The Lightning Gun in Unreal Championship is essentially the same as in Unreal Tournament 2003. It is one of the few weapons that remained exactly the same in later Tournament games just like in Unreal Championship.
Primary fire launches an instant-hit lightning bolt with perfect accuracy. Secondary fire zooms. The weapon deals double damage upon a headshot, enough to kill an unshielded opponent. The weapon's zooming ability and perfect accuracy make it suitable for sniping, but the bright lightning bolt will always give away the snipers position. Of all weapons in UT2003, the lightning gun has the longest recharge time between shots, but other weapons can still be fired while the weapon is recharging. Maximum ammo capacity is 40 charges.
"The Lightning Gun is a high-power energy rifle capable of ablating even the heaviest carapace armor. Acquisition of a target at long range requires a steady hand, but the anti-jitter effect of the optical system reduces the weapon's learning curve significantly. Once the target has been acquired, the operator depresses the trigger, painting a proton "patch" on the target. Milliseconds later the rifle emits a high voltage arc of electricity, which seeks out the charge differential and annihilates the target."
- Weapon description
The Lightning Gun is nearly unchanged in UT2004. The main difference is that the recharge time is reduced. Compared to the sniper rifle that was reintroduced in UT2004, the Lightning Gun still has a longer reload time but deals slightly more damage per shot and takes less time to switch to and from.
The Lightning Gun returns in UT4, now dubbed the Lightning Rifle.
The Lightning Rifle is a long-range hitscan weapon with clearly defined advantages and disadvantages; a sniper weapon feared when used at long range but limited at closer range. It has two very different fire modes depending on whether the weapon is zoomed in.
When the weapon is zoomed in, it will automatically begin to charge as shown by a meter in the scope. If the weapon is fired before it is fully charged, it releases a low powered beam of lightning at the target which can be fired at a fairly quick rate. However, if the player allows the weapon to fully charge before firing, it will release a large beam of lightning which does a significant amount of damage to the first target it hits and then chains to cause some damage any nearby targets in line of sight of the hit target.
When fired from the hip, the rifle will shoot a high speed but low rate of fire projectile which sticks to an enemy and shocks them for three ticks of damage over a second. This allows the player make interesting skill shots at medium to close range and defend himself.
"The lightning gun is a useful one-shot killer for those with good aim. It also has a zoom feature that lets you take out enemies accurately and instantly with a pull of the trigger. If you don’t hit your foe in the head, however, you need at least two shots with the lightning gun to kill. It takes a long time to reload between shots, making this weapon ineffective in heavily trafficked areas.
An instantaneous lightning blast kills your opponent if you are skilled enough to score a head shot with primary fire. Don’t fire frantically. One good headshot is as deadly as three inaccurate bursts. It takes time to reload the lightning gun. Make the most of each shot.
The secondary trigger zooms your view toward your target. Hold down the trigger to zoom in even more, then hit it again to zoom out. Find a safe sniping spot before using the zoom. When you’re zoomed in, you’re open to attack from behind and from the sides.
In large, open maps, the lightning gun can be your best friend. Just find a safe spot and zoom in on high-traffic areas. You can control entire areas of a level. Watch out for other snipers, however. They can ruin your fun. Small, tight, or indoor levels aren’t suited to the lightning gun, which needs space to be effective. Don’t try to snipe where there’s nowhere to hide. When sniping from a distance, try to find a spot near ammo — your gun needs plenty of it. If you’re quick, you can use this weapon without the zoom in tight areas. But be sure to get a head shot, or you go down to one of the bigger guns."