Trying to identify a science fiction short story I read in the early 50s. The essence of the plot was that silent ray guns were not effective against the aliens but the bang of an old fashioned gun did the trick. I thought it was a Ray Bradbury story but couldn't find it there.


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Except for being from the late 50s (1958), the short story "The Gun Without a Bang" by Robert Sheckley (originally published as by "Finn O'Donnevan" in Galaxy Science Fiction, June 1958, available at the Internet Archive) fits the description. You can listen to the Mind Webs reading of this story at the Internet Archive. If this is the story you're looking for, then it's a duplicate of this old question.

The perfect weapon:

From a muzzle aperture of less than an inch, the beam had fanned out to a maximum diameter of twelve feet. A conic section, waist-high and a hundred yards long, appeared in the forest. Within it, nothing remained. Trees, insects, plants, shrubs, wild dogs, butterflies, all were gone. Overhanging boughs caught in the blast area looked as though they had been sheared by a giant razor.

The wild dogs keep coming:

Another dog charged and Dixon disintegrated it, frowning slightly. These beasts couldn't be considered stupid. Why didn't they learn the obvious lesson—that it was impossible to come against him and his Weapon? Creatures all over the Galaxy had quickly learned to be wary of an armed man. Why not these?

Without warning, three dogs leaped from different directions. Dixon clicked to automatic and mowed them down like a man swinging a scythe. Dust whirled and sparkled, filling the vacuum.

He listened intently. The forest seemed filled with low coughing sounds. Other packs were coming to join in the kill.

Why didn't they learn?

It suddenly burst upon him. They didn't learn, he thought, because the lesson was too subtle!

The Weapon—disintegrating silently, quickly, cleanly. Most of the dogs he hit simply vanished. There were no yelps of agony, no roars or howls or screams.

And above all, there was no loud boom to startle them, no smell of cordite, no click of a new shell levered in . . .

Dixon thought, Maybe they aren't smart enough to know this is a killing weapon. Maybe they haven't figured out what's going on. Maybe they think I'm defenseless.

Dixon is stuck on the planet, because he accidentally disabled his ship while shooting at the dogs. A rescue ship arrives a year later:

Quite predictably, one of the men cried, "You're alive!"

"Damned right," Dixon said. "Touch and go for a while before I got the palisade built. Nasty brutes, those dogs. But I taught them a little respect."

Dixon grinned and touched a bow that leaned against the palisade within easy reach. It had been cut from a piece of seasoned, springy wood, and beside it was a quiver-full of arrows.

"They learned respect," Dixon said, "after they saw a few of their pals running around with a shaft through their flanks."

"But the Weapon—" the chief pilot asked.

"Ah, the Weapon!" exclaimed Dixon, with a mad, merry light in his eyes. "Couldn't have survived without it."

He turned back to his work. He was hammering the sapling into place with the heavy, flat butt of the Weapon.


This is a minor plot point in Heinlein's Beyond This Horizon.

The protagonist, Hamilton Felix, carries an old fashioned revolver. He gives a demonstration to a friend:

Monroe-Alpha started his draw.

There followed a single CRACK! so violent that it could be felt through the skin and in the nostrils, as well as heard. Piled on top of it came the burbling Sring-aw-ow! as the bullet ricocheted around the room, and then a ringing silence.

"Hell and breakfast, " remarked Hamilton. "Sorry, Cliff-I never fired it indoors before." He stepped forward to where the target had been. "Let's see how we made out."

The plastic was all over the room. It was difficult to find a shard large enough to show the outer polish. "It's going to be hard to tell whether you burned it, or not."

"I didn't".


"That noise-it startled me. I never fired."

"Really? Say, that's great. I see I hadn't half realized the advantages of this gadget. It's a psychological weapon, Cliff."


I believe this may be the short story "Naudsonce" by H Beam Piper

Here is a quote

The natives were all grimacing heartbrokenly with pleasure. Maybe the one who got thrown on his ear—no, he didn't have any—was not one of the more popular characters in the village.

"You just pulled your gun, and he dropped the knife and ran?" Gofredo asked. "And the others were scared, too?"

"That's right. They all saw you fire yours; the noise scared them."

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