HomeGunsWhat Sci-fi Guns Would Actually Be Useful In The Real World?

What Sci-fi Guns Would Actually Be Useful In The Real World?

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I’m big on guns for personal defense, but at the same time, I’m not a big fan of killing people. That may sound contradictory, as shooting someone to defend yourself can easily (and often does) involve death. But, we have to keep in mind that the goal of a legitimate defensive shoot isn’t to kill. The goal is to incapacitate, and hopefully cause them to stop what they’re doing (trying to kill you or someone else) before they’re done doing it.

Sadly, today’s technology doesn’t give us a lot of alternatives to shooting if it’s rapid incapacitation we need. Pepper spray and tasers are the obvious alternative, but pepper spray relies on pain compliance an emotional or drug-addicted person can fight through, and tasers aren’t good against deadly force because there’s no guarantee that both darts connect and complete the circuit. So, we’re stuck with having to stop the action through the pain of getting shot, rapid blood loss or through damage to neural tissue. Given the time constraints of a defensive encounter, we don’t usually get to choose which one we go for.

But, in the world of science fiction, we have other options. It may seem silly to compare fictional weapons (even if that’s fun), but we have to keep in mind that many things that are real today started out as fake things on the TV or movie screen. By comparing these weapons, we can figure out what things are worth pursuing and what things really don’t help us defend ourselves better.

Science Fiction Weapons That Suck

Before I get to what I think’s great, I want to start with a few weapons that I think stink, especially for defensive use. This will not be an exhaustive list of all sci-fi weapons that suck, so feel free to come up with more in the comments or on social media.

I’ll start with a sacred cow: blasters in the Star Wars universe. While the little bolts of plasma pistols and rifles in Star Wars send are highly destructive upon arrival and cause nearly instant incapacitation (assuming they don’t hit a main character), they also have the problem of being inaccurate in many cases. Plus, blaster bolts only move at about 194 feet per second (per Mythbusters), making them stoppable by, say, a Jedi.

The bigger problem with most blasters is that they don’t have a stun setting that people want to use. In all of the live action movies, the stun setting on a blaster gets used only once, and seems to spread out across a whole room before striking the target. In animation, stun rings look to be more concentrated, but still don’t get used all that much. If the stun setting isn’t good enough for even the good guys to use, it’s probably not good enough for us to depend on.

The staff weapon from the Stargate TV and movie universe suffers from a similar problem to blaster bolts: slow moving, highly destructive and not terribly accurate. Here’s a segment from Stargate SG1 where we see this explained:

But, if there’s one weapon that would probably be the most useless for personal defense, I’d have to pick the Noisy Cricket from Men in Black:

The extreme recoil, the massive damage caused (it destroys much of a bread van) and the time it takes to fire (the gun makes cricket sounds for a bit before firing) make it about the most useless defensive weapon in all of science fictiondom.

Two Excellent Defensive Weapons

I love Star Wars, but there’s one thing that Kirk, Spock, Picard, and especially Captain Burnham get right: They carry a phaser (sometimes). Unlike a gun or any of the weapons in the last section, the phaser can hurt, render unconscious, kill or disintegrate entirely. It can also be used for cutting, welding, melting and many other non-weapon needs. It moves fast, it’s reasonably accurate, and doesn’t even appear to need sights in many cases.

The newest version of the phaser, from Star Trek Discovery (set in the 32nd century) has an even cooler feature: no need for holsters. Instead, the phaser is made from programmable matter. You wear it on your wrist, hidden from view. When it’s needed you extend your hand and it materializes there, ready to fire. It also has a cool “extendo” feature where you can quickly convert a phaser pistol into a more powerful and accurate rifle with a wrist movement. So, no need for a “truck gun”.

One other great sci-fi weapon would be Stargate‘s zat’nik’tel, or “zat gun.” Like a phaser, it can be used to stun, kill or completely obliterate a person or an object.

Finally, I have to give Mystery Men‘s Blamethrower an honorable mention. It’s among one of the finest non-lethal weapons there is, assuming the targets don’t kill each other!


What about you? What sci-fi weapons do you think would be most useful? Be sure to let us know in the comments and on social media.

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