10

Projectile weapons are mentioned as being used by the Fremen in Dune:

...in spite of its unfamiliar shape--a projectile weapon.....a chorus of spring-clicks from the basin. Projectiles whined off the rocks around him.

A "spring-click" would seem to indicate the propellant force derives from a spring. However, in another answer on this forum it is indicated (but not sourced) that the propellant is chemical, and roughly equivalent in stopping power to modern-day handguns.

Were they really that powerful? Has anyone ever guestimated the muzzle velocity and stopping power of the Fremen hand-weapons?

Were they truly lethal, or more of an annoyance?

  • Could the spring-click be the hammer firing? – Valorum Dec 19 '16 at 18:53
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    @Valorum Most modern handguns are striker fired, and in my experience you do not hear it over, under, whatever to the "bang". No matter what kind of chemical propellant, there will be a bang--pretty sure. Gas propellants, like in paintball, are quieter. – Cascabel Dec 19 '16 at 18:57
14

The gun in question is the Maula pistol. Stilgar explicitly calls it so later in the book from the quote in the question.

lifted the weapon from Paul's waist with the other, tossed it to a companion. "you will have your own maula pistol, lad, when you've earned it."

In the appendix we get a better description of the device.

Spring-loaded gun for firing poison darts, range about forty meters. -dune appendix

These were used by the Fremen because most people Dune did not wear personal shields due to them drawing the sandworms.

A Nerf gun has the force needed to shoot a dart tipped with poison, but these were probably a little more sturdy.

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    Thanks, that part is torn out of my 30-40 year-old copy. – Cascabel Dec 19 '16 at 19:10
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    @Cascabel i noticed my edition had a few more words in the quotes that you provided as well, so i probably just have a new copy. – Himarm Dec 19 '16 at 19:11
  • If the vibrations of a personal shield or the rhythm of regular feet walking are enough to (potentially) summon a worm, then firing a modern day hand gun anywhere near open sand would be a death sentence to the shooter. Makes sense that they'd be using something quieter than that. – Steve-O Dec 19 '16 at 20:07
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    @Steve-O: I don't think the worms were nearly as attracted to volume as they were to rhythm or cadence (when the Fremen walked, their emphasis was primarily on breaking up the rhythm - being quiet seemed to be secondary in importance). The "spring-clicks" may have been audible to the worms, but their firing would surely have been fairly random, relative to the steady rhythm of e.g. footprints. – loneboat Dec 19 '16 at 23:08
  • @loneboat there was definitely mention of personal shields attracting shai hulud. I don't recall a specific explanation from the first book. – blaughw Jan 17 '17 at 5:37

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