The fault in our firepower: The problem with blasters

Star Wars: Episode 2 - Attack of the Clones (2002). Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd., All Rights Reserved
Star Wars: Episode 2 - Attack of the Clones (2002). Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd., All Rights Reserved /

Blasters are the weapon of choice in the Star Wars galaxy.  They are everywhere you look. However, there are flaws in this advanced weaponry.

So uncivilized

Blasters are the weapon of choice in the Star Wars galaxy.  They are everywhere you look, from military to gangs to everyday citizens.  However, there are some flaws in this supposedly advanced weaponry.

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Accuracy, or lack thereof

Blasters seem to be inherently inaccurate weapons. In the very first firefight we see on screen, the boarding of the Tantive IV in A New Hope, the rebel fighters prepare for battle, positioning themselves, at most, 10 yards away from the door the stormtroopers will enter from. And yet, the 10 rebels only take out a grand total of three stormtroopers.

Of course, you could assume this is due to the rebels not being well-trained. However, training would not count for much in this narrow ship corridor. The door is not that wide, as only one or two troopers at most can come through at a time. As anyone who has ever played a first-person shooter video game will know that all of your targets coming straight at you in a confined space, at a short distance, one at a time is the ideal scenario for even a rookie shooter.  And yet, they all miss their marks.  So, it is safe to assume these inaccuracies can be attributed to the weapons used, rather than the shooters.

Just step out of the way

Blaster bolts are incredibly slow.  We can track their movement across the screen and see non-Force sensitive characters dodge them all the time, ducking and weaving away from incoming fire.  Even Captain Rex in the Rebels series is able to dodge blaster fire from maybe 10 yards away.

Yes, Rex is a veteran of the Clone Wars, but he is retired and old — due to the accelerated cloning process, in the approximately 28 years since his cloning, he has aged 56 years. Though not ancient by any means, it is safe to assume his body and reflexes have taken a beating over the years of hard training and conflict.

This is why it is so easy for Jedi, who have enhanced speed and reflexes due to the Force, to deflect blaster fire (unless they are surprised, surrounded, or otherwise overwhelmed, like in the Battle of Geonosis or Order 66).  This ease of dodging makes it even harder to hit what you’re aiming at, making blasters an even less reliable weapon of choice.

I can see you

The brightly colored blaster bolts, though visually appealing to the audience, are not beneficial in a firefight. If you are trying to stay hidden, ambush someone, or flee, you do not want anyone to know where you are firing from.

However, this is impossible with blasters.  In addition to the noise, it is easy to trace a blaster bolt back to a shooter just by looking at where it’s coming from.  Granted, this would allow you to see exactly where you’re aiming, so you could adjust your aim to easily compensate for the aforementioned inaccuracy of the weapon.  Personally, I do not believe this accuracy benefit outweighs the cost of concealability.

Redeeming factor – firepower

Though blasters are not an easy weapon to use, they do have the distinct advantage of firepower.  This advantage is two-fold:  ammo capacity and lethality.  Blasters can fire hundreds of bolts without reloading — we only see a handful of blaster users run out of ammo in the movies or television series.

And each of those several hundred rounds can punch through clone and stormtrooper armor with ease, and will blast giant holes in both metal and stone structures that they hit.  So, if you can actually hit what you’re aiming at, then blasters are an excellent weapon to keep on hand in the galaxy far far away.

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What are the pros and cons of blasters that I missed?  Comment below.