Vlad's Big Guns

Defending Sovereign, Church, and Country from the Forces of Darkness

Before he became the Van Helsing family's quasi-slave, Vlad Drakulya never used weapons; he didn't need to, what with his Vampiric powers and knowledge of the Dark Arts. Which is interesting because while voivode of Wallachia he had been fascinated by firearms. He even made the first effective use of gunpowder weapons when he ambushed a party of Ottoman Turks sent to negotiate with him.

However, when he was beaten and chose to serve the Van Helsing Bloodline, Sir Abraham realized that it wouldn't be a good idea for him to fight monsters barehanded. For one thing, there was no guarantee he would never encounter a monster more powerful than himself, and for another, he was likely to have to fight more than one at a time. Even Vlad agreed that it would be better if he could kill monsters from a distance in rapid succession. So Sir Abraham set about trying to find some weapon that would be effective against monsters.

1901

By the time the Caerleon Order was created in 1901, Sir Abraham had decided that, weapons technology being what it was, the most effective weapons against monsters were the so-called "elephant guns": large caliber rifles developed for large dangerous game. These fell into two categories: smoothbore shotguns firing slugs or rifled firearms shooting high-powered cartridges. They both shared one feature in common: sacrificing rate of fire for stopping power. As such, Sir Abraham decided that Vlad's weapons should also feature massive stopping power but in single or dual-shot forms.

Caerleon Order Lupara
Sawed-off Shotgun
Multi-barreled
Barrel Length: 14 in
Weight: 3.8 lb
Muzzle Velocity: 1,476 ft/s
Effective Range: 150 ft
12-gauge Magnum-load Brenneke slugs
Breech-loading Break-action
Double-barrel

Unfortunately, at the very beginning, the Order had a small budget, too small to have custom-made guns manufactured for them. Sir Abraham received permission for the Order to produce its own weapons, then purchased the cheapest large-caliber smoothbore guns he could find, antiquated 12-gauge double-barreled shotguns with individual manually operated hammers. Most of the barrel length was cut off to make the gun as light as possible, and the stock was trimmed and shaped into a handle. The result was a weapon similar to the lupara used by the Cosa Nostra in Sicily. The lack of a choke meant that shot would spread too far too soon, so special magnum-load Brenneke slugs were used. Vlad was not too terribly impressed at first, but he came to appreciate the raw power of the gun, especially at close range.

Mars Automatic
Service Pistol
Semi-automatic
Barrel Length: 9.5 in
Weight: 3 lb
Muzzle Velocity: 1,250 ft/s
Effective Range: 150 ft
.45 Mars Long
Long Recoil, Rotating Bolt
8-round box magazine

The slugs for the lupara were too expensive to be used against any paranormal threat that could be killed by less powerful rounds, so Sir Abraham decided that Vlad should have a backup weapon to use against those. Though the Webley revolver was the premier British service pistol, he was informed by the War Office that Webley & Scott had made an automatic pistol that held more rounds and used a cartridge more powerful than the .455 Webley. They would not replace the revolver with the Mars because of its heavy recoil and considerable muzzle flash, but they felt these would probably be minor considerations to Vlad. In this case, Sir Abraham was attracted as much by the rate of fire as by the power of the cartridge, and he adopted it as the Vampire's secondary weapon.

1912

Because the Mars Automatic pistol had not been adopted by any military in the world, production of the weapon ceased in 1905, and the special cartridge in 1907. The Caerleon Order had acquired enough rounds to last them a few years, but Sir Abraham began searching for a replacement secondary weapon to replace the Mars as soon as possible. However, a suitable gun did not appear until 1912.

Webley Scott M1912 Automatic
Service Pistol
Semi-automatic
Barrel Length: 5 in
Weight: 2.5 lb
Muzzle Velocity: 700 ft/s
Effective Range: 150 ft
.455 Webley Automatic
Short Recoil
7-round box magazine

Though Webley & Scott had given up on the Mars Automatic pistol, they did not give up on automatic pistols altogether. They developed new models as early as 1903, starting with the M1903 that fired the standard .455 Webley revolver round. From there they developed models for .32, .25, .38, and 9mm rounds, none of which Sir Abraham consider powerful enough. Then in 1912 they produced the M1912 which used the new .455 Webley Automatic, a cartridge designed to be used in their automatic guns. As part of their field trials, they gave a pair to the Caerleon Order for Vlad to use. He considered the Webley round underpowered compare to the Mars cartridge but still adequate for the job. In any event, Sir Abraham had little choice. He ordered a dozen and made a deal to exchange the Order's stock of the old .45 Long for the new .455 Webley Auto with a reduced price.

