The BlasTech E-11 Blaster

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The BlasTech E-11 Blaster

December 1st, 2020

5 minute read

TG-638 stacked alongside his peers in the tight passageway of the Imperial I-Class Star Destroyer Devastator. The pursuit of the Rebel blockade runner Tantive IV had seemed interminable. However, now that the Rebel ship was secured inside the destroyer’s hangar bay it was showtime. TG-638 had trained since childhood for this moment. TG-638 was an Imperial Stormtrooper.

TG-638 and his mates from the 501st Legion were in the first wave. His breath came in furtive spurts as the engineers placed line charges on the sealed airlock. Not all of his anxiety, however, spawned from the Rebels lurking behind the bulkhead.

The BlasTech E-11 Stormtrooper Blaster armed the Imperial legions throughout most of the “Star Wars” films.

The Dark Lord of the Sith stood alongside silent and implacable, his lightsaber hanging inert in his right hand. TG-638 had never before seen Vader, but his reputation preceded him. Between armed Rebel troops and Vader’s saber, TG-638 would choose to face the Rebels any day.

The blinding flash momentarily overwhelmed his visor, and blaster bolts illuminated the passageway. The point man went down, a smoking hole in the center of his white chest armor the size of a Mynoch egg. TG-638 was number six through the breach.

The E-11 Blaster props from the “Star Wars” movies were crafted from British Mk IV Sterling submachine guns.

The lead fire team clearly couldn’t hit the broad side of a bantha. TG-638 raised his issue BlasTech E-11 Blaster, thumbed off the safety and liberally sprayed the passage with directed energy bolts. Then he heard the distinctive throb of Vader’s lightsaber. TG-638 stepped over the bodies of his comrades just as the Dark Lord strode past like a specter, his saber absorbing and deflecting incoming Rebel fire. Despite the cold synthetic nature of his Stormtrooper armor, TG-638 shivered.

The Phenomenon

I really like Star Wars. In 1977 when Star Wars hit theaters I was 11. Playground intel told of some amazing new science fiction movie. The Bad Guy was this big dude in a space suit. I envisioned Kareem Abdu Jabbar dressed in Neil Armstrong’s NASA moon rig. Then I actually saw the film. Wow.

Will is a huge fan of “Star Wars”, and that led to the project you see here.

Of course I collected the ships and figures. Most everybody did that. George Lucas purportedly forewent a substantial percentage of his salary in exchange for the marketing rights. That guy was brilliant. My obsession went somewhat deeper, however. How deep might you ask?

Well, the skeletal beast that the droids pass in the Tatooine desert is that of a Greater Krayt Dragon. Han Solo’s operating number when he was traipsing about the Death Star in stolen Stormtrooper armor was TK-421. The princess was being held in Cell 2187, Sub-Level 5, Detention Block AA-23. When finally I came of age and accumulated a few resources, it was time to take everything to the next level.

Will’s “Blaster” features extruded aluminum cooling fins on the barrel shroud that were formed from U-channel stock from Home Depot.

The Apex Predator

Per the back story, the BlasTech E-11 Blaster is the standard issue weapon for the Imperial Stormtrooper Legions. The E-11 features settings for kill, stun and sting, and the onboard power cells are good for about two hundred rounds. The telescopic sight includes a built-in rangefinder, while the collapsible stock has three positions. Despite their fearsome reputation, Stormtrooper marksmanship always seemed underwhelming. Perhaps there was a dearth of available range space onboard the Death Star.

Original WWII-era M47 tank optics are rarer than honest politicians. Will was fortunate to trip over this example on an online gun auction site.

The studio work for Star Wars was undertaken in England. In the 1970’s in the UK movie production companies had access to fairly current military weapons. The movie props used in the original film were standard Mk IV Sterling submachineguns outfitted with a little gratuitous window dressing.

The first Star Wars prop weapons were produced by Bapty and Co., the same British movie weapons concern that provided the guns for Aliens. Standard issue Sterling submachineguns were fitted with six linear grips running down the barrel shroud made from rubber T-Track. This same material was used to form the grip on Luke’s lightsaber, itself originally a Graflex flash gun from an antique camera.

You can see the M47’s markings here with 1942 manufacture date.

The scope was a 1942-era M47 telescopic sight from a Sherman tank mounted backwards. A Hengstler Corporation industrial counter box was affixed near the magazine well along with two small cylinders and a handful of random coiled wires. 34-round Sterling magazines were cut down to make the stubby versions used in the film.

There were both blank-firing blasters and inert dummy versions made for the first movie, Episode IV. The astute Star Wars nerd can catch sight of empty cases ejecting out of the weapons during the combat sequences. There were also minor variations from gun to gun as pieces fell off or were added during production.

Will crafted the stubby magazine for the Blaster from an inexpensive Sten mag rather than the more rare and expensive Sterling magazines.

A Live Blaster

I have actually built two of these weapons. The host for this example began life as a 9mm Sterling. The cooling fins on the barrel shroud are formed from aluminum U-stock from Home Depot mounted with machine screws and small wing nuts.

I could not bring myself to destroy one of those magnificent Sterling magazines for this project, so my stubby mag is fabricated from that of a Sten. The Sterling was designed from the outset to accommodate Sten mags as well. The left-sided magazine means that Stormtroopers carry their weapons in a holster on the left thigh. Many troopers in the movie fire their weapons left-handed as a result.

You can see an original curved Sterling magazine next to the cut-down Sten mag.

My first effort used a cheap Chinese red dot on an improvised aluminum mount. However, I serendipitously tripped over an original WWII-vintage M47 Sherman tank sight on GunBroker and did what it took to make it mine. I finished out the whole rig with bake-on ceramic engine block paint from my local auto parts store.

One of these guns is not like the others — but they all fire!

The gun weighs 6 lbs. and is fairly miserable to shoot off-hand. It seems I also can’t hit the broad side of a bantha. However, when run from the hip at the local firing range, my BlasTech E-11 Imperial Blaster does reliably draw a crowd.

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Will Dabbs, MD

Will Dabbs, MD

Will was raised in the Mississippi Delta and has a degree in Mechanical Engineering. After eight years flying Army helicopters, he left the military as a Major to attend medical school. Will operates an Urgent Care clinic in his small Southern town and works as the plant physician for the local Winchester ammunition plant. He is married to his high school sweetheart, has three adult children, and has written for the gun press for a quarter century.

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