A blaster (also addressed as a gun) is a ranged weapon that fires types of particle energy beams. The ammunition of blasters was usually referred to as blaster bolts, lasers, or beams. However, there are also various other names for a blaster bolt, as well as different types of projectiles fired from the gun other than particle energy beams, such as stun blasts.
A blaster functions mostly in the same manner as a regular physical-ordnance gun that fires standard solid bullets. Blasters come in many different sizes and forms, ranging from compact pistols to heavy rifles to starship-mounted laser cannons. In instances of blasters being used, militaries around the galaxy are the most common operators of blaster weaponry, but some are available for civilian use.
The mechanics of a blaster were in many cases very similar to regular physical-ordnance gun, however, the ammunition was the biggest difference. There were several different standard variants of blasters, the four main ones being:
- Particle Beam
Depending on how they were designed, and who they were designed by, blasters could vary greatly. Though, they generally followed guidelines, there could be some blasters that had huge differences from the run-of-the-mill weapon.
Gasses are also used in plasma blasters, however the two bolts are different. Plasma weapons were usually more effective against droids due to the bolts' ionized nature, however it was still very deadly to organic creatures.
There was one main mechanism commonly used in most plasma-based blasters. In a plasma-based blaster, a high-energy gas would be used. When the gun was fired, the gas would move from the gas chamber/compartment into a separate chamber where it was altered into a plasma state. It would then be released from a magnetic "bottle" effect through the collimating components. This turned the plasma gas and energy into a coherent energy beam of energy and light, which formed the deadly plasma bolt.
One of two main types of storage, however, usually skipped the step of converting gas into a plasma state. Shells, very similar to standard solid bullets, often stored the plasma gas, ready to be put through the magnetic effect to create the bolt. When a blaster with shell ammunition is fired, the gas is thrust through the chamber at great speeds and directly through the "bottle", putting out a bolt at much greater speeds than the counterpart storage system. Thus, the bolt travels at a faster rate, is slightly more accurate, and more often than not is stronger than a bolt from a cartridge system. Depending on the blaster, the actual firing mechanism may have been slightly different. Some blasters sent the shell directly into the chamber and released the gas straight through the magnetic bottle. Other guns used a bolt-action system which forced the gas through at incredible speeds, therefore, the laser bolt came out at equally fast speeds.
Cartridges, on the other hand, could put out more rounds, but the rounds were not quite as powerful, slower, and not quite as accurate, mainly due to the fact that the gas had to first be converted and then would be pushed out without the same amount of force that a shell could put out. Cartridges, however not as favorable to shells, could also be employed into bolt-action rifles, pushing the gas out at high speeds similar to a shell system. And the blasters that pushed a shell directly into the gas chamber would simply push the gas out instead of push a shell in. The fact you could carry more ammunition in one cartridge was often seen very favorable, even at the cost of a slower, less powerful bolt. However, cartridges usually only found their ways into rifles, assault rifles, and some SMGs. Machine guns often used belts of shells rather than a large, heavy cartridge because they were easier to carry, and in the end were more efficient.
Straight gas-based blasters basically had the same firing mechanism as plasma blasters, however, the type of gas used was different, and the bolt that was the end result was also different. Often times, straight-gas systems would be confused with the most common standardized system, which had a power cell along with a certain amount of gas. Typically, the latter type of blaster was called simply a gas-based blaster, whereas the former was referred to as a straight-gas blaster. Any gas could be used in a straight gas blaster, if it could be correctly refined, which was often a fairly difficult process. Some specialized gasses would create bolts that had different attributes than the regular laser bolt that was created by the most common gas used in gas-based blasters, Phelgeon. For example, some blaster bolts would emanate a freezing-cold, icy liquid upon impacting their target, which would cover the target in the liquid, and probably some of the surrounding area. Obviously, the appropriate damage would be dealt to the target. Also, some erupted in small fireballs, catching fire to nearby flammable objects.
However, Phelgeon, the most common gas used in gas-based blasters, created a bolt incredibly similar to that of a particle beam-based blaster weapon, and though it was harder to find and refine the gas, not to mention more expensive, gas-based blasters were greatly desired in many militaries for heavier weapons, namely machine guns and mounted repeating weapons used by infantry. In fact, as a general rule, there were no standard weapons that used just a gas system because of straight-gas systems being overly complex for a standard issue weapon, but also because it was too difficult to find the ammunition required. Straight gas-based blasters, like plasma-blasters, use both shells and cartridges to contain the gasses, with the same firing mechanisms employed.
And though they use the same general systems of conversion into an energy state, along with the same type of ordnance, straight-gas based blasters and plasma blasters were unable to use one another's different gasses due to specifics inside the mechanics of the guns. However, there were a select few designed to be able to convert both gas required for plasma bolts, and gas required for other weapons.
In particle-beam based blasters, a small amount of high-energy gas is moved to a chamber commonly called the exciter. In the exciter chamber, the gas is energized by the power pack, then passed into the actuating blaster module, which, when assisted by the components in the barrel, processes the now extremely high-energy gas into a compressed beam of intense energy particles, coupled with intense light, which generated the deadly high-energy particle beam fired from most blasters. In these blasters, the cominbation of super hot laser-light and a compressed bolt of intense enrgy particles forms the deadly bolt.
Generally, the ammunition used in these blasters would be a gas cartridge and power cell. Some blasters had built-in power cells or refillable gas cartridges. Other forms of ammunition combined the two in one larger cartridge, or would be put in separately. The bolt created by particle-beam based blasters was more deadly to humanoids and other organic targets than it was to droids, but still had the ability to destroy droids with ease. Particle-beam based blasters, as they were the most common, ranged from light pistols to heavy rifles and mounted repeating blasters, such as the Me-23.
Plasma and straight-gas blasters, however, are not as common. The most common blasters are the generic gas-blaster, and the particle beam based blaster.