1921

When Sir George Van Helsing took over as Director of the Caerleon Order in 1921, he, his sister Lucille, and the Pendragon Viviane had come to the conclusion that Vlad needed an upgrade in his weapons. The number of paranormal events had been dropping over the the years, leading Sir Abraham to believe that the old weapons were still serviceable, but the severity of the events seemed to be on the rise, meaning that the appearance of monsters was waning, but those that did pop up were progressively more powerful. At best, all Sir Abraham did was authorize the use of a more powerful slug. However, the problem was brought home when Vlad simultaneously discharged all barrels of the two luparas he carried and the monster still nearly destroyed him and killed Lucy; only the timely intervention of Viviane with Caliburn saved them both.

Caerleon Order LC243
Sawed-off Shotgun
Semi-Automatic
Barrel Length: 18.5 in
Weight: 5.4 lb
Muzzle Velocity: 1,760 ft/s
Effective Range: 225 ft
12-gauge Magnum-load Foster slugs
Long-recoil
5-round tubular magazine

Unfortunately, not much had changed since the turn of the century. Despite the proliferation of high-powered cartridges, particularly the Nitro Express series, elephant guns were too unwieldy and the rounds too powerful for even Vlad to use effectively except at point-blank range. About the only innovation that showed any promise was the Remington Model 11 semi-automatic shotgun, which was a more recent version of the Browning Automatic 5 first introduced in 1898. It was able to hold five rounds and it was self-loading; combined with the magnum-load Foster slug this made it a more powerful weapon than the lupara with a longer range, though because the slug flattened, it sacrificed penetration for greater damage. Sir George commissioned John Browning to design a sawed-off version and designated it the LC243, being as it was the 243rd designed they looked into. He then had Remington Arms manufacture a dozen, and he ordered replacements as needed.

Browning M1911
Service Pistol
Semi-automatic
Barrel Length: 5 in
Weight: 2.4 lb
Muzzle Velocity: 700 ft/s
Effective Range: 195 ft
.455 Webley Automatic
Short Recoil
7-round box magazine

Sir George also decided that the M1912s needed to be replaced, being as they were obsolete. He adopted the Browning M1911 modified to shoot the .455 Webley Auto used by the Royal Navy during World War I, mostly so that he didn't have to change ammunition. However, the pistol was better designed and gave Vlad a longer effective range.

Even so, Vlad continued to use the lupara as a backup weapon just in case.

1928

Firearms technology was advancing rapidly and Sir George saw no reason not to advance with the times. However, whereas Sir Abraham had concentrated on fire power at the expense of rate of fire, Sir George went in the opposite direction.

Caerleon Order LC354
Submachine Pistol
Automatic
Barrel Length: 8.2 in
Weight: 6.4 lb
Muzzle Velocity: 935 ft/s
Effective Range: 160 ft
Rate of Fire: 750 rounds/min
.45 ACP
Blowback, Blish Lock
20- or 30-round box magazine; 50- or 100-round drum magazine

Sir George's wife, Katherine, was an aficionado of American gangster culture and movies. She recommended that he look into adopting the Thompson submachine gun. It had been introduced in 1921 and became a hit with the American criminal element. Sir George was dubious about its reputation, but he was attracted to its full automatic action and the fact that it could use a 100-round drum magazine, even though the .45 ACP round was less powerful than even the .455 Webley Auto. He had it field tested and Vlad declared that it was good. Sir George commissioned John Thompson to create a handgun version and ordered three pairs from Auto-Ordnance, with replacements as needed. Vlad liked the design so much that it became his favorite weapon for two decades.

1937

Though a number of automatic weapons came out during the subsequent ten years, including the forerunners of modern assault rifles, most either used pistol ammunition, and so were no better than the Thompson-derived LC354, or were big and bulky, making them largely unusable as handguns even by Vlad. However, the trend in ammunition was moving away from large caliber, low-velocity cartridges that had poor penetration but caused massive damage on impact, often killing by shock alone, towards small-caliber high-velocity rounds that had excellent penetration but did less damage on impact. The philosophy was that a round that could penetrate to vital organs would kill more quickly and efficiently than a round that would just blow a big but shallow hole.

Browning Hi-Power
Service Pistol
Semi-automatic
Barrel Length: 4.7 in
Weight: 2.2 lb
Muzzle Velocity: 1,100 ft/s
Effective Range: 160 ft
9x19mm Parabellum
Short Recoil
13-round box magazine

The trend toward smaller, faster rounds extended to pistol ammunition as well as rifle. The 9mm Parabellum (.355 caliber equivalent), which was introduced in 1902, had greater energy than the .455 Webley and slightly less energy but better penetration compared to the .45 ACP cartridge, but being smaller a magazine could hold more rounds, as much as twice as many in some cases. Sir George decided that the greater penetration and larger capacity outweighed the lower damage, which could be mitigated by using hollowpoint rounds when needed. He adopted the Browning Hi-Power with its 13-round capacity as much because it was a tough, reliable weapon. Its eventual adoption by the British Army in 1954 to replace the venerable Webley revolver was as much due to Vlad's success using it as anything else.

