Han Solo with deactivated gun modified to make DL-44 blaster

Many of you out there will probably be familiar with the blasters featured in the Star Wars films, with iconic guns such as Han Solo’s DL-44 Heavy Blaster Pistol. There’s probably a reason why these guns tend to stick in the mind so much, and that is because of how real they look.

Unlike many other science fiction films (who create elaborate weapons you’d never seen in real-life) the guns in Star Wars have a different feel about them, and that is because most of them are made from real-life guns.

Real world weaponry

Gareth Edwards, the director of the upcoming film ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ recently spoke about science fiction weaponry in general, and how it relates to Star Wars. In a recent interview with SFX, Edwards said: “In your brain you think Star Wars is 50% sci-fi and 50% historical/real world, but it’s really like 90% historical/real world and 10% science fiction.”

What Edwards is referencing is something that many Star Wars fans have known for a long time; the guns are real… sort of. When the original trilogy was filmed, many of the blasters were put together using deactivated guns with slight modifications made.

For example, the E-11 Blaster Rifle (most commonly found in the hands of a Stormtrooper) is in fact a World War II-era British Sterling 9mm submachine gun. Modifications were made to the barrel and an old WWII tank scope was added, and hey presto! You’ve got a blaster rifle. There was talk of an airsoft E-11 Blaster Rifle being created from the S&T Sterling SMG (based on the WWII submachine gun mentioned above), although we are still awaiting further news on that.

What about Han’s side arm? That was an old WWII Mauser-pistol, with modifications made once again, such as changes to the barrel and a scope added (see our airsoft variant of Han’s blaster here). The same goes for the DLT-19 Heavy Blaster Rifle, briefly seen in Episode VI, which was built from an old German MG-34.

Although a lot of this has been known by die-hard fans for years, Edwards was initially unaware of the history. Speaking in the same interview, he said:

“When [the prop masters] were designing all the weapons and the guns, one of the first faux pas I committed… [is saying] ‘this one feels too antiquated, this one feels like something they’d have in World War II’. [And the prop master would say] that’s exactly the Stormtrooper weapon from A New Hope. [Back then] they were just grabbing real world guns and costumes, and just doing a little thing to it that made it feel like Star Wars.”

By drawing elements from the real world, the Star Wars universe earned great praise from a design stand point, as while the technology isn’t something we have available, it has a very familiar feel to it.

However, this was something that was seemingly abandoned during the three prequel films. For example, the blaster that Padmé was equipped with was far too futuristic in comparison to the rest of the universe, which is perhaps why the prequels were met with such poor reception (and the fact that they were just awful).

Edwards rounded off his epiphany by saying: “If you go too far it’s Flash Gordon… or it’s Star Trek.” Most science fiction fans will probably agree that Star Wars blasters look and feel more dangerous than other sci-fi worlds, and that’s because they are, in our galaxy at least!


Photo courtesy of BagoGames on Flickr, under Creative Commons