How Powerful Electromagnetic Railguns Work

Projectiles launched via railgun can reach speeds of around 5,500 mph (8,800 km/h).

If the video player is not working, you can click on this alternative video link.

Electromagnetic railguns are powerful agile weapons that are used in the military. They are different from conventional weapons because they use electricity and magnetism to accelerate projectiles down a set of rails at hypersonic speeds whereas the latter typically use the pressure from ignited gunpowder to propel projectiles out of a barrel, sending them flying on a ballistic trajectory. 

Projectiles launched via railgun can reach speeds of around 5,500 mph (8,800 km/h) whereas even the fastest bullets can only travel to around just 1,800 mph (2,900 km/h). These high speeds achieved by railguns mean that there’s usually no need for the projectile to detonate when it hits its target to further the destruction.

Railguns use electric currents to fire. Parallel coils, composed of conductive metal, such as copper, make up the two sides of the inside of a railgun. The two rails act like wires, in which a magnetic field circulates around each rail. This advanced setup is what allows railguns to fire so powerfully.


Want to know more details on how railguns actually work and how they manage to achieve such high speeds of projectiles? Then, do not miss this video.

Follow Us on

Stay on top of the latest engineering news

Just enter your email and we’ll take care of the rest:

By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. You may unsubscribe at any time.