The Real Guns of Star Wars!

(Editor’s note: This article was a submission from freelance writer Max Slowik)

With the release of the new Star Wars movie upon us, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we thought we’d commemorate the occasion with a look back at some of the real guns that inspired the blasters and weapons that appear throughout the series.

Yes, to answer the obvious question, we are indeed fanboys of the franchise (more so the original three than the latest three)!  Hopefully, you enjoy reading this tribute as much as we enjoyed writing it.

Sturmgewehr 44, aka BlasTech A280, A280C and A295

An illustrated A280 blaster in the caring hands of the Rebel Alliance. These blasters were based on the StG 44.

An illustrated A280 blaster in the caring hands of the Rebel Alliance. These blasters were based on the StG 44.

The StG 44, in Star Wars as it is on Earth, was one of the most important developments in small arms-slash-blaster technology without a doubt. While not the first of its kind, the StG 44 was a magazine-fed carbine-sized select-fire gun chambered for an intermediate cartridge, and it would go on to define all the characteristics of the modern assault rifle.

In the Star Wars universe it was used as the pattern for many Rebel forces blaster rifles, especially those in service towards the end of the conflict.

Unlike many prop guns which were built using actual firearms and firearm components, these blasters were made using casts due to the scarcity of StG 44 rifles. Today, original StG 44s are hard to find and harder to own, but the good news is that working replicas are just around the corner.

Sterling SMG, aka BlasTech E-11 and DH-17

The Sterling SMG was used as the backbone for some of the most memorable blasters in Star Wars.

The Sterling SMG was used as the backbone for some of the most memorable blasters in Star Wars.

This handy submachine gun was in production across the Commonwealth for over four decades and in the galaxy far, far away was used as the platform for blasters deployed by troops fighting on all sides. This basic blaster was originally chambered for 9mm Luger and sports a handful of features including a grooved bolt that channels away debris and contaminants promoting reliability to a degree that makes the Sterling stand out today.

Built terrestrially in standard and suppressed configurations, the Sterling was used to develop both the BlasTech E-11, the standard blaster employed by the Imperial forces as well as the DH-17 Blaster Pistol seen in the hands of Princess Leia’s Rebel guard. It’s possible that they were captured blasters as the DH-17 was also in service with Stormtroopers, albeit late in the war.

The Sterling, and the blasters based on it, were some of the first guns we saw in Star Wars and some of the most common. They aren’t the most iconic blasters in the universe, but they are especially memorable–their accuracy sucks.

Lewis light machine gun, aka BlasTech T-21 and MG42, aka DLT-19

Allied and Axis machine guns were transformed into the heavy blaster rifles of Star Wars.

Allied and Axis machine guns were transformed into the heavy blaster rifles of Star Wars.

When you patrol hives of scum and infamy for a living, a submachine gun isn’t your go-to blaster. You step straight up to the top and grab a Lewis gun.

The Lewis is another British gun that also saw decades of service, spanning the Great War, WWII and beyond. Originally chambered for either .303 British or .30-06 Springfield, the Lewis gun, or rather, the BlasTech T-21 Light Repeating Blaster, was used to set the standard as the most powerful rifle in service with Stormtroopers across the galaxy.

While only seen for a glimpse in the first Star Wars film, the T-21 was written into Star Wars lore from the Clone Wars into the New Republic as infantry support in the hands of soldiers fighting for the Dark and Light sides. It was the peak of man-portable arms, more than capable of putting any lightsaber-swinger in their place.

Another heavy repeating blaster was the DLT-19, patterned off the MG42. Like the German machine gun the DLT-19 was favored for its high rate of fire and effect downrange. They were so popular even Chewbacca picked one up for safe keeping, when he was not in reach of his bowcaster. Like the T-21, it was mainly used by Stormtroopers, and can be seen carried by the tropper on the left.

The Bowcaster (OK, we know it’s not a gun)

It's not wise to upset a Wookiee.

It’s not wise to upset a Wookiee.

There are a handful of Star Wars weapons not based on real-world firearms and probably the most recognized is the bowcaster, the quintessential weapon of the Wookiees of Kashyyyk. And frankly, the bowcaster is a lot cooler than the Lee-Enfield ion blasters carried by the Jawas.

It’s a mechanically-driven ranged weapon that fires bolts magnetically-accelerated energy more powerful than common blasters, and they are difficult to handle unless you’re a 300 pound, 8-foot-tall arm-ripping giant. The hand-built bowcaster is to Wookiees what the lightsaber is to Jedi and are a critical part of Star Wars legend.

Because where would Han be without Chewy?

 

Vostok Margolin .22, aka SoroSuub Corporation X-30

The Vostok Margolin's retro-future style was presented essentially unaltered as Leia's blaster.

The Vostok Margolin’s retro-future style was presented essentially unaltered as Leia’s blaster.

And how would Leia manage without a blaster of her own? Armed with her SC X-30 pistol, the Margolin is one of the first blasters introduced by the Star Wars universe, and one of the most well-recognized.

Once again based on a real firearm, the SC X-30 was built on the Vostok Margolin .22 Long Rifle target pistol, and is one of the least dressed-up guns on screen. Unlike most of the other Star Wars blasters, models go up for sale from time to time, paving the way for any future Princess Leias out there–although a Ruger will do in a pinch.

