“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid”, was the line famously spoken by Han Solo while aboard the Millennium Falcon. When it comes to ranged weapons, it’s a comment very fitting for the universe around us.
Ranged weapons are common sights around the galaxy, from smugglers and pirates to Imperial security forces. In this course we will look at the variety of ranged weapons available as man portable systems, as well as ground-based systems and commonly encountered weapon emplacements. The course should give you a good level of knowledge to know which weapons do what, and when to employ them.
Blasters come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny holdout units that have a limited number of shots, to giant field-emplaced weapons and anti-armor units. This section will cover in brief the various forms of blaster technology available for ground use.
Blasters are not a typical energy weapon, in that they do not utilise light amplification or laser technology. Blasters use a process of converting energy-rich blaster gas into a plasma based particle bolt.
Upon pulling the trigger, the weapon draws a portion of blaster gas from the weapon’s magazine which is then fed into the weapon’s gas conversion enabler chamber (known as the XCiter) via the heter valve. From the XCiter, the gas travels into the actuating module which converts the newly powerful and energy-rich gas into plasma and passes it through a focusing prism. The end result is a plasma bolt, the colour of which depends on the type of blaster gas being used.
Some blasters incorporate a stun setting, this simply draws power from the magazine, bypassing the gas system, and projects a ring of energy that affects the target's nervous system.
Man-portable blasters come in a variety of different types and sizes. In this section we will cover the main types that you will encounter:
Sporting and low-power blasters are commonly found among shooting enthusiasts, often seen in competitive sports. Sometimes they are used by security forces as a less than lethal option for their personnel such as the S-5 used by Naboo Security forces. The Handmaidens of the Palace of Naboo carried elegant sporting blaster versions of the Q2, the ELG-3A. The most famous user of a sporting blaster is probably Princess Leia Organa; she often carried a Defender sporting blaster pistol, in both its standard and shortened forms.
Hold-out blasters are essentially miniaturised versions of normal blasters and heavy blasters, designed to be secreted amongst clothing or luggage. The hold-out blaster is a limited-use emergency weapon, usually with no more that 6-8 shots; many of them are designed to be throw away weapons once their powerpack and gas have been expended. Hold-out blasters function in the same way as their larger kin, and are just as deadly, however the more deadly they are, the lower the shot count, BlasTech Industries produced a hold-out version of their famous DL-44 Heavy blaster, but its was limited to around 4 shots. Other holdout weapons include the Q2 used by the Naboo security forces and Queen/Senator Amidala.
Blaster pistols are the most commonly seen blaster weapons and come in two distinct types: the common blaster pistol, used by military forces and citizens across the galaxy; and the heavy blaster made famous by Han Solo and Luke Skywalker.
Blaster pistols work in the same way as all other blaster weapons. The most common is the DH-17 blaster pistol used by both the Rebellion and the Empire during the Galactic civil war. They usually have around 100 shots per magazine and a rage of up to 100 meters, easily able to pierce most light armour and structures, and are overall very versatile weapons.
Heavy blasters are a much more specialised weapon, usually found in the hands of smugglers, pirates and Bounty Hunters, but often used by both Imperial and Rebel Officers. Heavy Blasters have a much more powerful XCiter, which consumes around twice the amount of blaster gas and power from the magazine, but results in a shot that is far more powerful. Heavy blasters get around 50 shots from their magazine and a maximum range of around 75m, they are however, able to penetrate all but the heaviest infantry armour and will damage light armoured vehicles. When impacting structures they are more than able to blow chunks out of Durasteel and Ferrocrete. The most common of these are BlasTech’s DL-44 and Merr-Sonn’s Flash 4 (which is a copy of the DL-44) and the Power 5, Han Solo was rumoured to have modified his to allow more range and hitting power.
Blaster carbines sit somewhat between a blaster rifle and a blaster pistol: while they have a much greater range than pistols, they don't have quite as much power as a full blaster rifle. Carbines are often used by military forces in close quarter environments where their greater rate of fire and ammunition capacity can be used more effectively than a full blown rifle. The most common of these weapons are the DC-15 series carbines used during the Clone Wars, the E-5 carbine carried by the Trade Federation Battle Droids and Boba Fett's customised EE-3 carbine. Carbines had around 50 shots per pack, but with a range of up to 250m.
A common sight among both the Rebellion and the Empire, blaster rifles are the mainstay of most of the galaxy’s military forces. Rifles are often a multi-purpose weapon, used as an assault rifle with a burst or autofire setting or a sniping weapon with the addition of a sight or scope. Most blaster rifles have a range of around 300m depending on the length of their barrels, and a shot count of between 50-100. The most common of these weapons are the DLT-19 Heavy Blaster Rifle and E-11 used by the Empire and the A280 used by the Rebel Alliance.
