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Dust Powered Ballistics: Are they Deadly?

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  • RaginYang

    RaginYang FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    #33686339 - 11 months ago

         This has been a topic I've always been curious about in RWBY. How exactly does dust ammunition work? Is it really deadly? We've seen Coco use her mini-gun to literally cut Nevermore in half, but in V5 C10 we see the White Fang's ammunition get blocked by Kali with a serving tray. Is there inconsistencies with the strength of dust rounds or is there a logically explanation for both extremes? I'm gonna present what I think the answer is but I also hope to here what you think.

         First point is, what does a dust cartridge look like and how does it compare to a IRL bullet. Well, the one time I can remember seeing a dust bullet was in V2 C11 when Weiss hands Blake a magazine for Gambol Shroud. The magazine contained 6 colored cylinders that look more like the cylinders in Myrtenaster (except shorter) than bullets. From that, I think dust ammunition just fires dust's "magical" properties rather than bullets. Further evidence to support this is in the Mercury vs. Yang fight of V2. Mercury fires a bunch of rounds of neutral colored (what I'm assuming is standard, but might be air) dust ammunition around Yang. Instead of just being bullets circling her, it's blobs f white colored dust circling her, suggesting there isn't a solid projectile. Another example is in V5 C10 when Blake shoot ice ammunition at Ilia. When a round hits Ilia's weapon, it freezes, further suggesting that dust ammunition just possess the properties of the dust being used, and not a solid projectile.

         There is a catch to this though, and that's Coco. She clearly has an ammo belt on her purse/mini-gun with very real looking bullets. Her mini-gun also has a large drum magazine like what you would see in real life. One thing we don't see is shell casing being expelled from the gun or laying around where she was firing. This either means spent casings are still housed in the drum magazine, or there are no casings at all and dust ammunition is like I stated in the paragraph about and has no solid projectile.

         That brings me to where this all comes together. Is dust ammunition really that deadly in the world of Remnant? Can it both cutting through a Nevermore and and still be blocked by a serving tray? To me, that depends on if Coco's mini-gun uses a solid projectile like a normal bullets, or acts like the dusts rounds analyzed in the first paragraph. 

    If Coco uses realistic bullets:

         Then there are 2 main styles of dust ammunition in circulation. There is ammunition that uses purely dust and isn't very deadly, and seems to be the majority. This style is used more for the "on hit effects" like freezing things using ice ammunition or leaving behind stone copies of yourself like Blake does. It may also be used to redirect momentum like we see Ruby use to cut through big targets, or Yang use to deliver powerful punches. Then there's the more realistic, and deadly, ammunition that Coco uses. The kind that can shred through huge creatures with ease.

    If coco uses the same type of dust ammo as everyone else:

         In this case then maybe there are just inconsistencies with how powerful a dust round is. Perhaps the longer barrel length  or larger ammunition of the mini-gun makes it exponentially more deadly than the pistol style weapons we see most other characters use.

         Another interesting thing to note is how guns are used in Remnant. They're secondary weapons. This is completely opposite from our world where you wouldn't bring a knife fight. There are only a handful of characters in RWBY that use a gun as the primary form of their weapon. Why? Is dust ammunition really not as deadly as a blade or hammer? Or is it purely for the aesthetic of having characters using swords and melee weapons rather than just having fire fights? We haven't seen any human or faunas killed by a bullets alone that I can remember so perhaps because of the superhuman speed and abilities of the huntsmen and huntresses render most people unable to hit them on the move so they rely on blades. I'm not really sure, but I would love to here from all of you on this topic!

  • draganviper

    draganviper FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    #33687301 - 11 months ago

    It was explained by Pyrra in season 1 that 'all our weapons and equipment are conduits for aura'. From that line I've always considered that the amount of damage any melee or ranged attack does is based on the aura of the wielder - either they consciously decide to 'spend' a certain amount of their aura on each attack (with a limit per hit that's probably training based, otherwise people would spend 90% of their aura in one hit and one shot enemies if they are cornered), or they strength of their aura enhanced attacks is some percentage of their current or maximum total aura level. It's probably actually some combination of both.

