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Type 3 phaser

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Phaser rifle

Phaser rifle circa 2367

Type: Phaser
Output: Adjustable width beam, bolt, expanding energy pulse
Manufacturer: Starfleet, Bajoran Militia, Regalians
Era: 23rd century and 24th century

A phaser rifle (often referred to as a type-3 phaser) was a rifle variation of the standard phaser used by the Federation.

24th century phaser rifles have sixteen power settings, fully-autonomous recharge capability, multiple-target acquisition, and gyro-stabilization. They are slightly less powerful than Cardassian phase-disruptor rifles, and are considered by some to be less effective as a field weapon due to their complexity, despite being more powerful than the standard phaser. (DS9: "Return to Grace")


James T Kirk with phaser rifle

James T. Kirk holds a 2260s-style phaser rifle

Phaser rifles were not standard landing party equipment aboard Starfleet vessels. Typically, rifles were equipped only when firepower heavier than that of the type 2 phaser was required. Spock for example had to make a special request for one to be brought down to Delta Vega in 2265. (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before")

Facsimile phaser rifles were created by the Romulan Star Empire in 2367 and given to rebels on the Klingon planet Krios, in an attempt to destabilize relationships between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. Both the facsimile and Federation rifles had an output of 1.05 MW. The only physical difference to the standard Federation rifle was an emission crystal efficiency of 94.1%. This was eight percent above the standard model. Another difference was that the initial output spike of the phaser beam was inverted, a sign that the power cell had been charged with a forced pulse in the terahertz range – a method used in Romulan disruptors. (TNG: "The Mind's Eye")

The 2360s version of the rifle could be modified with the use of a tracking light mounted on the central body, as well as a shoulder strap designed for ease of carrying. (Star Trek: First Contact) A phaser rifle could be set to fire an expanding energy pulse. The pulse could be set low enough to avoid damaging equipment, but high enough to affect changelings. It also heated up the air it was fired through. (DS9: "The Adversary")

In the early 2370s, the compression phaser rifle began to be distributed to Intrepid-class, Nova-class and other starships, including the USS Voyager and USS Equinox. (VOY: "Caretaker", "Equinox", "Message in a Bottle")

Picard and Data hunt Borg

The crew armed with new phaser rifles in 2373

Worf firing phaser rifle

Worf fires the EVA-type phaser rifle

More advanced phaser rifles capable of firing phaser bolts as well as the standard beam were also used in the 2370s. These rifles had a pistol grip in back and either an underbarrel grip or a second vertical grip underneath the barrel (similar to conventional firearms of times past), and were capable of being modified with various types of scopes, barrels and power cells. The rifle variant with the underbarrel grip was used during zero-gravity EVA-operations in the Borg incident of 2373/2063. This variant was also able to be magnetized against a surface, further proving its usefulness in zero-gravity environments.(Star Trek: First Contact; Star Trek Nemesis)

The new 2370s rifles were differentiated as Mark I, [1] Mark II, [2] and Mark III [3] in the It's A Wrap! sale and auction. Additionally, the new rifles were identified as compression phaser rifles in Star Trek Encyclopedia (3rd ed., p.356) and in the apocryphal Star Trek: Voyager - Elite Force and Star Trek: Elite Force II video games.

When Worf's rifle ran out of power on Ba'ku, he improvised and swung it as a bat at a Son'a drone, as it was firing transporter tags at Baku villagers and Starfleet crew. (Star Trek: Insurrection)

Bajoran phaser rifle, Shakaar

A Bajoran phaser rifle

Bajoran phaser rifles were used by the Bajoran Militia, based on the design of their own hand phasers. (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior") Regalian phaser rifles were less powerful than their Starfleet counterparts. (TNG: "The Vengeance Factor")


Starfleet phaser rifles of the 24th century were characterized by several components: (TNG: "The Mind's Eye"; DS9: "The Siege of AR-558")




Phaser rifle prop

Penny Juday holding a 24th century phaser rifle

Matt Jefferies is accredited with drawings for the original series type 1 and 2 sidearms which fit together in a modular fashion. Said drawings also mention mysterious "UNIT 4" for which no drawing or design was ever made public nor featured in the original series. Possibly this UNIT 4 was meant to be a phaser rifle, but was never used on the show. (Star Trek: The Original Series Sketchbook, pp. 92-93)

While Voyager originally only used compression rifles, they later also used the First Contact variant – indicating that weapon had been part of the ship's stores since they left DS9 in 2371. This seems anachronistic since that weapon wasn't introduced in other productions until around 2373, after Voyager departed. Even so, Deep Space Nine used two designs (the TNG rifle and the First Contact rifle) concurrently, indicating that no one design was "replaced", establishing that Federation postings could use two types simultaneously.

According to the It's A Wrap! sale and auction, the Star Trek Nemesis version of the phaser rifle (with flashlight) uses "a pair of C123 3-volt batteries... the bulb housing is inscribed '6v Lamp, Laser Products, P60'." A Surefire brand P60 designation lamp is capable of outputting 65 lumens of light. A stunt version from Star Trek: Nemesis was sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay. [4]

The term "type 3 phaser" was first referenced in "Phage", and later again in "Flesh and Blood".

The Original Series phaser rifle

Phaser rifle design sketch by Reuben Klamer

Klamer's approved phaser rifle design

In the script version of 15 July 1965 (scenes 134 and onward) for "Where No Man Has Gone Before", this type of phaser is referred to as "heavy," "large," "lethal-appearing," and "lethal." Also, its discharge is described as "a deep, fiery-red beam." The rifle, while carried by Kirk, is said to be "slung across his shoulder," though this is not shown in the episode's final version, the weapon instead being carried by hand.

