- "I wanna introduce you to a personal friend of mine. This is an M41A pulse rifle. Ten millimeter, with over-and-under thirty millimeter pump action grenade launcher."
- ―Cpl. Hicks (from Aliens)
The M41A Pulse Rifle is an American-made assault carbine chambered for 10×24mm caseless ammunition. It was employed by the United States Colonial Marine Corps and the United States Army as their primary infantry weapon during the late 22nd century. Through its use with the USCM, it saw regular use in various engagements with the Xenomorph and Predator species.
The M41A Pulse Rifle first entered service with the US military in 2171 and went on to become the basic rifle of the US Colonial Marine Corps and US Army. It is similar in concept to the earlier Harrington Automatic Rifle and is modelled after the revolutionary Weyland Storm Rifle manufactured by Weyland Corp almost a century earlier.
Lightweight and rugged, the M41 is constructed largely from ultra-light alloy precision metal stampings, with a titanium aluminide alloy outer casing and high-impact, temperature resistant plastics for many of its internal parts. The M41A is fully sealed against corrosion, dirt and moisture and its electronics are hardened against TREE and background radiation, making it perfectly usable even in a vacuum. By itself the rifle weighs only 3.2 kg, although this increases to 4.9 kg when including the sling and fully-loaded magazine, and is built around a 24.7 cm long barrel.
The M41A uses an electronic pulse action to fire, controlled directly from the trigger. The internal mechanism, including the rotating breech, is mounted on free-floating rails within a carbon-fiber jacket and the entire assembly is recoil dampened to reduce the effects of muzzle climb during burst and fully-automatic fire. Even so, the weapon's recoil is fairly significant. A thumb selector allows the firer to switch between selective, four-round burst or fully-automatic firing modes. In the event of a stoppage, a manual cocking handle on the right hand side of the receiver allows the user to check for rounds in the chamber or clear the breech in the event of a stoppage. The standard M41A ammunition magazine stores 99 rounds in a 'U' bend conveyor. Rounds are fed mechanically into the weapon's rotating breech. While the magazine weighs 1.5 kg when fully loaded, standard practice is to only fill it to 95% capacity to prevent jamming.
The underslung 30mm grenade launcher, comprising a barrel, breech and four-round internal magazine, is fired using a trigger just in front of the rifle magazine, the housing for which doubles as a grip during grenade firing. Grenades must be hand-loaded into the launcher's four-round magazine, which are then loaded into the breech and primed to fire from a pump action.
Sighting is made down a groove in the top of the carrying handle, with an adjustable tangent leaf backsight in the rear aperture. The rifle can also be fitted with a 3x power AN/RVS-52 CCD television sight to allow for accuracy at range and under low light conditions. A spring-loaded extendible stock allows the gun to be used in either a carbine or rifle format while an LED ammunition counter display just below the receiver informs the user of the remaining ammunition supply at a glance; this display can be dimmed for night operations. The carrying handle also contains the gun's Lithium battery; providing power for motor mechanism it is good for 10,000 rounds before requiring recharge from a rifle rack or portable power pack.
M309 round: The M41A is chambered for the standard US M309 10×24mm caseless round, a 210 grain, steel-jacketed and explosive-tipped round embedded within a rectangular propellant block of Nitramine 50. Although the propellant mass is small, it is highly efficient, generating muzzle velocities of 840 meters per second. The M309 round is optimized for lethality against infantry wearing personal armor, with its factory pre-set impact fuse designed to explode after the round has penetrated armor to inflict maximum damage. Consequently, the round is less effective against unarmored opponents, as it will often over penetrate soft targets without detonating, leaving the victim relatively unscathed and necessitating the use of multiple hits to score a kill.
Lo-V (Low-Velocity) round: For use in sensitive installations and spaceships to avoid collateral damage and hull breaching. This round has poor penetration characteristics against armor and hard cover.
