Guns have vastly improved since their invention, but typically still use a chemical reaction to produce a rapidly expanding gas that shoot a projectile wherever it's pointed. What's the issue with this? Currently, nothing. They're still some of the best weapons in our arsenal. But in the near future, there could be better alternatives: railguns.
A railgun is, as it's called, a gun. The main difference with it is that the force it uses to fire projectiles comes entirely from electricity rather than a chemical such as gunpowder. How does it work, you ask? Simple: Electromagnets.
A railgun consists of 2 parallel rails that connect to opposite ends of a power supply, so one is positive and the other is negative. When a projectile is inserted, it completes the circuit, which generates a magnetic field. When using a large enough power supply, this magnetic field can easily launch projectiles to incredibly high velocities. A turret mounted on the top of some tanks can fire a projectile at over 1.5 km/s, while a railgun could fire a projectile at over 2.5 km/s, giving it a much farther range and a much quicker travel time.
What other advantages do railguns have? Since ammunition in a railgun doesn't require any chemicals to propel it, the manufacturing could be much easier, and ammunition for a railgun could be much smaller than a normal bullet. They'd also be safer to transport because of the lack of explosives and easier to transport due to their reduced weight and size.
Am I trying to convince you that railguns are superior in every way? No. I haven't done too much research, I just think that they're really freaking cool. Especially since the US Navy currently has an experimental railgun prototype.
There's just something about explosions that make me happy.
Now if you watched the video, you'd notice that the ammunition in the railgun were definitely NOT small. That's because this is a US Navy prototype. This is designed to be shot at big, tough objects, such as a building or a battleship. And from the looks of it, the railgun would win.
A handheld prototype would definitely be much less powerful, and would probably require many technological advancements before they're practical enough to replace modern firearms. Still, they're pretty cool.