A Stormtrooper holding a blaster rifle.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you will know that today (15 December 2017) marks the release of the hotly-anticipated film ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’.

While the lightsaber takes the plaudits for being the weapon everyone remembers from the Star Wars films, there are a lot of blaster guns present across all of the films.

This got us thinking; why hasn’t someone tried to invent a ray or blaster gun like the ones we see in the films? Well, as it turns out, there have been multiple attempts over the years, with varying degrees of success. We have taken a look at some of the attempts below:

Pain Rays

The pain ray uses radio waves to heat up bodily tissue and create a painful, but nonlethal burn. Much like Emperor Palpatine and his force lightning, you are forced to submit to the pain or writhe around on the floor until you reconsider your decision.

Unlike many other attempts at futuristic weaponry, the technology in this actually works. The following quote is from a journalist who experienced the pain ray first hand, and it doesn’t sound pleasant!

Suddenly my chest and neck feel like they’ve been exposed to a blast furnace, with a sting thrown in for good measure. I’m getting blasted with 12 joules of energy per square centimeter [sic], in a fairly concentrated blast diameter. I last maybe two seconds of curiosity before my body takes the controls and yanks me out of the way of the beam.”

So, the technology works, and it seems like it would be a pretty good, non-lethal deterrent; what’s the issue? Well, the ray is vehicle mounted and can sometimes take up to sixteen hours to power up before it can be used, meaning it needs a lot of power to operate. This power comes from the vehicle it is attached to, so it burns through fuel like there’s no tomorrow!

The system also has greatly reduced effectiveness in rain, snow or whenever visibility is reduced and has also been rumoured to actually unite enemy combatants who were able to use the ray gun for propaganda purposes.

PHASR - Blinding Rifle

The PHASR (Personal Halting and Stimulation Response Rifle) is another non-lethal deterrent. The futuristic-looking rifle shoots a series of lasers into eyes of the reprobate, causing temporary blindness.

Sounds great in its concept, except blinding weapons have been banned by the UN since 1995, which the United States acceded to on 21 January 2009, which is a pretty significant setback for the team who developed the PHASR, essentially rendering their device obsolete.

Pulsed Energy Projectile

[caption id="attachment_1631" align="aligncenter" width="421"] Image from railgun showing plasma explosion. Imagine this but on a much smaller scale[/caption]

The pulsed energy projectile is currently in development by the U.S. Military, although there is little information out there about it. The idea is to create a small explosion near a target using exploding plasma, result in a non-lethal incapacitation.

The target is incapacitated by a small, focused delivery of electromagnetic radiation. Once again, it is a vehicle-mounted weapon and was designed for riot control situations, said to be effective to up to 2 km. It allegedly works and hurts a hell of a lot, due to the radiation attacking nerve cells.

The technology can also be used as a lethal weapon, and it was believed that the projectile was originally designed for this instance before turning non-lethal; although ‘exploding plasma’ doesn’t sound like something to be taken lightly!

Hallucinogenic Artillery Rounds

Not strictly a laser gun, but leaning more towards the Jedi mind trick side of things (a bit of a tenuous link, we know!). Nerve gas is an illegal weapon, but there are many reports of testing hallucinogenic materials on humans to study its effects.

Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, more commonly known as LSD, has frequently been reported as a substance that was looking to be weaponised. This was replaced by the preferred ‘Agent BZ’, but the project was reportedly scrapped in 1977 as the results were too inconsistent.

This is another example of weaponry where there isn’t a whole lot of concrete evidence, but you’ll soon get lost down a rabbit hole if you look it up online! Proceed at your own risk…

As you can see, the attempts to create science fiction weaponry such as those found in the Star Wars films seem to be a way off yet! We have got some pretty futuristic-looking guns for sale, such as the Daystate Pulsar PCP air rifle and the Daystate Tsar PCP air rifle, so why not check them out while we wait for the real deal?!