M40 High Explosive Fragmentation: The most commonly used grenade round for the M41A, the M40 round is marked by a red plastic cap. With a muzzle velocity of 87 meters per second, the M40 is accurate up to 180 meters and effective up to 400 meters. Upon detonation a notched steel wire wrapped around a composition B15 core spreads more than 300 deadly fragments over a five meter casualty radius. The M40 can also be used as a hand grenade; flipping off the plastic cap and twisting the nose clockwise will start a five-second delayed detonation. However, care should be taken as striking or forcibly depressing the nose cap will cause the grenade to detonate immediately.
M38 High Explosive Armor Piercing (HEAP): Marked by a green cap. The M38 has a similar detonation mechanism and casualty radius as the standard M40, but is additionally capable of penetrating up to 7 cm of homogeneous steel before exploding.
M51A Bounding Fragmentation: Marked by a blue cap. The M51A incorporates a small primary charge that, upon impact, propels the larger secondary charge some two meters into the air before it exploding. This airburst detonation is particularly effective against troops in the open or within fortifications without overhead cover.
M108 Canister (Buckshot): Identifiable by a flat, black nose. The M108 is essentially an oversized shotgun round meant to provide the user with devastating close-quarters firepower. It has a range of 30 meters.
M203 Baton: Reserved for civil disturbances and rarely issued to front-line troops, the M203 is a low-velocity plastic projectile used for non-lethally incapacitating or disabling unarmored humans.
M60 White Phosphorous Incendiary: Marked by a white cap. The M60 is filled with white phosphorous which, upon impact, spreads up to 15 meters to create a rising smoke cloud and flame. It also has a secondary incendiary effect on vegetation and materiel.
M72A1 Starshell: Marked with an embossed letter 'S' on the cap. The M72A1 is primarily used to provide illumination, generating 50,000 candelas for approximately 45 seconds. It is designed to be fired vertically into the air, where at 200 meters elevation it will deploy a parachute and ignite.
M97 Flashbang: This round is used in conjunction with room clearing techniques, namely a person will throw one of these into a room it will then produce a loud explosion and extremely bright light that can temporally blind any person looking at it when it explodes, it will then be followed up by people assaulting the room. They are marked with an embossed 'F' on the top.
M28 Teargas: Military and police forces use these purple capped rounds to disperse crowds and smoke out hostage takes. Once the round has been launched (or thrown), it fills approximately a five metre radius with a cloud of irritant gas, which causes the eyes to water profusely. Obviously the round has no effect against people wearing respirator masks.
M59C Smoke: Military and Police forces use these grey capped rounds to create temporary concealment. The smoke obscures all sight and even blokes nightvision goggles. M59C Smoke rounds are available in several colours including: white, red, yellow, green and purple. This makes them ideal for signalling purposes.
The first series of Pulse Rifle, the M41 was issued to Marines stationed on LV-426 during the events of the first Aliens versus Predator. Is accurate when fired in bursts but jams frequently when fired fully automatically. The weapon also features an attached grenade launcher but the grenades can be tricky to use and have an extreme blast radius that often catch the user in the blast zone itself.
The Second series of Pulse Rifles issued as the new standard for Marines over its predecessor the M41, seen in Aliens and Aliens versus Predator 2. Featuring an upgraded mechanism that eliminates the fully automatic feeding problems of the M41. The M41A is also able to fire long range grenades with alarming accuracy. The high rate of fire makes the weapon inaccurate at times, so short bursts are recommended, despite the improved full-auto performance.
In Aliens versus Predator 2, the rounds it fires are relatively low powered despite being armor-piercing ammunition, causing users to literally exhaust an entire magazine's worth of rounds into a single opponent to gain a confirmed kill. The M41A is only effective on light armor and is ineffective against Praetorians due to their tough exoskeleton. Unfortunately, the grenade launcher still has an alarming splash radius meaning it is potentially lethal to the user in close-quarters.
