needle gun n.

a gun that produces a very narrow beam of energy; (also) a gun that fires small slivers of metal


  • 1932 ‘H. Vincent’ Power in Amazing Stories Jan. 876/1 page image Harl Vincent bibliography

    Something flashed bright in his hand, crackling spitefully. A needle-gun!—one of those dread weapons of the war of 2212. [Ibid. 878/2] Scott’s interest as a scientist overcame any possible exception he might otherwise have taken. ‘This new energy…is to be obtained from the atom?’ ‘Yes, but not by its disruption. All we have ever accomplished by destroying the atom is further destruction — of life or of other matter. Witness the sub[-]atomic energy of the needle gun.’

  • 1939 ‘R. Rocklynne’ Empress of Mars in Fantastic Adventures May 33/1 page image Ross Rocklynne bibliography

    The game was up? No, by God! and I rammed home the final plunger, and the bee-wing took off flapping up into the thin air and forward with such speed that in a matter of seconds Cammint was a dot of light in the darkness, and the city of Jador was sprawled in fantastic shadows below. I went blind, without lights, never knowing when some similar craft might blunder out of the encircling darkness full tilt into me. I set my course for the Royal Palace, and had my forward needle guns set for any who dared offer me hindrance.

  • 1941 M. Jameson Slacker’s Paradise in Astounding Science Fiction Apr. 87/1 Malcolm Jameson

    The SP 331 was much like his own yacht in its general characteristics and he had never had any misgivings about his ability to handle her. Her armament was so inadequate as never to have given him a qualm. It consisted simply of a 10 mm. needle gun, fit only to detonate a stray mine.

  • 1942 L. Brackett Sorcerer of Rhiannon in Astounding Science Fiction Feb. 46/2 Leigh Brackett

    He had a needle gun in his hand, and six or seven black-clad policemen just behind him.

  • 1949 L. Brackett Lake of Gone Forever in Thrilling Wonder Stories Oct. 71/1 page image Leigh Brackett bibliography

    He had hidden a small anaesthetic needle-gun under his coverall in case of need.

  • 1950 F. M. Robinson in Astounding Science Fiction June 72/2

    As soon as I opened the screen, the beam of a needle gun seared the plastic door frame beside my head.

  • 1950 F. M. Robinson in Astounding Science Fiction June 74/1

    I shoved against him so that the needle gun was clamped between his body and mine. ‘If you pull the trigger now, your gun will backfire,’ I said quietly. ‘The gases can’t escape from the muzzle.’

  • 1952 W. M. Miller Blood Bank in Astounding Science Fiction June 110/1 page image Walter M. Miller, Jr. bibliography

    After removing a small needle gun from her pocket, he left a box of headache tablets in easy reach, locked her inside, and went back to the controls.

  • 1953 I. Asimov in Fantastic May—June 49/2 Isaac Asimov

    And I knew the needle gun was about to fire.

  • 1965 P. Anderson Trader Team in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact July 44/1 Poul Anderson bibliography

    Transceiver and taper in one hand, a ladylike needle gun at her waist, were all she needed.

  • 1965 M. Moorcock in New Worlds Science Fiction Dec. 52 Michael Moorcock

    He saw a German looking down at him, sighting along his weapon. Jerry snapped up his needle-gun and shot him full of steel.

  • 1984 D. Brin Practice Effect i. v. 21 David Brin bibliography

    He strapped on his tool belt, with the needlegun holstered to one side.

  • 1991 M. Weiss King’s Test ii. vii.155

    Also a nice assortment of blades, grenades, and a needle-gun that fits in a shoulder holster.

  • 2006 S. M. Stirling Sky People iv. 98 S. M. Stirling

    Anthropologists there had to be handy with dueling-swords and needle-guns as well as getting used to being looked down on as monkeys from the wilds.

Research requirements

antedating 1932

Earliest cite

Harl Vincent, "Power", in Amazing Stories

Research History
Malcolm Farmer submitted a 1965 cite from Michael Moorcock's "Further Information".
Malcolm Farmer submitted a cite from a reprint of Walter M. Miller's "Blood Bank"; Mike Christie verified the cite in the 1952 original magazine appearance.
Douglas Winston submitted a cite from a reprint of Isaac Asimov's "Sally"; Mike Christie verified the cite in the 1953 first magazine appearance.
Douglas Winston submitted a cite from a reprint of Poul Anderson's "Trader Team"; Mike Christie verified the cite in the 1965 first magazine appearance.
Malcolm Farmer submitted a cite from a reprint of Frank Robinson's "The Maze"; Mike Christie verified the cite in the 1950 original magazine appearance.
Malcolm Farmer submitted a cite from a 1974 reprint of Leigh Brackett's "The Lake of Gone-forever"; Jesse Sheidlower verified it in its original magazine appearance.
Mike Christie submitted a 1942 cite from Leigh Brackett's "Sorcerer of Rhiannon".
Mike Christie submitted a 1941 cite from Malcolm Jameson's "Slacker's Paradise".
Fred Galvin submitted a cite from a 1976 reprint of Ross Rocklynne's "The Empress of Mars", which Mike Christie verified in its May 1939 first publication.
Fred Galvin submitted a 1932 cite from Harl Vincent's "Power".

Last modified 2021-11-22 14:48:55
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.