.

The lightning bolt slashes open the darkness, a sizzling ball of electricity that bursts against the ground where Neo had been, but no longer.

In the strobing light of the gun, Neo lunges for Bane, diving into him, colliding with the gun that continues to fire — Raking up the walls, severing cables that shower the darkness with star-bursting spark light.


The white hot bolt of a lightning gun blasts through its back.

The Sentinel, wounded, spins in time to see Zee level the gun and fire again—

The bolt, brilliantly white in the dark dock, jabs into the Sentinel like a meat hook and drives the spastic, flailing machine up until its eyes burst open and it dies.

So, to sum up, the gun/rifle fires a bolt/ball of plasma/lightning/electricity.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.