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.
Sim version (Operation: Anchorageadd-on) - A sim-only version of the weapon which differs only in health (essentially non-degrading).
The following is based on Fallout 3 cut content and has not been confirmed by canon sources.
Gauss rifle - There is a beta version of the Gauss rifle that uses the model of a laser rifle and features a five-round magazine. It does only about 25% of the damage of the final version but has a 100% knockdown chance. It is only obtainable through console commands.
End of information based on Fallout 3 cut content.
The Gauss rifle is one of the few Energy Weapons that does not disintegrate the target when they are killed with a critical hit.
Even though it does have a very large 2mm round magazine located on the right of the gun, no matter how many shots are fired, it never needs to be replaced or reloaded. Only the microfusion cells used to charge the 2mm rounds need to be reloaded.
Although this is quite a powerful ranged rifle, its firing and reload times are extremely long.
This weapon can only be obtained once without glitches or console commands, so it can only be repaired with alien epoxy (a Mothership Zeta item) or asking a vendor to repair it.
With the Finesse perk, nearly every shot fired (V.A.T.S. or not) will score a critical. This is useful against enemies like super mutant overlords, feral ghoul reavers, Enclave Hellfire troopers, albino radscorpions, and aliens. This is also an ideal way to take out super mutant behemoths as the high damage combined with the knockdown effect makes it more useful than even the Victory rifle since the high damage means fewer shots are required to kill.
If a target's weapon were to be shot and broken with a critical hit, the enemy will go flying several feet without taking any fall damage.
Although Gauss rifles are seen on Chinese propaganda posters throughout the Anchorage simulation, none of the Chinese soldiers carry one.
It is sometimes advantageous to switch to a melee weapon while the enemy is knocked down to finish them off. This is especially true due to the slow fire rate and reload speeds.
PCPlaystation 3Xbox 360 The scope on the Gauss rifle, like on the sniper rifle, is not perfectly zeroed. The shot will travel up and to the right of the target at extreme distances. [verified]
PCPlaystation 3Xbox 360 Occasionally, shots dealt from the Gauss rifle will not do damage, regardless of the type of hit it was (crippling hit, critical strike, sneak attack critical). However, it can still knock down enemies and cripple them. [verified]
PCPlaystation 3Xbox 360 This weapon does not deal proper damage when in V.A.T.S. Any hit will do exactly 95.244% of the maximum damage, regardless of enemy DR, critical hits, or sneak attacks. This means that, with 100 Energy Weapons, a Gauss rifle shot will do 95.244 points of damage with every V.A.T.S. shot. This is still lower than free aiming, and no bonuses are applied to headshots. [verified]
PCPlaystation 3Xbox 360 Being knocked down, either by a gas explosion or a frag grenade, the Gauss rifle may go flying. It will stay wherever it lands, and pulling the trigger will cause the rifle to fire from wherever it landed. This can also be achieved if the impact of the rifle's shots are too close and knock the weapon out of the character's hands. Holstering the weapon has no effect. Equipping another weapon will fix the issue. [verified]
PCPlaystation 3Xbox 360 Having any type of power armor equipped at the same time the rifle is equipped, the air tanks and valve on the armor will disappear. This is because it has the "hide backpack" flag marked, despite not having a backpack component like other weapons with this flag (minigun, Gatling laser, etc.). [verified]
PCPlaystation 3Xbox 360 Critical shots to the target's weapon will still knock them down. [verified]
PCPlaystation 3Xbox 360 Critical shots that do not kill will occasionally cause the target to fall through the map. [verified]
Xbox 360 Sometimes in V.A.T.S when firing there will be a slight delay for firing but the firing sound will be normal, like when reloading and the sound for it is already done. [verified]
Playstation 3Xbox 360 Sometimes if the Gauss rifle is fired straight down when standing, the view will switch to third person and the rifle will be knocked out of one's hands until the reload animation finishes. It usually takes more than one shot since it does not always do damage. [verified]