1947

World War II saw the proliferation of submachine guns and small-caliber high-velocity rounds, as well as the introduction of the carbine and the first true assault rifles with selective fire. Little of this impacted Vlad's weapons at the time, but when Sir Miles Van Helsing took over as Director in 1946, he instigated a program to determine if any weapons from the war could be adapted for the Vampire's use.

Caerleon Order LC465
Machine Pistol
Automatic
Barrel Length: 14.6 in
Weight: 8.8 lb
Muzzle Velocity: 2,800 ft/s
Effective Range: 2,500 ft
Rate of Fire: 650 rounds/min
.303 British
Gas-operated, Tilting Breech Block
20-round box magazine

Most of the weapons of World War II proved to be inadequate or difficult to adapt, except one. Sir Miles had seen the Browning Automatic Rifle, or BAR, in action when the Home Guard defended the ancestral manor from an assault by units of the German Brandenburger Regiment seeking to kill the Van Helsing family to affect the release of Vlad from British control. He commissioned International Business Machines (IBM), the manufacturer of the BAR at that time, to design a handgun version, eventually designated LC465, and the first pair were delivered in 1947. It had a slightly lower rate of fire than the LC354 and was restricted to 20-round magazines, but it used the .303 rifle cartridge. This was Britain's standard military cartridge at that time. Though of a smaller diameter than the .45 ACP, it was pointed instead of blunt-nosed, which helped give it much better performance, such as a muzzle velocity three times greater and some fifteen times the effective range! This also gave it better penetration, but it was designed to flatten and tumble on impact, causing greater internal damage. The round also came in armor-piercing and incendiary varieties. The gun had selective fire, so it could be set for semi-automatic or full automatic action, allowing Vlad to conserve ammunition by using fewer rounds. Its only real disadvantage was that on full automatic the clip would empty in less than two seconds.

1955

An upsurge in paranormal activity that began around 1910 peaked after 1950 and started to drop off. In anticipation of dealing with fewer threats, Sir Miles decided to emphasize stopping power over rate of fire.

Smith & Wesson Model 29
Sporting Pistol
Revolver
Barrel Length: 8.4 in
Weight: 4.5 lb
Muzzle Velocity: 1,490 ft/s
Effective Range: 160 ft
.44 Magnum
Double-action
6-round Rotating Cylinder

In 1955, Smith & Wesson came out with the Model 29 revolver that used the .44 Magnum cartridge. Sir Miles was impressed with its power and believed that it was superior to the 9mm Browning Hi-Power. He felt confident enough that he was willing to sacrifice rate of fire for doing substantial damage with each hit.

Colt Python
Sporting Pistol
Revolver
Barrel Length: 8 in
Weight: 3 lb
Muzzle Velocity: 1,375 ft/s
Effective Range: 150 ft
.357 Magnum
Double-action
6-round Rotating Cylinder

Also in 1955, Colt came out with the .357 Magnum Python revolver. Sir Miles tested it alongside the Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 revolver and at first wasn't sure which to chose, since they were both comparable weapons. He finally decided to use both, to give Vlad the same number of rounds as his two 9mm Browning Hi-Power semi-automatics.

Note: In 1957, Sir Miles imprisoned Vlad Drakulya inside a stone sarcophagus in the family mausoleum on the ancestral estate. This was done at the instigation of his wife, Victoria Lady Van Helsing, his sister, Elaine Van Helsing, and the then-Pendragon, Morgause. The only written record of this decision are several entries in his journal, where he reports that Lady Van Helsing was concerned for the safety of her children, Elaine believed he would not be needed for a few decades and that was the best way to keep him safe and secure, and Morgause suspected he might betray his oaths because he had no respect for Sir Miles. Sir Miles himself gave no reason for acquiescing to their demands, or offered any speculation as to whether they had ulterior motives, but Sir Differel believes Morgause was jealous of the Vampire's fame as the Caerleon Order's premier monster hunter, and Lady Van Helsing and Elaine wanted to control Sir Miles without Vlad interfering.

1989

When Sir Differel released Vlad from the stone sarcophagus in the family mausoleum on her ancestral estate in 1988, he took his LC465s, Smith & Wesson Model 29s, and Colt Pythons out of mothballs. However, they were outdated, if still serviceable, so she decided to upgrade his weapons with better models, and she assigned her butler, Aelfraed Walters, and her Master-at-Arms, Giles Holt, to find some suitable replacements.