For the construction of the rifle prop, Gene Roddenberry, turned to an outside contractor, toy manufacturer and inventor Reuben Klamer (at the time already of Milton Bradley's The Game Of Life board game fame). Roddenberry became aware of Klamer's work, as he spotted a prop gun in use at another television production, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Contacted by Roddenberry, Klamer agreed upon designing the prop, the final version of 28 June 1965 being the one Roddenberry signed off on. (Julien's Auctions presents: Star Trek)

When it was announced – during the Watts riots of August 1965 – that the rioters were about to move to Desilu's production base of Culver City, California, the original phaser rifle from "Where No Man Has Gone Before" was one weapon that Herbert F. Solow suggested to Gene Roddenberry as a means of protection. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, p. 89) Evidently, Solow was not aware that, while the design was approved, the rifle had not yet been built.

Phaser rifle prop, original version

The original phaser rifle prop

Almost eight months went by, after the design was approved, before the actual production of the episode was green-lighted, and in a letter dated 16 March 1966, Klamer was eventually given the go-ahead by Roddenberry to proceed with manufacture of the prop, admonishing him that time was of the essence. In a video, shot for the below mentioned auction, Klamer recalled that he was only given a mere two weeks to come up with the prop. A near impossible deadline, Klamer, upon additional urging by William Shatner who desperately wanted the prop, needed an additional staff of three to complete the prop on time. Working around the clock, the weapon was constructed out of wood and finished with a blue/green metallic paint. Additional detailing included the hand-tooled aluminum barrel and spring-loaded trigger, a sliding switch to adjust the force setting, three plastic non-functional domed indicator lights and inset plastic panels as well as a telescoping antenna mounted to the top. Moveable pieces on the weapon included three acrylic turret tubes cylinders with what appeared to be copper painted metal conduit with ends painted to match the three force settings. The entire turret unit turned on a center axis. The black shoulder butt also rotated to be used as a handle or shoulder stock. According to Klamer in the video, Roddenberry in person took possession of the prop, which measured 34×14×4.5 inches, after exactly two weeks, and was very excited about its end-result, reportedly exclaiming, "This is it! This does the job! Those guys at NBC will be surprised that we have this in the show." (Julien's Auctions presents: Star Trek)

Apart from its use in the episode, the phaser rifle prop was also used for official publicity shots, which featured William Shatner, in the guise of Kirk, holding the phaser rifle. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, pp. 117, 106, 190; et al.)

In "Where No Man Has Gone Before", the phaser rifle's beam was reused animation from the impact of the laser cannon in TOS: "The Cage". ("Where No Man Has Gone Before" text commentary, TOS Season 1 DVD special features)

Roddenberry obviously reverted his initial enthusiastic stance on the phaser rifle, and it was retired from TOS after he decided that, in common with smoking, guns were not to be shown on the series, either. Regarding the TOS design of phaser rifle, Bjo Trimble remarked, "The gun was just a little too lethal-looking for Gene's taste and he just didn't like it." (TOS Season 1 Blu-ray special features, Starfleet Access: "Where No Man Has Gone Before") The phaser rifle prop was returned to creator Klamer, who kept it in pristine condition in his possession for the next half a century. It has made "Where No Man Has Gone Before", the only canon appearance of the design in the Star Trek franchise.

Becoming somewhat of an iconic piece in the Star Trek fan community, having been called "The Holy Grail" by Star Trek-archivist Alec Peters, has prompted CBS Television Studios to commission the manufacture of at least one copy for inclusion as a display piece in exhibitions, such as Star Trek: The Experience [5] and Star Trek The Exhibition [6]. It where these copies that turned up in later (un)official publicity photographs and illustrations of Dave Rossi and Elizabeth Dehner actress Sally Kellerman individually posing with the prop. (TOS Season 1 Blu-ray special features, Starfleet Access: "Where No Man Has Gone Before"; et al.) Apparently, a phaser rifle prop copy ended up in Sally Kellerman's possession after the 2010 Official Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas. [7]

Michael and Denise Okuda have been somewhat critical of the TOS-era phaser rifle. Although Michael Okuda found it "a cool concept" and particularly liked how some of the weapon's components moved, he also believed the phaser rifle had "kind of a funky design." He concluded, "I think they were right to retire it after ['Where No Man Has Gone Before']." Dave Rossi remarked on the opinions that the Okudas, who Rossi worked with on Remastered TOS, had about the weapon; "I'm told that my learned colleagues thought that the phaser rifle was a bit hokey-looking." Dave Rossi's own thoughts on the TOS-era phaser rifle differed substantially from those of the Okudas. "I love the phaser rifle," he raved. "The phaser rifle kicks butt! And I'm bummed that it only appears in ['Where No Man Has Gone Before'], because to have a phaser gun that can, you know, take the top of a mountain off, what did the phaser rifle do?! You know what I mean? I really wanted to see this thing in future episodes. I didn't think it looked hokey at all; I thought it was cool. It was bulky and it was mean and looked good in Kirk's hands a lot." (TOS Season 1 Blu-ray special features, Starfleet Access: "Where No Man Has Gone Before")

The actual original phaser rifle itself, with the accompanying period studio paperwork, was eventually offered up for auction by creator Klamer in Julien's Auctions' Hollywood Legends Auction of 5 April 2013. As lot 120 it had an estimate of US$50,000-$70,000, selling for three times the high estimate at US$231,000, in the process becoming the most expensive Star Trek hand prop ever sold at auction to date, affirming Alec Peter's assessment. [8]

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