In the classic science fiction movie Aliens (1986), directed by James Cameron, Colonial Marines Drake and Vasquez are equipped with a squad automatic weapon called a M56A Smartgun. The weapon is attached on a swing arm to a hip mount.

Vasquez: “¡LET’S ROCK!”

The M56A serves in the squad automatic or MG role, with a high rate of fire. Not only is it counterbalanced for ease of use, but also has an eye piece for targeting.

But why is the weapon called a Smartgun? It’s use in the movie doesn’t explain that part.

A relatively recent book (2016), called the Alien Weyland Yutani Report (S.D. Perry), collects color photos, diagrams, and in-universe commentary about the Aliens moves, written from a “Corporate” perspective. It covers the movies up through Prometheus, but not Covenant.

It’s still easily available on Amazon.

Check Wayne’s Books inventory for ALIENS stuff

I spotted a two-page spread about the M56A, just after the more familiar M41A Pulse Rifle.

M56A Smartgun
Interesting. The Smartgun’s rounds (10x28mm caseless) are NOT compatible with the M41A (which are noted as 10x24mm on the previous page).
The explosive rounds are “smart” and can be set to explode on impact, or after penetration.
Here we go. “Because of its ability to distinguish friend from foe via the IFF data transmitter…” So the Smartgun will not fire when pointed at a friendly target. Very slick. This electronic safety is akin to the synchronization gear on WWI aircraft, which allowed the pilot to shoot his machinegun through his own propeller.

Bonus pic of the M41A Pulse Rifle

See also:

Did you know there were 1980s Aliens RPG, board game, and metal miniatures? Visit my RPG Reference page for Aliens

Traveller 2300 : Three Centuries after a Global Nuclear War, Humanity Reaches for the Stars (1986) – Want a similar sci-fi RPG campaign universe, minus the all-consuming Aliens?