There is another variant of the M41A used by Marines in Aliens versus Predator: Extinction. This version is somewhat aesthetically different from standard M41A Pulse Rifles due to a slightly larger size (though the added weight does not seem to inhibit movement), more elongated barrel, and noticeably larger underslung grenade launcher. The modified M41A also fires stronger armor-piercing rounds, similar to the newer M41A/2. These rounds are capable of penetrating Praetorian and even Ravager exoskeletons, though concentrated fire is still needed to bring down these creatures due to their very high endurance and, in the Ravager's case, its sheer towering size over the battlefield.
Undergoing trial runs with select rifle and recon platoons, the M41AE2 is essentially a standard M41A with the grenade launcher removed and replaced with an 8cm-longer, removable barrel, an elongated barrel shroud and a folding bipod. The E2 is intended to function as a light support weapon, providing greater rates of sustain fire at longer ranges, feeding from an 'L' bend 300-round ammunition clip.
An immediate successor to the M41A, the M41A MK2 is seen in Aliens: Colonial Marines. It is slightly smaller than its predecessor, with a corresponding reduced magazine capacity of 40 rounds, but offers up far greater modular and customisation options, including various optics, underbarrel attachments and an extended 60-round magazine.
The third series of Pulse Rifle, issued to Marines during the events of Aliens vs. Predator. This version features minor alterations such as new front and rear iron sights to make aiming easier without the use of an auto aiming assist.
Problems concerning the weapon's grenade launcher were finalized. The grenades, while doing significant damage to targets on impact, often killing them in a single hit, now have a "shockwave" effect that stuns nearby targets close to its blast radius rather than doing standard fragmentation damage. While injury at very close range is still high, the survivability of a grenade fired in close quarters is significantly better than what could be expected with earlier models.
This version also fires stronger armor-piercing rounds capable of penetrating the armor of a Praetorian, though a large number of rounds are still needed to kill such a creature thanks to its high endurance.
The M41E is a successor series to the M41A in the Earth Hive novels by Steve Perry. This updated version has an effective range of about five hundred meters, although the underslung 30mm grenade launcher cannot fire accurately beyond one hundred meters. Marines are known to hate the range on the launcher, saying the "sights are for shit". At close range the weapon can deal serious damage to any target with anything below class VII spidersilk armor.
It has a weight of 4.8 kilos, making it a lighter and more compact version of its predecessor, as noted by users of older models when handling the M41E. It has different ammunition capacities when using different types of 10mm rounds: one hundred rounds with both the armor-piercing and anti-personnel, or seventy-five rainbow tracer rounds.
Behind the ScenesEdit
The live-firing M41As in the Alien film series were constructed by British movie armorers Bapty & Co. from three real-world weapons — an M1A1 Thompson submachine gun as the rifle frame, and a cut-down Remington 870 with the foregrip and shroud of a Franchi SPAS-12 for the grenade launcher. The weapon was finished with a futuristic aluminium shell. There were three live-firing Pulse Rifles used on the production, although only one "hero" weapon had both built-in firearms functional. Numerous fibreglass and rubber prop weapons were also created for the safety and comfort of the actors.
The original color of the Pulse Rifle has long been a cause of debate. The weapons originally used in Aliens were actually finished in brown shrouds, not green as is often erroneously stated (although due to on-set lighting, the weapons often appear to be green on-screen). This green has since been accepted as the standard finish and has been replicated in virtually every appearance of the weapon since, with the notable exception of Alien3, where the Pulse Rifles carried by Weyland-Yutani Commandos were finished in black.
After trials with various other firearms (at one point the M41A was going to be based on a Heckler & Koch MP5), the M1A1 Thompson was chosen as the base weapon owing to its impressive muzzle flash and reliability. Due to the use of the Thompson, metal casings can occasionally be seen ejecting from the rifles in Aliens, which is inaccurate for a weapon supposedly using caseless ammunition.
