The arms industry plays a significant part in the Sixth World. With the destabilization of many nations, the increase in armed conflict, and the growth of the private security sector, the armament and the related defense markets have experienced a boom over the last 60 years. The arms industry primarily cover infantry small arms and heavy weapons, as well as munitions.
Although the arms market has expanded rapidly over the past, most of the small arms technology has not made many strides. Firearms are primarily chemically-propelled slug throwers and the basic principles have not improved much. However, there has been much advancement in materials technology, ergonomics, and human interface, as well as manufacturing techniques. Many firearms built since 2050 have a digital ammo counter, usually placed behind the rear sight, to make the counter within the sight picture of the shooter, and advanced imaging systems, biometric safeties and simsense-related smartgun link have enhanced the human interaction with the gun. Gyroscopic chest rigs, evolved off the old Steadicam camera stabilization harness of the 1970s, have brought mobility to heavy, area-suppression support weapons such as machineguns and have become a common sight in military, mercenary, and private security circles.
There are also numerous standardizations within the arms market. Many firearms include accessory mounts built into the frame of the gun, allowing for quick attachment and interchangeability. Ammunition has also become standardized, with each class of weapon having a defined caliber, with some exceptions. For example, "submachineguns" no longer use pistol ammunition, but an intermediate cartridge between pistols and assault rifles.
Small arms ammunition typically is available in brass or aluminum cased cartridges or in caseless ammunition, which has become more common by the 2050s. Lead-cored, full-metal-jacketed ammunition is still the milspec standard for general issue, but special projectiles such as explosive slugs and flechette clusters have become more available to both military and civilian shooters.
With the arrival of physical adepts and large-body metahumans and the return of advanced fighting techniques, there has been an growth of close-combat weaponry, with non-lethal electroshock weaponry and the enhanced lethality of the monomolecular weapons and high-frequency blades being the most technically advanced.
Primary sources: Shadowrun 2nd edition pg. 238-242