“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side.” – Han Solo, aboard the Millennium Falcon en route to Alderaan.
With “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” hurtling into theaters Friday, it’s a good time to look at the assortment of killing tools our favorite characters from a galaxy far, far away have used in their various endeavors of both galactic imperialism and interstellar rebellion.
While the ‘Force Awakens’ take place three decades after the all-night Ewok bender at the end of ‘Return of the Jedi,’ the universe still feels distinctly familiar.
In the trailer, it’s obvious that ships like the Millennium Falcon and the Incom T-65 X-Wing (now the T-70) have gotten some much-needed upgrades in the years since Luke burned his dad on a pile of sticks. What is also noticeable in the recently sneak-peaks are subtle upgrades to the Rebels’ (now the Resistance) and the Empire’s (now the First Order) small arms.
In the early films, a number of Star Wars blasters were based directly off real-world firearms. In “The Force Awakens,” it looks like director J.J. Abrams might have kept that theme.
Here are some below:
Han Solo’s BlasTech DL-44 “The Greedo Killer”
Solo’s DL-44 does little to mask the fact that it is just a heavily modified German Mauser C96 pistol. The C96 was a semi-automatic pistol introduced at the turn of the 20th century. With an attachable wooden stock, the pistol earned the nickname the Broomhandle. The only noticeable difference on Solo’s DL-44 is the introduction of a scope and different muzzle brake. The DL-44 is also featured in “Force Awakens” trailers, so it looks like Han ol’ buddy has kept the trusty side arm at his side long after the last shots were fired on the forest moon.
The BlasTech E-11 Blaster Rifle
The E-11, pictured above with Luke “Aren’t you a little short for a Stormtrooper” Skywalker, is the preferred weapon of the Galactic Empire. The blaster rifle, while brutally inaccurate in the hands of almost everyone in the Star War saga, is based on the World War II-era British Sterling 9mm submachine gun. The E-11 in the films has a number of modifications, namely around the barrel, but its scope is actually an old WW2 tank scope (at least that’s what all the hobbyists buy for their replicas).
In the “Force Awakens,” it looks like the First Order has stuck with the E-11 but has decided to throw a collapsible stock on their now-aging blaster rifle. Strangely enough, keeping a rifle for 30 years and attaching new stuff to it sounds eerily like the United States’ relationship with the M-16.
The DLT-19 Heavy Blaster Rifle
The DLT-19 makes limited appearances in the film, save for the detention block scene in ‘Episode IV.’ However, its real-world counterpart—the MG34–was used extensively by the German military during World War II. The “Maschinen Gewehr 1934” was employed at the squad level and complimented the heavier, faster-firing MG42 later in the war.
The BlasTech A280 Blaster Rifle
The A280 appears in both “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi,” though the rifle differs slightly in both movies (some, however, believe that the rifle used in “Jedi” might be completely different). In “Empire” the A280’s lower receiver is distinctly based off what appears to be a German StG-44. The StG is largely known as the first assault rifle ever built, and was designed for the German army during World War II. German troops fighting on the eastern front wanted a weapon that had the punch of a rifle but the portability of a submachine gun. In “Jedi,” the A280 variant used in the Battle of Endor scenes looks to be modeled off an M-16, as the magazine well and magazine release are almost identical to that of the widely used American battle rifle. The front of the rifle is anyone’s guess, but it looks to be a modified pump-action shotgun integrated into the barrel.