    My reasoning for why this doesn't just turn every fight into a battle of who has more aura is that, in addition to fighters missing or having their attacks evaded or misdirected (which still wastes the aura spent on the attack), the only way for aura spent in an attack to be exactly equal to aura spend in defense when struck would be for the defender to be perfectly efficient in their defense - which would logically be a clean block and such defenses have been shown to be very effective at minimizing damage. Perhaps it takes far more aura to instantly heal up from taking a hit than it does to negate the impact actively. However the mechanics and ratios work, this theory still allows for fights to be decided on components of skill rather than just being an aura beam battle (unless you're a maiden I guess).

  • NoobyWarfare606


    #33689291 - 11 months ago

    I think aura and dust are just stupidly weak.  I've been going back to track the velocity and potential energy of projectile weapons and explosives.  What I've been finding is disappointing. As the average explosion shown is about as big and strong as a less-lethal flashbang or a defensive hand grenade:

    flashbang breaching irl
    grenade in a washingmachine

    Nora's explosion in Vol.3 Chp. 2 powered by thunder/lighting is stupidly strong and breaks physics as a lighting storm doesn't have the power to do what it did.


    Tracking regular balistics from pistols and rifles is a bit weird as many scenes just don't show any sizable range to track or a long enough time to track the projectiles.

    On average with what I am able to track using the most recent episode, vol. 2 chp 4, vol. 2 chp 7, vol. 2 chp 12, vol.3 chp 10, and vol. 3 chp 11.  On average projectiles seems to travel between three ranges:

    Less than 7m/s,    Slightly more than 9m/s ,   and Around 20m/s

    These speeds are stupidly slow compared to real life projectiles which typically travel between 400-800m/s.  When compared to foam dart guns they are just barely above the herd.  Which doesn't bode well for the true ballistic part of energy rather they must rely on some other way of dealing damage.  Explosives, heat expansion, cold contraction, etc. are nesscary for these things to be even slighly lethal to regular humans.

    Analysing the actual ballistic energy, which is the energy of the projectile itself, we have to determine the energy based on mass and bullet diameter.  With the projectile being around 2.4cm, 1cm, and 3cm the amount of mass we can assume each projectile seems to be constantly leaking as it's fired.

    For 2.4x4cm it's about the diamter of a shotgun so if we assume that dust has the weight of raw lead at best the energy of each shot is between 0.6-3 joules.  About 20% less energy than what is considered nesscary to kill a squirrel humanely when aiming at the back of the head.  If instead we assume that the best possible chance with would be a 3x7ishcm projectile made from depleted uranium we can assume around 16-20 joules or about the energyn needed to hunt rabbits at a range within your backyard.

    While they might be able to retain these NONLETHAL ranges of energy at a distance that don't seem to follow the laws of physics.  The constantly leaking of material and muzzle velocity would cut down on the end ballistic energy in half at less 100 meters away or about the range of a smg or pistol caliber carbine.


    The lack of velocity doesn't only hamper their ability to deliver ballistic energy but also hampers general accuracy and lethality at range.

    On average the cone of fire/moa of a smoothbore musket at 100 yards or about 90 meters is about 60 or about 60 inches at over 100 yards.  This was considered not accurate enough that it required the creation of standard fighting section/lines/squads of 10-18 to constantly work in a platoon sized units.  The adoption of rifled-muskets allowed for military units to work in more independant sections of 8-15 fairly independantly.

    The average muzzle energy of a musket is about 900-1700 joules at about 200-400m/s.  Meaning that if the musket is pointed at a human at 100 meters the musket will have a 20% chance to hit and kill regardless if the person is running or not as the bullet leaves the muzzle at a speeds faster than sound.  A RWBY rifle or pistol seems to be fairly accurate but if the human size target takes more than 1 step for every 5 seconds at 100 meters you will miss 100% of the time if your aim is perfect.

    In order to effectively hit a single person moving at a walking speed 0.4 meters a second at  100 meters away you will have to shoot the area the size of a football/futbol field and you might hit about 0.03% of the time.


    We can acutally see this being the case in the recent episodes.  With bullets being blocked with a wooden table, a clay pot, and a sheet metal tray.  Mediums even the most common squirrel hunting cartridges can penetrate.

    .22 lr vs pine board/how far can it kill

    .22lr vs cinder block

    .22 vs propane tank and washingmachine

    Which further demostrates that the lack of energy each projectile seems to have.  As even with some type of explosive or dust based energy there should have been some damage to the table, tray, and pot.  The ballistic effect on the pot in vol.5 chp 10 is about correct per the energy calculations I made.