Maskeulin .700 Nitro Express
Sporting Pistol
Revolver
Barrel Length: 13 in
Weight: 13.2 lb
Muzzle Velocity: 2,600 ft/s
Effective Range: 300 ft
.700 Nitro Express
Single-action
5-round Rotating Cylinder

One replacement that Aelfraed and Giles settled on was a custom-made monster revolver that fired specially handloaded .700 Nitro Express big game rifle cartridges. Though only equipped with a 5-round cylinder, each round could stop a charging bull elephant in its tracks. Vlad fell in love with it from the moment he first fired it. He made it his secondary weapon, downgrading the Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum revolver to tertiary status and eliminating the Colt .357 Magnum Python revolvers.

1993

The main problem with the LC465, however, was not just that it was outdated, but that it was obsolete, because the .303 British cartridge was no longer made. Vlad had enough magazines in storage to get by temporarily, and they could substitute the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge with some modification, though this increased the chance of jamming. However, this increased the urgency for finding a substitute.

Caerleon Order LC576
Anti-material Pistol
Semi-Automatic
Barrel Length: 8 in
Weight: 14.5 lb
Muzzle Velocity: 4,200 ft/s
Effective Range: 2,450 ft
.79 CO (20x128mm CIWS)
Recoil-operated, Rotating Bolt
7-round box magazine

In an incident that occurred just days after Vlad was released, a Fomorian nearly killed Sir Differel, and the LC465 proved to be inadequate to stop the monster. Only the intervention of Giles Holt with a Barrett M82 firing Raufoss Mk 211 multipurpose rounds saved her. Afterwards, she contacted the Barrett Firearms Manufacturing company and commissioned Ronnie Barrett to design a handgun based on the M82 that could fire Raufoss-type rounds, but in a .79 (20mm) caliber. Barrett delivered the first pair five years later in 1993, and Vlad fell in love with them immediately. They have been his primary weapon ever since. The .79 CO cartridge is based on the 20x128mm CIWS shell. It is a multipurpose round that has armor-piercing, explosive, and incendiary components, thus making it capable of penetrating armored shells and hides, and doing extensive internal injury. It has about 50% more destructive power than a standard 20mm high explosive/incendiary or armor-piercing shell. Furthermore, it can cause collateral damage to creatures behind the individual hit, within a 30 degree arc. There are very few paranormal creatures that can survive being hit even once by one of these guns if struck in the head, chest, or abdomen. And Vlad's aim is excellent. It is also effective against vehicles and structures.

2001

When Taurus International in Brazil announced the development of a .550 caliber (28-gauge) shotgun pistol, Sir Differel ordered a pair along with specially designed slug cartridges and gave them to Vlad for his evaluation as possible replacements for the Smith & Wesson Model 29 revolver.

Taurus Raging Judge
Sporting Pistol
Revolver
Barrel Length: 6.5 in
Weight: 4.6 lb
Muzzle Velocity: 1,295 ft/s
Effective Range: 100 ft
.550 (28-gauge)
Double-action
5-round Rotating Cylinder

During his trials of this pistol, Vlad determined that the 28-gauge slug was less powerful than the .44 Magnum cartridge, but it did more damage. He decided to continue using it as his tertiary weapon.

2008

In 2000, FN Herstal in Belgium had designed a personal defense weapon and a pistol that used a 5.7×28mm cartridge as a replacement for the 9x19mm Parabellum. Though smaller than a contemporary rifle cartridge, it was comparable in performance and was more powerful than the 9mm with a longer range, but most important it could penetrate Kevlar armor reinforced with titanium at a considerable distance. It would also tumble inside the body, doing more damage, but it had a lower risk of collateral damage due to the fact that it did not fragment or ricochet. Though she knew about it beforehand, it wasn't until 2008 that Sir Differel could consider adopting the new weapons and ammunition for use by the Caerleon Order, but she figured they could be indispensable to her agents and soldiers.

FN Five-seven
Service Pistol
Semi-automatic
Barrel Length: 4.8 in
Weight: 1.6 lb
Muzzle Velocity: 2,130 ft/s
Effective Range: 300 ft
FN 5.7×28mm
Delayed Blowback
10-, 20- and 30-round box magazines

While Giles Holt did most of the testing of the FN 5.7mm weapons, Sir Differel gave Vlad two of these pistols for his own evaluation. He liked the penetrating power of the ammunition so much he decided to substitute them for the Taurus Raging Judge revolvers he had been using.

At present, the weapons Vlad uses when monster hunting are:

  • the LC576 Anti-material Pistols used against extremely powerful and/or heavily armored targets such as Fomorians
  • the Maskeulin .700 Nitro Express Sporting Pistol used against moderately powerful and/or armored targets such as Gargoyles
  • and the FN Five-seven Service Pistol used against lesser powered and/or lightly armored targets such as Vampires and Werewolves

We Hold the Line, and This Line Shall Not Be Crossed!