Plasma rifles or plasma casters are high-tech weapons which find numerous applications in military and industrial fields. They fire superheated bolts of plasma powered by either microfusion cells or heavy energy cells. The bolt forms in a special chamber, which is then sent down a superconducting barrel, propelled by, and in some models stabilized by electromagnetic claws upon exiting it.
Initially, the weapon was a bulky, industrial plasma caster, manufactured by Winchester Arms; while it performed admirably, it was expensive and required specialized training to use. However, later developments for the US Army would lead to a more compact design that was cheaper to produce and easier to train for, perfectly suited for urban warfare.
Regardless, all types of plasma weapons have a common feature: when a Critical Hit is delivered, they can literally melt down enemies. While most industrial casters aren't powerful enough to dissolve bones too, subsequent models have no problem converting the target into a puddle of goo.
This plasma rifle is a lightweight urban warfare weapon created by REPCONN Aerospace for the US Army based on engine parts from the failed Z43-521P - "Green Bean" plasma-powered rocket. Like the AER9 laser rifle, it uses a microfusion cell as its power supply. It taps into the cell, essentially a small fusion reactor, to produce a toroid of plasma that is ejected down a superconducting barrel. In contrast to the Winchester P94, it does not have the electromagnetic claws.
It is described by Simon to be "as slow as a mule but with a kick to match," in contrast to the laser rifle.
Compared to its Fallout 3 counterpart, the New Vegas plasma rifle has a much lower damage-per-second rating with only a token improvement in damage. Factoring in the transition from a Damage Resistance system to a Damage Threshold system, the New Vegas plasma rifle is vastly underpowered compared to its Fallout 3 iteration.
A plasma rifle can be repaired by copies of itself and it's variants or any two handed energy rifle with the Jury Rigging perk.
An unmodified plasma rifle's bolts travel at 7500 velocity, which is about 117 yards per second or 240 mph. This is actually slightly faster than a tracer, but much slower than a bullet. Unlike its Fallout 3 counterpart it uses 2 Microfusion Cells and not 1.
The plasma rifle can fire a total of about 370 times using standard cells, the equivalent of 31 reloads, from full condition before breaking.
Powder ganger members in the various farmsteads south of Vegas and near Vault 19 may occasionally carry plasma rifles or laser rifles.
REPCONN Headquarters - one can be found on the northeastern side of the building, behind a couple of average locked doors, and in a small room also with a lot of microfusion cells and three ammunition boxes.
Silver Rush - one easy way to obtain a plasma rifle is to buy one or steal one from the very easy locked crate out front, but be warned the guard will turn hostile if you choose this path.
Silver Rush - each Van Graff Thug carries one, if you let the Silver Rush explode (during Birds of a Feather) you will be able to receive multiple plasma rifles, as well as combat armor.
The Fort - one can be found in the underground bunker when you help Caesar by destroying a hidden bunker from Mr. House which is in the first door.
Yangtze Memorial - a plasma rifle can be obtained at level 1 by buying a shovel from Chet in Goodsprings. It is buried in the middle of three graves next to the memorial (sometimes an Incinerator or a laser rifle will spawn instead).
A slight humming sound can be heard when it is equipped.