    This also goes against what dragonviper suggests as the effects of the projectile should remain consistant across all mediums.  The only way for this to work is if dust is only activated by organics and grimm.  Which would require the same amount of energy to always be used only with the projectile doing less energy against nonlinving materials.  Making anyone with a heavy jacket invincible to projectiles.



    Humans and Grimm are dying from weapons about as strong as a nerf gun or a airsoft gun unless dust only explodes on living things.

  • DarkTempler7

    DarkTempler7 FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    #33689303 - 11 months ago

    It's possible that Grimm are specificity weak to Dust weapons/aura powered weapons in some way. It's been referenced in both the season 1 intro and the Dust WoR that humans didn't rise to power until after they discovered Dust. It's also possible that Aura simply makes ranged combat less efficient since unarmored people take multiple hits to even harm and they potentially have the ability to dodge them, hence the huntsmen relying more on melee combat. That being said, we've seen from Atlas that the armies are almost entirely ranged, they're even building mechs, which I'm guessing are their version of tanks.

  • NoobyWarfare606


    #33689313 - 11 months ago

    In reply to DarkTempler7

    Very true.  I'm just confused on the whole invention of ranged weapons in the first place.  Cinder's bow which is one of the fastest ranged weapon in remnant is about as fast as someone throwing a ball.  Their effective range is probably equal to someone throwing a ball even if each dust projectile travels in a straight line indefinitely.  Coupled with each ball being capable of holding more explosives/dust.  A small hollow plastic wiffle ball thrown by the average person is about 4-5 times stronger than the rotary cannons seen on atlas airships.

    I think I've just design atlas' next generational mech

  • DarkTempler7

    DarkTempler7 FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    #33689332 - 11 months ago

    In reply to NoobyWarfare606

    It probably has to do with history. Remnant hasn't seen a major war in about 80 years and the peace was maintained by Ozpin and his people, so it's likely that most weapons were designed with the idea of fighting creatures of Grimm and people without Aura training, making these weapons a little more practical for regular soldiers to use since they probably don't require that much training to use and are probably fairly cheap to make and maintain.

  • NoobyWarfare606


    #33689358 - 11 months ago

    In reply to DarkTempler7

    I would agree but there are several issues.

    1.  We see soldiers and police using pistols.  Which are pretty much considered worthless IRL because they don't do enough damage and are difficult to use effectively. Most nations in the IRL world don't issue sidearms at all or only do so for people that aren't expected to fight.  In pre-ww2 tactics the only person with a pistol is the officer, artillery workers, or supply.  Even then these people would be issued with carbines or rifles.  In WW2 if a soldier's rifle (bolt-action, single shot, or self loading) broke during combat they were to draw their pistol and then hide behind everyone else because a single shot shotgun in the middle of a desert without mountains or cover is more useful than a pistol.

    Modern tactics with pistols are focused on civilian police rather than combat arms/war fighting.  However, the tactics remain the same. In the USA Army if your rifle breaks you are to draw your pistol and fall to the second to last in the formation because covering the rear is still too hard to do with a pistol.  On average about 1,000-2,200 shots are need to train a soldier to match NATO standards of combat marksmanship with a rifle.  With pistols however, the standard is set around 5,000.

    Note this is about combat marksmanship not combat readiness qualifications.

    2.  Swords are for some reason a common weapon.  While somewhat simplier to maintain the process of sharpening, oiling, and fitting for much more rugged use can take about an hour.  Or about the time need for 1 man to disassembly and then reassemble 27ish rifles.

    M16A4 Strip and Assembly (honestly I'm faster than him)

    Ak-74 (the version that shoots smol boolet)

    Repair only requires you to look for broken bits or things that are stuck as all modern guns from the mid-19th centuary onwards were made to be easily repaired without tools.  Cleaning only involves oil and a piece of cloth and occasionally ammonia salts (you can use piss if you want).

    3.  They already have rifles (though I think magazine fed muskets is a better name) and presumably training for said rifles.  Why not make them stronger, better, and more powerful?  Dropping the sword and maybe the pistol entirely in favor of a better rifle.

    Most early firearms designs were designed to work as a melee weapon infact the original format of the rifle stock was meant to resemble a club with a sharp pistol grip, enlarged head, and often a metal pommel.  When bayonets were invented the design became longer and the pistol grip was removed in order to provide more remove and length for gripping and control.  All the extra useless wood was then turned into a bracing plate inorder to provide more accurate shooting and then later developed into a striking face.

