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"In science fiction one can say a great many things that are unpalatable, because it's expressed as science fiction you can slip it past their defenses."
- Frederik Pohl

Atomic Automatic  
  Fires a special, rocket-like bullet.  

It fires a "steam bullet" which makes a "screaming hiss" as it goes by.

He turned to face one of the most beautiful girls he had ever seen - a golden-haired bit of femininity whose shapely form was further accentuated by a range costume, consisting of a tight-fitting pair of breeches and a glistening shirt made of glass cloth. Strapped to her feet were large discs which, Conavan judged, were to give her better support on this planet of uncertain footing and weak gravitational attraction.

In her hand she held an atomic automatic,* still smoking.

* This gun is not unlike the old-time Colt automatic of the year 1940. The atomic gun, however, uses a lead bullet of tremendous range. Steam, generated inside the lead pellet and fired through the rear like a rocket-tube blast, gives this gun a range of over a mile. It is equipped with telescopic sights.

From Revolt on Io, by Jack West.
Published by Amazing Stories in 1940
Additional resources -

Some of them are fancy:

The one who had spoken, also a Venusian, was an enormous fat man whose large belly shimmied like gelatin when he shifted his footing. He wore a silver coin-studded black leather belt almost a foot wide. Two ivory handled atomic automatics snuggled in holsters attached to the belt.

Compare to the electro-bullets from Pirates of the Gorm (1932) by Nat Schachner and the self-guided rocket bullets from The Planet Strappers (1961) by Raymond Z. Gallun and to the smart bullet from Runaway (1985), by Michael Crichton.

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  More Ideas and Technology from Revolt on Io
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