The 30mm grenade props were constructed from 12 gauge aluminum snap caps (an inert cartridge simulator made to the same external dimensions as a live round, used for training purposes). The snap caps were embellished with additional machining cuts made for cosmetic appearances, a push button on the top, and a colored plastic cap, which was red for the high explosive rounds seen on film.
- James Cameron spent two days perfecting the distinctive sound effects for the Pulse Rifle.
- In the movies the M41A Pulse Rifle is standard issue for the Colonial Marines and is the most prominent weapon used by the Colonial Marine detachment in Aliens. However, in the series of video games there are several different variations of the Pulse Rifle depicted. They are all largely similar with some minor differences in how they appear and operate. Aliens versus Predator and Aliens versus Predator: Extinction feature the M41 Pulse Rifle, Aliens vs. Predator (2010) features the M41A/2 Pulse Rifle and Aliens: Colonial Marines features the M41A MK2. The original M41A from the movies is only used in Aliens versus Predator 2, although it also makes a cameo appearance in Aliens: Colonial Marines as a collectible bonus weapon.
- If the player presses the 'block' button while using the Pulse Rifle in Aliens vs. Predator, the USCM emblem can be seen at the end of the rifle.
- Aliens/novel (First Appearance)
- Aliens: Newt's Tale
- Aliens: Earth Hive (novel, as the M41E)
- Alien Trilogy (video game)
- Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual
- Aliens versus Predator (video game, as the M41)
- Aliens: Apocalypse - The Destroying Angels
- Aliens versus Predator 2 (video game)
- Alien versus Predator: Extinction (video game, as the M41)
- Aliens vs. Predator (video game, as the M41A/2)
- Aliens: Colonial Marines (video game)
Appearances in other mediaEdit
Owing to its fame, the M41A has appeared in numerous media outside of the Alien franchise.
- In an episode of The Simpsons, "The Lastest Gun in the West", the character Snake and some cronies use stolen Pulse Rifles to fight off Springfield's police force.
- In Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, GDI soldiers use a weapon called the M16MKII Pulse Rifle, which may be inspired by the M41A.
- In the South Park two-part episode "Go God Go", Pulse Rifles are used by anthropomorphic sea otters.
- In the opening cinamatic of the game Independence War: Defiance, the crew of the Sparticus are shown to carry M41As.
- Several models of the Pulse Rifle are shown in the Sony PlayStation G-Police game series, where they are used in a few FMV cutscenes.
- In an episode of Archer, "Space Race: Part 1", the crew is armed with M41 Mark 2 Plasma Pulse Rifles with Concussion Grenade Launchers.
- In the online game SAS: Zombie Assault 2, the M41A Pulse Rifle is one of the premium guns. In its sequel, SAS: Zombie Assault 3, Ninja Kiwi made a premium, stronger version of the Pulse Rifle, the M41-A Grendel.
- In the movie Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, after the T-X Terminator's main plasma cannon is damaged, the cyborg can be seen scrolling through a list of alternative weapons in its internal memory. The M41A Pulse Rifle is on the list, although the weapon itself is never seen.
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood (1996). Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual. HarperPrism, 14.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood (1996). Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual. HarperPrism, 15.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood (1996). Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual. HarperPrism, 16.
- ↑ James Cameron (writer and director). Aliens [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- ↑ Vincent Ward (writer) and David Fincher (director). Alien3 [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Aliens versus Predator 2 [Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X]. Monolith Productions.
- ↑ Aliens versus Predator: Extinction [PlayStation 2, Xbox]. EA Games.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 Aliens vs. Predator [Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360]. Rebellion.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd, Gordon Carroll, David Giler, Walter Hill, Stan Winston. Superior Firepower: The Making of 'Aliens' [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- ↑ http://ninjakiwi.com/Forum/showthread.php/3092-M41-A-Pulse-rifle-(Grendel)-v-Browning