 

Webley & Scott Number 1 Mark 1 Flare Gun, aka EE-3 Carbine

The 37mm flare gun was adapted to make the EE-3, the standard blaster of the Mandalorian Protectors.

The 37mm flare gun was adapted to make the EE-3, the standard blaster of the Mandalorian Protectors.

Another instantly-recognizable Star Wars blaster, the Number 1 Mark 1 served as the basis for none other than Boba Fett’s first choice among blasters, the EE-3 Carbine.

A traditional Mandalorian weapon, the EE-3 Carbine is frequently seen in the hands of Fett as it is his primary long arm for the most part of his career.

It’s worth mentioning that Fett is one of two Star Wars characters being considered for spin-off films, the other being…

 

Mauser C96, aka BlasTech DL-44 Heavy Blaster Pistol

 The C96 Mauser, a firearm fit for a princess.

The C96 Mauser, over a million made.  And if it’s good enough for Han, it’s good enough for anyone. 

Han shot first with a BlasTech DL-44, based on the C96 Mauser. And none of this is in dispute.

The BlasTech DL-44, like the Vostok Margolin, was a largely unmodified Mauser pistol, equipped with a compensator-thing and occasional long eye-relief scope. But because of its owner, the DL-44 remains the most iconic of all Star Wars blasters.

Another thing that makes it stand out is that the base pistol, the C96, is, relatively speaking, easy to find. They’re also well-made guns that can hold up to use to this day, even though they were first introduced over 100 years ago. Well, more than a million pistol were produced including 9mm Luger versions.

In Star Wars canon the DL-44 was so powerful that the Empire sought to restrict the sale and ownership of the pistol, pushing it out into the fringes where it saw success among smugglers and thieves.

Which is why it only makes sense that it’s the one gun for Han Solo. If it’s good enough to try and ban, it’s good enough for the scoundrel himself.

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Phillip November 25, 2016, 5:30 pm

    The DLT-19 looks more like an MG34, as apposed to the MG42.

    • Will Triumph April 29, 2017, 12:49 pm

      The MG34 is the base gun for the D19 and the Deathrooper D19X in Rogue One

  • John Manfredonia April 28, 2016, 7:25 pm

    This is good exept one thing, the A280 WASN’T based on the STG-44. (although i forget what it is based on) It is the A280C/A295 that is based on the STG

  • Ed December 19, 2015, 1:15 pm

    I’m surprised that the PLR-16 isn’t one to make the list.

  • Brian Onuscheck December 18, 2015, 3:47 pm

    It is worth noting than Han squeezes off a few shots with Chewbacca’s bow caster in episode VII.

  • John Bibb December 18, 2015, 1:45 pm

    ***
    Great plot! Super video camera work! And nice appearance by Darth and the 2 Storm Troopers.
    ***
    I actually fired the 9 mm Luger version of the Mauser pistol 5 decades ago. Clunky awkward grip–very long pistol. But–very accurate, and no jams either. It came with a hollowed out stock that served as a holster for the gun.
    ***
    Winston Churchill used one of these during the Boer War in South Africa. As did Clint Eastwood in one of his movies.
    ***

    • Donnie June 6, 2016, 2:57 am

      I’m thinking big jake
      And it was an actor that played his son that used it

  • Ross Wise December 18, 2015, 12:59 pm

    I was at the 2010 Little John’s auction in Orange, CA when the actual Han Solo Blaster was sold. It was estimated to see at $4,000-$6,000, but ended up at a hammer price of $226,000!

    • Damion Ramirez September 12, 2016, 12:47 pm

      The auctioned Han Solo Blaster you speak of that was auctioned off in Orange CA was not the actual “Hero” Han Solo ANH version DL-44 Blaster, but a cast resin copy or “Stunt” version used for holster scenes, on location scenes, or any non-close up shots in the films. This “Stunt” version was indeed cast from the “Hero” Han Solo ANH version Blaster, but was later modified to match the Blasters used in the 2nd ESB film of the Original Star Wars Trilogy.

  • TK-119 December 18, 2015, 8:56 am

    I am a huge Star Wars fan, and very much a firearm enthusiast. Which is why I am surprised that you guys mixed up one of the heavy rifles. The gun used for the DLT-19 is an MG34, not the MG42. It doesn’t have the body or square heatshield of the 42, sticking with the recognizable stock and round heatshield of the 34. Other then that, great article, was very happy to read it. Thank You.

  • Ken December 18, 2015, 8:36 am

    Awesome article. I would love to have an example of every one of these firearms. As it is I only currently have the C96. Sadly, other than probably getting a semi-auto Sterling, all of the other one’s are way out of my financial reach.

  • John L December 18, 2015, 8:14 am

    Great job for us star wars geeks! I admit I saw the original no less than 10 times in the theater in 1977. Even had a first date with a girl who is now my wife.Gotta love it.

  • Fred from Philly December 18, 2015, 6:54 am

    I really enjoyed this article, it’s nice to read something that’s not a story about someone trying to pass laws banning firearms I currently have in my safe.

  • gogolem December 18, 2015, 6:35 am

    where do i sign up for 1 lol

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