Phase Pistol
(circa 2150)

Phase Pistol - image property


Hand-weapon based on new technology, first used in the field on Starfleet's deep-space explorer vessel, the Enterprise NX-01. The Phase Pistol's particle beam could be configured to induce either unconsciousness or death in the target individual.

Power came from a replaceable cell located under a flip-up cover at the front of the weapon.

A new technical development in this era, and presumably a fore-runner of the Phaser. While not contradicting Worf's statement about the development of phasers in the 22nd century, it does go against the appearance of lasers in "The Cage" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before" - unless those weren't lasers, but just called that.

The circumstances under which they're brought into service in the Enterprise pilot "Broken Bow" are interesting. They're obviously brought on board prior to the ship's departure, perhaps in the cases which Lt. Malcolm Reed (the Armoury Officer) and helmsman Ensign Travis Mayweather are seen unloading from the transporter. However they're not issued until the very end, when Captain Archer and Chief Engineer Commander Tucker carry them when infiltrating a Suliban space station. Why weren't they given them for the expedition to Rigel? Presumably the plasma pistols they carried on that occasion were judged ineffective when pitted against Suliban phasers. . .

The two settings, "stun" and "kill," are both a nod to the famous settings of the Original Series phasers (regardless of the fact they actually had much more than two) and an indication of how experimental this technology is. Whereas Starfleet personnel could previously only hope that their aim might make the plasma bolts they were firing non-lethal, we now see a step in the direction of the benevolent Federation; providing, as Reed points out, they don't confuse the settings! However, in the episode "Terra Nova" Archer is seen to configure the weapon to produce a beam capable of slicing through solid rock, and in"Civilization" to produce a heat ray. The cutting-beam has cropped again in "Future Tense," "North Star" and "CS-12."

In "Sleeping Dogs" we get to see the replacement of the power cell: it's a grey block about the size of a large battery, which lights up red once inserted.

In "Regeneration" the problem of Borg adaptation to phase beams is (rather simply) solved by Lt. Reed increasing the output to 10 megajoules. Scott Anderson of Star Wars tech versus Star Trek tech website has some problems with this: "Where were the freqencies, modulations, nutations, EM bands, and all the other technobabble phaser fixes used to allow the later crews to kill a Borg or two before adaptation ensued? That was when it occurred to me that the phase pistol might not take kindly to being juiced up to that extent. . . might make the pistol's signature sloppy. I can't really think of a decent analogy for the idea . . . the best I've come up with would be something along the lines of electricity. Electrical appliances operate along set voltage . . . around these parts, 110-120. But, if you just dump raw juice into the line (say, lightning strike) and don't "clean it up" first, bad things happen. Now, just imagine the reverse . . . dumping too much juice into the phase pistol's systems might go slightly beyond its ability to clean up, producing a frequency/modulation/nutation/band (FMNB) spread. Yeah, okay, the analogy sucks. Well, the concept may not be perfect, but it is not without support. As Reed and an armory officer conduct tests of the juiced-up phase pistol, we get this image on Reed's monitor. The red-shaded output is 9 megajoules, with the other colors representing lower settings. Note the different graph shapes at the different settings. I'm not sure which of the FMNB group this would represent, but it's almost certainly one of them." It's been further hypothesized that later Starfleet weaponry tends more toward control and finesse, making this kind of modification impossible. In one DS9 episode Major Kira contrasts Federation phaser rifles as having less power, but more features, than their Cardassian equivalents.

It's long been rumoured that the Art Asylum's Phase Pistol toyhas been used as a prop on the show, and in "United" we finally get a close look at one! It is, of course, Reed's pistol that he overloads (another feature of Trek Phasers, seen here for the first time) to create a makeshift bomb. (Art Asylum have discontinued this range, so pick one up if you can; Master Replicas' TOS Phaser sold out before I got one, and I'm still kicking myself. . . )

The prop was designed by Craig Binkley and Jim Martin, presumably with some input from Art Department head Herman Zimmerman. The 'hero' or 'real' versions (as opposed to the wood or rubber stunt versions) cost about $2,500 each. The holsters are leather over vacu-formed plastic, with metal disks fitted allowing it to attach to a magnetized strip in the Starfleet uniforms (allegedly!).


Not the most efficient method of storing handguns


Reed explains the settings




Behind you!

Aiming guns and checking your makeup at the same time makes you cross-eyed

Not that anyone'll notice


"Yeowch! Great horny toads, that smarts!" The Mysterious Third Setting. . . . . . a cutting beam!
"Civlization" Reed shoots something, again "Shadows of P'Jem"
Pistol open awaiting power cell insertion The power cell slots in. . . . . . clicks home. . .
. . . and the cell lights up once it is installed Note correct angle of little finger - perfect phaser-reloading etiquette Practice aiming
Of course, these should really be used only for light-sabre practice. . . Zap! A shot in the dark
A shot in the back They shoot. . . . . . but with no effect!
"Vox Solis" The first Starfleet force-field is tested "The Seventh"
"Future Tense" - and, yes. . . . . . it's that cutting beam again!
"Regeneration" "Regeneration" "Anomaly"
"Raijin" "Impulse"
"The Shipment" "North Star"
The return of the magical cutting beam! It slices! It dices! It purees and chops! When faced with a hostage situation. . .
. . . shoot the hostage, then do your best Gallic shrug "Twilight"
Changing the setting, from "Carpenter Street" It would have been amusing if she'd vapourised the car door
"Doctor's Orders" "Hatchery"
"Storm Front"
Return of the cutting beam "Daedalus"
"Babel One"
A replica of the prop, photo courtesy Bill Eggler Art Asylum's replica Phase Pistol An actual prop, from the Star Trek exhibition