Guns of Star Wars (Not Really From a Galaxy Far, Far Away)

Peter Suciu takes a look at a wide array of Star Wars weapons — guns like Han Solo’s (in)famous blaster and more.

The “final” film in the Star Wars saga is about to arrive this month, concluding the sequel trilogy, and its cultural impact of the films can’t be understated. Perhaps one of the things that made Star Wars so accessible was in its approach to science fiction.

 

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It featured a classic tale of good vs. evil – that borrowed heavily from American westerns, war films and notably the samurai epic The Hidden Fortress by director Akira Kurosawa. Unlike other sci-fi films of the era that featured “futuristic” looking costumes, disco-inspired music, and ray guns; Star Wars offered costumes that were seemingly retro yet militaristic. The musical score was bombastic yet classically inspired and had very realistic looking weapons.

One factor that played into the realism of the arsenal of Storm Trooper weapons, Han Solo’s infamous blaster and countless other guns is that these were in fact dressed up weapons from our world! Here is a look at how modern – and not so modern – firearms were dressed up in the Star Wars films.

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Guns of Star Wars

Star Wars weapons: DDC Defender

One of the first weapons seen in the original Star Wars: A New Hope was the Drearian Defense Conglomerate Defender carried by Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). She uses this weapon briefly to defend herself in the opening sequences of the film. In actuality, it is a dressed-up Vostok Margolin .22LR target pistol with a muzzle attachment. In Return of the Jedi, Leia carried a Soro Suub Corporation X-30, also based on the Vostok.

It has been reported that these were chosen with Fisher in mind to give the character a weapon that didn’t look bulky or unwieldy in the petite hands of a princess.

Guns of Star Wars - Princess Leia holding her DDC Defender.
Princess Leia holding her Drearian Defense Conglomerate Defender sporting blaster pistol.

 

Guns of Star Wars: A VostokMargolin .22LR target pistol, which was designed by Mikhail Vladimirovich Margolin (1906-1975) and has been used in shooting competitions around the world since 1950.
Guns of Star Wars: the Vostok Margolin .22LR target pistol. Designed by Mikhail Vladimirovich Margolin (1906-1975), this pistol has been used in shooting competitions around the world since 1950.

 

BlasTech DL-44 Heavy Blaster Pistol

One of the most famous “blasters” in the Star Wars films is the one seen carried by Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and at times Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). It is actually based on the Mauser C96 with a heavy barrel, a mounted scope, and the muzzle cone from an M3 “Grease Gun.”

According to various sources, the live-fire C96 used by Solo in A New Hope was actually the same “prop gun” carried by Frank Sinatra in the film The Naked Runner. Different scopes were mounted to the weapon – originally it was a German World War I era Hensoldt Wetzlar Dialyt 3x scope, but this was changed to a World War II M19 brass azimuth-finding telescope sight from an M4 Sherman tank.

While the C96 was of German origin and was carried by German soldiers in both real World Wars, another national leader carried one as a young officer. That man was Winston Churchill, and he chose the C96 over the standard-issue British Webley service revolver.

Guns of Star Wars - Han Solo is seen with his most iconic gun in Return of the Jedi, the DL 44.
Han Solo carrying what’s perhaps the most iconic gun of the series (this scene is in Return of the Jedi).

 

Guns of Star Wars: A commercial version of the C96.
Guns of Star Wars: This commercial version of the C96 was the foundation of an important Star Wars weapon.

 

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BlasTech DT-12 Heavy Blaster Pistol

In the galaxy far, far away BlasTech must be its version of S&W or Colt because everyone seems to carry one of their blasters. Greedo, the Rodian bounty-hunter seen briefly in A New Hope, carries a Blastech DT-12. It is actually a Ruger MkI with a shortened barrel and finned flash hider. Arguably it is one of the most “ray gun” looking weapons in the film series but we should consider it in the context of being wielded by a green alien with black eyes with the fashion sense of a millennial hipster!

As originally filmed Greedo never actually fired the weapon, as Han shot him before the bounty-hunter could make his move. Director George Lucas altered the scene so that Greedo fired first and yet somehow missed at near point-blank range! This was changed again where the two fired simultaneously.

The Ruger MKI was a .22LR semiautomatic pistol developed by Sturm, Ruger & Company after World War II and while it has a strong resemblance to the German Luger P08, its operation is actually based on the Japanese Nambu Type 14.

Guns of Star Wars - Regardless of if or when he fired Greedo carried a Blastech DT-12.
Regardless of who shot first, Greedo carried a Blastech DT-12.

 

The Ruger MkI looks like a Luger but is actually based on the Japanese Nambu Type 14. It was the first in a popular line of .22LR sporting pistols.
Guns of Star Wars: The Ruger MkI looks like a Luger but is actually based on the Japanese Nambu Type 14. It was the first in a popular line of .22LR sporting pistols.

BlasTech E-11 Blaster Rifle

On-screen the Storm Troopers didn’t appear to be the best shots – despite Obi Wan’s assessment that only Imperial Storm Troopers could be so precise. Perhaps this is because the Storm Troopers are often seen firing from the hip with a weapon about the size of a submachine gun!

Officially, the BlasTech E-11 Blaster Rifle is a rifle. It’s modeled on the British-made Sterling L2A3 submachine gun equipped with Sherman tank gun sights and faux battery pack. This weapon is carried at various times by Leia, Luke, and Han. Keen-eyed viewers can spot spent cartridges ejecting from the E-11 at times.

The Sterling was developed at the end of World War II as the Patchett, named after its designer George William Patchett, as a replacement for the Sten Gun. While the E-11 was used by Imperial and Rebel forces, the Sterling is notable for being used by both Argentinean and British Special Forces during the Falklands War in 1982.

