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Now, how long will this take to become portable?
I don't think that railguns - or, for that matter, also lasers - will become portable infantry weapons that replace conventional rifles in our lifetime, if at all. These machines are simply way to intricate and easily damaged
under combat conditions to be wielded by the common soldier. If anything, I would expect somewhat smaller railguns - or lasers - to be used as support weapons operated by small crews like heavy machine guns or mortars.
Lasers are already in use against aerial targets, but they are simply impractical against humans (except for blinding, which is already a huge danger on the modern battlefield). Hence manportable -> unlikely.
Railguns need power and are still to maintenance heavy because the rails are prone to being damaged because the projectile slides on the rail rubbing it off ever so slightly. This won't change until we created an alloy that's both great with transfering electrical current and damage proof enough to withstand more than a few shots. But when that is solved, railguns with certainly become portable weapons.
Btw, railguns are in development for decades now, but they are that power hungry they could only be mounted on ships as of yet.
Ship turrets and AA are probably the likeliest applications for railguns and lasers. In an alternate, more nuclear-happy world, we might end up putting them on nuclear powered tanks as well but that's unlikely to happen.
Is that black spot the shell in the pic?

I may remind you this thread is over a year old so reviving it isn't very nice. As for your question, that's correct. The flame trail behind it is ignited air.
No, the black spot is actually a miniature void in reality, torn out of the very fabric of space-time due to the sheer awesomeness of the railgun...Of course it's the fuckin' shell, damn it. Look at the date before reviving old threads, man!
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