Father Elijah implies that he invented the holorifle to circumvent the security of the Sierra Madre, which disallows the importation of standard weapons; most of the other weapons in the Sierra Madre were tightly-controlled and issued only to security personnel.
The holorifle is a scoped, pump-action energy based weapon. The weapon's main body is similar in appearance to that of a grenade launcher. The scope of the weapon also appears similar to that of a laser rifle scope, but with the advantage that the holorifle's scope features integrated night vision. However, the magnification level of the holorifle scope is only 2.86x, compared to the 3.5x magnification of the laser rifle scope.
The weapon is unique in that its projectile is not a bullet, plasma, laser, flame, electromagnetic pulse, or electrical charge. Since the holorifle is based on hologram technology, it fires a concentrated photon-based energy projectile, and so is most similar to particle-based energy weapons (i.e., lasers). On impact, the projectile applies a "holorifle damage" effect, dealing an additional 15 damage over three seconds and visualized by glowing flakes wafting off the target (similar to the "flame damage" done by a flamer or incinerator) and knocking the target back. As with most other energy weapons, the holorifle's projectile will ignite any gas traps and other flammable hazards that it comes in contact with.
The holorifle uses microfusion cells for ammunition, loading up to four cells in a tubular under-barrel magazine. As the magazine is internal, the weapon must be reloaded by hand, one cell at a time, resulting in longer reload times compared to other energy weapons. However, the reloading process can be interrupted for immediate firing. The holorifle thus has the singular advantage of being able to immediately fire again if less than a full magazine is needed.
Due to the unique nature of the holorifle, it cannot be repaired by any other weapon, even with the Jury Riggingperk, this is because there are no other pump action energy weapons like the holorifle available. It can be repaired only by weapon repair kits, merchants, or through ED-E with at least one rank of the Camarader-E perk.
The holorifle can fire a total of about 495 times using standard cells, the equivalent of 124 reloads, from full condition before breaking. Because of a bug, the reinforced components only improve overall weapon durability by 8 more shots, requiring only 2 more reloads.
There are no other holorifle variants in Dead Money, or Old World Blues, despite Elijah's dialogue referencing them.
A fully modified holorifle used with a high Energy Weapons skill is, in terms of damage, better than the anti-materiel rifle without utilizing special ammunition; although the holorifle's increased spread and comparatively slower projectile speed limits its long range capabilities.
The holorifle makes efficient use of ammunition, using only one microfusion cell per shot, in comparison to the five used by the standard Gauss rifle, or four by the YCS/186 Gauss rifle. This, along with higher damage than a Tesla cannon, means it is the most powerful weapon in terms of damage per cell.
When viewed in V.A.T.S. or through the scope, the projectiles fired by the holorifle appear to be small clusters of glowing holographic cubes.
Unlike laser, plasma or Gauss rifles, the holorifle doesn't count towards the Beam (Weapon) Me Upchallenge. It does, however, count towards the Condition Critical and The Rifleman challenges, meaning that it is considered a rifle-grip (in general) instead of a rifle-grip energy weapon for the purpose of these challenges. However, the holorifle does count as an energy weapon for the More Energetic and Energetic challenges.
pcps3xbox360 With the reinforced components modification and 100% condition, the holorifle will not take damage while firing regular microfusion cells. With Raul as an active companion applying the Full Maintenance companion perk, the holorifle will not take any damage even while firing over charged, max charge or optimized cells, and even with the Built to Destroy perk. [verified]
ps3xbox360 When using Weapon repair kit on a fully repaired holorifle, it is possible to raise the weapon's value to high amounts, thus increasing its total hit points. In other words, the more repair kits you use, the higher its value and total HP becomes. [verified]
ps3 The holorifle will sometimes be affected by the same scope bug as many other weapons: while aiming with the scope, brightly colored shapes will appear instead of the standard scope image, obscuring much of the screen. [verified]
Fix: unequip the rifle and then reequip it.
pcxbox360ps3 During VATS, it will not fire. You will be stuck in VATS, leaving you vulnerable. You must reload a save to fix it. You can also wait and vats will end after a while. [verified]
Fix: xbox360 Disconnecting and reconnecting the controller will fix this.
pcxbox360 When switching ammunition types, it may infinitely loop the reload animation. This can be fixed by switching ammo types again.[verified]
pcps3xbox360 For some unknown reason, the weapon will not jam, even at near-breaking conditions. [verified]
↑From Elijah's radio signal - "Wish I... still had that damn holorifle. Spent forever making it..."
↑ 2.02.1From Elijah's dialogue files - "It is a holorifle, a weapon I constructed when I arrived... I have since made superior models - and modifications."
↑From Elijah's dialogue files - "Big Empty's a treasure box, a scientific graveyard of Old World misery. Like the Sierra Madre... there's treasures there, sleeping. Some, awake. The holorifle, the Saturnite alloy... the hologram technology, hibernation chambers, Securitrons, the collars...even the suits attached to those things stalking the Villa... that's only the surface of what's there.
↑From Elijah's dialogue files - " I fashioned it from the holograms of the Villa and used it against the Villa's... living inhabitants."