The Real Guns of Star Wars: A New Hope

Ever since The Mandalorian chose a terrific prototype Bergmann pistol as the base for Mando’s blaster pistol, I’ve been asked to cover the real gun origins of the blasters form he original Star Wars film. This isn’t a particularly difficult thing to look up online, but hopefully I can bring a bit of additional context beyond the typical search engine results…


  1. Ian, as much as I like watching shows about movies, this should not be a habit for you. There are a lot of less well researched commentators and “rivet counters” who can do a better job. Besides, there is a whole community that feed information back and forth called, IMFDB “Internet Movie Firearms Data Base”.

    • While it should not become a habit, yes, it is appropiate imho still. Especially when you have this selection of dressed up guns in a film. And it certainly generates clicks for his videos and probably more subscribers to his youtube channel and maybe someone finds his way here to his blog and ressource of great articles and manuals on forgotten weapons. I really miss his writeups, but Ian does not have enough time I guess.

  2. I just watched Rogue One again recently. Instead of obscure / cool guns like in earlier Star Wars movies / The Mandalorian the rebel troopers are mostly using…AR15’s.

  3. The Jawa blaster was actually a smoke grenade launcher made up from beyond repair SMLE in the 2nd world war. These were then mounted to tank turrets to launch smoke screens vs the grenade launcher cups of World War 1/2 era usage.

    • The smoke grenade dischargers based on SMLEs were a standard fitment on the early war Matilda II infantry support tank;

      But as Ian stated, the “Jawa” weapon was an SMLE action cut down and fitted with the discharger cup for the Grenade No.36 aka the Mills bomb, with a discharger cup disc screwed into its base plug.

      Oddly enough, there is no reason it wouldn’t still work as a grenade launcher. But the recoil would be in the same class as the Japanese Type 89 grenade discharger, aka the infamous “Knee Mortar”.

      Exactly how you’d hold on to the little blighter when firing would be a pretty good question.



      • I think you would ground the butt and use it like a mortar. My recollection is that some of the WWI era French Gras and Lebel conversions were used that way.

        • That was SOP for all rifle grenade dischargers. In fact the British instruction manual for grenade launching specifically states that it be done that way.

          It also states that under no circumstances should the grenade be fired with the rifle shouldered in the normal way, as the increased recoil would likely injure the operator. A dislocated shoulder would be the most probable outcome, with a broken collarbone not out of the realm of probability.

          With a “grenade pistol” like this, the trick in firing from the grounded position while kneeling would be not leaning too far forward, which would most likely result in you collecting the grenade yourself, under your chin.

          Which would almost certainly be fatal, not from the grenade exploding five seconds after the spoon flew off and the fuse lit, but almost instantaneously as the grenade coming out of the cup at over 150 feet per second hit your head with enough force to shatter your jaw, crush your trachea, and probably break your neck into the bargain.



  4. Not necessarily this thread, but it never ceases to amaze me how much people complain about free content.
    Ian, love the work that you do. Keep it up and above all, make it enjoyable for yourself.

  5. Good video! I noticed the Imperial Storm Troopers carrying Sterlings when the movie came out (I’m that old). Any other movies or video game franchises using modified real world weapons? We’ve already seen the US Army’s attempt to get a movie weapon in the real world….
    On a serious note, a lot of people’s first, or only, exposure to firearms are movies, TV, or Internet. The connection between entertainment and reality might preserve some of these treasures.

    • I was 13 at the time, and didn’t specifically recognize the Sterlings, but the Lewis gun and MG34 were obvious to me at once. Han Solo’s gun may not have gotten all that much screentime in the first outing, I spotted it as a C96 pretty quickly (I’m sure seeing it over dozen times in the theater made it less challenging).

  6. I watched STAR WARS in 1978. Nothing more. I just can’t understand how such a stupid/silly movie became so important.

    • B/c George Lucas very cleverly made use of mankind’s hero/villain triumph/redemption trope that man has been using in hero stories for millennia.

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