In A Galaxy Not Too Far Away
A “Real” Stormtrooper Blaster!
For most of us die-hard gun guys, the quest for the ultimate big-bore handgun is a ridiculous and quixotic pursuit of the absurd. Police detective Harry Callahan claimed to have found it with a certain Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum, purported to be able to “blow a man’s head clean off.” Of course, then he messed things up by admitting he loaded it with .44 Specials. Jeez.
The Desert Eagle in .50 AE sports a muzzle blast sufficient to ruffle your chest hair at a slant range of 20 yards. The mighty .454 Casull or .500 S&W revolvers will make even the manliest among us want to go soak our shooting hands in Epsom salts after a proper afternoon at the range.
I would assert all these examples are only marginal contenders for the title. The ultimate big-bore handgun actually comes from a “long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away”.
According to the back story, the standard Imperial issue BlasTech E-11 Stormtrooper Blaster equips Emperor Palpatine’s finest on their missions of conquest and oppression throughout the galaxy. Under the direct command of Darth Vader, these bred-for-battle cloned warriors do the Dark Lord’s nefarious bidding unencumbered by either familial ties or conscience. Their classic sidearm has become an iconic part of cinematic history.
Think the .40 S&W, .45 ACP or even the mighty .50 AE are manly cartridges?
They all pale in comparison to a fully operational Imperial Stormtrooper Blaster.
Since the original Star Wars movie was filmed in England, the weapons used had European influences.
The Imperial Stormtroopers’ heavy weapons were unmodified German MG 34 machine guns, while their
standard Blasters were built from British Sterling submachine guns.
The Imperial Stormtrooper Blasters from the movie Star Wars had a pedigree born of an altogether different empire back here in the real world. George Lucas’ 1977 cinematic classic was filmed at Pinewood Studios in England, so the small arms used in the movie all had European origins. The heavy weapons used by Stormtroopers were standard, unmolested German MG 34 belt-fed machine guns. Did you know that?
Han Solo’s classic sidearm was a Mauser Bolo Broomhandle embellished with a little gratuitous fluff. The BlasTech E-11 Stormtrooper Blasters began life as British Army-issue 9mm Sterling submachine guns.
The cooling fins on Will’s Blaster are made from simple aluminum extrusions
bolted in place through the cooling holes in the Sterling receiver. Not too bad, eh?
The original milspec parts on Will’s conversion had seen their fair share
of intergalactic battle, giving this Blaster a genuine been-to-Endor-and-back flavor.
The bolt on the Sterling submachine gun — which serves as a host for the Blaster conversion —
incorporates wide grooves to funnel dirt and debris clear of the action. Sandstorms on
Tatooine would be no problem!
My long-suffering bride can attest I’ll eventually be dragged into some semblance of middle-aged adulthood veritably kicking and screaming. Whether you prefer the term “maturity-challenged” or the more cerebral moniker “Arrested Development,” let it be said: I never really intellectually left the elementary school playground.
In keeping with this lifelong mantra, some time ago I undertook a project to build myself an operational Imperial Stormtrooper Blaster from Star Wars.
I used a genuine full-auto Sterling submachine gun as a starting point, just like the originals. Now before you inundate us at Handgunner with letters about how I’m destined for federal prison and a hairy cellmate who calls himself “Monique”, appreciate the fact I have my own manufacturing business.
This requires some impressive taxes, reams of paperwork and a familiarity with the local BATF — which would intimidate some of the more conservative firearms enthusiasts among us. But I turn a wee profit at the end of the day producing sound suppressors. As a fringe benefit, this also allows me to build post-sample machine guns legally.
A little aluminum U-channel stock from Home Depot and a scratch-built scope mount sporting an electronic red dot sight produce a decent facsimile of the original prop. While a Sten submachine gun won’t accept a double-stack Sterling magazine, a Sterling will feed from a single-stack Sten mag in a pinch.
Unwilling to deface one of those gorgeous roller-follower Sterling magazines for this project, I cut down an old Sten mag to the appropriate size. The new magazine only holds five rounds but it sure looks cool. Don’t lose sight of the fact looking cool was the overall point of this exercise.
Any man with the privilege of holding this scratch-built BlaseTech E-11
would be remiss to not have the “Imperial March” theme song in his head!
The BlasTech E-11 Imperial
Stormtrooper Blaster represents the state-of-the-art in cinematic military firepower.
It’s a compact and impressive infantry weapon, effective in environments ranging
from arid heat and frozen wastelands to the vacuum of space.
With all the cinematic window dressing in place, my E-11 Blaster tips the scales at about 8 pounds, which is heftier than a contemporary M-4 carbine sans the customary forearm bling. Since I lack the Force-driven enhancements of a true Jedi Knight, I’m not man enough to fire the E-11 more than a few rounds 1-handed. However, swapping to a classic 2-handed Stormtrooper isosceles grip, I found the E-11 to be a bulky but effective close combat weapon. It was sufficient to suppress incoming Imperial fire while Luke Skywalker was preparing to swing across the chasm with the Princess in the Death Star. Like I said, I’m still in that school playground.
Firing the gun from the hip is fun, but only marginally effective. With a little practice, the Blaster-equipped user can keep his rounds on a tactical silhouette out to 20 yards or so, but a little trigger time from this position demonstrates why the supposedly elite Stormtroopers in the movie couldn’t ever seem to hit anything.
The host Sterling fires from the open-bolt position and all the movement while firing jiggles the gun a bit. However, it’s an 8-pound pistol-caliber submachine gun, so you aren’t going to be sniping at a half-mile with this thing — no matter what galaxy you call home.
The red dot sight makes rapid target acquisition a snap, even through the smoked lenses of an Imperial Stormtrooper helmet. The prodigious heft of the piece effectively negates any recoil worthy of the term. Slip the fire selector to rock-and-roll and the stubby magazine makes for a tidy 5-round burst, which really does increase serum testosterone levels.
The movie version likely runs off of some cold fusion plasma power cell to give it a zillion shots between reloads. Out here in the “Real World” the stubby little magazine is good for a single decent burst. The magazine sticks out on the left of the gun, so my scratch-built holster carries the gun on the left leg, just like the movie.
At a hefty 8 pounds when empty, the BlaseTech E-11 points easily, but
accuracy offhand was quite spotty for Will. Maybe this explains why the
Stormtroopers seemed to never hit anything in the movies?
A WWII-era Sten mag serves as the base for this scratch-built,
5-round magazine in Will’s BlasTech E-11.
Want to be the envy of every gun guy you ever met? Drop by the range some weekend sporting a BlasTech E-11 and see who goes home with the most cool points at the end of the day.
While I used a full-auto Sterling subgun for mine, the same piece could be built from a semi-auto Sterling registered as a short-barreled rifle. It could be scratch-built legally as a pistol with the stock welded shut and — to paraphrase the movie — avoid Imperial entanglements altogether.
Regardless, take my word for it. Nothing screams “awesome” on the range like lighting up the backstop with an operational Star Wars Blaster. The only downside? This gun drips just raw, unfiltered testosterone and you may never look at your big bore revolver the same way again.
By Will Dabbs,MD