In the decades since the release of the original Star Wars movie and subsequent episodes, “researchers” have extensively analyzed the weaponry carried by both Empire and Rebellion characters alike. And while the technical discussions have delved into the engineering and obvious parallels to World War II era firearms, no one seems to have hypothesized about each character’s personal choices in blasters.
After all, as shooters we all have our favorite guns, and often times these choices have less to do with weight, caliber and magazine capacity and more to do with how a gun simply feels in our hands. So my guess is that Lucas’ heroes would also have an emotional attachment to the weapons they trusted to use against the galaxy’s worst villains. Of course, the opposite would be true for the Empire as well.
For those that take their Star Wars science, history, sociology and overall blaster knowledge very seriously, it’s best that you go ahead and click the back button. While I am certainly a fan, I’m going to base my firearm-blaster analysis on my personal observations alone. Yes, I know that many of the movie props were made from Lee Enfields, flare guns, STG44s, Mausers, grenade cups and more. This analysis is rooted in personality and emotion rather than science and technology.
Lastly, most Star Wars characters use a variety of weapons throughout the original trilogy. For the Rebellion, the source of their armament can usually be tracked back to battlefield pickups and stolen Imperial shipments. For this analysis, I attempted to pick one blaster that defined each character and may not necessarily be the weapon they used most often.
STAR WARS BLASTER CALIBERS
So, if blasters were firearms chambered in modern day propellant-based cartridges, what caliber would each character carry? Follow me.
Han Solo – 10mm
As a smuggler traveling through the galaxy “collecting” goods and transporting precious cargo, Han Solo can have run-ins with all kinds of filth and vermin. From bounty hunters to space monsters, Solo needs enough gun to handle all of the above, but is small enough as to not slow him down.
The 10mm cartridge is a lone-adventurers dream. Full power loads have enough stopping power to put down Jaba The Hutt but allow for enough magazine capacity to take on a few dozen storm troopers on the way to the detention cell.
Like Solo’s personality, the powerful 10mm round stands alone against the galaxy’s evil dark side.
Chewbacca – .45-70
This Wookie’s Bowcaster has been rebarreled and rechambered from the standard .44 Magnum pistol cartridge to the insanely powerful .45-70 rifle round. Like his human partner, Chewbacca has lived a life of self reliance and independence since leaving his fellow Wookie pack, requiring the need for a blaster that can handle almost anything as a standalone solution.
In his bandolier, Chewy carries a wide selection of loadings – from light “target” loads to heavy subsonics, the Bowcaster can be transformed into multiple platforms with a few presses into the loading gate. You did know that Bowcasters operated on a lever action, right?
Greedo – .25ACP
Greedo you sneaky bastard; your cowardice lords over your weapons choices. Carrying only enough gun for personal protection and the chance close encounter with a target, Greedo prefers a blaster with very light recoil. After all, his doughy frame doesn’t react well to heavy kicks.
Don’t get me wrong, a well placed .25ACP round will still kill you dead. However, when you consider most bounty packages are paid on a ‘live vs dead’ scale, Greedo’s watered down caliber choice can serve him well monetarily.
His light, unwieldy pistol allows him to almost always shoot first.
Lando Calrissian – .40S&W
A traitor carrying a traitors cartridge. Rather than pick a
NATO Galactic Alliance recognized round, Lando Calrissian packs a sidearm that answers a question that no one asked. Sure, he could have gone with the vanilla 9mm, but this spineless scammer blows with the wind, often picking his weapons solely based on style and sex appeal.
I know what you all were thinking – you expected me to pick “Colt .45” for our Sky City friend. No dice; there’s too much honor in that cartridge for a man who is willing to make a deal with the Empire.
Princess Leia – .22lR Subsonic
Sure she’s royalty, but operationally Leia Organa is a well trained covert spy. Along with other black ops tools and techniques, the Princess’s weapon of choice behind enemy lines is a suppressed .22 rimfire handgun loaded with hollow point/segmented rounds for extra lethality.
Much like her personality, Leia’s caliber choice is often underrated and cast off as being a small varmint round. However, at close range, with proper shot placement and a little dash of The Force, this rimfire round is perfectly deadly in experienced hands.
(Rest in peace, Carrie Fisher)
Stormtroopers – 9mm
Available in mass quantities because of leftover stockpiles from centuries of armed conflict, the capable 9mm round is is a good fit for the legions of Stormtroopers sprinkled throughout the galaxy. Why not a rifle round built for use in a short carbine length gun? For one, economy – the Empire’s budget restrictions have made cost cutting measures necessary, forcing imperial quartermasters to rely on surplus stores. Second, most conflicts aboard star ships occur at distances of 100 yards or less. For conflicts on planet surfaces with longer distances, Stormtroopers are armed with rifles and light machine guns.
Boba Fett – 300BLK
A bounty hunter with far more class and style than Greedo, Boba Fett is a professional soldier with roots in Special Operations. His main tool of the trade is a short barreled rifle chambered in .300 Blackout. Carrying subsonic loads suitable for stealthy short range engagements as well as supersonic rounds for intermediate targets, Fett’s caliber choice gives him wide mission flexibility.
Fellow bounty hunters have been critical of his choice in the “boutique” round, mainly because their blasters are chambered in the widely accepted 5.56 round. A series of unfortunate magazine loadout mixups have injured several of the hired gunman. Of course, all of these injuries were preventable with a simple ammunition check prior to mission departure – a sad side effect of always working alone – but it is easier for these gunmen to blame the .300 round.
Luke Skywalker – .380ACP
Our galactic hero, filled with an astronomically high midichlorian count, relies on a more elegant weapon for his one-on-one battles. However, sometimes a blaster is a better choice than a light saber. Still, as a wide-eyed farm boy who’s only previous experience with gunplay is blasting Womp Rats back home, Luke’s inexperience shows in his sidearm choice.
Plagued with recoil anticipation and a weak grip strength, Skywalker picked a pistol caliber almost solely based on his timidness rather than stopping power. Although his sidearm is a poor choice for battling imperial soldiers, thankfully Luke is blessed with the powers of The Force, or the movie trilogy may not have made it past A New Hope.
Jawas – 7.62 x 54r
Mostly based on size practicality, the Jawas converted their bolt action battlefield pickups to short barreled rifles with directional blast brake muzzle devices. Not only do these guns match their small stature, but it also allows them to be used within the small confines of their tracked Sandcrawler transports.
Quick fact: most of the Jawa’s scavenging efforts were focused on locating proper gun solvents to neutralize the hygroscopic effects of the rimmed cartridge.
Sand People – 12.7 x 108mm
In small numbers, Sand People operate only at longer distances, so they require a cartridge capable retaining energy over thousands of yards. The 12.7 X 108mm cartridge has the added benefit of the availability of both anti-personnel rounds as well as anti-material rounds. Although marksmanship has never been their strong suit, lucky shots with their long range blasters have disabled equipment like land speeders and the Jawa’s light armored Sandcrawlers.
Maybe in Volume 2, I’ll ask TFB’s Miles V. to take a deep dive into the artillery, technicals, and ship based weaponry used by both Rebellion and Empire forces in different environments.
Until then, may The Force be with you. Always.