  • DarkTempler7

    DarkTempler7 FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    #33689390 - 11 months ago

    In reply to NoobyWarfare606

    The pistols are probably so common because most Dust weapons have a secondary effect, like if you loaded a pistol with incendiary or Taser rounds. That might not account for the widespread use, but it could explain some of it. And I should point out that swords and other melee weapons are mostly used by huntsmen and bandits/other criminals. With the huntsmen it makes sense since we've seen even Ruby, a 15 year old that wasn't even enrolled in one of the academies at the start of the series, is already at superhuman levels of strength and speed. If you can cut through a tree clean with a single swing of a scythe, move quick enough to dodge bullet's and have a defensive shield that allows you to shrug off any bullet's you can't dodge, why not use a melee weapon with a built in gun that will give you more options then simply a gun? And the bandits probably have to make due with whatever they can steal or make themselves, so ammo probably is harder for them to get.

    As to advancing the technology, the people probably haven't made more advanced ones for two potential reasons that I can think of, mind you, I can't speak to either of these being the case. The first is, as I said, the world doesn't require it. The Grimm can be killed by the weapons they have pretty efficiently. More powerful guns would probably improve that, but Atlas at least appears to be moving away from using people on the front lines in favor of robots and piloted mechs, so that's probably where the research is going, The other reason might be Dust itself might be to volatile for that. Like I said, I can't speak to either of these being canon, it's just what I can think of.

  • Terratrox


    #33689684 - 11 months ago

    I have a feeling that Dust doesn't travel as quickly as real bullets do. As for being a conduit of aura, that implies that no one could use guns if their aura isn't awakened, and once their aura breaks, most of their attacks would be rendered useless. I think what Pyrrha meant by that is that they can be used as a conduit for aura, amplifying their attacks and buffing output. Under that theory you could use aura based attacks without actually touching the enemy, using the bullets as a jump off point to attack at the point of impact.

    It's also likely that there are many kinds of round and that they differ from weapon to weapon. Coco uses piercing rounds for her minigun because it would let her penetrate hard targets, while Blake would be more interested in the elemental effects, and uses soft tipped rounds to amplify them. Yang has shotgun shells for her Ember Celica, but they appear to be slugs.

    I can't imagine how much Dust the Schnee Dust Company has to process every day. Like, damn. Better hope it's a renewable resource.

  • NoobyWarfare606


    #33690017 - 11 months ago

    In reply to Terratrox

    >I can't imagine how much Dust the Schnee Dust Company has to process every day. Like, damn. Better hope it's a renewable resource.

    We already know it's not, this is the main reason for Vacuo's economic depression.  It's the main talking point in the World of Remnant video as well.  Coupled with the fact it needs to be mined and processed it's a pretty complicated form of energy.


    >I have a feeling that Dust doesn't travel as quickly as real bullets do.

    Thanks to Vol. 1 Chp 2 we know that the burn rate for aura is about the speed of blackpowder, has a higher burn rate, a large gas displacement when heated, and is about 100 times as volatile.

    Despite the speed of it's burn which isn't as concentrated it can still serve as a effective medium for the build up of pressure and as a propellant.  We even see this with Ruby herself being flung about 2-4 times faster than the average bullet in the show, proving that guns and bullets can be more powerful it's just people aren't willing to develop firearms.


    >...amplifying their attacks and buffing output.

    If Ruby's gun was a single shot weapon that dumped the entire magazine of it's contains and the magazine itself the amount of energy required to move a full person is still stupidly high.  To the point that it enters the kilojoules of energy.  Which makes it even more confusing when Ruby's bullets are the slowest in the entire show. If Ruby's magazines weigh as much as a real 12.7x103mm magazine with 10 rounds it would be more powerful staying still than the itself being fired.  In fact a regular human standing still would do more damage getting run over than the gun.

    Even if she was firing bullets that individually weighs 2 kilograms the energy produced would be about equal to a paintball gun.  The only way to make Ruby's gun lethal without turning the gun backwards and using Ruby HERSELF as a projectile is to fire 1-3 cars worth of mass even then the projectile and this is to regular humans.

    To calculate this we only need to realize that moving 5 tonnes is harder than throwing two hammers.  Ruby's gun is soo demonstratively weak and self defeating that the formula for energy loss is equal to to building a a sandwhich (planting the lettuce, raising the cows, growing the tomatoes, and harvesting the wheat) and then in the end you  only huff the flour used to bake the bread.