Light repeating blasters sit in the role of a light support weapon. Accurate up to around 450m, these weapons can be used as anti infantry-sniping weapons or for suppression. Most of these weapons only have small power supplies and gas canisters, so sustained autofire is limited, however they are able to be attached to an external power source, allowing them greater sustained fire. The most common of these weapons is the T-21 repeating blaster, used by both sides during the Galactic Civil War.
Heavy repeating blasters are weapons that have been seen in the hands of military forces from the Clone Wars right to the current era. They are commonly used on a vehicle mount however man-portable and tripod-mounted variants have been made. The FWMB-10 used by the First Order would fall into this class; it is designed to be both man-portable with the aid of a foldout stand and also vehicle mounted. Other versions include the Z-6 rotary cannons used by the Republic Clone troopers and the well-known E-Web heavy blaster, designed for both ground and vehicle mounting. Range would be in the region of 750 meters with ammunition supply dependant on the power pack attached.
Laser weapons work in the same way as Blasters, however instead of using plasma based gas to create a charged plasma bolt, they used spin-sealed Tibanna gas or equivalent as the fuel for the conversion process. The gas is converted into a high energy laser particle bolt and, like with blasters, the color of the bolt is determined by the type of gas and the quality of it.
The three types of laser weapons you are likely to encounter as man-portable weapons are:
Made famous by Mandalorians such as Boba Fett and his father Jango Fett, The Dur-24 is a combat laser weapon usually found mounted on a gauntlet or other similar wrist mount. The weapon, while small, has the same characteristics of a full powered blaster rifle compacted into something the size of a blaster pistol. This weapon is an excellent choice for those wanted a hands free option as it can often be controlled via comp-linked systems.
Very similar to the DLT-19 blaster rifle used by the Empire, this weapon uses laser-based technology rather than the plasma based system of blaster weapons. Otherwise, its effects are much the same as those found in standard heavy blaster rifles.
The DLT-20A is a weapon that seems to sit in the gap between the DLT-19 and the E-11, commonly seen in use by the Empire Stormtroopers as a replacement option for the E-11. Unlike its blaster-based cousins, the DLT-20A is more akin to the DLT-18, and may even be a later version based on that weapon. It has a performance that is equal to those of most blaster rifles.
Slug weapons are relatively ancient technology, yet not as archaic as some may first think. Slug weapons use a variety of ways to expel their ammunition from their barrels, from rail and coil propulsion to explosive and propellant-based systems. A slug weapon usually will propel a solid round encased in an energy field which aids its flight stability, range and penetration capabilities. Most slug weapons have the ability to load specialist ammunition types such as explosive, poison, and even armor-piercing rounds. Slug weapons are often used as long-range sniping weapons as their lack of easily visible shot and the ability to dampen both the muzzle blast and the sound. makes them an excellent weapon for assassinations. For this reason many bounty hunters including the well-known Zam Wesell carried slug weapons.
Slug weapons come with an inherent downside: their ability to penetrate plasteel armor and similar systems is somewhat limited as these protective measures are designed to damped the blow of kinetic weapons. However, they have been proven to be effective against Jedi as the round can’t be deflected by a lightsaber, and unlike a blaster round they are harder to detect. Slug weapons come in a variety of forms from small hold out pistols, heavy pistols that function as an equivalent to blaster pistols, rifles with both bolt action and semi-automatic actions, and sniper rifles. Slug weapons usually have a range equivalent to and occasionally more than their blaster cousins. Examples of such weapons include the Cycler Rifles used by the Tusken raiders and KiSteer 1284 projectile rifle used by Zam.
Missile Launchers are a much more specialized brand of weapon system and generally come in two sizes, shoulder-mounted or wrist-mounted.
Shoulder mounted systems such as the PLX-1, aka Plex, are used for anti-vehicular and anti-emplacement duties, with a range of around 40km. The PLX system fires a miniaturized proton warhead (other, similar, systems sometimes use concussion warheads), and are very effective against shielded vehicles as they generally rely on armour to protect against projectile weapons. These weapons usually have a magazine capacity of two shots, and are light enough to be easily carried around the battlefield.
The smaller wrist mounted systems include the MM9 Mini Concussion rocket launcher as made famous by Boba Fett. This system is a simple magnetic accelerator tube that propels a small missile. The warhead can be customised to carry a variety of payloads and while not as powerful as a shoulder-mounted system, it is more than capable of making a mockery of armored doors, battle droids, etc.
Within the armouries of the galaxy lie some bizarre and non standard weapons. The most prevalent of these is the flamethrower. Used to great effect by Bounty hunters such as Jango Fett, as well as the terrorising flame troopers of The First Order. Flamethrowers utilise a chemical fuel, projected via an emitter tube, this fuel is then ignited, projecting a stream of burning chemical that can stick to its target and cause horrific burns. These weapons are good for affecting large areas, however they are relatively short range, having a maximum range of around 10-12 meters.
This course should have provided you with a glancing look at all the different kinds of weaponry the galaxy has to offer. If you feel you're up for it, go ahead and take the exam. If you have further questions the course professor will be happy to help you.
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