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Type III Phaser Rifles

Written: 2000.06.13

The Type III phaser rifle incorporates the same sort of primitive aiming reticle as the STFC phaser rifle, but without the searchlight (which presumably helps troopers navigate through darkened starship corridors during boarding actions because they don't have the kind of sophisticated visual-enhancement technology that is incorporated into stormtrooper helmets). This reticle is transparent when it flips up, and it is cabable of superimposing HUD-style display information upon its viewable area. However, it is not polarized, because we can see through it from non-orthogonal viewing angles, and there is no visible object on the upper surface of the weapon which can be lined up with the view from the reticle for aiming purposes. Like the Type II hand phaser, the Type III phaser rifle fires continuous beams rather than pulses.

(BigBryan here) How do we know that this is so primitive? It could be a scope using some sort of enhancement technology we have never seen before. It is perfectly logical to conclude that the reticle, with an aiming cursor as of today just is "so primitive" would be an incorect conjecture.

What a genius. He criticizes me for not assuming advancement without a shred of evidence (as he undoubtedly would). At least he's honest enough to use the words "could be" instead of "is".

The Stormtrooper has adnaved sensors, but why are they so "advanced?" We have that technology today, right now. Theirs is just more compact, which would take probably a decade or less to match.

Yes, we might actually have stormtrooper-like technology in real life soon. In fact, it's no secret that research is currently underway in precisely that direction: sophisticated hand weapons tied into a system based on a "high tech helmet": two-way voice communications and VR goggles displaying a video feed that can contain various forms of enhanced imaging and information relayed from the gun (some even speak of being able to shoot around corners, by sending a "gun's eye" video feed to the soldier's helmet).

However, the fact that it might become reality doesn't make it bad (actually, it sounds pretty damned cool to me, and only a Trekkie would automatically interpret anything vaguely realistic as "primitive"). After all, we're comparing this type of system to Star Trek ground combat: guys shooting from the hip and aiming without the benefit of scopes or gunsights. What sounds better to you?

(Alyeska here) MW just made a very bad mistake here. In the episode of DS9 where they find the crashed Jem'Hadar starship at least one of the type-III phaser rifles has a aiming device identicle to that of the pulse rifle. This implies that the aiming devices can be swapped out, hence a zoom device could in fact be placed on the rifle. The other item is that the times where the very primitive pop up aiming reticle scene on the type-III has only been used in situations where there is no range. They were fighting in coridoors, canyons, or caves. One does not need anything else but "Iron Sights" for these conditions. Another way to look at it. An M-16 can be fitted with a scope, but if you see one without a scope, that does not mean it can't use one.

No, it doesn't. But since I had never seen a Type III phaser rifle with a legitimate scope (or even simple gunsights), I concluded that the weapon is probably designed exclusively for close-range use. Furthermore, since the only scope I had ever seen on Star Trek was on a special sniper rifle (pictured below), I had even less reason to believe that phaser rifles had optional scopes.

Colonel West looks through the scope of his sniper rifle

To address his flawed analogy, we know for a fact that an M-16 can be fitted with a scope, and moreover, we know that it can be effective at long range because such effectiveness has been demonstrated. But when we're dealing with an unknown, we can only go with what we know, and if serious questions crop up with the notion of long-range effectiveness, then we must be careful about assuming unseen capabilities. Notice the accompanying screenshot of Colonel West's shot. He was aiming at the President's head (as we saw when we looked through his scope), but his shot missed by a mile (and from short range, considering he only had to go from the wall to the podium). The shot passed between the president's elbow and midsection, making it about two feet off the mark, and Kirk hasn't even touched him yet.

Colonel West takes his shot, and MISSES.

If the Trekkies are right about a phaser rifle being an effective combat weapon at ranges of hundreds of metres, why did Worf have to drop his phaser in favour of something else in order to fight at such ranges in STI? His target was a handful of So'na soldiers clustered together; if you accept Trekkie claims about phasers, he should have been able to aim his phaser at them with the silly little flip-up panel, and fire off a devastating blast which would obliterate them and the entire piece of rock they're standing on.

However, I'm not close-minded; I just require evidence, unlike our Trekkie friends. And I haven't watched every single DS9 episode, since my interest in Trek declined precipitously as the franchise wore on and became a spin-off circus. So has anyone else seen this DS9 episode of which he (vaguely) speaks? Has anyone else seen this phaser rifle with a scope? Can we get an episode name or better yet, an actual screenshot?

(E1701 here) As I also recall, stormies have a rediculously limited sightline. See ANH when Luke says he "can't see in this thing!" This is also consistent with scenes in all three movies where stormies missed things that they would have seen had their peripheral vision been intact. If that's the trade off, I'll go with flashlights...

More unsupported claims. He claims that stormtroopers routinely miss targets that they should have seen. Does he provide an example? No. As usual, he simply makes vague reference to "all three movies" without bothering to cite a single incident.

Cutaway diagram of a stormtrooper helmet from SWVD

It takes a lot more than a simple-minded interpretation of ANH to prove that stormtroopers have no peripheral vision, particularly since the official texts provide the explanation quite handily. SWVD shows (with actual photographs, not vague descriptions or unsupported theories) that the soldier is not looking through simple lenses. Look at the cutaway helmet above; do the "eyes" look like simple lenses to you? They aren't even video screens, and may be something more sophisticated, such as holographic projectors.

The "eyes" on the outside of the helmet are therefore cosmetic, like the grimace and the teeth. They can't be used to establish peripheral vision. As for Luke saying "I can't see a thing in this helmet", that's hardly surprising in light of the fact that the helmets are custom-fitted (not to mention the fact that he had no experience with stormtrooper armour). Since his head probably doesn't have the same shape as the helmet's original (much taller) owner, the projectors probably aren't lined up too well with his eyes. Anyone who watched the scene may have noticed that Han Solo had no such complaints about visibility; did they not think to consider that fact before leaping to the conclusion that everyone who puts on a stormtrooper helmet is half-blind?

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