|For an overview of Gauss rifle models, see Gauss rifle.|
The Gauss rifle is a coilgun, a type of projectile accelerator, which uses electromagnetic coils configured as a linear motor to accelerate ferromagnetic or conductive projectiles to extreme velocities. Though these weapons were historically suffering from a number of difficulties, focused on discharging the coils in sequence or providing enough power for the coils, these design issues were overcome by German scientists in the 21st century and entered limited service. This class of weapons is named in honor of the German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss, responsible for formulating the math underlying the magnetic acceleration principle of coilguns.
The most expensive small gun in 23rd-century post-apocalyptic Northern California, the M72 rifle is very powerful and accurate. It boasts the longest range in the game (together with its pistol counterpart and the sniper rifle) and a very high, 20-round magazine capacity. Its massive damage per round and the armor-piercing properties of the 2mm EC ammunition make it one of the most effective anti-armor weapons in the game.
This rifle averages 56, 41.25, and 23.17 Hit Points against unarmored, medium-armored, and maximally armored foes, respectively. It is particularly devastating with critical hits because the good armor penetration of its ammunition, when coupled with the armor-piercing critical hit effect, is enough to completely nullify the Damage Resistance of any target.
For a character with an average Critical Chance (5%), eye shots from the Gauss rifle do more average damage against heavy armor than what point-blank bursts from most machineguns do, at the same action point cost.
Though the M72 Gauss rifle has no shortcomings from a strict combat perspective, ammunition is rare on the mainland. Cf. the 2mm EC article on where to find it.
- It can be found in Marc's inventory in the bar on the tanker in San Francisco. It can be obtained by either killing him and looting his body or by pickpocketing him.
- One of the black-haired female vagrants on the tanker has this gun in her possession as well.
- Red 888 Guns in San Francisco will stock Gauss rifles on occasion (along with Gauss pistols and 2mm EC).
- The Oil Rig has a few in some of the ammunition crates.
- Some guards in the Shi temple have them. They can only be obtained by killing them, meaning one has to risk making the Shi hostile.
- Can be found on Dumont and Deputy Karl in NCR. Both have to be looted for it.
- With the Berserker reputation, bounty hunters at high levels often carry Gauss rifles.
- Lastly, coming across a random encounter with a cave that has something in them, the cave may be full of very well-armed robbers. With a level around 19, the robbers will be equipped with combat armor, and some will be armed with this rifle (less in number compared to other weapons).
Behind the scenes
The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series pays homage to the Fallout series with several weapons; while most of them were cut from the finished product, the Gauss rifle was included in the main game and its sequel. It bears striking similarities to the M72 Gauss rifle including a very resembling external appearance, extraordinarily high accuracy, and damage output as well as the utilization of rare 2mm projectiles as ammunition.