Is there a more lovable Rogue than Han Solo? His distinctly Swedish name is known by not just most Americans but by most of the world. As one of the big three in the Star Wars franchise, he is immortal. Of the Luke, Leia, and Han combination Han Solo is the gunslinger of the group. Han famously shot first when it came to dealing with a greedy bounty hunter known as Greedo in Mos Eisley Cantina.
Since that famed scene, the Han Solo gun has been the subject of much discussion. This discussion transcends both Star Wars nerds and gun nerds. Star War nerds might like to discuss it as a prop, but gun nerds like to discuss the gun it’s actually built off of. Today we are going to do all three and discuss the blaster pistol, the gun they built it off of, and how you can build your own pseudo Han Solo blaster.
The DL-44 Blaster Pistol
Han Solo’s space blaster is called the DL-44 Heavy Blaster Pistol in the Star Wars universe. Blaster pistols seem to be defined in light, medium and heavy categories. In gun speak, it would seem that light blasters are the 380 ACPs and below of the blaster world. Medium blasters were your 9mm, 40 S&W, etc., style handguns. Heavy blaster pistols are the mighty 357 Magnum and 10mm of Star Wars guns.
As such, they are bigger, heavier, but much more powerful. Han’s DL-44 was considered to be one of the most powerful blaster pistols on the market. We see in the films that Han’s blaster punches right through Stormtrooper’s armor. (Seriously, what is the point of their armor?)
The downside of the DL-44 was that it overheated quickly. Han’s specific blaster was equipped with an optic and muzzle device. In the Han Solo origin flick, the gun is a carbine and later broken down to a pistol and given to Han, so it’s modular. While the DL-44 is cool for the Star Wars nerd, let’s get into the guns and attachments the DL-44 is constructed from.
The Gun It’s Based Off
Most of the guns in the original Star Wars series were built off of World War 2 era guns and highly modified with gadgets and gizmos to give them that dirty space future look. Lucas used Sterlings, Webleys, and German machine guns to outfit his Rebels and Stormtroopers. Han Solo’s gun gets its very distinctive appearance from the fact they used a C96 as the base gun.
From there, they added a Ziel Dialyt 3X scope to the gun. This scope came from the World War 1 era and was clearly compact enough to fit onto the C96. The Ziel was not a handgun scope but a German riflescope designed for snipers in the First World War.
From there, the muzzle device is another piece of German machinery, and it came from the German MG42 machine gun. This spoon-style muzzle device is quite unique and stands out from the old C96.
The Mauser C96 provides that very distinctive ‘Broomhandle’ grip that’s round and wooden. It stands out and always has. This is why the Mauser C96 is called the Broomhandle Mauser. The 96 in C96 stands for 1896, making this one of the earlier semi-automatic pistols. German firm Mauser designed and produced the pistol, but China and Spain also licensed the design.
The C96 looks nothing like what you imagine a modern semi-auto pistol; heck, it didn’t look like a modern semi-auto pistol in the 1970s when Han first wielded it. The pencil-thin barrel, magazine forward of the pistol grip, and that silly pistol grip make the pistol stand out.
The C96 was very successful and served in the armories of several military forces. This includes the German Empire, Spanish, and Chinese obviously, but also became a favorite Italy, Austria-Hungary, Nazi Germany, the Ottoman Empire, Winston Churchill, and about a dozen other military forces.
While unconventional, the C96 was robust and reliable. It premiered at a time where revolvers were very much the firearm of the day. The C96 burst onto the scene with a ten-round magazine that outgunned six-round revolvers with little difficulty. The semi-auto, single-action trigger was lightweight and crisp versus the revolver’s longer double action and was faster than cocking the hammer of a single action revolver.
The 7.63 x 25mm Mauser round hit hard and ran hot. Since the magazine wasn’t in the pistol grip, the longer case offers more powder capacity. More powder meant a faster bullet, and the 7.63 round hit 1,450 feet per second and hit with 402 foot-pounds of energy.
For comparison, a 124 grain 9mm round reaches 1,150 feet per second and hits with 364 foot-pounds of energy. The 7.63 x 25 offered outstanding penetration through common barriers and did well through glass.
The C96 could also be fitted with a wooden stock that doubled as a holster or carrying case. Much like Han Solo’s gun, the Mauser C96 could be turned into a carbine-like weapon for increased range and stability. At the time, SMGs and small semi-auto carbines weren’t a thing, so the stocked Mauser C96 acted as a short little carbine.
The 7.63 x 25mm round had decent range, and even out to 100 yards, the cartridge did rather well. It was no rifle round, but it performed well for a pistol round. As handguns evolved, magazines went into the pistol grip, cartridges shrunk in size, and the 7.63 x 25 fell to the wayside even though it was a rather good cartridge.
Later variants include a light carbine model, a model with detachable magazines, and a machine pistol that was reportedly popular with Chinese forces.
The Modern Han Solo Gun
If you want your own Han Solo pistol, your options are limited. You can spend the money on a C96, but I beg you not to chop it up into a Han Solo-type blaster and destroy a piece of history. Instead, what we can do is turn to the world’s most modular platform, the AR-15.
Yes, it won’t be super accurate, but you can make a unique AR 15 pistol utilizing a few easy to source components.
First, you’ll need a standard upper and lower receiver. I’d use Aero Precision uppers and lowers because the M4E1 design comes with several threaded portions that make building easier, and Aero makes great receivers. However, any quality receiver set will work.
Next, you’ll need to stop by CMMG. They produce the rest of the parts. CMMG actually produces a full parts list to make your own DL-22 blaster. Here are the parts you’ll need.
- 4.5 inch 22 LR barrel
- 22 ARC conversion with magazines and charging handle
- MK4 Receiver Endplate
- .22LR End Cap
- DL-22 Barrel nut
- 22LR Flash hider
Standard Lower Parts Kit
Now you can use the accented grips from CMMG, but the Pearce 1911 to AR 15 grip allows you to use wood 1911 grips to give it some classic appeal. On top of that, the .22 LR Flash hider works, but a small company called Canto Arms produces an exact replica of the actual Han Solo muzzle device for a very affordable price point.
You do not need a buffer tube. The 22 ARC conversion utilizes its own internal buffer. The end cap covers up the slot where a buffer would thread into place and eliminates the giant hole that would be in your gun.
Optic wise Han Solo utilized what is clearly a magnified optic. In real life, it wasn’t likely to be an actual pistol scope but fear not. You don’t need to be stuck with a useful rifle optic on your pistol. So, what you’ll need is a pistol scope.
These are few and far between, but Burris makes a 2×20 Handgun scope that’s perfect for our Han Solo blaster. The long eye relief of the optic is designed for shooters to hold it in a traditional pistol grip and stance. Eye relief is adjustable from 10 to 24 inches, and you can extend into a good isosceles when you decide to shoot first.
Albeit, I don’t recall Han ever using the optic for anything in reality. He seems more of a point shooting type. Admittedly this 22LR Han Solo gun is far from a Mauser C96, but it’s an affordable plinker that provides a ton of fun.
Shooting Like Han
It’s rare that gun nerds and Star Wars nerds can cross paths. Han Solo’s blaster certainly tickles the interest of someone who is both a gun nerd and a Star Wars nerd. I never knew I wanted such a gun, but now I’m planning my own build list based on a CMMG style firearm. If I get it done sometime soon, watch this space for a review and build breakdown.
Han Solo’s C96 is only one gun from Star Wars and leaves me to ask, what’s your favorite? Is it the AR 15s from Rogue One? The MG42 was used by Stormtroopers, and maybe the Ruger used by Greedo! Let us know below.
May 31, 2022
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