Guns of Star Wars BlasTech E11.
Imperial Storm Troopers equipped with the BlasTech E-11 Blaster Rifle. Most are seen firing from the hip, which could explain why their accuracy is so bad!

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BlasTech A295

While the Imperial forces relied on a British-made weapon, the Rebels were armed with the world’s first assault rifle, which was developed by the Nazis! Surely there is some irony in that. The BlasTech A295 blaster rifles were cast replicas based on the German StG44. Scopes were added to the rifles, while the stocks were heavily modified.

The StG44 was developed at the end of the Second World War. It was originally introduced as the MP44 – firing an intermediate cartridge but still being classified as a submachine gun. Eventually, it was re-designated as an assault rifle.

The A280 was seen being used by some Rebels and this was based off the AR-15.

Guns of Star Wars: Rebel soldiers on Hoth (actually Norway) armed with the BlasTech A295.
Rebel soldiers on Hoth (actually Norway) armed with the BlasTech A295. Why the Rebels use what seems to be a full-size blaster rifle while the Imperial forces relied on the E-11 is never addressed.

 

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Guns of Star Wars - BlasTech A280.
Seen in Return of the Jedi, perhaps because of the rarity of the StG44, Rebel forces used the similar BlasTech A280 – based on the AR-15.

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BlasTech DLT-19 Heavy Blaster Rifle

The Imperial Storm Trooper may not have gotten to use the galactic version of an assault rifle, but a couple of them are seen carrying (not actually shooting) the BlasTech DLT-19 heavy blaster rifle. Unlike many of the other guns of Star Wars movies that were dressed up with scopes and various gizmos, these were basic German MG34 general-purpose machine guns painted a solid black with added rails (actually draw runners from a hardware store) on the sides.

Truth be told, the DLT-19 would have been hard to aim and fire. However, it does appear to have an attached bipod. It may look good on screen but it seems impractical even for Imperial Storm Troopers.

The MG34 was the world’s first general-purpose machine gun. It was developed for use in a medium machine gun role with the bipod. It could also be used with a larger tripod in a heavy machine gun capability. While a weapon that was costly and time-consuming to produce, it remained in use throughout World War II.

Guns of Star Wars - a storm trooper investigates the Millennium Falcon carrying what would seem to be an open ground weapon.
A Storm Trooper investigating the Millennium Falcon carrying what would seem to be an open ground weapon. It seems like a poor choice of weapon for a tight corridor!

 

At four feet in length only in video games could anyone fire an MG34 from a standing position.
At four feet in length only in video games could anyone fire an MG34 from a standing position with any ease or accuracy.

 

BlasTech T-21 Light Repeating Blaster

Another heavy weapon carried by the Storm Troopers is the confusingly named BlasTech T-21 Light Repeating Blaster. A Sandtrooper Officer carried it in A New Home while the troopers patrol Mos Eisley in search of the droids. The weapon is actually an American-designed, British-used Lewis light machine gun.

The World War I Lewis Gun had a round drum/pan magazine on top, which was removed in the movie. It featured a distinctive barrel cooling shroud (containing a finned, aluminum breech-to-muzzle heat sink to cool the gun barrel).

Guns of Star Wars: The Sandtrooper in the middle carries the BlasTech T-21 Light Repeating Blaster. Perhaps it was called "light" due to the fact that Lewis Gun was officially designated at "light machine gun," and was carried by a single soldier during the First World War.
The Sandtrooper in the middle carries the BlasTech T-21 Light Repeating Blaster. Perhaps it was called “light” due to the fact that Lewis Gun was officially designated a “light machine gun”. It was carried by a single soldier during the First World War.

 

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Ion Blaster

The Ion Blaster used by the Jawas on Tatooine to capture R2-D2 was another heavily modified firearm to have a brief moment in Star Wars. It is actually a cut-down British Short Magazine Lee-Enfield (SMLE) No.1 MkIII fitted with a grenade launcher cup on the end.

Guns of Star Wars: The Jawa prepares to shoot R2-D2 at the beginning of A New Hope.
The Jawa prepares to shoot R2-D2 at the beginning of A New Hope.

 

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EE-3 Carbine Rifle

It is unclear if the EE-3 Carbine Rifle was made by BlasTech. Given that it is a carbine version of the E-11 this may seem likely. It was carried by Boba Fett, the popular bounty hunter introduced in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. The weapon was modified slightly in the film The Return of the Jedi. In both cases, it is actually a modified Webley & Scott No. 1 Mark 1 Flare Gun with a shoulder stock.

Guns of Star Wars - Boba Fett carrying his EE-3 Carbine Rifle in The Return of the Jedi.
Boba Fett carrying his EE-3 Carbine Rifle in The Return of the Jedi.

 

Guns of Star Wars: the Webley & Scott No.1 Mark 1 Flare Gun was developed during the First World War and used in the early stages of the Second World War.
The Webley & Scott No.1 Mark 1 Flare Gun was developed during the First World War and used in the early stages of the Second World War.

 


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Peter Suciu

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based freelance writer who regularly covers firearms related topics and military history. As a reporter, his work has appeared in dozens of magazines, newspapers, and websites. Among those are Homeland Security Today, Armchair General, Military Heritage, Mag Life, Newsweek, The Federalist, AmmoLand, Breach-Bang-Clear, Newsweek, RECOILweb, Wired, and many others. He has collected military small arms and military helmets most of his life, and just recently navigated his first NFA transfer to buy his first machine gun. He is co-author of the book A Gallery of Military Headdress, which was published in February 2019. It is his third book on the topic of military hats and helmets.


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One thought on “Guns of Star Wars (Not Really From a Galaxy Far, Far Away)

  • December 27, 2019 at 8:28 am
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    Fascinating information on the guns used in Star Wars.
    Good job.
    Thank you and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    Reply

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