    In reply to DarkTempler7

    I've been taking it as technological retardation and regression.  They don't improve because they don't want to and see no reason to.  Early firearms were in a similar slump for about 100 years and are currently in another slump  for the last 40.  The change for firearms was the commonality of large walls and the need to build bigger armies that could move offensively rather than raid a select area around them.

    The invention of guns itself is a question.  They just don't do anything that someone's arm couldn't do.  A basketball would do more damage and would more about three times faster along with being able to deliver more elemental effects.

  • DarkTempler7

    DarkTempler7 FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    #33690100 - 11 months ago

    In reply to NoobyWarfare606

    Damage wise yes, the effective range and rate of fire are probably much greater though, which probably are the main reasons why they were invented in the first place. Since most creatures of Grimm are only able to fight in melee and only a few have show enough intelligence to plan for battles, both advantages make sense for the physically weaker humans and faunus that lack Aura protection to defend settlements outside the larger walled cities, especially if Grimm are especially vulnerable to Dust based weapons. And like you said, the tech probably hasn't advanced since the Great War ended because they've had no reason too. These are probably their equivalent to the first rifled guns or early machine guns.

  • NoobyWarfare606


    #33690115 - 11 months ago

    In reply to DarkTempler7

    >the effective range and rate of fire are probably much greater though

    The terms maximum range (maximum distance a weapon can reach ie m16/5.56x45mm=12km) and effective range (distance a weapon can be brought to bear against any enemy within reason ie m16/5.56x45mm=600m) apply here.  The guns we see have NO maximum range and 5 meter effective range if what we are seeing in the latest episodes are true.  That people kinda/might be/maybe get knocked out/killed/dizzied/faint by a single shot anywhere to the body including in areas where there are no nerves or major blood vessals.

    Rate of fire is something I agree with.  But not really.

    They can't really suppress or pin anyone down as clay, wood, and a tea tray can stop the bullets.  I would not be surprised if historically someone has walk into the middle of a battle field in Remnant wearing cardboard advertisement signs and survived.


    >These are probably their equivalent to the first rifled guns or early machine guns.

    No.  Rifled barrels and guns implies that they are weapons.  Even the earliest 11-14th century handgonnes with pistol length barrels can be used to shoot grenades, fire arrows, and flares.

    The closest thing comparison are early firecrackers which were just bamboo tubes tied down, sealed, and then tossed into a fire until they explode.

    At least with firecrackers someone might die from falling in the fire, choking on one of the leaves, or something to that effect.

  • NoobyWarfare606


    #33690692 - 11 months ago

    Just watched chp. 11 Ruby no longer has the slowest weapon in the show that record, no goes to Emerald.  With projectiles traveling at roughly 4m/s


    At around 12:43 we see Ruby accidentally fire a full metal cartridge out the front of her gun.  Because we can't track how slow everyone else in comparison to regular time I'll have to assume regular speeds and that everyone else is just moving really slowly.

    Fact is we now have proof that at least some people are using metal bullets rather than raw dust or solid dust projectiles.


    From the way the bullet as a projectile behaves we have three way of looking at ammunition:

    1.  Roosterteeth's animation department is SOOO incompitant around firearms that they don't understand what a bullet is:


    2.  The cartridges in RWBY are a form of caseless rocket balls.  But still use a large thin metal casing that has a large lip inorder to make the structural intergrity of the bullet weaker, slower, and more weak to wind and deflection via foliage.


    The 2nd theory has some potential merit as the bullets could potential have more energy potential via acceleration over time when burn the rocket fuel.  Making a justifiable reason for utilizing melee weapons at close range.  The problem is that this means all guns are meant to be used at ranges greater than 400 meters.  Based on the footage we've seen of Atlasian Airships the velocity of the projectiles still doesn't reach anything equal to a airsoft gun.

    At best the potential range is under 3 km in order to gain a enough potential energy to be lethal to regular human.  But this is calculating a bullet weight of 5 kg.  Making it still more reasonable just to throw a baseball made from dust.

  • Terratrox


    #33692835 - 11 months ago

    In reply to NoobyWarfare606 "... amplifying their attacks and buffing output." 

    I was referring to Huntsmen potentially having the ability to attack with their aura at the moment of impact with the enemy. Attacks like Ren's attacks on the King Taijitu. If they could piggyback aura attacks on their rounds, it may be unnecessary for them to use actual bullets.