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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Buy your blasters, blaster parts, and ammunition at dealer cost.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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