Advanced Bolter Rules: Recoil and Autofire


The boltgun is most commonly recognised as the standard weapon of the Adeptus Astartes and, though it is not unknown for certain high-ranking officers to bear such advanced and powerful weaponry, it is incredibly rare. Bolters are more effective weapons than the standard pattern lasguns and are able to punch through most forms of armour with little or no effort. They are, however, much more complex and are generally only ever carried by stocky individuals of great strength, given that they are incredibly heavy and generate enormous recoil when they fire what is essentially a miniature missile.
A bolter can fire a single shot, a four-round burst or fully automatic fire, though without bionic augmentation it is not recommended that anyone other than one of the Space Marines fires on anything other than the single shot setting.
-- from the Imperial Munitorum Manual


Single Shot and Semi-Auto
All bolt weapons require a certain amount of strength to be used properly, as their heavy kickback can affect accuracy and, at times, even injure an unwary user. Characters whose Strength Bonus is below the respective weapon's Recoil Grade take a -10 penalty on their Ballistic Skill when firing Single Shots or Semi-Auto double taps.
Clasping the weapon with both hands allows weaker users to ignore these penalties for the purpose of Single Shots.
Characters with Power Armour or the Bulging Biceps talent ignore these penalties.

Boltguns on Full Auto
Boltguns capable of Semi-Automatic fire also include a Full Auto setting which can be used for deadly four-round bursts, although this produces considerable amounts of recoil. An unbraced boltgun fired on Full Auto incurs a flat -20 penalty to BS in lieu of the +20 that autofire would normally allow. Also, the character will receive 5 points of Impact damage to the arm that can be negated by the character's Toughness Bonus (but not armour). Furthermore, an attack roll of 91 or higher also means that the character will drop the weapon.
Bracing the weapon on flat surface (and holding it down with both hands) allows weaker users to ignore these penalties.
Characters with Power Armour or the Bulging Biceps talent treat their weapons as braced by default.

Heavy Bolters
Unbraced heavy bolters fired on Full Auto incur a flat -30 penalty to BS in lieu of the +20 that autofire would normally allow. Also, the character will receive 5 points of Impact damage to the arm that can be negated by the character's Toughness Bonus (but not armour). Furthermore, an attack roll of 51 or higher also means that the character will drop the weapon.
Bracing the weapon on a tripod or flat surface allows weaker users to ignore these penalties.
Characters with Power Armour or the Bulging Biceps talent treat their weapons as braced by default.

Recoil Grade
  • Bolt Pistols (e.g. Ceres Pattern): 3
  • Heavy Bolt Pistols (e.g. Sacristan Pattern): 4
  • Basic Boltguns (e.g. Locke Pattern): 3
  • Heavy Boltguns (e.g. Godwyn-De'az Pattern): 4
  • Storm Bolters (e.g. Ryza Pattern): 3
  • Heavy Bolters (e.g. Solar Pattern): Brace


















Outdated - Do Not Use!


The boltgun is most commonly recognised as the standard weapon of the Adeptus Astartes and, though it is not unknown for certain high-ranking officers to bear such advanced and powerful weaponry, it is incredibly rare. Bolters are more effective weapons than the standard pattern lasguns and are able to punch through most forms of armour with little or no effort. They are, however, much more complex and are generally only ever carried by stocky individuals of great strength, given that they are incredibly heavy and generate enormous recoil when they fire what is essentially a miniature missile.
A bolter can fire a single shot, a four-round burst or fully automatic fire, though without bionic augmentation it is not recommended that anyone other than one of the Space Marines fires on anything other than the single shot setting.
-- from the Imperial Munitorum Manual

Every bolt weapon has an inherent Strength Threshold which determines at which characteristic level it can be used without drawbacks. Autofire adds two degrees to the threshold, signifying the increased difficulty of controlling the weapon's enormous recoil when fired in full auto mode. On the other hand, bracing a weapon lowers the Strength threshold by two degrees, allowing characters to utilize their gun's potential to the fullest as long as they employ fitting means of support.


Strength Thresholds

Bolt Pistols (e.g. Ceres Pattern)
Single Shot: SB3, SB1 when braced
Semi Auto: SB3, SB1 when braced
Full Auto: n/a

Heavy Bolt Pistols (e.g. Sacristan Pattern)
Single Shot: SB4, SB2 when braced
Semi Auto: SB4, SB2 when braced
Full Auto: n/a

Basic Boltguns (e.g. Locke Pattern)
Single Shot: SB3, SB1 when braced
Semi Auto: SB3, SB1 when braced
Full Auto: SB5, SB3 when braced

Heavy Boltguns (e.g. Godwyn-De'az Pattern)
Single Shot: SB4, SB2 when braced
Semi Auto: SB4, SB2 when braced
Full Auto: SB6, SB4 when braced

Storm Bolters (e.g. Ryza Pattern)
Single Shot: SB3, SB1 when braced
Semi Auto: SB3, SB1 when braced
Full Auto: SB6, SB4 when braced, SB1 when weapon is mounted on vehicle

Heavy Bolters (e.g. Solar Pattern)
Single Shot: n/a
Semi Auto: n/a
Full Auto: SB8, SB4 when braced, SB1 when weapon is mounted on tripod or vehicle


Recoil Penalties
  • 1 degree below Strength Threshold: The character incurs a -10 penalty to his Ballistic Skill.
  • 2 degrees below Strength Threshold: The character incurs a -20 penalty to his Ballistic Skill. Additionally, he takes 1d5+X Impact damage to the arm firing the weapon.
  • 3 degrees below Strength Threshold: The character incurs a -30 penalty to his Ballistic Skill. Additionally, he takes 1d10+X Impact damage to the arm firing the weapon.
  • 4 or more degrees below Threshold: The character incurs a -50 penalty to his Ballistic Skill. Additionally, he takes 1d5+X Impact damage plus 1d5 Critical Impact wounds to the arm firing the weapon.
Any damage gained via recoil kickback can not be mitigated by armour. Toughness Bonus does not apply to Critical wounds.
Any roll of 5 on a d5 or 10 on a d10 has the additional effect of the character dropping his weapon.
X = Single Shot Strength Threshold of the weapon (e.g. +3 for a Locke Pattern Boltgun)


New Equipment

Bolter Stock
This weapon upgrade makes firing boltguns slightly more comfortable.
Effect: Reduces recoil damage by 2. If the weapon previously had the Compact quality it does no longer apply.
Weight: 1kg
Cost: 40
Availability: Very Rare